The U.S. and Israel: War Crimes and the Special Relationship

Revolutionary Worker #1147, April 21, 2002, posted at

Millions of people in city after city, around the world, have been burning the flags of the U.S. and Israel. Clearly they are not impressed with U.S. government claims to be "honest brokers" in the Middle East.

As Israel's army continues to savage the Palestinian West Bank, U.S. spokesmen say that the White House wants Israel to pull back. But the world saw how U.S. Secretary Powell took a slow week to get to Jerusalem, while Israeli tanks pounded a dozen West Bank towns.

The U.S. portrays itself as a frustrated "peace-maker." But it is hard for anyone to believe that the U.S. superpower could not force Israel to pull back if they wanted.

In fact, as Israel was invading the Palestinian towns and cities of the West Bank, the U.S. military delivered the first of 24 new Black Hawk helicopters to the Israeli military.

We are reminded of the man whose dog bit whenever he said, "Sit!"

Bush yells, "Sit!"--as Sharon bites some more. And, in the process, the White House gets a little public distance from the massacres in the West Bank.

Who can miss that the U.S. claims the Israeli massacres are "justified self-defense" and blames Arafat and the Palestinians for the ongoing fighting? Powell grins in his meeting with Sharon --and postpones his planned meeting with Arafat. Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer announces (with a straight face), "The President believes that Ariel Sharon is a man of peace" and adds that it is Arafat who has "not done enough" to stop the fighting. Meanwhile it is Sharon who commands the army units who are bulldozing Palestinian resisters into mass graves in Jenin, and Arafat who sits imprisoned under Israeli guns in his Ramallah office.

The talk of the U.S. serving as "peace negotiator" and "honest broker" hides a most basic reality about Palestine: that Israel could not function for a single day without the massive U.S. support in money and weapons.

This close military and political alliance, called "the Special Relationship" by both Israel and the U.S., exists because Israel serves as a special armed agent of U.S. interests in the highly strategic Middle East and throughout the rest of the world.

The Secret of Israeli Power

"We must expand the field of Israel's strategic and security concerns in the '80s to include countries like Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and areas like the Persian Gulf and Africa, and in particular the countries of north and central Africa."

Ariel Sharon, December 1981:

How did "tiny Israel" develop a modern economy, "make the desert bloom," maintain a European standard of living and field the world's fourth most powerful military--all within the Third World, surrounded by impoverished Arab people. The answer is imperialism: Israel is propped up, financed, armed and protected by the most powerful world power, the U.S.

The volume of U.S. aid is so massive that it literally lifts the whole Israeli economy, artificially, up to the level of the imperialist countries--so that Israel is politically stabilized and remains an attractive destination for U.S. and European Jewish immigrants.

Some people believe the U.S. government is tricked into supporting Israel, against its own best interests, supposedly because of the operations of a powerful internal "Jewish political lobby." This view is exactly upside-down, and loaded with political illusions and anti-semitic overtones. Israel is supported by the U.S. ruling class because it serves U.S. imperialist interests.

The U.S. is run by cunning and experienced gangsters--the monopoly capitalist ruling class and their seasoned political representatives. They don't maintain billion dollar political alliances for decades if it doesn't serve their larger global interests.

Israel is like the U.S. Army's Fort Apache--a forward post deep in "Indian Country" during the late 1800s--fed by a steady train of supplies and weapons, manned by a steady stream of recruits, and backed up by the full power of the distant U.S. government.

The U.S. has worked, using the most sinister and cynical means, to prop up governments in the Arab world favorable to its interests. But the reactionary Arab governments are unstable--they serve the interests of corrupt pro-imperialist cliques and are threatened by the justified discontent of millions of oppressed and impoverished people.

In that situation, the U.S. has found it very useful to have a heavily armed colonial settler-state functioning in the middle of the Arab world. As Israeli government spokesmen constantly point out: "Israel is the only reliable U.S. ally in this region."

In the Mideast Israel has worked to destroy radical movements that threatened U.S. and western interests. Israel's army has played a key role in "neutralizing" Egypt and creating the conditions for a pliant pro-U.S. regime in this crucial Arab state. Israel has supplied arms to reactionary forces working for the U.S.: like the Turkish military and the rightwing Lebanese Falange. Its jets have attacked installations in Iraq. Its nukes keep the whole region under threat.

At the same time, Israeli agents and arms merchants have worked as special operatives for the U.S. and its CIA in the rest of the world--especially in operations where the U.S. would like to hide the blood on its hands.

