Good or Bad for America?

Washington, DC - March 18, 2016 at the National Press Club

"America is a thing that you can move very easily..." Binyamin Netanyahu, 2001

Panel 2 Questions and Answers

Dale Sprusansky: We are coming up on lunch, but I’m going to try and give the panelists just time to maybe quickly answer one question each. I’ll start with Larry here with a simple question. Someone would like to know the role of the arms industry in our support for Israel.

Lawrence Wilkerson: There is a huge component of Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and others involved in everything the United States does today. One of the reasons that I argue we are in a period of interminable war is not just this threat of terrorism—which, incidentally, the Cato Institute did a nice paper recently showing that you and I have about the same potential to be killed by a terrorist as we do by a lightning strike, and yet we spent $2 trillion on this struggle, and counting.

As it boils out, the defense contracting industry is now so huge that you wouldn’t probably believe the numbers I would give you—still in Afghanistan, still in Iraq and so forth—is a major component of presidential decision-making. It is a major component of congressional approval of that decision-making, because it’s so many jobs, it’s so much money, and there is so much influence. In fact, I would submit that under the table, Lockheed Martin, in its narrow niche, is more powerful than AIPAC. The Israelis in particular, and others too, feed this, the French, the British, and so forth.

Jim Lobe: Just to elaborate on that for a second, I think it’s a very important point, and one that’s not looked at very carefully. You remember I talked about the neocon pattern of threat inflation since the ’70s. And of course one of the biggest financial beneficiaries of threat inflation is the military industrial complex, so to speak. I think this is a great subject of research for aspiring Ph.D. candidates, to determine to what extent the neoconservatives are effectively supported by the defense industry, either as consultants, or house counsels, or in various ways, or taking ads in their publications. Although I don’t think that’s that important. But I think it’s a very important and often overlooked source of support for the neoconservative message, and has been for 40 years.

Dale Sprusansky: I just have one more question for Jim here. Someone wants to know if you believe there is a fundamental difference between the neoconservatives in the Republican Party, and the neoliberals in the Democratic Party, as it pertains to Israel?

Jim Lobe: Yeah. Well, with neoliberals, I don’t know what exactly [that means]. I mean, I remember Dukakis was a neoliberal and Clinton was a neoliberal, but it was never very clear to me what that meant. I think it’s more a question of liberal internationalists, and sometimes liberal interventionists. I would say, globally-speaking, liberal interventionists, or liberal internationalists in particular, are very multilaterally inclined. They don’t like acting unilaterally. Whereas neoconservatives believe very strongly in unilateral action, particularly by the United States and by Israel. With respect to the Middle East in particular, I think there are more and more liberal internationalists who are having a harder and harder time justifying what Israel has been doing, particularly under this right-wing government. I think there is a widening gap, and I’m sure Phil Weiss and perhaps some other speakers this afternoon will be elaborating on that subject.

Dale Sprusansky: Finally, for Justin, a couple of questions here about Donald Trump. Someone said yesterday Sheldon Adelson indicated that he’s open to supporting Donald Trump, or inferred as much. So I guess your thoughts on that, given Adelson’s big support for Israel. And then someone just wants to know, or I guess kind of clarify, Trump and the whole issue of Muslims, what does that mean? Are people supporting Trump selling out Latinos and Muslims, and that kind of thing?

Justin Raimondo: As to Mr. Adelson, I have no insight into his inner psychology. Certainly, he is a partisan Republican who would support anyone against the Democrats. So I think that he is more of a Republican activist in spite of his reputation as a pro-Israel person. The other question is what exactly --?

Dale Sprusansky: Are those who support Trump selling out American Muslims, Latinos and I guess other minorities he’s taken shots at?
Justin Raimondo: Look, Donald Trump said that he wants to forbid anyone who is a Muslim from coming into the United States. Now, how practical is that? I mean, is there a test? How can you tell? That is not going to happen. As to the Latino question, I live in Sonoma County in Northern California, and I would say maybe half the population is illegal [laughter], and now they’re giving them driver’s licenses. And of course they’re voting, which is the whole reason why they’re given driver’s licenses. I mean that is another thing that is not going to happen. It just isn’t going to happen.

I should clarify that I am not going to vote for Donald Trump. I am merely rooting for him. [Laughter] There’s a very big difference there, because if I voted for him, then I’m going to have to take moral responsibility for everything that he did, every single thing. And the only politician that I have actually ever done that for recently is, of course, Ron Paul. [Applause] All of this liberal handwringing and tearing out of the hair is ­really just virtuous signaling on the part of the media and those of us who take the media seriously. I think that Trump himself personally, although I’ve never met him and don’t know him, I’m also from New York, so I know about New York hyperbole. If you say this sucks, this is terrible, this is rotten—actually, if you’re from New York, it probably means, well, it’s probably tolerable. I mean, he tends to exaggerate. And given the era that we are living in, which is kind of like a cartoon anyway, it’s very appropriate.

Dale Sprusansky: Thank you. Well, you’ve certainly given us, all three of you, a lot to talk about during lunch. Lunch will be served over on that side of the room. Also over at the Exhibition Hall, Kirk Beattie will be signing his books. We will see you after lunch. Enjoy

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