The following article aims to clarify several issues that the writer believes to be worthy of consideration in a reappraisal of US foreign policy in the greater Middle East region. It does not purport to be a policy draft that should be followed, or that was leaked by disgruntled employees of the state department or CIA, the simple aim of what follows is to suggest that perhaps a significantly more lucrative position could be adopted in the US approach to the Middle East. This speculative approach has the twin benefits of seeing the US’s position of power improve for the best, or for the worst, depending on the reader’s perspective and further more it would see the US stand on the side of what could be considered morally right for arguably the first time in its illustrious history when it comes to the Middle East.
Upon scrutinizing US foreign policy practically since the culmination of the Second World War, one thing above all others is noticeable as a constant, the incredible level of support that the economic, military and cultural superpower that is the USA has offered a single small Mediterranean state called Israel. Arguably the level of financial support offered to Israel by successive US administrations far surpasses any gains that they could ever receive in return for such unquestioning aid. Furthermore I would argue that this level of support by its very nature causes a greater number of issues in the long term for the US than it could ever solve. This being the case as many countries in the region define themselves by their very opposition to Israel or pride themselves on their tradition of political and military resistance to the Israeli State. What follows is an elucidation of just some of the issues that support for Israel creates for the US and following on from this, an appeal for a drastic shift in US foreign policy that I believe would see the US benefit greatly from while embracing a peaceful relationship with a long time enemy in the region.
The first issue that I would raise to demonstrate that Israel is a liability to America is its continued disregard for international law and its regular ignorance of the human rights firstly of the Palestinians but also increasingly of its African populations. There is a long record of Israel’s selective acknowledging and following of UN Security Council Rulings, take for example UN Security Council Resolution 242, arguably the most infamous resolution that this body ever passed. This resolution affirmed “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East in which every State in the area can live in security”. Despite the Israeli authorities paying lip service to the acknowledging of this resolution, it was not until 2005 that Israel disengaged from Gaza, one of the territories acquired in the 6 Day War of 1967, and to this day there are Israeli military installations on Palestinian land in the West Bank, the other area of land that Israel seized after the conflict. So there you have, I would argue, a flagrant violation of an international law that has been ongoing for over 45 years. That this particular ruling is viewed by many parties, if not the majority of those involved, as being the fundamental basis for a fair and just resolution to the conflict surely encapsulates Israel’s attitude to international law.
Another deep-seated set of values that the Israeli administration seems determined to selectively apply is the concept of human rights. The Israeli military approach to the Palestinians and Lebanese peoples it has repetitively fought against is well documented with many tactics employed declared illegal by neutral parties such as the targeting of combatants in areas where the injury of civilians cannot be ruled out and the use of weaponry that is illegal such as white phosphorus and cluster munitions. Furthermore the Israeli wilful ignorance of universal human rights extends into peace time with behaviours such as arbitrary arrest and detention and lack of access to legal aid enabling fair trials for many Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. When looking at Israel’s attitude to international law and human rights we can see that at best Israel can be said to cherry pick the aspects of law that it feels it needs to follow, at worst it repeatedly disregards the rights of others and the rules of international law. This type of ally is surely a far greater liability than it ever is an asset to the United States? Is it any wonder that when the US comes to push its agenda of human rights in the developing world that some people just don’t seem to want to listen to the same old broken record.
Amongst the greatest of the issues created by continued American support for Israel is that very state’s conduct in dealing with it’s neighbours and certainly the native Palestinian population. The manner in which Israel has behaved towards all four countries it borders with and its treatment of Palestinians is such that any American support for Israel, whether intended or not serves to alienate America’s Muslim allies all over the world. Need proof ? how about the words of world terrorist number 1, Osama Bin Laden when discussing the American led war against Iraq in the early 1990s in his 1998 fatwa – “if the Americans’ aims behind these wars are religious and economic, the aim is also to serve the Jews’ petty state and divert attention from its occupation of Jerusalem and murder of Muslims there”. Here we have the head honcho of a pretty sinister terrorist gang arguing that america went to war, a war that is that cost them 61 billion dollars, purely to divert attention from Israel’s own crimes in the region. Granted the anti-Zionist stance was a relatively late addition to Bin Laden’s rhetoric however the fact that is mentioned at all within his fatwas says a great deal about how American support for Israel is conceived by those whose co-religionists suffer daily at Israeli hands.
