Daily Smart Stuff at <em>DelanceyPlace.com</em>

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VAGUECOLE.jpg
(Richard Vague and blogger Juan Cole speak at New America Foundation/American Strategy Program dinner for Zbigniew Brzezinski)
I have become a fan of a daily email and blog site, DelanceyPlace.com, that is published by businessman Richard Vague.
Vague is the founding Chairman and former CEO of First USA Bank which he sold before becoming the head of Barclays’ American credit card operations at Juniper Financial. He has now moved on from that and is planning a new foray in the energy sector.
Vague wrote his own critique of Geoge Bush’s so-called global war on terror in a set of collected essays titled “Terrorism: A Brief for Americans” which I have helped distribute. I think that it’s a clear-headed, honest, and classically conservative take on America’s deteriorating global position.
His essays are well worth reading. One of the fascinating things to see is the widespread interest in Richard Vague’s brief at Rotary and Lion’s Club groups across the U.S. And reaching small business owners and other general conservatives frustrated with our current national security course has been hard to do, but Vague has been doing it.
But separate from the heavy stuff, I also recommend if you have the patience for another email list the roster of his daily missives that derive from the extensive reading he does. Today’s hit is a snippet of Robert Caro’s Master of the Senate. There is always some fascinating tidbit that he sends out — to a list of now more than 11,000 people.
And here is his important entry of May 17th on Israel’s nuclear weapons program:

In today’s encore excerpt — in the 1950s, Israel becomes one of a now-growing list of countries that have made an unauthorized, clandestine entry into the world of nuclear armaments:
“The Israeli program is nearly as old as the state itself. [David] Ben-Gurion authorized it in 1952. . . . [Benjamin Netanyahu] told me that if the survival of the country was at stake, the Israelis would use it and worry about the consequences later. . .
“In the 1950s, with French assistance, the Israelis had begun to construct a large reactor in the Negev and a facility for processing the fuel rods needed to make plutonium. Then, in 1959, De Gaulle became president of France and said French assistance could continue only if Ben-Gurion gave public assurance that the reactor would be used solely for peaceful purposes.
This he did, while knowing full well that the reactor was going to be used to make plutonium for nuclear weapons. The reactor was completed in 1963. During this time the Israelis and the Americans engaged in a kind of theater of the absurd. The Americans demanded inspections and the Israelis came up with one ingenious maneuver after another to avoid them. For example, the Americans were informed that the nuclear complex at Dimona was a textile factory. . .What brought an end to this farce was the testimony of an immigrant Moroccan Jew named Mordechai Vanunu.
“In 1977. . .Vanunu got a job as a manager in the graveyard shift at the nuclear plant. . .Vanunu’s clearance gave him access to all levels of secure sites at the plant.. . . He went to London with his story of Israel’s nuclear program and photographs to back it up.
These were published in the London Sunday Times and created a sensation. Vanunu was lured to Rome by a young woman, an Israeli agent, and kidnapped by the Mossad [Israel’s intelligence agency]; he was taken back to Israel where he spent seventeen years in prison, partly in harsh solitary confinement. He is now living under tight security in Israel. It was clear from what he revealed. . .that Israel. . .has a very considerable and varied nuclear arsenal.”
Jeremy Bernstein, “The Secrets of the Bomb”, The New York Review of Books, May 25, 2006, pp. 42-3

I’m so busy reading a mound of other foreign policy and national security related materials that the remarkably diverse daily selections from Richard Vague keep me semi-balanced.
Off to New York today.
— Steve Clemons
Update: For those with further interest, here is a short speech that Vague presented on May 24, 2007 to the Wilmington Rotary Club titled “A Solution to Terrorism.”
— Steve Clemons

Comments

13 comments on “Daily Smart Stuff at <em>DelanceyPlace.com</em>

  1. MP says:

    Publius writes: “Their Palestinian policy is a disgrace and they do nothing to ameliorate issues in the Mideast. Israel is always spoiling for a fight.”
    I see the broader point you’re making. But they did make peace with Egypt and Jordan. And they did give back a huge chunk of land. Also, they did try to negotiate a settlement with the Palestinians at Oslo and the talks that following. That isn’t a country that is “always” or simply spoiling for a fight.
    At the same time, I’m not sure it could be said that surrounding countries–or even the Palestinians–do that much to “ameliorate issues” with Israel. The Saudis did come out with a plan–in 2002, some 60 years after the conflict had started–and I hope it bears fruit.
    But I agree that the Israelis are “batshit crazy.” But that’s also because they live in a neighborhood where others don’t just want to give peace a chance. They are wary of Israel because she is a bit batshit crazy–and she feels she has to be a bit unpredictable to keep them offguard.
    Both sides need to move to the next level. It’s just gone on too long…and it’s too much…and it could explode into a wider conflict.

