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People tend to present themselves as they wish to be seen, not as how they are. Politicians do likewise. Pres. Bush presents himself as a conservative, which is respectable, rather than as a robber baron, which is not. As a conservative, he supposedly opposes enlargement of governmental supervision over the economy and spending for it. Actually, he has increased that spending. Presidents Nixon and Reagan, reputed to be staunch conservatives, did the same.
What are liberals to do, praise Republican Presidents for adding to Social Security or Medicare? Instead, they accept the Republican Presidents' self-designation, and criticize them for what they are reputed to be doing but don't. Meanwhile, genuine conservatives, such as those whose write for the "NY Sun," rail against Pres. Bush for expanding domestic spending.
I think it would be more accurate to refine our description. These Republican Presidents do spend more on popular social programs and they have not found a way to curb automatic increases in "entitlements," but they subsidize big corporations more and reduce funding for inspection of corporate practices.
In foreign policy, Pres. Bush depicted the US as a great power at war with terrorism. He meant we were counter-attacking in the Islamist war on us. Once he referred to it more as a war on totalitarian Islamism, but he was criticized for that and backed off. He comes out strong for some things, but backs away meekly from criticism. I think he has become sensitized to certain criticism. He does not know how to argue back. This is too bad, because some of his speeches are eloquent and show a potential for greatness. One who constantly retreats from the expected partisan criticism in our polarized society, cannot fulfill that potential. He seems about to turn possible victory in Iraq into looming defeat.
Defeat? Initially, the US took charge of Iraq, but didn't know what to do. It lost momentum, allowing resentment to build up. The US refused to let Mr. Chalabi run the interim government, though he was a moderate who knew what to do. Then, without stopping the influx of terrorists, we turned power over to other Iraqis. They are putting Islamists in charge. Meanwhile, the insurgents have infiltrated the native security forces. The result is likely to be an Islamist-oriented regime, regardless of whether the Sunnis or Shiites prevail in what is shaping up as a civil war. The regime would be anti-American and a threat to world peace. That is back to square one.
Posing as a great power, the US induced other countries to anticipate further moves in the war on terrorism. Our movement is to tread water. When we don't advance, we lose face, and when we lose face, in foreign policy, we lose ground. The US has not moved against Syria, despite its being a major part of the evil axis, with the exception of demanding its withdrawal from Lebanon.
Finally, the US Ambassador to Syria complained that foreign jihadists pour into Syria, receive military training on bases without government interference, and then are let through the Syrian border into Iraq, where they fight Coalition forces. There is no indication that this complaint will be followed up by retaliation rather than reiteration.
In other words, Syria is interfering grievously in Iraq against us, but the US lacks the resources or the desire to put a stop to that interference.
Is the complaint to be taken seriously? How would the US government calculate matters? US military doctrine once was to be able to fight 2½ regional wars. Now we are stretched thin for one! The US has almost no troops to spare for a new offensive outside Iraq. It has stripped the National Guards of half its troops, to constitute half the US forces in Iraq (figuring roughly). If we poured more into Syria, we would have too few for the next domestic disaster. We saw the collapse of law and order in New Orleans. We cannot afford a recurrence, and the President does not feel we can afford to raise taxes to rebuild the military. So he threatens without backup.
That leaves the US with few options. We could punish Syria, anyway. We could bomb its conventional and non-conventional forces from the air and the sea, backed up by the Israeli Air Force. The Israelis first would have to use much of that force to neutralize the rockets of Hizbullah, to avoid a bombardment of its own cities. Both Israel and the US would gain greatly from this, though it would not directly seal the border. The US would be taken seriously again. Fear an attack on its industries, next, Syria might behave, and it would be less able to make war. How would the huge Egyptian military react to the liquidation of a fellow Arab military?
Alternatively, the US could punish Syria by revising its policy for the Golan Heights, and recognize Israel's annexation of them as final. But the US won't do either. It is too anti-Zionist. Specifically, the US Executive Branch is anti-Zionist.
The State Dept. opposed the formation of the Jewish State. Once it was formed, State then embargoed it, though it was under invasion by aggressors and Sec. Marshall and every other body outside Israel anticipated that the new state probably would not survive. The Dept. agitated to have statehood rescinded.
