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Political Lessons From Jerusalem
July 11, 2014
by J.A. Young
A picture of Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system in action.



Most politicians build their careers by projecting certainty at all times, even when it is unwise to do so. American leaders are especially good at displaying power and understanding during situations that are often completely beyond military or political control. Honesty is in short supply in the arena of international politics, a fact that is becoming clearer every day that the Middle East erupts into war.

 

Through nearly 16 years and two opposing administrations, the United States has presented the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan as difficult, yet optimistic ventures towards rebuilding peaceful states. The rhetoric from Washington has always stressed the achievable goals of giving  people the tools to fight their own battles, and helping to restore order and diminish the impact of terrorist insurgents.

 

When these sentences are delivered with forceful intent by someone like President Barack Obama or Secretary of State John Kerry, they appear meaningful and heartfelt. When you watch a well-educated and eloquent speaker step up to an imposing podium draped with microphones, their face painted with makeup and their speech perfectly choreographed, it is hard to see through the carefully manufactured veil. But that’s all that we really get from politicians these days, well-acted and rehearsed speeches (written by someone trained in public manipulation) that more closely resemble stage performances than public addresses. This caricatured leadership is becoming a serious issue, one that makes understanding global politics more difficult. Our American government actively deceives us about the realities of the world on an everyday basis, a deliberate deception that costs taxpayer dollars and lives.  The recent downward spiral in the Middle East and Asia is a testament to the false information that is presented by many Western politicians. It was of course a series of lies from the Bush administration that first involved the United States in two wars in the Middle East to begin with. Bush then initiated a full-scale invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, in response to a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center Towers that was perpetrated by mostly Saudi Arabians.

 

This type of organized disinformation misrepresents many of the ongoing conflicts around the world, especially in the Middle East.

After years of assurances and calming speeches on the state of Iraqi politics and infrastructure, the recent military campaign of ISIS has all but wiped away any of the minimal progress that was achieved during the American occupation. Trillions of dollars and thousands of lives were frivolously poured into the desert, and now the country is left in the same place it was fifteen years ago, if not a worse one. The rise to power of self-proclaimed caliph and ISIS commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (a former American prisoner) is exactly what American politicians have been telling the world could no longer happen. The reason that we have occupied Iraq for the past decade was to remove insurgents from power by installing a democratic government that would in theory rule itself. In the end, President Obama simply decided to cut his (trillion dollar) losses and wash his hands of the situation, summarily declaring Iraq a rebuilt state capable of running itself. Indeed the US pull out of Iraq seems to be a caricature of President Bush’s own charade of exiting the region on an aircraft carrier embossed with the infuriating slogan, “mission accomplished.”

This sort of insane political posturing by leading politicians is not just an American problem, it completely misrepresents issues that are global in scale and consequence.

 

Considering the way that Syria has completely devolved into a war-torn state over the past three years, it is of little surprise that large parts of Northern and Western Iraq are back under the control of different groups of extremists. Since the Assad regime has lost control of their brutally run state, rogue insurgents and militias have sprung up all over Syria, and are now finding their way into various conflicts throughout the region.  The Syrian civil war has been equally misjudged by American politicians and various foreign policy officials. Original claims that the Assad regime used chemical weapons during the fighting have turned out to be either incorrect or simply inconsequential, or both. Now there is even evidence arising that Assad may have used chemicals purchased from England in the alleged Sarin gas attacks. The United States still promotes a distinct ongoing conflict in the region that pits a “moderate opposition” against the authoritative regime, a characterization that is infantile in its simplicity. A recent report by Erin Banco explores the murky waters of the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts, noting that ISIS is now a discrete fighting force that is working against the Assad regime, the Iraqi army, Al-Qaeda, and the US-backed Syrian opposition.

To summarize the piece bluntly, no one has any fucking clue who exactly is fighting who and for what reason.

 

The plain facts indicate that politicians are simply drawing lines in the sand where they do not exist. These new regional urban conflicts are only growing in their complexity and scale, and there is no clear picture of what is going on, even amongst people on the ground. We couldn’t give Iraq the necessary infrastructure to run itself with ten years of military occupation and trillions of dollars in aid, how is supporting one Syrian faction over another going to solve anything?

 

The situation in Israel has followed a similar path towards destabilization in recent months. The ongoing fight between Israelis and Palestinians has reached a new level of disgust, with children becoming the prime targets of attacks. Abductions, kidnappings and murder have become the newest tools in the raging fight to take control of the holy land. A recent report from Palestinian Authority's minister of social affairs indicates that 1500 children have been murdered by Israeli forces since 2000, the forces that are supported by the United States. Rocket strikes in the West Bank and Gaza have increased rapidly in recent days and weeks, killing and maiming scores of innocent civilians throughout the region. This is a fight that has been raging for thousands of years, and yet American politicians have the gall to try and inject some over-educated clarity on the situation: claiming that one side can be rightfully supported in an effort for peace. To clarify, both Israelis and Palestinians are killing children on a regular basis because they each levy claims to an antiquated and arbitrarily designated holy land. This is not the sort of situation that can be remedied by diplomatic visits and peace accords, if indeed it can be.


We cannot afford to make up excuses about what is happening, clinging to our ancient alliances and political structures. People are killing each other and dying senselessly and there is no better future in sight.

These situations are deteriorating rapidly and what our leaders need to do is admit that they have no place in the fighting and worry about issues that can actually be addressed.

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