Friday, July 14, 2006

In yesterday's post I excoriated the Palestinians for their self-destructive actions in their relationship with Israel. Lest I be accused of being one-sided in this sad mess, let's take a look at Israel. It's clear to anyone with open eyes and half a brain that the US is rock-solidly on the side of Israel, no matter what happens. This makes it impossible for us to be an honest broker in attempting to mediate between Israel and it's neighbors. Let's face it: we have no credibility with the Arabs as an even-handed mediator. How did we come to this point?

The other day, I recommended you read a book called The Management of Savagery by Abu Bakr Naji to get an idea of how our deadly enemies view us. Today, I recommend you read a study published in March of this year by John Mearshimer (Department of Political Science, University of Chicago) and Stephen Walt (John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University) titled The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. You can easily find and download this study on the Internet, and it's well worth your time in reading.

The basic position of the authors is that the foreign policy of the United States as it regards Middle Eastern affairs has been shaped by a very aggressive, very well-organized lobby dedicated to advancing the economic, political, and security interests of Israel. The authors point out that this effort is in no way different from the activities and aims of any other lobby; what sets it apart is the way in which it actually shapes US foreign policy in ways that are frequently contrary to our national interests. Whether you agree or not - and I do - you will find this to be a very detailed, well-documented, and devastating critique of how our fundamental national interests in the Middle East have been hijacked in the interests of Israel.

Now don't think that this means I'm a supporter of or an apologist for the Arabs. In most ways they are their own worst enemy, consistently working against their own best interests and blaming everyone but themselves for their own stupidity. But as I have always maintained, there is no one in the whole mess whose hands are clean. The Middle East is cursed with a poisonous combination of religious bigotry, political obtuseness, racism, and greed on all sides. The problem is that we cannot do anything to help resolve these issues because we have lost our status as a credible and even-handed negotiating partner by backing Israel unquestioningly at every turn. Any criticism of Israel issued by our government is simply empty words, unaccompanied by action. It's no wonder that the Arabs don't take us seriously.

Am I advocating that we throw Israel overboard? Of course not. But what I am suggesting is that we reassess what our fundamental interests are in the Middle East, and then act in our own interests and not in those of Israel or the Arab states, except as they mirror our own. The Muslim world would probably dislike us on religious grounds alone, whether we supported Israel or not. But we turn that dislike into hatred personified by the like of Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, and Ayman al Zawahiri when we subordinate our own fundamental interests to Israel.

It's time to reclaim our foreign policy.

Have a good day and a good weekend. More thoughts tomorrow.


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