Ahmadinejad ventures into the Lobby's Den
The Iranian president faced a grilling at Columbia University performed by its president, Lee Bollinger. Mindful always of the hardcore Zionists who fund the school, Bollinger had to bolster his pro-Israel credentials by bashing Ahmadinejad. The TV networks, run by the same Zionist, Israel-first crowd, captured all the hate-filled regalia of street protests against the visit. New Yorkers would clearly rather not extend the right of free speech to a foreign dignitary perceived as anti-Semitic. Nonetheless Ahmadinejad seemed to have his chance to speak, through the raspy voice of interpreter and after enduring Bollinger's tirade guised as questions.
I previously debunked the mistranslation that quoted Ahmadinejad as saying that Israel should be wiped off the map. The regime in Tel Aviv should be removed was the accurate interpretation of the original remarks in Farsi. Nonetheless, the wipe Israel off the map sticks in the memory of countless writers. I saw it corrected in The Economist after being passed off in an article condemning Iranian bellicosity, but countless other news sources and editorials have passed on the mistranslation as objective fact.
Ahmadinejad may have denied the Holocaust, which is a crime in Germany and other nations. I don't think that has endeared him to too many.
Whatever the man's opinions, they are interpreted as representing the anti-Semitic roots of Iranian policy and the terrorism it has spawned.
While it's nice to imagine a State-sponsor behind terrorism--thereby allowing the threat to end with the destruction of that state--, the geopolitical framework that spawns terror is far more complex. While hating Ahmadinejad may make supporters of Israel feel better, criticism does nothing to resolve the cause for the Islamic terror, which is definitely Israel's treatment of Palestinians and its military actions taken against its neighbors.
Ahmadinejad's visit did put the spotlight on how much hate Jews carry against Muslims, particularly those that harbor hostility towards Israel. Honestly, Ahmadinejad's viewpoint might reflect that of hundreds of millions of Muslims. Post 9/11, after all, Osama bin Laden has been voted the most popular man in the Muslim world.
Some hardcore Zionist would probably endear themselves to the notion that the Muslim multitudes hate Israel and would support strikes on the US. The more extreme the violence that Muslims seek to extract, the more justifiable the military preemptions. Flag-draped, military action is a hallmark of the Right wing and the patriotism it evokes is arguably its most reliable source of popularity.
Yet as I say below, constant military action isn't practical, even if we can "win" in any traditional confrontation. As it is the balance of forces is so much in Israel and America's favor that assymetrical warfare--terrorism and guerrilla actions--are the only way Arabs can level the playing field.
The technological advantage held by Israeli and American armed forces might be increasingly marginal as well. Iranian missiles under Hezbollah control and high-tech explosives imported into Iraq may limit the advantages typically ascribed to Israel and the US, particularly in a logn, drawn out war of occupation without clear "victory" (withdrawal pre-)conditions.
Iran developing nuclear weapons would be the grand prize in force parity, although Israel's nuclear weapon strength provides adequate deterrence. The possibility that Iran would give nukes to terrorists is clearly what Israel fears most; still, if Israel were struck, the Israelis have made it clear that Damascus and Teheran would be the atop the list of retaliatory targets. (This is, as I pointed out some months back, assumes Israel's arsenal can survive the first strike.)
Peace is the Only Option
Can the US, acting on Israel's behalf, exterminate all the anti-Semites in the Muslim world? If not, we must choose to live with them. Peaceful co-existence would seem to be the most effective solution when two people are forced to live together, especially when they hate one other.
The Ahmadinejad visit revealed the ongoing propaganda war that surrounds any high-level interactions between Americans and leaders of Muslim states. If the background of the Islamic leader carries the slightest hint of anti-Zionism, he will be painted anti-Semitic by the media which is controlled by hardline advocates of Zionism.
