On January 15, 2003, The Times published an article by John le Carre called “The United States of America has Gone Mad.” The article, while being humorous is brilliant in its canny accuracy about what has happened and what will happen regarding Iraq. But I have one reservation with this great piece of journalism; that is its title: the US ruling class has not suddenly gone crazy, it has always behaved like an imperialist power. Let us not forget that the very creation of the United States was based on the terrible crushing of the indigenous peoples that inhabited that land.
Let us delve back into the history of that time. I’m not going to bore you with dates and accurate facts and figures, I don’t have them at hand and they are in their essence unimportant to the story. What I wish to show is what is happening to day all over our planet. The US paranoia about terrorism is making what should be a pleasant journey (their annual holidays…) for a hard working family, who have saved and dreamt of their two weeks away from the pressure of enforced capitalist slavery that is jokingly called work, into a humiliating ordeal. All this did not start on September 11, 2001, it has its roots in the very essence of US imperialism. The mindset of the American bourgeois was shaped by those puritans from England who landed on the eastern shore of North America all those years ago. Who were these people? Why had they left England? They were, in modern parlance, Christian fundamentalists! They were leftovers from the Reformation, dressed in black, hating fun, colour, art, and music and believing that every word in the Bible, both in the Old and New Testament, to be true. They also believed that they were God’s chosen people - where have we heard that before?
The local inhabitants, who contrary to the image portrayed by Hollywood when I was a lad in the 1950’s in what were known as “Cowboy and Indian” films, met these settlers. They did not kill them and rape the women, instead they taught these newcomers with their strange white skin how to plant crops etc, thus enabling them to survive. They were indeed naïve. For the fate of the North American natives who once wandered the huge plains of their country, living the life they chose, believing what they chose to believe, and above all enjoying what George W Bush talks about so often - freedom! Now the remnants of these once proud free people have had their land taken away from them, and the few of them that are left live where the descendants of those original settlers have chosen for them to live. And they hardly rank at all in the daily life of the United States of America. Every thing that belongs to them has been stolen from them in the name of “freedom, democracy and the American dream”!
After September 11 words such as the “civilised world” and “crusade” were banded about by Bush and, what is even more reprehensible, by Colin Powell. Mr Powell, a descendant of black slaves from the West Indies, should be ashamed of himself, as should that other avid supporter of the Bush regime Condoleeza Rice, because it seems that in order to partake in the American Pie these two people have forgotten that their ancestors, like the original inhabitants of the land, were once called savages - the connotation “savages” meaning non-Christian, and non-Christian also meaning uncivilised. However, after 9/11 the target of this insult has now changed, it is the Islamic world that is now deemed uncivilised, although Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair went out of their way to say that they did not mean that Islam is not civilised - that only added insult to injury. Blair especially seemed to want to put the record straight. Poor dear Tony, who is going to believe you about anything after the way in which you have betrayed the British workers and their party?
Since the break up of the Soviet Union the US ruling class has had a problem. Who is our enemy? Who can we use to justify being the most powerful military nation the world has seen since the days of the Roman Empire? As Mr. le Carre states in his article: “The war (on Iraq) was planned years before bin Laden struck”. You see we are supposed to accept that settlers are in fact not settlers, whether they are English puritans taking over North America because they feel they are discriminated in their own country, or Russian Jews fleeing from the pogroms of the Tsar, occupying Palestine. The initial reasons given [the desire for a land free of persecution] were in both cases based on their own suffering. However, there is something in the nature of the beast that keeps it wanting to see what more it can have - it’s called greed, the basis of capitalism. Adam Smith, the guru of Anglo-Saxon capitalism said, “The rich are the pensioners of the poor.” Smith said it, not Marx!
