“The world would learn of a cruel and imperialistic country stealing from … needy and naked people.”— Mohammad Mosaddegh
How incidents and situations are defined largely determines how they are thought of. For instance, consider the trial of George Zimmerman for Travon Martin’s killing which resulted in an acquittal. The prosecution allowed the incident’s start to be defined as the moment Travon confronted George after being followed for some time and distance. Defining the incident that way made it appear that Travon was the aggressor. If, as many believe should have been done, the incident’s start had been defined as the moment George decided to follow Travon even after having been told by the police that that was unnecessary, George would have been made to appear as the aggressor. The trial’s outcome likely would have come out differently.
Apply the same analysis to the West’s, especially Britain’s and America’s, antagonistic relationship with Iran. The West has defined the situation’s start as the moment the Iranians invaded the U.S. Consulate making the Iranians look like aggressors. But the Iranians define the situation’s start as the moment British MI6 and the American CIA instigated the overthrow of the duly elected, democratic government of enormously popular Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953. The coup imposed an autocratic Shah on Iran who was himself overthrown 26 years later. Defining the situation this way clearly makes the West the aggressor. Now apply the same analysis to the so-called War on Terror.
The West defines the war’s start as September 11, 2001 which makes those who hijacked the airplanes the aggressors. But Muslims define the war as having begun much, much earlier. To them, “terrorists” are over here because the West has been over there for a very long time.
In classes on Western Civilization, students are seldom told that it is a predatory culture. The Greeks were constantly at war, if not with the Persians, with each other. Alexander was an early empire builder. So too were the Romans. Portugal and Spain were early predators of the Americas. Then came England, Holland, and France. We are all familiar with the predative nature of the Vikings. The Italians and Germans tried to colonize Africa. And when these nations were not trying to colonize the world, they were often at war with one another. Western Civilization is bellicose, and it has been at war with Islam at least since the Crusades which began in 1099 when the Holy Roman Empire sent armies to “free the Holy Land from the infidel” and take control of trade routes to the Far East. The invading Christians created several Christian states, and the Muslims in the region vowed to wage holy war (jihad) to regain control. (Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?)
(Because of the American educational system’ s almost total concern with vocational training, most Americans know nothing of the Crusades.)
Near the end of the 13th century, the Mamluk dynasty in Egypt overwhelmed the coastal, Christian stronghold of Acre and drove the European invaders out of Palestine and Syria. Still throughout the 13th century, Crusaders tried to gain ground in the Holy Land through short-lived raids that proved little more than annoyances to Muslim rulers.
But that wasn’t the end of it. In 1798, Napoleon invaded Egypt and Syria. In 1882, Britain made Egypt into a protectorate (which is a fancy name for ‘colony.’) In 1919, France again went to war with Syria. In the 1920s, the League of Nations granted Britain and France permission to make Syria a French protectorate and Palestine a British protectorate. Now the West has invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, regularly bombs Pakistan, and seems intent on a war with Iran. For more than ten centuries, the Middle East has suffered under the assaults of Western Europeans! None of the West’s efforts has gotten it the hegemony it seeks.
So at the end of the Second World War, the British realized, as the system of protectorates in the Middle East began to unravel, that a different strategy was needed. Not having been able to transplant Western values in the populations of any Middle Eastern country, it became apparent that only another British colony, populated by people of European origin, could ever hope to succeed. Thus the British continued the duplicitous diplomacy of making promises it never intended to keep, concocted a racist Balfour Declaration, and sought to use the Jews of Europe as its colonists to establish a Western style state in Palestine called Israel.
No, you say! But consider this: the Israelis treat Palestinians exactly like the English colonists, wherever they have gone, have treated aborigines. The English have mistreated people wherever they have gone. Don’t believe it? Ask an Irishman! The mistreatment of people seems to be a genetic characteristic of the English who once were slavers to Americans and drug pushers to the Chinese.
