Tuesday, November 27, 2012

If you want to be disgusted by American colonialism in the Middle East, Tom Friedman is always a good place to go

I thought I had earlier written here about Thomas Friedman as the author of the Middle East peace initiative, presented as coming from Saudi Arabia, but fairly openly dictated by Friedman himself. Looking into the archives, I didn't find it so I'll link to Friedman's earlier columns now.

Friedman's February 6, 2002 letter to the rulers of Arab states:
You need to face up to something: Ehud Barak gave us an Israeli peace plan, however rough. Bill Clinton then followed up with an American peace plan. Now is the time for an Arab peace plan. No more you guys sitting back complaining about everyone else's peace plans. It's time for you to put on the table not only what you want from Israel -- an end to occupation -- but what you collectively are ready to give in return.
Friedman in February 17, 2002 describing the response to his letter in a private audience with Saudi Prince Abdullah:
After I laid out this idea, the crown prince looked at me with mock astonishment and said, ''Have you broken into my desk?''

''No,'' I said, wondering what he was talking about.

''The reason I ask is that this is exactly the idea I had in mind -- full withdrawal from all the occupied territories, in accord with U.N. resolutions, including in Jerusalem, for full normalization of relations,'' he said. ''I have drafted a speech along those lines. ''
It goes without saying that this is not how independent countries make or publicize changes in policy. We'll never see an American journalist make a policy demand of China, then travel to China to be told "that's just what I was thinking". Or even Uruguay. Especially a policy that the people of the country reject about four to one. I consider this the best recent illustration of Saudi Arabia's status as a US colony.

A person like Juan Cole reflects American colonialism - he presents arguments similar to those of other people like who think like him to justify the US' ability to set policy rather than the people of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE and others for their own countries but he does not implement the policies himself. A person like Barack Obama directly implements American colonialism. Obama openly says the United States will do everything in its power to secure Israel. Some of the things in the US' power have been to support pro-US colonial dictatorships in the countries listed above and probably also to non-publicly orchestrate things such as civil wars in Syria and Libya and the June 2012 dismissal of the Egyptian parliament by vestiges of the Egypt's pro-US dictatorship.

Friedman is somewhere in between Cole and Obama. Probably more influential than Cole, less directly involved in the implementation of colonialism than Obama. All three, when they do speak or write in public, sound essentially the same. Which brings us to Friedman's recent op-ed about Egypt in the context of Israel's attacks on Gaza. In every important way, it could have been written by any of the three or by any American or even western colonialist.

Friedman presents this wrong, bizarre but commonly held by Americans idea that China is an example of rational foreign policy while Iran or Hamas are not.
Hamas, by getting embroiled in a missile duel with Israel and then calling on Arab countries for support, particularly Egypt, was testing Cairo as much as Israel. And the question Hamas was posing to Egyptians was simple: Did Egypt have a democratic revolution last year to become more like Iran or more like China?
Many countries make sacrifices for objectives that are not purely strategic. Not least the United States that describes its support for Israel as sacrosanct - a religious term - and whose commercial oil interests were humiliated when they tried to oppose the American pro-Israel lobby. The US' trillion dollar invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as its maintenance of a string of colonies in the region in direct opposition to the US' own professed founding values are ultimately sacrifices the US makes for Israel, those sacrifices are the US acting like a cause instead of a responsible country. The cause being Zionism and the bigoted proposition that fewer than six million Jews avoiding the fate of White South Africans is worth any cost imposed on hundreds of millions of non-Jews in their region.

China does have good economic relations with the US - as long as and only as long as the US does not cross lines such as to even recognize an independent Taiwan. Mainstream US political leaders claim they are willing to jump into a ditch with rifles and fight and die to defend Israel. Fortunately for the US and China, nothing comparable has ever been the case regarding an issue the people of China feel strongly about. The Chinese opening to the US simply would not have happened if the US political system had been distorted in favor of Taiwan in 1970 as it was distorted in support of Israel then or as it is today.

If the US was willing to abandon recognition of Israel, it could have relations at least as close with Iran, with Egypt or with theoretical representative and popularly accountable governments in what are now the US colonies of Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and others and throughout the Middle East as it has with China. The United States is not willing to do that. The United States, Obama, Cole and Friedman would prefer to see colonialism, sanctions and civil war throughout the region than see Jews in Israel live under non-Jewish rule the way White South Africans do. But that's American irrationality, not Iranian, Egyptian or Palestinian.

Friedman says that Morsi should take up his peace initiative and bring it to Israel. The terms of that peace initiative are not popular in any Arab state, but the Saudi dictatorship still took the hint. Fortunately Egypt, though its parliament was dissolved after decreeing that Israel is its number one enemy, has a leadership emerging that is accountable to the Egyptian people, unlike Saudi Arabia, whose leadership is accountable to Juan Cole, Barack Obama and Thomas Friedman.

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