Saturday, February 4, 2012

Is America Worried Israel Is Gonna Go Ape Shit On Iran?

Apparently the US Defence Secretary Leo Panetta is very worried that Israel will attack Iran come March. Those Israelis just can't control themselves in the face of Iran's intransigence over their - admittedly non-military - nuclear program. I mean, what if, you know, Iran decided down the road to make nukes. Then Israel wouldn't be the only country in the Middle East or, as Israel likes to put it - the only democracy in the Middle East. Oh, wait, Iran has democratic elections, don't they. Come to think of it, Egypt is now democratic. Oh, and then there's the fact that the Israeli government has vociferously opposed the democracy movements because only dictatorships can keep Israel safe from those ignorant Arabs with their hatred of Zionist colonialism Israel's right to exist.

Well, there's no doubt that Israel is as crazy as a Christian fundamentalist at a pagan sex party. I mean, besides their 44-year old illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, they have invaded and attacked their neighbours more often than America has overthrown unfriendly governments. Well, maybe not. But certainly lots of times. Iran? They have never started a war or invaded their neighbours. Not once. And while their government is repressive you can't call them warmongers. The Israeli government you definitely can.

And that brings us back to the point: Israel does what it does not because Jews are more prone to war and not even because zionism as an ideology is per se based upon behaving in a crazy, war mongering way. But for Zionism to exist as a small colony built on stolen land, surrounded by much larger numbers of people it degrades in a manner not dissimilar to South African apartheid, it needs two things: 1) a highly militarized culture, which valorizes violence and oppression against Arabs and a set of national priorities that values a big military and 2) an outside benefactor. In fact, it needs a very big, very powerful benefactor. And that benefactor is the American empire.

To the US of A, Israel is their largest foreign military base. It's so large that it has not only all the trappings of a military base, it even has some of its own industry. Just like Fort Bragg may have auto body shops and some restaurants on base, Israel also has industries to service it military but multiplied by a factor of one hundred. All of which is to say that Israel only exists at the pleasure of the United States government. Without the $3-$5 billion in cash and other forms of aid that Israel receives every year, plus the military and political backing of the United States, Israel wouldn't last a month - economically, politically, territorially. (well, we ought to add that the $1.3 billion bribe that is paid to the Egyptian dictatorship also bought peace for Israel)

Of course, Israel often chafes at this subordinate, dependent position and tries to develop some independent relationships - trade deals, sporting and cultural exchanges with other countries, etc -  so that it has leverage on its benefactor. But, in the end, it is not the Israel tail that wags this big American dog. So, the idea that Israel will launch an attack on Iran without the say-so of the President of the United States is stupid. This is America using its attack dog as it has always done - as a stick to try and beat its regional opponents. It is politically inexpedient for America to directly threaten to attack Iran - after the unpopularity of the Iraq war plus the Afghan adventure, it won't fly. So, Israel will do the military dirty work, draw Iran into attacking US ships in the Persian Gulf in retaliation and then, voila, the war will be merely an act of self defence. Will this actually be what happens? I have no idea, of course, and perhaps neither do the USA and Israel. But what is certain is that by Panetta publicly hand-wringing over Israel's plans to attack Iran he is setting the stage for this scenario and trying to increase the pressure on Iran - on top of the sanctions regime and the covert war against Iranian scientists and other elements of the nuclear program.

Panetta's hand-wringing is, transparently, a threat, nothing more or less.


Is Israel preparing to attack Iran? - The Washington Post:

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