Let's start with the vignette of a brief televised
ceremony at a military base honoring a young soldier who had lost his life
What are we really fighting for in
Those who drove the airliners into the
Naturally, the concept of freedom only makes sense when it is defined and confined within the limits outlined by the laws of the land, which are, in turn, governed by a people's cultural norms and moral and ethical guidelines. Not even the most daring libertarian or anti social anarchist would suggest that one should be free to assault or kill a competitor who might be standing in one's way. You cannot drive as fast as you like or against the oncoming traffic, or refuse to pay for the groceries you intend to take home.
You simply do not have the freedom to change the rules half-way through the game in favor of your own team if your opponent is winning. But when it comes to international affairs, we certainly are looking at a different ballgame. In the international arena, changing the rules of the game and moving the goal posts are actually among the accepted, unwritten rules of engagement. The so-called Golden Rule of doing unto others as you'd have them do unto you is out the door, replaced by double standards, hypocritical acrimony and one-upmanship, to where the Biblical Golden Rule has become, do unto others before they have a chance to do it unto you. That is called preemption in justifiable self-defense!
Of course, if others exercise that kind of preemptive option against us in their own version of justifiable self-defense, it is regarded by us as naked aggression!
A perfect example of this double standard is the
recent statement by our UN Ambassador, Ms Rice, who commented regarding the
The underlying reason is quite obvious: We do not
There is nothing unusual about this manifest hypocrisy; it is the most profound aspect of human cultural evolution, reminding us that we are not that far removed from other species of life in the long geological history of struggle for survival. What animals do instinctively and without a sense of guilt or shame, we do also, except that in our case we have a conscience to deal with.
Fortunately for us, the Homo sapiens species is endowed with a natural gift that helps it cope with its moral and ethical dilemma, and that is the ability to rationalize. We would be hard put to find anyone, even among the hard-core criminals, who'd admit to being immoral and unethical. Even they have some rationale for their misbehavior, something outside of their self-control - the blame always falling somewhere other than on themselves.
In a purely Darwinian sense, our human ancestors, the species with a conscience, had to pursue their self-interests to survive. If group cooperation promoted the interests of the individuals, as in a wolf pack, the hominid gangs formed tribes, then nations and ultimately empires. The human society has not reached a point as yet for the nations and empires to merge and create some kind of global community with shared values and interests - it may never.
So, we have ethnic, linguistic, physiognomic, religious and cultural differences, national boundaries that each nation fights for and protects, and immigration laws to prevent or regulate the flow of "strangers" into our territories. Animals mark their territories with their scent; we delineate ours by fences, walls or threatening "no trespassing" signs. They have their warning calls, we have national anthems.
When a pack of hyenas runs short of food in its own domain, it crosses over into a rival's territory and the stronger pack survives the fierce confrontation. We don't do it quite that way anymore; that wouldn't be honorable or sit well with our self-righteous image. But what are wars all about?
Wars happen when one nation transgresses against another, each fighting to the death to protect and preserve what it views as its entitlements. The aggressor always has what it perceives as a noble cause, a legitimate reason to mobilize armies and risk the lives of its fighters in the pursuit of its rightful mission. The defender also feels entitled to protect itself against the onslaught at whatever cost to its land and population. And finally, it is the winning side's rationale, story or the narrative of the accounts that go down in history books as historical facts.
Naturally, we have to differentiate between the decision-making group, class or the leadership of a nation and the general public whose support is necessary, indeed vital, for the government to conduct its agendas. Therefore, the success of the regime's course of action or agendas depends to a great extent on the approval or the support of the public. This is where internal diplomacy, a euphemism for propaganda or disinformation, plays the most critical role.
To be frank, disinformation, hypocrisy and propaganda are indispensable tools of diplomacy if we define diplomacy as the craft of the statesmen that makes what has to be done look good and proper at the same time.
It would be most interesting and revealing to conduct a nationwide survey about the general public's attitude regarding our foreign policies worldwide.
