Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Unholy Alliance

The Unholy alliance

by pv vivekanand

The US will never find success in its 'war against terrorism' without addressing its lopsided Israel-centred policies and approaches to Palestinian problem and the overall Arab-Israeli conflict.The US quest not to allow an Arab/Muslim country to emerge as a regional power and threaten American energy security is as much behind Washington's alliance with Israel as anything else.

FROM our vantage point in the Middle East, the biggest mistake the US has made is to convince itself that it could win the "war against terrorism" without touching upon its "strategic relationship" with Israel — that it could successfully tackle the threats it faces without having to introduce objective and logical thinking coupled with international legitimacy in its approach to the Palestinian problem and the wider Arab-Israeli conflict.
There could be no separation between the US-Israeli relationship and the US fight against terrorism. The two are so intertwined that without shifting stand on Israel, the US stands little chance of success in countering the threat of "terrorism."
One of the major causes of the growing distance between the US and the Arab and Muslim worlds — from where the perpetrators of the Sept.11 attacks came — is Washington's almost unlimited support for Israel and "strategic" alliance with the Jewish state.
Over the decades, the US has set a record that clearly establishes that it not overlooks but also perpetuates Israel's occupation of Arab territories and brutal treatment and oppression of the Palestinians, supports Israel's refusal to accept the legitimate rights of the Palestinians as the basis for peace in the Middle East, continues to offer Israel unrestricted military, financial, diplomatic and political support and protects Israel against international action at every forum, including the UN Security Council and regional and world organisations.
Furthermore, the US continues to send advanced military technology and weapons to Israel that the occupation power employ against the Palestinians living under its occupation and against neighbouring Arab countries (Lebanon and Syria).
Given the US conditions and end-user conditions attached to American weapon sales to any country, Washington's silence over Israel's use of US-made planes, missiles, rockets and explosives against the Palestinians has only added more colour to the scenario of the American-Israeli alliance pitted against the Arab and Muslim world.
If that was not enough, then consider Washington's public approval of Israel's policy of targeted killings of Palestinian resistance leaders and the crackdown within the US of organisations which sympathise with the Palestinian cause.
Successive US administrations since the 60s are seen as having upheld Israel's interests above American interests. Washington strategists could not but be aware that their Israel-centred policies have done severe damage to its relations with the Arab and Muslim worlds and but are unwilling to reconsider their approach.
On the internal front, the billions of American government dollars that flow to Israel have given rise to questions why the American taxpayer should subsidise a state which consistently defies the United Nations and flouts human rights to a level that embarrasses the United States. However, those questions, the intensity of which is continuing to grow, have not made any real difference to American policy in the Middle East.
Some American analysts tend to summarise that the main source for Arab and Muslim anti-US hostility is Washington's support for "unpopular" Arab and Muslim regimes. But an overwhelming majority of authoritative analysts and commentators, both in the US and outside, assert that this argument is a red herring.
Such a sentiment, if it exists, they argue, takes a backseat in the overall picture since those who harbour it would also be aware that the US would drop "friendly regimes" anywhere in the world as a hot potato if it suits its purpose and that is not the case with Israel.
There are several theories that purportedly explain why the US has established and is maintainting its alliance with Israel that has only brought grief to the people of America.
These include an argument that Jews and pro-Israeli Christian Americans control everything worth controlling in the US — including banking, the media, the film industry, the military establishment and high-tech companies as well as important segments of US intelligence networks — and therefore no American politician, Democrat or Republican, could withstand Jewish-induced pressure in favour of Israel and against Muslims and Arabs if he or she were to hope to politically survive in the US.
Then there is the perception that the US-Israeli alliance is natural if only because Israel is the sole democracy in the Middle East and the only country in the region which shares "American values" (never mind Israel's step-motherly approach its citizens of Arab origin). A US-Israeli relationship based on a democracy-based common ground is deemed to be backed by a majority of Americans regardless of religious beliefs and political ideologies; and that is why legislation favouring Israel — directly and indirectly — finds its way through the US Congress like a hot knife cutting through butter.
The third theory, which has emerged strongly to the scene in the wake of the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq —  is equally important and perhaps even more relevant.
