American geopolitics after WWII & Its relationship to the Middle East
By Tom Wheat
At the end of WWII we inherited the mantle of European colonialism. The country was transformed from a relatively free democratic republic into a country that came to field an agenda of liberal economic expansion at the expense of actual freedom and democracy in the countries so affected by our imperialist expansion. Now as a world super power we had to create a national security state and a central intelligence agency to reinforce our dominance in world affairs. This forced us to compromise many of our innate republican ideals of freedom. We then proceeded to support any fascist regime ready to be economic suzerain so long as it wasn't socialist.
As World War II ended along with traditional European colonialism there was a genuine belief among these countries that self-determination and sovereignty would be restored, and that key social reform would be implemented. Many Asian intellectual elites looked to American models while the warlords of Asia, the wealthy autocratic elite admired American weapons to contain their populace and enact power plays against their rivals.
At the height of our expansion after WWII we entered an era of unparalleled economic prosperity. However, the democracy that created the power of unlimited mass production became the military industrial complex that guided US foreign policy after the war.
In reality the Cold War was a means in which the military industrial complex created during WWII sought to maintain its function as a supplier of military hardware. Only by perpetually existing in a state of emergency could we continue to justify increased defense spending, while in the process we were making more enemies in the third world with our reactionary philosophy of propping up the dictator to safeguard democracy. In this process we came to train assassins and later would be terrorists, such as Osama Bin Laden, and Saddam Hussein, among countless others.
Cold War military interventions were often based more on ideology and trade expansion than out of real military necessity. With the Cold War, Interventions in Korea and Vietnam were based on the Domino theory, an ideology that there was a real threat to democracy and capitalism posed by the emergence of soviet client states in Asia. In this process the US military supported regimes that did not adhere to true notions of either capitalism or democracy.
For example, the early pro US regimes of S. Korea and especially Vietnam The Tandem of presidents' Diem, and Nguyen illustrated how corruption could not only undermine a military campaign (through government bureaucratic inefficiency and corruption) but also the value of supporting a regime that ran anathema to every American's ideal hurt citizen and troop morale and also mobilized the majority of the local population into total opposition towards what they perceived as an occupying alien imperial force.
The war on the other hand had an economic incentive to be fought. South East Asia had originally been part of Imperial Japan's, Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. A trade bloc whereby the Japanese would dominate East Asia as its dominate sphere of influence and like the European colonial's Japan wanted to establish client states with advantageous trade terms facilitating the flow of tin and rubber along with other cash commodities.
We lost the Vietnam War because we lost the collective will of our people and of the host country we were supposedly defending against the alleged evil of communism. So while our government preached the ideology of the Soviet evil empire the reality was that US mid-western grain farmers engaged in active trade with Russia. This is only just one illustration of the economic power plays that have lead men into the battlefield. War is good business for some people.
According to George Kennan, the architect of American Foreign policy, the Cold War could be described as being based on a bipolar system of mutual antagonism. With the rise of the Cold war it became necessary to maintain massive defense spending for the ideology of freedom, of which the direct application came to be support for fascist regimes counter to the ideals of freedom. In the 1960's we were still masters of the universe. However, we attempted to fight three wars at a time when we had only the economic power to wage two wars. The wars fought were the Cold War, Vietnam War, and the War on Poverty. The end result of that was by 1968 we had managed to acquire a huge deficit and European currency traders made a run on the American dollar. The Nixon response was to de-link the dollar from gold and float the currency. At this point Americans began to lose their economic freedom. Soon we would have stagflation, inflation, oil embargos and a host of maladies that would become a burden to the American empire and also would lead to the erosion of American freedom. After the 60's hangover subsided, American awareness for politics also began to drift into the abyss of corporate relativism. The Burden of empire was exacting its toll like Rome we also began to intellectually wither.
Secondly our demand for oil forces us into economic stagnancy whereby we will go to any lengths to sacrifice technological innovation for trade practices that will guarantee that oil will be the sole form of fuel through every cycle of boom and bust in the economy until the economy collapses when the supply of oil runs out. So goes the wealth of nations.
