Friday, July 21, 2006

As fake as a $3 bill

July 20, 2006
As fake as a $3 bill

AS is usual, the US is playing with words and acting naive when it says it has nothing to do with the Israeli military offensive in Lebanon and that it sees Israel as exercising its right to defend itself when Israeli artillery and warplanes are pounding civilian targets in its northern neighbour, inflicting death, injuries and devastation.
However, the US position would have a long-lasting impact on the Middle East by creating more of the kind of people that Washington varyingly describes as militants, extremists and terrorists who pose direct and indirect threats to American interests everywhere. That is and will indeed be one of the direct results of the misguided American approach.
While no one is accusing the US of playing a direct role in the Israeli aggression, Washington finds it fit to defend itself against a perceived charge that it is directing Israeli attacks in Lebanon.
On Thursday, White House press secretary Tony Snow denied the Bush administration is co-ordinating with Israel or "sitting around at the war map saying 'Do this, this and this'."
"We're not colluding, we're not co-operating, we're not conspiring, we're not doing any of that," said Snow. "The Israelis are doing what they think is necessary to protect their borders."
Well, we've heard the argument many times. It has become a catch phrase in Washington jargon when it comes to Israeli military actions directed against the Arabs.
We are aware that it is definitely not in US interests to allow the flare-up in Lebanon to spill over and drag in other countries like Syria and Iran, at least not at this point in time. The US military must be painfully aware that any Syrian involvement in the conflict would pull in Iran into the equation, and this means — among many other potential consequences — danger for the 130,000 and plus American soldiers deployed in Iraq and the 18,000 stationed in Afghanistan in the name of hunting Osama Bin Laden and Taliban leaders and ranks in the countryside.
One thing is clear: Whatever the US says and uses to justify its position — like citing Israel's right to defend itself — it is only deepening and widening the chasm between Washington and the Arabs and swelling the ranks of people ready to explode themselves if that serves their goal exacting revenge from the US and advance what they see as their cause.
There was some optimism a few weeks ago that the Bush administration had learnt its lesson from the insurgency in Iraq and realised that, in principle, its policy in the Middle East dictated by pro-Israeli forces is behind the troubles it has been and is continuing to face in the region. That realisation, many in the region hoped, would lead to a better balanced American approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Indeed, no US administration, least of all the present one, would ever accept in public that its pro-Israeli policies and actions are behind its problems in the Arab and Muslim world. Even to say it in private is risky for administration officials since they would run afoul of the pro-Israeli forces and that means the end of their career sooner than later.
But the US, by maintaining its stand that it is up to Israel to do what it deems fit to defend itself, is only reaping more Arab and Muslim hostility — if indeed there is anymore room in that department.
The key flaw in the US argument is very visible: Had it not been for the almost unlimited US support in all aspects, Israel would not have come this far and be fortified with the military capability and political-diplomatic protection and immunity against international action to do what it is doing today in Lebanon and Palestine.
The US have very little credibility worth the description in the Middle East. It started losing it in the early 70s, and every action it took in the region further eroded its standing among the Arab and Muslim masses since then. Administration officials and spin-masters should know within themselves that they are kidding only themselves — and a diminishing number of American citizens — when they talk about their desire and commitment to see just, fair, honorable and comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace. The region's people know that the kind of peace that the US would like to see is the kind of peace Israel wants to have and impose on the Arabs and Palestinians. It has nothing to do with justice, fairness, honour and comprehensiveness, but simply based on Israel's military might which its leaders believe is the answer to all problems in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Of course, many of the present administration officials would say so once they are out of office, but, today, that is not going to help anyone.
With the latest crisis in the Middle East, the US has clearly signalled that it is firmly entrenched on the Israeli side of the fence and helping the Jewish state achieve its strategic objectives (not that it needed any affirmation, but Washington did so by not only condoning the Israeli offensive but also preventing everyone else from doing anything to end the suffering of the victims of the Jewish state).
Again, the US is kidding only itself if it believes that things would be back to "normal" and it would be business as usual once the present crises in Palestine and Lebanon are settled (in Israel's favour of course).
No argument is going to help assuage the grief, fury and frustration of the people who lost their loved ones and suffered themselves and found their life shattered beyond repair as a result of Israeli action. For many, it might not even make anymore sense in continuing to live and they represent an ideal breeding and recruiting ground for extremists waging an all-out international war against the US.
It is not an exclusive American problem. The US might (or might not) be able to protect itself in its territory, but not only the Middle East but also the rest of the world will have to pay for fallout of extremism fuelled by American actions.
That is where the US has a responsibility towards the international community to do what it could to put an immediate end to the Israeli offensive. But that is not an end in itself. Washington also has the responsibility and obligation to the world community to launch an all-out, no-holds-barred effort to work out a negotiated settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
It would be yet another grave mistake on the part of Washington if it continues to ignore the realities and truth and to feign positions that are as fake as a $3 bill.