I hate bullies, always have. This is a big reason for my adversarial writing, especially about US economic and foreign policies. As a empire in terminal decline, the US has become the biggest bully in the world. The illegal invasion of Iraq, torture and NSA spying all have contributed to this perception of a bully lashing out in frustration. The election of Barack Obama brought hope of change, but if anything, he has been worse than Bush, with his extrajudicial drone assassinations and neo-conservative foreign policy of regime change. Think Honduras, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, etc. It has become manifestly apparent to the rest of the world that US bullying continues in spite of the soaring rhetoric of freedom and democracy. As my momma said–an ounce of action beats a ton of words.
The US’s only competitor is Israel. Their latest attack on Gaza is driving this point home with a vengeance. Veteran reporter Patrick Cockburn, well describes this dynamic.
“By its actions, Israel has put the Palestinian issue firmly back on the international agenda from which it had largely disappeared since the Arab uprisings of 2011. Only a few months ago, a friend sympathetic to the Palestinians lamented to me that, in his travels in the US, Europe and the Arab world, he had seldom heard the words “Palestine” or “Palestinians”. Gaza, at horrendous cost to its people, has changed all that.”
Israeli actions are widely viewed by the rest of the world as those of a brutal occupying power and a petulant bully taking out his anger on the defenseless civilian population of Gaza.
It is a violation of international law to destroy civilian infrastructure and lives if there is no concrete military advantage in doing so. “Israel is repeatedly and flagrantly violating the law of armed conflict,” a group of international legal scholars said in a statement released this week. “Most of the recent heavy bombings in Gaza lack an acceptable military justification and, instead, appear to be designed to terrorize the civilian population.
Israel is a colonial power, that got its start in 1948 by expelling hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from its present territory. As a result of the 1967 war, Israel gained control of the West Bank (from Jordan), the Gaza Strip (from Egypt) and the Golan Heights (from Syria). Since the 1967 war Israel has also served as a key enforcer of US Middle East policy. They help the US control this region with its stupendous resources of oil and gas.
As Bashir Abu-Manneh explains imperialism-colonialism.
“The United States has been determining major economic and political outcomes in the Middle East since at least 1967, with Israel continuing to play a crucial role in their realization. In Israel-Palestine, this has meant that force and colonial peace have alternated as main instruments of policy, with the main objective being a constant: Jewish supremacy in Palestine—as much land as possible, as few Palestinians as possible. The United States has exploited this Zionist imperative for its own interests in the region, and has fostered a militarized and fundamentalist Israel in the process.”
John Judidis makes the case that the latest conflict in Gaza is brought about by this colonial behavior, most specifically the crippling blockade.
“Israel is one of the world’s last colonial powers, and the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are its unruly subjects. Like many past anti-colonial movements, Hamas and Fatah are deeply flawed and have sometimes poorly represented their peoples, and sometimes unnecessarily provoked the Israelis and used tactics that violate the rules of war. But the Israeli government has continued to expand settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and to rule harshly over its subjects, while maintaining a ruinous blockade on Gaza. That’s the historical backdrop to the events now taking place.”
This bullying behavior is directly subsidized by the US, who provides Israel with 3 billion in aid, of which the vast majority consists of military aid. US Congressional leaders are particularly subservient to Israel.
The US Senate just passed not one but now two resolutions by unanimous consent declaring its backing of Israel’s deadly attacks on and invasion of Gaza.
Of course, US members of Congress are not the brightest bulbs in the chandelier.
Lindsey Graham compares Hamas to al Qaeda. On Fox News, the South Carolina senator said that he wants “the world to know who Hamas is.” But in the same appearance, Graham took viewers a step back from understanding who Hamas is by saying that the group is “a terrorist organization who wants for Israel what Al Qaeda wants for us.”
There is a comparison between Hamas and Al Qaeda but not the one Lindsey Graham thinks there is. Both Al Qaeda and Hamas are creations of US and Israeli intelligence agencies as a way to counteract indigenous nationalism in the Middle East.
Robert Dreyfuss, in Devil’s Game, makes the case that much of the so called war on terror, is blowback from our own creations. “Dreyfuss discusses how the West used Islamic radicalism to suppress Communist movements in the Middle East and the rest of the Islamic world. He provides a comprehensive review of the support of Western governments for the Mujahadeen and Jihadi Islamic fighters, who were trained and sent into Afghanistan. With the close support and advice of CIAparamilitaries, these Islamic jihadists helped defeat Soviet forces in Afghanistan. “The author also discusses how the Israeli government supported the growth of Hamas as a tool to fight the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The PLO was always viewed as the major threat to Israel, because they were the more educated and secular Palestinians.
Gaza can be thought of as a giant open air prison, and Israel’s latest attack can be thought of as putting down a prison riot–kind of like Attica, with tanks and F-16’s. Israel even has a doctrine to describe their collective punishment– the Dahiye Doctrine,
“Israel has to employ tremendous force disproportionate to the magnitude of the enemy’s actions. The intent of this… is to harm the civilian population to such an extent that it will bring pressure to bear on the enemy combatants.Furthermore, this policy is intended to create deterrence regarding future attacks against Israel, through the damage and destruction of civilian and military infrastructures which necessitate long and expensive reconstruction actionswhich would crush the will of those who wish to act against Israel.” (emphasis added)
Both the US and Israel have right-wing reactionary forces to thank for their bullying foreign policies. Both the US and Israel have been affected by policies crafted by a small cadre of neo-conservatives, with significant overlap between them.
“Not long ago some of these “neoconservatives” wrote position papers for Israeli politicians. Now they are occupying a growing number of top-level and mid-level positions in the US government. They seem to consider Israeli interests synonomous with American interests. Most American policy experts disagree.”
The neo conservatives not only share ideas, they even use the same media spin, written by the same Goebbels look alike–Frank Luntz.
There is a reason for this enhancement of the PR skills of Israeli spokesmen. Going by what they say, the playbook they are using is a professional, well-researched and confidential study on how to influence the media and public opinion in America and Europe. Written by the expert Republican pollster and political strategist Dr Frank Luntz, the study was commissioned five years ago by a group called The Israel Project, with offices in the US and Israel, for use by those “who are on the front lines of fighting the media war for Israel”.
Luckily, more Americans are starting to recognize this bullying behavior for what it is, especially young people.
“A recent report in the Washington Post noted that “A new Pew Research Center poll is the second in the past week to show a huge generational split on the current conflict in Gaza. While all age groups north of 30 years old clearly blame Hamas more than Israel for the current violence, young adults buck the trend in a big way. Among 18 to 29-year olds, 29 percent blame Israel more for the current wave of violence, while 21 percent blame Hamas.”
It will be interesting going forward if more Americans recognize that we’re an empire in decline. The US was never perfect, but we used to lead with a more robust mixture of soft power. Now, it’s all hard power, with the military/intelligence complex taking the leading role. Neither political party nor the corporate media are even discussing this looming reality. It’s still–“America, Fuck Yeah!”
The reality is that this turn towards hard power is making us less and less safe. After all, who likes bullies?