The below record is divided into two broad categories:
(1) CAP’s substantive positions against Israel and on the side of anti-US, anti-Israel, and anti-Western forces
(2) CAP’s rhetoric and tactics of personal attacks against political opponents.
Obviously the two categories interact. The CAP writers are not above smearing Democratic politicians and mainstream journalists for being Israel-firsters, for carrying AIPAC’s water, etc. But the personal attacks speak to personal unprofessionalism and borderline libel, while the substantive stuff exposes how far out of the mainstream CAP’s work has actually gotten.
Across everything, there’s a weird combination of sneering recklessness and smug childishness that underlies a lot of their rhetoric. On the recklessness side, there’s a degree to which they really don’t know how shrill they sound and how far off the reservation they’ve strayed. It’s almost as if, in talking to each other, it’s now just natural to talk about Jewish money in politics, about treasonous politicians, etc. On the childishness side, people are “stupid” or “douchebags” or (sarcastically) “super-geniuses” or the like, and there’s this kind of petulant foot-stamping on certain central dogmas because those debates are settled (e.g. Petraeus). Much of that is covered in the unprofessional rhetoric section, but it’s a thread that goes through much of what CAP produces on the Middle East.
(1) CAP’s substantive positions: Each of these expose the degree to which CAP’s Middle East policy analysis/prescriptions are far out of the mainstream of Democratic and center-left politics.
(a) Geopolitics – on the micro level, on issue after issue, CAP’s Middle East people can always be relied on dismiss concerns over anti-Israel and Islamic radicalism, on one hand, and attack Israel on the other. The analysis becomes especially absurd on Iran and Turkey.
(b) Israeli/Palestinian issues – CAP is far out of the mainstream on American support for Israel, which leads them to – among other things – attack Democratic members of Congress for being too pro-Israel
(c) Israeli/Palestinian issues – linkage – CAP’s Middle East people are committed to the idea that Israel is at the core of Middle East instability.
(d) Israeli/Palestinian issues – Israeli intransigence is the reason - the setup for the idea that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is at the core of Middle East instability, this is the argument that Israeli intransigence is at the core of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict
(e) The US/Israeli alliance hurts America’s national interest – these arguments range across the spectrum, from the soft power argument that Arabs don’t like us because of Israel to the super-charged Petraeus argument that Israel gets American troops killed.
(2) CAP’s tactics of personal attacks:
(a) Dual-loyalty/”Israel-firsters”/Likudniks – a longstanding and by now glib practice of deploying dual-loyalty smears against their political opponents, from accusing them of being “Israel-firsters”/Likudniks to accusing them of propagandizing for The Lobby.
(b) Duss’s unprofessional rhetoric – Duss engages in ad homs, snideness, and mockery that’s not only unprofessional but is starkly at odds with what might be called his own personal and analytical failings.
[A] Geopolitics – on almost every specific issue, even outside the Israeli/Palestinian context CAP can be relied upon to provide “analysis” that runs counter to mainstream consensus – and that always ends up explaining why concerns about anti-American and anti-Western currents are overblown.
Iran… CAP authors have long sought to both debunk and sneer at suggestions of Iranian nuclearization, right through this morning. This flies in the face of overwhelming Congressional and center-left conviction that Iran is nuclearizing and that a robust sanctions regime is necessary to counter their efforts. It turns out that even the assassination plot is proof that Iran isn’t a threat.
