Iran, Israel and the United States
It is a given that no elected Republican government official can agree with anything President Obama says or does. Whether or not this is due to genuine philosophical differences with the president, or, more simply, because he’s of African-American descent and therefore has no business being president, is a topic for another essay. Suffice it to say, not much is getting done in the nation’s capital these days.
On the international stage, it appears that Mr. Obama has had considerably more success in negotiating with Iran than he has with the U.S. House of Representatives. He and several other nations involved in the negotiations have brokered a deal with Iran, wherein Iran will scale back its nuclear ambitions, and the west will scale back some of its sanctions.
In the hallowed halls of Congress, this deal has not met with unqualified support. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), said this: “Iran has a history of obfuscation that demands verification of its activities and places the burden on the regime to prove it is upholding its obligations in good faith while a final deal is pursued.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), weighed in with these pearls of wisdom: “Last night's agreement is an essential step toward meeting our ultimate objective: to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
House Majority Leader Eric I. Cantor (R-Va.), said, “The text of the interim agreement with Iran explicitly and dangerously recognizes that Iran will be allowed to enrich uranium when it describes a 'mutually defined enrichment program' in a final, comprehensive deal.”
Few people would disagree that the last thing the world needs is more nuclear weapons. So, one wonders, why is this agreement with Iran not being praised at least as a step in the right direction? The answer, unfortunately, is quite clear: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has strongly criticized the deal. And with the American-Israel Political Affairs Committee having bought and paid for most of Congress, the puppeteer feels completely entitled to pull the Congressional strings.
According to records from 2010, Mr. Boehner’s re-election campaign, it should be noted, received $127, 350 through AIPAC; Ms. Pelosi’s, $83,400, and Mr. Cantor’s, $209,410. These are not people with a tendency to bite the hand that so generously feeds them.
Mr. Netanyahu, whose nation has an undetermined number of nuclear and chemical weapons, said that this new agreement makes the world more dangerous, called it an ‘historic mistake’, said Israel is not bound by it and will attack Iran whenever it feels like doing so, in, of course, the sacred name of ‘Israeli security’.
It is interesting to note the rogue nations that have nuclear weapons: the United States, North Korea and Israel immediately come to mind. Former President George W. Bush once referred to Iran, Iraq and North Korea as the ‘axis of evil’: perhaps the U.S., North Korea and Israel would be more suited to that description, since between them they cause a great degree of suffering in the world. The U.S., the only nation to ever use nuclear weapons, and against a civilian population no less, has a long and ugly history of human-rights violations around the world. North Korea, with its notorious, barbaric prisons, abuses its own citizens in unspeakable ways. And Israel, a nation created through ethnic cleansing, which it continues to do on a daily basis, perpetrates unspeakable terrorism on the Palestinian people, all of it funded by the U.S., thus compounding that nation’s crimes.
Israel has long supported any and all international sanctions against Iran, yet relies on U.S. veto power in the United Nation to continue its own atrocities against Palestine. In this context, President Obama’s shameless hypocrisy is on full display, as he decries Syria’s use of chemical weapons, but condones Israel’s use of them against the Palestinians. Even during the shocking, unjust and illegal U.S. occupation of Iraq, the U.S., at least ostensibly, was bound by international rules of occupation, rules it allows Israel to ignore in its decades-long occupation of Palestine.
So what is to be learned by all this? First, let us summarize the facts:
· Iran has tentatively agreed to reduce the level of uranium enrichment it had been striving for.
· The west will, at least temporarily, end some of the sanctions it put in place against Iran.
· Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seriously displeased.
· After carefully reviewing the reaction of Mr. Netanyahu, some members of the U.S. Congress, with a $pecial interest in Israel, are seriously displeased.
What, one wonders, does Congress want? There appear to be two goals. The first, of course, is the continual flow of campaign dollars from the bottomless financial well of AIPAC. For the second, while one hesitates to answer, ‘another war’, that does appear to be the wish. There was great dissatisfaction among some members of Congress at having been thwarted in their desire to invade Syria, by that upstart Russian President Vladimir Putin, who relied on, of all things, diplomacy, to prevent a war. Senators John McCain (R –AZ) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who had strongly encouraged Mr. Obama to use military force against Syria, issued a joint statement concerning the agreement with Syria. “What concerns us most is that our friends and enemies will take the same lessons from this agreement -- they see it as an act of provocative weakness on America's part. We cannot imagine a worse signal to send to Iran as it continues its push for a nuclear weapon."
The grammatical abominations in that statement aside, does one think that the use of diplomacy to solve international tensions is the worst possible signal to send to the world? Does one not even consider that former President Bush’s method of addressing global problems - bombing everything in sight - is not a ‘worse signal’? Are not American citizens breathing a sigh of relief that they, their sons, daughters, husbands, wives, etc. will not, at least immediately, be sent to kill and die in some distant corner of the world?
Mr. Obama has uncharacteristically chosen a diplomatic route with Iran, instead of following his usual model of sending drones to kill innocent people. And like Mr. Putin’s efforts, these diplomatic overtures seem to have borne fruit. Oh, what a bitter pill for the chest-thumping, war-mongering hawks in Congress to swallow! International progress towards preventing an increase in nuclear weapons has been made, and a war wasn’t necessary! The U.S. was prevented from sending its soldiers to kill and die in another illegal and immoral war! Oh, the shame of it all!
As much of the world rejoices in seeing a decrease in international nuclear tensions, one might reasonably ask why Israel can have nuclear weapons to ‘defend’ itself against Iran, but Iran can’t have them to defend itself against Israel. But then again, one might also ask why the U.S. gives billions and billions of dollars to Israel, when its own cities, infrastructure and education system are all crumbling. But looking too closely at those issues would bring into question the role of lobbying in Congress, and no one who gets countless dollars in campaign contributions by being in bed with lobbyists wants to investigate that connection. Human rights? All well and good, as long as they do nothing to stop the flow of cash into campaign coffers. The international rule of law? Highly respected, as long as it doesn’t annoy a U.S. ally. The United Nations? A wonderful tool in an increasingly unstable world, for the U.S. to use to protect the human rights violations of its international cronies.
One wishes one could open up a world of facts to the unseeing, but people see what they choose to see, and for many of the U.S.’s elected officials, their vision is clouded by dollar signs. Unfortunately, the seismic shift necessary for that to change does not seem to be on the horizon.