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Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Dine, Thomas

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  • Israel Policy Forum: Senior Policy Advisor

  • Search for Common Ground: Senior Advisor

  • American Israel Public Affairs Committee: Former Director

  • Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Former President

  • Committee for the Liberation of Iraq: Former Advisor

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Thomas Dine, former head of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) for 13 years and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty for eight years, is a long time adviser to organizations that advocate on U.S. Middle East policy. He currently is vice chair of the board of Freedom House, a human rights group closely aligned with neoconservatives.[1]

Dine has a track record of collaborating with hawkish political factions to support U.S. overseas military interventions, including the invasion of Iraq. Shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Dine joined Eliot Cohen, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Richard Perle, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), and a number of other hardline foreign policy elites to create the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. Established in late 2002, its purpose was "to promote regional peace, political freedom, and international security by replacing the Saddam Hussein regime with a democratic government that respects the rights of the Iraqi people and ceases to threaten the community of nations."

Dine was also involved in championing the first Gulf War. As AIPAC director during the lead up to that war, he worked behind the scenes to garner support for U.S. intervention. Reported the Wall Street Journal at that time: "When Congress debated going to war with Iraq, the pro-Israel lobby stayed in the background—but not out of the fight. Leaders of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee now acknowledge it worked in tandem with the [George H. W.] Bush administration to win passage of a resolution authorizing the president to commit U.S. troops to combat. The behind-the-scenes campaign avoided AIPAC's customary high profile in the Capitol and relied instead on activists—calling sometimes from Israel itself—to contact lawmakers and build on public endorsements by major Jewish organizations. 'Yes, we were active,' says AIPAC Director Thomas Dine. 'These are the great issues of our time. If you sit on the sidelines, you have no voice.'"[2]

During his tenure as head of AIPAC, Dine oversaw the tremendous expansion of the lobbying group. The Washington Report on Mideast Affairs reported in 1993 that, “In Dine's 13 years as executive director, AIPAC grew from 24 employees and a budget of $1.4 million to a staff of 158 and a budget of $15 million. Membership climbed from 8,000 to a claimed 55,000 (although the Washington Jewish Week reports that declarations to the post office by AIPAC's weekly Near East Report indicate actual paid membership of no more than 40,000 to 45,000). Most important, Dine pointed out, are the huge increases in U.S. financial assistance to Israel brokered by AIPAC. In 1980, Israel received most of its U.S. military and economic aid in the form of loans, which would have to be paid back. Today Israel's $4.3 billion in military and economic assistance is all in grants, and it is receiving an additional $2 billion in U.S. loan guarantees annually.”[3]

Dine also seems to have played an important role in developing AIPAC’s research-oriented work, which eventually led to the establishment of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). Kathleen and Bill Christison, two former CIA analysts, write that among Dine’s“most significant accomplishments” was when he established an analytical unit inside AIPAC that published in-depth analyses and position papers for congressmen and policymakers. Dine believed that anyone who could provide policymakers with books and papers focusing on Israel's strategic value to the U.S. would effectively ‘own’ the policymakers.”[4] Former AIPAC figure M.J. Rosenberg writes that he was in the room with Dine when Steven Rosen suggested “his plan for an AIPAC cutout that would do AIPAC's work but appear independent.”[5] Thus was born WINEP, which took over the policy research side of AIPAC’s work.

In early 2010, Dine’s name was mentioned in connection to an FBI investigation into AIPAC’s work during the mid-1980s.[6] The investigation, details of which were revealed in declassified documents obtained by writer Grant Smith, was spurred by the theft of aconfidential U.S. document about the 1984 U.S.-Israel Free Trade Area Negotiations, which the FBI discovered had been acquired by officials at AIPAC.[7] According to the Washington Post’s Jeff Stein, “U.S. trade officials were furious at the discovery, ‘most angered by the fact that the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) had apparently attempted to influence members of Congress with the use of a purloined copy of the [document] and had usurped their authority.’”[8]

Since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Dine has been involved in a number of moderate policy efforts. He has been a consultant to the Israel Policy Forum, which promotes U.S. diplomatic engagement in the Middle East, including a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestine conflict, and has supported efforts by the Barack Obama administration to dialogue with states in the region.[9]

In 2007, he became part of the Leadership Group on U.S.-Muslim Engagement, then a collaborative project of Search for Common Ground and the Consensus Building Institute, which produced the report Changing Course: A New Direction for U.S. Relations with the Muslim World. According to the organization’s website, “the Leadership Group has formed a clear and strong consensus on a strategy to enhance U.S. and international security by working more intensively and directly on the underlying causes of tension with key Muslim countries and communities.” [10]

Starting the same year, Dine became a senior advisor to Search for Common Ground’s U.S.-Syria Program, which aims to promote normalization in relations between the two countries. According to an interview, he joined the effort in part to clean up the mess made by the Bush administration in the Middle East.[11]