Suppose we ask a wide spectrum of people from all
walks of life whether they believe that
There will be some, perhaps among the more pragmatic or elitist neoconservatives, the Dick Cheney types, who'd respond quite honestly and unabashedly that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the idea of extending the power of the American Empire to dominate the global economic and geopolitical spheres, no matter at what cost to whom. In fact, the neoconservative think tank, Project for the New American Century (PNAC), makes this more than just an idea, but a mandate in its Mission Statement.
In between these two opposite poles are proponents
of the idea of an American Empire who believe that American ideals of democracy,
fairness and magnanimity would actually benefit the global populations, while
ensuring, at the same time,
To this last group we then put another question:
Would you still promote this idea if you knew that ensuring
I think the great majority would answer; No, not if our gains would mean other peoples' losses.
Now we ask the same group the following question: Would you be willing to lower the standard of living you are accustomed to and have come to expect as your birthright in order to be fair and honest in dealing with other nations around the world?
I am quite sure that this question would cause a great deal of apprehension and looked upon with understandable incredulity. The deep-seated response is, of course, No. But rather than admit to this very natural tendency, the effort would be to defy and deny the viability of the question itself. The response would likely be self-delusional, that there would be no need to lower our lifestyles to accommodate others, and that they, with our help, can achieve their goals.
If my assessment of the public opinion is correct,
the need for the manipulation of the public's mindset becomes apparent. Whether
we are in
Is there anything wrong or evil with this age-old grand hypocrisy? I'd say; Not at all.
Remember, we humans are not that far removed from our ancestral hominid past. To survive, we all compete to get ahead at our competitor's expense, sometimes individually and other times as groups, whichever serves the purpose better. As mentioned before, we are endowed or, better put, cursed by a self-delusional sense of morality, which forces us to rationalize and portray to ourselves whatever serves our best interest as justifiably ours and our efforts to obtain it as noble and just. The human species would not have survived and evolved to the present otherwise.
To resolve this perennial dichotomy between natural predatory greed and morality, our leaders, whether messengers from the Creator, dictators or elected officials, must engage in a masterful charade of disinformation and hypocrisy to serve their constituents' best interests as they perceive those interests to be. And therein lies the fundamental problem; the problem of perception and motivation in the part of the leadership, the importance of which will come later.
Once we accept that hypocrisy at the highest levels
is a fact of life, even the most skeptical would understand why we were told,
and we accepted, that the young soldier who lost his life in
Once we understand the role that propaganda or disinformation plays in the political scene here, indeed everywhere, we can see how it is that groups or states that are opposed to our perceived interests or agendas are called terrorists or supporters of terrorism. We also see groups or states that are actually engaged in blatant acts of terror and aggression, including ourselves, being referred to as champions of freedom and democracy.
It would not sit well with any honest, moral and ethical citizen to think that the freedom we are fighting for is actually the freedom to extend our power and influence half-way around the world in order to ensure our very self-serving interests, as ill perceived as they might be, and nothing more than that - nothing altruistic or philanthropic here.
In short, we have to lie and engage in hypocrisy and disinformation to protect and preserve the lifestyles we feel we are entitled to. All governments and nations are engaged in the same game, and we are no exception.
Is there anything wrong with that? Again, I don't think so; I do understand, like it or not, why it has to be this way.
Now that we have come this far in exposing the naked truth about our human nature, culture, society and politics, let us touch on the most consequential issue at hand: Are America's foreign policies serving the best interests of the nation regardless of how such policies are carried out, whether in violation of international laws or whether our gains are costing other nations more than we'd like to acknowledge?
If the answer is Yes, then let us not complain about
lies and deceptions that led us to
But what if the answer is No?
Even those who do believe that our mission in the Middle East was initiated with the best of intentions and motivated by just and noble causes, are now increasingly concerned about the mess we've gotten ourselves into. In spite of this anxiety, the prevailing public perception persists that we are engaged in the Middle East in the proverbial battle of the "good" against the forces of "evil", good being represented by us and our allies, and evil by the dark, ugly and savage enemies of civilization and modernity: just ask your next door neighbor to confirm this attitude. The only question now is whether maintaining the course is worth our costs in lives and money, or should we simply build up our defenses and be prepared against any eventuality, and leave those incorrigible barbarians wallowing in their own quagmire.
