Rethinking the US-Israel Alliance - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-25-2006, 09:04 PM Thread Starter
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Rethinking the US-Israel Alliance

Rethinking the US-Israel Alliance

ME Center Faculty Forum, 31 August, 2006

I would make two modest proposals respecting the quagmire in the Middle East. One is that we revive the use of bilateral and multilateral diplomacy as a means of resolving regional disputes. By refusing to recognize regimes or parties with which it disagrees, America has willfully painted itself into a corner. Nowhere is this more obvious, or tragic, than in the recent war in Lebanon. Here we have a conflict involving six parties, four of which the U.S. won’t even recognize -- Hizbullah, Hamas, Syria, and Iran. It’s a no-brainer: you can’t resolve conflicts without negotiation; you can’t negotiate without talking; and you can’t talk without recognizing the person you’re talking to. So we are left with the sole option of sending out the Air Force, or threatening to do so. Along the way, “diplomacy” has been effectively re-defined as pressuring our allies to isolate our adversaries. The irrelevance of the State Department is most dramatically seen in the specter of Condoleezza Rice flying to the Middle East in the midst of the carnage in Lebanon. Though warmly received in Israel, she was unable to land in a single Arab capital. In effect, we might as well not even have a State Department, since real policy now flows from the Defense Department. All this must be rethought.

My second recommendation is that we rethink the utility of the US-Israel alliance, which has proven demonstrably ruinous to both parties – not to mention the millions of Arabs and others who have suffered from it. Thanks to people like Seymour Hirsch and John Mearsheimer, we now know that some time last spring, if not earlier, Bush had given Israel the OK to attack Hizbullah at any opportune moment. Accordingly, Israeli officials briefed the Americans about their plans, which Bush enthusiastically welcomed. Then on July 12, after Hizbullah kidnapped several Israeli soldiers, the Israelis seized the pretext to launch a devastating invasion of southern Lebanon. As a Pentagon consultant remarked, hardly disguising his satisfaction, “It was our intention to have Hizbullah diminished, and now we have someone else doing it.” Once the war began, John Bolton gave Israel diplomatic cover in the UN, while the American media and the Congress solidly supported the Israeli cause. There was even a move to bar Iraq’s Prime Minister from addressing Congress on the grounds that he had criticized Israel’s actions. Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic Party, went further and called him an anti-Semite. But again, it was Condy Rice who said it best. While expressing “compassion” for the thousands of Lebanese civilians just then being killed, many by US-made cluster bombs, she cynically pronounced that a cease-fire would be “premature”. Only when it was clear that Israel had failed in its military aims did the Americans reluctantly agree to a cease-fire

So the immediate origins of the conflict lie in Bush’s authorizing Israel to attack Hizbullah. But why did he do this? We now know that Bush – who has a childlike fixation on air power – had already made plans to attack Iran, which is Israeli’s current Enemy Number One, now that Saddam is gone. Anticipating that following such an attack, Iran’s ally Hizbullah would surely attack Israel, the Americans reasoned that a pre-emptive Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon would neutralize Hizbullah, as much for American as for Israeli purposes.

But none of this should be surprising. After all, for decades the American-Israeli alliance has served America’s quest for global domination. Israelis share military intelligence with the Pentagon, they develop weapon systems with the U.S., and they test weapons manufactured by the American arms industry. They also assist America’s less savory allies, such as when they shipped arms to Iran during the Contra War, or when they sent military hardware to South Africa during America’s embargo on the apartheid state, or when they train death squads for America’s friends in Columbia. In these respects, Israel has acted as America’s surrogate, happily occupying the moral low-ground, just as Cuba did for the Soviets during the Cold War.

In fact, the war in Lebanon recalls the underlying cause of the much larger war in neighboring Iraq. In late February, 2003, just three weeks before Bush launched his “Shock and Awe” on Saddam Husain, I stood on this very podium and gave a talk entitled “Why Iraq? Why Now?” After dismissing as untenable the various pretexts that the administration had advanced – weapons of mass destruction, promoting democracy, punishing al-Qaida, fighting terrorism – all of which were clearly bogus, I proposed the only explanation that was supported by evidence. This was the desire among a group of American Zionists and neoconservatives to depose Saddam Husain on the grounds that neutralizing Israel’s principal enemy would not only enhance Israel’s security. It would also so demoralize the Palestinians that they would have to accept the Bantustan settlement favored by Ariel Sharon. The neo-cons also proposed to install as Iraq’s new leader Ahmad Chalabi, who had promised to open up regular diplomatic relations with Israel.

