Gareth Porter’s new book chronicles U.S. and Israeli efforts to ensure the perpetuation, rather than the resolution, of outstanding concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.
Before we get cynical about 2014, let’s recount the good news from 2013: declining U.S. militarism, a resurgence of diplomacy, and a more forceful global discussion about inequality.
2013 had its fair share of bad news, but it was also a year of extraordinary activism.
North Korea’s nuclear weapons and Iran’s purported nuclear ambitions are the subject of constant speculation by Western pundits. However, the connection between the two is often overlooked. Although Northeast Asia and the Middle East are home to different geopolitical realities, the resolution of tensions on the Korean peninsula will almost certainly influence calculations made in Washington and Tehran regarding the Iranian nuclear program.
Thousands of lobbyists descended on Capitol Hill in early March to voice their concerns over sequestration cuts. But these lobbyists were not asking Congress to restore funding to schools, hospitals, or shelters. Instead, they were demanding that Congress fully fund military aid to Israel, aid which helps Israel continue its occupation and apartheid policies toward Palestinians.
Nearly 20 percent of the constituents of Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) live under the poverty line, and nearly 15 percent are unemployed. During this August congressional recess, Rep. Jackson, Jr. should be at home, meeting with constituents and proposing to them how he will help them cope with their difficult circumstances. Instead, the politician is proudly gallivanting around Israel, in one of three separate congressional delegations heading there this month on all-expense-paid junkets organized by the American Israel Education Foundation.
For some people, there’s nothing President Obama can do to prove his love for Israel. He could pull a Sammy Davis, Jr. and convert to Judaism. He could give Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a big kiss on the lips. He could personally expel Palestinians from East Jerusalem. And still Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin would kvetch. “Yes, but what have you done for us today?” the ultra-Zionist would say. “Did you call this morning? Where are the fresh flowers? What, you don’t love Israel anymore?”
Obama cannot continue publicly regretting the consequences to Palestinians of occupation while passing the ammunition to Israel.
In many respects, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has played right into the hands of cynics who have long doubted his promises to create a new and more progressive role for the United States in the world. The very morning after the last primaries, in which he finally received a sufficient number of pledged delegates to secure the Democratic presidential nomination and no longer needed to win over voters from the progressive base of his own party, Obama – in a Clinton-style effort at triangulation – gave a major policy speech before the national convention of the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Embracing policies which largely backed those of the more hawkish voices concerned with Middle Eastern affairs, he received a standing ovation for his efforts.