Israel played a key role backing the ugliest reactionaries in Africa--including the apartheid government of South Africa and the dictator Mobutu in Zaire. Israel played a key role in the 1980s Iran-contra operations -- seeking out pro-U.S. elements in Iran while providing arms to the CIA's secret war against Nicaragua. They have trained death squads and counterinsurgency forces throughout the world-- including in the U.S. war in El Salvador and the infamous Guatemalan army genocide against Indian people.

All of this has been extremely valuable to U.S. imperialism--and has formed the basis for this sinister "Special Relationship." In exchange, Israel has been built up as a regional power.

For the people of this region, the result of this is both the strengthening of U.S. domination over their lives and the brutalities of constant war waged by Israel on the Palestinian people and neighboring states.

Apartheid from Oslo

Everyone is told that "irrational religious hatreds" have produced a "senseless cycle of violence" in the Middle East-- requiring the U.S. to step in, like some super-daddy, to "separate" the warring parties. Every part of this is a lie.

There is permanent war in the Middle East--because an aggressive, heavily armed Israeli settler state has been built on stolen land in the middle of the Arab world.

Since its existence requires the theft of land, its survival requires the continued suppression of those it has dispossessed. Its "security" means the pursuit of the Palestinian people, wherever they gather and organize, to prevent them from continuing their just struggle.

For decades the U.S. has opposed any struggle by Palestinians for their legitimate rights. And the U.S. government role in recent events--including the "Oslo Process" and the current Powell mission --are a continuation of this.

The collapse of the Oslo negotiations in 2000 is blamed, over and over in the media, as Arafat and the Palestinians "throwing away their only hope for peace." What is not described is the essence of this whole Oslo proposal. The "mini-state" they are offered is a form of local self-government in five tiny "cantons," disarmed in the crosshairs of Israeli tanks. And the key condition for that "deal" has been the demand that Arafat (or whoever rules the mini-state) take on the burden of suppressing any continued Palestinian resistance.

The Oslo Process was a process for legalizing a system of apartheid in Palestine. Now, while Sharon's government batters and murders the people, the U.S. government plays a parallel role as "negotiator" suggesting that the Palestinian Authority "end the violence" by signing a final surrender document and becoming prison guards for their own people.

Some forces have suggested that the U.S. government (or its NATO alliance) send observers to "separate the two sides and enforce the ceasefire." And some have even suggested that this may be the best thing for the Palestinian people, at this moment. We suggest a re-reading of the true history of the all-American "Wild West." Over and over, settlers invaded Indian lands, and fighting erupted. Over and over, the U.S. army arrived, claiming to "bring peace and separate the two sides." Over and over, the peace they brought meant the invading settlements expanded, and the original inhabitants were again robbed at gunpoint.

To put it kindly: Anyone who thinks the people will get justice, or even a moment's peace, by replacing the Israeli army with U.S. forces has lost their mind--and certainly lost any pretense of an anti-colonial, national liberation stance.

The Current Moment

The U.S. has never opposed Israel brutalizing Palestinian people -- and doesn't now. Sharon's attack on the West Bank is completely in the bloody "Let's Roll" spirit of Bush's "War on Terror." The White House calls it justified, denounces Arafat and sends more arms.

At the same time, the whole situation is screwing up U.S. plans.

The U.S. is planning a new war of aggression against Iraq. They say this openly. They discuss stockpiling a new load of smart bombs. They speculate that this summer might be a good time. They discuss it with various Arab governments.

Meanwhile, their Zionist allies have been brutalizing a whole population day after day. Sharon cannot hide it by saying "terrorist" over and over. Bush can't hide it by claiming everything is Arafat's own fault.

The Palestinian people have resisted right in the snarling face of the Israeli attack dog. They have refused to accept the creeping expansion of Israeli settlements and the humiliation of modern-day apartheid. And they have won support -- all over the world, and especially among the masses of Arab people, who have a million reasons to oppose the current world order.

The U.S. does not want to restrain Israel, its close ally and hitman. It does not want the blood of the Palestinian people on its own hands, as it prepares to decapitate Iraq. It does not want an explosion of Arab resistance or the toppling of reactionary Arab regimes--when they drop the next bombs on Baghdad.

What the U.S. it wants is a free hand to restructure the world. It wants to rule all resistance and opposition out of order.

Instead, what stands center is a whole people struggling for their rights--stirring support and new resistance around the world.

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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