Uzi Arad: Israel’s Dr. Strangelove

Uzi Arad: drawn to the 'dark side'

Uzi Arad is one of those Darth Vader-like figures so common in the Israeli intelligence netherworld. He reminds me of Michael Ledeen, except that he’s a great deal more powerful within Israeli policy circles than Ledeen is within the U.S.  Perhaps Dick Cheney would be an even better analogy.  If you look at the accompanying photo, the lighting and dark background makes him look a bit like Mephistopheles.

Currently, he is Bibi Netanyahu’s national security advisor. Except that he seems to be on the outs with just about everyone else in the current government. And in a government as right-wing as this one, it should give you some idea about how outlandish Arad’s views are.  Defense minister Ehud Barak and the prime minister’s office want nothing to do with him. When you read the following from Maariv you may understand why.  Among other things, Arad opposes a peace proposal offered by Kadima calling it “political adventurism.”  He also opposes the two-state solution claiming it “legitimizes” Palestinians and “delegitimizes” Israel.  He strongly favors an attack on Iran:

In a speech to the members of the Jewish Agency Assembly in Jerusalem, Arad said of the peace initiative being pushed by high-ranking Kadima officials, “Some say that we need to offer a peace initiative…There is no need to think that this is the magic and promised solution.

“We must not believe that the moment we do this, things will resolve on their own and then we will be saved. Such an initiative is only liable to cause the Palestinians to reject it and wait for another initiative on the understanding that Israel only gives. And therefore, I propose the commandment of caution. Making projections about the implications of what might happen is political adventurism.”

Arad also leveled veiled criticism at the two-state solution. “On the one hand, most of the people of Israel see the two-state solution as the path to a peace agreement. There are even quite a few Israelis who have mobilized for a Palestinian state and the promotion of its legitimacy, and are winning converts to it.

“What they do not notice is that this claims a certain price. The more you market Palestinian legitimacy, the more you bring about a detraction of Israel’s legitimacy in certain circles. They are accumulating legitimacy, and we are being delegitimized. If we were aware of that, perhaps we would be less enthusiastic.”

Regarding the subject of a strike on Iran, Arad mentioned the American position: “When people talk today about the military option—American, Israeli or of any other country—there is no argument over the legal aspect.

“The question that arises is only whether it is worthwhile and will it achieve the desired result, but there is no doubt regarding the operation’s legitimacy.”

Arad mentioned the doctrine that was developed by President Bush senior, who developed the idea of “having the cure precede the disease, because otherwise, it might be too late.”

Whenever a propagandist like Arad tells you there is “no doubt” about something, know that there is a great deal of it.  In fact, you can’t go wrong believing precisely the opposite of whatever he does, if you want to retain some sense of political reality.  Among other notorious flippancies for which he is credited is the comment that an attack on Iran is “easier than you think.”  So easy in fact, that Arad’s certainty should remind us of another pair of political charlatans who sold us a bill of goods in the lead-up to the Iraq war.

Arad is also a proponent of something similar to Avigdor Lieberman’s “territorial exchange” program, though Arad’s would expel Palestinians from the West Bank and dump them in the Sinai (I kid you not).  He has said:

“We want to relieve ourselves of the burden of Palestinian populations, not the territories.”

Arad was barred from entering the U.S. for two years during the Bush administration because of his key role as a Mossad operative in the Rosen-Franklin spy scandal.  He is known to have met regularly with Larry Franklin.  The Obama administration, wanting to start off on the right foot with Netanyahu after he became prime minister, removed this prohibition.  Now, Arad is welcome back in DC despite his checkered past.