A quick and incomplete survey of United States adventures and interventions since World War II is not something most Americans should be proud of. The War in Vietnam -” The slaughter in Indonesia -” Engineering the coup in Chile -” The invasion of Cambodia -” Arming the Contras -” Training the brutes of the Savak secret police in Iran -” Allowing the Serbs to wage genocidal wars against Croats and Bosnians -” Turning a blind eye to death squads in El Salvador and Guatemala -” Collaborating with the military dictatorships in Argentina, Brazil and Greece -” Conspiring with the Gulf kleptocrats who rape the oil wealth of their people -” supporting Arab dictatorships and absolute monarchies -” Encouraging Saddam to invade Iran -” The genocidal sanctions against Iraq -” Indifference to the killing fields in Rwanda and Cambodia -” Constructive engagement with the Apartheid regime in South Africa. The casualties from these American policies run into the millions.
In virtually every case mentioned above, the technocrats who engineered these policies in the State Department, the Pentagon and the CIA rationalized the policies as being either vital -” or in the case of the Balkans and Rwanda – irrelevant to America’s economic health and national security. In their estimate, they were either fighting the commies and their Soviet sponsors or guaranteeing American access to strategic resources like oil. At the end of the day, foreign and national security policies were designed to promote American national or corporate interests. In the case of oil, the policies were marketed as being beneficial to the consumer’s standard of living and employment prospects. As James Baker famously said, the first Gulf War was about ‘jobs’.
Now the cold war is long over and the United States has created permanent garrisons in virtually every corner of the Gulf. The nominally sovereign oil plantations with flags are for all practical purposes colonial outposts. While the reasons for the invasion of Iraq are still murky, the promoters of the war didn’t fail to notice that Iraq had the second largest proven oil reserves on the planet. Newly minted Mesopotamian military bases are already under construction and they show every promise of being permanent fixtures on the Empire’s monopoly board.
Which brings us to America’s exceptional treatment of the Palestinians. Here is a little challenge. Search through the archives of the State Department and locate anything remotely close to America’s policy towards the native people of the Holy Land.
For starters, the West Bank and Gaza have no natural resources worth mentioning. The olive trees and aquifers in the West Bank are of no strategic significance. Being responsible for the overpopulated Gaza strip would only be an economic burden. The three million Palestinians living in the occupied territories have no interest in harming America and the United States gains nothing by tormenting them.
A rational cost/benefit analysis of America’s anti-Palestinian foreign policy should disturb even the most indifferent citizen. It is all pain with no gain.
The benefit side of the ledger is a blank page – unless one wants to scribble in the fantasies of the Judeo-Christian identity movement that believes that the repression of the Palestinians brings us a little closer to the end of times. Even if one is inclined to make such a bizarre entry, do our governors have a mandate to design foreign policy in accord with the prophesies of a fringe cult that includes folks like Tom Delay, Cal Thomas and Jerry Falwell? This is no longer a joking matter. Not when Elliot Abrams feels compelled to assure the Armageddon worshiping cults that Sharon’s withdrawal from Gaza would not postpone the Second Coming of Christ.
The Likudnik fringe, also known as neo-conservatives, might also be tempted to make a case that Sharon’s real estate fantasies enhance America’s spiritual prospects. Unlike their evangelical partners in crime, they don’t even believe in the First Coming of Christ. But they do see exclusive Jewish settlements on confiscated Palestinian lands as divinely inspired -” a fulfillment of Old Testament blue prints.
In any case, from a purely objective and non-theological perspective, no benefit is accrued from America’s active participation in the repression of the Palestinians.
Now, on to the exorbitant price we pay for caving in to the Israeli lobby and their groupies in the Judeo-Christian identity movement. The most obvious expenses are the lavish direct and indirect unconditional aid to Israel, international isolation from allies, terrorism and epidemic anti-Americanism in the Arab and Muslim world.
Buried deep in the final report of the 9/11 commission was the obvious conclusion that the suicidal fanatics who attacked the world trade center and the Pentagon were motivated by rage over our treatment of the Palestinians. The notion that America was attacked because of our ‘way of life’ is wildly off the mark. That so many Americans swallowed that lame explanation – after so deep an injury – is ample testament that we have indeed morphed into a nation of sheep. The Al-Qaida cell that carried out the attack organized the plot in Europe – a continent that is every bit as liberal and democratic as America. But they didn’t target Germany, Sweden or Canada. Their narrow focus was on killing Americans.
Does any serious observer believe that a few thousand Al Qaida operatives ever intended to invade the United States and transform it into a carbon copy of Afghanistan? They might be fanatics but they know that they would be hard pressed to conquer a single county in Kentucky. If they had a clue about the role guns play in our way of life, they were certainly aware that United States is not an invadable country.
We were not attacked because of our love of freedom but because the terrorist wanted to exact vengeance. They did not target us because of how we conduct our affairs over here but because they resent the way we treat them over there.
