The term "conspiracy theory" has become a most effective pejorative, useful in dismissing both actual conspiracy theories and the way the world actually works, which is through networks.
For example, why did the low budget film "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" make $200 million at the U.S. box office? Was it a conspiracy? Well, sure, there were well-paid professionals meeting together regularly to try to make it a hit, but there are for all movies, few of which succeed on the same scale. No, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" was a hit because of network effects -- good word of mouth.
Something similar is true for political issues, but fewer people have strong opinions, especially on foreign policy. Take the Russia-Georgia war, for example. I consider myself reasonably well informed, but the only Georgia I know anything about is the one you can take the midnight train to.
So, people get their opinions from other people who they trust who get their opinions from other people they trust etc. etc. It doesn't take many people to start these ripples.
And they have an important effect. The American press was slow to acknowledge last week that Georgia actually started the current war with Russia, partly due, perhaps, to the absurdity of the idea of a tiny country escalating a dispute with a huge one, partly due to pro-Georgian bias.
Network effects are inevitable. It's not a conspiracy, although, as always, there are paid promoters involved (for example, John McCain's top foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann was a lobbyist for the country of Georgia).
Fortunately, we're allowed to mention those kind of network ties in polite society. What we aren't supposed to draw attention to is something that has increasingly popped up in American foreign policy over the years: the American-Israeli-ex-Soviet Union triangle.
The Israeli media has been full of stories on the close ties between at least one faction in Israel and the government of Georgia. Here's an article by the Jewish pro-Israel writer David Bedein on the subject from today's Philadelphia Evening Bulletin:
Israel Linked To Georgia Security By: David Bedein , The Bulletin
Jerusalem - The two largest suppliers to Georgia are the United States and France. Israel may not be Georgia's main arms supplier, but the scope of defense deals between the two countries stands at $200 million.
The Soldiers Are Georgian, The Arms Israeli
The Georgian army may be incapable of bearing up against an army the size of Russia's, but it certainly presents a challenge. Over the years, the security companies run by senior IDF officers, including Maj. Gen. Israel Ziv and Brig. Gen. Gal Hirsch, have been training the Georgian army's infantry battalions. These battalions use Israeli night vision equipment, arms, communications and intelligence equipment and over their heads constantly hover Israeli drones and aircraft upgraded by Israel.
Ronnie Milo, the former mayor of Tel Aviv, is also behind the deals with Georgia.
"The phenomenon of a small country standing up to Russian might is not their invention," Mr. Milo said, refusing to comment on the performance of the arms he sold. "We faced that situation for many years, and no one wanted to help us because they were afraid of the Russians and of the Arabs."
At the end of 2003, a group of young idealists, led by Mikhail Saakashvili, who was elected to the government and has a pro-Western policy, rose to power in Georgia. Mr. Saakashvili is interested in having his country join the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which also led to the conflict with Russia. As part of his efforts to join NATO, Mr. Saakashvili expanded his army to approximately 26,000 soldiers and worked to turn it into a Western-style, sophisticated army. This led to an increase in security exports from Israel amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.
Approximately two years ago, Georgia drew up an "urgent shopping list" that included dozens of millions of bullets, pilotless aircraft, night-vision equipment, mortar shells, rockets and more. Fears of a Russian response closed many doors throughout the world, but as stated, the Israeli Defense Ministry decided to allow the security companies to sell to them.
With the mediation of Ronnie Milo and his brother Shlomo (a former director-general of Israel Military Industries), who represented Elbit Systems, Su-25 ground-attack fighters were upgraded and 18 Skylark mini-drones and five Hermes 450 unmanned aerial vehicles were sold.
However, Israel Military Industries' main and most sensitive deal was the sale of Lynx mobile rocket systems. The rockets can strike within a range of dozens of miles.
At the end of 2007, Brig. Gen. Hirsch, one of the owners of the Defensive Shield company, arrived in Georgia in order to train infantry troops. Dozens of instructors arrived there in order to train infantry troops as part of the cooperation deal that was signed with the company that Brig. Gen. Hirsch owns.
After the scope of Israel's involvement became clear to the Russians, they sent a letter to Israel Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni asking that arms supplies to Georgia be discontinued.
Georgian Defense Minister Went To High School In Israel
The Georgian defense minister, Davit Kezerashvili, 30 [Huh? A 30 year old defense minister?], is a Jew who once lived in Israel. Mr. Kezerashvili was born in Georgia. As a boy, he immigrated to Israel, lived with his grandmother in Holon and even went to Kugel High School in the city.
His parents followed him to Israel. Two years later, he returned on his own to Tbilisi. His parents remained in Israel and returned to Georgia just four years ago.
Mr. Kezerashvili studied international relations at Tbilisi University. He served as the aid to Mikhail Saakashvili when the latter was appointed the head of Parliament. Mr. Kezerashvili managed to get himself appointed defense minister when Mr. Saakashvili became president.
Mr. Kezerashvili devoted a great deal of effort in preparing Georgia for a possible future conflict with Russia, and he was helped by Israeli security experts.
In an interview that was given by Defense Minister Kezerashvili's father a year ago to the Israeli daily newspaper Yediot Ahronot, he said that his son had a warm spot in his heart for Israel. "He has a lot of friends to this day in Israel, and he's maintained good relations with them," said the father.
