What Price Holocaustmania? The Specter of Hitler That Drives Washington's "Israel First" Mideast Policy
If Adolf Hitler were able to look up to earth from the depths of hell, a broad smile would break out on the Führer's face. Far from being forgotten 53 years after his demise in a Berlin bunker, Hitler stands at the world's epicenter. All roads that once led to Rome now lead to and from his Holocaust.
This phenomenon sustains America's "Israel First" approach to the Middle East. The simplistic "Get Saddam" solution to our resulting troubles there flourishes with the help of media-drawn similarities to Hitler and the crying need of opinion molders and politicians to find a new villain, now that the Evil Empire no longer exists.
The threat Saddam allegedly presents to "little" Israel is widely portrayed in media photographs showing Israelis trying on gas masks. Such media-engendered emotionalism aims to conceal from American taxpayers the $600 million cost of the latest U.S. military buildup against Iraq, which certainly poses no threat to the United States.
Saddam's defiance of the U.N. resolution authorizing the search for possibly hidden Iraqi chemical and biological "weapons of mass destruction" has found wide support in the very Arab countries which, under American leadership in the 1991 Gulf war, intervened to reverse the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT'S FAILURE
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's late January tour of Arab countries to win support for a U.S. military strike against Baghdad was an abysmal failure, although through adroit language she tried to cover over the series of rebuffs. In a Feb. 4 press statement, the secretary said that "none of the Arab leaders urged me to tell the president not to use force."
Portraying proverbial Arab politeness (Arabs almost never say "no." Instead they say "Inshallah" -- if God wills it -- which can mean anything, or nothing.) as equivalent to support was about as credible as her "surprise" on learning that not one, but all four of her grandparents were Jewish and that three had died in the European Holocaust. The result was that on his follow-up visit, faced with the refusal of all Arab countries but Kuwait to permit U.S. usage of their air bases for tactical strikes against Iraq, Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen was obliged to state publicly that he would, after all, not request the Saudis for such usage.
Unlike the 1990-91 Gulf crisis, when Saddam Hussain's forces had invaded a fellow Arab state, in 1998 both Arab intellectuals and the Arab masses openly expressed sympathy for the Iraqi people, though not for Saddam Hussain. This forced other Arab leaders to refuse participation in any move against Saddam which might cause civilian casualties.
WASHINGTON'S DOUBLE STANDARD
Arabs also unanimously questioned obvious U.S. double standards -- seeking to punish Iraq for having defied one United Nations Security Council resolution while condoning 50 years of innumerable broken U.N. resolutions by Israel, which also makes no serious effort to conceal the fact it possess all three forbidden categories of weapons of mass destruction: nuclear, chemical and biological.
One of this writer's friends of long standing, a Jordanian, asked me why the U.S. stood aside and permitted a great wrong to be visited upon the Palestinians by the Israelis, allegedly to right the original wrong "committed not by the Arabs, but by the Nazis under Hitler against the Jews." He, of course, perfectly understood the psychosis behind the unwavering, unchallengeable support given to the Israeli state since its promulgation in 1948 by the U.S. and, for a time, many other Western countries as well. It was motivated by deep-seated Christian feelings of guilt for the Nazi extermination of so many Jews. As CBS commentator Howard K. Smith has cogently noted, "The American public has formed its judgment of the Middle East conflict not on the relative merits of the Arab and Israeli cases, but rather on the basis of Christian-Jewish relations. …