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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 39, September 18, 2010

Deceptive US Initiatives for Palestinians and Threats to International Relations

Monday 20 September 2010, by Arshi Khan

There have been various phases in the history of international relations which signify the changing pattern of the behaviour, policies and actions of some political units resulting in creating a kind of balance and expectations for a better future. Such dynamism does ensure, if not guarantee, a great chance for peace in the chaotic situation of the the contemporary world order. On the other hand, there are few actors whose policies, actions and designs certainly threaten the teleological movement and progress in inter-national relations. World politics can also be understood as a disturbing ocean where the aggressive whales have no reciprocal gestures, tolerance, accommodation and no desire for cohabitation vis-à-vis the dolphins. As there is no world government and binding rules to govern and guide the Hobbesian global political panorama, inter-state relations mostly depend on the endorsement of English Utilitarianism of available resources and the power status of concerned nations and states.

Those who try to follow the principles of ‘democratic internationalism’ in their own cultural-political contexts can swim successfully in troubled waters. They can be called ‘peace-seekers’. We can see that Japan, an erstwhile military and regional power in the Far East, volunteered to endorse peaceful means of settlements all across the world. It is also the second largest donor to the UN with high stakes in international economic institutions. Another example is China which shifted from the politics of threats to the policy of cooperation and business that resulted in the expansion of its economy and territorial sphere with Macao and Hong Kong. It is now moving around Taiwan under the policy of ‘one country two systems’.

Similarly a non-interfering Turkey has also moved towards playing a balancing role in the Middle East where it looks at the aggressive, nuclear and occupying policy of Israel as a threat to the region and international security. Turkey is seriously pursuing a classical style of diplomacy and is a steadfast peace-broker among Israel, Syria, Iran and Lebanon. It even lost the life of nine Turkish citizens who were brutally murdered by Israeli forces last May in the high seas while they were on their way to Gaza. The Turkish Government is also trying to address the Kurdish question seriously while promoting relations with the Kurdish leaders in Northern Iraq. Libya is another example whose leader abandoned the nuclear weapons programme, compensated the Lockerbie victims on the terms and conditions of the UK and improved relations with its past colonial master, Italy.

Moreover, Iran is trying to play the role of a whistle-blower and is a watchdog against the menace of unilateralism in the region. It has criticised the US policies of playing with Iraqis and Palestinians and damaging the prospect for peace, security and stability in the area. It has released American detainees facing legal proceedings in Iran in which the Turkish mediation was also very commendable. Iran has so far been interested in the nuclear energy programme as it has neither the required capacity to produce nuclear weapons nor has its leadership so desired. Both Turkey and Iran want a safer Middle East free from nuclear weapons as has also been echoed in the UN on several occasions. Similarly Syria is endorsing peace and urging Israel to return its Golan Heights. The Arab League and OIC have set the softer tone of building relations with Israel provided it follows the UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 (land for peace deal) as well as UN General Assembly Resolutions 181 (dealing with Jerusalem) and 194 (Right to Return).

On the contrary, there are examples of the US Administration and the Israeli establishment which have not only proved to be realists and revisionists but also the major sources of war crimes, crimes of aggression, genocide, crime against humanity and crimes against peace. The US, which earlier contributed to the establish-ment of the League of Nations and later the United Nations, has turned towards a disturbing path of imposing wars, economic sanctions, military coup d’etat, military interventions, proliferation and use of weapons of mass destruction, and exploiting the helpless peoples and countries. The US misused public money, political institutions, media, intelligence, arsenals and military power against various countries for seeking Plato’s “limited good”. It spent over $ one trillion on the recent war in West Asia and this expenditure resulted in the deaths of 5000 American soldiers and two million Iraqis, making six million Iraqis refugees and internally displaced persons, complete destruction of Iraq’s infrastructure and stationing Iraqis on the highway where daylight robbery, insecurity, killings and all sorts of inhuman practices have become a normal feature of life.

IT is now open to the whole world that the American policy-makers lied on Iraqi WMD and attracted the world community over their empty promises for “reconstruction” of Iraq. They are aware of the fact that the Constitution in Iraq is a case of complete failure, the Kurdish agenda of separatism is in a matured state and the mask of democracy is fully exposed to the Iraqi people and the world. The New Century American agenda is in full swing. Obama’s declaration of the end of combat operations in Iraq on August 31 is neither a U-turn nor an American commit-ment to peace in Iraq. In reality the American Army is engaged in ‘stability operations’ and the war is going on behind the curtains; this is more sophisticated and malicious in nature. They are more determined to keep and expand their military bases in Iraq and in keeping Iraqis divided on ethnic and sectarian lines. Moreover, they have escalated hostilities in Afghanistan where the victims are largely civilians.

