Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Third Rail

From Glenn Greenwald comes the news that William Kristol has come right out and explicitly stated the premise that has always underlain the Neocon foreign policy. In Greenwald's words:
that the U.S. should view the threats to Israel as threats to the U.S., because the enemy is the same, and should join Israel in the destruction of these enemies. Kristol actually argues that President Bush should immediately abandon the G-8 summit in Russia and fly to Jerusalem in order to stand by Israel, in "our" new war, which should be waged against Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, for starters.
In case you think Greenwald might be overstating Kristol's argument, here's a link to Kristol's column.

Look, I don't want to write about the Middle East. I'm not that knowledgable about Middle Eastern history and culture. I am made very uncomfortable by the religious fundamentalism that seems to drive so many of the actors there - not just the "Islamofascists" but Israel's messianic settlers and our own Rapture-obsessed wingnuts. But if the war in Iraq is a tragedy, we need to come up with some new adjectives for what's happening now.

"Brave little Israel" is bombing central Beirut, targeting Lebanon's infrastructure and threatening to smash that country's fragile democracy along with its bridges, harbors and airports. Oh, and its children. Collateral damage, right?

And now the Neocons are finally saying what they've thought all along: it's time for a region-wide, Middle Eastern war to "settle" things, once and for all, and in Israel's favor.

Israel is the "third rail" of American public discourse. If you criticize Israel, you're labeled an "anti-Semite" - or, if you happen to be a "Semite," a "self-hating Jew." Few of our politicians are willing to confront Israel on its treatment of the Palestians or suggest that American foreign policy might be a little more evenhanded in how it addresses the situation. Now, even as Israel attacks Lebanon, a country touted as a "success story" in this Administration's Middle Eastern "democracy project," our President says nothing but the usual rhetoric about how Israel has the right to defend itself. And before anyone lectures me on Hezbollah rockets launched into Israeli territory, let me repeat what others have said: Lebanon does not deserve to suffer for Hezbollah's sins. And that deliberately sticking one's hand into a hornet's nest does not, to me, constitute a particularly effective defense.

I for one do not think that a majority of Americans are willing to fight a region-wide Middle Eastern war on the behalf of Israel and our own military/industrial complex. Moreover, Israel's national interests are not the same as America's. If our leaders are not willing to say so, then those of us who share these sentiments must.

Yes, I know. Israel is our best friend in the Middle East. A democracy in a region of corrupt authoritarian regimes, surrounded on all sides by enemies. But Israel has become the tail that wags the dog of American policy towards the Middle East. And we can see how well that's worked, in recent years...

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