“TOWARDS AN UNDERSTANDING OF US FOREIGN POLICY IN THE MIDDLE EAST: MAKING SENSE OUT OF THE CHATTER”
by Barry Grossman*
The first problem with writing in “broad brush” strokes about US foreign policy in the Middle East stems from the fact that there is no single organ from which these policies emanate. Much of what comprises US foreign policy in reality originates from outside the political apparatus and is cloaked with a false notion of National Security.
The extent to which geopolitical policies, tactics and strategies are driven by the security apparatus and by corporate interests which by definition have little loyalty to the American people, can hardly be overstated.
The incumbent President – whoever it might be from time to time – is arguably in a worse position than your average discerning internet warrior when it comes to understanding the opaque stew of American policy and its various machinations as applied in the Middle East.
The President is no Olympian but rather a lone and very busy mortal who, by the nature of his position, is constrained by political debts, beholding to public opinion and has only a very limited ability to change the direction of policy at the margins.
Like the rest of us, every day the President must sleep, eat, spend time with his family and take time for toiletries. He does not have time to spend endless hours pouring over all available sources of information on any subject. When he is not dealing with the mundane realities of being mortal or addressing the myriad obligations imposed by his fully pre-booked and carefully managed agenda, he relies on executive summaries, classified briefings and instructions from what is invariably a diverse cabinet which draws on a vast array of mostly corporate funded experts for “expertise.”
A New Type of Ruler
William Burroughs, though an infamous miscreant certainly not worthy of commendation, found a moment of clarity writing on the subject in 1952:
“We have a new type of rule now. Not one-man rule, or rule of aristocracy or plutocracy, but of small groups elevated to positions of absolute power by random pressures and subject to political and economic factors that leave little room for decision. They are representatives of abstract forces who have reached power through surrender of self. The iron-willed dictator is a thing of past. There will be no more Stalins, no more Hitlers. The rulers of this most insecure of all worlds are rulers by accident. Inept, frightened pilots at the controls of a vast machine they cannot understand, calling in experts to tell them which buttons to push.”
The second problem encountered when writing about US policy in anything but adoring terms and without producing a virtual encyclopaedia of minutia and verified references, is that generalised comments critical of US policy will invariably be dismissed as coming from the lunatic fringe. Yet if we frame our criticism by writing in boring, scholarly fashion about foreign policy minutiae, our critics claim that we cannot see the forest for the trees. It certainly does not help that any mainstream public dialogue tends to be almost entirely controlled by a political machine and mainstream media which have both been tacitly suborned to agendas defined by corporate interests and the security apparatus.
Our efforts to expose the wider tendencies of US foreign policy are also not helped when invariably much of the well intentioned commentary from alternative sources all too often “over shoots” the mark and becomes mired in conspiratorial claims born of reductionist thinking and a poor understanding of the decision making process in government.
That said, in this era of “psyops” and “asymmetric warfare” it is often difficult to know whether some of the more colourful claims from the so-called fringe are conceived by ordinary folk or encouraged by elements within the security machine as part of an agenda to at once distract ordinary folk and at the same time discredit genuine critics.
Finally, bearing the above problems in mind, a further problem arises from most people’s assumption that US foreign policy is coherent. While it can be analyzed and to some extent understood both in its specifics and in its wider sweeping agendas, the wider political processes by which policy is formulated mean that it is in many ways every bit as incoherent and unpredictable as implied by Burroughs closing remark: “The rulers of this most insecure of all worlds are rulers by accident. Inept, frightened pilots at the controls of a vast machine they cannot understand, calling in experts to tell them which buttons to push.”
The first thing any arm chair pundit should take account of is that the mainstream public dialogue invariably starts from the premise that the presumed aims of US foreign policy are legitimate and that this presumed legitimacy some lends further legitimacy to the myriad tactics used to advance US aims. In reality, common sense should tell us that since foreign policy is by definition concerned with intervening in the affairs of other nations by both open and clandestine means, the starting point should at the very least be neutral or, taking into account America’s woeful record of improper clandestine intervention in dozens of nations since WW2, should go further by imposing something of reverse onus on the US to justify each and every foreign policy position.
New World Order
That the US routinely violates all principles of international law and holds itself above the sovereignty of all other nations through its policy of US exceptionalism only serves to confirm just how all pervasive commitment to the US led New World Order paradigm glossed over in speeches by President George H. Bush and so many other compliant political leaders has become.
