Sunday, January 31, 2010

America's Mighty Katrinka

I have said, often enough, that the most brilliant thing Obama has done to date is to appoint Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state. It got her out of Congress, out of his face, and – at least for the time being – out of active contention for the presidency. It also made it very difficult for her to spend four years trying to sabotage his administration, out of a need for vengeance – not that anyone so noble and high-minded as Hillary would ever dream of such a low thing, of course.

But her appointment as secretary of state also sent a message -- “loud and clear”, as they say – to both our overseas allies and opponents – that American foreign policy was no longer to be wimpy and limp-wristed... that it was going to be tough, unapologetic, with a take-no-prisoners attitude... and sure enough, with Hillary at the helm, the time-honored notion of “my country, right or wrong” has taken on new life. When one of our allies wanders off the reservation, she marches in, sits down with the leadership, and delivers an ultimatum. When an opponent gets too opponent-like, she reads the riot act. She has an answer for anything North Korea can throw at us – and would have an answer for Al Qaeda, if they were a country rather than a nebulous international organization. Plus, she manages to more or less ignore the U.N., which is certainly a step in the right direction.

So all in all, I give Hillary “major ups” for her rough-riding, rootin'-tootin' performance. And yet, certain ironies creep in from time to time. For instance, an article in yesterday's paper was headlined, “Clinton gets tough with China”. This, in response to China's alleged support of Iran's nuclear weapons program. And how has that “support” been manifest? Why, simply by the fact that China has not helped to “keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons”. In other words, whatever Iran does that we don't like (translation: that Israel doesn't like) is China's fault because they should have done something to prevent it. Hmmm... very interesting. I wonder what would happen if that criterion were applied to our attitude of benign neglect when it comes to the actions of some of our “allies”?

And look what she's threatening them with! “Diplomatic isolation and disruption!” Gee, the last time I checked, it was our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that were causing diplomatic isolation and (domestic) disruption for us. You don't suppose she's “projecting” a bit, do you? Or maybe it's just wishful thinking. You take a country that owns the biggest single piece of the American public debt, and put it up against America – who are people more likely to listen to, hmmm? It's like saying, who has more clout in Manhattan, Donald Trump or some street bum?

So... the irony is that Hillary has apparently forgotten who her true friends are, since China was one of the most loyal supporters of her husband and his election campaigns not all that long ago. They “paid to play”, as the saying goes – and play they did. And now she wants to bust their chops because of Iran? It would serve her right if they demanded a refund of all that campaign money. But I forget that Hillary is now speaking for the nation as a whole, and our interests world-wide, and not just for a campaign and an administration of someone she happens to be related to. Maybe I should give her credit for having enlarged her vision... broadened her horizons.

The other angle on this whole Iran thing is – as I may have said in a previous post – it reflects what I see as a coming war between China and Israel. This will not be a direct conflict, of course – it will be a “proxy war” with us serving as Israel's proxy (as we are already doing in Iraq, e.g.) and Iran serving as China's proxy. The battle will have to do with access to Middle East oil, no doubt... but it will also have to do with access to what remains of American wealth. Right now the biggest single ongoing claim on American resources is the one that is made by Israel – which includes all of our military expenditures in the Middle East as well as the broader “War on Terror”, which is a direct outcome of our support of Israel over many years. And if you add up the ripple effects of these factors on the economy overall, the “Israel bill” for this country amounts to many trillions – and there is no sign of any diminution in the amount and speed of the hemorrhage of our wealth to a “cause” that the American people have never – not even once! -- been asked, or allowed, to vote on. On the other hand, the largest holder of American public debt – also known as “money borrowed to pay the Israel bill” -- is China. So... don't you think it's just possible that, sooner or later, these two entities will come to blows over who gets first dibs on American wealth – or what is left of it? Either the “defense” of Israel will bleed us dry eventually – which means that all of China's “paper” will be just that, and nothing more... or, before that happens, China will hold all that paper up in the air and tell Obama, or whoever, that either we butt out of the Middle East or they're going to cash in all their chips – in which case we'll wind up eating cow chips. We've already heard some rumblings from China about “fiscal prudence” -- just trying to protect their interests, mind. But wouldn't fiscal prudence on the part of the U.S. logically begin with our withdrawal from Middle East entanglements? On the other hand, Israel shows no sign of recognizing – or caring – how much our unconditional support is costing us; as far as they're concerned, we can go bankrupt and starve to death as long as that support keeps coming. But this is clearly a short-sighted, and nigh unto insane, point of view. Like a parasite or tumor that eventually kills its host, Israel sooner or later is going to have to accept the fact that as we go, they go – and with very little delay. (The Moslem world is keenly aware of this fact, by the way – which is why they cheer every time there is bad economic news from over here.) Or... maybe they've just long since accepted this fact, and are fatalistically prolonging the agony as long as possible, hoping some miracle (not that they have believed in miracles for quite some time) would sustain them even if we fell by the wayside. But if this is their attitude, it's never expressed; it's more akin to the Israeli position that Jerusalem is “the eternal capital of Israel”. Well, eternity may turn out to be a lot shorter than anyone thinks.

Now, this is not saying that I don't appreciate the ongoing dilemma. The Jews demanded a safe haven after World War II – and who can blame them? But when their demand was grafted on to the already firmly-established Zionist movement, some warning signs should have gone up among the allies – i.e. among the victors in World War II. Clearly, despite the propaganda, Palestine was not “a land without a people” -- and besides, it was surrounded by Arab, largely Moslem states that were hostile toward Zionism (if not to Jews per se). So plunking down the refugees from the Holocaust in the Near East and creating a country for them was, probably, the worst diplomatic/foreign policy decision of all time – and yet we did it, along with our European allies, knowing full well that the State of Israel would be, and remain, on intensive life support from that moment on... and that the arrangement would alienate us from the entire Arab world, and the entire Moslem world... and that there were already fundamentalist/fanatical/militant movements in that region that would gain a new lease on life from the establishment of a Zionist country in their midst. All of this was predictable – although, let's admit, the eventual alignment of Iran with China was a bit less obvious. And yet this too has happened – the way the Soviet Union lined up with the Arabs after having initially – or so it seemed – been fully supportive of the Israel plan. (I think the main reason they lined up with the Arabs was just to be on the opposite side from us – the way we would always wait to see which party, in any given country, the Soviets supported, then automatically start supporting their opponents.)

So the situation today is one from which no one can extract themselves without considerable pain – to themselves or someone else, or both. It would be in our best interests – from a cold, objective point of view – to drop Israel like a hot potato, here and now. But that's not going to happen. And China is not going to back out of the Middle East and its major source of oil. And Iran is not going to give up its nuclear ambitions unless it's forced to through armed invasion – probably because it sees itself as the last, best hope for preserving the Moslem world against domination by the Zionists or their surrogates. So the battle is joined, as it were – and who better to lead the charge than that old battle-ax herself, namely Hillary?

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