The Iran Trap

(What does it say about a candidate who will ignore the suffering of millions of people living in deplorable conditions under constant threat of injury and death? What does it say about that candidate when he professes to be “liberal” and to offer change, but the only thing we witnessed him “change” was his stance toward the Palestinian plight at the recent AIPAC summit last week?  What changed? He needs the votes? The support? Is this what a “progressive” leader does for support? I wonder if apartheid still existed in South Africa, would he turn a deaf ear to their suffering for votes? The American Everyman focuses on the suffering of the Palestinian people and will not stand for this kind of insult. If it is an attempt to pander to the power of the right-wing Israeli lobby, then I ask simply “who will he need to pander to later and who else is he pandering to now that we don’t yet know of?” This is an important glimpse into the character of a candidate; at peek at what he values and what he stands for. A year ago he spoke out about the suffering of the Palestinians and last week… he blamed them. He promised a track of land to the Israelis that the world agrees doesn’t belong to them. And he gave Bush’s war on Iran for the state of Israel, his seal of approval. Is this change? Yes; his change. It is said that you cannot change the system from within for it is made of people who, like you, came with those intentions, and the system… changed them. The true outsiders are gone from this election, weeded out by the 5th column. if Obama wants my support, he must change back on at least this one issue: stand up for the Palestinians before it is too late. Stand again with an oppressed people living under racist oppression. Stand for the voiceless and be their voice. It will be hard but the true road is always such. Just ask some of those figures from the ’60s who gave the ultimate measure of devotion to the cause of Civil Rights. Stand now Obama and earn your place among them or sit quietly by and count your votes. These are the moments that make great leaders and puppets alike. Choose.)

The following is from Chris Hedges found at Truth Dig, here.

The failure by Barack Obama to chart another course in the Middle East, to defy the Israel lobby and to denounce the Bush administration’s inexorable march toward a conflict with Iran is a failure to challenge the collective insanity that has gripped the political leadership in the United States and Israel. 

Obama, in a miscalculation that will have grave consequences, has given his blessing to the widening circle of violence and abuse of the Palestinians by Israel and, most dangerously, to those in the Bush White House and Jerusalem now plotting a war against Iran. He illustrates how the lust for power is morally corrosive. And while he may win the White House, by the time he takes power he will be trapped in George Bush’s alternative reality.

We need to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. We need to stay the hand of Israel, which is building more settlements-including a new plan to put 800 housing units in occupied East Jerusalem-and imposing draconian measures to physically break the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza. We need, most of all, to prevent a war with Iran. 

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, in a letter to President Bush on May 8, threatened to open impeachment proceedings if Bush attacked Iran. The letter is a signal that planning for strikes on Iran is under way and pronounced.

“Our concerns in this area have been heightened by more recent events,” Conyers wrote. “The resignation in mid-March of Admiral William J. ‘Fox’ Fallon from the head of U.S. Central Command, which was reportedly linked to a magazine article that portrayed him as the only person who might stop your Administration from waging preemptive war against Iran, has renewed widespread concerns that your Administration is unilaterally planning for military action against that country. This is despite the fact that the December 2007 National Intelligence Estimate concluded that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in the fall of 2003, a stark reversal of previous Administration assessments.”

The administration, in rhetoric that is eerily similar to that used to build the case for a war against Iraq, asserts that the Iranian Quds Force is arming anti-American groups in Iraq and providing them with high-tech roadside bombs and sophisticated rockets. It dismisses the National Intelligence Estimate conclusion that Iran suspended its nuclear weapons program. The White House has not provided evidence to back up its claims. I suspect it never will. And when Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz tells the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth an attack on Iran is “unavoidable” if Tehran does not halt its alleged nuclear weapons program, what he is really telling us is we should prepare for war. 

Conyers’ threat is too little too late, especially if the Bush White House, possibly assisted by Israel, launches airstrikes on some or all of 1,000 selected Iranian targets in the final weeks of the administration. But it is an effort. Conyers tried. 

This is more than we can say for the presumptive Democratic nominee. Obama went before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Wednesday and said he will stand with the right-wing Israeli government, even if this means backing an attack on Iran. 

“As president I will use all elements of American power to pressure Iran,” he said.  “I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything.”

Obama went on to blame the Palestinians for the conflict, although the ratio of Palestinians to Israelis killed in 2007 was 40 to 1. This is an increase from 30 to 1 in 2006 and 4 to 1 in 2000-2005.

“I will bring to the White House an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security. That starts with ensuring Israel’s qualitative military advantage, …” Obama told AIPAC.  “I will ensure Israel can defend itself from any threat, from Gaza to Tehran. …”

Obama spoke about Israelis whose houses were damaged by the crude rockets, most made out of old pipes, fired from Gaza on Israeli towns. He never mentioned the Israeli siege of Gaza, the world’s largest open-air prison, or that Israel was deploying fighter jets and helicopters to attack densely crowded refugee camps with missiles and iron fragmentation bombs or that it had cut off food and fuel. He ignored the steady expansion of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land. He called for Jerusalem to become the “undivided capital” of the Jewish state, erasing Arab East Jerusalem from the map in contravention of international law. East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are internationally recognized as occupied Palestinian territories, which Israel took over in 1967. Obama’s stance is the moral equivalent of assuring the Johannesburg government during the apartheid era that one would support their repressive efforts to punish the restive blacks in the townships. 