This public mindset is not likely to change in any meaningful way anytime soon.
Our hardliner ultraconservatives believe that the
The less hawkish believe we should use our global influence to economically strangulate that region and allow our regional surrogate, the Israelis, a free hand in dealing with any survivors whenever necessary and in any way they deem suitable or in their best interest - with our blessing and support, of course.
The slightly more sane, our so-called liberals, while acknowledging the "threat" to our security and national interests from that region, prefer a softer, more "humane" approach to the "problem": Rather than make ourselves look really bad in the eyes of the world, they believe we should refrain from the wholesale nuking of the bad guys and, instead, attempt diplomacy (meaning heavy arm-twisting, sabotage, bribery, assassinations and kidnapping, etc.) and, if these efforts fail to bring about the desired changes, employ economic embargos and other sanctions to keep the potential troublemakers in semi comatose condition.
Of course, the radical rightwing insists that our
policies throughout the Bush years were right on the mark to tackle any obstacle
on the path to
Again, if we prefer to believe that our nation was headed in the right direction before the Democrat Party took the helm, President Obama does seem to be somewhat off course in his new approach and strategy toward the Middle East, particularly regarding Iran. He and his State Department have opted to engage with the Iranians directly and without stiff preconditions, something that the Cheney cabal considers a betrayal of the trust.
Cheney also mentioned that Obama's decision to back
off from the deployment of anti ballistic missiles in
Then, not to disappoint the American public and
create more ammo for the fans of Fox TV, The Obama administration justified this
change, not by explaining to the American people that Russia had threatened to
reciprocate by installing their own massive anti missile defenses, but by
arguing that the new deployment strategy is even more effective against any
Iranian mischief! He knows fully well, as do his Republican detractors, that
Iran is not now, and will not be in the future, desirous or in a position to
initiate a missile attack on Europe or the United States. But, at the same time,
Mr. Obama has to appear concerned about
Now to the core issue: Why is there such insistence
Once again, before tackling this question, I would like to reemphasize that, no matter how hypocritical or unjust our position might truly be with regard to our approach to Iran, a valid argument could always be made for continuing our course if it could be demonstrated that our policies are aimed at ensuring America's best interests. However, if the current ration of disinformation, deception and hypocrisy that the American public is being exposed to is not conducive to this nation's best interests, we should wonder what, if anything, is being done to correct this trend.
This whole process began in earnest under the
official name of "Dual Containment of
The reader would be well served to look up the following on the internet:
Martin Indyk (The architect of the concept of Dual Containment), his background and affiliations.
Clean Break; Securing the Realm.
In short, the master-strategy of securing the realm for Israel's goals and objectives has not only failed to secure the realm as envisioned for the Jewish state, the effort has cost Israel's chief protagonist and supporter, the United States, more than even the staunchest Zionists within the American establishments could have welcomed.
The blowback from all that ill-advised strategy has been the creation of reactionary terrorist cells responding to the establishment of American military bases in Saudi Arabia, leading to the 9/11/2001 attack. After the invasion of Iraq, new terrorists groups, encouraged by anti-American sentiments, were helping destroy what was left of Iraq's infrastructure by exacerbating ethnic and religious divisions within that country.
In the meantime, Iran, which for its own interests, could have been of significant help to the United States, and was actually instrumental in defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan and the establishment of the Karzai regime in that country during the operations in late 2001, was labeled as a member of the "axis of evil" by President Bush in January 2002. The speech writer who had come up with that phrase was David Frum. Look him up, too.
To beat the proverbial dead horse one more time, if it could be demonstrated that securing the realm for Israel has been serving America's best interests, valid arguments could be made that the United States should continue sheltering Israel from international condemnation for its war crimes and violations of international law, and that the pro-Israel propaganda and disinformation carried through our mass media and government sources are actually serving our purpose. However only the most gullible could fall for that line.