To understand US foreign policy, we must recognize that the overriding imperative embraced by the US political and security apparatus is to advance and, when deemed necessary, impose a US centric view of how the world should be ordered. There are, of course, competing normative positions in the US about what this view comprises.
The dominant Neoliberal view (which is anything but liberal) is essentially corporatist in outlook, while the related though somewhat different Neocon view incorporates various ideological positions including US supremacy, corporatism, Zionism and socioeconomic views which cover the spectrum from “left” to “right.” A third rail reflected by the likes of George Soros and various disorganised protest movements is no less US centric but advances on the coat tails of what have traditionally been liberal agendas.
It is no accident that, for the most part, US foreign policy is expressed as a set of tactical positions which are a means to an end rather than the end itself. There are endless tombs, made of both paper and stone, which stand as a testament to the tactics by which this US led NWO is advanced; but there is almost no coherent or detailed discussion of what this NWO is meant to comprise apart from hackneyed appeals made in the name of freedom. The opaque curtain used to shroud the US’s Roman styled New World Order ambitions should echo as a clarion call to be on guard against this Trojan Horse.
When grappling with the vast edifice of news reports, policy statements, journal articles, official documents, “Think Tank” studies and current events in order to glean some insight into US policy, it helps to excavate through the chatter in order to arrive at the core tenets or structural components of US foreign policy. When we do this, four dominant imperatives emerge which form the structural columns of US policy Middle East, along with a fifth column which even by US standards, stands uncomfortably with the others:
3.US interests in other peoples’ Oil/Energy;
4.US Corporatism & Globalization; and
Somewhere further down the list, we encounter some genuine US concern for opposing regional corruption and for promoting an export version of US styled democracy, complete with its hackneyed concern for the “rule of law” and human rights, as long as any such aspirations are not perceived as detracting from the aforementioned structural imperatives.
To continue the “classical building” metaphor, concerns for democracy, human rights and the “rule of law,” can be seen as the ornamentation or, at best, the walls that complete the structure of US foreign policy which of course is held up by its essential columns rather than its walls. It is always nice to have walls and a bit of ornamentation but, in a pinch, they can be sacrificed in order to maintain structural integrity.
The tax dollars and tacit approval of the American people comprise the unstable foundation on which this foreign policy structure is built, while the US security apparatus is the roof which protects it from the elements.
Bearing mind the practical realities of the unprecedented US military machine, the only hope for genuine change lies in the shaky foundations to the structure of US policy.
Obama’s Five Core Tenets of U.S. Foreign Policy
US President Barack Obama used his 24 September 2013 speech before the United Nations General Assembly to spell out the five core tenets of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa. While professing some resistance to the long standing US tactic of using unilateral military action to achieve its aims, he echoed the core tenets of the long standing US position by saying: “So let me take this opportunity to outline what has been U.S. policy towards the Middle East and North Africa, and what will be my policy during the remainder of my presidency.”
1.”The United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure our core interests in the region.”
2. “We will confront external aggression against our allies and partners, as we did in the Gulf War.”
3. “We will ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world. Although America is steadily reducing our own dependence on imported oil, the world still depends upon the region’s energy supply, and a severe disruption could destabilize the entire global economy.”
4. “We will dismantle terrorist networks that threaten our people. Wherever possible, we will build the capacity of our partners, respect the sovereignty of nations, and work to address the root causes of terror. But when it’s necessary to defend the United States against terrorist attacks, we will take direct action.”
5. “And finally, we will not tolerate the development or use of weapons of mass destruction. Just as we consider the use of chemical weapons in Syria to be a threat to our own national security, we reject the development of nuclear weapons that could trigger a nuclear arms race in the region, and undermine the global non-proliferation regime.”
“Now, to say these are America’s core interests is not to say these are our only interests. We deeply believe it is in our interest to see a Middle East and North Africa that is peaceful and prosperous; and will continue to promote democracy, human rights, and open markets, because we believe these practices achieve peace and prosperity.” “But I also believe that we can rarely achieve these objectives through unilateral American action – particularly with military action. Iraq shows us that democracy cannot be imposed by force. Rather, these objectives are best achieved when we partner with the international community, and with the countries and people of the region
American Exceptionalism and Unilateralism:
The 1st and 2nd tenets stated by Obama hardly need to be explained. These propositions are yet another “throwing down of the gauntlet” to those nations which oppose US hegemony and are an open ended threat which echoes George Bush’s famous declaration to all people and nations that they are “either with us – either you love freedom and with nations that embrace freedom – or you’re with the enemy; there’s no in between!”