Gharib and Clifton – today - http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/11/08/364519/white-house-iaea-report-iran/ - “U.S. Official: IAEA Report ‘Does Not Assert That Iran Has Resumed A Full Scale Nuclear Weapons Program’”
Gharib – http://antiwar.com/radio/2011/01/08/ali-gharib-4/ - Scott Horton Interviews Ali Gharib … no hard evidence that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, general sneering about evidence… “just a lie”
Duss - http://thinkprogress.org/security/2009/12/08/72834/iran-sanctions-bill/ - Congress Rushing To Pass Iran Sanctions That No One Thinks Will Work
Duss - http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/01/11/176451/iaea-chief-we-cannot-say/ - IAEA Chief: ‘We Cannot Say That Iran Is Pursuing A Nuclear Weapons Program’
Clifton - http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/06/07/238238/rand-report-iran/ - RAND Report Discredits Iran Hawks, Advocates Containment And Deterrence
Clifton - http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/08/08/290977/hawks-push-for-iraq-style-sanctions-on-iran/ - Hawks Push For Iraq-Style Sanctions On Iran
Clifton - http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/08/10/292724/aipac-iran-iraq/ - AIPAC’s Iran Strategy On Sanctions Mirrors Run-Up To Iraq War Tactics
Gharib - http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/10/12/341482/iran-plot-act-of-war/ - Republicans Call Alleged Iranian-Backed Plot An ‘Act Of War’
Gharib - http://twitter.com/Ali_Gharib/status/125977984342556672 - Ali_Gharib: How the alleged Iran plot undermines neocon talking point about Iran’s ties & influence in Latin America.http://t.co/YbpmdPHX
Turkey … despite constantly attacking religious hardliners in Israel and evangelicals in the United States, CAP’s authors go the ramparts for the AKP and Erdogan. They also attack Democrats for siding with Israel in the context of Israeli/Turkish tensions
Gharib - http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/11/07/363028/house-democrats-turkey-israel/ - House Democrats Call For ‘Urgent Review Of Our Relations With Turkey’ After ‘Confrontation’ With Israel
Yglesias - http://thinkprogress.org/yglesias/2009/02/11/191708/martin_pertez_on_avigdor_lieberman/- on Erdogan and the AKP: “That’s how politics works. I’m not personally a fan of religious-inflected politics, but it’s very common and not something to freak out over”
Gharib - http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/09/30/332632/islamophobes-spike-u-s-alliance-with-islamist-turkey/ - Islamophobes Coordinate Campaign To Paint ‘Islamist’ Turkey As U.S.’s ‘Enemy Camp’
Duss - https://twitter.com/#!/mattduss/status/99140876168732672 - You’re smart enough to know this isn’t true RT @EliLake: @drfarls breakdown in Israeli-Turkey ties is the fault of Turkey & its ruling party
Lebanon… eight days after the beginning of Lebanon II in 2006 Congress passed a resolution supporting Israel’s military action 410-8. CAP was on the other side, doing what they could to defend Hezbollah and channeling the idea that Israeli self-defense was inspiring attacks on US troops:
Shakir - http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2006/08/19/7002/solidarity-in-middle-east/ - U.S. Commander: Lebanon Conflict May Have Fueled Attacks On U.S. Troops
“ThinkProgress” - http://thinkprogress.org/security/2006/07/26/6518/mccain-hezbullah/ - McCain Falsely Claims the Iraqi Prime Minister Has ‘Condemned Hezbollah’
“ThinkProgress” - http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2006/07/25/6501/us-approves-two-more-weeks-of-fighting/ - U.S. approves two more weeks of fighting.
[B] Israeli/Palestinian conflict – even when they’re not smearing supporters of the US/Israel alliance for dual-loyalty, CAP’s position still puts them way outside the mainstream. And so they end up attacking the mainstream, including Democrats, the State Department’s stance on the Gaza blockade, etc. Their opposition to Israel’s Gaza blockade, a position that is overwhelmingly seen as legitimate in Congress, has also led them to attack sitting members.
Yglesias - http://thinkprogress.org/yglesias/2010/06/11/197528/senator-chuck-schumer-wants-to-strangle-gaza-residents-economically-as-collective-punishment/ - Senator Chuck Schumer Wants to “Strangle” Gaza Residents “Economically” as Collective Punishment … “I find these sentiments disgusting”
Duss – http://twitter.com/#%21/mattduss/status/102072268649275392 - @mattduss: Read @Lara_APN: U.S. (non)-Recognition of Sovereignty in Jerusalem: A Consistent Policy, pre-1948 -Present bit.ly/nqfsnZ
Gharib - http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/06/22/251355/state-travel-warning-israel/ “State Department Travel Warning: If You Try To Sail To Gaza, Israel May Kill You”
Gharib - http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/08/12/294357/state-department-memri-neocon/ - “State Department Grants $200K To Discredited Neocon-Aligned Middle East Media Watchdog” … “a Middle East media watchdog closely aligned with U.S. neoconservatives and Israel’s hawkish security establishment and rightist Likud Party” [MEMRI]
Gharib - http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/06/30/258319/perry-gaza-flotilla/ - “American Gaza Flotilla Participant Calls Rick Perry’s DOJ Letter ‘The Worst Kind Of Pandering’”… “There is no evidence that any participants in the flotilla plan ‘to commit hostilities’ against anyone” … “The notion — echoing the call of two staunch Israel supporters in Congress — that flotilla participants can be prosecuted for material terror is flimsy at best and made in bad faith at worst.”
