War by Way of Deception.....the 1967 Connection
I'm reading a fascinating and timely book called Guilt by Association: How Deception and Self-Deceit Took America to War by Jeff Gates. Noam Chomsky said about the book, "Breathless just reading it."
I want to share a bit from the book because of its direct relevance to the current US-Israel attack on Syria. Gates writes:
[President] Lyndon Johnson was lobbied in 1967 by Arthur Goldberg [US Ambassador to UN] to protect the Jewish state in the lead-up to the Six-Day War. When Goldberg deployed heart-rending rhetoric to portray Israeli vulnerability and the pending victimization of Jews at the hostile hands of an Arab "ring of steal," Johnson waved a Central Intelligence Agency report predicting Israel could win any war in the region in two weeks. When Goldberg persisted, Johnson ordered the CIA to revisit their analysis. The agency returned with a revised report concluding that Israel could win any war in the region in one week.
On June 4, as the Abe Fortas [appointed to replace Arthur Goldberg on US Supreme Court] dinner was winding down, Fortas cautioned Johnson that war might soon erupt in the Middle East. When LBJ turned to Defense Secretary McNamara for his opinion, the Pentagon chief said there would be no war. Johnson confirmed that US intelligence agencies agreed with McNamara's assessment. Johnson left for the White House at 10:58 pm.
At 4:30 am on June 5, Walt Rostow [Special Assistant for National Security Affairs] called LBJ to inform him that Israel had attacked Egypt. Mathilde Krim, the former Irgun [Zionist paramilitary group that operated in Palestine between 1931 and 1948] operative, was Johnson's guest at the White House that night. Before informing anyone else, LBJ stopped by the blond beauty's bedroom to tell her, "The war has started." Not until more than three hours later, at 7:45 am, did Johnson speak with Soviet Premier Kosygin who expressed his hope and expectation that the US, as Israel's closely ally, would restrain Tel Aviv.
In the war's first few hours, the "victimized" Israelis destroyed the Egyptian Air Force while its aircraft were still on the ground. By evening, the Jordanian Air Force was also largely destroyed. Walt Rostow sent Johnson a memo describing Tel Aviv's military success as "the first day's turkey shoot." LBJ also received a memo that day from Arthur Krim that read, "Many arms shipments are packed and ready to go to Israel, but are being held up. It would be helpful if these could be released." Johnson ordered the arms shipped. By the evening of the second day, two-thirds of Syria's air force had been destroyed.
According to Grace Halsell [speechwriter for LBJ] the glee in the State Department Operations Room was palpable, leading Eugene Rostow [Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs] to caution, "Gentlemen, gentlemen, do not forget that we are neutral in word, thought and deed." At the State Department's mid-day press briefing, spokesman Robert McCloskey repeated Rostow's official "neutrality" lie.
White House counsel Harry McPherson arrived in Tel Aviv enroute to the US from Vietnam the night before the war broke out. In 'A Political Education', he describes arriving at the foreign ministry for a brief meeting with Abba Eban [Israel's foreign minister] the first day of the war before conferring with Israel's chief of military intelligence. In response to the repeated question: "Did the Egyptians attack?" McPherson and US Ambassador Walworth Barbour received only evasive answers. As air raid sirens wiled, McPherson recalls:
"Barbour suggested that we might continue the discussion in the underground bunker. The general studied his watch. 'No, that won't be necessary. We can stay here.' Barbour and I looked at each other. If it wasn't necessary, the Egyptian air force had been destroyed. That could only have happened so quickly if it had been surprised on the ground. We did not need to ask for confirmation, but left at once to cable the news to Washington."
Israel was neither under attack nor under threat of attack as Israeli commanders later conceded. The air raid sirens were props in the stagecraft of waging war by way of deception. The circumstances were stage-managed to make both Israelis and foreign observers believe the Jewish state was endangered while Tel Aviv annexed land belonging to its neighbors that it still occupies four decades later.
Update: My friend Herschel Sternlieb from Brunswick, Maine sent me the following about this period in history.
Dear Bruce - In keeping with your references today to the 6-day war between Israel and the Arabs I would like to add to your assessment:
A few weeks before the 6-day war, I was on a business trip to New York and spending the night with my In-Laws. Living with them at the time, was Selma’s Israeli Uncle Aaron. After supper Aaron retired to a comfortable chair in the living room and was calmly reading a newspaper when, my father-in-law started on him.
“The Arabs are going to destroy your family, your wife and children, and you just sit there calmly. What sort of a man are you?” And so it went until Aaron put down his paper and replied.
“I am not concerned because I know we will be victorious. I know that we have plans to defeat the Arabs, all of them... the Egyptians, the Syrians, the Jordanians, all of them in a total of 8 days. Now leave me in peace to read my paper.”