Friday, March 19, 2010

Biden Comes Home, Missing Some Insignificant Body Parts

If I were to edit an encyclopedia – unlikely, but hey, it could happen -- the entry for “U.S.-Israeli Relations” would be no more than Pat Buchanan's column from St. Patrick's Day (coincidence? I'd rather take it as an omen). It basically tells you all you need to know about the topic, and I recommend that you read it before doing anything else. It can be found at:

Really, nothing more need be said. The title of the column is “The poodle gets kicked”, and I naturally thought that the “poodle” was Joe Biden. But, sadly, Buchanan is thinking bigger than that. Apparently the poodle is America itself – because he says “we got what grovelers deserve”. Note the word “we” and not just “he”. And it's absolutely true, of course – American politicians grovel, and never is heard a world of protest from the citizenry. This has to rank as the most successful brainwashing program in all of human history.

However, Buchanan does commit a bit of a logical boo-boo at the end of the column. He says: “Israeli and U.S. interests often run parallel, but they are not the same. Israel is concerned with a neighborhood. We are concerned with a world of 300 million Arabs and a billion Muslims.” But actually, the only reason we're “concerned with a world of 300 million Arabs and a billion Muslims” is that we have made enemies of them all through our support of Israel. Otherwise, we would be no more concerned with them than we are with any other large racial/ethnic/religious group. (How “concerned” were we with them prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, for example?) But Israel is concerned with much more than its immediate neighborhood; it's concerned – as it should be – with the entire Muslim world. So Pat has things a bit backwards here, but the rest of the column is a masterpiece and a show of astounding bravery.

And as far as all the media gab about a “rift” or “breach”, it seems that the whole thing was a false alarm – at least that's the way it's being spun. The AP says “the rhetoric from both capitals suddenly softened”; Joe Biden is already making light of the situation; and Hillary Clinton “brushed aside suggestions U.S.-Israeli relations are in crisis and reaffirmed America's steadfast commitment to its security,” according to an AP article. And this is in spite of the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. saying “the standoff between the United States and Israel had become 'a crisis of historic proportions'”. Guess he must not have gotten the word. Oh, and -- “experts predicted a period of stormy relations.” Wonder who whose “experts” are, and why they didn't realize that things were already OK again.

And thus, the waters converge and once again all is calm... and the incident is history. Actually, no, it's not even that – it will be thrown down the memory hole and never mentioned again. Now, anyone who doesn't think this entire episode was meticulously programmed, scripted, and timed for maximum impact hasn't been paying attention. What happened was about as “spontaneous and unrehearsed” as a professional wrestling match. You know -- “I'll give you a body slam, and you'll pretend to get mad, and my manager will hit you over the head with a folding chair..” and so on. As entertainment value, there's something to it; as real, bonafide diplomacy it's a total crock. And listen to how the media style the issue: “The Obama administration must decide how far it is willing to go to enforce its political will on Israel, which enjoys strong popularity among Americans.” Oh, right – the U.S. government is fully prepared to be an honest broker and “enforce its political will” -- you know, that thing that vanished without a trace right after World War II. But those doggone American citizens – well, they're just so pro-Israel that Obama's hands are tied. Have you ever heard such nonsense? The message is, "We'd love to do something about Israel -- get tough -- but you won't let us."

The reason that incidents like this have to be replayed in a thousand variations is not entirely clear, but I think it goes something like this: There has to be a groundswell of skepticism from the American grass roots concerning our “relationship” with Israel – it's been way too incestuous, way too cozy, for way too many years. And not only that, it's visibly destroying our economy and making us into a rogue state as far as much of the world is concerned. So what do you do, politically, in a case like that? You do something to demonstrate that things aren't all that cozy, and that we're still “our own man” -- in other words you, from time to time, come up with an “incident”, a skirmish of some sort, that reassures people that our leaders have not totally subordinated American interests to those of Israel, and that there is still an occasional “frank and healthy debate at the highest levels”. So someone – Joe Biden in this case – offers to be the Bobo Doll, and get knocked around a bit, in exchange for which he gets to utter a few stern words in the high-pitched voice of a eunuch, which are followed by a lower-key rebuttal, and then even lower-key expressions of reconciliation – and hey, that young couple in the apartment upstairs? They squabble and fight a lot, but in the end they always kiss and make up. And each winds up stronger in the end. Except in our case, we wind up – well, not actually weaker but visibly weaker. Because even if this scam works on the American public (which it clearly does) it most definitely does not work in the Arab/Islamic world. With each new incident, they see us as even bigger, more abject bumbling fools, as well as servants, gofers, and slaves. Which means, basically, that they have even less interest in dealing with us as mediators, since we don't merit respect and are not acting from a position even remotely resembling impartiality. So the next time we wade back into the Palestinian situation, we are even more emasculated than before, even more obviously doing Israel's bidding, and even less credible. Which makes one wonder, why do we even bother? Why keep up the pretense? And the answer to this is multifaceted, as I've discussed on other occasions. Part of it is our ongoing delusion that we represent “democracy”, and the only valid form thereof – and that our God-given burden is to “spread” it throughout the world. And inseparable from this delusion is that Israel is an ideal democracy – particularly for the Middle East, where we style it the only “real” democracy over there. So if you're pro-democracy you have to be pro-Israel; end of argument. But then we have other influences, like the Christian Zionists, who wield an astonishing amount of political power in this country – no matter which party is in power. Then, of course, there is the all-seeing eye of the Israel lobby and the Israeli intelligence services – who seem to be able to scare the crap out of any American politician, and as always I ask why? I mean, seriously, what are these clowns afraid of? What do they think will happen to them if they don't cooperate? I guess it's not unlike what happens when the Mafia takes over a city, or a country, or a statehouse – one doesn't have to spell out the “or else” in detail; it's enough to know that the people in charge can to anything, at any time, to whomever they please.

I could also mention the “usual suspects” -- arms makers and what not – but that would not distinguish the present issue from any other hot, cold, or lukewarm war that involved military actions or the threat thereof. And as for the Neocons, who share the power triumvirate with the Israel lobby and the Christian Zionists, their agenda when it comes to Israel is indistinguishable from that of Israel itself – so you can collapse them together with the Israel lobby. At any rate, the aggregate power and influence of these various interest groups far exceeds that of any other political entity or grouping in the country, which is why, no matter what happens on the surface, their firm hold on our government and on foreign policy will never be broken – at least not by any force from within.

Well, actually, having a eunuch in the second-highest office in the land is not necessarily a bad thing – I understand some of them were quite competent administrators in imperial China. But it really makes me wonder what makes guys like Biden tick – they are like beaten dogs; the more they are abused the more they run back for more, with their tails wagging. And even Hillary, the attack dog par excellence, has fallen into this trap. I suppose it's the age-old psychology of the victim; at least the abuser is the devil you know, and it gives you an excuse for not taking any risks in order to improve your situation and regain your self-respect.

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