Obama states that the US will not hesitate to “use all elements of [US] power, including military force, to secure our core interests in the region.” While he says almost nothing concrete about what those “core interests” are, it is clear from the relatively perfunctory weight given in his UN address to human rights, democracy and the rule-of-law, on one hand, and his heavy emphasis on economic stability, securing US allies against “external aggression” and what, without even a of irony, he refers to as securing “the free flow of energy,” that there is little apart from tactics to distinguish Obama’s view of US core interests from that articulated by the US Neocon establishment before and during the “reign” of George W. Bush.
Obama’s disingenuous statement that the US “… will confront external aggression against our allies and partners, as we did in the Gulf War,” leaves no doubt that the US has a very creative and flexible notion of what constitutes “external aggression” and little discernment in choosing its allies. To many victims and observers, the US policy of pre-emptive war which reached its apogee with the Bush doctrine has turned the Nuremburg laws upside down.
If we deconstruct the phrasing used by Obama in expressing his 2nd tenet in light of the historical record, clearly he has not in any way rejected the Bush Doctrine. While he purports to put the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive war on the “back burner,” Obama expressly reaffirms its basic premise. He has only shifted the emphasis. Apart from that, what his 2nd tenet really says is that as a corollary to his 1st tenet, the US considers itself free to use as much or as little of its overwhelming political, economic and military power:
1.To prop up and secure the political apparatus in any nation which is compliant with the US led NWO; and
2.To bring about regime change in any nation that is not.
Implicit in the wider US position is that all other nations must “do as we say not as we do.”
Pragmatically speaking, Obama’s position places his administration somewhere between the militarist “Bush Doctrine” and the insipid “Clinton Doctrine.” The Clinton Doctrine, it should be noted, was never expressed as a doctrine which sets limits on US military intervention but rather as one which provides a humanitarian justification for intervention when there is no obvious US security interest at stake in the sense that National Security was loosely defined before 9-11.
What the foreign policy position of all recent Presidents – Reagan, Carter, Bush Senior, Clinton, Bush Junior and Obama – have in common, is that however they chose to express their foreign policy positions, the tenets formulated by each successive President have built on those articulated by their predecessors and always purported to establish a footing – be it moral or pragmatic – for unilateral US intervention in the affairs of other sovereign states. What we should learn from this is that the only practical prospect for change in US foreign policy exists at the margins and, even then, any change is quickly subverted by America’s dominant Militarist and Corporatist tendencies.
With all the US initiated, pre-emptive warfare since the 1991 Gulf War, it is certainly more than a little odd that Obama had to reach back 25 years to cite George H. Bush’s Gulf War as an historical example of Obama second tenet in action!
When we understand that it is governments rather than nations which the US sees as allies or partners, it immediately becomes apparent that in warning off “external aggression,” Obama is referring not only to aggression by other States against those allied with the US but also any threat or undesirable influence, be it internal or external, which is perceived as undermining governments/regimes which are compliant with its US centric world view and all that entails.
Of course the apparatus of US government is not entirely discriminatory against foreign nations and its foreign policy is clearly mirrored in its domestic policy. In this regard, insofar as the prevailing view of its “Living Tree” Constitution permits, the US establishment certainly takes a similar approach to agitators, dissidents, people of conscience and anyone in America who is perceived as a threat to the political status quo or its dominant ideology of unrestrained Corporatism. That 12 political appointees who comprise the US Supreme Court seem in recent years to have tacitly reconceived the Constitution from living as a very slow growing oak tree to something more akin to a fast growing plantation pine tree certainly has not served those people who do not fully submit to the establishment’s corporatist view of the universe.
Obama vs Neocons
The main difference between Obama and the Neocons who held sway over the Bush administration is that whereas Obama at least professes to be more circumspect about using unrestrained military force as distinct from various other coercive means to impose US will, the Neocons were unabashed in their preference for immediately pressing home the US advantage by waging “simultaneous wars on multiple fronts” with a view to imposing US styled corporatism on its vanquished nations. The “change” in emphasis introduced by Obama is significant but ultimately at best only temporary and marginal. In other words, it is tactical rather that strategic. That said, we should not to diminish the significance of Obama’s apparent unwillingness to lead the US into more full scale Bush style wars as plotted by the Texan’s Neocon handlers; but we also should be so foolish as to believe that the Neocons have gone away.
