Friday, July 18, 2008

Bush’s Adventure in Iraq: Who Has Gained From It?

By Dekel Avshalom and Fred Weston
Friday, 18 July 2008

Amid five years of mutual slaughter, thousands of dead, millions of lives ruined and a war that has no end in sight, US president George W. Bush keeps insisting on his victory in Iraq. George W. seems unable to stare reality in the face.

In reality none of the war's proclaimed goals have been achieved: weapons of mass destruction were nowhere to be found; Iraq, instead of magically transforming itself into a puppet bourgeois democracy after the eviction of Saddam Hussein from power, has totally disintegrated and became a hotbed for international terrorism of all sorts. This is while American soldiers and Iraqi citizens lose their lives on a daily basis.

However, from the shortsighted point of view of the major oil companies, which the Bush family comes from, the war seems to be their greatest victory in recent history.

The fact is that the war was never about protecting the world from weapons of mass destruction or bringing democracy to Iraq. The war was about enforcing the rule of the United States, a declining imperialist power and getting control of oil supplies and establishing some kind of control over the whole of the unstable Middle East.

On 19.6.08, the New York Times reported that 36 years after Saddam Hussein nationalized the Iraqi oil fields, the pro-imperialist puppet government in Iraq has granted concessions to all the major world oil companies to "service" Iraqi oil fields again. After 36 years in the cold, they are back: the oil giants Exxon Mobile, Chevron, Total, British Petroleum and Shell have now returned to plunder the most lucrative oil fields in the world. From their narrow perspective, these measures of the present Iraqi government are a welcome step, and for them it makes all the destruction and bloodshed worth it. From this to actually getting the oil flowing is another question.

The True reasons for Fighting Iraq

The major western oil companies suffered a setback after Iraq and other oil producing states had nationalised their oil fields. The US government seriously considered military intervention. The Carter administration even responded by setting up a stationary military force that could intervene in the Middle East at short notice. They even contemplated the possibility of invading parts of Saudi Arabia, that area where the oilfields are concentrated, should the regime fall.

However, in that period, the situation in the Middle East was too delicate for such an intervention. During the Cold War, the American attitude toward the Middle East swayed between two extremes. One was the immense importance of controlling Gulf oil for American capitalism and the military machines and modern weaponry that sustain it. The other was the fear that if America were to become too openly aggressive in defending its interests, the Arab masses could become radicalised and leaders could emerge who might turn to the Soviet Union for help.

We also have to remember that Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party initially received US support, as it removed the pro-Soviet Abd el-Karim Qasim in the 1963 coup. The US knew perfectly well that if they tried to replace Saddam, his successor might turn out to be even worse for them. On top of that, despite his "mischief" in nationalising the oil fields, Saddam had proven himself as a vital force in guaranteeing imperialist interests in the region. They could count on him to slaughter the communists (which he did), block Iran's anti-Western regime, and help to keep oil prices low.

The final argument against invading Iraq was that the oil companies, even after losing the concessions, were still making massive profits from shipping, refining and marketing oil and oil products. In that period, oil supplies were abundant and the price was on the rise. However, all this was about to change.

Since the late 1980s, all the arguments against war in Iraq and to regain direct control over oil had become irrelevant. First, the fall of the Soviet Union changed the balance of forces in the region. With the Soviets out of the way, the US had become the world's only superpower. An intoxicating feeling of omnipotence swept through all the top ranks in Washington. They felt they now owned the world and that they could do anything they wanted.

Second, as demand for oil increased reserves in oil fields around the world started to go down, while new oil discoveries in the Persian Gulf were still increasing. Persian Gulf oil started to become the most lucrative and abundant oil reserves in the world. Controlling the Gulf thus became much more urgent for American imperialism.

Finally, Saddam Hussein had ceased to function as an agent of "stabilisation" in the Gulf. Faced with the bankruptcy of his country after the costly war with Iran, and furious at the US and his regional neighbours for not providing financial help after fighting Iran for them, Saddam decided to occupy Kuwait. After witnessing Kuwait flooding the oil market and thus reducing oil prices, he knew that by conquering it, he would have greater control over oil prices. He naively thought he could reconcile US fury by reducing oil prices. However, he did not take into consideration who was now in charge of the White House - the Bush family and its very close links to the oil giants - the ones who had their eyes on controlling Iraqi oil again after decades.

The accumulation of these conditions paved the way for the first Gulf War. In that war, while the Soviet Union was still in existence, replacing rebellious leaders by means of direct military intervention was not the option of choice for the US government. In such a delicate matter, it usually preferred to intervene indirectly. It encouraged coups by the local opposition using economic sanctions and covert aid from the CIA. That is how Saddam himself came to power in the first place, together with many other contemptible dictators. This is why during the Clinton administration, there were US and UK attempts to destabilize the regime through sanctions and continuous low-level military attacks, but not through the use of direct military means to oust Saddam from power.

As we have seen, during the time of George W. Bush, a feeling of omnipotence flowed through the veins of the American leaders, and with such important goals at stake, the choice was to intervene directly.