The thousands of lives that were lost on 9/11 were part of the price we paid for giving Israel a carte blanche to pulverize the Palestinians. The subsequent cost included two invasions that resulted in more loss of blood and treasure. The direct expense of repairing the damage inflicted in New York was forty billion dollars. Capital markets were disrupted. Hundreds of billions have been spent on homeland security. The civil rights of certain ‘suspect’ ethnic communities have been assaulted. Three years after the attack, many Americans still feel vulnerable and ill at ease. The monstrous barricades in the nation’s capital are ample testament to the lingering paranoia that haunts the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Instead of having a rational discussion on why 19 suicidal men had no better use for their lives than to wreak havoc on America, multiple commissions have wasted three years exploring the technical aspects of the failure to prevent the attack. Was it an intelligence failure? Should we blame the CIA, the FBI or the INS? Was it the absence of a well-fortified garrison state? Absent from all these probes, was any critical review of our foreign policy or any mention of our callous mistreatment of the Palestinians.
Yet another tangible cost of our blind support of Israel is that we are now seen as an unjust, cruel and racist people. The world understands that America gains nothing out of tormenting the Palestinians except what appears to be a perverse satisfaction out of inflicting pain and humiliation on a defenseless people.
There is a real simple equation at play here. If you vocally and materially support racist policies, you are seen as a bigot. For the Palestinian victims, it is an obvious and natural conclusion. If they knew American hearts, they may be slightly comforted to know that we are nothing like Israelis. But they don’t know us. They are, however, very familiar with Bush, Kerry and members of Congress. And given their very public support of a thug like Ariel ‘Qibya’ Sharon, who can reasonably argue with a Palestinian who believes our government is full of sadistic individuals who have a penchant for inflicting permanent scars on his people. It is difficult to come up with a rational reason -” devoid of overt bigotry -” as to why the United States of America supports and finances the daily war crimes perpetrated by Israeli goons against the indigenous people of the Holy Land.
Let’s look at the record of our pathetic governors in promoting repression in the Holy Land. They support and finance land confiscation from the indigenous population. American aid is used to build exclusive Jewish settlements, exclusive Jewish roads and Palitentiary walls that enclose whole villages and towns into single-exit internment camps. The government of the United States supports and funds torture chambers, arbitrary detention, racist Israeli immigration laws, discriminatory land ownership policies, assassinations, the almost daily ‘accidental’ murder of children, the systematic vandalizing of vital infrastructure, starvation, home demolitions, humiliation at check points, curfews and all manner of collective punishment.
Our current president, his challenger and former presidents have embraced every war criminal elected by a chauvinist Israeli public. A fawning Congress always rolls out the red carpet for Sharon.
Even the murder of American and British peace activists who dared to show solidarity with the Palestinians did not merit so much as a peep from Bush or Kerry.
When it comes to the Palestinians, our lords in Washington show scant interest in freedom, liberty, private property rights, human rights, international law, indigenous rights or personal security. At the United Nations, the American veto is on permanent loan to the Israeli lobby. The United States refuses to honor Security Council and General Assembly resolutions and the rulings of the International Court of Justice -” because Israel is in no mood to comply.
Professional anti-Palestinian lobbyists are appointed to sensitive policy making positions at Foggy Bottom and the Pentagon to implement Sharon’s dictates. If they think a war in Iraq is good for the Likud, the American army marches on Baghdad. Israel even gets to choose which American is best suited to be our ambassador in Tel Aviv. If supporting Sharon alienates European allies, we criticize Europe instead of hauling the obese serial war criminal to The Hague. We let a lobby working for the account of a foreign country dictate foreign policy and intimidate Congressmen who don’t mimic their talking points. Israel can interfere in our internal affairs but no American president would dare refuse a single item on their wish list.
When an extremist like Binyamin Elon advocates ‘transferring’ the Palestinians and is rewarded with a seat in Sharon’s cabinet, how do we react? We dispatch Hillary Clinton to entertain him at a garden tea party. Is it any wonder that an ethnic cleanser like Geula Cohen can confidently conclude that “As we’ve seen time and time again, the Americans will accept anything we propose”? None other than Ariel Sharon echoed her sentiments when he noted that "Don’t worry about the Americans. We control America and they know it."
None of this is rocket science. There is no conspiracy. America’s exceptional treatment of the Palestinians is practiced in broad daylight. Nothing in this article required resorting to the Freedom of Information Act. You don’t need experts to tell you which way the wind is blowing in the Holy Land.
This is no longer about the Palestinians. It is more about America and the absence of clean accountable government. As Mark Twain noted over a century ago “There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress."
America today is no longer a democracy. Our political class have been taken hostage to the mass media barons, who with rare exceptions, are all ’emotionally involved’ with Israel. No Congressman or Senator wants to wake up on the wrong side of Thomas Friedman, William Safire, Charles Krauthammer, Wolf Blitzer or Aaron Brown. Fox rules and Murdoch sets the political agenda. Our exceptional treatment of the Palestinians is proof positive that our democracy has devolved into a Murdochracy. The Palestinians are merely the most obvious victims of the new political order.