Joe Hartley emails:
“You may want to take a look at the NY Review of Books this week. It has an interesting article by Michael Massing on the controversy that has arisen as a result of the Mearshimer-Walt article challenging the Israeli lobby. Look in particular who AIPAC contributes to, and you may understand why the Dems have been so quiet on the Middle East.”
Hmmm, many of us in the antiwar movement have understood that for quite a while and know all about AIPAC!
The centerpiece of US policy in the Middle East has been its unwavering support for Israel, and that this has not been in America’s best interest. In their view, the “extraordinary generosity” the US showers on IsraelÃ¢â‚¬â€ the nearly $3 billion in direct foreign assistance it provides every year, the access it gives Israel to “top-drawer” weapons like F-16 jets, the thirty-two UN Security Council resolutions critical of Israel that it has vetoed since 1982, the “wide latitude” it has given Israel in dealing with the occupied territoriesÃ¢â‚¬â€all this “might be understandable if Israel were a vital strategic asset or if there were a compelling moral case for sustained US backing.”
In fact, they write, “neither rationale is convincing.” Israel may have had strategic value for the US during the cold war when the Soviet Union had heavy influence in Egypt and Syria, but that has long since faded. Since September 11, Israel has been cast as a crucial ally in the war on terror, but actually, according to Mearsheimer and Walt, it has been more of a liability; its close ties to America have served as a rallying point for Osama bin Laden and other anti-American extremists. Morally, Israel qualifies as a democracy, the authors write, but it’s a deeply flawed one, discriminating against its Arab citizens and oppressing the Palestinians who have lived under its occupation.
“Also, a few weeks ago Willam Pfaff wrote an insightful article about American foreign policy in the Middle East. While some insist on reducing everything to economics, Pfaff has some non-economic insights that actually explain more than the reductionist economic arguments.”
The announced American ambition is to make the Arab states democracies and install a liberal order in the region. Israelis, being realists, understand that this is a fantasy. Israel’s own interests depend on the exercise of power in ways unwelcome to the Arab peoples, and this depends on a permanent American willingness – and competence – to dominate the region on Israel’s behalf. And this, as politically perceptive Israelis may grasp, could prove a profoundly unrealistic assumption.
Superpowers can afford the illusion that empires “make” the reality that suits them. Small powers cannot afford such rashness. That seems to me Israel’s dilemma.
A desire by an empire for geopolitical dominance is driven primarily by economics. The empire needs ever more markets to sell to, more cheap labor and resources to exploit. Some err by thinking the Israel tail wags the U.S. dog whereas in reality, Israel would not exist without U.S. support.
The cause of the Palestinians continues to inject itself into U.S. politics, despite the efforts of AIPAC, who clearly are weakening. There can be no peace in the Middle East until Palestinians have a homeland – that would be the land stolen from them – that they govern and can call their own.