The terrorist attacks in 2001 on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were just a pretext for something that had been planned long before. According to a testimony of Mr. Paul O'Neill, the former Secretary of the Treasury, the Bush administration started planning an invasion of Iraq almost immediately after being elected. In fact, it was reported on the BBC in 2005 that US officials had started to look among the Iraqi opposition for a successor to Saddam well before September 11.

The big oil companies started operating in Iraq immediately after the US-led invasion, using their own personnel to direct oil extraction, receiving immunity from the local puppet-government. The recent agreement reported in the New York Times is another important step in assuring American and Western control over the oil fields. It made sure that Russia and China would be kept out of Iraq, thus securing American control over the Gulf region and its oil fields - the greatest treasure in the history of humankind.

The Complexity of the War's Balance Sheet

From the shortsighted point of view of the oil giants and their prime butler George W. Bush, the war may look like a victory. However, in reality it is creating new contradictions that can be very damaging for the future of American imperialism.

The American entanglement in Iraq teaches us that the political exponents of the bourgeoisie do not always act according to the interests of the class they are supposed to represent. In terms of how quickly the US forces were able to take Iraq the war was a staggering victory. Now the Bush clique thought they had control of the country and could set about exploiting its huge oil reserves.

However, things have turned out somewhat differently to what Bush had anticipated. From a political perspective, the war has been a staggering defeat. US imperialism has in fact been weakened by the war. The feeling of omnipotence that permeated the US ruling class a few years ago has proven to be unfounded.

They underestimated the power of local resistance and the implications of such a war for the US. Getting bogged down in an unwinnable war in Iraq has severely damaged the ability of the US to intervene elsewhere. It has also had a huge impact on the American masses themselves. The fact that Democratic Party candidate for president, Barack Obama was the first candidate in history to say publicly that he is sometimes ashamed of his country is an indication of how bad things have become. He would never have said such a thing if he did not know for sure that millions of Americans today would sympathise with such a statement. The fact that he raises the idea of a phased withdrawal from Iraq also indicates what the real mood in the USA is.

The American ruling class is trying to get out of the mess it created by blaming everything on one man - George W. Bush. The ongoing common narrative, shared by both Republican and Democratic leaders, is that once Bush leaves everything will start to sort itself out. Even the extremely critical documentary made about the war by the "provocative" commentator Michael Moore goes along with that story. The victory of Obama within the Democratic Party also indicates a desire to see something completely different in the White House. However, what will the response of the American masses be once they see that Obama as President - if he manages to win - will continue to act according to the interests of the US ruling class?

The contradictions that led to the war will still be present after Bush leaves office. The United States will still need to maintain some kind of control over the oil-rich Gulf and keep its competitors, mainly Russia and China, out of the region. The US ruling class are facing a dilemma. As long as Iraq is unstable, the American army cannot leave because then nothing would guarantee the existence of the pro-American regime. At the same time, they cannot win this war.

On the other hand, the longer they stay the more bogged down they get. As more and more US soldiers are killed, together with the growing economic crisis in the USA, the masses will demand more and more that the US administration pulls out of Iraq. US imperialism could end up being forced to pull out of Iraq prematurely. Thus all of the economic "achievements" in controlling the oil fields would be lost.

Thus, it seems that the second Gulf war has produced a contradictory and unstable situation. It weakened US imperialism, while formally strengthening the US oil companies. This contradiction cannot continue for too long. It is clear that by weakening US imperialism militarily there are serious implications for American capital as a whole.

For that reason, the Iraqi war may turn out to be the undoing of the "American empire". And this comes only a few years since US imperialism seemed so powerful and unchallenged on a world scale. The debacle in Iraq has revealed the real underlying weaknesses of US imperialism.

Is Iran Next on the Imperialist's Agenda?

There is another country in the Persian Gulf that slipped out of US domination long ago - Iran. In an ideal situation, controlling Iran along with Iraq and the rest of the Gulf States would definitely complete the picture of US world domination. It would give it control over huge oil reserves. It would break the independent OPEC cartel and would give American capital the almost total ability to control oil prices in its own interests. Profits would also be huge.

At one stage it seemed that Bush was indeed preparing to attack Iran, but the quagmire of Iraq has changed that perspective. IF they are unable to stop the insurgency in Iraq they have no hope of dominating Iran. The failures in Iraq have forced the US ruling class to seriously rethink their whole strategy. Even the obtuse Bush has had to start thinking in terms of the real situation on the ground and not the dream world of his limited cerebral capacities.

Already the Baker Report - or as it is known officially, The Iraq Study Group Report: The Way Forward, A New Approach - back in December 2006 came up with a completely different solution. It suggested reducing US military forces in Iraq to a minimum and involving Iran and Syria in helping to bring the fighting to an end. Bush wasn't too happy with the Report's proposals, but it clearly revealed the thinking of an important section of the US ruling class. They had concluded the war was unwinnable, too expensive and was causing more serious problems than had been anticipated. The contradictions created in Iraq made it impossible for American imperialism to take over Iran directly. The irony of all this is that Iran, which had been classified as one of the world's "rogue regimes" had actually emerged strengthened in the region.

