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Obama-Netanyahu Feud

When thieves have a falling out, it is common to look for the “good guy” as though everything is relative and subject to comparative analysis. Not so here. Assume their feud is real, we still have Tweedledum and Tweedledee, a race to the political-ideological-moral bottom when the scope is enlarged to take in the fuller position of both and the respective countries they each represent: America and Israel, joined at the hip, no matter personality differences of the current leadership, macro- and micro-hegemonic policies, goals, and aspirations to destroy all opposition to their presumed superiority and place in the global sun. To effect their national purposes, which in reality are the same in a sybaritic relationship of mutual war-criminality, drawing sustenance from one another’s extremism, there is an underlying long-term authoritarianism making them absolutely callous to the human suffering each inflicts on the weak.

The weaker, more helpless the better, not only as a testing ground for advanced weaponry, flirtation with the doctrine and practice of total war, and means of societal domestic regimentation, but as part of the psychopathology of conquest, success over the victim merely whets the appetite for more atrocities, more sadism, arrogance, claimed legitimacy in furtherance of what turn out to be fairly ordinary results of statecraft: a permanent-war-footing, militarism a central, justified, largely unexamined value shaping the ethos of righteousness in the use of disproportionate force, contempt for critics and victims alike, and, readily translatable from attitude to action, ground-zero annihilation, preferably through artillery and air power, always to teach the lesson of submission, bowing to superiority, discouraging resistance.

Given the inlaid paradigm of self-appointed proconsul to the world, well-publicized tiffs over specific policy decisions count for naught insofar as endangering the most basic posture of counterrevolution whether regional or global or in fact, for each, both. The US and Israel, Emperor and Praetorian Guard, colossi astride the international order, the intertwining of intervention, assassination, regime change, espionage, each nation cooperating with, and learning from, the other, a perpetual-motion machine lest breakdown, displacement, loss of will occur. Killing becomes the elixir of life, whether Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, for one, ethnic cleansing to inaugurate the New State, then the follow-up, the Palestinian Territories and, chiefly now, GAZA, the Bergen-Belsen of the Arab world, for the other. Gaza is the war-crime of the new century; so today all Netanyahu is doing is raising the stakes on the partnership—arms will continue to flow, military and intelligence communities to coordinate as one, same old, same old, since the late 1940s.

Why? Americans’ love for the Jewish people? Doubtful. Lobbying activities of Jewish organizations in the US? Not sufficient unto itself as an explanation. Rather, Israel had proven itself a trusted ally of the US from the earliest days of the Cold War, perhaps doubly useful because of the pseudo-socialist façade of the kibbutz imagery, providing a welcome crack in the American line-up of friends and allies many of whom were fascist in origin or practice. Geopolitics cannot be gainsaid, a US-inclined military-strategic oasis at the heart of the European underbelly, with ready access to North Africa and the Far East as well. But even geopolitics, in the immediate sense of regional control, hardly reveals a developing affinity of purpose. Israel, by the early 1950s, was code for everything to which America professed a desire to be, strong, ruthless, a beacon of legitimate repression (“legitimate” because unsuccessfully challenged), the worthy protagonist of the forces of evil arrayed against God, democracy, and freedom.

With a Manichean view of these proportions, love always trumps differences of the moment. In truth, it is hard to exceed Obama in the virtues of totalitarianism. Israelis need not worry about being sold down the river; even on Iran, America on his watch has inflicted sanctions and cyber-espionage sufficient to give the most skeptical grounds for assurance. Diplomacy, when it comes to the Enemy, is sleight-of-hand for pressures aimed at capitulation and humiliation. Rather, if Obama is not responsible for the imbroglio with Israel, Netanyahu is, and daily proves himself more dysfunctional to the relationship. This is not surprising, because, a faithful microcosm of Israel’s own descent into a collective state of hubris mirroring his own, the relationship itself is a strain on both partners, neither one willing to draw back from a seeming abyss of belligerence, perhaps to keep up with the other.

Where are we now? The internal polity of each eschews peace, a universal blanket of counterterrorism providing cover for a myriad of sins of commission and omission, Ukraine and Gaza co-mixed as foci for a wider conflict embroiling Asia too, with Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership the economic weapon to take on China, as already the case with Russia, in both cases a geopolitical strategy having military grounding, NATO to the Russian border, the US “pivot” establishing mainline forces in the Pacific. Israel applauds the renewed Cold War, knowing its implications—as deep-grained reactionism—for watching Israel’s own back; America applauds the atrocities in Gaza, knowing its implications—ditto—for instructing the weak and powerless in proper lessons of humility toward the all-powerful. When and how will it all end? I am not a Spenglerian; nevertheless, the situation grows increasingly dire, not least because of the bloodless character of the leaders of both nations.

Norman Pollack has written on Populism. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at pollackn@msu.edu.

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Norman Pollack Ph.D. Harvard, Guggenheim Fellow, early writings on American Populism as a radical movement, prof., activist.. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at pollackn@msu.edu.

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