We should of course take the administration to task for the shocking loss of civilian life caused by security apparatus’s Orwellian drone warfare program. But we should not lose sight of the fact that the Obama administration would probably never have been able to stop the program even if Obama had the political will to try. Without wanting to place his efforts too highly, at least Obama has endeavoured to take some of the horror out of the program by imposing still loose but somewhat stricter guidelines and transferring operational control of much of America’s armed drone fleet from the CIA to the State Department. In a nutshell, he has given us more welcome marginal change “we can believe in” but the substance of which falls far short of what is required.
We must, of course, lament the staggering loss of life and disruption caused by the US security/policy apparatus even when it is merely simmering in places like Libya and Syria. But we also should not minimize the Obama’s claimed preference for dealing with any international resistance to US imperatives by what he loosely describes as a political process rather than the blatant full scale militarism that marked out the Bush administration. In terms of principle, the difference is marginal; but with the world living for now in that murky margin facilitated by Obama, we have been spared another million or so victims of brutal, one sided “shock & Awe” style warfare conceived, not to win an existing conflict but rather to create a conflict conceived to permanently dismantle the social, political and economic infrastructure of a nation and replace it with one built in America’s own image. That said, it is entirely conceivable that the creeping change now being introduced more by stealth than by open warfare, will in the long run impose a far higher toll on humanity than Bush style invasions but without the inconvenient headlines which have a tendency to rock the US establishments already shaky foundation.
The sad reality is that the kind of marginal change introduced by Obama already places his administration at the extreme end of the kind of change which, practically speaking, is possible in a political and economic environment which has ratcheted standing “super armies,” aggressive militarism and corporate profiteering into the dominant paradigm.
All that said, even with due acknowledgement of Obama’s modest accomplishments in winding back the tightly wound spring of US militarism, the 1st and 2nd Obama tenets stand as a naked reaffirmation of US exceptionalism and an assertion that the US does not consider itself bound by international convention or law except as it chooses to be.
President George W. Bush expressed the same basic position of US exceptionalism when he set about preparing the policy establishment’s shaky foundation – the will of its apathetic people – for a belligerent, unprovoked war on Iraq. At the time he said:
“The course of this nation does not depend on the decisions of others.”. . . “We really don’t need the United Nation’s approval to act. When it comes to our security, we do not need anyone’s permission.”
Neoconned Bush vs Clinton Doctrine
Of course he neglected then or at any time since to explain just what the belligerent and devastating assault on Iraq had to do with US national security and when the pretence of National Security became transparently absurd, the Neoconned Bush administration quickly segued into a caricature of the “Clinton Doctrine” to justify on quasi-humanitarian grounds its belligerent military assault that was a war in name only. The preceding invasion of Afghanistan already planned and underway even before the Twin Towers fell also does not withstand informed and objective scrutiny. How can we forget Bush’s carefully scripted on 20 September 2001 speech attended by all the usual suspects from both sides of US politics and replete with ironies entirely lost on all of them? How we overlook Bush’s 29 January 2002 contrived “axis of terror” speech to a compliant Congress? How can we forget the ironic lies trotted out in his 17 March 2003 ultimatum to former US ally Saddam Hussein?
Obama, being somewhat more diplomatic and well spoken than Bush, concedes some role to the United Nations but limits its function to dealing with clear military aggression by other states, while appropriating for the US the exclusive right to unilaterally deal with any other resistance and, if deemed necessary, to unilaterally override the UN’s primary role in military conflicts.
Exceptionalism and unilateralism are, of course, only means to an end or, if you prefer, tactics. To fully understand the implications of the US position we must ask ourselves, to what ends does the US consider itself exceptionally entitled to violate the sovereignty and peoples of other nations? The obvious answer is “to whatever ends the US military industrial complex and political apparatus decide.” Yet that alone does not quite state the true horror of it since it leaves room for the commonly held view that the US is somehow guided by an enlightened concern for justice, human rights and the larger human condition.
As articulated by the Neocon “Project for a New American Century” in its polemic “Rebuilding America’s Defences,” faced with being marginalized in a world that will increasingly be dominated by Asia, there is something close to a consensus in Washington’s corridors of power that the US must capitalize on its status as the only remaining true super power by building a US hegemony throughout the world using its military might. What is the ideology of this hegemony they aspire to? In a word, Corporatism! Obama’s apparent point of departure from the Neocon playbook is that he at least claims to have used his presidency to ensure, whenever possible, that the agenda is advanced by means other than full military conflict with all that entails. In that regard, he does indeed reflect the will of America’s “war weary” people.