But the creation of Israel hasn’t worked out too well either. The establishment of the state of Israel is just another chapter in the centuries old war on Islam, and Israel could not have survived without the continuous financial and military support it receives from the West, especially the United States. If the Israelis were historians, they would be wary of that support. The West, especially the United States and Britain, have a history of abandoning allies whenever it suits their own interests. Ask anyone from the string of governments America supported in South Vietnam. Ask Hosni Mubarak. Resuscitate the shah of Iran and ask him. After having been put on Iran’s throne by an American and British coup, when he began to exercise some independence he, too, lost American support. Ask Saddam Hussein; he was once an American darling too. America and the West will abandon Israel just as soon as doing so furthers their interests. Rosemary Hollis, Middle East analyst at City University in London has said, “There is a deep-rooted belief . . . that Britain is always up to something, is never passive and always devious.” The Israelis should view it that way too.
The Israelis may believe that America’s Jews will keep America from abandoning them. The American tobacco industry thought like that too. After more than a century of paying off the Congress, when the mood of the people about tobacco changed, the corrupt Congress had no trouble abandoning the industry whose money it had always been happy to accept.
Israel beware! When the English convinced the members of the United Nations Security Council to create the state of Israel by partitioning Palestine it did so to promote English national Interests, not because anyone cared for the welfare of Jews. Western Europeans are not and never have never been an especially religious people. Western Civilization has never had an Age of Piety! The scripturally based arguments that support the creation of the state of Israel carry no conviction. Not only will no Hindu, Sikh, or follower of Shinto ever care one bit about what Jewish scripture says, neither will most Christians whose only interest is in the Second Coming, the Rapture, and Armageddon, none of which present Jews with a wholesome outcome. They predict the annihilation of Israel and its Jewish inhabitants. So, as George Bush has seen, the only alternative the Jews of Israel have is conversion to Christianity. One would expect that Zionists would object to being proselytized by Christians, but they do not. They are too cowardly to risk alienating the support of their fundamentalist, Christian “friends.”
The world’s Christians care no more for the world’s Jews than they care about Muslims. These Christians often exhibit no special concern even for the welfare of fellow Christians. Where I live, there are three different Christian churches belonging to the same denomination. Their congregations do not like each other enough to even worship together. Do Israelis really believe the world likes them? Israelis are merely pawns on a gameboard. Their welfare really doesn’t matter! Only the Second Coming does.
In a Cato Institutional piece written by Sheldon L. Richman, even America’s right wing says, “Beware!”
After 70 years of broken Western promises . . . it should not be surprising that the West is viewed with suspicion and hostility by the populations (as opposed to some of the political regimes) of the Middle East. The United States, as the heir to British imperialism in the region, has been a frequent object of suspicion. Since the end of World War II, the United States, like the European colonial powers before it, has been unable to resist becoming entangled in the region’s political conflicts. Driven by a desire to keep the vast oil reserves in hands friendly to the United States . . . the United States has compiled a record of tragedy in the Middle East.
Richman continued by writing that in 1979, President Jimmy Carter dismissed reminders of America’s long intervention as “ancient history.” Carter implied that there was nothing of value to be learned from that history. In his view, dredging up old matters was dangerous, because it exposed skeletons in the closets of Western nations they wanted to keep hidden. So to raise historical issues was unpatriotic. But hiding or denying the evil done in the past does not absolve the guilt.
When Israel is seen as an English colony, England has to be seen as primarily responsible for all of the horrors committed by its “colonists.” In fact, England and France must be seen as primarily responsible for the horrors committed by all the West in the Middle East at least since 1857, the end of the Anglo-Persian war. The United States became complicit when it inherited the imperialist policies of Western Europe.
The only national interests any Western nation has in the Middle East are imperialist interests. That’s why no Western diplomat who uses the phrase “national interests” ever tells anyone what specific interests are being referred to and it’s also why no Western nation ever refers to the national interests other nations might have in the West. Non-imperialist nations have no national interests beyond their boarders. Only imperialist nations do. So any diplomat who claims to be protecting “national interests” is nothing but a plundering imperialist.
John Kozy is a retired professor of philosophy and logic who writes on social, political, and economic issues. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he spent 20 years as a university professor and another 20 years working as a writer. He has published a textbook in formal logic commercially, in academic journals and a small number of commercial magazines, and has written a number of guest editorials for newspapers. His on-line pieces can be found on http://www.jkozy.com/ and he can be emailed from that site’s homepage.