On the basis of this new situation, the prospect of a US attack on Iran receded. Initially there was talk of a US missile strike on Iran's nuclear research facilities, but even this became less and less likely. How to solve this dilemma? Among the Bush entourage an idea emerged that there might a way out of this complexity. The United States could rely on one of its satellite states in the regions to protect its economic goals, while the political burden would be carried by that satellite state.

Can Israel Solve the Problem?

That satellite state is Israel. Recently, Israeli senior officials have repeatedly and threateningly raised the idea that Israel is very close to taking military steps against Iran, using its nuclear energy projects as the pretext. Moreover, both the incumbent American president and the two candidates have issued clear statements of support for Israel and its "right to defend itself", some saying that the amber light was on for Israel, indicating that could prepare to attack.

In Israel, the state is using the media for propaganda against Iran. The media keeps bombarding the Israeli masses with frightening images of Iran's "crazy", "fanatical" and "anti-Semitic" leaders waving a nuclear arsenal. Even "science" has been recruited for this mission. An Israeli "expert" on Islam with an international reputation, Professor Moshe Sharon, recently stated in an interview to the state-owned radio station, that "according to Shiite principles", Iran, unprovoked, would definitely use atomic weaponry on Israel as soon as it develops a nuclear capability.

A military conflict between Israel and Iran would most definitely result in thousands of victims, if not much more. After losing the war in Lebanon, the Israeli ruling class, and its military chiefs, need to demonstrate that are still a powerful military force. They are building up the illusion, fed by the army bureaucracy, that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) may be incapable of fighting guerrilla forces, but are most capable against a regular army.

The fact that they desire war as a means of distracting attention away from the serious internal crisis Israel is facing, can be seen in the bombing of a Syrian facility not so long ago. The problem was that the Syrians didn't take the bait. They refused to retaliate. Syria would have been the ideal, a sit shares a border with Israel and a conventional war would have been possible. How does Israel fight a conventional war with Iran, with two armies moving against each other across a border? This means that a military conflict between Israel and Iran would be reduced to a bombing campaign.

In any case, a larger part of the Israeli army's training programmes in recent years was about combating terrorist and guerrilla fighters rather than regular armies. Furthermore, the soldiers combat experience has mostly been in policing the Occupied Territories. These soldiers may be experts in bullying, destroying homes, chasing and shooting at Palestinian workers and torturing tied-up prisoners, but their combat training is much more questionable. The army's commissioned ranks are not in a much better shape: consumed with greed and corruption, they care much more about their future political careers and financial investments than about the shape of the army they are commanding, as the previous war against Lebanon revealed.

On top of all this, as the US administration attempts to retie diplomatic relations with Iran, an attack by Israel would not help the situation. It is clear that the US administration and the Israeli ruling class see things differently on this issue. It is enough to recall the "leaking" in the USA that intelligence sources claimed Iran had no nuclear research for military purposes. That was clearly to blunt Bush' ability to convince the US public of the need for air strikes on Iran. Israeli intelligence sources immediately came out with a statement that according to their information Iran did have in place nuclear research programmes for military purposes. Clearly, the interests of US imperialism and those of the Israeli ruling class are not always the same!

Israel, for its own interests, could launch air strikes against Iran. They would claim that this is to stop the nuclear programme. The problem is that Israel cannot stop Iran' nuclear research. At best it can damage it, delay it, slow it down. But that would only convince the Iranians of the need to accelerate their nuclear research programme, as a deterrent against future attacks. So, whichever way it goes, it is not likely that Israel can save America from its contradictions in the Middle East.

The media in Israel is whipping up war frenzy, claiming that Iran is a threat to the very existence of Israel. But even here we have to see that any verbal threats on the part of the Iranian president are really for domestic consumption. The Iranian regime is facing growing internal turmoil, with strikes and student protests. The living conditions of the masses are becoming unbearable. In reality, the conditions for revolution are maturing and the regime is being weakened. Sooner or later it will fall.

Serious bourgeois analysts in then West can see that the regime is weak and they are pushing for a different approach. This involves opening up diplomatic links, entering into "dialogue" with the Iranian regime, opening up its economy, using investment as a means of pressurising the regime into moving in the direction imperialism requires.

In Israel too, there are growing social and economic problems. There is also a crisis at the top with scandal after scandal emerging, involving Olmert himself. The sabre-rattling is thus a useful tool in diverting people's attentions away from the real problems.

The tragedy in Israel is that there is no leadership of the labour movement prepared to offer a real alternative. The leadership of the Israeli labour federation - the Histadrut - has a history of handing the Israeli workers to the state on a silver plate when "national security" issues are raised. On the other hand, the Israeli masses are still convinced that the army is their sole protector against the "barbarian" Arab world. They feel they are surrounded by hostile regimes that only wish to see the end of Israel. In reality that is not true. The despotic Arab rulers find in Israel a useful tool. They can blame it for all the ills that afflict the Arab World. So they mouth condemnation of Israel, while in practice they are allied to the same US imperialism that backs Israel. The case of Saudi Arabia is the most obvious one, but most of the others are in a similar situation.

The situation is a tragic one. The Israel ruling class could drag the nation into another messy military conflict, which would solve none of the problems. The Israeli masses will sooner or later awaken to a new understanding of the true nature of the Israeli state, which is not at all to provide a safe homeland for the Jews. It is in fact a satellite of imperialism in the region, albeit an unstable one.