There is on the other hand a way in which America could arguably remedy this issue. Pure power politics suggests that Israel should be abandoned in favour of a more numerical ally. Using the UN Geoscheme as our definition of the middle east we can see that the region consists of 14 predominantly Muslim nations, even 3 predominantly Christian ones too but only 1 Jewish state. It simply doesn’t make logical sense to choose to support one nation when that comes at the expense of maintaining better relations with 14 other countries. I understand that the US claims to support Israel as it fears for the safety of the Jewish state if it were to withdraw that support in the face of four powerful and, arguably after years of mistreatment by Israeli hands, pissed off neighbours but where then is the same unquestioning level of support for the Kurds? The Kurd’s aren’t reviled in the same way Israel is for its treatment of refugees, neither do they hold one of Islam’s holiest shrines in their hand and deny Arabs access to it and correct me if i’m wrong, but the Kurd’s haven’t gotten themselves mixed up in acts of ethnic cleansing recently as opposed to Israel’s daily forcible relocation of West Bank Palestinians to make way for illegal settlements.
Other than buying Israeli support in continuing the US backed blockade of Cuba www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43482&Cr=cuba#.UO33vG8fJ2A , the reader should stop to question what the estimated $114 billion given in aid has ever bought the US. That is, other than a headache and a minority group of American voters who consistently exaggerate their own importance within the American political system and an ally that is willing to interfere in its bankers affairs to try and further its own nefarious ends such as when Mr Netanyahu stuck his oar in during the latest american election by declaring overt support for Mitt Romney www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/reality-bites-for-benjamin-netanyahu-after-he-threw-his-solid-support-behind-mitt-romney-8294432.html only, in a delectable demonstration of karma in action, to wake up to another four years of Obama. All jokes aside America really should assess the value of an ally that try’s and often succeeds to be the driving force behind all US foreign policy decisions when there are significantly bigger China shaped fish to fry further east. The Israeli interference is never a great thing but I would suggest it is most harmful when the Obama administration is attempting, wisely many would argue, to complete the pivot east. News reports keep surfacing that suggest china is up to something www.forbes.com/sites/gordonchang/2012/01/29/why-are-the-chinese-buying-record-quantities-of-gold/ and thediplomat.com/china-power/a-frightening-prospect-war-in-the-east-china-sea/, and all indicators combined seem to suggest that whatever they’re planning, it’s going to be big.
Another factor that drives American foreign policy in the Middle East is oil supply. When reflecting upon this it again seems paradoxical that instead of cosying up to the big regional oil producers who have the worlds largest supplies of proven black gold reserves sitting under their soil that America chooses instead to support Israeli ambitions for Palestinian land . It would be one thing if only one of the countries in the region had such large reserves as America could still support Israel and look elsewhere for oil having only alienated one of it’s suppliers. Instead what we have is America still supporting Israel whose only assets include a measly 95th place in the world proven reserves of oil rankings and some real estate in the West Bank and Gaza of very questionable legality. This support seems odd in and of itself but when you compare that to the fact that the support for Israel comes over showing greater levels of support for 6 other nations in the region who all place in the top 10 countries for proven oil reserves www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2178rank.html. Furthermore, not only do these countries hold some of the worlds largest reserves of the commodity which arguably drives the American economy but they also form a cartel called OPEC which has the ability to manipulate prices in its own favour and has been known to do so for political motives in the past www.opec.org/opec_web/en/about_us/24.htm . That America has chosen to maintain its current levels support for Israel despite its reliance on Israel’s regional enemies and their exports must surely rank as nearly suicidal.
