Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Dr. Ron Paul's Prescription for the Ills in Gaza and Israel

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In a statement released Monday, Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas), in his inimitable manner, pointed to the hypocrisy in U.S. foreign policy that helps perpetuate the wars between Gaza and Israel:

As of late Friday the ceasefire in Gaza seems to be holding, if tentatively. While we should be pleased that this round of fighting appears temporarily on hold, we must realize that without changes in US foreign policy it is only a matter of time before the killing begins again.

It feels like 2009 all over again, which is the last time this kind of violence broke out in Gaza. At that time over 1,400 Palestinians were killed, of which just 235 were combatants. The Israelis lost 13 of which 10 were combatants. At that time I said of then-President Bush’s role in the conflict:

“It's our money and our weapons. But I think we encouraged it. Certainly, the president has said nothing to diminish it. As a matter of fact, he justifies it on moral grounds, saying, oh, they have a right to do this, without ever mentioning the tragedy of Gaza…. To me, I look at it like a concentration camp.”

The United States claims, of course, to be pro-Israel (which is of itself a very patronizing and paternalistic policy), but millions in foreign aid is sent annually to most of the nations that surround it.

For example, Egypt receives nearly $1.5 billion in aid annually from the United States. Jordan receives over $800 million in financial aid from the American treasury.

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As Glen Greenwald wrote last week in the Guardian (U.K.):

For years now, US financial, military and diplomatic support of Israel has been the central enabling force driving this endless conflict. The bombs Israel drops on Gazans, and the planes they use to drop them, and the weapons they use to occupy the West Bank and protect settlements are paid for, in substantial part, by the US taxpayer….

That does not account for the fact, however, that Gaza and the West Bank receive $575 million annually thanks to the largesse of the American taxpayer. That’s right, the enemy of our purported ally stands in the same U.S. welfare line as Israel herself.

This fiscal fact doesn’t prevent President Obama from riding to the defense of Israel, however. As Dr. Paul writes:

Last week, as the fighting raged, President Obama raced to express US support for the Israeli side, in a statement that perfectly exemplifies the tragic-comedy of US foreign policy. The US supported the Israeli side because, he said, "No country on Earth would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.” Considering that this president rains down missiles on Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and numerous other countries on a daily basis, the statement was so hypocritical that it didn’t pass the laugh test. But it wasn’t funny.

It is tragi-comic that President Obama would be able to keep a straight face while denouncing Gaza’s bombing of Israel. This is a man who keeps a kill list and who regularly orders the summary execution of targets who have been accused of no crime and have never been afforded even the most perfunctory level of due process before being assassinated. The mortal volley of Hellfire missiles that he personally authorizes to be rained down on Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc. destroys President Obama’s moral foundation for decrying similar acts of others.

Unaffected by the irony, however, in a call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Obama reiterated his "commitment to Israel's security" and promised to push for more funding for "Iron Dome and other US-Israel missile defense programs." America's subsidy of Middle Eastern violence will likely continue on its current tragic trajectory.

Later, Dr. Paul submited a recent House resolution as evidence of the U.S. effort to play both ends against the middle while managing to maintain its purportedly pro-Israel posture:

Congress acted with similar ignobility when an unannounced resolution was brought to the House floor after the business of the week had been finished; and in less than 30 seconds the resolution was passed by unanimous consent, without debate and without most Representatives even having heard of it. The resolution, H Res 813, was so one-sided it is not surprising they didn’t want anyone to have the chance to read and vote on it. Surely at least a handful of my colleagues would have objected to language like, “The House of Representatives expresses unwavering commitment to the security of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders ...”
 
US foreign policy being so one-sided actually results in more loss of life and of security on both sides. Surely Israelis do not enjoy the threat of missiles from Gaza nor do the Palestinians enjoy their Israel-imposed inhuman conditions in Gaza. But as long as Israel can count on its destructive policies being underwritten by the US taxpayer it can continue to engage in reckless behavior. And as long as the Palestinians feel the one-sided US presence lined up against them they will continue to resort to more and more deadly and desperate measures. 

Sounds like an eery echo of the reports out of Yemen that the escalation of the drone war in that “friendly” nation is creating more enemies than it is destroying.

The New American recently wrote about the boomerang effect of the president’s pursuit of “militants” in Yemen:

Beyond the effect the winnowing of the president's kill list is having on domestic politics in Yemen, there is a larger threat to security from blowback.

Blowback is defined as violent counter-attacks carried out as revenge for covert operations. 

After a drone attack killed 13 Yemenis by “mistake” in September, relatives of those killed in the strike spoke with the clarity and carelessness that comes from the mixture of mourning with rage.

"You want us to stay quiet while our wives and brothers are being killed for no reason. This attack is the real terrorism," said Mansoor al-Maweri, whom CNN reports as being “near the scene of the strike.”

Then there was this from “an activist” who lives near the site of the September massacre:

"I would not be surprised if a hundred tribesmen joined the lines of al Qaeda as a result of the latest drone mistake," said Nasr Abdullah. "This part of Yemen takes revenge very seriously."

Now we are doing by proxy in Gaza what we are doing directly in Yemen, Pakistan, and elsewhere: We are creating a new generation of enemies, a generation raised to accept as completely rational a simultaneous resentment of the United States for its unalloyed support of Israel with an unapologetic dependence on its aid for “humanitarian” programs.

Congressman Paul, as is his habit, doesn’t just swoop in and criticize a policy with which he disagrees. Rather, as any good doctor would, he identifies the disease and prescribes a remedy that if taken regularly would cure the patient.

Continuing to rain down missiles on so many increasingly resentful nations, the US is undermining rather than furthering its security. We are on a collision course with much of the rest of the world if we do not right our foreign policy. Ending interventionism in the Middle East and replacing it with friendship and even-handedness would be a welcome first step.

Consider, finally, the parting words of our first president, George Washington, on the topic of foreign entanglement:

The  great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.... Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

Photo of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas): AP Images