Bad Middle Eastern policies create terrible consequences

Mark Mansperger
Tri-City Herald, May 16, 2019

America has helped to build a better world with virtuous policies but has also laid waste (both at home and abroad) with others. Increased American naval and air forces are now deployed in the Middle East to threaten Iran. It behooves us to truly understand this situation.

The entire catastrophe of the 9/11 era could have been prevented with humane, informed Middle Eastern policies. Shooting down an Iranian airliner in 1988 and invading Iraq did not help our standing there, but other policy failures involve our interactions with the Saudis and Israelis.

For decades, American leaders have cozied up to the Saudi royal family (House of Saud), allowing them to run roughshod over human rights in exchange for their oil.

The main power of the House of Saud now seems to be Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, who ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey last fall. Our hypocritical acceptance of Saudi abuses has led to widespread resentment toward the United States.

As for Israel, in the early 20th century, only about 10 percent of the population in that area was Jewish. Great Britain, as the local colonial governor, issued the Balfour Declaration in 1917 proclaiming that much of the land was to be a homeland for the Jews, but Palestinian rights were also to be guaranteed. Jewish immigration into Palestine ensued, which intensified after World War II. The State of Israel was born in 1948 after the United Nations agreed to partition the land, without Palestinian consent, into Jewish and Palestinian sections.

The Palestinians have since seen more of their land taken away. Today, the Israelis occupy vastly more territory than America, Britain or the U.N. ever agreed to. All of the West Bank, Gaza, and parts of Jerusalem are legally and morally supposed to form a Palestinian state.

Israel is actually one of the few countries in the world actively engaged in a military occupation of another country. Always the Israeli military is there to protect Israeli squatters in Palestine, and always the United States backs up Israel and prevents the world from taking punitive action through the United Nations. This makes us complicit in the crime.

The current Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, recently even spearheaded a movement to take away full citizenship from the Arab-Israeli population, who comprise about 20 percent of the overall population in the actual country of Israel. Netanyahu declared, “Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people — and it alone.”

Netanyahu would love to have the U.S. attack Iran because he sees Iran as a threat to Israel. Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud would enjoy seeing us attack Iran because the Saudis are Sunni and the Iranians Shia — frequently bitter enemies. And for his part, Donald Trump reneged on the Iran Nuclear Agreement, which was working, because it was an accomplishment of Barack Obama and because he wants an enemy to rally his base against.

Three tyrannical-minded individuals, linked in thought, are threatening to start killing people in pursuit of their political agendas. Middle and low income Americans can ultimately foot the bill in blood and taxes, as their government plays the stooge of the Saudis and Israelis.

There are problems with the Iranian government, true enough, but we are the ones in violation of a carefully crafted international agreement to which the Iranians were compliant, and now we’re strangling Iran with economic sanctions.

Instead of going down the road of uninformed belligerence, foreign meddling in our decisions, and political expediency, again, the path of humane, even-handed respect for the life and property of all peoples of the Middle East would be a much better course.

Mark Mansperger is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Washington State University Tri-Cities. His op-ed was reprinted in PeaceMeal, May/June 2019.

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