The mercantilist practices of OPEC also insure that the vast economic bounty of vibrant trade with the West goes solely into the hands of sheiks and little left is doled out to the populace, the masses of whom exist in utter poverty. It is in a state of poverty that the Arab youth of the Middle East turn towards the solace of politicized religion, an ephemeral god that can imbue their own hopeless economic plight with a profound sense of purpose and destiny. So as they are starving it is better for them blow themselves up for the reward of heaven then to face a dismal existence of poverty and despotism on earth. Countries where the prevailing system of rule is Autocracy can only breed poverty, in the countries where such policies constitute the philosophy of the regime. This policy of rule by a few elites predicated on strategic necessity, and collective arms pacts is in anachronism that leads to terrorism.
Since we refuse to diversify and implement any other sustainable means, such as bio fuels, hydrogen fuel cell, and plasma fusion, or even hemp fuel, we will continue to aid and abet the cycle of Arab terrorism and Israeli aggression thereby assuring that the ripple effects will be felt in our economy and our collective security as well.
To some extent this containment policy system is a holdover from the Cold War when we waged an economic battle with the Soviet Union in regards to which hegemon would control the Middle East and how Arab oil producing client states could be established. However, the binomial of supply and maintenance the demand for arms to safeguard that supply forces us to contend with autocracy in the place of freedom. It is unfortunate that the Palestinians are caught up in the geopolitics of oil and the arms trade. A situation we largely help to manufacture due to our dependence on Arab oil and Israel's overwhelming dependence on a militarized economy for both economic and political survival.
Arab countries find it convenient to politically manipulate the Palestinian plight to further their own aims in regards to their own desire to leverage the US since their economies are solely geared towards oil exportation. Seldom have they held to the Palestinian cause for long when it became evident that we would give into their demands to buy more oil.
So long as our economy is dependant on oil and arms to safeguard that oil we will have Middle Eastern terrorism to contend with both at home and abroad.
In the Middle East the scenario was the same as well. The Palestinian -Israeli situation could be summed up as an ageless blood honor clan feud locked into a system of global transnational political and economic policies surrounding arms sales and oil production.
There are those in the Israeli and Arab camps that clearly profit from the violence in the Middle East. Every true attempt at peace has either been derailed by assassination (Rabin) or empty assurances of further extensions of autonomy (Oslo accords) to the Palestinians. Before and during British occupation the majority of the inhabitants of Palestine/Israel were Palestinian. To some degree they had their country taken from them in 1948 before they ever saw independence.
The state of Israel once an image of Zion reborn was transformed into a nuclear power. The Saudis were allowed to continue their medieval dictatorship despite being number one supporters of terrorism all because they have the world's largest oil reserves. The Israeli's became our regional means of leverage against the Arabs. The Arabs supply us with oil which makes a few Sheiks rich enough to leverage American Israeli leverage through arms sales and support to terrorist organizations. The Israelis respond with demands for more foreign and military aid. The end result is that more military hardware is either supplied directly or indirectly all throughout the Middle East by the United States. Such a system demands that you add fuel to the fire and yet bemoan the blaze when the intention was to put out the fire.
Israel's politicians have used the instability and violence in the Middle East to work out advantageous military contracts with our own military industrial complex. Further escalation of the conflict means that the 30% of the Israeli economy that is tied directly to the military budget can receive military hardware from the US at bargain basement prices in the name of collective security. Since most militarized economies suffer from inflation, Israel has an advantageous arrangement with the US whereby our military foreign aid package offsets that inflation.
