Sunday, July 03, 2011

Is the United States a good nation? A response to Galen Wright

A discussion is occurring over at Race for Iran.

Galen Wright is a proponent of US policy and also of US regional and global dominance. There is a very good chance that he will respond to what I've written here over there and to be fair, that is where most of the discussion will happen.

I put this into the queue here before Wright had a chance to respond there but I don't want any reader to have the impression that I have an unanswerable point to make. I'm posting my response here because I think it can stand on its own and because I want to be able to more easily find both my response and the entire discussion later.

I could also edit this posting here but I will not. But mistakes I find in this will make future writings better so please point out any you find.

Two things have come to mind in my first pass over your responses.

1) You said of the US’ relationship with the rest of the world that it is over-simplification to call it imperialism. I don’t consider “you’re oversimplifying” to be a valid argument. Exactly how is calling it imperialism wrong? The 2011 relationship between the United States and the UAE differs from the 1911 relationship between Imperial Britain and those same states, ruled by the same dynasties, in exactly what way? I hope your answer will be as simple as you can make it and as only as complicated as it has to be to demonstrate your position.

2) I think you misunderstand the role Israel plays in the US’ relationships in the region, especially with Iran.

a) Israel is a small number of people without any substantial natural resources. The United States has taken on the project of ensuring that Israel is dominant over any combination of bigger richer states in its region.

b) The people of Iran, like the people of Egypt, the people of what we call Saudi Arabia, of Jordan by margins of three to one or more do not believe Israel is a legitimate state. Most of the populations of the region consider Israel an injustice that should be corrected the way Apartheid South Africa was considered by most Africans an injustice that should be corrected.

a) and b), together with the US’ commitment to Israeli regional dominance mean that the US structurally opposes Iran growing into a power reflective of its population and resources while at the same time reflecting and being able to implement policies in line with the sensibilities of the Iranian people.

It seems to me that you present Iranian hard liners as opposing the US just for the sake of opposing the United States. The United States has a fundamental disagreement with Iran’s leadership and with Iran’s people over whether or not Iran can be allowed to grow into a power that could threaten Israel.

This is not something that can be resolved in discussions. You note that the faction of Iranian politics that would accommodate the US’ desires of Iran cannot plausibly come to power. There is a good reason for that. That faction, to the extent it exists and would really be more cooperative with the US, is structurally wrong.

I don’t want to stray from Iran for too long, but as an aside, the US has a fundamental disagreement with the people of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, Kuwait and others that has motivated the US to support dictatorships over the more than 100 million people of those countries. The people of any and all of those countries, if able, would vote for an Ahmadinejad rather than a Mubarak.

If those countries were ruled in alignment with the sensibilities of their own people, the US commitment that Israel be dominant over all of them together would simply be impossible to keep. I call the set of dictatorships that rule these countries in opposition to the sensibilities of their own people the US/Zionist colonial structure. Iran was part of that colonial structure under the Shah and escaped with Khomeini’s revolution. Hopefully Egypt will escape this year.

There is a valid argument that I’m sure is made in Iran that the US’ commitment to Israeli regional dominance is also a commitment to restoring Iran to the US/Zionist colonial structure.

It is not that opposing the US is a good thing in itself. It is that if the US has a commitment to Iran being weak, preventing the US from achieving that goal is a good thing, because for Iranian nationalists, Iran being strong is a good thing in itself.

This leads us to the question of the benevolence of US hegemony. For the hundreds of millions of people of Iran, Egypt, Jordan and the rest of the countries that the 5.7 million Jewish people of Palestine the US is committed to being dominant over, the US is clearly and simply not benevolent.

Only if you disagree with hundreds of millions of people in Israel’s region on the question of Israel’s legitimacy is there even a question of US benevolence, or whether or not US hegemony is a good thing. Before US audiences you can make a quick argument that Israel is legitimate and wave the question off from there. You can say Israel is a UN member, or has been around for a long time, or has an unbreakable commitment from the United States – therefore there is no valid doubt of Israel’s legitimacy.

Whatever arguments work in New York to wave off questions of Israel’s legitimacy do not work in Tehran, Cairo or Riyadh. For the populations of the Middle East, there simply is no winning argument. You have to use force, those populations must be ruled by unaccountable dictators or otherwise isolated from influence on policy that could threaten Israel.

In the United States it is kind of taboo to question Israel’s legitimacy. You can be called anti-Semitic if you don’t accept Israel’s legitimacy as a given, and nobody wants to be called or thought to be a bigot.

It seems to me that a failure to accept that a Jewish state in Palestine is subject to valid questioning as is a White state in Southern Africa severely damages your analysis of Iranian motivations and of the goodness of US’ role and its perception in Israel’s region.


Anonymous said...

To what extent do you believe concerns over Peak Oil motivate the radicalism of American neocons?

Anonymous said...

In the United States it is kind of taboo to question Israel's legitimacy. You can be called anti-Semitic if you don’t accept Israel's legitimacy as a given, and nobody wants to be called or thought to be a bigot.

You could replace the word "legitimacy" with "hegemony" and the statement would still be valid.

Media pundits often reference "Israel's security needs" when discussing anything related to the Middle East. The problem with that is that "Israel’s security needs" are often open-ended set of conditions that can never really be met.

Anonymous said...

Arnold, it sometimes astonishes me how well you understand the Middle Eastern "resistance" camp.