Thomas H. Naylor is Founder of the Second Vermont Republic and Professor Emeritus of Economics at Duke University; co-author of Affluenza, Downsizing the U.S.A., and The Search for Meaning.
CounterPunch March 06, 2012
“We are you, and you are us,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrogantly proclaimed to President Barack Obama in the White House recently.
How is it possible that Israel, a tiny country with only eight million people, can have so much influence over the foreign policy of the most powerful empire of all-time? Yet Israel played a major role in shaping the war on terror against Islam, the war with Afghanistan, two wars with Iraq, and the annihilation of Libya by NATO. And now Israel is aggressively doing everything within its power to provoke a war between the United States and Iran – a war which could quite easily precipitate World War III. That’s a lot!
The $3 billion in annual economic and military aid which the United States officially provides Israel enables it to engage in continuous acts of terrorism, genocide, and ethnic cleansing against its Palestinian neighbors whose land was stolen by Israel at its inception back in 1948. This process of Israeli expansion into Palestinian occupied territory continues unabated. The Obama administration pretends to be opposed to further Israeli encroachment into Palestinian lands, but obviously couldn’t care less.
The moral justification for all of this can be traced to the Holocaust. Because six million Jews were killed by the Nazis in World War II, Jews are entitled to their own country within what was once the Biblical Holy Land. Never mind the fact that the land happened to be occupied by Palestinians. For similar reasons, Jews are also entitled to revenge against anyone or any government which challenges the moral authority of Israel. According to Israeli writer Gilad Atzmon in his provocative book entitled The Wandering Who?, this way of thinking has given rise to a new Jewish religion grounded in revenge, which he calls the “Holocaust religion.” In the name of Jewish suffering, the Holocaust religion “issues licenses to kill, to flatten, to nuke, to annihilate, to loot, to ethnically cleanse. It has made vengeance into an acceptable Western value.” According to Holocaust theology a nuclear attack against Iran by either Israel or the United States would be morally justifiable, since Iran has challenged Israel’s right to exist. “Israel has the right to defend itself.”
Because Americans were slow to respond to the horrors of the Holocaust, they are expected to do penance. The U.S. government is obliged to provide Israel with unconditional economic and military support. It must veto all U.N. Security Council resolutions deemed to be critical of Israel and boycott all international conferences which might embarrass Israel.
Israel expects the United States to treat it as its only true ally in the Middle East. The so-called Arab-Israeli peace process is a complete sham, since the United States always sides with Israel.
In return for the unconditional support which the United States extends to Israel, Israel is encouraged to destabilize the Middle East so as to justify American intervention in the region enabling it to hegemonize the supply of oil. It’s all a very cozy relationship.
The Israeli military machine is free to invade any country in the Middle East of its choosing and can expect the full support of the Pentagon, no questions asked. Israel is the only country in the Middle East which has the right to possess nuclear weapons. Any other country in the region which aspires to membership in the elite club will be demonized and treated as a terrorist state.
Few Americans are aware of the role Israel played in derailing détente in 1974 and prolonging the Cold War unnecessarily for at least fifteen years by accusing the Soviet Union of discrimination against Soviet Jews who wanted to leave. The charges were a complete fabrication. The vast majority of Soviet citizens allowed to emigrate to the West between 1968 and 1989 were, in fact, Jews. By portraying itself as both a victim of communism and America’s only true non-communist friend in the Middle East, Israel extracted billions of dollars from the United States to finance its never ending war with the Palestinians. This strategy also helped deflect public opinion away from Israel’s own human rights abuses.
All of this is made possible by the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), our nation’s most powerful political lobbying organization. Anyone who has the audacity to challenge America’s foreign policy towards Israel is by definition an anti-Semite and can expect to receive the full wrath of the Israeli Lobby and become the target of a disinformation campaign. Candidates for Congress who are not openly pro-Israel will fall victim to a negative media blitz which virtually assures political defeat.
Nothing better illustrates the power of AIPAC than the invitation by Columbia University to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak on the campus on September 24, 2007. Rather than withdrawing the invitation in response to the political firestorm created by the Israeli Lobby, Columbia’s President Lee Bollinger opted personally to introduce Ahmadinejad. His introduction took the form of a highly inflammatory, arrogant, insulting diatribe against the University’s guest – all to appease AIPAC and its constituents. As a graduate of Columbia University, I was overcome by a sense of shame as a result of Bollinger’s demagogic behavior. He reminded me of white racist politicians such as George W. Wallace and Ross Barnett in the South in the 1960s. The rage against Iran expressed by Republican Presidential candidates Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum is more of the same.
