Friday, October 23, 2009
An Better Mideast Strategy: Independent Democracies, Sans Israel
The Muslim World faces a dilemma, a forced choice between two alternatives, each worse than the other, and none freely determined by Muslims themselves in anything approaching "normal circumstances". In the so-called "War on Terror", they are called upon to "choose" between "Islamist" extremists, aka "terrorists" (the quote doesn't mean I dispute that there is terror here, just that it's loosely applied to a whole scope of movements), and brutal dictatorships sponsored largely by the West and/or Israeli interests represented by the governments of developed nations.
Are you "with us" - i.e., supportive of your repressive, non-democratic, dictatorial, brutal, economy-busting regimes - or "against us" - i.e., supportive of "terrorists", who are the only guys out there standing up to the West/Israel's overwhelming power plays??? And the "West" claims that it is "fighting for freedom" and "pro-democracy". So which group looks more democratic - the ragtag fighters who consider themselves to be, in Afghanistan for example (Battlefield I, you could say), fighting for their country, their families, and their right to self-govern and protect themselves from invaders? Or, say, Hosny Mubarak, the U.S.'s client in Egypt, whose brutality does not exclude rape, political prisoners en masse, police terror, torture and other crimes against basic rights??
Everyone knows that Mubarak's election is a sham. He plainly embarrasses his U.S. supporters. They are not happy with him, because his obvious corruption and totally failed government shines a bad light on anyone who supports him. But he does do one thing. And that is appear as a nominal "Arab" and (for all Muslims, now's the time for pepto-bismol) "Muslim" in so-called "peace negotiations" regarding the Palestinian issue. He is the supreme lackey in international politics. He will do whatever it takes to maintain the charade of a "peace process" without actually making Israel in the least uncomfortable. And what else does the U.S. really want than a lackey who provides pillows for Israel's every nervous breakdown?
Does the U.S. want peace in the Middle East?? Sort of. It sure would be nice. Intellectually, we want it! Rhetorically, we want it! All we ask for is that beautiful thing called "parity". First, Israel must be fully armed, including nuclear arms, no questions asked. Second, whatever they want, arms, money, aid, they must get because they are our "friends" - which means taxpayer-supported womb-dwellers. Peace would mean delivery. They would have to be actually born. They would no longer be a dream. Anathema! Real countries compromise. Real countries can't be racially exclusive. Real countries have to accept real circumstances of real people, not some imagined religious dream that, in application, means applying the ideals of the Third Reich, only with Jews substituting for Germans. No, the U.S. doesn't want Israel to get real, because Israel won't let the U.S. want that. And Peace means Getting Real. So the U.S. doesn't want real actual REAL peace in the Mideast. No.
No, the U.S. sets up and supports client dictators in almost all Muslim countries. Except for the Hated Mr. Ahmedinejad of that nasty country, Iran, which unfortunately for the "democracy-loving West", is a democracy, albeit with a theocratic backdrop. Many, especially conservatives, in America pine for the days of the Shah - who executed and tortured innocent women and political prisoners. We don't see any hatefests here denouncing Hosny Mubarak, let alone the Saudi regime (would the petroleum industry seriously stand for that??). Nobody was particularly upset about Sukarno when he ruled Indonesia. The Gulf principalities/emirates are go-to guys for U.S. interests. And money keeps their low-population-density citizens happy. Hamid Karzai isn't looking too good either, with his tainted election. Gee, we just can't seem to pick the right rulers for the countries whose resources we want to control, or whose proximity to Israel we need to rein in. As for Syria's Assad dynasty - well, it seems Muslims have a problem of their own in working toward a democracy.
Which should be puzzling, considering Islam, the religion. Its original principles are highly democratic. In the early days of the Prophet Mohammad, all Muslims had a vote (all men, that is - remember women's suffrage is only a 20th C thing in the US), elections were held, wealth was shared by law (not in a communist-type model, but with a tax whose proceeds are dedicated to the poor), usury was prohibited, free trade was encouraged, "jihad" meant self-control and self-defense (and offense if it is determined to be necessary for defense - ask any military strategist), there was religious freedom (it was illegal to force anyone to adopt any religion, including Islam), freedom of speech, standards of ethics and common decency, and measures for the elimination of slavery which was viewed as wrong, but given time to change. But as certain families were given more power than others, and wealth built up as well as power within Muslim society, corruption and schisms also appeared, until a more autocratic-style government gradually became the norm. It is not Islamic. The so-called dream of a "caliphate" is not in itself Islamic. What should be the "dream" would be a resurgence of the highest values, mentioned in part above - but that, at the moment, seems impossible.
The "terrorists", seen against the backdrop of corrupt and brutal regimes, look much more democratic. Anyone is welcome to join, regardless of race or national origin. (Women are welcome, too, but in a different, "traditional" role as support people.) They come off as a people's movement, challenging the West, the moneybags of their oppressors - or, of late, the Invaders of their Homeland. What the West calls "Extremists" come off in the Muslim world as a movement against corruption and oppression, pro-family values, pro-religion, patriotic. Because the West has consistently aligned itself with dictators for their own profit at the expense of the citizen-victims, they cannot expect sympathy from the Muslim population in general.