That is not to say that a majority American’s are opposed to Washington’s wars on moral grounds. They are simply tired of paying for them and not sophisticated enough to understand that it makes little difference to their tax burden whether the massive US security apparatus budged is dispersed in clandestine “black ops,” regional skirmishes and maintaining what is overwhelmingly the largest standing army the world has ever seen, or dispersed in paying for what are conceded openly to be “wars.” That Obama used his UN address, to announce that the US military is “shifting away from a perpetual war footing” seems to be something akin to sophistry.
So what do those who occupy the corridors of power in Washington mean by a US hegemony or, as the Neocons described it, a “Pax American”? In effect, they mean establishing a New World Order dominated by US corporate interests and governed by the US conception of what is a proper legal, economic and social normative framework for all nations.
The Oil factor
President Obama’s 3rd proposition is a reformulation of the Carter Doctrine written by President Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski as a marginal refinement of Truman’s Soviet policy triggered by the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Carter Doctrine declared that:
“An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”
Carter’s successor, Ronald Reagan, extended the policy in October 1981 with what is sometimes called the “Reagan Corollary to the Carter Doctrine”, which proclaimed that the United States would intervene to protect Saudi Arabia, whose security was threatened after the Iran–Iraq War’s outbreak. Thus, while the Carter Doctrine warned away outside forces from the region, the Reagan Corollary pledged to secure internal stability. According to diplomat Howard Teicher: “with the enunciation of the Reagan Corollary, the policy ground work was laid for Operation Desert Storm.”
Oil is much too strategic to be left in the hand of the Arabs
As the iconic Gomer Pyle often liked to say, “surprise, surprise, surprise;” Brzezinski who was instrumental in America’s decision to embrace Osama bin Laden when it was tactically useful to do so in the early 80’s, is also an advisor to President Obama. The formulation of Obama’s 3rd proposition now abandons any all concern with the now defunct Soviet Union or even with “outside force” and restates that part of the Carter Doctrine concerned with securing US interests in Middle East oil & gas in much the same spirit Nixon’s National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is reputed to have expressed the matter when he said:
“Oil is much too important a commodity to be left in the hand of the Arabs”.
“Surprise, surprise, surprise;” like Brzezinski, Kissinger has also recently come out of the shadows to stamp his imprimatur on US foreign policy in the Middle East. On the other hand, long before as George W. Bush’s Vice President Dick Cheney became one of the main architects of the 2003 Iraq Invasion and long after he had joined Donald Rumsfeld’s staff in the Nixon administration, back in1990 as George H. Bush’s Secretary of Defence, Cheney also said:
“Whoever controls the flow of Persian Gulf oil has a stranglehold not only on our economy but also on the other countries of the world as well.”
There is now a clear symmetry in the US positions on securing the “free flow of [other peoples’] oil and in propping up and securing compliant governments in that as formulated by Obama, neither is in any way necessarily concerned with whether any perceived threat to US interests is external, unlawful or illegitimate.
Regarding the way US concerns for its core interests tends to play out, the observations of Robert Fisk, writing for “The Independent” about the belligerent 2003 US military strike on Iraq War come to mind:
“The sheer violence of it, the howl of air raid sirens and the air-cutting fall of the missiles carried its own political message; not just to President Saddam but to the rest of the world. We are the superpower, those explosions said last night. This is how we do business.”
Apparently Obama is no less concerned with showing the world that the US is the dominant super power although he apparently prefers that, in pursuing its NWO aims, that the US influence, cajole, threaten and destabilise noncompliant governments by any available means other than an open declaration of war. To Obama, all such tactics apparently fall within what he considers to be the “political process.” I suppose that is some kind of marginal “change we can believe in” even if it falls very far short of what we are entitled to.
The War on Terror:
Obama’s the 4th proposition restates the US commitment to waging a perpetual “War on Terror.” The US political/security apparatus, took the opportunity created by 9-11 to elevate the so-called “War on Terror” to the apex of its both its domestic and foreign policy pyramids. The opportunistic structural changes wrought on the strength of this disingenuous “War on Terror” through successive administrations make it clear that “policy” has come to rule the roost in America’s vast and all powerful security apparatus at the expense of the “Rule of Law” which the US had long professed to embrace as a corner stone in its system of governance. The US has made it very clear that there is no room for legal niceties in this post 9-11 world when dealing with anyone perceived as a threat to “The American Way.”
