Peace is weakness. A permanent state of war confirms the nation’s sense of superiority in itself. Even considering engaging in negotiation lessens social discipline at home, signals to the world an absence of toughness and the requisite moral stamina for asserting hegemonic purpose and dominance. Sound familiar?
Probably not, however accurate (and blunt) the description of Netanyahu’s speech before the American Congress, but that is its subtext as calculated to resonate with the views and patriotic values of his auditors, a bipartisan display of neo-fascism directed to the glorification of war. So embedded in the mindset of Americans and Israelis, the transparency of arrogance, brutality, exceptionalism has been obfuscated to read, merely, self-defense in the promotion of international peace and justice.
Iran is the immediate target within reach by which to heap abuse and stimulate fear, as cover for the pursuit of a geopolitical framework in which regional and international supremacy become co-mixed and mutually reinforcing, America and Israel qua twin colossi or so they envision.
What was more disagreeable, Netanyahu’s aplomb of cynicism and belligerence (skillfully milking the puppet-like zealots of Reaction, empty vessels waiting to be filled with xenophobic 100% Americanism, rising on cue to each spew of hate) or the receptive legislators themselves, is difficult to say. One needs the other to complete the disheartening picture of authoritarian crudeness. Yet, standing in the wings, we see Obama hardly a true counterweight to Netanyahu’s reactionary blandishments.
Administration policy structured the overall context, beyond Middle East tensions, for the global incidence of terrorism (policy of course going back through preceding administrations, at least to 1979 and employment of the Taliban to overthrow a Kabul secular/democratic government which received Soviet support; and really beginning immediately following World War II, when every regional development or conflict was fitted into a Cold War framework and the pattern of intervention made standard procedure), so that presently drawn lines, the melding of counterrevolution and counterterrorism, bring the US-Israeli partnership to a perceived indissoluableness not even seen previously.
America needs Israel like never before, not merely as a faithful echo chamber to sanction and legitimize every US intervention, attempt at regime change, economic campaign for market fundamentalism, but more basic, concretely to further US strategies vis-à-vis Russia, China, and emerging powerhouses in the now de-centered global structure, hence, a dependable ally both to popularise militarism on the world stage and checkmate independent movements in a critical sector bearing on international politics.
Oil is one concern, but only one; Israel is strategically placed to blindside Russia and China, should the need arise, as America continues to hem them in through military-and-trade alliance systems. Given the US’s grand design of restoring its own unilateral world supremacy, Israel, practically unique in its unquestioned devotedness, gives strength, confidence, and comfort to American hegemonic pretentions.
That kind of congruent ideological-cultural-political baggage in defining each one’s sense of national interest and purpose means that US-Israeli ties are not easily broken. Nor will they be, so long as each one bucks the historical tide of structural democratization through similar efforts to build societal power by means of the use of force. Militarism is the common denominator and unifying cement which characterizes the partnership. One saw it in the ecstatic faces of congressmen as Netanyahu escalated the war rhetoric, but one also saw it as Obama, Rice, and Powers sought to convey assurances of determination to Israel that Iran will not be getting off easy.
Neither Obama nor Netanyahu is paranoid in the conventional way; rather they feign the symptoms as pretext for aggressive national conduct, finding willing support in their people. Opportunism therefore wears an ugly mask, better known as self-defense in the commission of violence. It takes little historical imagination to see the dialectical interplay between Vietnam and Gaza, despite the time interval.
Unscrupulousness, the urge to kill, despoil, eradicate, erase from memory, all driving forces in the respective missions, renders suspect professions of democracy in either America or Israel. Meanwhile, Iran awaits the storm; too much is invested in its demonization for either nation to let go, the US particularly anxious to keep up the momentum of hostility so that its people become hardened to war on a broader canvas, while for Israel the sphere of power and influence is operant on a smaller but no less pungent scale.
Seldom can one praise the New York Times for intelligent analysis (I have less trouble with its reporting), yet its editorial, ‘Mr Netanyahu’s Unconvincing Speech to Congress’, (Mar. 4), has penetrating insights about the speech’s shallowness and scare-tactics. “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel”, the editorial begins, “could not have hoped for a more rapturous welcome in Congress. With Republicans and most Democrats as his props, he entered the House of Representatives to thunderous applause on Tuesday, waving his hand like a conquering hero and being mobbed by fawning lawmakers as he made his way to the lectern.”
NYT called this “exploitative political theater,” on the mark, as was its comment, “His demand that Mr. Obama push for a better deal is hollow. He clearly doesn’t want negotiations and failed to suggest any reasonable alternative approach that could halt Iran’s nuclear effort.” It conceded that “a major reason for Iran’s growing regional role is the American-led war that toppled Saddam Hussein in Iraq, which Mr Netanyahu supported, although he was not prime minister at the time.”
The Times, however, in criticising Netanyahu, cannot do the same with respect to Obama, whose long-term regime of sanctions, and his otherwise firm support of Israel in Gaza and through billions each year in military assistance, are as usual given a free pass. The speech was an affront to Obama “because it was so obviously intended to challenge [his] foreign policy.” Furthermore: “Despite his commitment to negotiations, President Obama has repeatedly said he would never let Iran obtain a nuclear weapon and if an agreement is not honored, he would take action to back up his warning.”
No question that Obama is resolute, the good-cop, bad-cop, scenario: Obama is built up at Netanyahu’s expense, when in reality there is little daylight between them, just as they represent different paths to the same goal, a world of geostrategic dominance absent progressive social forces to challenge capitalism, militarism, and all political-structural formations which deny human aspirations for societal betterment.
By: Norman Pollack