Beware Those Who Speak With Forked Tongues

In 1855 Native American chief Hinmuuttu-yalatlat (Old Joseph)  was duped by the Government of the United States into signing a treaty which, he was led to believe, would allow the Nez Perce to keep millions of acres of their tribal lands in the Northwest. However, because of the mad gold rush in the Black Hills of Dakota Territory, in 1863 the same land-grabbing government shoved another treaty down the Nez Perce’s throats reducing their original ancestral lands to a pathetic miniscule fraction of what was originally agreed upon in the 1855 treaty. When, upon Old Joseph’s death, his son, Hinmatoowyalahtq’it  ( Chief Joseph), attempted to reclaim his people’s lands by appealing to the Federal Government, the Perce Nez were hunted down, killed, and packed off to a reservation.

The precedent for this egregious breach began when the white mostly English European colonists began to settle the Northeast American Continent and has gone unabated, in one form or another,  for the past 239 years.

Ironically, Old Joseph and Chief Joseph’s names were given to them by Christian missionaries who, no doubt, quoting the Holy Bible, justified the brutal actions of the white settlers to lay claim to Native American lands as a God-ordained- Promised-Land venture much like the Israelites and their descendents are justifying their theft of Palestinian lands between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. It is so easy to put words in God’s mouth. And, when God is on your side, you can do no wrong. “What we Say, goes!”

In a handful of 1960’s and 1970’s  Western movies Native American tribal chiefs were oft quoted saying the following:  “White man (sometimes paleface) speaks with forked tongue” or, infrequently, “Big White Father speaks with forked tongue.”

How true!

With the birth of this nation, two original sins were committed. Greedy European stock immigrants (mostly English) enslaved Africans in a heinous institutionalized exploitative system some of whose vestiges exist even to this day.   The Native Americans were murdered, raped, dispossessed and butchered in well-planned and well-executed schemes to annihilate their tribal cultures and social mores, devalue their identities, decimate their populations, and condemned those who survived to a life of degradation within the confines of reservations. Thus the Native Americans’ charge that “Big White Fathers spoke with forked tongues” is a corporeality that persists even to this day.

It therefore behooves the Iranians to draw lessons from American politicians’ practice of not keeping their words and abrogating treaties. To wit, just a few examples from recent foreign U.S. duplicitous policies.

Under siege in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, In 1982 Yasser Arafat agreed to withdraw his troops to Tunisia only after the Reagan Administration promised to protect Palestinian civilians from further murderous carnage exacted by Israel’s Sharon, better known as The Butcher of Lebanon, and his Phalange allies. Once Arafat and his men withdrew, Ariel Sharon orchestrated and oversaw the genocidal massacres at Sabra and Shatila, two Palestinian refugee camps in which 4 to 5 thousand unarmed civilians were butchered in an orgy of killing. Because the dead were hauled off as one would dispose of dead cattle carcasses in the buckets of front end loaders and buried in mass graves. We will never know the exact number of the innocent civilian victims.  American naval ships moored barely one mile off the Lebanese coast picked up the chatter between Israeli soldiers and their hired gunmen; while Reagan slept soundly, National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane refused to wake the aging president up or to intervene. The heinous carnage, yet another act of Israeli genocidal ethnic cleansing, went unabated for over 48 hours.

When the Soviet Union disintegrated, President Gorbachev had a tacit agreement  (albeit a verbal one) with the Reagan administration that NATO forces would not move into  former Soviet satellite states. All that was to change under Bill Clinton; so much for America’s keeping its word. Fast forward to Obama’s recent unprovoked meddling in Ukrainian affairs and the ill-advised confrontational demeanor vis a vis Russia as proof. (See numerous noteworthy  CounterPunch postings.)

Witness America’s hypocritical double speak and numerous promises made to the Palestinians to help establish an independent Palestinian state. The so-called Madrid Talks, Oslo Agreement, and Camp David Accords, to name but only a very few such shamefully cruel hoaxes, are merely blue prints that endorse Israeli theft of Palestinian lands. These charades forestall UN decisions/sanctions with the U.S. using its veto power to protect Israel. Well over 25 such shameful vetoes in the service of the Israeli paymasters have been cast by seven successive U.S. presidents.

Which bring us to the current on-going talks between Iran, on the one hand, and the U.S., Russia, China, England, France, and Germany, on the other. The U.S. and Western Europeans are also serving as surrogate pit bulls for Israel and Saudi Arabia, both of which have a tremendous deleteriously detrimental stranglehold on U.S. foreign policy and possess cheap energy sources.

Iran and the U.S. are under pressure to produce an agreement that will give each party a fig leaf it can sell to its constituents. While lifting the economic sanctions is of paramount concern for Iran, stripping Iran of its nuclear capabilities to a bare minimum is of paramount concern for the U.S. and its Cohorts.

Obama has seen his foreign policy disasters boldly inscribed on the wall of his blank bronze legacy wall and is anxious to close the Iranian deal. The Cuba deal is merely peanuts; his attempts at brokering a deal between Israel and the Palestinians fell flat on its face and  was sabotaged and upstaged by a cunningly conniving Bibi who outsmarted him at every turn, by Congressional lackeys, and by the Christian right. He is therefore desperate for an Iranian deal. A legacy rated at 2.5 stars is better than none.

