By M. I. Bhat
On stand alone basis 9/11 attacks were not a significant blow to the American economy, definitely far less than Katrina, if insurance claims are any indication (9/11= $39.5 billion vs Katrina= $100+ billion). However, it is what followed as the US ‘reaction’ – Afghan-Iraq wars and homeland security and associated corruption – that cost the American economy and public dearly.
Even though very much suspect, Afghanistan war may have some political and security justifications. And had the US limited its war to Afghanistan, it is certain to have wound up the mission in far less time and without accumulating so much debt and without millions of Americans in desperate financial straits.
But that wasn’t to be. It manufactured a stinking lie for the war on Iraq to appease the most vocal protagonists of the war– Israel and the US corporate community. As was always believed, both saw, and harvested, benefits in this inhuman enterprise.
Well, Israel has no more to worry about Saddam Hussein and the US corporate community is richer by hundreds of billions of dollars.
But each war has its unintended consequences. Iraq war has proved no different.
Even before the US was to stealthily withdraw its last troops from Iraq on 18 Dec (instead of publically announced 31 Dec) and however loudly VP Joe Bidden may declare US determination to use its “diplomatic and economic might” to help Israel have sound sleep, Tel Aviv has already lost more of its sleep than it had recovered with Saddam’s ouster. Nouri al-Maliki’s immediate rebuff to Biden on Syria was yet another clear signal to the US that Iraq intends to pursue its interests independent of Washington’s guiding hand; repeating what it did in awarding oil contracts back in 2009 to Russian and Chinese companies when American forces were still firmly stationed there and shooting down Iraqi’s at will. Which means the Iraqi Government will be still less bothered about how the US feels in its dealings with Iran. Add to this the US-trained 650,000 predominantly Shia Iraqi army that can seamlessly coordinate with the Iranian army on the east and the Syrian army and Hezbollah fighters on the west should a need arise. It is just the ego that makes the US administration see Iran having “less influence in the region than they have had in the last 20 years”!
Enter the Arab liberation wave.
Obama and his media spin masters may try to claim credit for masterminding the Arab revolution, the world however knows it took the US and Israel both quite unawares, as did the dethroning of Reza Shah in 1979 in Iran. And what followed as election outcomes in Morocco, Tunisia and Libya and Egypt is hardly what Tel Aviv and Washington could have bargained for.
No birth of Western-version of neoliberal corporate democracies hallmarked by lure, deception and outright lies on both domestic and international platforms. Instead, the ideology that is gaining power wherever Arabs are voting is genetically and stubbornly programmed over the past six decades against Israeli occupation and US’ brazenly partisan role in perpetuating this occupation as well as the miseries Arab masses have suffered under the American pet dictators. And whichever way the turmoil in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and in other left out American outposts in the region turns out, the end result is assured to be far more than “very, very disturbing” (Netanyahu’s words) for Israel and the US. Ironically, for both, this threat is born through the spread of their much vaunted electoral democracy! Include Pakistan and Afghanistan, you have a long, contiguous swath of globe from Arabian Sea to Atlantic where hundreds of millions of Muslims are united in their anger against and denunciation of US and Israel.
Arab revolution didn’t limit its influence on US-Israel external political environment. Long before it is to turn its full course in the Arab lands it began echoing within America in the form of OWS sowing seeds of a phenomenon that has potential to transform Western democracies from their current exploitative and oppressive version to one that is benign for its people and for the world at large.
The tragedy for the American public, like the Arabs, is that the root of their woes is their own people – the big business and financial corporations, the 1%. Used to manipulating American politics and economy, they, in league with Zionist and neocon lobbies proved the worst for the country and the public by pushing America to two lost wars and simultaneously sabotaging the economy. Yet, listen to the American political class and their pliant media it is Al Qaeda, Taliban and, now increasingly, Iran! Not even a whisper against the Corporate Qaeda or Israel.
Selfishness and arrogance are like a blind wall to learning lessons and the two are in perfect harmony defining the Israel-US relationship. In concert with corporate lobbies and media, Israel is again forcefully waging the US into yet another foul war over the drummed-up stand off between the “international community” and Iran. Downing of drone by Iran has deeply hurt American ego and Israel is trying its utmost to cash in this opportunity to get the US declare war on Iran. Well, with economy in doldrums, may be the empire also needs a final push for an assured fall off the precipice. Go ahead Mr. Obama. The United States history, too, must have its own Gorbachev.
