Monday, May 11, 2009

Wandering Off the Reservation

Well, maybe there's hope for the “print media” after all. According to the on-line version of an article from the May 7 issue of Snoozeweek (well, that's what Limbaugh calls it – most people refer to it as Newsweek), the Israelis are getting just a little bit antsy about the Obama administration's position on things like who's going to bell the Iranian cat. And here I thought – like any good conspiracy theorist – that Israel had such a vise grip on U.S. foreign policy that things like this simply never came up – that, like Lola Lola in “The Blue Angel”, whatever Israel wants, Israel gets. And this has yet to be disproven, by the way – all of the current anxieties are based purely on... well, on anxiety. And paranoia. You know, those two superfoods that nourish the Israeli state like the manna of old. But the very fact that anyone over there is even considering the possibility that maybe – just maybe – they could do something that would result in less than 100%, unconditional “support” (think of a billion-dollar truss that has to be changed daily)... this is significant, because it means that they aren't all that certain of their grip on our foreign policy, or on our politicians, or on our president, who happens to be black and has a suspiciously Moslem-sounding middle name.

The article, by the way, is found at: And you'd better read it fast, before AIPAC gets it suppressed. And frankly, I think it's all a bit much to do about nothing. As I've said before, I fully expect the U.S. to willingly follow Israel into whatever final conflagration they manage to create for themselves (with our without our direct participation). This seems to be the intended destiny of this country – to put its fate (military, social, economic, political) entirely into the hands of a tiny sliver of a country in the Near East. And there are ample historical reasons why this may actually be the case – it's far from random or accidental. And yet, there are apparently people who think – fear – that things might be different, and that includes Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's answer to Rambo. Surely they should know by now that nothing they do could ever alienate the good old, reliable, stupid, U.S. But... “what if?” So that's why they occasionally soft-pedal things and play the diplomacy game – to fool us into thinking, for example, that we control our own foreign policy.

The latest position, as expressed by Netanyahu, is that “any peace with the Palestinians will have to await a resolution of the Iran nuclear issue.” So he is, basically, holding the Palestinians – as powerless a group of people as has ever walked the earth – hostage until either we subdue the Iranians, or “allow” Israel to do so. And this might be a clever ploy if the U.S. government had ever expressed the slightest concern about the Palestinians – but since we haven't, it's a bit ridiculous. Taking the lead from Israel, we have agreed, for decades, that the Palestinians are not only sub-human, but that they don't even exist. Now, all of a sudden, we're supposed to care enough about them to start a war with Iran on their behalf – yes, on _their_ behalf, not Israel's! Do you get the impression that the Israelis are grasping at straws on this one? I hope someone in the Obama administration has the guts to tell them so.

The odd and ironic thing is that, although Israel is completely dependent on us for its survival from day to day, our relationship with Israel has done more to damage our own security than any other single factor since the end of the Cold War. You would think... but of course, I always wonder what tumors are “thinking” when they kill their host. And that's the problem – maybe the Israelis _aren't_ thinking – or at least aren't thinking clearly. Because if they were, it might occur to them that it's not their mere presence in the Near East that has the Arab/Moslem world up in arms, but their life-long mistreatment of the Palestinians. And that is something they can actually do something about – right now! Today! It would at least be worth a try, don't you think? But instead, Netanyahu and his ilk hang tough, and put out ridiculous threats that are the equivalent of that old National Lampoon ad that said, “Buy this magazine or we'll kill this dog” (with a photo of a dog with a gun pointed at its head). I just hope there are enough level-headed (if not about economics, then about something, at least) people in the Obama administration to pronounce this all a load of bullshit.

The real problem – as many people are starting to realize – is that the Israelis don't really want peace at all – any more than the Islamic militants do. Each side is dedicated to the total destruction of the other... and the Palestinians are just getting in the way, caught in the cross-fire. Yes, they make handy hostages and provide plenty of “bloody shirts” for the militants, but ultimately they don't matter. (If they did, wouldn't the Islamic countries that surround Israel have willingly absorbed them decades ago, rather than allow them to live out their lives in those camps?) But does this mean that _we_ don't want peace in the Near East? We certainly claim that we do... but almost always add (explicitly or otherwise) “on Israeli terms”. Why do we want peace in that part of the world any more than in Africa, say? Does it, by any chance, have something to do with oil? Could be, Sherlock. So we have to keep up our own balancing act... the problem being, we're keeping a bunch of ping-pong balls in the air plus one bowling ball called Israel. I'm sure Obama is no happier with this task than Bush, or whoever, was – but he has no choice; he has to do it, because... well, just “because”. But even so, one significant thing is that the Obama administration is not owned outright by a bunch of “Christian Zionist” fanatics, as the Bush administration was... so that could be an aid to sanity at some point. And the Neocons, though far from out of power, are certainly no longer part of the inner circle. Then there's the little matter of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which we have always allowed Israel to be exempt from – even though every falafel stand in the country can be converted into a launch site in five minutes. But don't expect that to change any faster than the rate at which we release Israeli spies – namely, once for each one the FBI rounds up (and don't you know they must be getting pretty damn frustrated about this by now?).

This “special relationship” is not going to end in any way other than catastrophe. The question is not “if” but “when”. All we can do in the meantime is try and sit back in a disinterested way and watch the show.

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