The interests of the Israeli masses and those of the Zionist ruling class are not the same. The Zionists use the historical fear of the Israeli masses of a new holocaust to keep them within a political straitjacket. To break out of that straitjacket a genuine socialist perspective is required.



Mad Zionist said...

In the "Israel" portion of your post you label it as a "Satelite State". This is a big part of why Israel is in the terrible shape it's in. Israel needs to end its addiction to US aid and US influence, and instead march on a course that is beneficial specifically, and exclusively, to the Jewish people.

The Israeli needs to stop thinking of himself as such, and begin thinking of himself as a Jew again, living and settling in the land that is the exclusive inheritance of the Jewish people, and stop trying to be a USA "melting" pot before it ceases to exist as anything but an Islamic State.

Una said...

The arms industry benefits from these wars.
The world spoke out against this war because they knew it was illegal

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

What a messy, horrible, sad episode in modern humanity.

K. said...

I don't exactly disagree with the thrust this article, but I can't say that I'm impressed with the line of argument, which strains mightily to fit the facts into a conclusion that seems to have been already drawn. I wish the assertions were supported by reporting and research -- for example, if you're going to claim that Barack Obama has stated publicly that he is sometimes ashamed of his country, you ought to back that up with a source if you expect anyone to believe it.

A minor point, but the article implies that Iran had an anti-western regime in 1963. Is that actually the case?

Frank Partisan said...

I will reply to the comments late tonight.

elisa davinca said...

you are on my blogroll now and I posted this article on my FB profile:
go for davinca on FB
thx for doing what you do

Anonymous said...

The war was about enforcing the rule of the United States, a declining imperialist power and getting control of oil supplies and establishing some kind of control over the whole of the unstable Middle East.

...and the reason why that is bad is.... Saddam was such a great peaceful presence in the region???

Anonymous said...

Oh, wait, I know. Because sanctions were killing so many MORE innocent Iraqi's than the war was and instead of buying food through the UN program Saddam was buying new palaces... meaning jobs!

Anonymous said...

Finally, Saddam Hussein had ceased to function as an agent of "stabilisation" in the Gulf. Faced with the bankruptcy of his country after the costly war with Iran, and furious at the US and his regional neighbours for not providing financial help after fighting Iran for them, Saddam decided to occupy Kuwait. After witnessing Kuwait flooding the oil market and thus reducing oil prices, he knew that by conquering it, he would have greater control over oil prices.

You mean that Sunni and Shi'a don't share "Islamic love" for one another and aren't in a competition to dominate and control the Middle East? Does that mean that if the US wasn't there, there would be even MORE terrorist violence there? Gee, whodda thunkit?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, why do I get the feeling that the people who weren't getting any "food" under the UN "Oil for Food" program were mostly innocent Shi'a and Kurdish and not Sunnis?

Gee, and the USA is currently ensuring stability in a volatile, yet strategically important, region of the world... how utterly evil of them. Some sanctimonious b*stards should wag their fingers and shame us. Oh wait, that would be...

Anonymous said...

Iraqi's were treated sooo much better by the Clinton Administration and the world community acting through the United Nations!

Anonymous said...

btw - Great news today from the Obama Campaign IN Afghanistan. He's proclaimed it to be the "central front" on terror and is proposing additional combat brigades...

Kinda sounds like Pickett getting ready to lead a charge against the "central front" at Gettysburg, doesn't he? LOL!

If that kinda stupidity doesn't get more Americans killed, then nothing will. Afghanistan w/o invading Pakistan and a greater objective is a sucker's war. Ask the USSR....

K. said...

You call what's going on in Iraq now stability? I'd like to know how you define chaos.

Frank Partisan said...

Mad Zionist: It's scary that you don't disagree with my assessment. I don't think your conclusions are possible. Israel is becoming more secular, possibly postmodern as well.

María Teresa: The US has weaponry already to blow up the world, who knows how many times over. There has been corruption issues with military contracts. The US Army had a contract with a 21 year old kid.

elisa davinca: I linked back to your blog. Thank you for putting this post on Facebook.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill: It's messy, horrible and sad. At this stage, it's amorphous. During the Vietnam War, it was easier to take sides.

K: I can't find where the post implies Iran was progressive in 1963. I think you meant Iraq in 1963. It wasn't progressive, just pro-Soviet.

It was Obama's wife that said something as, "This is the first time I was proud of my country."

The post was written by people, who have been writing several articles, with an assessment in this direction. It's easy to assume others read your writing.

These writers said before anyone, that US will talk with Iran unconditionally. I've been saying that at rightist blogs, linking it to Reaganism being in its last throes.

FJ: Don't mix this blog up, with a liberal one. It's not a pro-Clinton or Obama Democratic Party blog.

I've been telling you on your blog, that the US will speak to Iran unconditionally, because it needs help to get out of Iraq. Bush without fanfare, started direct talks. Nobody left or right believed me.

A few months ago, I said the US will talk to Iran at an antiwar coalition meeting, the Maoists made fun of me, openly hissed.