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  2. MP says:

    Carroll writes: “We have had great forebearence with Israel because of the jewish “history” for 60 years and it’s only made them more abusive of us in the US, more demanding and greedy, and more violent toward everyone.”
    You’re skipping around here. This was all about getting the bomb. Work started on that in the 1950s, I believe.

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  3. Publius says:

    Oh, boy, Birnbaum does it again. Will we see another thread where anyone who posts against Israel will be painted as you-know-what? I personally think Mr. Birnbaum is either unhinged or is actually an agent of influence for Israel. He clearly has some problems with history and rationality.
    To make my position clear, if I were an Israeli, you bet I’d want nukes. In a world where India and Pakistan have them, why not Israel? It’s not as if any advanced society can’t do it. Further, if I were an Israeli, I wouldn’t trust the U.S. at all. In fact, Israeli is characterized by its refusal to ever fully trust any “ally.” And so long as we live in the world in which we live, that’s not a bad way to go. Would that we lived by such a principle.
    Unfortunately, I also agree that Israel is “batshit crazy.” Their Palestinian policy is a disgrace and they do nothing to ameliorate issues in the Mideast. Israel is always spoiling for a fight. Israel is every bit as prejudiced and hateful as the Arabs. The U.S. has traditionally presented itself as an “honest broker” in the Mideast, but the Arabs know better. Our nation is in thrall to Israel—our foreign policy could have been written by Mr. Birnbaum—and the Arabs know it. So we, not the Israelis, are the big liars. The Israelis are who they are. We, on the other hand, have hurt ourselves enormously through our inability to view Israel and its actions honestly.

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  4. Carroll says:

    My only complaint with the book is that the author could have spent just a bit more time clearly explaining the fears in Israel that drove them to get the bomb. The author touches on this point but I would have liked more detail. Then again it may be difficult to truly understand their mindset given the violent history they have had over the past century. ”
    Posted by MP at May 31, 2007 05:13 PM
    >>>>>>>>>>
    He probably didn’t touch on it more because he wanted to be less blunt and not say “career paranoid narcissist”. LOL
    But I have given up on Israel, they never learn…..their “history” excuses for their “current” actions threatens my children’s “future” in their own country.
    We have had great forebearence with Israel because of the jewish “history” for 60 years and it’s only made them more abusive of us in the US, more demanding and greedy, and more violent toward everyone.
    No more history excuses. No more sympathy. They are a danger to themselves and everyone else.

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  5. larry birnbaum says:

    Israel “bought, lied, stole, and spied” its way to the bomb… what chutzpah!
    Oy.

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  6. MP says:

    From an appreciative reader of said book:
    “My only complaint with the book is that the author could have spent just a bit more time clearly explaining the fears in Israel that drove them to get the bomb. The author touches on this point but I would have liked more detail. Then again it may be difficult to truly understand their mindset given the violent history they have had over the past century. ”

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  7. Carroll says:

    If anyone thinks the Israelis aren’t batshit crazy and a major problem to the US, instead of an asset, I suggest they read Hersh’s excellent book on the subject.
    http://www.amazon.com/Samson-Option-Israels-Nuclear-American/dp/0394570065
    The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy (Hardcover)
    by Seymour M. Hersh (Author
    From Library Journal
    Ever since the early 1950s, Israel has had one military eye firmly fixed on atomic weapons as a means of salvation, using them primarily as a military threat for both offensive and defensive purposes. Hersh, a Pulitzer Prize winner, expounds on the steady but quiet growth of an Israeli nuclear industry that proved so successful that Israel was able to coerce several U.S. administrations into doing its bidding. He also explores in depth Israeli access to U.S. intelligence satellite technologies that resulted from inattention by Washington leaders as well as from the four years of insider spying by Jonathan Jay Pollard. He reveals that the Soviet Union has been targeted by Israeli nuclear warheads since the mid-1980s. Unlike several other recent expos es of Israeli intelligence apparatus (Ian Black and Benny Morris’s Israel’s Secret Wars , LJ 8/91, and Andrew and Leslie Cockburn’s Dangerous Liaison , LJ 6/15/91), Hersh follows the threads of a specific intelligence focus while highlighting U.S. policies that ultimately ignore the very real presence of the Israeli nuclear arsenal. This incredibly well-written book should be in every collection.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    A few points in Hersh’s book to ponder for those trying to pretend Israel is anything but a cancer on the US.
    # How Israel bought,lied and stole and spied their way to the nuclear bomb.
    #How Israel has always spied on the US government and also business in the US non stop.
    # How when the Shah controlled Iran and was friendly at that time with Israel, Israel made a secret offer unknown to the US to provide him with nukes. The Shah turned it down because he thought that sooner or later US would find out about it and put him on the skids.
    # How when Israel was losing the Yom Kipper war they blackmailed, if you will, the US, who did not want to get involved, into providing them an emergency airlift of weapons by threatening to use nukes and draw Russia into the fight to protect their Arab allies thereby forcing the US into a US-USSR confrontation.
    direct quote:
    “…such a drastic step forced the United States to begin an immediate and massive resupply of the Israeli military. There was widespread rage inside the Israeli cabinet at the Nixon White House aimed especially at Henry Kissinger over what was correctly perceived in Israel as an American strategy of delaying the resupply…
    # As Hersh makes clear, the Israelis are willing, if necessary, to “blow up the world”—including themselves—if they have to do so in order to defeat their Arab foes.
    There are a lot more that will blow your mind…read the whole book. I say cut US-Isr ties and let these career paranoid narcissist and eternal welfare babies suicide themselves if that’s what they want .. but they aren’t going to take my children’s country down with them.

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  8. john somer says:

    DE Gaulle continued the French support for Israel until the Six Days War (1967) when he declared “Israel is a proud, self assured and dominating people”. He was actually mad at them for having ignored his advice and having started that war

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  9. Carroll says:

    I’m somewhat unclear as to the point of this posting.
    Posted by larry birnbaum at May 31, 2007 09:45 AM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    You don’t get the point of this posting?
    It’s pretty clear to the non dead…Israel got nukes when they wern’t suppose to, now everyone in the ME wants them to defend themselves from Israel and the US.
    Israel is the only country in the ME who has repeatedly and publically threatened to use nukes.. AND… “take everyone” with them if they go down. The US is the only country in the world that has an official “premptive nuke strike policy”.
    I call that pretty crazy. No, I call that totally insane.
    We should just nuke Israel and then ourselves and be awarded the World Peace Medal posthumously.

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  10. Carroll says:

    I am in total, total,total agreement with Vague…it is so obvious that I will never understand why everyone doesn’t get it.
    I am bookmarking him for sure.

    Reply

  11. Sandy says:

    Larry Birnbaum, you said:
    “I don’t see any contradiction by the way between thinking it’s fine for Israel to have the bomb, and thinking that it’s not fine for Iran. Israel has been very aggressive militarily within its immediate proximity, for sure.
    But it hasn’t shown
    the slightest interest or intention
    in expanding its influence
    farther afield
    through military means….”
    Really?
    No, seriously, really?

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  12. larry birnbaum says:

    Steve,
    I’m somewhat unclear as to the point of this posting. The Israeli nuclear weapons program has been an open secret for almost as long as it has existed. In the face of enemies who have avowed to wipe it off the face of the earth, this has been their ultimate deterrent.
    I don’t see any contradiction by the way between thinking it’s fine for Israel to have the bomb, and thinking that it’s not fine for Iran. Israel has been very aggressive militarily within its immediate proximity, for sure. But it hasn’t shown the slightest interest or intention in expanding its influence farther afield through military means. The same can’t be said of Iran, which pretty clearly has expansionist goals (in Lebanon for example, which is nowhere near it).
    By the way, the reason why France helped Israel with their nuclear program is, as I understand it, that the Israelis very quietly helped France build their own nuclear weapon in the first place. France was their Israel’s weapons supplier, including in particular military aircraft, up through the mid- to late-1960’s.

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