[QODLink]
Archive
Elliott Abrams: Neo-con and near convict
Many political observers were amazed when Elliott Abrams was appointed by the US administration to head the Middle East desk at the National Security Council.
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2004 15:28 GMT
Elliott Abrams: 'Remarkably under qualified for the job'
Many political observers were amazed when Elliott Abrams was appointed by the US administration to head the Middle East desk at the National Security Council.

Described privately by State Department employees as "a neo-con at birth" and "an American Likudnik", others have been less kind.

The Centre of Strategic and International Studies's own Anthony Cordesman commented that Abrams was "remarkably underqualified for the job" .

Whereas James Zogby, of the Arab American Institute, described his appointment as "a dangerous message to the Arab World".

Dangerous?

Abrams' political career began as assistant secretary of state for human rights in the Reagan era.

But he was indicted in 1991 for presenting false testimony to Congress over the Iran Contra scandal in 1987.

It turned out that Abrams had helped arm the Nicaraguan rebels despite a congressional prohibition.

The scheme involved encouraging Israel to sell US-made weapons to Iran, which in turn secretly sent weapons to the Latin American rebels.

But the diplomat avoided a jail sentence when he pleaded guilty to two lesser offences of withholding information to Congress.

He was awarded a pardon on Christmas night 1992 by the then outgoing president George Bush Snr.

Despite lying to Congress, Abrams became a senior director of the National Security Council for Democracy, Human Rights, and International Operations in South America in 2002.

Within 12 months, his record was clearly impressive enough for him to be appointed chief at the Near East and South West Asia section.

Abrams has been described as an "American Likudnik" and "remarkably underqualified for the job" at the NSC's Middle East Desk

His move came at the expense of three National Security employees who had shown greater even-handedness in dealing with Palestinian issues, according to the British Gulf States Times magazine.

Not even-handed

In the words of The New York Times, Abrams is "a passionate advocate of Israel".

Some of his family members live in Israel, and his wife - Rachel - is the daughter of Midge Decter and stepdaughter of Norman Podhoretz.

Decker and Podhoretz are pioneers of the neoconservative movement, which came into being after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war - largely to justify Israel's retention of occupied Palestinian land.

A prolific writer about Israel and Jews, Abrams' 1997 book, Faith or Fear: How Jews Can Survive in Christian America, criticises intermarriage as a danger to the survival of Jews in the United States.

Abrams opposed the landmark Oslo peace negotiations of 1993 between Israel and Yasir Arafat, arguing that Arafat should not be trusted.

Source:
Aljazeera
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.