Duss – http://thinkprogress.org/security/2010/05/31/99927/israeli-commandos-raid-gaza-aid-flotilla-netanyahu-cancels-meeting-with-obama/ - “Like segregation in the American South, the siege of Gaza (and the entire Israeli occupation, for that matter) is a moral abomination that should be intolerable to anyone claiming progressive values”
Duss - https://twitter.com/#!/mattduss/status/113637438978658304 - Everything Amb Rice says here about what UN bid won’t do for Palestinians could be said about admin’s peace effortshttp://yhoo.it/qTWLJT
Duss – http://twitter.com/mattduss/status/124488310436540417 - mattduss: @Ali_Gharib Maybe Iran should occupy Iraq and start building settlements there. Then Congress would oppose pressuring them.
Duss RT’ing Tony Karon - https://twitter.com/#!/TonyKaron/status/113776561567698944 - US blather about Palestinians needing to return to talks misses the point: Israel rejects the international consensus on peace terms
[C] Israeli/Palestinian conflict – linkage – CAP constantly pushes the talking point that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is the cause rather than the symptom of Middle East pathologies.
Duss - http://twitter.com/mattduss/status/41912781733236737 - mattduss Eltahaway: arab hatred for israel will not end until the occupation ends. #jstconf #linkage
Duss - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matthew-duss/j-street-soros-and-us-lea_b_743119.html - “…Israel’s refusal to extend its settlement moratorium… the centrality of this conflict to a number of other U.S. challenges in the region”
Duss - http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/12/16/linkage_and_its_discontents_what_wikileaks_reveals_about_israel_palestine - this post takes Wikileaks, which was all but universally taken as a debunking of linkage, and says that it proves the opposite.
Gharib – http://www.lobelog.com/apns-friedman-on-ajcs-harris-linkage-denial/ - “APN’s Friedman on AJC’s Harris Linkage-denial – This has been a neoconservative effort of late, which has been mostly absurd, and sometimes from Israel itself, on the dime of a pretty far right-wing Israel lobby group.”
Duss – http://thinkprogress.org/security/2010/04/26/176025/making-the-perfect-the-enemy-of-the-good-in-the-middle-east/ - “Resolving the issue wouldn’t end Al Qaeda terrorism, but it would blunt Al Qaeda’s appeal (just as Haass acknowledges it would Iran’s)”
Duss - http://twitter.com/mattduss/status/41915554663116800 - mattduss Eltahaway: nothing will be solved until the palestinian issue is solved. #jstconf #linkage
[D] Israeli/Palestinian conflict – Israeli intransigence – The punchline to linkage, where the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is the cause of Middle East instability, this talking point is that Israeli intransigence is the cause of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
Duss – http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/02/18/176503/neocons-vs-reality-again/ - “…but let’s be clear on where the fault lies: It is Israel that is violating international law by colonizing territory it has militarily occupied”
Duss – http://twitter.com/mattduss/status/124847397875630080 - mattduss: @absurdlyari Point of analogy is that settlements are an obvious impediment to peace now. Very few don’t grasp this.
Duss – http://twitter.com/mattduss/status/28102535461998592 - mattduss Hanan Ashrawi: “This is not rocket science. Settlements are built on occupied Palestinian land” http://nyti.ms/h0Rmel
Duss – http://thinkprogress.org/security/2010/09/15/176271/do-israelis-want-peace/ - “Do Israelis Want Peace?”
