In a recent Arab-language television interview, Barack Obama said:
Ultimately, we cannot tell either the Israelis or the Palestinians what’s best for them. They’re going to have to make some decisions. But I do believe that the moment is ripe for both sides to realize that the path that they are on is one that is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people. And that instead, it’s time to return to the negotiating table.
But we have been telling the Israelis and the Palestinians what is best for them for years now. It’s what we do. Our approval of Israel’s rampages against Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have stymied peace and given Israel support to shunt Palestinians into ghettos where they are deprived of food, water, electricity, and access to health services–in other words, Palestinians are treated as inhuman with the US stamp of “Amen”. It’s little wonder that Palestinian resistance fighters launch an occasional rocket into Israel.
And, now, exacerbating another complex and un-winnable quagmire, Obama will send more of our troops into Afghanistan, having learned nothing from the Soviet example. A New York Times headline put it this way: “Aides Say Obama’s Afghan Aims Elevate War.”
Elevate means to exalt or raise to a higher spiritual level. Certainly, the words “war” and “elevate” are incongruous.
When intelligence, often faulty, locates al Qaeda in an Afghan house or village, our military levels the particular site, frequently killing more civilians, including children, than enemy fighters. This isn’t just sowing seeds of hatred; it’s fertilizing and tending the garden of evil. We have lost the support of the people of Afghanistan just as we have lost the support of the Iraqis.
War does not elevate. It devalues human life–our own and the people whose lives are forever scarred by our aerial assaults and weapons of mass destruction, if they survive the devastation.
Surely, our leadership should know this. But, instead of committing to peace, Barack Obama and Joe Biden are escalating war. Remember, it was Joe who said you don’t have to be Jewish to be a Zionist, words that transport more than a whiff of white phosphorous, words that threaten the very existence of Palestinians, words translating that Obama’s power ascendancy will mean squalor and a system of apartheid to the people driven from their land by the Israeli government, a government gifted so generously with our tax dollars.
Before Joe Biden took his oath as VP, he traveled to Afghanistan to scold Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai for being unhelpful to US goals. The puppet Karzai walks a tightrope, trying to balance his act: “Make my people happy or make America happy” is the dilemma that has to be streaming constantly through his mind. Sort of like the lesson Jill Biden must be pounding into Joe’s head each morning as he leaves Number 1 Observatory Circle: “Remember, you are the vice president, not the president.”
And as Obama asserts himself as the new toughie who can direct the rise and fall of countries, he would do well to remember his message on Arab television: Palestinians and Israelis should “realize that the path that they are on is one that is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people”.
Neither is the path we are on–a surge of troops to Afghanistan, missile strikes in Pakistan, all-options-are-open threats to Iran, and excuses and support for Israel’s war crimes against the people of Palestine. And on Iraq, there’s Obama’s Catch 22: “Do I listen to the generals or to the people who elected me?”
The new president seems to dislike the rallying cry, “war on terror”. But his choice of neocon advisers and menacing rhetoric indicate we may soon have a new slogan, the “occupation on terror”, for our continued shameful and indefensible incursions for empire.
Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She’s written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she’s a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,’05, she has been writing political articles. She can be reached at: Missybeat@aol.com