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Iran, Syria, Israel and the US: the battle for the moral high ground
By: Reuven Kaminer
7 March 2012

Well, it seems that the situation in Syria is complex. It is certainly complex enough to create some bitter disputes in the left. But, Iran it is hoped, is clear and simple. Or should be.

The US and Israel are threatening Iran with aggression. With no basis in international law, and in complete violation of the principles of national sovereignty and basing themselves on a flagrant disregard for the truth of the matter, the US and Israel are pushing the region into dangerous, mounting tension.

One must fear that some one in the left will come up with the preposterous idea that between Netanyahu and Obama, the latter represents the ďlesser evil.Ē Though every effort is made to convince us that Netanyahu is exploiting and manipulating the poor Mr. President, Obama has the wherewithal to stop this crazy plunge in dark death and destruction. Nothing is more disgusting than the probability that Obama is only conforming to the requirements of a stiff electoral challenge down the road. Can one balance the danger to the lives of millions with a highly questionable argument for sucking up to the US electorate.

Iran and Syria

Meanwhile, Netanyahu demands that Obama expand and extend sanctions against both countries. These sanctions presented as the ďhumanist alternativeĒ to military aggression are actually acts of brutal class murder. It is clear that it is the poorer section of the population that will undergo disproportionate suffering and deprivation. While no proof is adduced that the sanctions will bring about desired changes in policy, no one can deny that for the poor and the mass of people this means real misery, here and now. This means malnutrition especially among children. Starving children on a massive scale must be some sort of a crime against humanity.

These days, a virtual storm of denunciations is leveled against Bashar Assad. According to these denunciations, Asad must be considered a despot and a war criminal. I tend to believe that the gentleman may well have earned this kind of accusation. But why is it so difficult and complicated to add that Obama and Netanyahu are also despots of the region and war criminals. It appears that this is not the kind of language used in cultured circles. Someone may pop up and explain that Bibi and Obama are democratically elected leaders. Even if this is true, they were not elected by Syrians or Iranians. Moreover, Syrians and Iranians have the same kind of right to attack the US and Israel as the US and Israel have the right to attack Syria and Iran. If it is true that all those involved in the decision making process are morally corrupt, then Assadís despotism must be analyzed in the context of Obamaís and Netanyahuís regional despotism.

Many right thinking people are convinced of Assadís crimes. But is he the only or even main culprit? On the left, the real left, everything should be done to emphasize the fact that Obama and Netanyahu deserve equal condemnation regarding all major developments in the region.

Now it has come to my attention that it is not particularly effective to go around calling ďourĒ leaders despots and war criminals. Criticism of the establishmentís key figures is usually couched in terms designed to facilitate participation in the dominant discourse. Using strong words entails long and furious disputes regarding the style of language used and is often counterproductive in attempts to convince liberal opinion regarding the specifics of the case under discussion. So, I do not advise the standard usage of extreme appellations. But there are exceptions. When a crisis involving violence appears, one important element in the ensuing struggle is the fight over definitions and symbols. Speaking in exact, shall we say scientific terminology, Bashar Assad is a despot guilty of war crimes and in this region Barack Obama and Benyamin Netanyahu are no different. I do not have the time here to fully explain this simple and obvious truth. I can only say in telegraphic terms that the entire regionís axis of oppression and expropriation is a long term project of the United States which has picked up Israel as a junior partner in its nefarious project. This is the mainspring of events in this region.

At the moment, the entire West is involved in one of the intensive branding campaigns that heats up when it has to convince itself that it is worth its while to mount armed intervention. The by-product, if not the main goal, of these campaigns is to convey the sense that Washington and NATO occupy the moral high ground. It is the conscious or unconscious belief in the moral superiority of Obama and Netanyahu that guarantees the desired response of public opinion.

In order to keep the present crises in the region in some sort of reasonable perspective it is necessary to deny the moral high ground to the US and its accomplices. It is also necessary to keep in mind the relative strength of the forces involved. The US and Israel threaten Syria and Iran. Syria and Iran do not threaten the US and Israel. Assadís actions should not obscure the main sources of tension in the region.

Being Palestinian

I am an Israeli Jew. My personal circumstances are quite comfortable, thank you. But I have been around long enough to figure out that the indigenous Palestinian society and the people of this land have been rendered stateless and homeless by virtue of the policies and acts implemented by the sovereign state of Israel. The sponsor and endorser of this state of affairs is the United States. It is of course no easy task explaining to the Israeli populace that the advantages to it that have accrued from this situation might turn out to be a very slippery affair. Can the crimes against Palestine and its people be explained without knocking the US and Israel off their liberal pedestal? Is the repression and the expulsion of the Palestinian people less of a war crime because it continues for decades, because it has been, for the time, relatively successful in grinding down the resistance of the Palestinian people? How can Obama and Netanyahu, responsible for the ongoing tragedy in Palestine, strut around the Arab world as the protectors of human rights, as a force for peace and democracy in Syria or in Iraq? So: End All Violence and Intervention in Syria; Stop Aggression Against Iran; Freedom and Justice for Palestine.


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