Proponents of this theory argue that the US has been retaining and is continuing to strengthen its relationship with Israel in order not to allow an Arab/Muslim country in the Middle East to emerge as the dominant regional power that could undermine the US quest for energy security for Americans based on Arab and Muslim oil. That explains why the US was silent when Israeli bombed Iraq's Osirak nuclear plant in 1981 and why Washington today supports Israel's contention that Iran poses a threat to it by seeking nuclear weapon-capability.
A report written by Erich Marquardt appearing on underlines this point. Marquart writes:
"The primary motives behind US support of Israel can be explained by Washington's foreign policy aims of securing a Middle East capable of producing a stable supply of oil at a low price that buoys the economies of oil dependent countries. Israel, a state that is dependent on the United States due to its strategic and cultural isolation in a region that is hostile to its existence, can be relied on by Washington to assist in maintaining the status quo by preventing any Middle Eastern country from accruing enough power to alter the regional balance in a way that would damage the interests of the United States and other oil dependent countries."
As a result, the US is rendered into a position where it does not want to pressure Israel in any aspect, let alone into making compromises involving what the Israelis consider as their God-given rights and religious tenets that are too sensitive for an external force to touch upon.
That also means Washington has to ignore Israel's refusal to abide by mandatory UN Security resolutions and to flout all international conventions, agreements and code of conduct of nations as well as its stepped-up military brutality to put down Palestinian resistance. Washington could not allow any international censure of Israel either and hence the established pattern of American veto of any Security Council resolution critical of Israel.
Thrown into that equation is the US-led war against terrorism sparked by the Sept.11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.
It was reported that Palestinians on rooftops in Ramallah "celebrated" the Sept.11 attacks. Although the report was subsequently discounted as erroneous, it underlined one of the basic elements at play —  that the attacks had an implicit link with the American-Israeli alliance that has not only denied the Palestinians their legitimate rights but also subjected them to untold misery and suffering under Israeli occupation.
That perception has only grown from strength to strength since then. Today, Israel is even more brutal in its efforts to subdue the Palestinians before Sept.11. It has unleashed a reign of terror in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. It is clear that it has no intention to respect and recognise the rights of the Palestinians and that it is hell-bent on eliminating Palestinian resistance ahead of forcing down their throat the Israeli version of an illegitimate solution.
More importantly, the US is no longer considered a honest mediator. If anything, Washington has aligned itself more closely than ever with Israel and is seen as having turned itself into a party to the conflict on the Israeli side of the fence. The Bush administration's endorsement of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's unilateral plans to quit Gaza and consolidate and expand the Jewish settlements in the West Bank has sealed Palestinian, Arab and Muslim conviction that they could no longer expect any honest and objective American intervention in their favour in Palestine.
The way the US government treated Arabs and Muslims, including American citizens, in the wake of the Sept.11 attacks — summary detentions, deportations and humiliating treatment as well as profiling as if with a vengeance — has further alienated the Arab and Muslim world from the sole superpower.
Add to that the US invasion and occupation of Iraq and unmistakable signs that Washington has lined up Syria and Iran to follow Iraq for "regime change."
Notwithstanding the oil-based geopolitical interests of the US that went into the decision to invade and occupy Iraq, the American action and plans in the region are seen as serving Israeli interests.
Today, the image the US has among the Arabs and Muslims that of a tyrannical power bent upon having its way around the globe and stopping at nothing to achieve this objective and maintaining an unbreakable alliance with a country, Israel, that considers Arabs and Muslims as less than humans.
The result: the US remains a perpetual target for extremist attacks and there would be no respite until Washington stops in its pro-Israel track and decide that it has lost and stands to lose much than it gained from its alliance with Israel.
Bill Christison, a former senior official of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Kathleen Christison, a former CIA political analyst who worked on Middle East issues for 30 years, hit the nail on the head when they wrote:
"There will be no resolution to the war on terror and no easing of the hatred of the United States by our own allies and by the Arab and Muslim world until there is a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that gives as much justice to Palestinians as to Israelis. We ignore the direct danger Israel poses to us at our own peril. Our drive for empire already came back to bite us three years ago on Sept.11, and it will come back again as long as we fail to distinguish our own interests from Israel's."