All the political rhetoric about democracy and human rights is only used as justification for military intervention in countries not in the US economic sphere of friends. For those inside the circle the rules need not apply. Hence, The principle became propaganda used to increase foreign aid budgets on capital hill. In fact the practice constitutes outright hypocrisy. For example, we supported Saddam Hussein in the 80's in his war with Iran despite the fact that he used chemical weapons against Iran and also against his Kurdish minority. Through the vehicle of free trade American Chemical chemicals were the first to develop his chemical weapons arsenal. Iraq's neighbor, Turkey is our ally, and yet it has used poison gas against the same Kurdish minority in its own borders. Nothing is said about Turkey only about Iraq. Yet it is these same Kurds we laud as heroes for opposing Saddam's brutal regime. The concept of Human rights then became only an ideological discourse applied only to those countries that were not in the US political economic orbit as a psychological justification for military intervention. If you are in the circle then the moral standards need not apply. In truth US Democracy and capitalism became dependant upon autocratic despots to safeguard its geopolitical ambitions. The price for empire was the sacrifice of our democratic principals.
After Vietnam we had the despot Shah of Iran to prop up. Also when we were beginning to decry the autocrat Kadafi, US oil interests with some US government support had long been pursuing economic ties to Libya despite Libya being named as a state sponsor of terrorism. With the fall of the Shah of Iran and the rise of the Ayatollah, US policymakers saw it necessary to arm Saddam. In a classic divide and conquer strategy, it was hoped that the split of the former Persian state would yield a malleable set of regional interests politically weakened by tribal and religious conflict, and eventually have the region transformed into an oil producing client state for America.
Thus, the unintended consequence of this was that in 1981 we set out to supply Saddam with arms poison gas, for use against Kurds and the Iranians, courtesy of American Chemical companies. That war went on until 1988. In 1989 the soviet Afghan war began, and so we began to supply afghan tribal factions along with Osama Bin Laden's own faction of mujahadin. Victorious indeed we were against the soviets, except that old allies became new enemies and new enemies fast became old friends.
Democracy in practice has only existed briefly before it was undone by oligarchy just ask the ancient Athenians. The US committed itself to supporting autocratic regimes based on vague geopolitical principals, of collective security. The rhetoric of American foreign policy today touts the expansion of democratic principles and yet its practice of doling out foreign aid is based more on the horizontal integration of the world's economic wealth into the hands of the power elite classes as opposed to actual infra-structural investment in a third world country. Third World countries are designed more on the lines of a mercantile system in which all domestic production in those countries is geared for export. The poverty of these nations fans the flames of nationalism and since dissent is not tolerated in these countries it will always be the US who is viewed as the sole aggressor and infidel. The more we retaliate and continue to prop up despotic regimes just for the sake of extracting oil out of a country without real regard as to the genuine welfare of the people whose natural resources we exploit, the more we insure that the cycle of autocracy, poverty and terrorism will come to be increasingly more visible in our own country
Historically, one can look to past empires for evidence of the same trends we are witnessing today. The rise of imperial Rome saw to the dissolution of the roman republic and the expansion of empire. The second Punic wars transformed a relatively prosperous society into a society of slaves and aristocrats. In the last 100 years prior to the reign of Augustus, Rome was at civil war and by the election of Augustus the roman senate the last bastion of republicanism was divested of its power and existed in name only. Rome continued to expand yet the price for that expansion was freedom and imperialism was what ultimately did in the empire. The same could be said about British Victorian colonialism.
Middle east summary of Peace agreements.
"Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French...What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct...If they [the Jews] must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs... As it is, they are co-sharers with the British in despoiling a people who have done no wrong to them. I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regard as an unacceptable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds." Mahatma Gandhi, quoted in "A Land of Two Peoples" ed. Mendes-Flohr.
UN Security Council resolution 242
UN Security Council resolution 338
history of Palestine/Israel until 1988
Shlaim professor of
International Relations at Oxford and the author of The Iron Wall:
Israel and the Arab World (2000)
Pitfalls to peace
Prime Minister of Israel Yitzak Rabin was a peacemaker like Anwar Sadat and an Israeli assassinated him soon after the 1994 Oslo accords. He was assassinated at a advocating peace between Israel and Palestinians. Soon after there was an election and the Likud party came into power under Netanyahu. Likud party ran on a platform of peace through security. Likud party began to colonize/develop housing on Palestinian lands. The response was terrorist attack on Israel by Hezbollah. Israel responds with an invasion of Lebanon This led to further escalation of terrorist activity.