After cosndiering the many issues that support for Israel creates for America we can see that it would be no exaggeration to say that this support represents a sword of Damocles dangling above the neck of American power. But this doesn’t always have to be the case. Instead what could be done is to revise all understanding of American policy in the region, shock horror, back away from the racist pariah state and embrace one of the regions powerhouses,
My argument here is that by embracing Iran, America would reap many significant benefits while still maintaining many of the hallmarks of its traditional regional policy meaning that no great overhaul of thinking would be necessary. It would be business as usual for all intents and purposes, just with different bedfellows.
First and most important of my rather drastic suggestions is that rather than continue to pander to Zionists in try to ensure that the Iranians never develop nuclear weapons that America should instead actively give Iran a couple of nuclear weapons. By doing so I believe that America would accrue so many benefits that is frankly surprising that it hasn’t handed over some of its stockpile to Tehran already. The first benefit would be no more sleepless nights spent wondering whether Iran has or hasn’t got its own nuclear weapons and not only would you know that Iran had the weapons but you would also know exactly how many, how powerful and the exact range, exactly the type of information that America is currently spending billions on discovering with its drone program. The other main benefit that could be reaped by a nuclear armed Iran is the neutralising of several other nuclear powers in the region. This idea is based on the political realists assumption that the only actual use of a nuclear weapon in the current day is as a deterrent to other nuclear powers in the same region. First on the list of bully-boy states that a nuclear armed Iran could neutralise is the old ally Israel, and Yahweh/Jesus/Allah (delete as appropriate) knows if there’s something the Middle East needs, it’s someone who can keep a better hold of Israel’s leash. Another country that Nuclear Iran could neutralise is, according to this ridiculous fake map msnbcmedia2.msn.com/i/msnbc/Components/Interactives/News/International/Mideast/Iran_ballistic_missiles.jpg, India. Why would the US seek the neutralisation of India you ask ? ever heard of the Naxalite movement, well if not its an incredibly popular communist movement in India which is active throughout large swathes of Indian territory ( more on them here http://www.carnegieendowment.org/2012/11/14/naxalite-insurgency-in-india/eds5 ) now just imagine if they get their hands on some of India’s stockpile of nuclear weapons. Need another country on that list before you’ll consider arming Iran with nuclear bombs ? How about the biggest problem nation in the entire region , Pakistan. Now here we have a state that is even closer to the precipice of become a failed state that is also armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons and makes a habit of harbouring terrorists. Just from these countries we can see how a nuclear Iran might actually be a boon to world peace rather than insecurity as journalists and Israelis often suggest. Another reason that allowing Iran to gain nuclear capacity is a great idea is that it would effectively allow America to use an ally who happens to be a member of the OPEC cartel to bully these countries into maintaining prices you like better. And we know America likes nothing better than to use a power state to do its regional dirty work.
Talking of dirty work, another reason that America might as well support Iran because if news coming from US sources is to be believed then Iran runs every terrorist organisation that operates in the middle east and wider Muslim world, Hezbollah, Hamas, Al – Qaeda, The Medhi Army, the Taliban, all these organisations have one thing in common, that at some point in the past an ill-informed journalist has claimed Iran bankrolls them. Assuming this is true and its not a case of America allowing wilful misrepresentations of Iran in the press then if America is friendly with Iran then by default it is friendly with the whole middle east. Except Israel, but based on earlier arguments we don’t like them any more, do we.
That America likes to support a minority cannot be doubted, although as I pointed out earlier support for too small a minority is pointless as it cannot have any meaningful effect on the world around it. Persians are a minority within the wider middle east region, They’re not the same as Arabs despite what piss-poor journalists may tell you, only a couple of thousands of years of differing history between them. Also most Persians are Shi’ite Muslims making them a minority within Islam. So in Iran we have a minority group who face very real and very nasty discrimination from its neighbours but there are enough of the minority group to justify aid checks as large as the ones America has been giving to Israel all these years.
And finally if you really must make it a defining feature of your foreign policy, then Iran also has a very questionable relationship with human rights and democracy, just like America’s current best friend in the region, Israel. Just ask Mir-Hussein Moussavi about it.