By Richard Walker
In a further sign that the White House is happy for arch-neoconservatives to run America’s Middle East policy, President Donald Trump handed the task of dealing with Iran to Elliott Abrams who is also a committed Zionist. President Trump’s decision to make Abrams his Envoy to Iran was welcomed by Israel’s far right, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The appointment appeared to suggest that this White House is now being greatly influenced if not controlled by neocons, many of whom have argued for bombing Iran and for regime change wars across the Middle East. Among them is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Not everyone was happy with the latest appointment. “Mondoweiss,” which is run by progressive Jews, warned that Abrams may help Netanyahu provoke President Trump into a war with Iran. It described Abrams as a pro-Israel ideologue who said that Jews must retain their basic loyalty to Israel, but not the nations in which they live.
It is a charge not without foundation. In his book, Faith and Fear: How Jews can Survive in a Christian America, Abrams was unapologetic in stressing that Jews must “stand apart from the nation in which they live.” He was careful to claim that this was not disloyalty since it was about the covenant the Jews have with God and Abraham. It is an argument few find persuasive. He stressed that the nature of Jewish people is to stand apart except in Israel. He has never made an apology for being an archZionist, which begs the question why he is being put in charge of America’s Iran policy.
Since his arrival in the White House, President Trump has effectively placed U.S. policymaking for the Middle East in the hands of neocons and avowed Zionists with ties to Israel, like his son-in-law Jared Kushner who calls Netanyahu a family friend.
The Abrams appointment, however, raises questions that require answers. First, how can a man who was charged with lying to Congress over the Iran-Contra Affair be trusted? The answer is that President George H.W. Bush, who had a history of being involved with some of Latin America’s most murderous dictators, pardoned Abrams. One of those who petitioned Bush for the pardon was Attorney General William Barr. Perhaps he advocated for this new role for Abrams, though he would have had to explain to President Trump why Abrams signed a letter in 2016 opposing his candidacy for president. Aside from Barr, there are others within the White House and the State Department who would like to see the wily Abrams, a lawyer and devious operator, in charge of the Iran desk. It might surprise some to know that Abrams also has supporters among the intellectual liberal elites in Washington, especially in the State Department.
Commentator Paul Heideman, Ph.D. believes that there is little difference between liberal elites and their counterparts, and that this marriage of elites has always been a feature of U.S. foreign policymaking. He points to the fact that a Joe Biden supporter, political strategist David Harden, and former Obama-era diplomat Nicholas Burns are among those liberal elites who greatly favor Abrams.
Few experts of U.S. Latin American foreign policy dispute Abrams’s abysmal record in the region. Most striking was his tendency to play dirty, to operate in the shadows, and to lie when it suited his objectives. He has also been accused of working hard over the years to scupper any deal with the Palestinians. A classic example of how he operates concerns Iran.
In 2003, Iran invited the United States to enter into a pact in which Iran would discuss recognizing Israel. It would also talk about nuclear issues and join Washington in the war on terror. The offer was faxed secretly to the U.S. National Security Council where Abrams was the advisor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Abrams was the point man to receive the fax and to pass it on. Rice later claimed that she never received it, and Abrams denied that it had reached him. Others later confirmed its existence.
What stands out in Abram’s past are his links to Latin America and some of its most notorious leaders. At no time in the last three decades has he expressed regret for his role in supporting some of the most brutal and despicable figures the U.S. backed in its so-called war against communism in countries that included El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Chile. In all those nations, the leaders of death squads and many of the Special Forces they used to carry out the killing and disappearances, as well as the rape and murder of tens of thousands of women and young girls, were American-trained. One such death squad leader was Roberto D’Aubuisson who ordered the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero. Abrams denied that D’Aubuisson ordered the murder despite evidence to the contrary.
The question that has to be asked of the Trump administration is why it uses historically stained and ultra-partisan figures such as Abrams to deal with a part of the world where Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu would like nothing better than a war with Iran.
Richard Walker is the nom de plume of a former New York mainstream news producer who grew tired of seeing his articles censored by his bosses.