The notion of the U.S. as the height of global morality and a beacon of freedom and liberty is little more than proof of a successful PR campaign. The rest of the world isn’t buying it, so why are Americans?
KITCHENER, Ontario — (opinion) For reasons that only show the effectiveness of public relations campaigns, many U.S. citizens view their government as the height of global morality, a beacon of freedom and liberty in an otherwise broken world. They believe, inexplicably, that the United States is a force for good throughout the world, protecting its own borders as it helps the downtrodden in far-flung locations.
Too bad none of this is true. This particular fairy tale is not believed much outside of U.S. borders, where a more realistic view of the U.S. prevails. And the stark evidence of this reality is on no greater display than in the country’s twisted relationship with Israel, one of the world’s most repressive regimes.
Let us look at just a few facts: Israel has been illegally occupying Palestine for decades, continually building new, illegal settlements, and encroaching on Palestinian land. Israeli soldiers and settlers steal from, harass, and kill Palestinians with complete impunity, yet if a Palestinian is even suspected of committing a crime against Israel, his or her home can be immediately bulldozed.
Of course, it isn’t only when its occupants are suspected of a crime that a Palestinian home can be destroyed. If Israel decides to build a new road in the West Bank, and one or more Palestinian homes stand in the way? Well, that is just too bad. Then, once the road is built, Palestinians are not allowed to use it.
After one of Israel’s periodic “mowing of the lawn” episodes, the oh-so-whitewashed expression referring to the carpet-bombing of the Gaza Strip, the illegal blockade prevents relief and rebuilding supplies from entering. As a result, as many as 100,000 Palestinians remain homeless a year after Israel’s most recent genocidal onslaught. This is in addition to the devastating, ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip and all the suffering and misery that brings.
The United Nations has issued more resolutions critical of Israel than of all other nations combined. In 2013 alone there were 21 resolutions against Israel, and four against other nations. The reasons for this are not surprising.
Now, let us look at some statements from officials of that earlier-referenced “beacon of freedom and liberty,” in the context of human rights violations. Shortly after being elected, President-elect Barack Obama made this amazing statement:
“When the United States stands up for human rights, by example at home and by effort abroad, we align ourselves with men and women around the world who struggle for the right to speak their minds, to choose their leaders, and to be treated with dignity and respect.”
This statement was made on the anniversary of the signing of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights on Dec. 10, 1948. It was during this time that over 750,000 Palestinians were being driven from their homes to make room for the new country of Israel. Obama didn’t see fit to mention that in his pretty speech.
During her reign as Secretary of State, current presidential candidate Hillary Clinton made this comment, speaking to the U.N. Security Council, regarding Syria:
“Now the United States believes firmly in the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all member‐states, but we do not believe that sovereignty demands that this council stand silent when governments massacre their own people, threatening regional peace and security in the process. And we reject any equivalence between premeditated murders by a government’s military machine and the actions of civilians under siege driven to self-defense.”
Yet even as she praises Israel, she has condemned the current violence in Jerusalem and surrounding areas involving Palestinians, who are certainly “civilians under siege, driven to self-defense” if anyone is.
What is the United States’ role in the brutal oppression of the Palestinians? That role is twofold:
- The U.S. finances it all, providing Israel with the most modern weaponry known to man. This includes F-35 fighter jets, Cobra helicopters, and over $3.1 billion in arms and ammunition in both 2014 and 2015.
- The U.S. for generations has legitimized it, repeatedly using its veto power at the U.N. Security Council to prevent Israel from taking any accountability for its actions.
A declining US empire
U.S. influence in parts of the world is waning, partly due to its tattered reputation as, in the words of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, “the greatest purveyor of violence” on the planet. This diminished influence is especially evident in South America, where the growth of Brazilian influence has eclipsed that of the U.S. And Brazil’s defiance of U.S. policy is often seen in the Middle East, where Brazil takes positions opposite those of the U.S. Unlike the U.S., for example, Brazil recognizes Palestine.
U.S. spokespersons often proclaim that they must protect and defend Israel, because it is the country’s only friend in the Middle East. Yet, as expressed by Jesuit priest John Sheehan: “Every time anyone says that Israel is our only friend in the Middle East, I can’t help but think that before Israel, we had no enemies in the Middle East.”
Perhaps if the U.S. took some of the $4 billion or more in military and other aid that it sends annually to Israel, and distributed it a bit more uniformly, it would have other “friends” in the Middle East.