In fact, the "West" has consistently fought AGAINST democratic movements in the Middle East. In the case of Saudi Arabia, a budding, and passionate democratic movement by a Dr. Faqih, residing in the UK, had to put up with his assets being frozen and even personal arrests and attacks by UK authorities at Saudi behest. His crime? Speaking out against Saudi abuses. Oil interests absolutely trump human rights and democracy. "Freedom-loving"? Hardly. Some attempts to provide another party (the Tomorrow party) in Egypt were met with Mr. Mubarak's infamous bulldozer-n-bury government machine. The U.S.'s choice, on his own without any support except ethereal cheerleading, has entered the Land of the Disappeared. Even the Muslim Brotherhood, very popular in Egypt, would at least be far better than what is going on now. Is it not better to have an actual government that works than anarchy controlled by a police state? No - because anything with the name "Islam" tacked onto it is - and this Republican paradigm is still dogma and doctrine - flash some red lights, please - "Terrorism" with a cap T.
But there is something more insidious here. Why is Ahmedinejad constantly demonized but not Mubarak? Because Mubarak doesn't badmouth the Holocaust or say nasty things about Israel. Because Mubarak does not openly support the Palestinians in any meaningful way. Because Mubarak openly supports Israel in principle. And Israel plays a bigger role in international politics than people here generally think. In fact, US Mideast policy is a virtual extension of Israeli security, an obvious fact not lost on most Mideast nations. And Israeli security is seen, by Israel itself, as being so dire that it requires all Arab and/or Islamic nations be weak, or under Western control/influence as much as possible. To this end, dictatorships can be useful insofar as they are amenable to Israeli interests, as is the case with Mubarak, the Saudi regime, the Gulf states, Jordan, and in some weird inverse way, Syria. After all, it was none other than Syrian dictator Hafez el-Asad who slaughtered 20,890 Muslims who were considered Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers and nationalists who wanted to fight for the re-patriation of the Golan Heights. With help like that, why play the Bad Guy? Israel can just stand and watch the Arabs slaughter each other.
Except for those nasties, those terrorists - ah, that wonderful word, "terrorist"! - the Palestinian nationalists, now cornered as Hamas, and their Lebanese sympathizers (as well as Lebanese nationalists), Hezbollah. And their sole supporters in the Middle East, Iran. There you have it. Satan's legions are the anti-Israeli, democracy-seeking, freedom-seeking, independence-seeking, evil Palestinian & Lebanese nationalists who won't kowtow to Israel's "security" policies, and their one powerful ally, democratic, free-speech-daring Iran. Speak against Israel? Dare to speak against Israel? That's not free speech, we say. That's genocide.
But to slaughter women, children, old, young, and helplessly disarmed, deliberately starved people in Gaza over a couple of ineffectual rocket attacks - however unnerving they may be - is not genocide. It's not even overkill. It's self-defense.
Meanwhile, what is Israel? Israel is a race-based state. It is a Jewish homeland. It is not homeland to Palestinians who are the land's indigenous people, Jews having been imported from various locales around the world. Palestinians are 2nd class citizens, barely tolerated in Israel. The nation was founded for one race, and one race only - the Jews. Sound like a Third Reich with the roles reversed? Strange coincidence, isn't it? And who dares to say such a horrible thing? Only the reviled devil, Ahmedinejad, apparently. And what if the Palestinians procreate faster than the Jews? It's a real problem, it's happening now, and everyone knows it.
Right now, Palestinians are living in an open-air prison, supervised by Israeli Jews. The so-called "territories" are in fact a gulag archipelago overseen by cruel armed guards who often shoot to kill. Palestinians are called "terrorists", and viewed by Israelis as inferior, evil, enemies, threatening. Is that neighborly behavior, I ask you? Am I saying Palestinians are angels? What idiot insists that if someone is not a devil, he must then be an angel? We're asking for human/human relations to rise above this degenerate level of race-based politics. And if anti-semitism is a form of racism, then so is Zionism, if Zionism means setting up an exclusively Jewish nation. The concept of exclusivity to one race in one nation is no longer a viable idea. One would have hoped that Nazi Germany was that idea's last stand.
But with Israel fighting for its ideological survival, apparently to the death, to the tune of how many Palestinians and others, it seems that idea is still gasping for breath.
In fact, the so-called War on Terror is an Israeli construct, an Israeli idea. Yes, you can bring out 9-11, al-Qaeda, and all that. But these are a rag-tag troupe of right-wing extremists left over from the U.S.'s failed strategy to get the USSR/Russia out of Afghanistan when it was their war. The U.S. created the force called the Taliban and their nationalistic jihadi bent to counter Russia. Now Russia is out - and the U.S. is in - fighting those very same warriors. And so what's Israel got to do with it? Israel is playing this card for all it's worth, to make the word "terrorist" a household word, to make anti-Islamic sentiment a knee-jerk Western posture (and especially an American posture), and to paint Arabs and Muslims generally as untrustworthy enemies, uncivilized, and hence, in need of Western control and suppression. In contrast, Israel will thereby appear as the Knight in Shining Anti-Terrorist Armor, out to Save Us From Evil.