These ideas were vigorously promoted since the latter years of Bill Clinton’s term by groups like the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, the Project for the New American Century, and the Defense Department’s Policy Board. As I remarked in my earlier talk, it was pervasive fear caused by the 9/11 attacks that gave Bush his excuse for unleashing the Iraq war, in the same way that Hizbullah’s kidnapping of those two soldiers gave Israel and America an excuse for unleashing the current war.

But why are both supporters and opponents of these wars reluctant to discuss openly an alliance that has proven so disastrous for both America and Israel? I suggest two reasons. On the one hand, American supporters of these wars cannot acknowledge that they are promoting the interests of a foreign state, since that would be tantamount to treason. And on the other hand, war critics cannot point to the Israeli factor for fear of being branded anti-Semitic. This is because Zionist ideologues like Alan Dershowitz have silenced critics by arguing that any attack on Israel is an attack on Jews. This might explain the spectacle of members of Congress vying with one another over who is the most fervently pro-Israeli. In short, U.S. foreign policy has become both politicized and racialized. Bush says that if you don’t support his wars, you’re unpatriotic; while Dershowitz says that if you don’t support Israel, you’re anti-Semitic. As a result, discussion of the U.S.-Israeli alliance sinks into a black-hole, smothered under a curtain of silence.

Not until we confront this impasse can we consider my first proposal, which is to recognize any one who holds effective power, and then to talk to them. Talking is good. Ultimately, Israel must recognize that it is a member of a larger, Middle Eastern community, and not a colony of America. And America must re-learn that it is part of a larger, world community, and not some anachronistic throwback to the days of Julius Caesar.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-25-2006, 09:09 PM
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Wird up! Someone gets it!
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-25-2006, 11:54 PM
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Yes the Great Teutone has hit the nail on the head and save that tax money they are sent each year and let them stand or fall on their own.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-26-2006, 09:55 AM
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Nice write up except that you are inviting yourself to be labeled an anti-Semite on this forum by some members.
In reality Israel is going to suffer more from terrorism because of this relationship that may seem productive. For example just read the news on Syria opening up for peace talks with Israel but it's being rebuffed because Israel and the United States think that they have leverage. Maybe now, but what about five or ten years from now when Syria will not need to ask for peace with Israel once it feels militarily capable of wiping out Israel? That's the problem with our people; we see things from today's perspective and totally discount future scenarios that are very plausible. I guess we never learn from such cakewalks like Iraq.

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-26-2006, 10:03 AM
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Y'all are asking too much! We cannot simply become more balanced in our dealings with Israel and its neighbors! That would likely cool things a bit in the middle east and we wouldn't want that now would we? No we want to play tough guy and hope they fear our awesome military power, even though terrorists have long since found a way around that.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-26-2006, 01:01 PM
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That's a good observation Shane. Where will we be without a conflict in that region? I guess we love the challenge. Fk education or any program that would help our people; let's pour it into killing machines and shaky causes and fuel hatred towards us because those would be better investments for our future generations.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-26-2006, 01:07 PM
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Who is the author of that?
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-26-2006, 02:39 PM
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The Bush's strategy of not talking to people it considers enemies is at the heart of how these fascists operate. If they talked about the issues, they would have to confront the truth in a public way. That would make it much more difficult to pursue their international policy of mass murder for oil and Hitler-style "pre-emptive" invasions based on trumped up threat.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-26-2006, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by FeelTheLove
The Bush's strategy of not talking to people it considers enemies is at the heart of how these fascists operate. If they talked about the issues, they would have to confront the truth in a public way. That would make it much more difficult to pursue their international policy of mass murder for oil and Hitler-style "pre-emptive" invasions based on trumped up threat.
And, let us not forget, the Bush team hasn't got a single career diplomat with above average negotiating skills, so, in all likelihood any attempt to negotiate will merely make this apparent as well. One way to address the lack of skills is to publicly shit on the value of those skills and then never be put in a positon where such skills might come into the decison making process. Jim
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