Iran “biggest threat” to Middle East… Does the line between propaganda, realpolitiks, and alternate realities get blurrier every day?
“I spent 33 years in the Marines. Most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism.”
Smedley Butler (1881-1940) USMC Major General
Condoleezza Rice is touring the various military dictatorships and medieval theocracies that the USA likes to call its allies in the Middle East saying things that must require botox on steroids to say with a straight face. I know that foreign policy has always been a game of lies and misrepresentation, but still, Bush’s foreign policy often seems so disconnected from reality that I have to wonder. I mean, I can understand why Americans who have no knowledge of the history and the current state of affairs in the world fall for this stuff, but what scares me is that the Bush administration comes across as actually believing the lies they are spreading around.
A lying cynical hypocritical administration would be fine if they ultimately had the best interests of America at heart, or a reasonable facsimile thereof. But an administration that believes its own propaganda and is working for the best interests of the oil companies, the arms industry, fundamentalist supporters, and the state of Israel scares me to no end. We’ve always had no shortage of hypocrisy and hubris in our foreign policy, from the Monroe Doctrine onward. Still, I keep thinking it’s gotten worse in recent years, and less focused on what’s good for America as a whole. Especially disconcerting is the seeming disconnect between what we have done and the results that could be and were predicted.
On the top of the list is Rice’s bizarre claim that “I think if there is a destabilisation of the region, that can be laid at the feet of an Iranian regime,…” Um, she has to be aware that it is Israel and the USA that have constantly waged war on nations in the region, it is the USA and Israel that have invaded and occupy large swaths of territory in the Middle East, it is the USA that props up and arms some of the world’s most repressive backward regimes and military dictatorships in the Middle East? Doesn’t she?
Iran didn’t propel Iraq to the number two spot on the failed states index, the USA did that all by itself. Iran hasn’t waged non-stop war on Lebanon for decades, or occupied Arab lands for decades, that’s Israel. It’s the USA who keeps a military dictatorship in power in Egypt, it’s the USA that arms and keeps in power the medieval theocracy in Saudi Arabia, easily one of the world’s least democratic countries. Hell, Saudi Arabia didn’t even outlaw slavery until the 1960s, and as far as anyone can tell the practice still continues there in all but name. Yeah, they’re a “moderate” Arab state?
What troubles me most about all of this isn’t really the nuts and bolts. Promoting terror and war while claiming to be for peace is standard realpolitik, all nations do that, it’s pretty much their stock in trade. I mean, most governments are little more than armed gangs, they don’t stay in power by playing nice. And the USA government is the most heavily armed gang the world has ever seen, obviously peace and love takes a back seat to our military and economic concerns. No, what troubles me most is the idea that the US government actually thinks it has the power to reshape the Middle East in its own image, as exemplified by this Rice quote…”There isn’t a doubt, I think, that Iran constitutes the single most important, single-country challenge to… US interests in the Middle East and to the kind of Middle East that we want to see.”
Um, it’s nice that Bush has a goal, but the chances of shaping his own nation into the kind of nation he would like to see is zero, he’s going to reshape the Middle East in his own image? I find this so hard to put in words, but the Bush administration has somehow managed to convince themselves and millions of their supporters that not only is their vision of what the world should be accurate and right, it’s also possible to achieve if we can just get rid of the “bad actors” like Iran and Syria and Hezbollah that are foiling our efforts. Both conceits are almost mind numbing, together they are a recipe for catastrophe. Or a recipe for war and terror without end, which strikes me as being pretty catastrophic.
I am not praising our enemies as some will be quick to say. I am saying that ignoring the own role we have had in creating the current situation in the Middle East is beyond unrealistic, it’s suicidal. Or suicide bomber magnetic if one prefers. Hezbollah came about as a direct response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. The anti-US theocracy in Iran is a direct result of the US run coup and installation of the Shah. Al Qaeda was inspired by the stationing of US troops in the Middle east, and has gotten stronger every time we have expanded our presence there.
I’m not sure of what the solution to the problems in the Middle east is, though I have some ideas. What I most definitely do know is that redoubling our misguided efforts isn’t going to make things better. Israel has been the undisputed military master of the region since 1948, making them stronger isn’t going to help. American troops stationed in the region have just been an endless source of inspiration for the most violent extremists in the region, American wars in the region have driven many moderates into the extremist camp. More of the same won’t make things better. Arming medieval family run nations like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States isn’t going to promote democracy in the region, hell, much of this money will end up being funnelled to the extremists. Is that the plan?
My point: When a war is going badly, you don’t blame your enemies or your liberal countrymen; you figure out what you are doing wrong and change your strategy. That Bush and his remaining supporters seem unable to even contemplate that they might be doing something wrong scares me. It scares a lot of people. It should scare a lot more.
(The above image was originally produced by an agency of the US government, and is thus public domain under US copyright law.)