Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Massacre in Qana: Pat Buchanan gets it right...

If AIPAC and the Israel First! lobby in the Democratic Party (e.g. Air America radio) don't start to restrain their passions, they will destroy the Democratic Party. The progressive movement is really about universal principles, about an earnest attempt to do our best to advance the development of human potential in balance with economic and environmental sustainability, to choose peace over war, to increase freedoms. Some of that is internationalist in scope, i.e. we would have international agencies operate on principle, not just with the narrow self-interest of individual states that is encouraged by some neo-conservatives and some that operate according to the 'strict-father frame' in Lakoff's jargon as it applies to foreign policy. (I apologize if I loose some readers there, but you can ignore it and keep reading and I'll try to keep this simple and accessible and link to some good arguments and examples).

Background

Our American interest in Israel was heightened by the Cold War. Israel became a difficult but available partner against the surrounding Soviet clients states of the Arab world. The Israeli lobby in Washington cultivated relationships with liberal anti-communists, the progenitors of the neoconservative movement, such as Rep. Charlie Wilson of Texas, who shared an interest in defeating the Soviet Union but otherwise represented districts without any interest in Israel. Israel was however a dangerous ally, who spied on us and attacked the U.S.S. Liberty. In the end, we beat the Soviets in Afghanistan, and Israel proliferated our weapons technologies to new enemies, like China, who in turn transmitted the same to states like Iran and North Korea. In any case, the Cold War is over, the former Soviet Client of Egypt has long been a major client of the U.S. and an ally to Israel.

Why do we have to maintain an endless loyalty to an ally in a conflict that has ended? We've dismissed the French and the Germans as old Europe, and work against their interests and investments in the Middle East constantly. Do we support Israel out of habit or because of the entrenched influence of the lobbyists and consultants that made powerful ties and big profits when billions of dollars (per year) of secret (American taxpayer's) cash was sloshing around in the pipeline to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan, in smaller operations to study and control political outcomes throughout the Islamic and Third World, where the proxy contest for military dominance and economic resources played out. Again, that fight is over. We won. It is worth reading a couple of books to analize the true cost incurred because of the methods used (e.g. terror, proliferation of WMDs) - I recommend Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 and Charlie Wilson's War.

Hezbollah

I believe that it is possible, even necessary to seperate the American issue with Hezbollah's terrorism against the U.S., and crime within the borders of the U.S., from Israel's conflict with Hezbollah and other militant groups.

We need to unfuse the link in the minds of the the Islamic world between the U.S. and Israel especially where it relates to the perception of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

For a great book with some insight as to the real threat we face from Hezbollah, as Americans, I recommend See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism

Spinning the War between Israel and Lebanon: The Massacre in Qana

In my opinion, Pat Buchanan gets it right in his opinion piece: The moral culpability for Qana, and Air America co-founder Sheldon Drobny is absolutely cracked to suggest that American liberals/progressives are either anti-semites or duped by Karl Rove in not siding with Israel in their blogging and commenting about the current crisis.

I might be a liberal, but I am going to take an 'America First!' and a 'Peace First!' perspective before I take on a 'Israel First!' one when it comes to spending American taxpayer dollars, destroying American credibility in the Arab and Islamic world, and what it means to be a liberal/progressive in foreign policy. And I am going to think of Minnesota's interest before I think about Dems in other states/from other states consider to be best for us in the Middle East. There might be compelling pressure groups for and against Israel in New York City, but they aren't my constituents and co-organizers in the MN DFL. If Al Franken can't start to think about his predjudices against Shia, against other muslims, etc. before he opens his mouth on the radio (I heard him say some stupid things on Friday), he is going to get called on his racism by Scandinavian Lutherans who don't have an interest in Israel, and and don't buy Texan evangelical prophecy. He can maybe go back to New York and run for Senate there on a racist/anti-Shia platform, but it is not going to work in Minnesota.

What Al Franken could have said that would have been more sensible would have taken more air time, more thought and consideration, and a higher level of education about and insight into the political and ethnic makeup of the Middle East would have been a criticism of the person he was attacking because of the political ideology and stated agenda of that person, not "of course he is an anti-semite, he is a Shia, he is a terrorist"-sort of ad hominem attack that he made... If I could get a mp3 of the show I would give you a more precise quote and better context.

The portion of blogosphere that is intent to defend Israel's bombing of Qana and similar civilian targets is really sickening with conspiracies and spin on the fact of the atrocity in Qana, with questions of staged photos of the corpses, of misleading body counts. Of course our understanding is limited by what the media shows us, we can't see first hand for ourselves without significant expense, risk, and a bravery that most of us don't possess to uncover the truth for ourselves. As we consume this media in the relative comfort and safety of our homes in the U.S. we are going to seek out information that supports our predjudices, and derive real pleasure from rejecting information we are not inclined to accept as truthful.

A decent source of information about the humanitarian crisis in Lebanon, from a variety of NGO and governmental perspectives is here: ReliefWeb - Complex Emergency - Lebanon

The Future of the Democratic Party and Charges of Anti-Semitism

I guess I am going to be part of that progressive faction of the party that will be attacked by AIPAC Dems as anti-semitic for being against the policies represented by Chuck Schumer and Joe Lieberman, but also attacked by some racist Republicans in my own neighborhood for supporting some Democratic Jews who are occasionally right on policy and messaging, e.g. Russ Feingold (nearly always right), George Soros and even Al Franken (on domestic politics, on his research into the DeLay/Abramoff scandal, etc.). And I will be attacked by nearly everyone for sugeesting that more people read Chomsky's Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy

Other Minnesota Dems have had specious charges anti-semitism and of "supporting the terrorists" thrown at them for going against the will of AIPAC: A letter to AIPAC, by Betty McCollum (MN-5)