Since President Ahmadinejad is one of only a handful of surviving political leaders in the world who has ever stood up against Israel and the United States, he must not only be demonized but eventually taken out. Indeed, there is no more important test of one’s Americanism than one’s stand against Iran and its president.
In the eyes of the United States, Iran has been persona non grata since Iranian revolutionaries seized the U.S. Embassy on November 4, 1979. Few Americans recall that in 1953 when the Eisenhower administration disapproved of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, the CIA removed him from office, had him placed under house arrest, and installed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi as head of state. Most Americans have also forgotten that Ronald Reagan collaborated with his buddy Saddam Hussein to destroy Iran. All the while Reagan had arranged for the Israelis to sell weapons to the Iranians to finance the Contras in Nicaragua whose aim was to overthrow the duly elected Sandinista government. Such financial aid had been specifically banned by the U.S. Congress. Is there any wonder that the Iranian government is not particularly fond of the United States?
Although American politicians like to quote the Founding Fathers, no admonition has ever been more systematically ignored than President George Washington’s warning in his 1796 farewell address, about the inherent dangers of blindly siding with one nation, “a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of ills.”
The U.S.-Israeli relationship gets right to the very essence of what the American Empire is all about. The United States and Israel are the two foremost technofascist nations in the world. That’s why there is such a close symbiotic relationship between the two war mongering nations. The answer to the question, “Who controls whom?” remains in doubt. But as we previously noted, Israel is nevertheless useful to the United States, even though it pulls our string.
About Israel, Human Scale author Kirkpatrick Sale once said, “The original idea of a Jewish state was a mistake, and to establish it in an Islamic Middle East essentially by force and with the immiseration of millions of natives was a tragic mistake. We are reaping the awful results of that error today.” Continuing he said, “It is not so easy to know what to do to undo that mistake, but I would argue that a world that can make a state can unmake it.”
Because the compliant American media marches in lockstep to the beat of the AIPAC drum, no change in the U.S. – Israeli relationship is expected anytime soon.
The only way to stop Israeli terrorism is for the U.S. to discontinue all economic and military aid to Israel. Only then will the fighting cease. But this will never happen so long as the Empire remains intact. So strong are the ties between Israel and the United States that only the dissolution of the Union itself could put an end to the relationship.
If there is any hope for Israel and Palestine, it lies in some form of Swiss federalism. The crux of the Swiss Confederation is a loosely defined three-dimensional matrix consisting of 26 cantons, 4 cultures, and 7 major departments of the federal government. One could envision Gaza, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights as Palestinian cantons which cooperate with Israel, the State which surrounds two of them.
Nothing good can ever come from the confluence of American military might and the lust for revenge of Israel.
|Caught Between Israeli Demands & Iranian Baiting
(source: Middle East Monitor Online)
The Americans would be foolish to commit themselves to an attack on Iran based on Israeli intelligence, for the latter’s claims about a nuclear threat from Tehran go back almost twenty years; the threat has yet to manifest itself. Official documents leaked by Wikileaks, media interviews and published statements made by Israelis, including incumbent prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are full of such allegations. In his latest performance in Washington, Netanyahu invoked the Nazi Holocaust in his attempt to persuade President Barak Obama that an attack on Iran is in America’s interest. He claimed that the US did not respond to Jewish calls for help when most needed (manifestly untrue, as history illustrates). The ploy failed and Netanyahu returned from whence he came, empty-handed. The world is still relatively safe, at least for now.
Viewed from both sides, it is clear that the Iranians and Israelis are equally determined to maximise their political gains over the nuclear issue. For the Israelis, it serves as a convenient distraction from their illegal settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, and their discriminatory Judaisation policies. Predictably, the so-called Middle East peace process didn’t feature in the talks between Obama and Netanyahu. This is a far cry from their previous meetings, which were poisoned, from the Israeli perspective, by Obama’s demand for an end to the settlement programme.
