LONDON, 17 May (IPS) What do Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel have in common? One thing is for certain: they are both true reflections of the neoconservative rise in US foreign policy, which itself was a result of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, which razed the Twin Towers in New York and parts of the Pentagon.
..... the potential rise of Netanyahu to the premiership of Israel (as a result of Ehud Olmert’s imminent resignation) will in major part be a result of the neoconservative bolstering of extremist factions in and outside Israel.
While the rise of Ahmadinejad to the presidency of Iran in 2005 was in many ways related to George W. Bush’s 2002 State of the Union Address, in which he labeled Iran a member of the “axis of evil” (thus effectively playing into the hands of Iranian extremists opposed to any sort of reform, democratization, or renewed relations with the United States), the potential rise of Netanyahu (a staunch opponent of the Peace Process and a campaigner for US military strikes on Iran) to the premiership of Israel (as a result of Ehud Olmert’s imminent resignation) will in major part be a result of the neoconservative bolstering of extremist factions in and outside Israel.
Should this latter scenario be the actual outcome of Israel’s next general election, it will undoubtedly bring about not only the gradual isolation of the proponents of peace throughout Israel and beyond, but also the total failure of the Middle East Peace Process initiated by the collective efforts of Anwar Sadat of Egypt, Menachim Begin of Israel, and the Carter administration in September of 1978.
The fact of the matter is that a group of neoconservatives close to the Bush administration is, and has been since the 1970s, fixated on warmongering and the use of America’s military might as a foreign policy tool, so as to establish a more lasting pattern of US domination in the Middle East than that which was the case during the Cold War. The terrorist attacks of 11 September did, of course, greatly facilitate the emergence of this trigger-happy group in US foreign policy circles, as a result of which Bush was persuaded to renege on his once presidential campaign promise to limit the role of the United States abroad.
From this perspective, it may be said that the failure of the reform movement in Iran (internal factors aside) and the potential collapse of the Middle East Peace Process, which is aimed at building the foundation for what could later become a two-state solution, can both be considered as two major consequences of the neoconservative domination of US foreign policy. What is more, the failure or collapse of such potentially empowering movements and processes as those mentioned above cannot but please the neoconservatives, as a divided and thus volatile Middle East that would be incapable of jeopardizing US interests in the region has always been one of their historical longings.
All this, of course, should be cause for alarm, as the discourse of peace is slowly but surely giving place to that of war.
With the above in mind, it would not be far-fetched to assume that the role played so far by the likes of Ahmadinejad and Netanyahu has been one of an instrumental nature to neoconservative strategizing, in that it has provided the Bush administration with the pretext necessary to “stay the course”, so to speak, in the region. This, of course, is not the end of the story, as the spirit of neoconservative warmongering has been gaining greater momentum in the United States on almost a daily basis. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s recent remarks, for example, with regard to the potential “obliteration” of Iran should Iran’s despotic rulers decide to attack Israel have not only boosted the chances of Bush administration pre-emptive (or rather preventive) strikes on Iran’s nuclear and military facilities, but also have very much tainted her hitherto Democratic credentials.
On the basis of foreign policy alone, therefore, it may be said that Clinton’s calculated remarks are not only in tune with those of such figures as John R. Bolton and Charles Krauthammer who have been hawkishly campaigning for further chaos, death, and destruction in the Middle East, but also are a reflection of the renewed momentum gained by neoconservative circles and media outlets in the United States. All this, of course, should be cause for alarm, as the discourse of peace is slowly but surely giving place to that of war, most importantly, amongst general populations, as some opinion polls suggest, thus robbing each and every nation on earth of the opportunity and resources to plan for a more humane environment, be it at the local or global level.
While the likes of Ahmadinejad and Netanyahu must realize the importance of peace and cooperation for regional prosperity (the sort of peace and cooperation that can only stem from a deep sense of justice and humane behavior at both the national and international levels), the likes of Clinton must realize that a principled stance in support of democratic values and nuclear non-proliferation cannot logically or morally be reconciled with threats of nuclear annihilation against other nations, more so if those nations are governed undemocratically, as is the case in Iran. Let us hope, then, that such realizations will have a chance of emerging out of the current mentality of death, destruction, and lack of respect for human dignity. ENDS ALAVI 17508
Editor’s note: Mr. Jalal Alavi is a sociologist and political commentator residing in Britain.
Highlights are by IPS