Today, there is serious dissent even among the rank
and file of
The Obama administration, meanwhile, is quickly
discovering that any genuine attempt to mediate as a peace broker between the
Palestinians and the Jewish state will prove an exercise in futility! This is
not due to a lack of honest desire to see a solution to the tragedy that is
drawing the attention of the global community with increasing intensity. Outside
of the Anglo-Saxon block of nations,
It is a valid question to ask why the
An analytical examination of the current situation,
the dynamics behind the superficial charade staged between the
To put it quite bluntly, anyone who suggests a
two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dilemma has no intention of
bringing an end to this problem. In all honesty, the Israeli rightwing regimes,
currently headed by Netanyahu, have no intention of stopping settlement
expansions, giving up a square inch of land or allowing the Palestinians a
nationhood in a contiguous state, not to mention the right of return or the
equitable status of
The Palestinians, much to our displeasure and denial represented by Hamas, will not settle for anything less than what the Israeli regime would never accept as terms of any settlement. No matter how often the American administration refers to Mr. Mahmoud Abbas officially as the Palestinian President, he and the Fatah Party are not in fact recognized by the Palestinians themselves as their true representatives.
The one-state solution is the only alternative that might work, but not under the current Israeli administration or the current consensus of the general Israeli public, or as long as the United States administrations, Democrat as well as Republican, continue to be in the grip of the Israel lobby and its influence peddlers.
Sadly, the concept of a two-state solution is what
has successfully been sold to the American public as the goal of the American
administration. And as far as the world public opinion is concerned,
This theatrical stage show accomplishes two tasks at
the same time. First, it is to demonstrate to the American public and the world
at large that the
What does all this have anything to do with Iran?
As long as
With this formidable trump card,
It should now be clear why
It is not an accident or miscalculation that these economic sanctions or the ones currently on the drafting board have not been and are not going to be truly "crippling". As outlines above, truly crippling sanctions would prove counterproductive in achieving the desired effects.
The only conceivable negative or dangerous blowback from following this course is the increasing prominence of the Iranian military establishment, which when push comes to shove, might not behave according to the plans, and mayhem might ensue beyond anyone's control.
Is there a way out of this devastating stalemate, devastating for the Iranian people, of course?
Ironically, a reformed
No longer perceived as a threat to international peace and security, the Iranian regime would lose its best argument to sacrifice the nation's economic development and social reforms for the sake of national security and territorial integrity.
We have ultraconservative hawks that wield enormous
power affecting our nation's course right here in the
The recent anti regime demonstrations against the presidential elections' results in Iran, the cries for human rights or the rights of women and the now more vocal protests by high ranking reform minded clergy, presage at least the potential for positive changes within the Iranian society, should certain preconditions, as mentioned above, pave the way.
I frankly fail to see anything positive in what the
various Iranian web sites or political observers, critics and academics are
engaging in. Whom are they trying to convince that the Iranian regime is
oppressive and that the Iranian people, particularly the youth, want more
freedom and economic opportunity? How is it going to help to keep highlighting
negative news about the goings on inside
So what if the presidential elections were rigged as so many Iranian scholars believe? Supposing Mr.Mousavi had actually won the elections: How would that have changed the political dynamics inside and outside the country? Suppose Ayatollah Khameneh'i were replaced by Hojat-ol-Islam Rafsanjani: Would things have changed for the better?
Why are we so blind not to see that Iran, a major player and a consequential factor in the affairs of the Middle East, is not now and will not be in any foreseeable future in a position to determine its own course to follow without regard to all the peripheral issues in that region?
Rather than hyperventilating passionately about
irrelevant, albeit important, stuff, perhaps our astute thinkers and analysts
should come up with workable alternatives to speed up the process of change,
both with regard to
Kam Zarrabi is the author of In Zarathushtra's Shadow and Necessary Illusion. He is available to conduct lectures and seminars on international affairs, particularly in relation to , with focus on US/Iran issues, at formal and informal gatherings or academic centers anywhere in the country. To make the necessary arrangements, please contact him at email@example.com. More information about Mr. Zarrabi and his work is available at: www.intellectualdiscourse.com.
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