Washington Institute for Near East Policy

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Established in 1985, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) is known as the think thank of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and described as a major lobbying organization.[1] Martin Indyk, WINEP's founding director, is a former AIPAC research director. Whereas AIPAC mainly focuses on the Congress, WINEP was developed into a think tank devoted to maintaining and strengthening the US-Israel alliance through advocacy in the media and lobbying the executive branch. [2] WINEP is funded and run by individuals that have proved themselves to be deeply committed to advancing the Israeli agenda.[3]

Contents

History

Israel/Palestine

On the eve of the 1988 presidential elections, with the first Palestinian intifada underway, WINEP made its bid to become a major player in US Middle East policy discussions by issuing a report entitled "Building for Peace: An American Strategy for the Middle East." [4] The report urged the incoming administration to "resist pressures for a procedural breakthrough (on Palestinian-Israeli peace issues) until conditions have ripened." Six members of the study group responsible for the report joined the first Bush administration, which adopted this stalemate recipe not to change until change was unavoidable. Hence, the US acceded to Israel's refusal to negotiate with the Palestine Liberation Organization despite the PLO's recognition of Israel at the November 1988 session of the Palestine National Council. [5]

When Israel became serious about attempting to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, it circumvented the US-sponsored negotiations in Washington (and the pro-Israel lobby) and spoke directly to representatives of the PLO in Oslo. The result was the 1993 Oslo Declaration of Principles. [6]

Thus, the adoption of WINEP's policy recommendation to "resist pressures for a procedural breakthrough" by both the Bush and Clinton administrations delayed the start of meaningful Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, contributed to the demonization of the PLO and multiplied the casualty rateof the first Palestinian intifada. [7]

Despite what might reasonably be judged as a major policy failure, WINEP's influence grew, especially in the mass media. Its associates, especially deputy director Patrick Clawson, director for policy and planning Robert Satloff and senior fellow Michael Eisenstadt, appear frequently on television and radio talk shows as commentators on Middle East issues. Its board of advisors includes Mortimer Zuckerman, editor-in-chief of U.S. News & World Report, and Martin Peretz, editor-in-chief of The New Republic. [8]

Islam

WINEP's advocacy extended to matters far beyond the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Well before most Americans took note of radical Islam as a potential threat to their security, for instance, WINEP and its associates were promoting the notion that Israel is a reliable US ally against the spread of Islamism. After Israel expelled over 400 alleged Palestinian Islamist activists from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in December 1992, Israeli television Middle East analyst and WINEP associate Ehud Yaari wrote an op-ed in the New York Times summarizing his Hebrew television report of a vast US-based conspiracy to fund Hamas. WINEP's 1992 annual Soref Symposium "Islam and the US: Challenges for the Nineties" focused on whether or not Islam was a danger to the United States. At that event, Martin Indyk argued that the US ought not to encourage democracy in countries that were friendly to Washington, like Jordan and Egypt, and that political participation should be limited to secular parties. This recommendation seemed like a formula for ensuring that Islamist forces would forsake legal political action and engage in armed struggle - precisely what happened in Egypt from 1992 to 1997. [9]

Clinton Administration

The Clinton administration was even more thoroughly colonized by WINEP associates than its predecessor. Eleven signatories of the final report of WINEP's 1992 commission on US-Israeli relations, "Enduring Partnership," joined the Clinton administration. Among them were National Security Advisor Anthony Lake, UN Ambassador and later Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, Undersecretary of Commerce Stuart Eisenstat and the late Les Aspin, Clinton's first secretary of defense. Shortly after assuming office in 1993, the Clinton administration announced a policy of "dual containment" aimed at isolating Iran and Iraq. The principal formulator and spokesperson for that policy was Martin Indyk, in his new role as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Near East and South Asian Affairs at the National Security Council. [10]

George W. Bush Administration

In the George W. Bush's administration, however, WINEP's influence was outflanked on the right by individuals linked to more monolithically neo-conservative and hawkish think tanks like the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) and the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). [11]

WINEP's aim to influence foreign policy in relation to Iraq was also evident in letters to Clinton in 1998. The letters called on Sadam's Hussain's removal from power, but at the time they were unable to sell a war to Clinton in order to achieve that objective. Many of the letters signatories had close ties to pro-Israel groups like JINSA or WINEP, signatories included Elliot Abrams, John Bolton, Douglas Feith, William Kristol, Bernard Lewis, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz. [12]

People

Staff

Experts

Samer Abu Libdeh Soner Cagaptay Patrick Clawson Michael Eisenstadt
Christopher Hamilton Simon Henderson Michael Herzog Mark Hicks
Emily Hunt Mehdi Khalaji Michael Knights Martin Kramer
David Makovsky Hala Mustafa Mark Parris Robert Rabil
Dennis Ross Robert Satloff David Schenker Raymond Tanter
Jeffrey White Moshe Yaalon Andrew J. Shapiro  

Former fellows include Hirsh Goodman and Ze'ev Schiff.[13]

Resources

Notes

  1. Juan Cole, Engaging the Muslim World, (Palgrave Macmillan 2009) p. 20
  2. 'Profile: WINEP', Right Web, accessed 3 April, 2009.
  3. John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, 'The Israel Lobby', London Review of Books, 23 March, 2006. (Accessed 14 September, 2010)
  4. '"Building for Peace: An American Strategy for the Middle East" - Executive Summary', WINEP website, accessed 3 April, 2009.
  5. Excerpt from Joel Beinin, 'Pro-Israel Hawks and the Second Gulf War', Media Monitor, 8 April, 2003.
  6. 'Israeli-Palestinian Peace – What’s Iraq got to do with it?', Stanford University website, 27 February, 2003. (Accessed 3 April, 2009)
  7. Excerpt from Joel Beinin, 'Pro-Israel Hawks and the Second Gulf War', Media Monitor, 8 April, 2003.
  8. 'Israeli-Palestinian Peace – What’s Iraq got to do with it?', Stanford University website, 27 February, 2003. (Accessed 3 April, 2009)
  9. Excerpt from Joel Beinin, 'Pro Israel Hawks in Washington', The Neocons Lay Their Plans, 6 April, 2003. (Accessed 3 April, 2009)
  10. Excerpt from Joel Beinin, 'Pro Israel Hawks in Washington', The Neocons Lay Their Plans, 6 April, 2003. (Accessed 3 April, 2009)
  11. Excerpt from Joel Beinin, 'Pro Israel Hawks in Washington', The Neocons Lay Their Plans, 6 April, 2003. (Accessed 3 April, 2009.) Joel Beinin is a contributing editor of Middle East Report, and professor of Middle East history at Stanford University.
  12. John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, 'The Israel Lobby', London Review of Books, 23 March, 2006. (Accessed 8 July, 2008)
  13. Goldberg (1996): 221
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