Say It Ain't So, Jimmy
It's hard to read Alan Dershowitz's denunciation of former President Jimmy Carter without getting a sinking feeling. Dershowitz summarizes the huge sums which investigative journalists now say Jimmy Carter received from Arab and Islamic sources. And they are considerable. The Saudis bailed out his peanut farm in 1976. The infamous BCCI and Saudi billionaire Gaith Pharaon actually helped with the startup funding of the Carter Center. Carter himself is quoted fulsomely thanking Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, the long time ruler of the UAE, for donating half a million dollars. From what is known Carter has received tens of millions of dollars from Arab and Islamic sources. And that, argues Dershowitz, is behind the former President's tireless campaigning against Israel. He says so in the most brutal and accusatory terms: "Carter ... has been bought and paid for by anti-Israel Arab and Islamic money." But it is one of Dershowitz's sources, Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, who provides the most food for thought: "seems that AIPAC's (American-Israel Political Action Committee) real fault was its failure to outdo the Saudi's purchases of the former president's loyalty". The sinking feeling is the realization that this is what political viewpoints might come down to.
America began as a minor power on the world stage. It was to the capitals of Europe that the shadowy men made their pilgrimage. But since 1945, and into the foreseeable future the capital of the planet will be Washington. Today, the city by the Potomac is not just the capital city of the United States, it is in a real and meaningful sense the political center of the world. And now it is no longer just to the capitals of Europe that the influence-peddlers make their journey. It is to Washington, DC. America was designed as a Republic but it is now under the same sort of pressure that beset empires. Cunning men from the outlying provinces will wend their way into and whisper in the corridors at court. Although it hasn't happened yet, America's global role means that politicians in Washington will often be divided between a loyalty to the US voters who elected them into office and debts of gratitude to the foreign lobbies that make it possible for them to campaign successfully. The coming elections in 2008 will be the first billion dollar election in history. If this is the way the game is played, with AIPAC in a bidding war with the Muslim money, where does Kansas come in?
I think it would be a mistake to see this solely in terms of the prisms of the "Jewish Lobby" and the "Saudi lobby". That is the focus because of the circumstances of this case. But I think that the problem is far more general. There were rumors of Chinese influence in the Clinton White House. Who knows what lobbies corrupt Latin American governments fund. And I was personally horrified to discover that even the small Philippine government once employed one Mario Crespo, AKA Mark Jimenez, who was once an expert on Latin America, to lobby the Clintons. Crespo has just completed a Federal jail term and is now back in the Philippines where he was once again implicated in corruption allegations involving the current President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. A LOT of foreign lobbies want influence in Washington. How does one guard against that?