Duss – http://twitter.com/#%21/mattduss/status/37899802784178176 - mattduss Israeli arson RT @Ibishblog: I agree. It’s “only a matter of time until a conflagration erupts” in occupied E Jerusalemhttp://9p5n.sl.pt
Duss - http://twitter.com/#%21/mattduss/status/29290921518432256 - mattduss Freedland: #PalestinePapers “show that the Israelis were intransigent in public – and intransigent in private.”http://bit.ly/gZr8wx
[E] “Israel damages US interests” – This has for years, going back at least to Lebanon II, been a constant talking point for CAP. More recently it has revolved around the Petraeus testimony, where it’s tacked on as kind of an extension to linkage. The goal is not exactly a secret. Per Mearsheimer talking about Petraeus, it includes both the substantive goal of eroding support for the US/Israeli relationship and the more specific goal of setting up dual loyalty smears: “If that message begins to resonate with the American public, unconditional support for the Jewish state is likely to evaporate… raises legitimate questions about whether it has the best interests of the United States at heart.” It’s also something of a convergence of CAP’s ideology, rhetoric, and worst rhetorical tics. When pushed on it Duss tweeted<em>.@mere_rhetoric Tell it to Petraeus. I remember when this debate was actually interesting(https://twitter.com/#!/mattduss/status/84678029456060416). They seem ideologically and personally committed to mainstreaming the idea that Israel is a strategic drag on the United States, even as the Arab Spring means that the US has lost all but Israel as reliable Near East allies.
It’s worth noting, of course, that Petraeus publicly walked back the CAP interpretation of his testimony (http://israelmatzav.blogspot.com/2010/03/video-petraeus-i-never-said-israel.html).It’s also worth noting, as a matter of substance, that Duss’s self-professed skepticism about the US getting valuable intelligence and technological help from the Israelis calls into question his ability – simply as an analyst – to evaluate what’s going on in the Middle East.
Duss - http://middleeastprogress.org/2011/09/obamas-disappointing-un-speech/ - “the president’s speech today, appeared as little more than an effort to preserve that status quo, at significant diplomatic expense and at considerable cost to America’s global standing. It was, in other words, probably the best demonstration possible for why the Palestinians decided to go to the UN in the first place.”
Duss – http://thinkprogress.org/security/2010/06/03/176100/dagan-cordesman-on-israels-strategic-value-to-u-s/ - “Dagan, Cordesman On Israel’s Strategic Value To U.S.”… o Like Cordesman (for whom, full disclosure, I interned years ago) I’ve always been skeptical of claims about the strategic benefits of the U.S.-Israel partnership. As Cordesman writes, “At the best of times,” Israel “provides some intelligence, some minor advances in military technology, and a potential source of stabilizing military power.”…
Yglesias – http://prospect.org/cs/articles?article=friends_without_benefits – “But it shouldn’t be America’s place to do what Congress did on Monday and simply stand and cheer while a foreign prime minister offers absurd lies about who America’s friends are in the world. Israeli politics has taken an aggressively hawkish and nationalistic turn over the past decade, and whether or not that’s good for Israel, it’s certainly not good for the United States.”
Clifton – http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/10/11/340653/huntsman-incoherent-middle-east-policy/ - “Huntsman’s deference to “what leadership in Israel has to say about the timing issue” could come at the expense of U.S. national security interests and further tarnish the respect for U.S. leadership which Huntsman aims to restore.”
Gharib - http://twitter.com/Ali_Gharib/status/131724614383579136 - Ali_Gharib: In which Graham admits US gov acting for Israel’s interests against US interests…. http://t.co/4BcLxDtF
Duss – http://twitter.com/#%21/mattduss/status/101993399061721088 - @mattduss: Paul Pillar: Israel Slaps U.S. in the Face Again http://bit.ly/n92SlH
Duss – http://twitter.com/#%21/mattduss/status/42228883281547264 - @mattduss Ross talking about all Obama admin has done for Israel. Maybe later he’ll talk about all Bibi has done for US. Oh wait… #jstconf
Clifton - http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/09/06/311989/petraeus-gates-linkage/ - Do Robert Gates And David Petraeus Agree On ‘Linkage?’
