There has been something verging on the surreal in the US-Israel interplay over the past year or so, culminating in the kick in – er, the face delivered to Vice President Biden two weeks ago with Israel's surprise announcement of yet more new settlement construction, and capped by Secretary of State Clinton's groveling submission to Netanyahu at a recent AIPAC conference. Her speech was the verbal equivalent of what a White House intern allegedly did for her husband once (or more) upon a time, supposedly earning "Presidential kneepads" thereby.
Israeli officials have repeatedly not only ignored but also openly insulted in word or deed the persons or policies of almost every senior American official with whom they have dealt, including Clinton, Biden, Middle East Envoy George Mitchell, and President Obama himself.
And they have taken it, one and all, occasionally with brief bursts of verbal anger that rapidly subsided into yet another steadfast affirmation of the eternal, undiminished, unchallenged and unchallengeable US willingness to underwrite the security of Israel, and especially to its absolute unwillingness to deny Israel a single dollar, bomb or bullet. God knows, I wish they had even half the same demonstrated commitment to the security of the United States and the well-being of the American people — but then, no one can easily serve two masters.
Creating a Shambles and Calling it Policy
Sure, America's Middle East policy is a shambles. America's standing is much lower now than when Obama came into office. The Iraq war is winding down, with no certainty at all how that country will go. Afghanistan is a mess, but then, Alexander the Great couldn't do much with it either, so that's no surprise. And Israel — not wanting America to be bored with only one and a half wars — evidently is trying to help by encouraging us into war with Iran, to spare them the cost of attacking it. Such a friend!
Then there are the long-suffering Palestinians, a people whose situation Obama himself declared in his one bright moment in Cairo last June to be "intolerable." Hello? Mr. Obama, did you sleep through so many classes that the meaning of that word slipped past you? Something that is "intolerable" needs to be put right, and by any objective measure, the US has the power on absolutely every dimension needed to do just that.
Ah, but that would mean actually doing something to Israel, or at least withholding something from it, or perhaps even voting against it in the UN. And that would mean bypassing Congress and going to the American people. And that isn't going to happen, at least with this Administration. Obama just isn't the man to do that job.
From Bad to Worse
The whole thing almost reminds me of a turnabout "battered spouse" exercise, in which the stronger lets the weaker do the beating, murmuring "now, dear" at intervals but letting the beatings continue. And as usual, whenever anyone else dares to point out what is happening, the battered spouse staunchly affirms a determination to stand by the battering partner, no matter what happens.
What is manifestly going to happen is that a demonstrably bad situation is going to get worse, and more than a few people are making that abundantly clear. Probably the only thing that might jolt the Israeli-dominated train of US Middle East mismanagement off its tracks, would be a catastrophe following a US strike against Iran producing US casualties way beyond those from the Vietnam War — something that could happen all too easily. And then, yet again, there is Gaza and the rest of the Palestinian Bantustan….
More dangerously, Clinton's hat-in-hand, I-love-you-now-and-forever verbal burlesque at the AIPAC conference makes two things abundantly clear. One is the extraordinary extent of Zionist control within and over the US Government — when you hurt someone or some Administration and it comes back for more, you have them. The other is how little the members of AIPAC themselves, at least nominally US citizens, care about the US itself — there isn't any longer even a facade of "dual loyalty," only loyalty to Israel alone.
I am very old-fashioned, and a decade in the US Marines gave me an odd affinity for qualities such as pride and loyalty and duty and honor. I'd like to hope that somewhere way down deep these supposed "leaders" of the most powerful country on earth would find something of those qualities in themselves, or at least acquire a sense of shame, and understand that they are there to safeguard America and Americans, and not to sustain Israeli militarism, racism and colonialism.
If they did, then Israel would find itself confronting sanctions and embargoes, its aid from the US would end, and the illegal blockade of Gaza would be forcibly broken — and that would be just for starters.
But that, too, isn't likely in the here and now. In the Middle East, as in so many other areas of public policy, the US Government and its so-called "leaders" simply are not a part of any workable solution. So perhaps we should just send them all some diplomatic kneepads emblazoned with the Star of David — although I do wonder what kind of a cigar Netanyahu will flash.
*Alan Sabrosky (Ph.D, University of Michigan) is a ten-year US Marine Corps veteran and a graduate of the US Army War College. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org