The ascension of Barack Obama, it is widely believed, will restore the world's perception of America as a nation which no longer leads by force, but through example. Such represented just one of the many benefits Americans would enjoy with the end of the Bush Presidency and commencement of an Obama Administration. The change people were clamoring for had finally come. However, as far as the Middle East is concerned, it took only a week for Obama to prove that change was a mere fallacy.
On January 22nd, the third day of his Presidency, Obama signed the papers authorizing the closure of Guantanamo Bay within one year. This was welcomed throughout the vast majority of the Middle East and much of the world. However, a succession of decisions beginning the following day changed the false perception Obama had previously enjoyed.
Obama directed his new Middle East Envoy George Mitchell to "start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating." Unfortunately, he failed to follow his own advice. On January 23rd, only his fourth day in office, he authorized missile strikes in Northwest Pakistan resulting in the deaths of 22 people. Four days later, Defense Secretary Robert Gates appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee to declare that troop levels in Afghanistan should rise this summer.
Despite such foreboding, Obama appeared on Al-Arabiya, an Arabic cable network to declare that "Americans are not your enemy." Such a statement delivered at an ill-advised time proves Obama's ignorance regarding the reasons behind our poor relationship with the Muslim world. At least during the Bush administration, the relationship was accurately acknowledged as one of hostility as opposed to affinity through the "axis of evil" mantra.
We have used their land for our military bases, American-led blockades have caused the starvation of millions, and our government has supported their enemy without reserve. They view our bases as desecration of their sacred land, have witnessed their fellow Muslims starved to death, and are conscious of our efforts in aiding Israel . Are we to believe that Muslims view those consequences as irrelevant and instead use cultural differences to urge hatred directed towards the West?
Many would ask what leads the supposed "land of the free" to devastate an entire region of the world. The answer is short, simple, and can be summed up with only one word: Zionism. The lies surrounding our relationship with Israel have been repeated so often by members of our own media and government, that they have been assumed to be absolute truths.
We have, according to both governments, become great friends due to our common pursuit of freedom and democracy. It is, they say, a relationship of natural attachment in which both sides benefit equally. However, the facts prove otherwise, as we give money, sweat, and blood while receiving nothing of consequence. I know of no example in which one side of a friendship is the only benefactor while the other enjoys being the relationships lone recipient.
It has become common knowledge that our government gives Israel a combined $5 billion per year in economic and military aid. While that may be true, it only represents a small percentage of the total cost to maintain our "friendship." Our total expenditures in the Middle East will total over $1 trillion this decade when factoring the cost of the Iraq War, the 11 functioning military bases in the aforementioned country, and several other bases throughout the region. That money must be factored in our donations to Israel since it is spent defending their interests at our expense.
When friendship between two nations is authentic, as opposed to fabricated, I know of no example in which one nation's enemy is the other's ally. However, Jonathan Pollard, while having been convicted of espionage against the United States , is regarded as a national hero in Israel . He is both celebrated by the Israeli people and defended by their government for transferring classified U.S. defense information to the nation in which he is loyal.
Although the Pollard incident was a terrible display of ingratitude, the attack on the USS Liberty in 1967 can be regarded as the most severe attack against the United States by a supposed ally. It is common to hear contemporary American politicians issue a promise of swift justice to any nation that commits a major attack upon Israel . That promise, I am certain, would be met.
Forgiveness was given, however, when our government's favorite country attacked the American military. High-level officials and many soldiers onboard stated that the Israeli's engaged in an attack upon the USS Liberty. On June 8th, 1967, thirty four Americans were killed while another 174 were wounded. The motive is clear: given that Israel was at war with Egypt , an understanding of late 19th and early 20th century American history reveals an obvious motive. Israel believed an attack upon the American military would result in a declaration of war against Egypt .
In 1898, an explosion on the USS Maine caused popular support for war against Spain . Throughout most of WWI, the majority of Americans strongly desired exclusion from Europe's war until the Lusitania and other ships were attacked and the contents of the Zimmerman Telegram became public knowledge. Less than a quarter century later, despite the desire of President Roosevelt and a major pro-war propaganda machine, America avoided war until Pearl Harbor led to an instant increase in popular support along with a Congressional Declaration of War against Japan. The Israeli government, based upon our history, knew the proper route that would garner American support for their cause. Fortunately, no such declaration was made against Egypt , as it was discovered that Israel was guilty and their enemy innocent.
Despite the mounting evidence proving that our national security is threatened by our unbalanced relationship with Israel , we will continuously be told that our enemy is represented by Muslim people who "hate us for our freedom." Whether we refer to the Muslim world as friends or enemies is irrelevant if our policy remains constant.
Change was both assumed and desired by millions in America and billions throughout the world. However, Obama's first week in office has given us insight into just what to expect over the next four years. Decade's old policy designed to benefit Israel at our expense will remain intact.
Some things never change.