The Americans are very much in command of key political institutions, oilwells, information services, intelligence, green zone areas and the security. Today’s Iraq is the creation of America and its dark, fragile and enslaved future is also made in America. Thus it shows that the American Administration simply talked of democracy in Iraq but in reality they destroyed its values, principles, procedures and basic sources. There is no signal of a visible change in the US policy towards West Asia in particular though peace, security and democracy are the pet words used by the Administration. The US has withdrawn 100,000 troops from Iraq but it has massive presence at various levels. It is no more interested in bringing order in the country as the whole US combat operations were meant for destroying the Iraqi state and society. It is in the midst of complete lawlessness, anarchy and the Hobbesian ‘state of nature’; the US is engaged in concentrating upon its own roadmap to take over the entire region.

Therefore, in the case of Iraq, the US goal is quite clear: forcefully endorsing its own agenda at the cost of stability, peace and security in West Asia. There is a change in the US policy only in ‘degree’ not ‘essence’ which has been more against democracy, human rights, national economic sovereignty, security, stability and peace. US President Obama claimed America to be the role model last year but it seems to be immersed in the ‘gulf of ignorance’. Iraqis would never take this as a promise, nor would the Palestinians agree to it. Iraqis have no means of securing justice, democratic governance, equality, liberty and sustainable growth because the Constitution, political institutions and political process are the products of the conspirators, aggressors and occupiers. Governance in Iraq is neither Lockeian in nature nor even Hobbes’ Leviathan. It is altogether new in its origin and is better left undefined.

Similarly the US policy towards the Palestinians can be critically examined as it has no indication of bringing about a viable solution of the Palestinian problem in the near future. As the British Government had maintained the policy of ‘benign neglect’ vis-à-vis the predicament of the Palestinians, the US Administration, irrespective of Democrats of Republicans in power, has failed to address the issue of the Palestinians. This ‘grand failure’ is not because of the ‘inability’ factor of the US but the lack of ‘interests, concerns and willingness’ to do so. This sort of insincerity is the result of the ‘union’ of economic and political forces whereby the Zionist lobbies and corporates heavily fund the polling candidates belonging to both parties. In fact, the lobby basically affects the very ‘nature’ of every new Administration in terms of key postings, ministerial allocations, planning, policies and operational realities. As a result, one can also find a typical one-side swing toward the Israeli concerns in the media, publications, research and academia which educate average Americans every day. Moreover, there is also a corresponding effect on the direction of the intelligence agencies, inquiries and legislations. So we find a kind of ‘blindness’ of Americans towards the real issues concerning the Palestinians. This we can realise by reviewing the situation during 2001-04 when the US media, intelligence and policy-makers maintained chorus on threats emanating from Iraq. Now all the secrets are exposed: the US was neither against one-man rule nor in promoting human rights in Iraq but in knitting its own web of command and control over there. It is only the US Administration which supported the one- man rule of Hosni Mubarak for 28 years in Egypt and the Jordanian King against the democratic wishes of their peoples. It is also known to install fugitives, corrupt elements and war criminals in various key political spheres in Iraq.

IN the case of the Palestinians, the US has been pretending to be sincere and an honest broker of peace but the kind of US involvement we find there is in itself is damaging for the enslaved people of the Occupied Territories. This hypothesis can be verified by going into the following narratives and concerns shown from time to time by the US. The concept of a ‘two-state solution’ is deceptive in nature and manifestation. It seems like a situation when there was no Israel before 1948. the two-state solution also looks like the fragmentation of a federation or confederation. The most fundamental question in this respect is: who will give the state to the Palestinians—Israel or America or the Quatret? The US has so far shown very clearly that in the real sense this prerogative rests with Israel. Another question emanates from here: can Israel do so justiciably? It looks as if a criminal himself is given the power of being a judge as the US has repeatedly pressed the Palestinian National Authority to make ‘historic and painful compromises’. The US involvement shows that it is an Israeli-Palestinian conflict which again is a misleading concept. The issue is basically the case of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. The US and world community need to keep this fact as a fundamental consideration. No viable solution can be reached by pressing the enslaved and occupied nationality on the terms and conditions of the occupiers and land grabbers.