The deterioration of the conflict in Israel, which would be accelerated by airstrikes on Iran and an ensuring regional war, will propel us into the Armageddon-type scenario in the Middle East relished by the lunatic fringes of the radical Christian right. And so, with Obama’s enthusiastic endorsement, we barrel toward a Dr. Strangelove self-immolation. No one will be able to say we did not go out with a spectacular show of firepower, gore and death. Our European and Middle Eastern allies, who are numb with consternation over our death spiral, are frantically trying to reach out to Tehran diplomatically. 

The instant we attack Iran, oil prices will double, perhaps triple. This price increase will devastate the American economy. The ensuing retaliatory strikes by Iran on Israel, as well as on American military installations in Iraq, will leave hundreds, maybe thousands, of dead. The Shiites in the region, from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, will see an attack on Iran as a war against Shiism. They will turn with rage and violence on us and our allies. Hezbollah will renew attacks on northern Israel. And the localized war in Iraq will become a long, messy and protracted regional war that, by the time it is done, will most likely end the American empire and leave in its wake mounds of corpses and smoldering ruins. 

The Israeli leadership, like the Bush White House, is increasingly bellicose and threatening. The Israeli prime minister, after a 90-minute meeting with Bush in the White House on Wednesday, said the two leaders were of one mind. “We reached agreement on the need to take care of the Iranian threat,” Ehud Olmert said. “I left with a lot less questions marks [than] I had entered with regarding the means, the timetable restrictions and American resoluteness to deal with the problem. George Bush understands the severity of the Iranian threat and the need to vanquish it and intends to act on the matter before the end of his term in the White House.”

This time around, unlike about the war with Iraq, the Washington bureaucracy, loathed by the Bush White House, did not remain silent and complicit. The National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s nuclear program released last Dec. 3 distinguished Iran’s enrichment of uranium at Natanz and Arak from its formal nuclear weapons program, which it said had halted in 2003 after the American invasion of Iraq. Adm. Fallon, who put his country and his integrity before his career, spoke out against a war with Iran, tried to stop it and lost his job as the head of CENTCOM. He has been replaced with Gen. David H. Petraeus, whose devotion to his career admits no such moral impediments. 

” … There is no greater threat to Israel or peace than Iran,” Obama assured AIPAC. “This audience is made up of both Republicans and Democrats. And the enemies of Israel should have no doubt that regardless of party, Americans stand shoulder to shoulder in support of Israel’s security. … The Iran regime supports violent extremists and challenges us across the region. It pursues a nuclear capability that could spark a dangerous arms race and … its president denies the Holocaust and threatens to wipe Israel off the map. … [M]y goal will be to eliminate this threat.”

Barack Obama, when we need sane leadership the most, has proved feckless and weak. He, and the Democratic leadership, is as morally bankrupt as those preparing to ignite our funeral pyre in the Middle East.

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4 Responses

  1. I recall when attending London University as an undergrad, going to hear an exchange between an Israeli Professor and a Palestinian Professor. More than anything I recall the total civility with which both scholars expressed themselves on the topic of the Israeli/Palestinian dispute. Recalling that attendance these several years later, the following seems to constitute major “disconnections” between the two narratives:-

    1. In 1948 some 700,000 Palestinians were dislocated, and Israel has not addressed that fundamental wrong to date. The alternative narrative is that there was voluntary departure or that land was bought.
    2. The victory against Nasser in the 1967 war, under international law, does not permit a post-war land grab going beyond the 1967 pre-war territorial lines of demarcation. The alternative is that Israel is occupying ( inclusive of building more settlements and holding on to the Golan Heights) because of exclusively security reasons. The same rationale has been used for inflicting the collective punishment on which you have commented.
    3. As we recall the history of Israel, from inception we find the narratives in stark contrast, as one version refers to the 1948 war as the “War of liberation” ( Israeli version) while the Palestinians speak of “ The catastrophe”.

    I have often wondered whether US policy towards the Israeli/Palestinian will at some stage come to an honest addressing of the fundamental issues. Sensibly, I must now anser that question in the negative under an Obama Presidency. However, I also question, on a straight cost/benefit analysis ( with Jews being financially well off as a people and with a mass of US aid to Israel) – is it really that hard to “bomb” the Palestinians with a monetary delivery that serves to compensate for the past and build their future? Well, with the US and Israel now hell bent on starting another war -evidently the choice is to spend more money on war, not peace building measures in the Middle East. Palestinian olive groves are destroyed ( and so no olive branches are left for the Palestinians) and relatives homes are razed to the ground when resistance to injustice is inflicted against Israel. The objective rights under international law; the Palestinian right to a homeland and respect for Palestinian rights seem to have no place in US foreign policy. The US is light-years behind in pursuing justice in its foreign policy, and seems either unable or unwilling to be an honest broker and is willing to maintain the “state of denial” that in effect the Zionist movement started with “ethnic cleansing” and continues with its own brand of “Apartheid”. I find it so hard to comprehend how people who historically have suffered quite significantly, now themselves have chosen to be the oppressors of the Palestinian people. So far as war with Iran is concerned – I wish so much that the American people would wake up!

  2. I agree with C.Barnett, except I wish Congress would wake up. They seem to have been in a deep sleep for the past many years.

  3. Agree with C. Barnett… but disagree a bit with Jan…. The Congress is awake. They are complicit. With the complete program (which extends beyond the issue of the middle east).

  4. Question: how come Obama seldom looks straight forward when speaking?

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