And just how good a friend is Israel? Its current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, announces new settlements even as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry attempts to relaunch negotiations between Israel and Palestine. These illegal settlements are a major issue in any resolution of this years-long conflict; negotiations, which have never yielded results, are doomed from the start when settlement construction continues. Netanyahu appears before the U.S. Congress, bypassing President Obama, to lobby against the president’s policies. And Israel does not hesitate to humiliate the U.S. at the U.N. One example is particularly telling: In 2009, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had to abstain from voting for a ceasefire in that year’s genocidal onslaught by Israel, despite the fact that she helped to prepare it. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, upon hearing of the resolution, called President George Bush and demanded that the U.S. not support its own resolution.
Due to her apparently undying love and devotion to Israel, Hillary Clinton has threatened Iran more than once. As a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, she said: “I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president, we will attack Iran (if it attacks Israel).”
She added: “In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.”
Clinton may have forgotten the disastrous impact of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which she supported, and may be overlooking the fact that Iran has more than double the population of Iraq. Yet her stance on protecting Israel at all costs hasn’t changed. In discussing the recent international agreement reached with Iran regarding its peaceful nuclear program, which she supports, she said: “I wouldn’t support this agreement for one second if I thought it put Israel in greater danger.”
If there is hostility toward the U.S. in Iran, can one wonder why this is? Israel receives unqualified support from the U.S. in terms of money, weaponry and protection from its crimes in the U.N. Israel’s criminal efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear program, including the targeted assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, have received only tepid criticism from the U.S. And prominent U.S. politicians, including the mighty Hillary Clinton, don’t hesitate to condemn perceived human rights abuses in Iran, as they not only overlook, but actually condone and finance unspeakable human rights abuses committed by Israel on an ongoing basis.
So what else has this great, self-proclaimed beacon of peace and freedom done recently? Drone warfare, pioneered by the U.S., has caused untold hostility toward the U.S. A few examples will illustrate this.
US imperialism is terrorism
In 2009, President Obama authorized a drone strike in Yemen that killed 41 people, including 14 women and 21 children. One of these individuals was suspected of having connections to al-Qaida. This was among the first of Obama’s deadly drone strikes, which have continued unabated since then. Their impact on the country’s international reputation, while perhaps ignored within the halls of U.S. governance, have certainly been noted elsewhere. For example, in 2012, Ibrahim Mothana, a young Yemeni writer, said this in a New York Times op-ed: “Drone strikes are causing more and more Yemenis to hate America and join radical militants; they are not driven by ideology, but rather by a sense of revenge and despair.” Mothana also quoted a Tweet he’d recently seen: “Dear Mr. Obama, when a U.S. drone missile kills a child in Yemen, the father will go to war with you, guaranteed. Nothing to do with Al Qaeda.”
Farea al-Muslimi is a young Yemeni man who lived in the U.S. as a high school student. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights on April 24, 2013, he said that his neighbors had felt positively about the U.S., due to his experiences there as a youth. He continued: “Now, however, when they think of America, they think of the fear they feel at the drones over their heads. What the violent militants had failed to achieve, one drone strike accomplished in an instant.”
In Egypt, the U.S. once again took its rather bizarre version of the moral high ground, when the democratically-elected Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was overthrown in 2013, just a year after being elected. The American Free Press reported:
“Evidence suggests that the army coup orchestrated in Egypt was intended to ‘manipulate the protest movement,’ to ensure that the Egyptian rulers remain in the United States – Israeli orbit and to prevent a real people’s government from arising.”
For the U.S., this is simply business as usual. The following is a partial list of governments that, for one reason or another, the U.S., either covertly or overtly, overthrew, invaded, or is currently attempting to overthrow, just since the mid-20th century:
- Syria – 1949, present
- Iran – 1953
- Guatemala – 1954
- Tibet – 1955
- Indonesia – 1958
- Cuba – 1959, 1961
- Democratic Republic of the Congo – 1960 to 1965
- South Vietnam – 1950s to 1976
- Brazil – 1964
- Ghana – 1966
- Chile – 1970 to 1973
- Afghanistan – 1979 to 1989
- Turkey – 1980
- Poland – 1980 to 1981
- Nicaragua – 1981 to 1990
- Cambodia – 1980
- Angola – 1980s
- Philippines – 1986
- Iraq – 1992 to 1996; 2003 to 2011
- Venezuela – 2002
- Palestinian Authority – 2006 to Present
And as CIA terrorists foment unrest in various nations, the suffering of innocent people is not even a concern.
We hear that the U.S. is the “land of the free and the home of the brave,” a persistent myth if ever there was one, and that Israel has “the most moral army in the world,” a statement not even widely believed in Israel. Yet politicians in both countries continue to play these discordant tunes, to which the public is becoming increasingly dissatisfied. Change is in the winds, and it cannot come soon enough.