If we analyse the various policy statements and underlying Congressional Enactments related to the issue, it can hardly be contested that the concept of terrorism which was already expanded under President Clinton with the Omnibus Counterterrorism Act of 1995, has now been defined by lois scélérates laws so broadly as to potentially encompass any act, statement or political position which can be perceived as a threat to the political status quo. [see, for example: Executive Order 13224, signed by President George W. Bush on Sept. 23, 2001; 66 Fed. Reg. 49,079 (Sept. 23, 2001); The 2001 PATRIOT Act) (amended March 2006); Homeland Security Act of 2002, Pub. L. 107-296]
(18 U.S. Code § 2331 – Definitions.As used in this chapter—
(1) the term “international terrorism” means activities that—
(A) involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended—
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, or transcend national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are accomplished, the persons they appear intended to intimidate or coerce, or the locale in which their perpetrators operate or seek asylum;
The United States Patriot Act, merely states:
“For crimes to be defined as terrorist acts the government must show that they were calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion or to retaliate against government conduct.)
FBI clandestine CoIntel Program
The underlying political philosophy is of course eerily similar to that implicit in the FBI’s long running, clandestine CoIntel Program (acronym for Counter Intelligence Program) which was used to sabotage and criminalize the very political dissent, often by state sanctioned criminal means, which the current political establishment likes to hold up as an example of what is presented as America’s abiding concern with freedom and human rights. Bearing in mind the long history of criminalising dissent in America, it is not surprising that in the US, terrorism has been largely reframed from not only being a domestic crime but, more importantly, to selectively being considered an International act of war which, real or imagined, justifies any unilateral US military response against those who are deemed to have somehow been behind any terrorist act.
The calculated post 9-11 expansion of the term terrorism to potentially embrace any domestic or foreign threat to the US establishment’s preferred New World Order occurred as the US conception of National Security also went through a similar equally calculated expansion. Of course neither tactic had anything to do with the relatively minor issue of global terrorism. In that regard, when compared to than the 1 or 2 who US civilians who sadly are from time to time victims of terrorism which is not itself associated with US created war zones, orders of magnitude more Americans die each year by falling out of bed (around 450 Americans each year), by having vending machines fall on them (13 Americans a year), lightening strikes (roughly 93 Americans a year), dog bites (roughly 34 Americans each year), bee stings (about 50 Americans each year) texting while driving (6,000 Americans each year) and by strangling themselves while masturbating (approximately 500 Americans each year).
Apparently, on average 6 Americans are accidentally killed each year by a ball or bat while playing or watching baseball. Should the US government use this statistical anomaly to restructure the entire social, political and legal framework in order to eliminate this marginal risk faced by the 43% of Americans who according to surveys enjoy baseball? (Rahul Mahajan, Indian author: “It is very difficult to explain to an Iraqi that a man fighting from his own town with a Kalashnikov or RPG launcher is a ‘coward’ and a ‘war criminal’ (because, apparently, he should go out into the desert and wait to be annihilated from the sky) but that someone dropping 2000-pound bombs on residential areas or shooting at ambulances because they may have guns in them (even though they usually don’t) is a hero and is following the laws of war.”)
Not a single American civilian killed by Muslims
While the 2011 National Counterterrorism Center report claimed that 17 Americans were killed by terrorism in 2011 and 15 in 2010, NCTC reports typically fail to emphasize that US civilians killed by terrorism outside of the US overwhelmingly met their fate in US created war zones and that the only two incidents between 2005 and 2011 which resulted in Americans being killed in the US involved military personnel rather than civilians. The hidden reality is that, between 2005 and 2011, not a single civilian was killed in the U.S. by Muslim terrorists. Terrorism hardly represents a legitimate concern for waging perpetual wars and running roughshod over civil liberties, the sovereignty of other nations and the very “rule-of-law” which the US has long purported to subscribe to as a corner stone of its system of governance.
Rather than being genuinely concerned with terrorism, the irrational redefinition of “terrorism” and “national security” was clearly an opportunistic tactic used to help steer the course through the end game in America’s decades long endeavour to impose a global order which subordinates both domestic and foreign social, political and economic issues to US interests which are seen as advanced primarily through the global machinations of nominally US and, to a lesser extent, European based corporate conglomerates. Meanwhile, since 2011, the US has been anything but coy about supporting groups and individuals considered by the US security establishment to be terrorists in order to advance US geopolitical tactics in the region. Even the apathetic US public has increasingly come to believe that the main threat from terrorism in the world today comes from the US military/security establishment itself and the shady elements it contracts from time to time to literally execute operations which, for legal and political reasons, it cannot carry out itself.
