Magazine article Tikkun

War with Iran: The Disastrous Aim of Israel and the Republicans

Magazine article Tikkun

War with Iran: The Disastrous Aim of Israel and the Republicans

Article excerpt

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his supporters would love to see a series of military assaults on Iran. In particular, they are hoping for assaults that would decisively undermine Iran's ability to develop nuclear power, even for peaceful purposes. Netanyahu has felt this way for years, but after the disastrous war with Gaza in 2014, it was strategically clever for him to put the issue of Iran on the world's agenda in order to shift global attention away from the suffering of the Palestinian people.

Netanyahu's discussion of possible assaults by Israel or its sole ally, the United States, on Iran succeeded in steering Israeli voters away from discussions of Palestine in the runup to the March 2015 election.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq, which was encouraged by Netanyahu and a spate of neoconservatives working with the Bush administration, unleashed sectarian warfare between Sunni and Shi'a groups that has left hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead and maimed and that has forced millions to abandon their homes and live as refugees, either in Iraq or in surrounding countries. Many Muslims in the Middle East, like many others (including Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu fundamentalists) who have held on to the values of traditional societies (a blend of communitarian commitment to mutual well-being along with sexist, homophobic, and coercive practices) have long nurtured a deep resentment against capitalist values. This resentment is understandably directed toward the Western countries that have planted multinational corporations inside the Middle East, bringing in their wake the materialistic, ultra-individualistic, community-destroying values that lay the foundation for a fundamentalist counterrevolution. The emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Nigeria's militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, is a product of these factors combined with huge resentment of Israel's repression of Palestinians and Western powers' exploitation and domination of the Middle East.

Very few Israelis want their own soldiers to go to war with Iran. What they want most is for the United States to fight that war, which many Israelis believe is necessary in order to remove the threat to Israel's existence that Iran is thought to constitute.

Those Israelis who seek to encourage the United States to fight this war, as Benjamin Netanyahu did quite eloquently - though deceitfully - in his address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on March 3, 2015, have a powerful ally in that quest, namely the Republican majorities in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Most of these Republicans have never seen a war that they didn't yearn to get into, motivated in part by their funders in the military-industrial complex and in part by a lingering desire to reestablish the United States as the undisputed and sole major power of the world.

What makes war with Iran so particularly appealing to the militarists is that it has the support of the many Democrats beholden to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), as well as popular support from Christian Zionists, who are among the more vocal elements in the base of the Republican Party. Other proponents of an ill-advised war with Iran include the section of the American public who would love to watch the first African American president appear like a failure, thereby covertly validating the racism that has given the Republican Party its staying power, even among middle-income and poor people whose economic interests have been battered by Republican-instigated cuts to the already paltry safety net. As a result, for the first time in a very long time, the war seekers have a wide enough base to have a shot at winning the presidency in 2016 and strengthening their hold on both houses of Congress (even if they fail to fully derail the Obama agreement with Iran). Though they may not be able to deliver a war on Iran until 2017, they will almost certainly harass the Obama administration continually until then and challenge liberal Democrats by trying to split them from those Jews and others who support a more aggressive policy toward Iran. …

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