The media makes its job to villify Muslims, particular those who may have expressed anger or resentment towards Israel. In major media companies run by Republican moguls like Jack Welch of NBC, the emphasis is on war, not peace, because the conglomerate's interests are served best by war. NBC's parent GE, the world's largest military contractor, had nothing to gain by peace in the lead-up to Iraq; it fired Phil Donahue who spoke out against the war. Likewise, Jewish media directors sympathetic to Israel and more tellingly, Zionist aggression, believed that attacking Iraq was in the best interests of their patron State.
Not surprisingly, the antiwar view was repressed and the neo-conservative viewpoint reigned supreme. Dissent was packaged as anti-American and disloyal. All the media conglomerates moved together to pound the war drums.
If forcing the US to fight Israel's enemies was the goal, the MSM can continue their success by undermining public exposure to the antiwar point of view. Olbermann and others have launched into antiwar and anti-Bush tirades, but the bulk of coverage minimizes the benefits of getting out and does all it can to present the pro-war perspective and distort the debate.
So what is the problem that Zionism presents? Infiltrating all major media, it's clear that Israeli sympathizers have a huge amount of public influence. American foreign policy in the Middle East is shaped in Tel Aviv, largely as a consequence of the pro-Israeli lobby, called "the Lobby".
Who exactly are the Zionistists? In an intriguing article in Tikkun, Michael Lerner defines Zionists as "the small but powerful group of neo-con Jews for whom support of Israel’s expansionist policies..."
Lerner describes the extent of their influence in the media as legendary, with "powerful ties that shaped the consciousness of The New York Times op-ed page, culture sections, book review, and magazine..."
The political orientation of Zionism has changed in response to what are deemed the necessities of survival for the Jewish state. One of these has been to maintain a Jewish majority in Israel. Israeli Arabs make up a very large minority, and birth rates for non-Jewish Israelis are astronomically high compared to Israeli Jews. To maintain a Jewish plurality, Israel has two choices: deny Arabs political representation or ethnically cleanse them out of Israel proper.
Understanding the domestic political concerns and motivations in Israel goes a long way in analyzing the political alignment in the country. If the Lobby is a direct reflection of Israeli political opinion, its influence will be meant to acheive specific goals like disguising extraterritorial ambitions and drumming up American support for military action against enemies of Israel.
Non-violent resolution of conflict is apparently off the table, at least if the Zionist perspective controls Israeli politics and in turn its Lobby:
"The Lobby’s solution for Israel is that the country be involved in endless struggle with evil enemies who will always be there, rejecting any more complicated or sophisticated view that might point to the interactive nature of conflict, the way in which conflicts are frequently a product of both sides taking provocative actions. The 'security' strategy that results from the Israel Lobby’s fear-orientation is the Strategy of Domination: we must conquer or dominate others before they conquer or dominate us."
Lerner gives as examples instigations that have engendered broad anti-Israeli sentiments (and in turn sympathy for the struggles faced by its victims.) These include:
"...the war in Lebanon in the summer of 2006, the dropping of cluster bombs on southern Lebanon, the refusal to give up land of Syria’s conquered in 1967, the holding of thousands of Palestinian civilians in Israeli prisoner camps, the use of torture, the violation of the rights of Israeli citizens who happen to be Arabs, and the refusal to acknowledge any responsibility for the Palestinian refugees."
Lerner goes on to identify the source of future strife and difficulties for Israel:
"The Israel Lobby identifies the best interests of the U.S. with those of the Israeli right-wing, and that right-wing engages in activities against the Palestinian people in particular and against surrounding neighboring states, which have inflamed global public opinion not only against Israel but against the United States which is seen as its puppet."
Used frequently, military action has invariable negative consequences. The blowback as Lerner explains it:
"Israel will some day face a reckoning from Arab states and from the peoples of the world for the gross arrogance and insensitivity of their government’s policies, and people will some day look back at the Israel Lobby in the U.S. and realize that it was destructive to Israel’s long-term survival interests."
