Sunday, July 23, 2006

Deeper into the Mire

US foreign policy planners, Republican and Democrat alike, have consistently demonstrated that whether there is actually peace in the Middle East, or indeed democracy, is immaterial so long as American "interests" (defined by the power elite) are furthered. As a result, the US refuses to countenance any democratic move that does not miraculously endorse said American "interests". Since there is no chance that a rational Middle East democracy would support these American policies, the US has, over the course of many decades, seen fit to effectively destroy any semblance of secular society in the Middle East in favor of recognizing and encouraging radical Islamist groups, such as the Mujahideen (and Osama bin Laden) in the war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

Similarly, Israel has no interest in peace with the Palestinians that in any way mitigates its own extreme (and otherwise untenable) position, nor does it have any interest in there being a functioning democratic Lebanese state. Jonathan Cook explains why:
Recently Israel has encouraged the slide deeper into Islamic extremism through its policies of unilateralism and its refusal to negotiate.

The same set of policies [as those that created Hamas and resulted in Hezbollah] is being continued now in the Palestinian territories and Lebanon: the shattering of these two societies will only deepen the trend toward radical Islam. Islamic movements not only offer the best hope of local resistance to Israel for these weakened societies but they also offer a parallel social infrastructure of health care and welfare services as state institutions collapse.

There is immediate advantage for Israel in this outcome. With secular society crushed and Islamic resistance movements filling the void, Israel will be able to reinforce the impression of many in the West that Israel is on the front line of global "war of terror" being waged by a single implacable enemy, Islam. Israel's ability to persuade the world that this war is being waged against the whole "civilized" Judeo-Christian West will be made that bit easier.

As a result, Israel may be able to drag its paymaster, the United States, deeper into the mire of the Middle East as a junior partner rather than as an honest broker, giving Israel cover while it carves up yet more Palestinian land for annexation, puts further pressure on the Palestinians to leave their homeland, and destabilizes its regional enemies so that they are powerless to offer protest or resistance.

For some time President Bush has found himself in no position to criticize Israeli actions when Tel Aviv claims to be doing no more to the Palestinians than the US is doing to the Iraqis. If the US allows itself to be handcuffed to Israel's even more extreme version of the "war on terror," the consequences will be dire not just for the Palestinians or the region, but for all of us.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Bravo for this and previous commentary on US/Israeli depradations in the Middle East, part of a long-standing policy to bolster the same Islmamic fundamentalism which it uses as a pretext for expansion and oppression. It thereby aims to hinder the emergence of progressive movements in the region which could, if translated into political power, weaken US control over the oil and Israeli regional economic domination, something which fundamentalism is incapable of.
Thanks for references to analysis appearing beyond my standby CounterPunch.