Bringing the Arab-Israeli War home

If America were blessed with a non-interventionist foreign policy, we could all thank Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for giving President-elect Barack Obama a thoroughgoing lesson in the absolute irrelevancy of Israel and Palestine to the national interests of the United States. More than a week into Israel’s invasion of Gaza, America is still alive and kicking and none of our citizens are dead, which is the way it should be, as this is their religious war and not ours. If stubborn non-interventionism were our creed — as the Founders intended — the Gaza war could continue for two more days or two more months and we could simply shrug and mutter “Who cares?” America could simply go on its way, rebuilding its economy and marveling over the madness of two religions fighting to the death over a barren sandpit at the eastern end of the Mediterranean.

Unfortunately, America today is run by a political and media elite that is addicted to intervention. This would be bad enough if these men and women had the brains to intervene and produce a result that benefits U.S. interests, but they are not. They are instead — despite their Ivy League diplomas — uneducated and naïve people who still live in the Cold War, foolishly believing that America is the boss of a strong Western/NATO community (which is now in its death throes on Afghanistan’s plains); that other nations are eager to do America’s dirty work; and, most fatally of all, that the national security interests of the United States and Israel are identical.

There should be no mistake among Americans about what is going on in Gaza. Although Israel has billed its invasion as an attempt to destroy Hamas and thereby protect Israelis, its main goal is to ensure that Obama is tied as tight as Gulliver to the status quo of U.S. foreign policy in the Muslim world. In addition to hurting Hamas, Israel’s invasion of Gaza was designed to and has successfully underscored the salience of Osama bin Laden’s now 12-plus-year-old message to the Muslim world:

First, that the United States — under Republicans or Democrats — will allow Israel to do anything it pleases in regard to starving and bombing the Palestinians. This has been underlined for Muslims by the words of President George W. Bush, the silence of President-elect Obama, and, according to the Jerusalem Post, by the blame-it-all-on-the-Palestinians visits of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York Congressman Gary Ackerman, and leaders of major U.S. Jewish organizations.

Second, that the ruling Muslim regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and elsewhere are impotent “agents” of the Zionists and Crusaders and will do nothing to protect Muslims when they are attacked by the U.S.-led West, be those attacks in Palestine, Pakistan, Iraq, or Afghanistan. “[The] failure of the Arab foreign ministers at their meeting in Cairo to take any position to confront the continuing Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip,” explains the independent and influential UK-based Arabic daily Al-Quds al-Arabi, “confirms the theory that says the Israeli aggression has come as a result of coordination and the blessing of influential Arab states, especially Egypt and Saudi Arabia.”

Third, that Muslims are regarded by the West as subhumans, and their blood, lives, and children are — for America, Israel, and Europe — worthless and expendable. The Gaza score to date will indelibly make this point across the Islamic world: to date, 500 dead and 2,300 wounded Palestinians and less than 10 dead Israelis. As Pakistan’s Frontier Post has said, the West silently watches as “Israel is set to starve the Palestinian Muslims into nonexistence. … No respect for Muslim life! Muslim blood is cheaper than water!”

After the Gaza invasion, Israel will have accomplished two vital goals. It will have reenergized Hamas, which will in turn renew the suicide bombings inside Israel that allow America’s Israel-firsters — including Obama’s IDF-veteran chief of staff — to portray their country-of-first-allegiance as the poor, put-upon innocent. It will also have produced the end of whatever slim hope there was of an Arab-Israeli peace settlement over the course of Obama’s term. What is likely to become known across the Islamic world as the “Gaza slaughter” will ensure the continued growth of the Sunni insurgency al-Qaeda leads and inspires. All told, Israeli leaders at the conclusion of the Gaza invasion will be able to more credibly quote President Bush and say that their “mission” has been accomplished.

Now, there is no reason for Americans to be angry at Israel. Hamas is a nagging military threat to Israel, and Israel’s leaders can defend their citizens in the manner they deem appropriate. Indeed, had various U.S. governments abstained from continuously intervening in the Arab-Israeli conflict over the past 30 years, it may well have been long since settled and over — one way or another.

The American people should be livid, though, with their bipartisan political elite and the Israel-firsters at Commentary, the New York Times, National Review, the Weekly Standard, and the Washington Post, as well as that hive of anti-American U.S. citizens that fund and lead AIPAC, for involving them in this barbarous mess. At some point down the road, every U.S.-taxpayer-funded bomb, artillery shell, and bullet aimed at the Palestinians will yield Americans killed at the hands of al-Qaeda, its allies, or those it inspires in attacks launched in response to U.S. support for Israel. Those Americans will be killed because their political and media leaders — corrupted to the bone by AIPAC — have involved them in a religious war that threatens nothing vital to their country’s principles or national security, their personal economic well-being, or their children’s lives.

And worse is yet to come. Israel’s Gaza invasion has produced an unusual number of public anti-Israel demonstrations by American Muslims around the United States. The 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war produced similar events, but the current, Gaza-focused demonstrations are angrier and larger in number. How long, one wonders, will it be before Israel’s military actions lead to violent clashes in America?

If this occurs, Israel and its American supporters will have the insurance policy they desire above any other, one they are desperate to obtain before Israel takes harsh action — by forced deportation or other means — against its rapidly growing and radicalizing Arab population. Once the Arab-Israeli religious war has been brought into the United States and is producing blood in America’s streets, the Israel-firsters will claim the carnage proves that secular America and theocratic Israel are in the same boat and facing the same enemies. Flogging this plausible but palpable lie, AIPAC-owned American leaders will consign this country to an unending war against Islam, the same catastrophe that is Israel’s lot.


Author: Michael F. Scheuer

Michael F. Scheuer worked at the CIA as an intelligence officer for 22 years. He was the first chief of its Osama bin Laden unit, and helped create its rendition program, which he ran for 40 months. He is an American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst.