Tuesday, October 3, 2006
By Patrick Seale
"Or is this just a public relations exercise aimed at improving America's deplorable image in the Arab and Muslim world? Has she merely come on a mission to "explore" the situation and spread around a little of her dubious charm?
These questions are legitimate because, as even the most casual observer will have noted, the Middle East has rarely been in such a dangerously volatile state.
There are persistent reports out of Washington—picked up and amplified in the American press—that the United States is preparing to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear facilities. In normal circumstances, such naked aggression would be hardly credible. It would be an act of insanity which would set the whole region on fire. But we are not living in normal times. There is such paranoia in the United States and Israel about Iran's nuclear program that anything is possible, even the unthinkable. In any event, the U.S. is being permanently blackmailed by the threat that if it does not attack Iran, Israel will do so.
Having smashed the Iraqi state, the United States does not know whether to leave or to stay, and does not seem able to do either with any degree of clarity or resolve.
Thanks to Israel's cruel repression, and also to the irreconcilable rivalry between Fatah and Hamas, the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, and especially in Gaza, is on the very edge of a catastrophic explosion. The dreadful misery of the population—besieged, starved and murdered on a daily basis by Israeli air and artillery strikes—is a terrible stain on the conscience of the world, and particularly of the United States, Israel's chief backer.
Will she insist that Israel stop murdering innocent Palestinian civilians; stop expanding its settlements; and commit itself to the creation of an independent and viable Palestinian state? Nothing could be further from her mind.
In other words, the U.S. Secretary of State's mission is to attempt to mobilize Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States against Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas. This may be what Israel and its friends are demanding, but it is not what the United States should do. It will not resolve the region's old conflicts. It will only create new ones.
Perhaps Condoleezza Rice would have done better to stay at home."