Sunday, March 29, 2015

Petty armed politics versus a universal commitment to human life

Tuesday this week is the deadline for a nuclear "deal" with Iran, intended to hold the state sponsor of terrorism at bay, perhaps for a decade. Israel, through her Prime Minister, Netanyahu, expresses legitimate and profound fear, a truly existential fear, based on repeated contentions from various sources in Tehran to "wipe Israel off the map".
Today, the Arab League announced a proposed united military force potentially to send troops into Yemen, allegedly to restore the government of that country, but really to counter the Iranian support for the Houthi rebels who are trying to take over that country. Fear, by the Arab League (Sunni), including the Sunni regime of Saudi Arabia, of Iranian (Shia) hegemony's growth on the backs of terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas both of which the Iranians support, whether linked to Israeli fear, or in competition with it, motivates many of the Arab League members.
In the west, fear both of a deal with the Iranians and of a failure to reach a deal, provides the counterpoint of the partisan debate between Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress.
Paradoxes abound, in a cauldron of fear, especially in the unravelling Middle East. Generals from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are, at the invitation of the government in Baghdad, fighting alongside Iraqi forces to defeat ISIS in Iraq and most likely in Syria. American, Canadian, British and French bombers are dropping bombs on ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria, seemingly pitting Iran and the 'west' as enemies in common against Sunni terrorists. Simultaneously, the dictator clinging to power in Syria, Assad, is fighting both ISIS and Syrian rebels who seek to overthrow the dictator, ironically supported by enemies from the west who want him ousted, claims that the west wants to destabilize Syria, but seeks dialogue with the U.S. according to the interview he did with Charlie Rose this week, for CBS 60 Minutes. Assad too is supported by Iran, in this witches brew that would challenge that of the Witches in MacBeth for both complexity and toxicity. Meanwhile, Assad's supporter, (and Iran's ally), Putin, claims that the west is attempting to destabilize Russia, as part of his defence of his actions in the Crimea and East Ukraine. (Two obvious questions: Do Assad and Putin have the same PR firm? And is Iran the real agent of destabilization in a Middle East rife with chaos?
The release of sanctions on Iran, so desperately sought by that regime, is apparently a primary condition of Iran's agreeing to a nuclear deal. Simultaneously, John Boehner has announced that, immediately upon the return of the U.S. House from the Easter break, he will introduce a bill to ramp up sanctions on Iran, both signalling a rough sea ahead for any potential deal with Iran in the U.S. Congress.
Netanyahu, for his part, denounces any deal or a prospect of a deal with Iran, as permission for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon citing that even a ten-year monitoring clause will neither prevent nor foreclose on Iran's military nuclear ambitions.
The U.S., for its part, is in danger of becoming embroiled on both sides of a proxy way, Saudi Arabia and the Arab League (on one side) with Iran, Assad, and the terrorists backed by Iran, on the other.
Israel has to be wondering about the legitimacy of its alliance with the United States, and the rest of the world has to be wondering if the White House really knows how dangerous is their obsession to reach a deal with Iran. On the one hand, Obama claims that no deal would be a far greater threat than any deal. Would it? Only time will tell. If Iran faces ramped up sanctions, in the event no deal is reached, or if any deal reached is sabotaged by the U.S. Congress, would that result in ramped up "pay-back" through increased overt activity among the Iranian-supported terror groups? If Iran faces a world in which no deal is reached, would that pave the way for that regime to proceed unimpeded toward the development of as many centrifuges as they want, resulting in an even shorter time frame for them to develop both a nuclear bomb and the missile capacity to fire one? Whether a deal is reached or not, would Israel view each scenario as so dangerous that it must attack Iran's existing nuclear capacity, and would such an attack bring in Putin, in a much wider proxy war, from which the U.S. would likely be unable to sit on the sidelines?
American addiction to the business model for both its government and its economy has resulted in the export/sale/treaties/peace-deals with other countries, especially in the Middle East, or American weapons, technology and parts for repair. Those pieces of hardware are now the means by which the agents of terror are taking and sustaining their mayhem. Clearly, there is no international agreement that arms sales are restricted or punished and the American "leadership" on this file is not merely a business arrangement.
Arms production, sale and distribution is a cultural convention so deeply embedded in a country whose vision excludes responsibility for the mayhem those American weapons is now wreaking. Not only are corporate profits a rationale for the "business" but also foreign policy is dependent on this obsession by the government.   Americans are unwilling, and perhaps even unable to acknowledge their complicity in the culture of military, quasi-military, and even terrorist attitudes and actions around the world. American blows its horn as the most "advanced" civilization on the planet, citing the many scientific achievements of her history, along with the veneer of democracy that has functioned on Capitol Hill for two centuries, but is now threatened by the tsunami of cash that can and will purchase public policy by the far right.
Canada, conversely to a history of taking a "different path" from that of the militaristic Pentagon, is now deeply embedded in fighting alongside the United States, neither of which country has announced any long-term goal following the defeat of ISIS.
The public is our last resort in demanding some serious changes in the philosophy of militarism as an answer to our conflicts, the international responsibility to restrict and even ban arms sales as an instrument of foreign policy, the need for an international commitment to universal education, universal elimination of hunger and poverty, the need for a much broader and deeper commitment to international legal processes and protocols (including the U.S. signature of commitment to the International Criminal Court, and the International Court, and an initiative to seek and to secure philanthropic funding not only for health care initiatives but also for enhanced international and universal structures and processes that address problems faced by all humanity.
Fear mandates the pursuit of power; powerlessness is at the root of all fears and the world already knows that hard power is no answer to that fear. In fact it is an impediment to the reduction and the elimination of that fear. Human beings, of all colours, ethnicities, religions and political ideologies now face both a military cauldron that threatens to impale us all, an environmental cauldron that threatens to suffocate us all, and an integrity deficit that threatens to blind us all. Petty politics, whether based on a list of wedge issues, or based on minor economic and tax policies, or in a differential response to world market prices (as in the current drop in oil prices) or based on a fundamental and divisive divide between Shia and Sunni, foreshadow a future map into more dark caves of danger, disregard for human life and potentially our shared demise.
Is that the kind of future we are prepared to accept from politicians addicted to their own narcissistic, even if nationalistically supported, egos? 

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