Thursday, September 13, 2012

This Land Is My Land

Then the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you. Every place where you set your foot will be yours: Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea.  No one will be able to stand against you. The Lord your God, as he promised you, will put the terror and fear of you on the whole land, wherever you go.--Peptalk to the Hebrews in the Torah Book of Devarim (Deuteronomy), 11:23-25 

      A sure sign of the decline of an empire is when it starts taking rather than giving orders to its clients. That’s long been the case between huge but sputtering America and tiny but avid Israel. Indeed, it’s accepted in the chancelleries of the world that Washington is little more than Israel’s Luca Brazzi when it come to the Middle East.
     After 3,000 years, the Lord has yet to do as he promised in the Bible/Torah citation above. And the Israelis have found it difficult to realize God’s will purely by their own efforts. So Israel has been relying on the muscle and moolah of the U.S. The agreed current target of both countries is populous, powerful and oil-rich Iran. The aim is to topple its refractory regime and replace it with a tractable one. The means are the usual ones: sabotage, assassination and subversion, the latter lately including cyber attacks. Plus there’s resort to the scare story--by now 33 years old--that the Persians are on the cusp of producing a nuke that they will promptly drop on Israel.
    To prevent this, the Israelis say, the U.S. must front, or at least back, war on Iran. We Americans, despite our self-proclaimed greatness, are used to compliantly asking “how high?” whenever the Israelis tell us to jump. But this time, Obama has said, “No!”
    The reasons should be obvious. American muscle failed in Iraq and Afghanistan and brought only chaos to Libya, countries far smaller and weaker than Iran. The Pentagon is not likely to fare much better against the Iranians. Then again, war in the oil-soaked Persian Gulf would, at best, give us $10 gas and a deeper recession, and, at worst, a generalized conflict in the Middle East that might even set off a world war.
    It’s not only Obama who opposes such folly. He apparently has the support of both the U.S. and Israeli national security establishments.
    For their part, the warhawks consist largely of rightwing Israeli pols and their counterpart neocons here in the states. You know, the people who told us that invading Iraq would be a “cakewalk.” That crowd includes Mitt Romney, who’s proclaimed that there’s not “an inch of difference between ourselves and our ally, Israel.”
    Being a Dem, Obama cannot be counted upon to stand tall on this or any issue for long. As I’ve noted before, the Rep game is combat and conquest while the Dem game is compromise and capitulation.
    Still, that Obama has already said “No” is all to the good.  Now let’s hope he can gather the gumption to stick to it. Otherwise, we’re in for a world of trouble.

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