By equating corporate profits with National Security and political dissent with terrorism, the US political apparatus has stepped the world “through the looking glass” and dropped any pretence of being primarily concerned about its US constituents or legitimacy and crated a false pretext for using military force against other nations virtually at will.
The absurdity of American politics
Returning to President Obama’s UN speech, his 4th proposition should be understood as a declaration that, without any overriding concern for the laws or sovereignty of other nations, the US will, at its own absolute discretion, continue to use agitation, bribery, intimidation, threats, military force and, yes, even terrorism, to target any person, group or network considered by the US security apparatus to be hostile to the global political, social and economic order championed by the United States. In a nutshell, Obama’s open ended threat has very little all to do with what most people understand terrorism and national security to mean.
Non-proliferation, Armaments and Maintaining US Military Supremacy:
Obama’s 5th tenet is a self-serving declaration of the longstanding US position which manifests elements of all four columns that hold up the structure of US foreign policy, while giving strength to the 5th column of Zionism. An almost identical expression of this tenet can be found in George W. Bush’s infamous “Axis of Terror” speech, in which the current false pretence of Syrian chemical weapons and the contrived threat of non-existent Iranian nuclear weapons were foreshadowed by Bush with identical allegations against Iraq that have long since been exposed as disingenuous and categorically false.
That such a statement from Obama was politically compulsory highlights the absurdity of American politics. The statement was of course addressed directly at Iran and clearly intended to demonstrate Obama’s strength in dealing with the “straw man” threat constructed by hawkish and Zionist elements within the US political apparatus which have long been manoeuvring to draw the US into a full scale pre-emptive war against Iran with contrived pretences.
The contrived nature of the US position is highlighted by several incontestable facts:
1.Unlike Israel, Iran has long been a signatory in good standing to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That treat not only guarantees Iran’s right to develop nuclear technology for non-military uses (e.g. power and medical application) but also entitles Iran to insist that other signatory countries share their nuclear technology with Iran in order to facilitate the achievement of its non-military nuclear aspirations. Of course, it is axiomatic that a country which advances a non-military nuclear program will, at the same time, advance its potential capacity to use nuclear technology for military purposes and there is always the possibility that at some point, a political decision will be made to take the country into a military nuclear program. But the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is concerned with facts, not possibilities, and the compliance regime signatory countries submit to largely insure that any attempt by a country to “break out” from the stricture of its system will be quickly detected. Despite increasing politicalization of the International Atomic Energy Commission with members like Director-General Yukiya Amano and Geoffrey R. Pyatt (who is now very active in interfering in the affairs of other nations as US Ambassador to Ukraine) have demonstrated their willingness to make dubious statements calculated to support the long standing anti-Iran agenda being advanced by hawks and Zionist elements both within and from outside the US, the hard facts cannot be disputed though they are rarely stated. Since at least 2007, the consensus of opinion among the 16 US Intelligence Agencies even as even as recently restated by James R. Clapper Jr., and echoed by, among others, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, David H. Petraeus, Leon E. Panetta, is that:
a.In 2003 Iran abandoned any military nuclear program which it was then reputed to have. In the now declassified words of Clapper, “We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program; … Tehran’s decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005.”
b.There is no hard evidence that Iran is building a nuclear bomb and the political decision making apparatus in Iran has not decided to pursue any such program. Even Israeli sources concur– as the Israeli newspaper Haaretz and Defense Minister Ehud Barak indicated recently that Iran has NOT decided to build a nuclear bomb.
c.If Iran decided to “break out” it would take at the very least 3 years to build a deliverable nuclear bomb and any attempts to do so would certainly be detected before a bomb was built.
Of course there is a great deal of improper pressure from both Zionist and Hawkish elements to vilify Iran and rally the US to military action which, in turn, has seen a not so subtle shift in emphasis by mainstream the US media from accusing Iran of actually “building nukes” to instead accusing it of aiming to achieve “a capacity to build nukes.”
This spin, of course, ignores the fact that there is no evidence to support even these modest allegations, and any latent capability to build nukes is an incidental consequence of Iran exercising its right to develop peaceful nuclear technology. As one pundit has commented, the media’s rhetorical shift from accusing Iran of “building” nukes to seeking a “capacity to build” them is reminiscent of Bush’s sleight of hand when he went from talking about Iraq’s supposed WMD “stockpiles” to its WMD “programs” – after it turned out there were no WMD stockpiles.
