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11/07/06

HOW TO WORK OUT OF THE MIDDLE EAST QUAGMIRE

By Kam Zarrabi, Intellectual Discourse

 

GIVE UP ARROGANCE AND PRIDE AND GET ON WITH REPAIRING THOSE BURNT BRIDGES

 

Outside some delusional ignoramuses or diehard backwoods conservatives, nobody is convinced that we are anywhere close to winning the war in Iraq. The term, winning the war itself can best be classified as a non descript concept, a sound-bite that makes as much sense as the even more enigmatic phrase, war on terror.

 

There is no point in elaborating further on the mess we have created in the region, or in the futility of staying the course even with the adjustments in methods and tactics that we are told would respond to the evolving situations on the ground. The undeniable fact is that we are sinking ever deeper in the quagmire of our own creation and we want out.

 

The Democrats blame the Republican administration while more and more Republicans are now blaming their own party’s leadership, and the whole world blames the United States, for not only inflaming the turbulence and bloodshed in the Middle East, but also for the mismanagement of the subsequent theater of chaos with no reasonable solution or exit strategy.

 

Our ambitious campaigners for political office in this week’s elections, and those hopefuls soon to become fully engaged in debates for the 2008 office of the President, each have their grand thesis or strategy for resolving the dilemma of our foreign policies in the Middle East. These strategies and theses, however, sound as profound and meaningful as the patented response by the typical Miss America Pageant contestant when asked what she would wish for if her one wish could be fulfilled: “I would wish for world peace, prosperity and love among mankind.”  No, Virginia, there really ain’t no Santa Clause!

 

It is a philosophical point that a problem that has no solution is not really a problem, it is simply a case or state of affairs. Our dilemma in the Middle East, I maintain, is indeed a problem with a solution and not a case like the Earth being round rather than flat, unless we or those who direct our foreign policies want to keep it as such. The solution to this problem has its costs, but these costs are not nearly as high as those vague and feel-good suggestions that some have offered, or the draconian measures that certain others would like to promote.

 

The prerequisites to solving the dilemma are threefold: 1- Willingness or resolve to do what is good for America, for a change. 2- Being able to break some old established paradigms. 3- Having the courage to think and take action outside the proverbial box.

 

For decades the momentum that propelled America onto the world stage as a superpower after the Second World War seemed unstoppable. The seemingly invincible ocean liner maintained course, unaffected by barnacles that attached themselves to the hull or storms that would have threatened lesser vessels. But barnacles have become bigger and storms more severe, making the ship of state increasingly more vulnerable to the elements.

 

During that period it mattered little what sociopolitical developments were taking place in the far away Middle East, as long as we could manage or manipulate the evolving forces in such a way that the region’s oil continued to flow as we desired and communism remained in check. We could choose our friends and we made foes of those we didn’t particularly like, with no adverse effects of any consequence. We saw no need to be cautious about our policy choices or to worry much about a generation or two down the line into the future. But the future has arrived and has caught us off guard.

 

Unless we are blind, too arrogant to accept unpleasant facts, or too proud to admit that we need all the help we can get, we have to confess that a major sea change in our attitudes and policies is in order. First order of the agenda should be a serious reevaluation of certain well established paradigms that clearly defy sane judgment now that the decades-long fog of self delusion has finally been lifted. These paradigms have served as the guiding lights for practically all our major policy decisions in the Middle East. A list of paradigms that must be put to rigorous scrutiny includes the following:

1-     What is needed in the Middle East and what the United States wants for that region is true democratic reforms along Western models.

2-     Living up to our standards and accommodating our interests would serve the Middle East’s best interests in the long run, as well, whether they realize it or not.

3-     Motivated by their Islamic teachings, the Middle Easterners in general, carry a deep resentment and even hatred of the West.

4-     If not stopped through imposed political reforms, economic pressure or even by military action, Islamic militancy would inevitably attempt to destroy our Western civilization.

5-     The state if Israel is the beacon of democracy, progress and Western values that must be preserved at any cost, and whose value as an ally of the United States could never be over emphasized.

6-     Blaming everything on Israel is the Middle Easterners way of denying their own mismanagement, faults and failures.

 

The point here is not to attempt to refute each and every one of the above paradigms one by one. For the true believer, nothing written or said, regardless of its evidentiary support, will debunk the mythology that has remained unchallenged for nearly three generations; the earth is flat and Jesus is coming, and that’s that!

 

At the risk of being yet again accused of anti-Semitism, I propose that, not only has America’s blind and unequivocal support for Israel been the root cause of practically all our problems in the Middle East and with the Islamic World, Israel’s influence in formulating and directing our foreign policy in that region continues to work against America’s best interests worldwide. This, however, is not to blame Israel for doing whatever it can to promote its strategic interests at whatever cost to anyone else, including its chief benefactor, the United States. I am criticizing our own administrations, Republican as well as Democrats, for allowing a foreign entity to hijack the foreign policy of this superpower to serve its own agenda at our expense.

