Thursday, July 24, 2008

Al Ahram prints a critical letter

Kudos to Egypt's Al Ahram for actually publishing a letter that ridicules some of its pseudo-intellectual Israel bashing:
Sir -- 'Of jackals and crocodiles' (Al-Ahram Weekly 10-16 July) regurgitates the theory that the war in Iraq was initiated for the purpose of protecting Israel or, in any case, that Israel played a "leading role" in the war.

You state that Ehud Barak, Israel's minister of defence, is part of a government that is "largely funded and sustained by the US government". Israel's annual gross domestic product is over $130 billion and it receives $3 billion in aid annually from the US. In other words, US aid is insignificant in the context of the size of Israel's economy. Aside from being factually inaccurate, you would like us to draw the inference that Israel's aggressive lobbyists in the US are responsible for this largess and that their talents of persuasion were also put to work in manipulating the US government into deciding to invade Iraq. If Israel is so weak as to require "sustenance" from the US (i.e. support without which it would collapse), how in the world could it compel the US to enter into a $1 trillion war?

My intent here is to point out the internal inconsistencies in your thinking and, unfortunately, many others in the Middle East. Rather than face the realities of the backwardness of Arab politics and economics, you prefer to see their woes as being the result of a colonialist implant on the Middle East (Israel) which, if not for the support of the master imperialist power (or the Great Satan, if you prefer), would be blown away like so many grains of sand in the wind of jihad. However, this would leave the Israelis/Jews looking like pathetic puppets rather than the omnipotent Machiavellian conspirators that Arabs know them to be.

Where is the evidence that Israel is "directly and indirectly responsible for a large share of the war efforts"? Despite providing no money, troops or logistics for the Iraq war, Israel is accused of playing a big part in the planning and implementation of US policy. All we get in support of this are a few quotes from people uninvolved in the war and a report of Israeli operatives in Kurdistan. Yes, no doubt Israeli military intelligence shared their findings with the US, but it was American military intelligence that manipulated the data, not Israel. In fact, many or even most senior Israeli military officials were not in favour of the war in Iraq. The reason: Iran was and is the greatest threat to Israel and, as is now obvious, to weaken Iraq is to strengthen Iran. That the war was not in Israel's interests is implied by the Seymour Hersh story cited in yours. Moreover, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld planned and ran the war on their own (maybe with a little help from George Bush) and, unfortunately, were completely unsusceptible to outside advice or influence.

There are many reasons why the US (and the rest of the West, for the most part) and Israel are allies, but the main one is that today they see the world in the same way. The path forward is through economic growth and liberal democracy; fantasy and fanaticism will leave Arabs forever on the wrong side of the separation wall.

Jacques Cousineau