I just received an invitation from Veterans for Peace (Chapter 63) to hear Emile Nakhleh speak on zoom on Monday evening, March 13. Born in Galilee, Palestine in 1938, Professor Nakhleh is a former CIA Senior Intelligence Service Officer, Director of the Global and National Security Policy Institute at UNM, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He writes and lectures on Israeli and Palestinian issues, political Islam, Islamic radicalization, climate disaster in the Middle East, and the Arab state of the Middle East.
On the 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Professor Nakhleh published a paper entitled “The Iraq War was dominated by groupthink and absolutely no humility” in which he concluded:
Intelligence and policy expertise on Iraq were made available to policymakers at the highest levels, but such expertise and in-depth analysis were ignored. Groupthink and seemingly a lack of interest in what expert analysts had to offer underpinned the war decision, which in turn resulted in the debacle that followed.
As the country observes the 20th anniversary of the Iraq invasion and before our leaders embark on another regime change adventure, they should base their decision on deep expertise about the target country, strong and verifiable intelligence, a nationally acceptable rationale, and clear end-game objectives. Above all, they should display genuine humility regarding the limits of the United States’ ability to control the unfolding of events and the resulting outcomes and broader repercussions.Responsible Statecraft – February 27, 2023
A year after President Biden took office, Professor Nakhleh shared his advice about how the Administration should respond to Netanyahu and the Israel-Palestine
Over the years, America’s unfettered support for Netanyahu’s anti-Palestinian policies have empowered him to jettison the peace process and continue his aggressive settlement projects in Palestinian areas of Jerusalem and the West Bank. With American support, Netanyahu has advanced the false narrative that the “Arab street” has gotten tired of the Palestinian issue, thereby giving him the excuse to ignore the core issue of the Israeli occupation and deep-seated Palestinian humiliation and misery. Arab reaction to the destruction in Gaza and the Arab uprising in Israel have unmasked the falsehood of Netanyahu’s narrative.
The Biden administration has the opportunity—and the support of a significant segment of the Democratic Party in Congress—to right this imbalance. Biden should tell Netanyahu, in word and in deed, that he sees a distinction between Israel as a state, which we support, and Netanyahu as a politician, whose policies we have the right to question. America’s support for Israel’s security doesn’t automatically extend to Netanyahu’s anti-Palestinian policies—domestically and regionally.Netanyahu’s Obsession and the Palestinian Uprising, The Cipher Brief, May 20, 2021
This is certainly a man I want to hear from and I’m looking forward to the zoom gathering on Monday evening.
My questions for Professor Nakhleh:
- Given the current realities in Israel and Palestine, and the level of official state-sanctioned violence against the Palestinians, how would Professor Nakhleh advise President Biden if he had his ear and undivided attention?
- If President Biden took my advice to heart (see here) and spelled out the nature of the “special relationship” between Israel and the U.S., what would Professor Nakhleh recommend that Biden include on the list of actions, policies or norms that, if Netanyahu violated any of them, the Biden Administration would acknowledge that Israel has undermined these shared values, interests, and policy goals….and take appropriate action in response?
- Who are the loudest voices on foreign policy in the Biden Administration today? What role should the American public play in trying to shape U.S. foreign policy?
- What does Professor Nakhleh understand is the biggest impediment to the U.S. playing a constructive role in the Middle East?
I’m sure I’m going to learn a lot from Professor Nakhleh.