In 1998 the Wye River Agreement was to return to the Palestinians 13% of their land still occupied by Israeli troops. Both sides waffled on this one. Arafat did not agree with the arms reduction clause and Israel therefore reneged on the deal.
Failure to implement the Wye River agreement cost Netanyahu the election. In comes the "liberal" labor party candidate, Ehud Barak.
Wye-2 in 1999 promised the Palestinians nominal control over the West bank just like its original predecessor UN resolution 242. Never mind that the 1967 UN resolution 242 had already stated that the Israeli's were supposed to withdrawal "from territories conquered" from the 6-day war. Although 30% of the west bank was to be ceded to the PLO, the PLO would have had only control of only 5.4% of that 30% and the other 94.6% would have been patrolled and figuratively controlled by the Israeli defense forces. The corridor from the West Bank to the Gaza strip would be entirely controlled by the Israelis.
Source: The Washington Post, 5 August 1999 and The Washington Post, 13 August 1999
Barak Soon lost the election to Sharon
In 2000 the dispute between the Israelis and Palestinians was about the fate of the 100,000 Palestinian refugees who wanted to return to Israel. Israel refused to allow them to return. Israeli settlements on internationally decreed Palestinian lands were not removed. The situation led to riots after the political appearance of the hawkish Ariel Sharon at the Temple Mount a site considered holy by both Muslims and Jews, in September.
Next up was the Mitchell Plan.
the Mitchell plan called for Israeli withdrawal from settlements on
occupied Palestinian lands. It also told the Palestinians that cessation
from terror was a priority for peace.
The fact is Israel never agreed to the Mitchell Plan. Check
out the AP story, "Israel: Govt. Never OK'd Mitchell Plan"
By LAURIE COPANS Jan 31st 2002
The present day problem is but a repeat of the past. The Bush administration wants to keep the current conflict out of the jurisdiction of the United Nations despite prior Security Council obligatory resolutions. Rather US policy makers seek to triangulate the conflict and negotiate a separate uneven peace with Palestinian that favors Israel. Problem is we are part of the problem . Essentially, the US obviously have a conflict of interest when it comes to negotiating peace in the middle east if on the one hand it supplies Israel with 15 billion dollars in military hardware and on the other it expects the Palestinians to more or less accept the fact that international law is meaningless and only Bilateral US Israeli terms of negotiation determines the outcome of Palestinian sovereignty. So while the stage for peace is portrayed as being on level ground, civilizational rules only, the real expression of the rules of that civilization are hypocritical and empty when it comes to the Palestinian people. They are told that they have a state, and yet the territory of that state is continually encroached upon occupied or resettled by Israelis.
The Israeli's are using the US's current global war on terror as a way to permanently end dialogue as to who determines the Palestinian question other than Israel. Fact is that there is a real civil war going on in Israel/Palestine and instead of us being objective about the situation we have acted as partisans of the Israeli's.
So while terrorist attacks do come from Palestinians, no one mentions how Israel's US supplied apache helicopter gun ships ring up double if not triple the number innocent civilian casualties versus the nominal though not inconsequential numbers of Israelis killed by Palestinian terrorists. Secondly, any peace agreement between Israeli and Palestinian is negotiated not on the basis of equal states rather on the basis of falsely applied suzerainty. The Palestinian state is invested with sovereignty in name only and in reality it is more like a reservation than a state.
Since Israel has a centralized state it has international legitimacy and hence its actions are not deemed terrorist. However, when Israel was fighting British occupation in the 1930's and 40's their actions were exactly the same as the Palestinian acts of terrorism today.
In 2000, the Palestinians rejected the Barak/Clinton Camp David peace proposal because Israel refused to cede territory required by Un Security council resolution 242, and offered only nominal concessions. The spirit of Un Security 338, more or less reaffirmed a desire for the necessity of implementation of 242. The only document issued out of the talks was the Trilateral Agreement in which both sides mutually agreed that UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, the latter in spirit of the establishment of de juore separate and equal states. A cycle of Hot air, more or less.