Yakobashvilli: 'Israel Ought To Be Proud Of Itself'
"The Israelis ought to be proud of the fact that Georgian soldiers received Israeli education and training and are fighting like I don't know what," said another Georgian cabinet minister, Temur Yakobashvili, in an interview with the Israeli media.
Mr. Yakobashvili is a Hebrew-speaking Jew. "Now we have a battle with great Russia," he said, "and our hope is to receive assistance from the White House, because alone Georgia won't be able to endure. It's important that everywhere in the world people understand that what is happening in Georgia now is going to affect world order. This isn't only Georgia's business but the business of the entire region."
One Georgian MP yesterday called not only for American help but also for Israel to help Georgia stop the Russian assault. Yesterday, a short while after the Georgian parliament declared a war situation, MP Lasha Zhvania said: "We won't be able to stop the Russian aggression by military force only. We need help from the UN and from our friends as well, first and foremost the United States and Israel. Today it is a danger to Georgia; tomorrow it will be a danger to all the democratic countries in the region and in the entire world." ...
Israel Foreign Ministry: Halt Arms Sales To Georgia
According to the Israeli Haaretz newspaper, the Israel Foreign Ministry has recommended a complete halt to the sale of arms and any security-related equipment to Georgia in light of the recent fighting with Russian forces in the Caucasus. This would be a further tightening of an arms boycott on Tbilisi around a year after a decision had been made in Jerusalem to limit exports to Georgia only to defensive equipment.
Israel is concerned that Russia would choose to retaliate against Jerusalem for continued military support of Georgia by lifting restrictions on its arms transfers to Iran and Arab states.
"Israel needs to be very careful and sensitive these days," a senior foreign ministry source told Haaretz. "The Russians are selling many arms to Iran and Syria and there is no need to offer them an excuse to sell even more advanced weapons."
Israel is particularly interested in the transfer of advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missiles from Russia to Iran.
Profiles Of Israelis Helping The Georgia Defense Industries
* Maj. Gen. (res.) Yisrael Ziv, aged 61
Military Background: Served as the commander of the Paratroopers Brigade's elite reconnaissance unit during the first Lebanon War. He was the commander of the Paratroopers Brigade and the commander of the Gaza Division between 2000 and 2005.
Current Employment: Mr. Ziv is the CEO of a security consulting firm.
In Georgia: Mr. Ziv has been active in the past number of years exporting weaponry, mainly to South America. He served as a security consultant in Georgia, often in conjunction with others.
* Roni Milo, aged 59
Background: A former MK, cabinet minister and mayor of Tel Aviv.
Current Employment: Mr. Milo is a businessman.
In Georgia: Mr. Milo has been working in Georgia with his brother Shlomo, a former IAF pilot and CEO of the Israel Military Industries. He served as a mediator for Elbit Systems and the military industries. Mr. Milo succeeded in promoting a number of relatively small business deals. He tried this past year to promote the sale of 200 Merkava tanks to Georgia, but the deal was prohibited by Israel.
* Brig. Gen. (res.) Gal Hirsch, aged 44.
Military Background: This leading officer was forced to retire from the IDF in the wake of the criticism he received for his performance during the Second Lebanon War as the commander of the Galilee Division.
Current Employment: Brig. Gen. Hirsch is one of the owners of Defensive Shield, a security consulting firm.
In Georgia: According to sources in Israel, Brig. Gen. Hirsch helped the Georgians establish elite units akin to elite Israeli units.
David Bedein can be reached at email@example.com. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
As I said, this isn't so much a conspiracy as a network. It's not at all clear what the Israeli government's position is on Georgia -- the Israeli Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry appear to be squabbling over which side Israel should be on. Haaretz reported:
In a move which drew heavy criticism from defense officials, Israel's Foreign Ministry over the weekend recommended complete cessation of the sale of weapons and security-related equipment to Georgia in light of the fighting between its troops and the Russian Army. "The Foreign Ministry's approach demonstrates a naively simplistic view and a lack of understanding of the complex world of the security deals which Israel is conducting with foreign partners," a defense official told Haaretz on condition of anonymity.
But, it is clear, that some Israelis have strong interests in Georgia, and those Israelis have lots of connections in the U.S. So, say some American pundit knows a guy through their kids' soccer team who knows a lot about Georgia, and he heard it from his brother-in-law in Israel whose next-door neighbor is in business with the Georgian government -- you know, that kind of thing.
The American pundit doesn't even know that the info he's been hearing about Georgia is financially biased. And he has an inherited hatred for Russian nationalists, so he is inclined by childhood indoctrination to believe whatever spiel he's hearing about plucky little Georgia standing up to the new Czar in the Kremlin.
These network biases are natural. What is unnatural is that we Americans have unilaterally disarmed our national immune system against people yanking our chains. We aren't supposed to ever notice the pattern. When we hear this kind of propaganda, we aren't allowed to laugh and say, "Oh, man, this isn't another one of those Israeli weapons deals again, now is it?"
And of course we absolutely aren't allowed to mention what a large fraction of American pundits, reporters, editors, owners, and advertisers are Jewish.
Once again, this is not an example of Jewish conspiracy, but of Jewish networks and neuroses.
What American needs are a sense of humor about Jewish networks and neuroses and their impact on American foreign policy, but that's not permitted.