The State Dept. and US Presidents have halted, reversed, or worked to reverse the Israeli advance in every war. Oslo and Road Map are the latest schemes for doing so, but there were others. If Israel withdrew from the Territories, the jihadists would find themselves nearer Israel and easier to assault it, and Arab states would find Israel without secure borders. One cannot be more anti-Israel than that.
The US has offered Israel guarantees if it would make certain concessions to the Arabs. It guaranteed Israeli passage through the Suez Canal and it guaranteed Egypt would not move its missiles forward. The US failed, insultingly in one case, to fulfill those guarantees when the Arabs violated the agreements that the US seconded. Egypt's blockade of the Straits of Tiran in 1949 was ignored by the USA until Israel, together with England and France, attacked Egypt in 1956. Then America acted - President Eisenhower pressured Israel to withdraw from the areas it had taken, Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula. America did promise Israel that it would maintain freedom of navigation in the waterway, but when Egypt again sabre-rattled in 1967 -- it barred Israeli passage and blockaded Israel's port in Eilat -- President Johnson couldn't recall America's promises.
Even the famous Nixon rescue of Israel during the Yom Kippur War was heartless. Kissinger deliberately held up a resupply of Israel for days. Israelis suffered casualties. But Kissinger wanted to soften up the regime so that it would be amenable to letting the trapped Egyptian armies go and then agreeing to agree to withdraw from the Sinai.
The US arms Israel's enemies, sometimes free and including terrorists. It does not demand, other than limp lip service, Arab compliance with peace agreements with Israel. The US assures Israel that some of those arms have conditions that keep them from being used against Israel. For examples, S. Arabia got certain jets but had to promise not to install the ability to fuel them in mid-air so they could reach Israel, and not to station some of them in its base near Israel. It violated those agreements without repercussions from the US.
As the Arabs violate those agreements, and Israel defends itself, whatever method Israel uses, the US criticizes as "disproportionate," dangerous to "civiliains," upsetting to the phony "peace process," etc.. Sometimes the US withholds weaponry or spare parts, in punishment for a vigorous defense or to extort from Israel a withdrawal. A Defense Ministry official told me about a ban on shipping phantom jets, in 1971.
The US keeps secret the many contributions Israel makes to its defense and welfare.
The Pollard case started when Jonathan Pollard found out that the US was withholding from Israel vital promised information about Arab military designs on Israel. The US was giving Israel disinformation, too. If Israel were in battle, that disinformation would increase its casualties. With the information Pollard gave Israel, Israel was prepared in case Saddam would bomb it with poison. He withheld the poison, it is believed because Israel was prepared. The US insisted that Israel accept the casualties and damage from those Scuds, without defending itself.
Congress passed a law requiring Pres. Clinton to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem. It did not include a waiver enabling the President to evade the move. Nevertheless, Pres. Clinton and the incumbent both claimed there were waivers about the Embassy. (Actually, waivers applied to other provisions but not the Embassy.) Then they took the waiver, citing some catch phrase such as national interests or national security, but not explaining it in any way to justify it. They lie when taking waivers against aid to the P.A., too. In this instance, the Presidents are reflecting State Dept. policy (and the position paper of the Council on Foreign Relations, to which they belong) to take Jerusalem, at least the Old City, away from Israel.
There are other sore points, but more controversial, involving US attempts to degrade Israel's military industry, using as a fulcrum military aid to Israel (which comes from Congress, which is friendly to Israel but ineffective). The controversial aspect is that the US fears that Israel would sell some of the features to enemies of the US. Israel does not know how to iron this out and spell out agreements on this.
To sum up, despite all the negative anti-Israel propaganda coming from the news and TV media, the majority of the American people are genuinely friendly towards Israel. But the historical anti-Zionism of the State Department controls what America does in the Middle East. Even though it is obvious that Israel is America's only reliable ally in the Middle East, America has always hampered Israel's need to react to her hostile neighbors and has prevented Israel from claiming the fruits of winning wars she did not start.
Richard Shulman is a veteran defender of Israel on several
web-based forums. His comments and analyses appear often on
Think-Israel. He provides cool information and right-on-target
overviews. He distributes his essays by email. To subscribe, write him
Richard Shulman is a veteran defender of Israel on several web-based forums. His comments and analyses appear often on Think-Israel. He provides cool information and right-on-target overviews. He distributes his essays by email. To subscribe, write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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