Instead of promoting European-Union-style integration for our mutual benefit we are, all of us, playing a highly dangerous game in the Middle East. The major players are Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel, and the outsider with the big guns, the United States. The old truth about ‘Power Corrupts’ is in full play with all parties guilty of lying in a game of one-upmanship for dominance. People who are no threat to us are being cast as villains and military might is at an explosive level making it probable that some poor soldier, believing all this rhetoric, will ignite a spark that will result in politicians shedding crocodile tears over the deaths of thousands of more kids. On 03 July 1988 the USS Vincennes while in Iranian waters shot down an Iranian Airbus en route to Dubai killing all 290 aboard. The US has never apologized for this goof but the International Court of Justice in 1996 had it pay $61 million in compensation, letting it off lightly. There are no Iranian warships in either the Saint Lawrence or Mexican Gulfs so are not those carriers now off the Iranian coast an act of aggression? Tensions are so much higher today that a similar mistake could be catastrophic.
Rhetoric begets rhetoric; force begets force; wars beget wars - and the common folk pay. We all need to retrench. How much of the behaviour we dislike in Iran is a reaction to our behaviour?
The US snub of its 2003 baring of its soul in a plea to the US for Middle East accommodation has left it angrier and believing its isolation dictates it must go it alone.
The age-old sequence continues from the ancient oriental trade routes to Rome and Carthage, to European and US empire building. First commercial interests intrude into the lands of others, become wealthy, usurp their influence, and call in the military power of their home governments.
A ray of hope is shining from the motives of some, not all, who have given, or are still risking, their lives in the Arab Spring’s surge for a better tomorrow. This is causing a major, but devious, shift in US policies toward it basic values rather than its commercial interests.
The Sunni House of Saud, having shared much of its oil wealth with its people, retains a firm grip of control, denying dissent and human rights especially to women, and relies heavily on US military might to ensure it, and not its Shia rival Iran, is the area’s dominant power.
Iran, with the proudest historical record of all, had its oil exploited by the West, endured the West’s support of Sunni Saddam’s invasion that took a million lives and used poison gas with ingredients supplied by the West, is surrounded by nuclear-armed nations, and now suffers painful sanctions. As in Saudi Arabia the ruling Ayatollahs deny human rights and democracy to the people.
Israel, resurrected by the West and by its own talents but on land that saw the killing and evacuation of millions, shows little gratitude in its treatment of the Palestinians who, contrary to the utterances of some US politicians, have inhabited the area longer than the original Jewish tribes. Paranoid that its survival demands uncompromising vigilance it uses assured US backing in its own interests even when it harms its benefactor. Never harmed are 50 Jewish synagogues, schools, and hospital in Iran and the 200,000 Iranian Jews who live in Israel. Why destroy this happy fact?
All of this has caused changing alliances, rhetoric the opposite of action, deep distrusts, and dangerous fear. Like Global Warming, Environmental Disasters, and Human Suffering, where so much is man made. We do not need to build yet another tinder box in the Middle East.
The military power of the US has mainly failed since Korea. Its carelessness with economic power gave us a recession mainly restricted to Europe and the US. Its humanitarian power, used unobtrusively in the spirit of the Arab Spring, may work wonders.
US political infighting must give way to global safety. Trying to outflank Republican hawks by keeping all options, including military strikes, to prevent Iran from acquiring the ability, if not the will, to built a nuclear weapon when nothing is said of Israel’s 200, or the larger arsenals of other countries, is self defeating. Iran is less of an aggressor nation than all the others.
Firm actions for a stable peace, coupled with human rights, are imperative. Let us all accept our share of the blame and proceed with mutual respect.
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