I suppose having mentioned Mr. le Carre one has to mention spies. There are two types of spy, the one who does it for money, and the one who does what spies do for the love of their country. The former is the one that the intelligence agencies love, because they can be bought! The latter is the most dangerous. If Bush had been a spy, he would be the latter (and don’t forget that his dad was the director of the CIA). This makes Mr. George W Bush a very dangerous man. Bush is not an opportunist politician like Blair; he is a man with a “mission”. He is a man, who according to people who know him very well, believes God has chosen him to save us all from terrorism, communism and any ‘ism’ that is not the American ‘ism’ in capitalism. And in this mission, this “Crusade”, a new phraseology has entered the political vocabulary of the neo-conservatives.
Who are these neo-cons? We know some of their names; there is Mr. Cheney, Miss Rice (who I have already mentioned) and Messrs Wolfovitz, Pearl, and Grossman. An axis which makes no discriminations. It accepts all kinds of bourgeois, whether they be Christians, Blacks, Jews, (and even Muslims) all with one thing in common they are pro-right-wing, pro-oil and very much pro-Israel. As a Jew living in Israel this axis of strange bedfellows frightens me. It frightens me because Israel exists thanks to the help of American imperialism, and now we are so entrenched in the American philosophical perception of right and wrong, good and evil, that I wonder when payday will come and what will be the price old benevolent Uncle Sam will demand of us?
One thing I do know is that Israel’s fate is interlinked with that of the US. At the moment in this strange alliance we have the situation of the tail wagging the dog. The tactics that the US occupiers in Iraq use are based on a carbon copy of the way Israel behaves in the occupied territories. The US soldiers, who in general have no real understanding of the Islamic world, show no respect for the Iraqis. They know nothing of Islam, of Iraq’s history, of its ancient culture, nor the fact that it founded the first city Urok and invented writing. How can they when only TEN percent of Americans, including service personnel, have ever ventured out of the United States?
All they see is a broken and demoralised people, who the soldiers kick around just like the Israeli soldiers do the Palestinians. The US soldiers are racked with fear, and who can blame them as they see their buddies shot and blown to pieces every day? Their Israeli counterpart is also afraid. There is the phenomenon of the “refuseniks”, those Israeli soldiers who refuse to be used in the Occupied Territories. But the Israeli authorities do their best to make sure that their soldiers are filled with contempt and hate for the Palestinians. They are educated to regard the people whose land they occupy as inferior, for that is what they are taught at school, and it is also what they find in the Bible.
The one difference is that the Iraqis were not broken by the foreign invader but by one of their own. If the so-called coalition were to withdraw now, the world would be amazed at how quickly the Iraqi people would get their house in order. Eight months after the end of the war Baghdad still has no uninterrupted electricity supply and running water. Three months after the end of the first Gulf war the Saddam Hussein regime had rebuilt all the bombed bridges, and restored the power and water. The Palestinians on the other hand have been broken, demoralised, left with their culture in ruins, and turned into beggars by the Israeli capitalists. What else can a people be when they are humiliated and forced to “negotiate” for a partial return of all that which belongs to them?
Why do I say that Israel is the tail wagging the dog? One only has to look at Libya and Iran who are now only too willing to have their weapons facilities inspected by anyone who wants to. What has brought about this sudden change? When the bully was thousands of miles away across the sea they could play their posturing games, but now the bully (the US), although not on the block, is near enough to be a real threat. And who benefits most from this new state of affairs? Why Israel off course.
How could Libya or Iran possibly be a threat to America? The only country in the Middle East on Bush’s Axis of Evil list not complying to this new strategy of “Hey Mr Bush come on in and see what WMD’s I’ve got” is Syria. Syria has been living with the bully (Israel) not only on the block, but with one foot on the bloody doorstep, - i.e. the Golan Heights - that it has nothing left to fear. Tony Blair found that out in no uncertain manner, when he went to Syria thinking he could further his dream of becoming a world statesman. (After all the UK health service, and other problems at home must be so mundane to a chap of his abilities). President Assad of Syria gave him a most humiliating public dressing down. Mr Assad who before his father died was an eye doctor in London certainly left his bedside manner back in the UK for Mr Blair.
To further this story of strange bedfellows look who else is now chumming up with Israel, India, who in the days of her late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who as leader of the non-aligned states at the UN, used to gang up on Israel all the time. But that was in the days when India was using socialist rhetoric and cosying up to the Soviet Union. Now the “new market economy” India is a friend of Israel, even being honoured by a visit by its Prime Minister. Why? Well after the US told Israel it could not convert China’s Russian built cargo planes into spy planes with Israeli electronics, India said ‘put your nice chips and microchips into our Russian cargo planes’.
And now Pakistan wants to be Israel’s friend too! Years ago it was said that it would be a black day for Israel when an Islamic country acquired a nuclear capability. Well Pakistan has nuclear weapons, and Israel is still here, and soon to be their friend too. No doubt, they will be so friendly to us that soon they may want to buy some of our nice technology too - all with the approval of Uncle Sam off course!
Further parallels can be drawn between the two countries in their basic attitude to how one is judged as a person. Here in Israel and in the USA people are not generally judged on their character, but by their “achievements”. This means what possessions they have acquired. The bigger the house, the bigger the car, the better the person. This attitude does not only exist on a personal day-to-day basis. It pervades the politics of both countries. In Israel’s case it means promoting contempt for the Arabs. One hears all the time: “Who are they what have they achieved?” With this approach, how can any plan succeed call it what you like, Road Map, Geneva Accord, they are all non-starters.
The same goes for the USA. All attempts to stop global warming, to make trade agreements fairer for the underprivileged countries are all blocked by the USA. Only recently I heard that the US had demanded the World Health Organisation reconsider plans to tackle global obesity rates. Is this not madness, when even the health of its own citizens comes after corporate interests? The big boys, the successful ones come before the little man in the street.
Before I conclude as to why I have called this article ‘The Beginning of the End’, I must mention Saddam Hussein, or rather why he is no longer mentioned in the media these days since the furore after his capture. Why the silence? Well it is very simple, when he is put on trial - and I hope he will be tried by his own people, but I somehow doubt it - he will have so many beans to spill that he could keep Heinz supplied for ages. So Mr Bush will make sure any trial will not happen till after the November elections in the USA.
All empires come to an end! Every one talks about how mighty the US is, how never in history has there been such a power. Yes on the face of it this is true. But the American economy is in a terrible mess. Bush has turned a surplus into a deficit the likes of which have no parallel in US history. The dollars that America promises to all the new converts to its market economy philosophy are really not worth the paper they are printed on. Yet Bush talks about going back to the moon, and on to Mars, just like Daddy did. And just like Daddy nothing will come of it. It’s a smokescreen, because the first announcement from NASA after Bush’s bold speech is that the Hubble space telescope will not be serviced anymore, and will be left to slowly deteriorate. This is a shame as Hubble has provided humankind with more information about who we are and where we come from than any astronaut’s gallivanting about on a dead piece of rock in space could ever do.
Israel too is in dire financial straits, its massive army looks impressive, but my son who works in the army has had all his benefits cut back plus a reduction in his wages. And the pension that permanent members used to look forward to upon retirement will most likely not materialise as he works on a renewable yearly contract now.
America, like Rome all those years ago, will in the coming years slowly but surely be forced to bring the boys and girls home, as home, like Rome descends in to decadence and chaos.
And Israel? Well in November my second grandchild was born, and this month I became sixty. Most of my life has passed, but as I look at my little grandchild I wonder what future he, his brother and even his parents have here.
I was once told an anecdote it goes like this: Every day a Jew on his way to work would pass by an Arab sitting by the roadside. One day the Jew stopped and asked the Arab, “Why do you sit here by the road every day?” The Arab answered thus, “ I’m carrying on a tradition that has been in my family for generations, you see my grandfather used to sit here during the Ottoman occupation and they went. Then his son sat here during the British rule and then they went, and now I’m waiting here for the Jews to go. We Arabs have a lot of patience, for we know in the end the sand will reclaim its desert ”