Monday, 5 November 2007

US in Hock to Israeli Lobby? - Another Viewpoint

Stephen Zunes writes at: Tikkun: (don't get me wrong - I like Tikkun, but they are just as much Zionist as Peace Now).

Any serious review of U.S. foreign policy in virtually any corner of the globe demonstrates how the United States:

  • props up dictatorships
  • imposes blatant double-standards regarding human rights and international law
  • supports foreign military occupations (witness East Timor and Western Sahara)
  • undermines the authority of the United Nations
  • pushes for military solutions to political problems
  • transfers massive quantities of armaments
  • imposes draconian austerity programs on debt–ridden countries through international financial institutions
  • imposes sanctions, bombs, stages coups, and invades countries that don’t accept U.S. hegemony.

If U.S. policy toward the Middle East was fundamentally different than it is toward the rest of the world, Mearsheimer and Walt would have every right to look for some other sinister force leading the United States astray from its otherwise benign foreign policy agenda. Unfortunately, however, U.S. policy toward the Middle East is remarkably similarly to U.S. foreign policy elsewhere in the world.

It is certainly true that the United States is, in the words of Mearsheimer and Walt, “out of step” with the vast majority of the international community on the question of Israel and Palestine.

Yet the United States is also out of step with the vast majority of the international community regarding the:

  • treaty banning land mines
  • International Criminal Court
  • Kyoto Protocol on global warming
  • embargo against Cuba.
Similarly, two decades ago the United States was also out of step with the vast majority of the international community in regard to the
  • mining of Nicaraguan harbors and support for the Contra terrorists
  • opposition to sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa
  • allying with Pretoria in supporting the UNITA rebels in Angola.
Both authors blindly accept a number of naĆ­ve and demonstrably false assumptions regarding America’s role in the world.

For example, they assert that the foreign policy of the United States—the world’s number one arms supplier for dictatorial regimes— “…is designed to promote democracy abroad” and U.S. efforts in the Middle East “to spread democracy throughout the region ha[ve] inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion.”

The reality, of course, is just the opposite: it has been U.S. support for the majority of the dictatorships in that part of the world which has primarily contributed to anti–American sentiment.

In other words, both of them have a vested interest in absolving from responsibility the foreign policy establishment that they have served so loyally all these years.

Israel and its supporters are essentially being used as convenient scapegoats for America’s disastrous policies in the Middle East. And though they avoid falling into simplistic, anti–Semitic, conspiratorial notions regarding Jewish power and influence for the failures of U.S. Middle East policy, it is nevertheless disturbing that the primary culprits they cite are largely Jewish individuals and organizations.
Would you expect lobbyists for an exclusively Jewish state to be anything other than Jewish?

...U.S. policy toward both Israel/Palestine and the region as a whole is quite consistent with U.S. foreign policy toward Latin America, Southern Africa, Southeast Asia, and elsewhere. The consequences are more serious (for example, no Vietnamese or Nicaraguans ever flew airplanes into buildings), but they are not fundamentally different.
15 of the 19 people who flew airplanes into buildings are supposed to have been Saudi Arabians, from a strong US ally.

Then he goes for short walk into fairyland: How could the “pro–Israel Lobby”no more influential in 2003 than it was fifteen years earlier—have the power to push the United States to invade Iraq when Saddam was no longer a threat to Israel, when the Lobby was unable to stop U.S. technology transfers to Iraq when it really could have potentially harmed Israel?
No more influential in 2003 than it was fifteen years earlier?

Perle, Wolfowitz, Wurmser, Feith, Abrams, Libby, etc, were not in critical and very influential US government positions in 1988 (or in 1983 which is about the date Stephen Zunes quoted).

Donald Rumsfeld kissed Saddam Hussein's arse in 1983.

At the time, Saddam was fighting an 8 year war, with every semblance of assistance from America, against Iran.

One problem with Israel's apologists is that they have no more idea of real, long-term history, its cycles, empires, and consequences, than Americans have.

Personal Anecdote: Dated: 1983-4
This is a small fragment of my memory that may inform the post above:
In 1983-4, I was not only trying to sell Iraqis everything I could. (I equipped 10 'townships' of prefab buildings, from Arbil to Nasiryah, with complete furnishings, for the Ministry of Irrigation).
I also rented part of my London flat to an acquaintance, CT, a strange, but interesting architect/engineer/fixer/spook, who had many UK Ministry of Defence contacts, and a number of influential Iraqi ones.
He was particularly interested in a particular site, Ar Rutbah, on the main road from Jordan to Baghdad, where, he boasted, he was helping the Iraqis build a 'chemical plant'.
That site is now:
the massive American H3 Main Air Base (Camp Korean).
CT was away for some time that year, having become involved in the Ian Smalley case, (U.S. JURY CLEARS BRITON IN AN ARMS SMUGGLING CASE) when the US tried to imprison him and another Brit for making private arms deals with the Iraqis.

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