When mending economy and job creation should have been the top political and moral priority to instill some hope among the despairing millions Americans, you have the aspiring presidential candidates – Democrats and Republican – instead trying to out drink one another on the ultimate elixir – allegiance to Israel – to achieve political nirvana in the presidential race. None is bothered about the homeless and protesters out on streets and thousands already behind the bars; none is talking to or about them, not even indirectly.
Contrarily, one Republican aspirant, Michele Bachmann, ridicules them: “[OWS] want other people to pay for their stuff. That doesn’t work in the United States of America.” Of course, Americans and world knows that works for Israel only.
But then you can’t really blame politicians; they all need money and favorable media, something where Zionist and neocon lobbies control the levers. They can’t overlook the example the Republican Jewish Coalition and the corporate-owned-media made out of another Republican aspirant, maverick Ron Paul, for daring to put America and Americans’ interests before Israeli and Corporate Qaeda’s. (For starters, Ron Paul voted against war on Iraq, is against US worrying for Israel’s security, wants end to US annual $3 billion aid to Israel, and is against war on Iran.) Obviously crimes serious enough for the Republican Jewish Coalition not to invite him to address Jewish Presidential Coalition Forum the other day and for the media to down play his election campaign.
The influence Israel hold on US politics is legendary but the manner The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman put it in plain words reveals the depth and nature of this influence: “I sure hope that Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, understands that the standing ovation he got in Congress this year was not for his politics. That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.”
Knowing Israel doesn’t count previous largesse and needs to be constantly attended to its ever new demands – this time it is military assault on Iran — Obama activated, not the Secretary of State, but the Defense Secretary. Immediately Leon Panetta, reversing on his earlier (10 November) warning to Israel of the risks of a strike on Iran and “Just get to damn table” (3 Dec), declared (19 Dec) “Iran’s nuclear bomb is less than a year away,” in effect repeating verbatim Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s words (20 Nov interview to Fareed Zakaria, CNN). Panetta added “We will take whatever steps necessary to stop it” and “Doing nothing is no longer an option.”
He didn’t just take u-turn but the language itself got vulgar: “the chap [Iranian President Ahmadinejad] whose name sounds like ‘I’m a dinner jacket’ seems to be impervious to [diplomatic pressure].” What a shameless low for the “civilized’ world!
This loss of minimum civility doesn’t seem surprising when he adds that “the destruction of Iran’s nuclear capacity is a matter of life or death, not only Israel’s but ours as well.”
Very true, Mr. Panetta. Lives of the Master and the serfs are in danger!
AIPAC lost no time to applaud Panetta this time.
Further down the line the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Dempsey, too, chipped in (21 Dec): “We are examining a range of options,” and “I am satisfied that the options that we are developing are evolving to a point that they would be executable if necessary.” However, unlike his boss, Gen. Dempsey was forthright in revealing the real motive of the impending war was not to save the lives of the serfs but to satisfy Master’s desires: “We are trying to establish some confidence on the part of the Israelis that we recognize their concerns and are collaborating with them on addressing them.”
Before the war has begun, Corporate Qaeda has started making hay through enhanced weapons sales to the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the so-called “mini-NATO” in the Gulf. The deals, according to Financial Times, are estimated to be worth $123 billion – indeed a huge piece of beef for the crisis-hit American businesses.
The weapons are of varied types – 84 F-15 fighter jets, 72 Black Hawk and 70 Apache Longbow attack helicopters, Patriot Advanced Capability-2 and -3, several hundred Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, Stringer missiles, and other missiles, 2,000-pound bunker-busting bombs, thousands of joint direct attack munitions, etc.
With Saudi Arabia alone the deal is said to be worth $ 60 billion – the single largest US arms sale in history of which $29.4 billion deal was signed Thursday. Another $ 3.5 billion deal, a part of $ 35.6 billion arms sales package with UAE, was signed Christmas day with UAE for of supply of missiles.
Interestingly Israel hasn’t raised any objections to these arms supplies this time.
Additionally, there are reports of US quietly transferring large military supplies to Israel paid by Pentagon to help the country prepare for war on Iran.
There will certainly be much more for the US arms industry, private contractors and other allied businesses as and when war actually begins.
If Afghanistan-Iraq wars have taught any lessons it is not to anticipate a particular outcome of the impending Iran war on Iran. But one thing can be said with certainty: This time around Israel may not have a chance to cheerlead the American bombing mission.
All this makes me wonder if dinosaurs were really killed by a bolide impact or did they commit mass suicide to save some other specie?
– The author is former Head, Department of Geology & Geophysics, University of Kashmir, Srinagar, India. He has been writing on political and environmental issues. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.