Iran, meanwhile, has also benefited. It has managed to project its geo-political interest in the Gulf and create a sphere of influence that runs all the way from Baghdad through Damascus to Beirut. As if to goad their critics, some Iranian officials openly brag that their country is a de facto nuclear power. Persistent affirmations that its nuclear programme is intended purely for peaceful purposes have done nothing to assuage anxieties in the small Gulf States; some actually believe Iran now poses a threat. More than any other, the main beneficiary from the nuclear scare is America’s military industrial complex, which in recent years has secured massive contracts to supply “defensive” hardware to the Gulf States.
However, there is an important difference between the two states. While Israel has been a serial aggressor against its neighbours, and has often threatened to use its nuclear weapons against them, Iran has never attacked any of its neighbours. Accordingly, President Obama was right when he pointed out to his largely Jewish audience at AIPAC that “loose talk” about war could be dangerous. Tensions are already high, with accusations and counter-accusations about Israel’s assassination of Iranian scientists and Tehran’s alleged attacks on Israeli diplomats.
Although the Iranians should have learnt from the experience of Iraq and how Saddam Hussien talked himself into a war he was not capable of winning, they seem to be determined to make the same mistake. The threat to close the straits of Hormuz is a case in point. That no doubt went down well with the domestic audience, but it was viewed as hostile regionally and internationally. One explanation for this brinkmanship could be to avoid the “wait and see” tactic which Saddam Hussein adopted to his cost. His fatal error, it has been said, is that he allowed the Americans and their allies to determine the time and manner of their attack.
Still, some Iranian analysts acknowledge that if and when the Israelis or Americans attack, it will have to be a total surprise move, and not in line with the dates currently being bandied about in the media. Surprise, they say, is the key factor in any military offensive. As it stands, Iranian officials believe, perhaps rightly so, that America is not in a position to launch another war after the disasters of Afghanistan and Iraq.
No one questions the ability of Washington to use its high-tech war machine to disrupt Iran’s nuclear programme, at least for a short while. Nobody is suggesting that the US is preparing to invade Iran as it did with Iraq. In the event of a missile attack, therefore, what would come next? This is the unknown factor. Such an attack would most likely be from one or more of the US aircraft carriers stationed in the Gulf. If car bombs then start going off in the capitals of the Gulf States in retaliation, and the flow of oil to the West is halted, can the western economies, including America’s, withstand the shock?
At the moment, the containment policy of sanctions and diplomacy seem to be working. There may not be an amicable peace but there is certainly no war. Whatever may be said of the Iranians, there is no denying that they are skilled pragmatists. When the time came to move against Saddam Hussein, they ignored ideology and cooperated with the ‘Great Satan’ to topple him. They did the same in Afghanistan against the Taliban.
It is not impossible, therefore, for the Americans and Iranians to come to an agreement over Tehran’s nuclear programme. After all it is perfectly feasible to have a peaceful nuclear programme. There will, of course, be a price to pay for such a deal. The Iranians would want guarantees for their geo-political interests in the Persian Gulf. Meeting this demand would require diplomatic ingenuity, not simply because the Arabs see the Gulf as theirs, but also because Israel would be extremely wary of any American deal with Tehran. Tel Aviv’s ambition is to remain America’s sole attack dog in the region.
There is clearly no appetite for war in Washington. For now, the Pentagon will continue to make ritualistic threats while all options will remain on the table, but Obama knows that in this election year the question of war is off the agenda. The latest national survey by the Washington-based Pew Research Centre showed that about half of Americans (51%) say the United States should remain neutral if Israel takes action to stop Iran’s nuclear programme. So what options does Obama have? He could sit tight and hope that the Arab Spring moves eastward and develops a Persian strain; the current regime could fall and the nuclear programme would be halted. But such a scenario is wishful thinking because for most Iranians the nuclear issue is a matter of national pride and not a pet project of any political faction.
That leaves the option of trying to defuse Israel’s threat to go it alone. Logic dictates that as Israel’s main sponsor the US should have the upper hand, but the pro-Israel Lobby in Washington ensures the opposite. Nevertheless, Obama could appeal over Netanyahu’s head direct to the Israeli people. As one Israeli commentator argued this week, if Iran’s President Ahmedinajad is as unstable as Netanyahu and the warmongers claim, then a pre-emptive strike is undoubtedly going to provoke a massive response. How, then, does such a strike make Israel and Israelis safer? That is the question that Obama must wrestle with as he seeks to calm the hawks in Tel Aviv and on Capitol Hill. He really is caught between a rock and a hard place; Israeli demands and Iranian baiting.