Iran wants stability as well in Iraq. They support Maliki.

There are several issues, as a direct result of the Iraq War, as refugees, power blackouts, gated neighborhoods. The US response will be the heck with it.

On Afghanistan, I hate to say this, but you are right. The Taliban developed the strategy of let the air war win, and let them settle in as occupiers. Obama and McCain both are resurrecting the Soviet strategy.

Mad Zionist said...

Ren, I think you are right about the Israeli becoming more "post-modern liberal" by the day. They are also growing "post-Zionist" in the process. Most are tired of the constant need to battle for survival, and are desiring the material prosperity, social pleasures, and lifestyle comforts of America and Europe.

The will to do what it takes for an Israel to exist is slipping away, and in another generation the experiment of a Jewish-humanist state will likely reach it's natural progression and become a humanist state of "mixed semites", with an arab/islamic majority and a rapidly shrinking Jewish minority.

The Modern State of Israel will end with a gradual wimper, not a sudden thud. Most secular Ashkenaz Jews will increasingly assimilate into other western countries, while the Sephardim will remain in larger numbers and revert to a life similar to what they knew in the arab countries from which they came.

Some Hareidi will remain behind, too, though many will leave for New York's shtettles. Those who stay will pay the jizya and live a life not all that different from what they have now, only without the government funding.

Tel Aviv will become an international enclave for whatever secular Jews choose to remain. Protected by the UN and other international organizations, Tel Aviv will be the final Hebrew speaking city-state of Jews to hang on, a shrinking district that is increasingly under terrorist fire like Ashkelon and Sderot are today.

Eventually, it, too, will fall to the inevitable as it more and more resembles Beirut. Jews will be increasingly pushed out by Arab violence and military control until it is just a small pocket of well connected dignataries sympathetic to the arabs - much like the Christian minority element in Beirut today.

The one group that will survive in the Holy Land will be the Settlers. They are the true Zionists, the ones who will live off dirt if necessary without any modern comforts, and fight to the death for their beliefs and their land clinging together as strong communities of observant Jews who won't back down, ever, for any reason, to the arabs.

And it is through their remnant that the birth-pangs from which the real Jewish State, the state based on Judaism not humanism, shall be born. The nation that arises from these Jews will not be humanist, it will be Jewish. It will not be post-modern, it will be as the Torah has designed and blue-printed it. This will be the real Jewish State, and will last in peace unlike the plastic shell that the lemmings of the left created before them.

The term "Israeli" will not exhist in the true Jewish State. All will simply be known as Jews.

K. said...

"K: I can't find where the post implies Iran was progressive in 1963. I think you meant Iraq in 1963. It wasn't progressive, just pro-Soviet."

I misread the original para. My bad.

Mariamariacuchita said...

I always learn new things at this site. Thank you.

Although you see Israel as a satellite state of the US, I sometimes see the US as a satellite state of Israel. Who really has power to influence whom is sometimes unclear.

It is an interesting sidenote (although perhaps only to me)that my sister-in-law fled Iran right before Khomeini took over. Her parents followed a few years after.

Relationships between Jews and Moslems were not always so politically polarized in the mideast. For example, when my sister-in-law's family fled the country, it was entrepreneurial Isreali Jews who helped them smuggle their money out of the country.

As to who profits from the current fiasco, the arms dealers are a blight upon the world. But those who invest in their companies also profit, and surely many politicians own stock in some of the arms and support service companies.

K. said...

"Although you see Israel as a satellite state of the US, I sometimes see the US as a satellite state of Israel."

Maria, you make a great point. You've exposed an attitude that predominates among American Jewish conservatives like Charles Krauthammer and Martin Peretz, an attitude that according to most surveys is at odds with the views of the overall American Jewish community.

I will never forget a Krauthammer column from years ago, directed at Bill Clinton of Benjamin Netanyahu became Israel's leader. The gist of the column was "Face it, Clinton: Netanyahu won the election and you have to deal with him." If there's plainer instance of the tail wagging the dog, I'd like to hear it! I mean, screw me for thinking that the realistic perspective was "Face it, Netanyahu, Clinton is President of the United States and you have to deal with him."

BTW, has there ever been a pundit who has consistently invested more rhetorical skill into false premises that Charles Krauthammer? It's a nearly weekly occurrence.

Mad Zionist said...

Tinfoil hat conspiracy lunatics are about the only people who still believe the vast Zionist conspiracy is running the United States. Radical leftwingers are particularly vulnerable to falling into that camp, but are thankfully harmless because of how little respect and influence they hold with the general public.

The real brass tax is that Israel must reject all aid from the United States. The only thing that comes from Israel being on the doll is America being in control.

If Israel was smart, and they are not, they would tell the entire world to go to hell and throw every last arab out of the country who refuses to accept being a resident alien forbidden to own land or particpate in the political process.

America is only partly to blame for Israel failing to take this necessary action, of course, as the worst enemy for Israel is the self-loathing, assimilated progressive Israelis, bent on suicide and led by corrupt sell-outs.

white rabbit said...

On a bit of a mission here...

take a look at this people:

Frank Partisan said...

This is becoming interesting.

