05 June 2008

Obama to be Israel's poodle?

There is no better example of the tail wagging the dog than the United States' unequivocal support for Israel. The U.S. complains from time to time about Israeli behaviour, about the continued theft of Palestinian land, about the wall, and so on, but all it takes is a visit to Washington by the Israeli prime minister and all is forgiven. The hope that Barack Obama as president might present a more balanced approach seems to have been extinguished.

In a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Council, possibly the most powerful lobby group in the U.S., Obama laid out a policy unconditionally pro-Israel. He even upped the ante by not only pledging support for Jerusalem remaining as Israel's capital but as an "undivided" capital, an idea that will pre-empt most road maps to peace currently on the table. And he persisted in the foolishness of refusing to talk to Hamas unless they accept the usual self-defeating preconditions.

As for Iran, Israel's nemesis, he threatened to do "everything" -- "and I mean everything" to prevent that country getting nuclear weapons. One must assume "everything" includes war, possibly even nuclear war. His words were ominously familiar: "It [Iran] pursues a nuclear capability that could spark a dangerous arms race and raise the prospect of a transfer of nuclear know-how to terrorists." This could have come straight out of George W. Bush's mouth when he was justifying the Iraq war.

If Obama means what he says, peace in the Middle East will remain a dream and the hostilities there will continue to spread their toxic influences around the world. The Americans' Israel uber alles policy will never bring peace to the region or security to Israel.

But let's be optimistic. After all, this guy is supposed to be about change and hope and all that good stuff. Maybe his tough talk is just swagger to counter the foreign policy assault John McCain is launching against him. After all, he did say he would talk to the Iranians at least, something McCain won't do. And sucking up to the powerful Israeli lobby is mandatory for presidential candidates. If he wins the election, perhaps he will adopt a more rational approach.

We can only hope, while keeping firmly in mind the alternative is the frighteningly belligerent John McCain.

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