Monday, February 6, 2012

Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Drops The "H-Bomb"

I'm not talking about that other H-bomb, the one that the US government dropped on innocent civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. No, I'm talking about Adolph Hitler, yes, that H-Bomb. Every time our leaders want to justify a war against another people they whip out the Hitler's name. He is our Great Satan, the face of incomprehensible evil. There is nothing to be understood about Hitler, he was made of pure brimstone and, therefore, whenever he is reincarnated - which happens fairly often - he must be wiped out utterly and completely.

It's rather convenient and closes the door off from any sort of critical thinking at a moment when critical thinking should be at an absolute premium - prior to war. So, it has been used to label Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, Robert Mugabe and that favourite of mine "Islamofascism", which tars an entire religious tradition with being Hitler. This time, of course, it is the incomparably stupid and opportunist Canadian foreign minister, John Baird, who whipped it out after his fanboy tour of Israel.
“Obviously when the influential leader of Iran said [Friday] that he wanted to remove a cancer from the Middle East and remove Israel from the map, obviously you can understand why the Jewish people, why Israel would take him seriously,” he said. “Hitler wrote Mein Kampf more than a decade before he became Chancellor of Germany and they take these issues pretty seriously here. But it’s not just an Israeli question. The fear in the Arab world, in the entire region, the Gulf, and the entire Middle East is palpable on this issue. And it’s increasingly a significant security threat for the West: for Canada, the United States and our allies in Europe.”
And there you have it. Israel equals the Jews, Iran wants to eliminate Israel therefore Iran wants to eliminate the Jews. Adolph Hitler wanted to eliminate the Jews. Iran is like Nazi Germany and its leadership is like Hitler. Bombs Away!

Except that it's rather more complex than our Tory friend, apparently, can fathom. First off there is no necessary identity between Jewishness and Zionism or Israel as John Baird - a tireless promoter of Israel - demonstrates. But, on the other side, Jews have been some of the most vocal opponents of Israel and its policies, from Norman Finklestein to Noam Chomsky to Shlomo Sand. Zionism and the founding of Israel was one amongst several political responses to anti-Semitism in Europe prior to World War Two.

Secondly, Baird demonstrates his inability to understand context. The Middle East is not Europe or North America, where Jews were historically terribly oppressed, particularly in Eastern Europe where pogroms were too often a matter of course - not to mention the ultimate pogrom, the terror of the Holocaust. That is not the history of the historic Jewish communities of the Middle East. The antipathy towards Israel is rooted rather in the fact that Israel is a settler-state, whose existence is founded upon the displacement of the indigenous Palestinian population and whose continued existence is premised upon its service to the American empire as a Sparta - an armed camp - to control uncooperative Arab regimes... like that in Iran.

Thirdly, Iran poses no threat to Europe or North America, unless we're talking about imperial interests in the Middle East. Iran's leadership are no radical democrats or serious anti-imperialists. They rule their country like our rulers rule theirs: in the interests of a ruling class who own and control all the levers of political and economic power. Iran has democratic elections - just like us. And it suppresses rights that are inconvenient, just like us. It's true that Iran is rather more repressive than, say, Canada. But it is a matter of degrees as the participants in the Occupy Oakland protests found out, or the G20 protestors in Toronto. But, in any case, even if Iran is qualitatively more repressive than North American governments it would be simple hypocrisy to suggest that we have any problems with dictatorships - after all, Stephen Harper has been touring China - a much more repressive regime - sucking up to any Communist Party bigwig that he could in order to sell our natural resources to them. Then there are "our allies" in the Middle East, like the Saudi dictatorship and the former dictator of Yemen. We have not a single problem with dictatorships.

And the idea that there is "palpable fear" in Israel is just so much bunk. How many countries has Iran attacked or invaded since the Iranian revolution in 1979? Zero. How many has Israel? Well, they bombed Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981 in a rather deja vu claim about it being intended for military purposes.

Iraq and France claimed that the Iraqi reactor was intended for peaceful scientific research.[8] Agreements between France and Iraq excluded military use. The American private intelligence agency STRATFOR wrote in 2007 that the reactor "was believed to be on the verge of producing plutonium for a weapons program". In a 2003 speech, Richard Wilson, a professor of physics at Harvard University who visually inspected the partially damaged reactor in December 1982, said that "to collect enough plutonium [for a nuclear weapon] using Osirak would've taken decades, not years". In 2005, Wilson further commented in The Atlantic: the Osirak reactor that was bombed by Israel in June of 1981 was explicitly designed by the French engineer Yves Girard to be unsuitable for making bombs. That was obvious to me on my 1982 visit.
In addition to the Iraq bombing, Israel invaded Lebanon (for the second time) in 1982 and again in 2006. They invaded Gaza in 2008-2009, leading to widespread human rights abuses and destruction - which the Palestinians have been prevented from repairing by the Israeli blockade. Of course, if we went back farther we'd see that since Israel's founding (and since the majority of Jews at the founding were Europeans, one could easily argue that this was the first invasion) it has invaded Syria in 1951, Egypt in 1956, and in 1967 Israel attacked Syria, Egypt and Jordan. It is also likely that Israel is involved in the present covert (and illegal) operations against Iranian nuclear scientists and infrastructure. It's also worth noting that this, the most belligerent country in the region, is the only one that has nuclear weapons.

So, John Baird's H-bomb is meant as nothing more than mere handwaving to distract us from the truth of the situation in the region. It's job is to put the question of Iran outside of rational discourse. To even question the bellicose rhetoric is an admission that you WANT TO KILL THE JEWS! The idea is so stupid as to be utterly laughable, were it not so terribly dangerous and were it not for the fact that they are playing with the lives of tens of thousands of people. But then, who would expect anything less from people who would use the memory of the Holocaust for such cynical ends.

Baird compares Iran’s threats to Hitler's racist book - The Globe and Mail:

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