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Condoleeza Rice reminds me of one of those shaggy little dogs that bark too much because their bite is harmless. You know the kind I mean. They have a high-pitched yip that pierces the silence and they don’t stop barking until their human locks them in another room or gives them a doggie treat. Although their bite is the equivalent of the bite one gets from a deerfly, it is their bark that is their true weapon. I have even seen pit bulls shrink from these varmints’ high-decibel attacks. That is, until the pit bull realized he could eat the smaller animal for a snack. Ms. Rice is Dubya’s yipping dog.
Most recently, Condy (her pet name, shall we say) launched a yipping tirade on a group of reporters in Washington. Her subjects included the Bush Politburo’s revised “axis of evil”: Syria, North Korea and Iran. According to an article in The Hindustan Times, Rice stated that these countries should “change their “troubling” behaviors. In other words, these countries need to stop any of their policies that might conflict with “U.S. interests.” In Syria’s case, this means that Syria must end its support for organizations that oppose the US designs for the region. As any objective observer of events in the Middle East knows, the phrase “U.S. designs” has become code for the wishes of the Israeli government. Furthermore, insisted Rice, Syria must end its occupation of Lebanon (a growing demand of the Bushites that is being pushed by a neocon front group that calls itself United States Committee for a Free Lebanon) and account for its weapons of mass destruction. Of course, no mention was made of Israel’s occupation of Palestine or Israel’s WMD. In addition, Rice’s accusation that Syria has WMD has yet to be substantiated by any factual evidence.
As for northern Korea, Rice stated: “no one should be willing to give in to the kind of blackmail that the North Koreans have been practicing on the world for a number of years, especially not the United States.” What she left unsaid, of course, is that the United States government should be the only government that can blackmail anybody. It’s not that the northern Korean government is blackmailing anyone; it’s more like they are trying to survive as an entity in the face of the most concerted attack on their existence in close to ten years. No one wants to see these countries develop or use nuclear weapons, but in all truth, they do have the right to defend themselves. The most reasonable way to resolve the situation in that country is for the United States to back down from its threatening position, restart fuel oil deliveries, and begin honest negotiations designed to bring about a lasting peace between Washington and Pyongyang (with the reunification of Korea the eventual goal). Threats made with bared teeth and increases in troop strength and weaponry are not likely to create a stable situation in the region. Indeed, they are almost certain to inflame passions and increase the likelihood of devastating war.
When Iran was mentioned, Condy strained at her leash so hard she almost flipped over on her back. Once she had calmed down though, it was apparent that she had saved her most vicious yipping for the government in Tehran. Tehran, said Rice, should end its nuclear program and, even more importantly, better behave when it came to its dealings with the government the U.S. installs in Baghdad. Furthermore, said Rice, the Iranians should not try to import their form of government to Iraq, nor should they continue supporting groups whose ideas about the Middle East differ from those of Washington. In short, Iran should surrender its foreign policy to that of the United States and give up any of its hopes for a political situation that reflects the desires of the Arab and Persian people that the United States get out of the area. Nothing that Rice said regarding Iran showed a true understanding of the many differences between the various Shia factions in Islam (specifically among the Iraqi Shia) as witnessed by their statements. It is true that some clerics have called for an Islamic republic, but most have made it clear that they want to be part of a truly representative Iraqi government that speaks for all of the Iraqi people. In addition, most of these clerics have insisted that religion and government should be separate if religion is to be pure. U.S. officials and their media have for the most part ignored these latter statements in favor of sounding alarms over statements made by those few clerics who have called for an Islamic Republic in Iraq.
The issue of nuclear development in northern Korea and Iran is a troubling one, just like it is in every country that has a nuclear program. It is of course essential to oppose the spread of nuclear weapons wherever they threaten to spread. However, it is equally important to challenge the current dynamic that attacks these two countries for going ahead with their nuclear programs while not seriously addressing the even greater threat that those countries already in possession of nuclear weapons presents. I don’t sleep easier because of my knowledge that the Pentagon has a nuclear arsenal. Nor does Israel’s nuclear arsenal make me feel secure. Actually, in all honesty the fact that these two countries possess as many nuclear weapons as they do (and continue to develop more lethal versions) makes me considerably more nervous than any threat posed by Iran or northern Korea.
There was no room for compromise in Rice’s statements. It was clear that this toy poodle (or Shih-Tzu or whatever) has some serious backup. There’s an ill-tempered Doberman named Rummy, a Rottweiler named Colin, a couple German Shepherds with military collars named Tommy and Dick, and a chimp who thinks he’s running the show named George (and it’s not Curious George). To make matters worse, they have all escaped from the kennel and are on the loose. Where’s animal control?
RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org