By Alan Hart
The headline is not meant to imply that I think he will. As things are he can’t because of the stranglehold on American policy for Israel/Palestine of the Zionist lobby and its stooges in Congress, the mainstream media and many institutions of state including the Pentagon and intelligence agencies. My purpose is only to offer an answer to this question: What could happen if President Obama was able to put America’s own real interests first?
The answer has to begin with the statement (echoed by Mearsheimer and Walt and a growing number of respected and influential others) that unconditional support for the Zionist state of Israel right or wrong is not in America’s own best interests because it’s a prime cause of Arab and other Muslim hurt and humiliation, which is being transformed into a rising tide of anti-Americanism. To that can be added a related truth. America doesn’t have to have 1.5 billion Muslims (nearly one quarter of humankind) as enemies. Most Muslims do not hate America or Americans. What they do hate is the double-standard of American (and all Western) foreign policy, in particular its refusal to call and hold Israel to account for its crimes.
To put anti-Americanism into its true Arab perspective, I offered this thought in the Introduction to The False Messiah, Volume One of the American edition of my book, Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews .
If it had been possible for an American President to wave a magic wand and have Israel back behind more or less its borders as they were on the eve of the 1967 war, with a Palestinian state in existence on the Arab land from which Israel had withdrawn as required by UN Security Council Resolution 242, and with Jerusalem an open, undivided city the capital of two states, the U.S. would have had, overnight, with one wave of that magic wand,the respect, friendship and support of not less than 95 per cent of all Arabs and very probably that of almost all Muslims everywhere. And if the President had also pressed the Arab regimes to be serious about democratizing their countries, the U.S. would have become the champion of the Arab masses, truly admired by them as it was when President Woodrow Wilson was in the White House.
In passing I’ll add that since I first wrote those words, I have addressed Arab and other Muslim audiences up and down the UK, in America and Canada and as far afield as India. On each and every platform I asked audiences if I was naïve for believing that an American president who did whatever was necessary to secure justice for the Palestinians would be rewarded with the respect, friendship and support of almost all Arabs and other Muslims. The answer was always the same. My figure of 95 per cent was almost certainly an under-estimate.
But since that response was conveyed to me things have got much worse. With his abject surrender to Netanyahu and the Zionist lobby, Obama has not only drawn public attention to America’s complicity in Israel’s defiance of international law, he is out-doing President George “Dubya” Bush in the business of targeted assassinations with drones over Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan. The death toll of innocents killed is rising rapidly. Islam’s men of violence in that part of our world could not have a more effective recruiting sergeant.
What’s happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan (not to mention Iraq) underlines the fact that a resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict on terms acceptable to the vast majority of Palestinians and most other Arabs and Muslims everywhere would not be enough to extinguish the fire of anti-Americanism, but it would make containing it a much more manageable proposition.
There are, in fact, firemen waiting to assist Obama (or his successor) to put it out completely. They are the leaders of Iran, Hizbollah, Hamas and the Taliban. America’s own real interests would be best served by Obama himself (or his successor) seriously engaging with them, taking full account of their concerns and fears.
There is no evidence (only Zionist assertion) that Iran’s divided ruling mullahs have any intention of developing nuclear weapons, but it would not be surprising if elements in Iran – the Revolutionary Guard? – are making a case for nuclear weaponization for the purpose of deterrence.
What Iran’s leaders and also those of Hizbollah, Hamas and the Taliban want most of all is an end to American exceptionalism, for which read imperialism, and all the arrogance, bullying and interference, as well as the killing, maiming and destruction, that comes with it.
On Israel-Palestine real positions (as opposed to Zionist assertions about them) are clear. Hamas is explicitly on the record with the statement that while it will not formally recognise Israel’s right to exist, it is pragmatically prepared to accept Israel’s actual existence inside its 1967 (pre-war) borders and to live in peace with it. And though they don’t say so openly, Iran and Hizbollah have a common pragmatic position. They will accept, reluctantly no doubt, whatever the Palestinians accept.
An American president who was free to put the best interests of his own nation and people first would now give priority to talking constructively to “the enemy”. With the assistance of the leaders of Iran, Hizbollah and Hamas, Obama (possibly at the risk of assassination) could create a whole new Middle East, one in which justice for the Palestinians and peace and security for all could flourish. (I’m sure that most of us would welcome a return to the days when we could check into an airport without being treated as a possible or probable terrorist).
It is, of course, true that there are powerful vested interests in the U.S. (Jewish and non-Jewish) which actually believe that unconditional support for Israel right or wrong is in America’s best interests. Because they are not completely stupid, they know this policy is not cost free. The presumption has to be that they also believe the cost in terms of American blood and treasure is a price worth paying. Hopefully the time is coming when enough Americans will say to them: “Stop this madness! You’re wrong. It’s not a price worth paying.”
For the neo-cons and their associates who marshal and deliver support for Israel right or wrong, and who by so doing subvert what passes for democracy in America, I have a New Year message. Learn the lesson of America’s costly and catastrophic adventure in Vietnam. It doesn’t matter how powerful you are militarily, you cannot destroy ideas with bullets and bombs, especially ideas rooted in the need for self-determination, justice and human and political rights.
I have no expectation that Zionism can learn this lesson. I believe it, Zionism, to be congenitally incapable of doing so. But one day most if not all Americans will learn it – won’t they…?
It was in Vietnam as a very young correspondent for ITN (Independent Television News), when I was observing the U.S. spending six million dollars a minute on a war it could not win and should not have waged, that I first started to ask myself questions about why things are as they are in the world. Some years later the notion that America could not have won the war in Vietnam was challenged by Senator Barry Goldwater in private conversation with me. In 1964 this five-term senator from Arizona was the Republican Party’s nominee for president. He didn’t make it to the White House in part because President Johnson branded him as an extremist who might plunge America into a nuclear war. When I was on assignment for the BBC’s Panorama programme, Goldwater said to me in his Senate office: “We could have won the war in Vietnam. We should have nuked the North. What’s the point in spending so much money on developing nuclear weapons if you’re not prepared to use them?” (With Iran and North Korea on their minds, I imagine that some of today’s neo-con nuts agree with that. And I note that after he failed to secure a second term, perhaps because he offended the Zionist lobby too much by wanting to be serious about peacemaking in the Middle East, former President Bush the First said that his dream was of a “winnable nuclear war”).
Alan Hart has been engaged with events in the Middle East and their global consequences and terrifying implications – the possibility of a Clash of Civilisations, Judeo-Christian v Islamic, and, along the way, another great turning against the Jews – for nearly 40 years…
He’s been to war with the Israelis and the Arabs, but the learning experience he values most, and which he believes gave him rare insight, came from his one-to-one private conversations over the years with many leaders on both sides of the conflict. With, for example, Golda Meir, Mother Israel, and Yasser Arafat, Father Palestine. The significance of these private conversations was that they enabled him to be aware of the truth of what leaders really believed and feared as opposed to what they said in public for propaganda and myth-sustaining purposes.