04 December 2009

Anti-Imperialism and a paradigm shift vis-a-vis Israel

A friend commented as part of an ongoing discussion that if the U.S. were more virtuous in its policies, maybe the Muslims wouldn't hate us, although the Chinese invasion of Tibet looks like a counterexample of the principle. I made a comment about collective karma, but what really got me going in response is the concept, widely believed (although probably not by my friend, he was just using shorthand), that "Muslims" want to kill us. Here's part of what I wrote in response: 

I wouldn't say that "Muslims," without qualification, do want to kill us. It's probably fair to say that the most extreme Wahabists basically want to kill all non-Muslims who refuse to convert, but most Muslims in the world aren't nearly as fanatic as that. (I do have some problems with even some of their mainstream tenets, but let that go). 

I also believe that if the U.S. stopped prosecuting an Imperial policy in the World, and especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, and stopped asymmetrically supporting the extreme Right Wing government of Israel, the anger and resentment of "street" Arabs and other Muslims (of whom, after all, there are about 1 billion in the World) would evaporate fairly quickly. At the same time, we would be demanding that Israel participate in good faith in negotiations to bring about a two state solution in Palestine. We should never underestimate the intensity (never mind whether justified) of the anger and resentment most Muslims feel towards what they perceive to be the oppression of Palestinians, with what is perceived to be biased support from Western nations, especially the U.S. This, along with the fanatic resentment of U.S. troops having ever been stationed in Saudi Arabia, is the main fuel of radical Islamist hatred of the U.S. I'm referring to perception, not just reality, although there is a reality there too. None of this is argument to justify horrendous crimes of terrorism, but you have to look at causes, in order to find solutions.

Israel is a nonsignatory to the Nonproliferation treaty and a nuclear power. It refuses to stop colonizing the West Bank. It recently waged an asymmetrical punitive war in Gaza, and another a few years ago in Lebanon. (Of course there was some justification, but the response was radically asymmetrical; and punitive wars against civilians have been recognized to be war crimes for decades). All of these are reasons, in my view, to pull the plug on U.S. financial and military support for that government. They will not cease to exist without it, don't worry.

Sure, there would remain a small group of lunatics among the Islamist terrorist factions, but what they wouldn't have is the tacit support of millions of others, including some governments. The wild card being the House of Saud, which I believe it is provable is totally duplicitous and actually finances terrorism. But we can only take care of our side of the street.

Unfortunately, AIPAC, and even the more moderate pro-Israel lobbies, have tremendous influence in Washington, all out of proportion to a country that is about the size of Switzerland. Changing U.S. policy with regard to Israel would (will) be almost as difficult as shifting away from an imperialist foreign policy everywhere else. 

I really believe, however, that it is absolutely necessary for us to make both of these major paradigm shifts in foreign policy. The conflict over Palestine has consumed far too much of the world's resources, especially when you consider all the repercussions in the broader region. We are facing major climate and economic crises in the whole world which it now appears will be the primary focus of the first half of this century. It is long past time to put these 20th century disputes to rest; and if the parties will not cooperate, they must be left to fend for themselves.  

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