In the recent US initiated peace talks (September 2) in Washington between Abbas and Netanyahu after a gap of 20 months, both the parties could not reach any compromise on the Final Status Talk but agreed to meet again on September 14. This kind of US initiative is not a solution package but a part of public diplomacy to show its sincerity in settlement so that it could win more favours on the issue of Iran’s nuclear policy. The US has reiterated that it would encourage the peace partners and not force any solution. The US rejected the massive protests in over 200 cities all over the world, including the US, to bomb Iraq to unseat its President, Saddam Hussein. Similarly, it unlawfully bombed Belgrade for Kosovo and imposed the Dayton Accord on Bosnians. It also attacked Afghanistan and is waging a war for liberating the Afghan people from the Taliban. Why can’t the US adopt the same method of using military means and the policy of economic sanctions against Israel to liberate the Palestinian territories occupied on June 4, 1967 (22.5 per cent of entire Palestine) to which the whole world has agreed on several occasions.

Another fault with the US policy-makers is their ignorance over the falsehood of Israeli security concerns which is meant for justifying Israeli expansion of the illegal occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank by creating a 721 km-long Israeli Wall, unlawful settlement of foreign Jews in the West Bank, security zones, buffer zones and over 100 outposts. Such illegalities of usurpation further reduce the Palestinian territories to 10 to 12 per cent of entire Palestine. They are inextricably linked to the core issues of territory, border and Jewish settlements. A few months ago, Israel snubbed the US over its request to Tel Aviv on the issue of settlements. This was the fact that prompted American scholars, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Wault, to criticise the US foreign policy endorsing the designs of the Israeli lobby in the US. It is important to recall that the UN Security Council has passed resolutions for vacating territories occupied on and after June 4, 1967. The UN General Assembly and International Court of Justice have called the settlements and Israeli Wall in the West Bank illegal and unjustified. Similarly the UN has approved the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their home in Israel which is rejected by the occupiers.

In this context, the majority of the developing world and others have spoken in favour of liberating the Palestinians. It is a fact that when the Palestinians started talking peace after 1988 and more after 1991, Israel has engineered systematic attacks and inflicted systematic losses on the Palestinians. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat agreed to the Oslo Accords for the purpose of getting a sovereign state in at least 22.5 per cent of the land but since then Israel expanded its occupation of the West Bank. The post-1991 expansions of Israeli occupation have thrown the Palestinians in a deep quagmire and the US has left them high and dry. The Palestinians have systematically lost their lands, leaders and supporters like Iraq. The Hamas, which won the elections in January 2006, is under tremendous pressure and stigmatisation of terrorism. Gaza, where it rules, has been under severe economic and trade sanctions and suffered Israeli bombings for 23 days at a stetch with the loss of over 1400 people. The Hamas was not invited to the Washington talks. Those who wanted to feed the hungry Gazans last May were killed in the high seas and their ships captured. Hizbollah, which is mainly against Israeli occupation, was attacked in 2006. Now it is Iran which is the prime target of Israel and the US for raising genuine concerns over Israeli occupation and violation of the Palestinians’ rights. Those who speak of justice within the PLO and Fatah are forced to be silent.

Therefore, Israel has been aptly accused of committing crimes of aggression, war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity and crimes against peace which need to be addressed. Unless and until the US and world community seriously warn Israel of harsh punishments and humanitarian interventions, Israel will not abstain from its lawless activities. The freedom of Palestinians thus requires concrete actions and not abstract initiatives on the table. So far the US has no roadmap for a viable Palestinian state. Israel is interested in more expansions and seeking more concessions from the enslaved people. Egypt and Jordan have no interests in addressing the core issues as they themselves are highly undemocratic. The Arab League and the Quartret seem to be highly optimistic withoiut any basis or logic.

It is in this vicious web of ‘ignorance’ that the Palestinians find themselves more isolated than ever. Dozens of their leaders have been killed and many are lodged in Israeli prisons. They are losing every day their people, properties, lands, homes, security, privacy and dignity. Palestinians have not lost their ‘will’ for resistance and protests and the UN resolutions, international laws, international morality and American love for liberty have become useless and meaningless for them. In this situation, it would not be unreasonable to say that silence and inaction against Israel have fully exposed the nature of the contemporary world order and that of the liberal democracies.

Dr Arshi Khan is an Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh.

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