 

Rather than expounding on the above, suffice it to site a few references for those who are open and willing to accept such bizarre ideas that defy common sense, that earth is not flat, regardless of how flat it appears in Texas or Wyoming, or that Jesus is nor really coming back, no matter how long the faithful wait.

http://nysoundposse.com/2006/10/event-seymour-hersh-and-scott-ritter.html

http://ksgnotes1.harvard.edu/Research/wpaper.nsf/rwp/RWP06-011

 

Again, without attempting to substantiate or prove my points – I leave that to likeminded people in these references who can see through the fog of propaganda and disinformation and can think outside the box – I suggest the following:

 

Let us carefully weigh the gains against the liabilities and losses that the United States of America has brought on to this nation by steadfastly maintaining our passionate love affair with the state of Israel. Without bias or prejudice, if we cannot point to even a single solitary benefit, real or theoretical, in terms of our economy, American lives, strategic advantage, popularity in the region or worldwide, improved access to natural resources, etc., how could we possibly justify this alliance? Now count the disadvantages, the costs of which in every one of these areas mentioned have been escalating and now spiraling out of control.

 

For example, it is now clear to even the most stubborn conservatives that our involvement in Iraq was ill advised to start with, and the cost in American lives, money and global prestige and credibility have been tragically high. The Middle East after the Iraq fiasco is turning into a power keg nearing flashpoint. There is, however, one clear winner in all that, Israel. The pressure on Israel to negotiate a peace treaty with the Palestinians is, once again, put in the backburner, while new illegal settlements are sprouting in the West Bank, and the slaughter of the Palestinians continues with impunity in Gaza. With our material help and diplomatic support, Israel managed to destroy most of Lebanon, and now, with America’s de facto blessing, the Likud regime flexes its military muscle and threatens preemptive attack on Iran and Syria.

 

The elephant driver, the mahout, riding on the neck of the powerful beast and using his sharp hook masterfully, has directed his mount to trample and crush its perceived and potential adversaries, now with its biggest prize in sight, Iran. But there is a problem this time: the unintended consequences of the war on terror against Al Ghae’eda in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq have eliminated Iran’s immediate enemies and strengthened its position in the region. The elephant seems to be resisting the increasingly harder prodding by the fox riding on his back, and for a good reason.

 

But AIPAC is relentless. According to the statistics, the Democratic Party recipients of the Israeli lobby’s money and influence over our Congress and in the entertainment and news media outnumber the Republicans nearly two to one. Try to log-on to AIPAC’s sites, especially the AIPAC Policy Conference 2006, to gain an appreciation of the lobby’s powerful grip or, better put, stranglehold, over our administration’s policy makers.

 

Now let us suppose that the elephant or the mule, as the case might be, develops a sudden surge of patriotism or self-interest and throws the fox off its back, letting it know in no uncertain terms that the free ride is over. Of course, the little fellow could still enjoy safety and security riding on the beast’s back, but as long as it behaves itself and doesn’t cause any trouble.

 

With Israel curbed, the Middle East suddenly appears in a new light. Hezbollah and Hamas cease to be terrorist organizations, heralding a final peace treaty with Israel, and Iran and Syria will no longer rate as regimes sponsoring terrorism for their support of these groups. After all, by all measures conceivable, Israel is the only regime known whose official state policy is terrorism and remains the worst violator of international law and the United Nations’ resolutions.

 

Opening diplomatic and economic relations with Iran, something for which the Iranian regime has indicated its support more than once in the past couple of years, would result in two major developments. For Iran, such an opening would relieve the current escalating levels of tension and fear of destabilization and war, while the subsequent surge in economic development with a sense of security would inevitably lead to a meaningful rekindling of liberal democratic reforms. For the United States, such an opening with Iran would pave the way for a satisfactory disengagement from Iraq.

 

With Israel under protective custody of the its historical benefactor, no regional readjustments of powers in the Middle East would threaten the West or the United States. Oil will continue to flow regardless of who ends up in charge of what oilfield, as the developing region depends on oil exports to fund any and all its economic projects to survive. With Israel sidelined and no longer perceived as a threat to the region, Iran’s nuclear program would remain focused at peaceful projects, with no conceivable potential for proliferation into weaponry under the watchful eyes of the IAEA.

 

Let us keep in mind that Israel would like nothing more than having the United States remain engaged in the Middle East, and would settle for nothing less than dragging our nation into another quagmire, even if it has to initiate the move itself. Let us hope that we are smart enough this time not to fall into another Israeli trap.

 

... Payvand News - 11/07/06 ... --



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