Mariamariacuchita: The US is in direct, unconditional talks with Iran. That certainly is not Israeli policy.

It makes no sense, when Israel depends on the US for funding, that it could pull the strings.

Since 1967 the left, in the US defined itself as pro-Palestinianian. It is a worldview that doesn't critique reactionary elements of Palestinians. My position is the Trotskyist position from the 1940s. It calls for a Middle East Socialist Federation. Just like to travel from Texas to Arkansas, you don't need a passport. I support the same structure as the USA. for the Middle East.

K: What I like about your comment, is that it puts the idea Israel runs the US, in the rightist camp, where it belongs.

Mad Zionist: I'm a dialectical materialist. To answer you I'll go off pn a tangent and talk a little about Tibet, then return to Israel.

I believe neither the right or the left understands Tibet. The Maoists lie that the Dalai Lama will return Tibet to feudalism. The right just uses the issue to bash China. There was recent riots in Tibet against the Chinese government. Everyone jumped on the bandwagon to support or oppose the Tibetans without looking at the material conditions.

The second highest wages in China are in Tibet. All the good jobs go to Chinese. With that knowledge the riots have a different meaning. They were not about abstract nationhood or self determination. It was a question of bread. The national question is one of bread.

You can support a religious Israel all you want. There has to be a material reason for Israel to change.

Your ideas would have more followers if this was an era of feudalism, and Jews had a unique role as collecting debts, being a basis for anti-Jewish thought. Now collecting debts is a normal feature of capitalism, not unique to Jewish enterprise. Another time would be during WWII.

You need a materialist explanation, not an idealist one.

Mad Zionist said...

You need a materialist explanation, not an idealist one.
Quite the opposite, actually.

Frank Partisan said...

Mad Zionist: People don't fight for nations in the abstract.

White Rabbit: I'm sure we'll find out what the fallout is about that video.

Mad Zionist said...

Ren, as I told you on my blog: You cannot buy people's most deeply held convictions. Money and materialism is not the answer here.

Frank Partisan said...

MZ: I've been finding out, when I use Marxist terms as idealist, it's not universally understood.

Ducky's here said...

Why is it so rarely remembered that back in the days after the Iranians kicked out the Shah they were the enemy.

We started shipping all kinds of munitions to Hussein. Even helped him with poison gas and that was cool as long as he killed Iranians.

So he got pissed. Yeah, thought he was going to get all the benefits of a U.S. client puppet.

I wouldn't worry about Israel. Remember they got their ass kicked by some irregulars armed with bottle rockets when President Chuck L. Nuts had them fight that proxy war in Lebanon.
Their air force has hit a couple of undefended reactors but isn't up to the Iran gig. They'll do what they are told to do.

Mariamariacuchita said...

Power is not black and white, and the art of influence always has many gray areas. When I said that who has power over whom is not always clear (when referring to the US and Israel), I was speaking to power on an issue-by-issue basis. There are many ways to pit one side against another or to leverage others for more playtime.

Compromise is also in every politician's toolkit with Plan B options as well. I always assume there are many Machevallian undertones between countries, if not outright gamesmanship between even overtly friendly nations.

I do not assume that Israel does not have power of its own, or that the winds of influence do not blow in both direction depending on who has the power of the moment, the public sentiment meter of either country, and global winds of change blowing at any given time. Power/influence on a global scale is obviously not static and there are many small often seemingly contradictory cross-currents. Such as the Bushies talking to Iran.

In this instance, Bush may have bigger fish to fry, such as saving his party from a complete trainwreck in the next election that may trump any outraged concerns of Israel.

Seeing things does not make one’s views either left or right unless stated as such; many have views that are variable by topic. Sometimes putting people and views in boxes seems like a convenient method for deciphering their overall political position, but most people are far more complex than that, don't you think?

Frank Partisan said...

Ducky: Thank you for visiting.

It's ridiculous to think that American foreign policy, is dictated by Israel. An analogous situation is Colombia in South America. It plays a similar role as Israel in the Middle East. Nobody says Colombia dictates to the US.

To this day the CIA defends Saddam's actions against the Kurds, with the poison gases. They say they got caught in the crossfire.

Frank Partisan said...

Mariamariacuchita: I used to think of the world in left/right terms. I found analysis shallow on both sides. A good example is Tibet. The Maoists pass around the lie, that the DaLai Lama, wants to return Tibet to feudalism. The right plays the Tibet card, to discredit China, and could care less about their nationalism. Tibetans are discriminated on jobs. That is the root of the rioting. Neither left or right are honest. If I take a position, its after often a long period of discussion with others.

Politically I endorse my comrades. Other groups I support and work with.

My views hopefully flow from the method of dialectical materialism. You need strong principles and flexible tactics.

You are correct, that the world is fluid. One country can be stronger than another, at a certain time, or under a certain circumstance. Argentina used to be a world power.

roman said...

Maria Theresa,

The world spoke out against this war because they knew it was illegal

First of all, the war is not "illegal". It is only illegal in the minds of individuals who disagree with it and the policy of this administration. The term "illegal" used in this sense has no legitimacy whatsoever and thus when used by persons in opposition to the war, it has very little impact on the general populace.


