Monday, June 16, 2008

CONFLICT between US Policy & and Interest in the Middle East

[Excerpts of Dr. David Khairallah's speech to the ADC Convention on June 14, 08']
"...I would like to propose that what constitutes a genuine and legitimate interest of the US, our government has managed to secure in the most discrete and successful manner and practically without opposition or resentment. And actions and policies that are least reflective of US interests or values have proven unsuccessful and very costly.
Considering the role oil plays in the US and world economies, successive US administrations have managed to secure a stable source of energy while simultaneously enjoying stable and friendly relations with Arab oil producing countries. Historically, Arab governments and markets have easily accommodated US economic interests. One can hardly find a statement by a US official expressing concern for US economic interests in the Arab world.
While no single Arab country or combination of Arab countries has ever constituted a military threat to the US, security concerns find expression in most policy statements of US officials, especially after September 11, 2001 and the Bush Administration declaration of war on terrorism. Of course, no society can tolerate violence against innocent civilians to achieve political objectives. The issue here is not the legitimacy of the concern or the desire expressed by US officials to eradicate terrorism, it is rather the effectiveness of the methods adopted to achieve that objective. Does US policy and the means of its implementation reflect a good understanding of the underlying causes of terrorism and the reasons for its appeal to young people in the region? Has the war against terrorism reduced the determination of those who are ready to sacrifice their lives just to inflict harm on US interests? Do we understand better why such people hate us? I leave it to you to decide.
Democracy was promoted as a cornerstone of the Bush administration’s policy to bring about a desired change in the Middle East, to defeat religious fanatics and to overcome terrorism. It was not clear from the beginning how much commitment to democracy the promoters of this policy had. What was clear is that such policy was dead on arrival. Not because democracy is not needed or can’t be implemented in the Arab world, but because its promoters lacked credibility and showed no respect for the fundamentals of democratic rule. First, it was difficult to convince anyone that the US government, which practically has no friends among the people in the Arab world and no enemies among their rulers, would really want the change that democracy would bring. Democratic rule, which is the government of the people, by the people, and for the people, would obviously bring to power representatives who would reflect peoples’ aspirations and feelings towards their rulers, and to the extent US policy affects their lives, towards the US. This was practically the case everywhere free elections have taken place in the Arab world. The success of Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza and Hizballah in Lebanon are cases in point; and the reaction our government had to such success betrays any commitment the Bush administration claimed to democratic rule in the Middle East. We boycotted Hamas and Hizballah immediately after their election respectively by the Palestinian and Lebanese people. And when the US was in full control and had an opportunity to take credit for a democratic rule that is the work of its own hands, as is the case in Iraq, people associated democracy with bloody chaos, institutionalizing of primitive sectarian structures and social and political disintegration of both society and state.
.....the unconditional commitment to what Israel considers its own interest. One needs go no further than the pandering speeches of the three hopeful candidates at the AIPAC annual conference ...The distinguishing feature of each of the three finalists’ speeches was the attempt to outdo the others in expressing total dedication and a firm pledge of allegiance to the state of Israel. What is probably most challenging is to find an American interest that justifies such commitment. Yes, it is much easier to identify what, in this policy of blind commitment to Israel, has hurt the US interest over the years, and sometimes the Israeli interest, than to find a US national interest in such policy.
....But the unwavering US support of the expansionist policy of the occupier of land, against the victims who lost and continue to lose their homes and livelihood, is bound to create resentment among the victims of such occupation and other fair-minded persons. ...Playing a primary role in paralyzing the international institutions, which are expected to guard against such transgressions, ... I will limit myself to just a few examples of the role the US has consistently played at the UN Security Council.
.....decisive role the US plays in all Council resolutions....Control of Security Council decisions emanates from the veto power that each of the five permanent members enjoy in the Council. The US has exercised its veto privilege more than any of the other members, and guess in favor of which country. No, it’s not the US, it’s Israel. Back in March 2003, in an article titled “America used UN veto to protect Israeli war crimes-24 times”, Joe Vialls documented each occasion in which the US used its veto at the UN Security Council. ...
In the summer of 2006, during the conflict between Israel and Hizbollah, when Lebanese civilian targets were under constant bombardment by the Israeli war machine for 34 days, the US has prevented the Security Council from ordering a ceasefire thereby preventing the Council from carrying out the sole role for which it was established. It did that in the hope that Israel would prevail against Hizballah, .....instead of eradicating terrorism, we have a policy that fertilizes the ground on which terrorism grows..."

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