The proposal was also never formerly written down and therefore never constituted an actual agreement to a ceasefire and hence the idea that binding contractual terms offered by the proposal is ostensibly fallacious. The document refused to also accord attention to the ongoing refugee problem Overall the 2000 agreement was just a high publicity photo opportunity.
Also recent Israeli colonization of Palestinian lands by American Jew émigrés has further compounded the problem. Israel has not agreed to a withdrawal. Hence the Palestinian state and its supporters do not see themselves as violating any peace agreement because there was never any real peace agreement.
Furthermore the Israeli interpretation of UN 338 required that the Palestinian state would have been sectioned off into 4 security zones, the corridors in between would have been policed by Israel and the Palestinian state would have been forced to rely on existing Israeli economic and transportation infrastructure. This scenario was something akin to the partition of Germany after WWII.
Oddly enough one can draw many parallels between the offer of farcical independence by Israel to Palestine with the apartheid regime in South Africa's own Bantustan system.
An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind yet until Israel relinquishes the majority of the occupied territories, pursuant to international law, Palestinian terrorism will continue. It's hardly a fair fight when we give Israel, 15 billion dollars in military Aid every year and the Palestinians 50 million in food aid.
Recent proposals have suggested that either a UN international peacekeeping force be dispatched to the region or 20,000 US soldiers be sent to the region to police the borders. Problem is that the whole Middle East framework for peace in that area has come down to semantics, i.e., Israel must withdraw "from all territories conquered to "from territories conquered"(amended UN res. 242). Hence Israel has created a legal stalemate hover how long it can prolong the occupation of Palestinian territory on the basis of internal security politics and its need for security buffer zones.
The state of Israel is waging an ideological war that cannot be won, rather the current policies have resulted in proliferation of the conflict at a global scale. Until Israel addresses legitimate concerns in regards to actual Palestinian statehood, terrorism will continue to be inflicted by both sides.
These United Nations Security Council resolutions both stipulate that Israel must withdraw "from territories conquered" from the six days war. This leaves no question as to the true and actual boundaries of the Palestinian State.
A terrorist one-day is the father of a country the next day. War is a dirty business that makes a few men rich. Nationalism and poverty go hand in hand. The nationalist response to imperialism and or occupation is terrorism. The imperialist uses terror when he bombs whole villages to the ground to punish one guilty terrorist. Terrorism is the weapon of the weak as it is the weapon of the strong.
The legacy of terrorism in the Middle East is predicated on the notion that Arabs see our support for Israel as part of overall US acceptance of Israeli policies of agitation and retaliation in the Middle East. Like Columbia, the militarized state of Israel is waging an ideological war that cannot be won, rather the current policies have resulted in proliferation of the conflict at a global scale. Until Israel addresses legitimate concerns in regards to actual Palestinian statehood, terrorism will continue to be inflicted by both sides.
The real question comes down to the fact that while the Palestinians, specifically the PLO, Hamas, etc., have committed acts of terrorism, specifically targeting non-combatants, their actions are a direct result of illegal Israeli occupation. The current political dogma of Israeli occupation relies on a extreme form of Zionism that has always advocated either expulsion or segregation of the Palestinians.
"... it is the duty of the [Israeli] leadership to explain to the public a number of truths. One truth is that there is no Zionism, no settlement, and no Jewish state without evacuating Arabs, and without expropriating lands and their fencing off." -- Yesha'ayahu Ben-Porat, (Yedi'ot Aharonot 07/14/1972) responding to public controversy regarding the Israeli evictions of Palestinians in Rafah, Gaza, in 1972. (Cited in Nur Masalha's "A Land Without A People" 1997, p.98)
It seems Sharon suffers from the same bias today. Hence terrorism will continue in the Middle East until an acceptable re-addressment of pre 1967 boundaries of Israel-Palestine is established as well as an internationalization of the city of Jerusalem. Secondly, Israeli troops can hardly be expected to keep peace when their natural interaction with Arabs is one based on advesarialism. Un peacekeepers should be deployed to the region, and assist the Palestinians in rebuilding their infrastructure and at the same time establishing international zones and Un security checkpoints going to and from the West Bank and Gaza strip. With those steps in place, along with the removal of Israeli troops would be the final make or break moment for the Palestinians. An objective international presence should take away the ideological advocacy of terrorism as a direct response to foreign occupation from the mindset of Palestinians.