They were the enemy because they acted like an enemy does. They invaded our embassy and held our diplomats hostage for a VERY long time. This is an act of war and the Iranians were just very lucky that milktoast Carter was our president at the time. Anyone else and there would have been hell to pay and there would not have been any need to worry about their nuclear ambitions at this time.

SecondComingOfBast said...

Is the US at war? Hell, I didn't know that. When did that happen?

K. said...


Just out of curiosity, what kind of hell would not have resulted in the deaths of the 53 hostages?

Also, when tough guy Reagan was president, why wasn't there hell to pay when over 200 Marines were killed in the Lebanon barracks bombing? Ronnie's response was to get the hell out of Lebanon. Smart, maybe; hellish, no.

Frank Partisan said...

Roman: I have trouble with the idea of opposing an immoral war on the basis of it being illegal. The morality outstrips legality and cost.

The hostages got home, essentially unharmed.

Pagan: The only war is class war.

K: Reagan invaded the great powerhouse Granada.

roman said...


Just out of curiosity, what kind of hell would not have resulted in the deaths of the 53 hostages?

You mean "would have"? In that case, let me explain what should have happened.
Iranian embassy staff here in the US should have been immediately taken into custody and held for as long as our embassy staff was held. "Hell to pay" , as you well know, means military action. The US would be justified to retaliate because the killing of our staff would have been a secondary provocation and a second act of war.
As far as the 200 Marines and Reagan's decision to withdraw from Lebanon. Ronnie did the right thing. The Marines were on a "peace-keeping" mission. There was no peace to keep and therefore no reason to risk the lives of more Marines. Just like UN forces, protocol was followed. Once peace-keeping forces are under attack, they are immediately extracted.
The "hell to pay" in this case should have been on the airhead Marine commanders who made the outragiously stupid decision to house so many soldiers in an unprotected compound.


You're right. Illegality and morality are different. One outweighs the other every time. I will leave it up to your readers to decide which is the more meaningful. All I am saying is that Maria Teresa would have made her argument much more effective by using the appropriate word.

K. said...


I'm completely lost. What kind of military action could Jimmy Carter have taken that would not have resulted in the deaths of the hostages? Since they were released upon Reagan's inauguration, why didn't he take any military action?

The Iranian embassy staff here represented the Shah's regime. A) They would have been happy and grateful to be under U.S. protection and B) the Khomeini regime wouldn't have cared what happened to them one way or another.

As for Lebanon, that's about as lame a reply as there is. 200+ Marines were killed. Nothing was done about it. As I read your reply, conservatives have no regard for the UN except when they need to hide behind its skirts.

Frank Partisan said...

Being a Trotskyist, and neither a liberal or conservative; I would say Regan lacked the adventurism of Bush43 or Nixon. My vocabulary is often misunderstood, particularly conservatives. Adventurist doesn't mean adventurer.

In addition Kissinger arranged deals with the Iranians, to hold them until Reagan is in office.

Craig Bardo said...

The evil industrialist, U.S. imperialist, Israel co-conspirator morality play theme lacks one critical component: We haven't taken any oil.

Such contrived, convoluted constructs are extraordinary exercises in self-delusion.


Where can I buy you and Jae a good bourbon or your choice of beverage and a cigar when I come to Minnie for the convention? I don't mind the chains, Capital Grille, Morton's and Ruth's Chris, which is what I usually do when I'm there, but what about a good local joint, even out in Bloomington, St. Paul or other burbs?

roman said...


You remarked 200+ marines were killed and "Nothing was done about it"
Please O great sage of liberalism, bestow on us your wisdom and tell us what you would have done? Let us know how your superior intellect makes you far more competent and informed than were the heads of the various governmental departments and foreign affairs advisors to the president at that time.
I can hardly wait for your most brilliant resolution to that long ago Lebanon crisis. Such arrogance.
As far as your comment about Reagan's decision being in tune with the UN, is'nt it the lefties, like yourself, that are always crying for the US to be more in tune with the international community and riding every conservative administration about unilateralism. Reagan did just what the UN would have done and now you make the ridiculous comment about conservatives "hiding under the UN's skirt". Sounds like projection to me. Liberals artfully find ways to blame a conservative administration for both unilateralism and bilateralism and cannot seem to recognize the obvious hypocracy.
That's why you're "lost" and have trouble with my comments.

Frank Partisan said...

CB: The police at the RNC will do, what the anarchists can't accomplish on their own, block the streets. I'll be talking to Jae, and we'll work something out.

How about how Maliki undermined McCain? It was done by the urging of Chalabi, McCain's loyal friend for almost 2 decades.

The oil contracts ultimately will go to some country, that opposed the invasion of Iraq.

My personal position on oil as the reason for invasion, is the files leading up to the war need to be made public.

Roman: The government of Lebanon is structured based on census from the 1930s.

One of the reasons Kerry lost, was his antiwar position, was based on fighting it more effectively, rather than questioning the whole basis.

The "left" and right are not a monolith. Stalin's main enemy was Trotskyism, not capitalism or fascism.