Dine was part of a July 2009 Israel Policy Forum task force that produced a report entitled After Cairo and Iran: Next Steps for U.S. Diplomacy in the Middle East.It called for continued negotiations with Tehran, despite the election turmoil in the country at that time, and stepped up efforts to accelerate the 2002 "road map" for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Wrote one commentator about the report, “At a time when hawks in the U.S. have attacked the Obama administration's Middle East strategy, calling on it to take a harder line against Iran and alleviate its diplomatic pressure on Israel, the report offers a notable show of support for the administration's strategy—along with a number of suggestions for ‘fine-tuning’ it.”[12]

Dine served for eight years as president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), the U.S. government broadcast service that was notorious for its CIA-funded, pro-West broadcasts into the Soviet Union during the Cold War. At the time he left, in 2005, RFE/RL was being broadcasted to 19 countries in 28 languages, with most directed at countries with a Muslim majority. During his tenure, Dine saw RFE/RLbecome a tool in the “war on terrorism” when its broadcasts were expanded to the former Soviet Union, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.[13]

In 2009, Dine was hired as a consultant to Alhurra, the Arabic-language satellite news service created during the administration of George W. Bush to broadcast U.S. perspectives on foreign policy to the Middle East. According to ProPublica, Dine said “his knowledge of the Middle East, would help him to promote the network on Capitol Hill and within the Obama administration.” [14]

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Sources


[1]Freedom House, “Thomas A. Dine,” http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?boardmember=66&page=10.



[2]David Rogers, “Pro-Israel Lobbyists Quietly Backed Resolution Allowing Bush to Commit U.S. Troops to Combat,” Wall Street Journal, January 28, 1991.



[3]Richard H. Curtiss, “Changing the Guard at AIPAC to Please the Rabin Government,” Washington Report on Mideast Affairs, September/October 1993, http://www.wrmea.com/backissues/0993/9309012.html.



[4]Kathleen and Bill Christison, “Yes, There Is An Israel Lobby,” Counterpunch, June 16/18, 2006, http://www.counterpunch.org/christison06162006.html.



[5]M.J. Rosenberg, “Steve Walt Exposes WINEP/AIPAC's Satloff ...Plus I Re-State Offensive Truths...Plus Proof of The GOP/ Racism Nexus...Plus My Take On the Obama Plan,” Talking Points Memo, April 10, 2010, http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/04/10/i_recant_conservatives_dont_lile_israel_because_th/.



[6]The Israel Media Archive, "AIPAC, Espionage and the US-Israel Free Trade Agreement," http://www.irmep.org/ila/fta/; “No Thanks, Ester Katz,” Pulse, March 2010, http://pulsemedia.org/2010/03/.



[7]Jeff Stein, “Israeli intelligence, our constant companion,” Washington Post, March 24, 2010, http://blog.washingtonpost.com/spy-talk/2010/03/israeli_spies_our_constant_com.html.



[8]Jeff Stein, “Israeli intelligence, our constant companion,” Washington Post, March 24, 2010, http://blog.washingtonpost.com/spy-talk/2010/03/israeli_spies_our_constant_com.html.



[9]Israel Policy Forum, http://www.israelpolicyforum.org/.



[10]U.S.-Muslim Engagement Initiative, History, http://www.usmuslimengagement.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id14&itemid=43



[11]Deborah Amos, “Tom Dine gets to know Damascus: Advocates of engagement with Syria have an unlikely ally — one of America's most high-profile pro-Israel lobbyists,” GlobalPost, March 19, 2009, http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/worldview/090319/tom-dine-gets-know-damascus



[12]Daniel Luban, “Report Urges Continued U.S. Diplomatic Push,” Inter Press Service, July 18, 2009, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=47715.



[13]Press Release, “Dine Departs as RFE/RL Head, Trimble Named Acting President,” November 8, 2005, http://www.rferl.org/content/pressrelease/1105829.html.



[14]Dafna Linzer, “Alhurra Targeted for Review by State Dept. Inspector General,” ProPublica, September 7, 2009, http://www.propublica.org/feature/alhurra-targeted-for-review-by-state-dept.-inspector-general-917.



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Dine, Thomas Résumé


Affiliations

  • Alhurra: Consultant

  • Freedom House: Board of Trustees, Vice Chair

  • Search for Common Ground: Senior Advisor for US-Syria Program

  • American Friends of the Czech Republic: President and Director

  • Israel Policy Forum: Senior Policy Advisor

  • Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco: Former CEO

  • Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Former President (1997-2005)

  • Committee for the Liberation of Iraq: Former Member

  • American Israel Public Affairs Committee: Former Executive Director (1980-1993)

  • Brookings Institute: Former Senior Fellow

  • Council on Foreign Relations: Member


 



Government

  • U.S. Agency for International Development: Assistant Administrator for Europe and the New Independent States (1993-1997)

  • U.S. Senate: Advisor to Sen. Edmund Muskie (D-ME) and to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) (1979-1980)

  • Senate Budget Committee: National Security Staff Director (1975-1978)

  • Senate Special Committee on National Emergencies and Delegated Powers: Senior Analyst (1973-1974)

  • U.S. Senate: Legislative Assistant to Sen. Frank Church (D-ID) (1970-1974)

  • Peace Corps: Volunteer (1962-1964)


 



Education

  • Johns Hopkins University: M.A.

  • University of California/Los Angeles: M.A.

  • Colgate University: B.A.


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