He goes on to define the threat not only to Israel but to the Jewish diaspora:
"...the coming outbreak of anti-Semitism in the next decades will. . .happen primarily because of the legacy of the Israel Lobby and the Jewish Political Correctness it has fostered..."
Military aggression is counterproductive unless the goal of using force is to encourage more force, which in turn justifies territorial expansion of the Jewish state under the pretext of security. Likewise, the threat posed by Palestinians can serve to make them second-class citizens in their own country, stripping of their right to vote and be represented in an Israeli state that annexes them. In this sense resistance to military aggression is a toll that benefits the aggressor; their patience continually tried, the victims must remain non-violent or risk losing more freedom and territory.
The expansionist roots of Zionist also fit well into annexation of the West Bank. Aggressive Israeli militarism thrives off of Palestinian resistance in the West Bank, coincidentally territory Israel has been colonizing. To justify the construction of an Apartheid wall dividing the Occupied Territories, a threat must be made real on the other side of the wall.
With no threat, no justification exists for military action. Abuse any people long enough and they will turn to violence, so to justify the seizure of additional territories, abusive security practices embitter a native population who must practice Ghandian self-restraint lest more militant factions strike back at the colonists and precipitate further security abuses and land grabs, in the name of security for Israel.
Lerner says "the Israel Lobby...reinforc(es) tendencies to believe in power and domination rather than in love, generosity, compassion and open-heartedness."
The shift to the right in the domestic Israeli political race might reflect a departure from the traditional values associated with peaceful coexistence: values focused on mutual respect, restraint, and good will. Instead the Machiavellian principles of control and unrestrained rule of might have conquered Israeli perceptions towards its neighbors, poisoning the relations with them and increasing the likelihood of military action.
Lerner bemoans the loss of morality:
"...the Israel Lobby (is) so successful in turning many of the Jews who are supposedly religious into worshipers of power; people who believe that the will of God can be read by the outcome of military struggles..."
Moderates can tone down the militaristic tone of the Lobby by joining one of the many groups that constitute the Jewish lobby, Lerner says. The uniform approach to lobbying ensures an outward consensus but also crushes distinctions and reason in the process, stomping them under the rigid boot of heavily enforced political correctness.
How best to moderate the Lobby? The groups need to accept some level of autonomy. Deviations from a standard policy must be tolerated, especially if the status quo perpetuated by rigid adherence to dogma stifles alternatives that may be more productive and less confrontational. Lerner believes that moderates have a duty to influence the Lobby from the inside, to present a non-violent solution as an alternative to the Right's militarism.
Lerner blames much of the "perpetual victim" mindset borne by Jews on the bull-headed aggression cradled in the Right-wing and its constant reliance on military exertion to achieve foreign policy aims. The policies are confrontational, Lerner argues, as they encourage retaliation by Israel's enemies.
I've argued that military action contributes to a cycle of violence that the Right can claim to be managing through additional warfare. By creating the animosity and making violence certain, the Israeli Right can provide the apparent solution--more violence--which engenders more hate and violence upon the recipients of the force. More war is the only possible outcome.
Bush has invited Syria to Middle East talks and said of the Ahmadinejad visit that it's "OK with him", so his years of avoiding negotiation with "enemies" may be drawing to an end. The absence of dialogue has increased tensions and made alternatives to military force twindle as viable policy options. Eventually the use of force--not coincidentally the most effective political tool of the Right--becomes the centerpiece of all foreign policy if dialogue is eschewed.
The nexus of Zionists and Christian fundamentalism inhibits more balanced dialogue and reasoned approaches formulated out of a diverse basket of conflict resolution alternatives. In the US, Christo-Zionists have propagated the myths of Zionism: that Arabs are in cahoots to destroy Israel, and that the US should defend the Israeli state in whatever way it can--an euphemism for unconditional support for military aggression against anyone considered a threat by a Right wing Israeli government.
Limits of Military Effectiveness
The returns on the use of military force diminish, as we see in Iraq now. While the Right may be able to strum up nationalist impulses through the exercise of military force--particularly against weaker third world armies who are sure to collapse--, it cannot dictate outcomes in an unpredictable combat environment. Starved of diplomatic recourse, the war takes on a life of its own, forcing the sane and rational need for closure forever farther on, taking with it a growing stream of blood and treasure.
It's this cradle of madness that pushes wars on, particularly wars that have no specific victory conditions. The occupation emerged out of the simple purpose of an regime-changing operation and has come to justify its own continuity under the grounds we will lose if we get out.
Whatever the mission creep, we now find ourselves in a situation where we can't achieve a clear victory, under conditions that could demonstrate an outcome in our best interest. Knowing the certainty of a dissatisfactory conclusion, many war supporters crave more war, blithely hoping that we can change the eventual outcome simply by staying longer.
Relying on our military to solve political problems and internal strife effectively hobbles the fledgling government in Iraq. Incidents like the Blackwater massacre of apparently innocent Iraqis have stretched the credibility of the new government's claim to sovereignty. If a country can't expel mercenaries and wanton murderers from its midst, how can it claim its rights as independent nation-state? To stand alone, the Iraqi government must be separated from its patron and in the bargain gain exclusive control over itself, an outcome not possible if the US insists on occupying the country indefinitely.
So we soldier on, desperately hoping that we can get different results when trying nothing new. Some on the Right might say the surge worked or an even bigger surge might; the political realities on the ground reveal the situation the US now faces--horrible unless the goal of the invasion were to perpetuate itself, through willful mismanagement.
To think the Bush administration would plan to make the occupation endless before invading gives them perhaps too much credit. The more likely scenario is that the mismanagement was unintended. Still, the presence of US in Iraq is long-term, and in at least one way conducive to our strategic interest, as we are a nation that needs a lot of oil (and our military is the world's largest consumer of oil, so there's no absence of self-interest on their part either.) Where is our oil going to come from? Keeping Iraqi oil out of control by the Chinese and others is another strategic achievement, one that can't be sustained if we pull out entirely.
Imaging a conclusion that would see the US leave Iraq would mean that the US has no direct control over Iraq's petroleum. To make matters worse, because Bush demanded democracy for Iraq, our intervention has turned Iraq into a Iranian client state. Maliki's government is inundated with Shia militiamen and Iranian mullah-backed politicos. Of course Iran would triumph if we leave. So we can't and won't.
Another reason our leaders assume that we will get different results might be the huge amount of war spending flowing to industries with close ties to politicians. Some 40% of the Pentagon's budget goes directly to military contractors; our Vice President owns stock in one, his former company Haliburton.
The ongoing benefits to a key Bush corporate constituency can't be understated. War profiteers will find Iraq a smashing success for as long as it goes on. The blood money keeps coming courtesy of a Democratic party too scared of looking soft on terror to stop the killing.
A huge reason why the Democrats won't act to end the war (and no it's not the Senate's 60-vote majority needed to prevent a fillibuster) is the influence of the Lobby. It insists on continued military action in the hopes that a continued military presence will confound its enemy Iran. Israel is bent on destabilizing Iran. Besides, I've read that Israel also wants the restoration of the Kirkuk to Haifa pipeline.
The US would dearly like to extract all the Iraqi oil we can. Unfortunately for our colonial inspirations, the Iraqis know exactly what we want from them. The Blackwater episode will be tame in comparison to the popular outrage that will emerge if Iraqi politicians sell out to American oil firms. The gap between Iraq government authority and its level of empowerment was cracked by the impunity with which Blackwater acted. For Iraq to give up its rights to its own oil alongside endless occupation will embolden an enduring resistance and strengthen anti-American elements in its government.
