The Middle East is of vital strategic importance to the United States and Israel plays an important part in the grand imperialist plan. When discussing U.S foreign policy in relation to Israel and the Middle East people like to speak of the almighty Jewish lobby groups and how they manipulate and control the U.S government. Chomsky writes in his book Fateful Triangle; “Reference to Jewish influence over politics and opinion seriously under estimates the scope of the so-called ‘support for Israel’” “No pressure group will dominate access to public opinion or maintain consistent influence over policy-making unless its aims are close to those of elite elements with real power” “America’s relationship to Israel ‘has been determined primarily by the changing role that Israel occupied in the context of America’s changing conceptions of its political-strategic interests in the Middle East.’”
This same principle applies to the election of a new President in the United States, which if you are to believe the rhetoric and the propaganda, can mean real “change” not only in America but around the world. The very idea that the nature of U.S imperialism and the political-strategic interests that shape foreign policy (and have been built upon over many years of war, bloodshed and clandestine politics) could be altered by the election of one capitalist President over another shows a lack of any real analysis of the true nature of U.S imperialism and its so called democracy. Obama himself provided a fascinating insight into this when recently he stated that “support for Israel in this country goes beyond party”.
Let’s take a look at what some of Barak Obama’s leading officials and advisors have had to say on the issue of Israel and Palestine:
The newly appointed Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said recently in her first address to congress: “We must also actively pursue a strategy of smart power in the Middle East that addresses the security needs of Israel”.She continued, “the President-elect and I understand and are deeply sympathetic to Israel’s desire to defend itself under the current conditions, and to be free of shelling by Hamas rockets.”
On Face the Nation, Obama’s senior adviser David Axelrod explained how an Obama administration would handle the situation: “Well, certainly, the president-elect recognizes the special relationship between United States and Israel. It’s an important bond, an important relationship. He’s going to honor it … And obviously, this situation has become even more complicated in the last couple of days and weeks. As Hamas began its shelling, Israel responded. But it’s something that he’s committed to.”
When asked how he would solve the Israel/Palestine conflict Vice President Joe Biden responded: “No one in the Senate has been a better friend to Israel than Joe Biden. I would have never joined this ticket were I not absolutely sure Barack Obama shared my passion.
The common themes of past US Imperialist leaders continue to come through in relation to the Palestinian question with members of this new administration. This should come as no surprise as Obama is using a mix of Clinton era throw backs and ex Bush cronies, like defense secretary Robert Gates, combined with Pro Israeli hawks like new Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and big business hacks like Jim Jones, new national security advisor, who like Condoleezza Rice before him comes from the board of Chevron.
We need to look no further than Barack Obama himself though to get an idea of the direction of American Foreign policy towards Palestine, when he addressed AIPAC (a Jewish lobby group) fresh from winning the Democratic nomination for the Presidency.
While Israel is the “Middle East’s only democracy”, he hypocritically wants to “isolate Hamas” who won free and fair elections, and in fact he “opposed elections in 2006 with Hamas on the ballot”. The arrogance of imperialism knows no bounds, not only can elections be completely ignored at a whim but which parties and ideals can be represented in said elections can be dictated by international political bullying. Hillary Clinton recently continued this line and attempted to derail Palestinian Unity talks in Cairo announcing that any unity government would have to recognize Israel’s right to Exist (which many Palestinian groups rightly refuse to do including Hamas) and abide by past agreements like Oslo.
Adding to this Obama believes that it is important to preserve the inherently racist nature of the “Jewish State”, which could explain the absence of the U.S at the recent U.N racism conference.
“Those who threaten Israel threaten us!”, “We cannot relent, we cannot yield and as President I will never compromise when it comes to Israel’s security”, “Proud” to stand by Israel “in the face of all threats” as they are a “stalwart ally”, “and I will bring an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security”.
Interestingly Israel has a right to defend itself, whereas a Palestinian population who are under military occupation and constant attacks of varying kinds are branded as terrorists when they attempt to resist.
Obama states that he will “bring to the Whitehouse”, a commitment to, “Ensuring Israel’s Qualitative military advantage”, echoing a statement by Israel’s Minister of the Interior Ehud Barack when he announced that Oslo II “ensures Israel’s absolute superiority in both the military and economic fields.”
Israel is the single largest recipient of American foreign aid, receiving $3 billion in grants annually since 1985. Interestingly this used to be divided between economic and military aid. With Israel becoming economically self sufficient the former president, and current president, Benjamin Netanyahu addressed congress in 1996 and advised that economic aid could be phased out. In 1998 Israel proposed that the $1.2 Billion in economic aid annually could be gradually eliminated and added to the $1.8 Billion in military aid received annually. Prior to his election as President Barack Obama pledged to implement George Bush’s 2008 plan to provide 3 billion in military aid a year for the next ten years to Israel. This military aid will continue to help Israel to build one of the most technologically advanced militaries in the world and ensure their qualitative “Military Advantage”. Unlike all other countries that receive military aid Israel is allowed by the U.S to spend a portion (up to 26%) on procurement from Israeli defense companies. This has helped them to become one of the top ten arms suppliers worldwide and enabled them to supply arms to groups that the U.S has been unable to due to domestic pressure. Chomsky refers to Israel as Americas’ mercenary state and relates this to their clandestine role for the U.S in Africa, Guatemala and South America. Israel also plays the role of “cops on the beat” in the Middle East, described in 1973 by the Senate’s leading expert on the topic; Henry Jackson as being to “inhibit and contain those irresponsible and radical elements in certain Arab States….who, were they free to do so, would pose a grave threat indeed to our principal sources of petroleum in the Persian Gulf”.
Quoting Moshe Machover, a Jewish anti-Zionist; “no genuine resolution is possible in the short or medium term, because of the enormous disparity in the balance of power. The Palestinians, economically shattered, lightly armed and enjoying little effective international support, are facing a dominant modern capitalist Israel, a regional hegemonic nuclear super-power, a local hatchet man and junior partner of the global hyper-power. So long as such gross imbalance of power persists, any settlement will inevitably impose harsh oppressive conditions on the weaker side. To expect anything else would be wildly unrealistic.”
It is quite ironic that the state supposedly providing the ‘road maps for peace’ is the same state providing the military equipment and funding for the occupation of the West Bank, the siege against Gaza and the maintenance of a qualitative military advantage for Israel, the same state that preaches the virtues of democracy while denying Palestinians theirs. The Peace Process has turned into nothing but a means for Imperialist interests to legitimize the brutal dispossession of the Palestinian people and to keep “irresponsible radical Arab elements” in check while ensuring reactionary control over crucial resources.