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February, 2007


Israel's War Influence Is Backfiring
By Karen Nakamura

Many Americans, sympathetic with Israel and anxious over it's minority status in the Middle East are increasingly concerned about the growing instability of the region and the seemingly needless danger in which Israel places itself.
That palatable danger for both Israelis and Americans comes from a shared policy of expanding the American-Israeli "sphere of influence" in the Middle East under the guise of bringing democracy to the region. It has become obvious the policies have backfired and are being compared worldwide to 20th Century imperialism.

This perception is not without reason. The methods the Bush Administration uses to overthrow or disrupt Middle East governments are viewed with alarm by the rest of the world. Americans and Israelis must understand why they are perceived the way they are.

Common sense and inalienable rights say that no country has the right to overthrow or occupy another country. The United Nations was created to deal with such disputes. And, until Israel and the US act according to that reality, the world will increasingly turn anti-American and anti-Israeli.

Few will deny that the US has adopted military strategy from the notorious Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Deep-seated anger unites the Arab world against the annihilation tactics used by the IDF against Palestinians who don't accept Israel's occupation or their people's virtual imprisonment. It is a core insult in the Arab world then for the US to adopt those same tactics in Iraq.

As early as December 9, 2003, Time Magazine published an article by Tony Karon titled "Learning the Art of Occupation from Israel." Karon reported it was obvious American troops in Iraq were taking lessons from Israeli forces. Looking at the Sunni Triangle, he compared the situation to Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

Both people are living under siege, surrounded by checkpoints and "suffering periodic air strikes and military sweeps." In both areas, whole villages are "surrounded by razor wire." Many Iraqis see little difference between themselves and the Palestinians. Karon wrote: "That's a worrying development for US authorities, since... the humiliation of occupation has served to justify terrorism against the Israelis [and the Americans]."

Various reports have it that US forces received advice, training and expertise from Israel. The New York Times reported on US officers in Israel to study urban warfare and counterinsurgency before invading Iraq. The Guardian of England reported Israeli officers trained US forces at Fort Bragg. The New Yorker reported similar scenarios.

Karon explained that while it's understandable US forces learn from experienced urban warriors, "Israel's tactics are those that fit with a strategy of long-term occupation, ...the ...goal of the IDF is to contain and manage the insurgency, knowing full well that it can't be extinguished through military means. Indeed, Israel's military and security chiefs are constantly warning that their counterinsurgency tactics actually alienate the Palestinian population and build support for radical groups..."

Dec. 10, 2003, Ivan Eland, Director of the Center on Peace and Liberty at The Independent Institute wrote "Like the Israeli forces occupying Gaza and the West Bank, US occupiers are now bombing or bulldozing houses and buildings used in attacks against them, wrapping towns in razor wire, locking them down for 15 hours a day, issuing photo identification cards for those Iraqis wishing to go in or out during the other 9 hours and imprisoning relatives of suspected guerrillas to pressure them to turn themselves in."

But there are other, not often referred to, similarities between the IDF and the Department of Defense. One involves turning brother against brother, people against people. It's the old "divide and conquer" routine. The US is trying to force Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to turn on his political compatriot and protector, Moqtada al-Sadr, whose party gives Maliki his majority in Parliament.

The Americans tried to get the Lebanese army to disarm countrymen Hezbollah. Israel avoided bombing Christian areas, hitting mostly Muslim targets, to create a wedge between factions.

For decades Israel and the US dismissed Fatah, Arafat and the PLO as "unworthy negotiators." Now they support the Fatah faction against Hamas and call Hamas "unworthy negotiators." Yet, when Fatah, through the PLO, first formed the Palestinian government, Israel funded Hamas charities so the PLO government would fail.

Another vicious tactic is to set the bar too high for adherence to negotiated points to work. Israel won't pull out until Palestinians silence every insurgent, a job even Israel can't achieve. The US will negotiate anywhere anytime with the Iranians as long as they give up their nuclear program. Generals agree the Iraqi Army has too few resources but is expected to attack a huge militia. Syria must give up its power in the region so the US can move in.

One unforeseen complication is that Arab nations aren't going for it. On January 19, Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah announced a campaign for the constitutional not violent take over of the Siniora government. Moqtada al-Sadr is the most important member of the ruling party with 30 seats.

Why is the world refusing to fight in Iraq? Why have 27 nations agreed, instead, to send troops to NATO forces in Afghanistan? One clue might come from retiring NATO Commander, General James Jones who said on PBS January 17 that reconstruction had to go hand in hand with ending any insurgency. He considers reconstruction a key to NATO's relative success in Afghanistan under his command. While the south is a hot bed of Taliban activity, he argued that Kabul is relatively quiet, adding the city is also being rebuilt.

The Olmert and Bush administrations rarely address rebuilding countries they've destroyed. They don't like nation building. Have they done anything to aid the fledgling democracy in Lebanon except to send Sec. of State Rice with a list of demands? Where's the deal sweetener of a billion dollars to build affordable housing and small businesses? Five months later, Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice and eight Arab counterparts finally pledged to provide financial aid to Lebanon, conceived quite possibly to satisfy the demands of an upcoming Paris forum on the subject.

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