The pit bull hangers on, Israel and Saudi Arabia and other regional thugs will no doubt be paid off (more like blackmail) with billions of dollars’ worth of arms sales, with Israel receiving foreign aid and weapons for gratis (compliments of Obama and the 500+ Congressional pimps). The oil soaked sheiks will further  squander their oil riches on weaponry they will use to fight each other and bring down their houses on themselves. Either way, the military industrial complex, the mean, menacing arms merchants of this world,   stand to gain by reaping billions of dollars in profits, some of which will definitely be siphoned back as payola into congressional and presidential campaign coffers.

While Iran, cornered by a gang of demanding bullies and pit bulls, is at a disadvantage, it has the following advantage. Obama’s foreign policy has been a shambles; Mr. (paraphrased)  “ I will not wage wars as my predecessor has done”  has bungled up the Afghanistan/Iraq wars, he’s waged wars and military strikes on Libya, Syria, Somalia, Eretria, and Yemen. He spendsTuesday mornings planning which/how to drone one or two bad guys without regard to the lives of innocent guests at wedding parties, mud houses, villages, etc. I wonder whether the Nobel Peace prize plaque hangs on some White House wall as a reminder of the significance of the honor bestowed on him for his promises of making this world a better, and safer place?

A lot of blustering rhetoric has been spewed. This includes: “Hard choices must be made;”  “Talks could go either way;” “Still nothing is clear;”  “Differences remain;” “We are working hard;” “We have never been closer to a lasting outcome;” “Importance of a comprehensive agreement;”  “We have in fact made significant progress;”  “We want a snap back mechanism for U.N. sanctions that won’t require a Security Council vote.”  All of these pronouncements and much more are not only  negotiating tactics by both sides to test each other’s limits on how much to concede, but they are also intended to prepare the Iranians, the posturing members of Congress (forget the majority of slumbering Americans who will believe anything they’re told), and regional thugs, theocrats and dictators on a phony chess board called the U.N. and controlled by a handful of powerful nations.

The U.S. and its allies are hungry for a cheap source of oil and a ready-made market that includes 75 million sophisticated, hungry, and ready-and eager-to-spend Iranian consumers. The Iranians are ready for the sanctions to end, and the folks across the table are ready to strike a deal – I smell a lot of dollar and euro bills – a win-win situation for both sides.

Conclusion: Iran had better choose its best legal, linguistic, rhetorical, and scientific minds to parse every single word, phrase, sentence, punctuation mark and paragraph. If needs be, copious footnotes and end notes should be added to expound on every single point. They need to make sure that “the meaning of  is – is exactly what is – is”. The Iranians had better not depend on their Farsi transcript; instead, they had better depend on the English transcript. Two sticking points include the lifting of sanctions. The Iranians had better dot every I, cross every T, and set specific and exact parameters for when and what type of sanctions will be lifted. The other concern, the open ended intruding spot checks   on Iranian nuclear and military sites is very significant. Imagine, if you will, a local sheriff demanding that a local citizen with a ten foot high wall must tear down the wall around the perimeter of his property,  allow open ended and unimpeded access  to every room, closet,  cabinet and cabinet drawer in the house, including the bathrooms and bedrooms the private domains where private personal matters occur.  All of this silliness because “the Iranians cannot be trusted!”  How about trust from the opposite side? In 2003 the world trusted Bush and the result was an unprovoked disastrous war in which close to a million people were killed with a spillover into Syria. We are reaping what we have allowed our leaders to sow in the form of ISIS and a virulent and dangerous fanaticism that, much like cancer, is slowly metastasizing across the Near East and, indeed, the globe. Yup, one reaps what one sows.

Making and maintaining nuclear weaponry is an expensive financial proposition which siphons infrastructure funds and weakens nations. Iran would be ahead if it walks away from such.

If an agreement is reached and if a temperamental and subservient Congress approves the deal, then Obama will have disarmed all the 2016  clownish presidential aspirants by making Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons an irrelevant  issue. He will also have averted a future war for trigger happy successors who might wage war on Iran to establish their credentials as tough guys/gals.  Above all, if, after the deal is signed, Obama does not play foul with semantic interpretations to change the rules of the game, he will have averted the charge of being called “Like others before him, Big Black Father speaks with forked tongue.”

If an agreement is reached and if a temperamental and subservient Congress approves the deal, then Obama will have disarmed all the 2016 clownish presidential aspirants by making Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons an irrelevant issue. He will also have averted a future war for trigger happy successors who might wage war on Iran to establish their credentials as tough guys/gals. Above all, if, after the deal is signed, Obama does not play foul with semantic interpretations to change the rules of the game, he will have averted the charge of being called “Like others before him, Big Black Father speaks with forked tongue.”

Raouf J. Halaby is a Professor Emeritus of English and Art. He is a writer, photographer, sculptor, an avid gardener, and a peace activist.