Terrorism will continue to be the chief weapon of these countries until a multilateral UN peacekeeping force can insure that clear boundaries between the two states can be established, upheld and true infrastructural modernization can be brought to Palestine. The most potent weapon against terrorism is the civil society. So long as regional politics and games of economic supply continually dictate the Middle East agenda the problem will remain intractable.
Nazi holocaust and the subsequent liberation of the surviving Jews from
the concentration camps was the zeitgeist that propelled the world to
finally give the Jews a homeland. For many and not just Jews, it was the
realization of the dream of Zionism. Essentially, god could be seen
making good on his promise to redeem his vow to his chosen
people. Religion aside, from mundane truth, The specter of the horrors
of the Nazi holocaust did not eternally absolve the government of Israel
of any future wrongdoing, especially in regards to illegal occupation,
targeting of civilians and ghettoization of their Palestinian
brothers. Extremists on both sides fan the flames of discontent and
cunningly disguise their true intentions under the guise of religious
struggle and Jihad.
are many Jews who see Israel's current policy toward Palestinians as a
stain on the religious institutional mandate that founded their state.
60 years ago the politics were different. We really did have a black and
white US vs. them scenario with Germany. In this day and age it is
different because economics and politics have sidestepped morality, self
determination sacrificed for regional and geopolitical security.
one can be distanced from ethnocentric Calvinist world view that of
which the modern day equivalent now also equates Jew with whiteness and
Palestinian with blackness, civilized and uncivilized, the latter a pox
on creation, unsuitable to the dominate theological discourse that
it is solely Judeo-Christian culture that constitutes modernity
than terrorism will continue to be waged by both sides. The
Arabs will view the US as eternally biased culturally toward Arabs
and hence we will be viewed as the enemy infidel. Failure to
establish multilateral negotiations on equal terms for both parties will
increase the cycle of violence out of which the contents will soon
manifest more terrorist attacks on American soil.
the façade of religion the true economic and political reasons for
Israeli hegemony are
growing population needs housing and Israeli developers want to build on
Palestinian land. ex. Golan Heights
escalation of conflict guarantees the constant need to reinforce state
security aims and maintains the US-Israeli, arms sales status quo.
Quote from Edward Said on the formation of Israel
"In 1948, at the moment that Israel declared itself a state, it legally owned a little more than 6 percent of the land of Palestine...After 1940, when the mandatory authority restricted Jewish land ownership to specific zones inside Palestine, there continued to be illegal buying (and selling) within the 65 percent of the total area restricted to Arabs.
Thus when the partition plan was announced in 1947 it included land held illegally by Jews, which was incorporated as a fait accompli inside the borders of the Jewish state. And after Israel announced its statehood, an impressive series of laws legally assimilated huge tracts of Arab land (whose proprietors had become refugees, and were pronounced 'absentee landlords' in order to expropriate their lands and prevent their return under any circumstances)." Edward Said, "The Question of Palestine."
"Palestinian attempts to set up a real state were blocked by Egypt and Jordan. When the fighting ended in 1949, Israel held territories beyond the boundaries set by the UN plan - a total of 78% of the area west of the Jordan River. The rest of the area assigned to the Arab state was occupied by Egypt and Jordan. Egypt held the Gaza Strip and Jordan held the West Bank. About 700,000 Arabs fled or were driven out of Israel and became refugees in neighboring Arab countries. The Arab countries refused to sign a permanent peace treaty with Israel. Consequently, the borders of Israel established by the armistice commission never received de jure (legal) international recognition. "
other source quotes