by Zainab Cheema (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 40, No. 10, Muharram, 1433)
In the face of its collapsing economy and spiraling domestic unrest, the US is blithely proceeding with its blueprint of remaking world cartography. After dispatching Muammar Qaddafi in a hail of gunmetal, US imperialists are confronting the Syrian stumbling block, item No. 2 on its regime change wish-list. With Bashar al-Asad clinging to power after 10 months of counter-revolutionary mayhem, US and Israeli eyes wend once more to the geopolitical foe holding the program of reprogramming the Muslim East at bay — Iran.
The media is humming with the US and Israel’s latest drumbeat for war against Iran. The reverberations measure the pitch of exasperation at Iran’s resistance to Pentagon Inc.’s desire to have open access to Syria. Recently, the US House Foreign Relations Committee passed the Iran Threat Reduction Act of 2011, which forbids any member of the US government to have any contact “in an official or unofficial capacity” with a member of the Iranian government. While the esteemed Representatives might be impervious to irony, the shade of the Iran Contra Affair of the 1980s lent a certain humorous cast to this little bit of stage comedy. Enjoying 349 co-sponsors from both parties, the bill signaled the die-hard determination of the US Congressmen to love Israel and hate Iran, in full view of the AIPAC lobbyists.
US political observers noted the folly of passing legislation that cuts off contact with the “enemy,” as Iran is fondly dubbed in US political circles. Diplomats Thomas Pickering and William Luers spelled out their sentiments: “Besides raising serious constitutional issues… this preposterous law would make it illegal for the US to know its enemy.” CIA analyst and Georgetown University professor Paul Pillar pointed out the self-importance behind the gesture, even as he brandished imperialist-chic Raybans dividing the world into a bifocal “us” and “them”: “This legislation is another illustration of the tendency to think of diplomacy as some kind of reward for the other guy, rather than what it really is: a tool for our side.”
Then there is Israel’s threat to nuke Iran’s nuclear facilities, launched in concert with a double Molotov cocktail — a Stuxnet like computer virus attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities, the Mossad bomb blast at an Iranian military base which killed 16 Revolutionary Guards and Hassan Moqaddam, the architect of Iran’s missile defense systems. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak preened visibly after the Moqaddam killing, declaring: “it would be desirable if [such blasts] multiply,” while Iranian students sent a counter-message by forming a human chain around Iran’s nuclear facilities.
US and Israeli saber-rattling comes on the heels of a rather contrived IAEA report, which gravely noted that Iran’s beleaguered nuclear energy program is indeed geared toward building a nuclear weapon. The rhetoric of the IAEA’s missive matched so exquisitely with press releases whipped up by Netan-yahu’s office that one wonders whether the Israeli Prime Minister didn’t write it for the UN agency. The implications of Netanyahu’s influence over the UN and the other bodies of international legitimacy — rather hollowed, as events in the world streets underwrite their irrelevance — are amusing, especially considering the recent conversation about Netanyahu exchanged by his nearest and dearest allies.
At the G-8 economic forum in Cannes on November 2 attended by Sarkozy and Obama, the French President turned to Barack and whispered to him: “I cannot stand him (Netanyahu). He is a liar!” Obama quickly returned: “You are fed up with him? I have to deal with him every day!” This exchange occurred shortly after it was leaked that Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, told her cabinet: “every word that leaves Netanyahu’s mouth is a lie.” So, by consensus of the triumvirate of Israel’s die-hard friends — Binyamin Netanyahu is a liar.
The exposure over this interesting exchange was more or less brushed aside by the US corporate-owned media. Israel, the convergence of the geostrategic and racial interests in subjugating the Muslim East, remains sacrosanct. Yet, the stress fractures are clear to see. That is, the global political class managing hegemony is not immune to the push-pull forces of resistance and the gravitational drag of its crumbling systems of rule.
According to the story, Netanyahu was exposed after an open microphone gave reporters an ear to the exchange. But it is entirely possible that Netan-yahu was given a pointed reprimand by the allies exasperated by his eagerness to humiliate them rather than put a sophisticated face on his belligerence. His penchant for openly flouting US politicians (Obama in particular), and arrive barreling in on state visits designed to showcase his political invulnerability in the United States led even Tom Friedman of the New York Times to rhetorically slap him on the wrist.
One feels for the once-complacent Friedman — while alarmed by Israel’s fall from grace in world opinion, he has been even more alarmed by the tarnish cast on the US’s reputation by its Faustian contract to underwrite Netanyahu’s actions. Ergo, the chess-game played by Pentagon Inc. is no longer a perpetual checkmate — the board is opening up for new moves, new arrangements of outcomes.
Understandably, this is a rather terrifying prospect for Pentagon Inc. It is rather exhausting to fight a global war against everything ad infinitum — precisely what the US signed on to do with its borderless, endless War on Terror. Even as AFRICOM expands its trophies from Libya, Sudan, and Somalia, Iran’s network of influence across Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq threatens the motherlode of Pentagon military bases — Israel itself. Popular resistance in Iraq to continued US presence erodes US expectations that they will be able to “renew” their mandate of occupation at will. Drone aircraft in Iraq are relocated to Turkey. Syria counters (even if just barely) both Pentagon-funded covert militias and State Department campaigns to smear it as violating the human rights of its civilians. Hizbullah remains the flagrant thorn defying efforts to pluck the tantalizing Lebanon.
Not to mention Israel’s strategic defeat in its prisoner swap with Gaza — nearly 1,000 Palestinian prisoners were exchanged for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, which cast an ironic light over Netanyahu’s vehement declarations to never deal with Hamas, while boosting Hamas’ popularity through the region. Zionist networks balked at the humiliation, in response ramping up threats of Israel’s impending attack on Iran. An exemplary newspaper headline for the conservative newspaper Washington Times blared: “Israeli prisoner swap may be prelude to attack on Iran.” That is, even as Israel “keeps a low profile” (hiding in the napalm-scented apron of Pentagon Inc), it subcontracts the Tarzan chest-beating to the US media and UN agencies.
The US is rather in a bind. Seemingly, all roads for this gaudy military parade lead to Iran. For now, Pentagon Inc. is proceeding by covert operations, public relations brawls, and psychological warfare. It is comforting to distract oneself from economic breakdowns, public rage, and Occupy Wall Streets — and generals do love a good war. Iran may be a strategic threat, but some of the responses are downright simplistic (Paul Pillar bewailing the ridiculousness of the US legislation to bar anyone ever speaking to a member of the Iranian government comes to mind). Simplistic thinking is a sign of old age, when one loses the power to form complex thoughts, adapt to change, and make rational decisions. It is as subtle as elevator music — with the march onto the promised glories of Carthage, every boot step creaks out the tune of senescence.