Duss - http://thinkprogress.org/security/2010/03/25/175950/gen-petraeus-on-the-reality-of-linkage/ - Petraeus Explains The Reality Of Middle East ‘Linkage’
Jilani - http://thinkprogress.org/security/2010/03/16/86903/conservatives-petraeus-listen-now/ - “Biden recently told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel’s intention to build thousands of new settlements was undermining U.S. interest…”
[A] “Israel-Firster” / “Likudnik” rhetoric, and accusations that politicians and journalists are unpatriotic – In the context of Jewish Americans it’s an accusation of dual loyalty; otherwise it’s merely an accusation of treason against journalists (who value their objectivity) and politicians (who have taken an oath)
Clifton - http://twitter.com/EliClifton/status/124884109863555072 - EliClifton: RT @MJayRosenberg: Ben Smith is something. Publishes full #AIPAC memo to senators incl defense of Koch Brothers. Cool. http://t.co/snem3 …?
Duss – http://thinkprogress.org/security/2009/07/15/175545/goldberg-talking-about-israel-with-arabs-is-hate-speech/ - “Goldberg: Talking About Israel With Arabs Is Hate Speech” … “it’s reprehensible, but it’s also typical of Goldberg’s general method on the issue of Israel, which involves presenting himself as a moderate… before invariably delivering bog-standard neoconservative verdicts.”
Duss - http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/77987/obama-and-israel-matt-duss/ - “Over the past couple decades, we’ve been seeing a relationship, Likudniks building bridges with these very right-wing evangelical groups.”
Gharib – http://twitter.com/#!/Ali_Gharib/status/96432318167793664 - Ali_Gharib: In which @InkSptsgulliver seems to mistakenly think Mark Kirk (R-AIPAC) should care about *anyone* other than Israel. http://tachesdhuile.blogspot.com/2011/07/mark-kirk-gets-his-feelings-hurt-says.html
Clifton and Gharib - http://www.rightweb.irc-online.org/articles/display/the_neoconservative_echo_chamber_20 - The Neoconservative Echo Chamber 2.0
Rosenberg - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mj-rosenberg/the-fake-outrage-israel_b_864952.html - “The Fake Outrage of the Israel Firsters”
Rosenberg - https://twitter.com/#!/MJayRosenberg/status/78873595278934016 - Israel Firster Cliff May says 2006 Pal elections were neither free nor fair. It was deemed both by US, UN, EU, etc.http://bit.ly/km7KXR
Gharib – http://twitter.com/Ali_Gharib/status/132869683979362305 - Ali_Gharib: Is there a distinction anymore between US-Israeli military blustering and election campaigning? http://t.co/VJ1Q4QZ4
Duss – http://thinkprogress.org/security/2009/08/06/175579/gop-delegation-criticizes-us-backs-israeli-evictions/ - GOP delegation criticizes U.S., backs Israeli evictions
Duss - https://twitter.com/#!/mattduss/status/108576773234634753 - Ros-Lehtinen’s bill should be called “The Choosing US Decline and Isolation Act of 2011″ http://bit.ly/qN2OZd
Duss - https://twitter.com/#!/mattduss/status/91125796667789312 - Ed Koch owes Walt and Mearsheimer an apology. http://nyp.st/oiJrZ
[B] Apropos of nothing, for someone as bad at argument and debate as is Duss, he’s just out of control:
Duss - http://twitter.com/mattduss/status/29621835880472576 - [about J. Rubin] This woman is a fucking joke: Palestine Papers show “Israel has been generous in its offers of Palestinian statehood”http://wapo.st/h2HjQp
Duss - https://twitter.com/#!/mattduss/status/124151663266238464 - Pincus: So what’s the goal of our being in Iraq again? http://wapo.st/ndET0V Serves as a good response to Diehl’s pro-war clownery
Duss - https://twitter.com/#!/mattduss/status/126684105856389121 - Keep your Abramses straight: Elliott’s the pro-death squad convicted liar http://bit.ly/ruffS2 Rachel’s the crazy one http://bit.ly/qkB5YA
Duss - https://twitter.com/#!/mattduss/status/123507539148156929 - Noon: Columbus “was properly regarded as a towering douchebag by the people who knew him best.” http://bit.ly/qDgK36
Duss - https://twitter.com/#!/mattduss/status/114468279774486528 - @NoahPollak @cerenomri You mean the one I linked to and criticized in my post today, super-geniuses? http://bit.ly/psdwr7
Duss - https://twitter.com/#!/mattduss/status/99142380934021121 - @EliLake It’s also a convenient mechanism for refusing to acknowledge Israel’s mishandling of the relationship. But I know this is complex.