The Israeli weapons of mass destruction
2.Israel has long been one of the world’s major nuclear powers. It achieved and has maintained it nuclear super power status by thumbing its nose at every international convention which deals with the issue of nuclear proliferation. It has for decades controlled a dispersed arsenal reputed to comprise some 250 nuclear and neutron war heads mounted on advanced delivery systems, many of which are said to be targeted at every major European capital as part of its Samson Option. In addition, Israel has a well developed arsenal of chemical weapons, some of which it has used against civilians in the region. Unlike Iran, Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and therefore in terms of this important issue, a rogue state. Nevertheless, the US position on Israel’s nuclear capacity has, since the Nixon administration, essentially been that if Israel does not admit having what the world knows it to have, the US will presume that which it knows to be false, viz, and that Israel is in compliance with the International System.
3.India, Pakistan and Korea have long had a nuclear capacity and advanced delivery systems yet despite being arguably more inherently unstable than Iran has ever been, none of them has ever demonstrated any inclination to use this capacity. The idea that any country which develops a nuclear capability will necessarily become more of a threat it was without them is not borne out by history or by logic. The reality in fact seems to be quite different in that countries which may before developing a nuclear capacity have been quite bellicose in criticising their perceived enemies, once developing this ultimate destructive capacity, suddenly find themselves in a position where in the increased relatively security afforded by their nuclear capability, they suddenly have to confront the reality that they are in a position to make good on their rhetorical threats and therefore almost invariably end up toning down their threats.
Iran is not threat to Israel
Even if Iran was both willing and able to create atomic weapons, which at this point it is not, it would hardly represent the doomsday scenario war advocates suggest. The likelihood of Iran actually using such weapons is very slim. “Nothing about the history of nuclear weapons suggests any likelihood of a nuclear Iran using such weapons for anything but a deterrent” and “[n]othing about the history of U.S. involvement in the Middle East suggests that another pre-emptive war in that region would be anything other than an unmitigated catastrophe.” As numerous top Israeli officials have noted, the Iranian leadership — even if it did have nuclear weapons — would hardly represent an existential threat to the Jewish state.
Of course the real cause for concern is not that Iran might actually use a nuclear weapon should it decide to make and eventually build one but rather that should Iran get a nuclear bomb, US client state of Egypt will develop its own nuclear weapon, and the US client state of Saudi Arabia will purchase one from the US client state of Pakistan. Even Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, director of political-military affairs at the Israeli Defense Ministry, has issued public statement about this. According to him, “The Arabs will not tolerate the Persians having the bomb. From the moment the Iranians get the bomb, the Egyptians have the resources, capability and knowhow to achieve nuclear capabilities, and the Saudis will run to buy the bomb from the Pakistanis with a ‘member’s discount,’” Turning his villainous sights to Syria, Gilad said there was “no military threat to the north. The Russians, the Iranians and Hezbollah allow the Assad regime to survive with artificial life-support. There is no Syrian state, but there is a regime. And there’s a difficult humanitarian problem. I’d like to officially declare Syria dead, but the date of the funeral is not yet known.”
The hard facts are that apart from some lunatic perma-hawks driving the Israeli-AIPAC-CFR hard-line and who are ranting that Iran could produce a warhead with 6 to 14 weeks, the accepted view is that the very best/worst case scenario Iran could engineer should it elect to do so, is the capacity to produce a very modest yield warhead in 1 to 1.5 years. But practically speaking, should Iran decide to start a nuclear weapons program (which it has not), it is in fact several years away from being able produce a bomb, let alone a delivery system. Meanwhile Israel has more than 220 deliverable nukes with zero transparency, accountability or international compliance. (HSH)
*Barry Grossman received his B.Comm. from the University of Calgary in 1984 and an LLB from York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School in 1987. After working as a litigator at a major commercial law firm in Toronto, he was recruited to teach at the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Law in Australia. He later worked for several years as a commercial litigation consultant to the national firm of Freehill, Hollingdale & Page before later taking up a full time lectureship at Monash University’s Faculty of Law. Mr. Grossman has written extensively on various legal subjects and is a frequent commentator on political affairs. He is often interviewed by Press TV and Sahar TV.He has resided in Indonesia since 1999 and spent long periods of time in several countries, including Germany, Canada, the United States, Mexico, Australia and Thailand. Mr. Grossman is a Muslim.
This article has also been published in the Indonesian based international news service, Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA): http://mirajnews.com/web/en/. The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of GLOBAL JIHAD FOR PEACE!