K. said...

P.S. You might also wish to explain how your "superior intellect makes you far more competent and informed than were the heads of the various governmental departments and foreign affairs advisors" to President Carter? Or perhaps you speaking from your armchair cojones and not your brain when you called him a "milktoast"?

K. said...

O Noble Roman--

You started this subthread, not me. To recapitulate:

1. You claimed that a less "milktoast" president than Jimmy Carter would have resolved the Iranian hostage crisis with "hell to pay" and that that would have taken care of any future Iranian nuclear ambitions.

2. I asked what kind of hell could have been applied without resulting in the deaths of the hostages. I observed when conservative icon had an opportunity to unleash hell, he chose not to.

3. You defined hell as seizing the Iranian embassy in Washington and blaming a Marine commander for the hostage crisis. You also added that Reagan was simply following the conditions of a UN mandate.

4. I pointed out that seizing the Iranian embassy wouldn't have accomplished anything and that this probably would have been welcomed by its occupants. I also pointed out the inconsistency in your argument about the UN.

5. You responded with a largely ad hominem attack, a typical right-wing tactic when the intellectual ammunition inevitably runs low.

Not that the onus is on me to prove a point, but...Reagan was right to choose pragmatism over principle. He learned the essential lesson (although at the expense of 200+ soldiers who learned it the hard way), which was the folly of American troops occupying any part of the Middle East. This being said, I saw nothing wrong with having a little artful rhetorical fun with you.

Now, let's return to hell. As I understand, your definition of "hell to pay" re the hostage crisis would have been to seize an embassy that wanted to seized and to court martial a Marine commander. Together, these two steps would have deterred Iran's nuclear ambitions. Do I have it right?

roman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
roman said...


Thank you for your response. Here are my replies to your observations.

1. The hostage taking was a provocation and a challenge from the ruling Iranian clergy and their enforcers. By doing nothing, Carter’s milk toast approach showed the world that the US was a paper tiger. You, not me, introduced two straw men into my observation. The first by setting up the proviso of action dependent on getting the hostages out alive and second by introducing Reagan’s decision to withdraw instead of seeking further military action which would have been an act of vengeance resulting in harm to scores of innocent Lebanese civilians. Carter was probably the worst US president of the last 50 years and your defense of him is puzzling and almost apologetic in nature. It smacks of lockstep partisanship. As you and every liberal know but keep as a state secret, it was the ill-conceived “Carter Doctrine” that gave rise to the trouble we’re now having with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and the rise of Islamic inspired world terrorism.
2. You asked a rhetorical question already knowing that “hell” means some kind of military action. I won’t bother to comment further on this point.
3. You said I was “blaming a marine commander for the hostage crisis”. Are you kidding? How did you draw that confused inference? One event has nothing to do with the other.
4. Your point about seizing the Iranian embassy here having been PROBABLY welcomed by the embassy staff is purely guesswork and is just pure speculation with no proof either way. Empty words.
5. Your accusation of “ad hominem” attack is just more projection. In my original comment, I berated the lack of sound judgment by Jimmy Carter. You, in turn, in your following comment immediately injected a negative response in reference to all “conservatives”. Something to do with conservatives hiding under the UN’s skirt, as I recall. What’s that all about?
Finally, you concluded with the invective: “Do I have it right?” Since you need help in this regard, let me clear things up for you.
What would have deterred Iran’s nuclear ambitions would have been something other than a “milk toast” solution. Carter’s solution of basically doing NOTHING.
Your classic liberal approach to political debate is on full display here. While offering no concrete solutions yourself, you wait for the other side to promote theirs just so you can criticize them endlessly. It’s just a circle game which I refuse to play. The only fact that I come away with is that K agrees with Carter’s decision to do NOTHING and is perfectly comfortable with it. More milk on that toast?

K. said...

So, according to you, the Carter approach of freezing assets, negotiating, and eventually securing release of the hostages without loss of life amounted to doing nothing. The "proviso" of no loss of life is a straw man, even though that's what actually occurred.

Your approach would have been to seize the Iranian embassy prior to taking some unspecified military action against a country three times the size of Iraq (where we've seen how well military action worked). You would have been willing to gamble the lives of the hostages on the shaky assumption that the Khomeini regime cared about the lives of the members of the Shah's regime now in custody.

Let's play this out. The "students" occupying the American embassy in Tehran respond to your unspecified military action by decapitating a few hostages and releasing film of it. Now what do you do? Decapitate some of the Shah's people now in custody? I know that would have made me proud to be an American.

The thing is, in real life an actual president (not named Bush) can't throw around phrases like "hell to pay" as if geopolitics were a game of Risk. They have to consider the possibilities that each avenue or inaction might provoke. Since the Iranis actually had custody of 53 Americans, this wasn't about a debating society proviso -- it was about actual people with actual lives and actual families.

You say Carter's response was "milktoast," I say that it recognized reality and was sane.

K. said...


You wrote "The "hell to pay" in this case should have been on the airhead Marine commanders who made the outragiously stupid decision to house so many soldiers in an unprotected compound. "

All along, you used the phrase "hell to pay" in reference to the hostage crisis. Naturally, I inferred that to be the case here. Don't blame me for your muddled, slapdash rhetoric.

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