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US-Israel relations: America will stop at nothing to maintain its global hegemony

The explosive return of US bipartisanship in foreign policy signals a great danger not only to the world, but to ordinary American citizens as well
US President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, on 28 June 2024 (Reuters)

How can we even begin to encapsulate what has happened since 7 October 2023?

The unprecedented assault on Gaza that continues only through the support and blessing of the US administration and its western allies - like the incremental escalations in weapons testing and population control measures that had become a feature of life in Gaza for well over a decade - is unlike anything that has been seen and documented in real time.

This includes the Israeli use of AI software such as “Lavender” to increase targeting capacities to levels never before achieved; the wholesale destruction of universities, schools, hospitals, health facilities, water treatment plants, agricultural land, streets, roads, houses, and all necessary infrastructure for civilian life; the withholding of medicine and treatment; the use of famine as a tool of war and, most recently, the complete enclosure of the Gaza Strip through control of the Rafah crossing and its partial destruction

How do we even catalogue these events? The mass graves, the bodies still buried under the rubble, the capture and torture of doctors, medics and nurses; the targeted assassination of academics and poets, not to mention engineers, journalists, aid workers, ambulance drivers, municipal employees, police, those looking for food or an internet connection, or just children playing?

And all this perpetrated by the most technologically advanced military in the world largely paid for by US taxpayers, with still no possibility of declaring “victory” over resistance forces fighting out of tunnels without an air force, navy or mechanised units.

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Those who continue to report or comment on potentially hopeful messages from the US administration are simply buying more time for this destruction and genocide, while ignoring the decades-long evidence of the deep infrastructure that has made all this possible.

As the US Congress prepares a bipartisan welcome for internationally recognised war criminal Benjamin Netanyahu yet again, the elaborate ideological gymnastics of the American electorate seem to defy the laws of gravity.

Trampling on US law

Exposed to the surround-sound of a corporate media beholden only to its paymasters, new forms of identity politics have captured all facets of a political life in which politicians have fully abandoned any pretence of representing their constituents, goading those very same constituents to go at each other’s throats based on almost everything imaginable except principle.

Former free-speech advocates and America firsters shred the constitution while championing “Israel’s right to defend itself”, trampling on US sovereignty and law.

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Liberals and progressives who cheered on the collusion of all the lettered agencies and the media during the Trump presidency to demonise Russia - along with the ensuing collusion of Big Gov, Big Tech and Big Pharma to censor and decree during the Covid-19 period - are suddenly alarmed that free speech has gone by the board when Palestine is mentioned.

Yet many of these same liberals and progressives continue cheering on another term for “Genocide Joe”, in supposed terror of a second Trump administration. 

During the 1970s, 80s and even 90s, various commentators, pundits, analysts, and just plain citizens, commonly referred to the US government as “Zog”, the “Zionist Occupied Government”.

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While many identified as conservative, many others didn’t. But all were considered “conspiracy theorists”, that ignominious term originally conjured up by the CIA to discredit anyone questioning either the premises or the conclusions of the Warren Commission, ostensibly set up to examine the assassination of President John F Kennedy. 

But few have gone into the details of Kennedy’s policies regarding Israel. In his drive toward nuclear non-proliferation, for example, Kennedy clashed head-on with the then Israeli prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, regarding demands to inspect and monitor Israel’s nuclear reactor in Dimona. 

In a letter dated 15 June 1963, Kennedy wrote: “As I wrote to Mr Ben-Gurion, this government’s commitment to and support of Israel could be seriously jeopardized if it should be thought that we were unable to obtain reliable information on a subject as vital to peace as the question of Israel’s effort in the nuclear field.” 

Just three days prior to Kennedy’s assassination, his ambassador to the UN, Adlai Stevenson, continued advocating in favour of the repatriation of Palestinian refugees, a policy Stevenson championed as early as 1961 in clashes with Ben-Gurion, when he had gone so far as to say that Israel needed to make a public declaration accepting the principle of repatriation, as enshrined in UN resolution 194.

Light of principle

While there’s no way of knowing precisely what Kennedy’s policies might have been had he lived, we do know what President Lyndon Johnson’s policies were. Support for Israel under Johnson before, during and after the 1967 war turned completely partisan, initiating a sea change in US political life and culture.

Johnson’s cover-up of the vicious and unrelenting Israeli attack on the USS Liberty on 8 June 1967, in which 34 crew members were killed and 173 wounded - an incident that survivors still seek public redress for - marked a significantly new geopolitical reality.

As the US war in Vietnam raged on, Israeli soldiers were depicted as heroic and daring, taking centre stage.

As American soldiers in Vietnam killed some of their own officers in rebellion against untenable orders, and the anti-war movement among soldiers and veterans grew, they were increasingly depicted as psychopaths and losers.

When the draft ended, the US war machine went underground, engaging in 15 years of covert warfare, aware that the US populace had had enough. 

But the Gulf War, the sanctions on Iraq, the events of 11 September 2001, the immediate declaration of the “war on terror”, followed by invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, further operations in Libya, Syria and so many other countries, along with complete ideological, political and military coordination with Israel, fully realised then-Senator Joe Biden’s 1986 statement as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee: “Were there not an Israel, the United States of America would have to invent an Israel to protect her interest in the region.”

As generations that experienced the US war in Vietnam slowly disappear, and the actual result of US policies in Iraq and elsewhere have been scrubbed and sanitised, the true effects of government behaviour - the “banality of evil”, in Hannah Arendt’s momentous formulation - must be forced into the light of principle, away from the changing stripes of political efficacy and the trivialities of identity politics.

World wake-up call

The explosive return of US bipartisanship signals a great danger, not only to the world - as Russia, China, and most non-western nations are more than well aware of - but to US citizenry as well.

As Joy Gordon writes in Invisible War: The United States and the Iraq Sanctions, one of the few books dedicated to the subject: “It did not help matters that all three administrations, whether Republican or Democrat, denied the severity of the situation and denied US responsibility for any part of it, even when pressed by members of Congress.

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"But in the end it made little difference: Congress was, overwhelmingly, simply indifferent to the suffering caused by the sanctions in Iraq, regardless of the role of the United States… What is clear is that, left to its own, there was simply no limit on how much harm the US was willing to do to Iraq." 

The world wake-up call on Gaza has come about almost entirely through the heroic work of Palestinian journalists and Palestinian citizen journalists under siege, on alternative media, through various social media platforms.

But how long can they hang on, under the present conditions?

With information and free speech under a different kind of siege in the West, and politicians and corporate media treating their citizenry as invaders, it seems as if there is no limit on what the US and its allies are willing to do in order to maintain their hegemony - their citizens and the rest of the world be damned.

To think otherwise is a waste of precious energy better used to confront this behemoth on its own terms, rather than those we might hope for.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye

Ammiel Alcalay is a poet, novelist, translator, essayist, critic and scholar. He is the author of more than 20 books including After Jews and Arabs, Memories of Our Future and the forthcoming Controlled Demolition: a work in four books. He is Distinguished Professor at Queens College, CUNY, and the CUNY Graduate Center in New York.
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