This is nothing new. The Iran-Iraq War was one of their ideas, to wear down the two countries Israel feared most in a deadly fight with one another. But when U.S. help to Iraq in that war bolstered Saddam's regime, and Saddam began to bluster and bray anti-Israeli rhetoric, that was it for him. The Gulf War was another manufactured war, created by lies ("The Rape of Kuwait"), intrigue (luring Saddam to invade Kuwait), and Israeli urging. Bush Sr's son just finished the job in the Iraq War, which has ended dismally as a total failure, even by Israeli standards. In fact, all facets of the War on Terror can be linked to Israeli security policy, and its insistence on being in a continuous state of war with Muslims and/or Arabs. And the U.S. never, never fails to totally comply with this in every respect possible, both in funds and blood. Excuses and rhetoric vary, but the facts are obvious.
On the other hand, the American public have a romanticized notion of Israel and the Holocaust. There is no logical basis to presume that the slaughter of millions of victims necessarily must be redressed by the removal of another population from some spot of land, and the importation of those ethnically related to the original victims to replace the indigenous population. In other words, as Ahmedinejad often repeats, what do the Palestinians have to do with the Holocaust? Why must they pay the price for the crimes of the Nazis? They are and were not Nazis. It is not their crime. Why, then, must they be removed?
It is true that the British share great responsibility in this injustice. It is true that "well, now, it's happened, and what can we do now? We can't turn back time." Yes, but we can stop oppression and redress wrongs. We can admit what wrongs were made. We can start to act as if justice has a place in international relations. But we absolutely will not. The U.S. has no stomach for justice in matters relating to Israel. Why? Well, it's in too deep...
And so look at who Israel is today. What is Israel now? It is the country that slaughered people in Gaza whom it first starved to near-death, who have no means to make a living or even obtain basic supplies, who are not armed to be mentioned. It is the country with nuclear weapons, armed to the teeth. Genocide is not abhorrent to them, as long as they are not the victims. In fact, they have no problem killing Palestinians with no just cause, in a manner that is abominable. World opinion means nothing to them. Obviously, the Israelis are the first to forget the Holocaust. And who is America to remind them? Who are the Israelis to cause all these wars, all this death and destruction, this outrageous expense, even to Americans? You shall know them by their fruits.
And so what is the Muslim world supposed to do, support radical extremists - and risk having a destabilized country run by possible autocrats posing as Islamic populists, not to mention being unable to come up with a legitimate government - or support pro-Western dictators who make life impossibly miserable and oppressive? This is not a choice at all. And yet many in the West, particularly Republicans and their ilk, bombastically blame Islam and Muslims for some alleged instrinsic disability and disinclination for democracy. If what the West, as imposed by Israeli security policy, offers is limited to these choices, then to hell with them.
Democracy is universal, after all. Those who fight against it cannot lead in the fight for it. If the U.S. cannot stand on its own ideological two feet, then the Muslim world needs to reject them completely and stand for themselves. After all, the Qur'an has a better definition of democracy than the Bible: "The Rule of Law is determined by mutual agreement between you (all)." It's time to mutually agree that dictatorship has gotta go, and extremism is not the only way out. And that democracy does not require recognition of or sympathy with Israel to be viable, free, and independently worthy of recognition.
What if Israel were to become a nation like any other nation, even a refuge preferring Jews but not excluding Palestinians? Israel would not then be a separate issue - it is now the West that has overtly presented the Islamic world with two untenable choices: stand with the West, which often appears to mean standing against one's country, one's survival, one's honor, and one's religion or ethnic identity - especially in the case of the Palestinians - or join the terrorists, the "Islamists", in a desperate last-ditch battle for God and country and honor and all that good stuff - but in the most horrific, thoughtless way that may - or may not - end up destroying all one is fighting for.
On the one hand, we have West-aligned dictatorships that are doing nothing but terrorizing their civilian population, or at best, decimating their economy and lives. On the other hand, we have extremists who defy the Qur'an and the Prophet by bombing fellow Muslims and destroying mosques and basically decimating the people's economy and lives. A good decision requires some objectivity, some careful consideration of the two sides or, hopefully, a better way than either of them. When the knife is at your children's throats, who, I ask, has time or guts for that?
The West, permeated by hypocrisy, lies, and false promises and platitudes, will never come out the winner if they pursue the same demands and same false dichotomy. Israel cannot survive under its current demanding, petulant modus operandi. Islamic countries cannot be viable if they are not free to make their own decisions, both as people and as governments. The human race, civilization, and all that we hold dear - whoever we are - is at stake. Is it not far past time to work toward better choices?