In this sense Iraqi moderates have been pushed out by the sectarianism. Military conflict between the sides in the Iraq civil war is continuing; if the Iraq government merely represents one side it cannot reign much less claim to represent the country. In the north the Kurds have signed a deal with Bush crony Ray Hunt, the head of an energy conglomerate. Hunt is betting that oil deals with the central government will fall through; his relationship with Bush hints at inside knowledge of what the highest echelons of the US government might be planning for Iraq: a division along sectarian lines. See the Krugman article on the deal here.
To keep the US presence going, and the Iranian one suppressed, the US must prop up a unviable regime in Baghdad which, if the smothering blanket of the US occupation is thrown off, will become an instant rival influenced by Iran. Maybe partition is the way the US can get oil out of Iraq--from the Kurdish side. The price of partitioning would be giving Iran indirect control over most of the country.
Unfortunately the Sunnis are the unknown quantity. They can create sufficient chaos in the cities of what would be Kurdistan with their sizable Arab minorities. They can blow up pipelines which present the only geophysical method to avoid routing oil pipelines to a Shia (read Iranian)-controlled region on the Gulf, or going through Turkey, where an large population of indigenous Kurds would be inspired to secede from Turkey. A new Kurdish state will look at any event along the pipeline as a reason to help liberate their long-oppressed brethren in the north, across the border in Turkey. Turks would hardy want their Kurds hungry for independence--they spent decades crushing a Kurdish separatist movement.
With Syria hardline (a direct consequence of unending military action with Israel and a lack of diplomatic discourse), the pipeline must go west through Jordan. Yet surely the Sunnis wouldn't just let the pipeline go by. They'd be bought off, presumably in weapons that they could use against Shia in the East, which would achieve an outcome which Israeli hardliners could claim had "split their enemy."
In reality, the ongoing nature of Shia-Sunni violence means peace is not viable and that the US military will be justified in staying for a long, long time. This is of course seen as a very favorable outcome for the state of Israel among neo-conservatives controlling the Lobby. Their thinking may be woefully short-term, however.
Long-term, the chaos seeded in the sectarian conflict might well spill over and destabilize Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. At the very least these countries would be forced into clarifying where they stood on Iraq, which would be a proxy for their commitment to the cause of a broader pan-Islamic posture against Zionism. The more aggressive their respective populations the outcry against Israel, the more sympathy will be extended to entities opposed to Israel; in this respect the use of Israeli and American force, predominantly military, generates a countervailing force of opposite and equal power. A pan-Islamic amalgamation of political forces opposed to Israeli and American long-term foreign policy interests could emerge. Shia-Sunni combat might only make a lasting peace that much more necessary for the regimes in the neighboring states, especially considering how animosity towards Israel shapes the preoponderance of public opinion in those nations away from so-called "moderation."
Even if perpetual warfare is the aim, such an outcome could create a massive threat of epic proportions at Israel's door. As Israel's war in South Lebanon in 2006 showed, the conventional capability of Hezbollah has grown markedly and Israel may not have the military advantage it once had. Nuclear capability would be a feather in the cap of Iranian military capability and represent a new paradigm in force parity. Ironically a conventionally outmatched Israel would be forced to depend on its nuclear arsenal.
I can't predict the future, but understanding the Middle East requires confronting the Israeli-Palestinian issues suppressed in the media environment. Once the motives of the Zionists in the Israel right are considered, and their impact on formulating foreign policies in the US understood, their influence can be identified, isolated, and overcome.
Maintaining silence on the Lobby allows a select group of neo-conservatives to hijack a great religion. Reason held hostage, the war-centric approach dominates whatever limited political dialogue transpires on Middle East issues. The almost paranoid fixation on controlling all media representation leads to the repression of any view other than the aggressive and expansionary vision for Zionism, with Israel in some sort of dominant power position. Meanwhile Israel's credibility and its soul suffer as it abandons peace as a positive and productive end-goal--instead the State and its perpetual warfare has usurped the Jewish religion and its values.
A transcript and video of Ahmadinejad's CBS interview by 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley is here.
The MSM's reaction to Ahmadinejad's visit has been criticized broadly. Here is one article by Ted Rall.