Flaws and merits in US Mideast policy are being corrected under Trump
Every so often, I take up the keyboard to weigh in on the doings of the people running the ancient and great nation of Iran. There is no cynicism in this statement: Iran is a highly technologically advanced, well-educated and fairly prosperous nation. However, Western news consumers would never know this because of the way the Iranian government and religious authorities act in trying to get what they want.
Palestine shares similar qualities. The Palestinian people I know are first-rate. They are wonderful, hard working, and supportive of their families and their churches (when Christian). I must assume the same is true for the Muslim segment of that population, though I know only a few Muslim Palestinians, since most of them I met were living in the US.
Both peoples have the same problem, in my view: They both become completely unhinged about Israel and its presence, and both resort to at least violent rhetoric, if not actual violence, acted on against Israel. To read the daily doses of propaganda coming out of Iran, the thinking seems to be that the only problem in the world for Iranians and Palestinians is the existence of Israel and the support it receives from the United States. This criticism unabashedly descends into fierce resentment against “the Jews”, who seem to be responsible for all that is evil in the world.
Now, people far more informed than I would be very quick to get into all the players in the mighty conspiracy theories regarding Israel, Zionists, the Bilderbergers, the Rothschilds, and so on, ad nauseam. I am not going to engage these theories. They may be true, all or in part, however, I propose that these conspiracies have their power precisely because they cultivate a culture of victimhood. “We are at the mercy of the billionaires! / the Jews / the Rockefellers / the evil Americans / insert your favorite THEM here…”
This approach is only a calculus for Iran and Palestine and anyone else who tries it, to lose and go on losing. It also builds great anger, generationally enduring hatred without true reasoning, but with great belief, and it prevents anything from changing. The Palestinians demonstrated this last week when they would not even consider a word of the latest peace initiative offered by President Trump. This was a big hit against the Palestinians because in viewing the plan seriously and soberly in light of the actual reality of things in Palestine, this solution is excellent, and it stands a chance of working if the Palestinians agree.
I have disagreements with the plan, myself. I think the Palestinians still should have much more land; I think the tunnel to Gaza is a definite Trump masterpiece (President Trump likes to build things), but I think the situation may still be untenable for many Palestinians, unless they really agree to follow the deal. At this point, they are not interested.
The plan’s key point is based on what I see the main problem to be with Palestine (and Iran, if one thinks through this carefully):
The eternal rage of being a victim.
The Palestinian Authority walked away from a deal in the Clinton era that would have given Palestine almost everything they asked for. They shut down the Trump plan before it was announced, and for them, no other solution will do except for Israel to disappear. Even the assurance that the Dome of the Rock would be protected for Muslim believers who want to pray there was not enough. President Abbas went public saying he was going to break all relations with the US over this deal (which the Palestinians refused to even try to talk about with the US and Israeli parties.
How does this kind of behavior solve any problem? Does it actually show that for these people, being victim IS the victory they seek?
If so, it is a lousy victory. While the UN often issues statements in support of Palestine, taking the idea that Palestine is being oppressed by the US and Israel (which it is!), the UN has done nothing to actually help the Palestinians. No one wants them in their own territory, perhaps owing to the fact that these people have made life work out of being angry and destructive, even murderous, in their efforts to convince the world how they themselves have been wronged. There is no peace in such a solution. There is only rage, anger, self-righteousness and violence.
The Palestinians could win – not only the territory promised them in the deal, but much more, if they were to be humble and engage the negotiations. One has to start somewhere. Starting nowhere only breeds rage. If the Palestinians think this helpless, hapless rage amounts to a victory, or that it is attractive to the rest of the world in a way as to attract real help and support, they are simply not looking at the reality around them.
The same thing has shown in Iran’s recent behavior, attacking the US base in Baghdad, then their rather unsuccessful missile strike at a base after the assassination of their top general last month. To date no fatalities are reported by US authorities, though Iran claims something like 80 Americans were killed. Eighty people are hard to hide, though, and even reporting by the US site The Hill doesn’t report more than minor brain traumas from the concussive force of the blasts.
It is difficult to hide multiple dead people from the American press, especially a press that despises President Trump so much that they simply oppose whatever he does. All that would be needed is to hear about one American killed in that attack and that would be it. But no such report has surfaced; no parent or loved one of an American killed in that attack has come forward to talk about it.
It is a good chance that Khameini’s story about 80 Americans killed is a lie.
I think Iran’s Khameini is trying to reassert support from his people with the recent posts he has his name attached to. There were some problems in Iran over the fate of the Ukrainian jet they shot down and then tried to deny. While I do not think it was “the beginning of the end” for the Iranian ruling authorities, it did demonstrate for at least some people a sense of a breach of trust with the government, and I think Khameini’s recent posts are his effort to control that before it becomes a big problem.
I know something of the history between Iran and the US and I know that the US president Jimmy Carter did a lot of damage that helped trigger the 1979 Revolution there. I also know that the Iranian leadership presently is very angry and perhaps justifiably so at the US.
However, when it gets into blaming Zionists or Israel in general for EVERYTHING under the sun, I find this unreasonable. I am sure they have their share of the problem. I strongly disagree with Israel’s hamfisted handling of the Palestinians, and I think the US and UN were absolutely wrong to forcibly establish Israel in 1948, because the way they did it caused unbelievable sorrow for the Palestinians there ever since that time.
That being said, the Palestinian reaction to this has been unacceptable in the West. The UN gives Palestine vocal support, but no one really wants to HELP them, and part of the reason is that they are so wound up that they do not want help. For them, the only solution is the elimination of the Jewish state.
That is just not going to happen. I understand the sentiment, and I sympathize with them, but they are not looking at reality: Israel is not going anywhere. The only way to beat them is to beat them at their own game, by being much better than Israel, and showing, like India did under Ghandi’s guidance, that the hostility is only coming from Israel. Every time the Palestinians do another rocket attack or throw rocks at IDF soldiers, the Palestinians blow any chance of gaining true credibility in the world. Right now they look like a bunch of unstable people because they are not playing this game smart.
Iran, in my opinion, is the same way. Both countries could totally turn their misery into great victories – indeed, President Trump WANTS them to do this, but they are too busy acting out to become reasonable.
I say this with no hostility towards the Palestinian people or the Iranians – but with advice – if you want to win, play the game better than your opponents. Win by showing you are great people and not just angry victimized people. Many American Indian groups have done precisely that and have become quite prosperous. There may be something in some Islamic teaching that advocates this sort of jihad as the way to change things, but I do not see how it can possibly work. The rest of the world does not want to deal with people who act irrationally. This is not safe. The leadership apparatus of both these nations seems to sustain itself on irrational rage and self-victimization. It has not resulted in prosperity, and it never will.
The people living in these nations might do well to consider this last statement, and maybe take actions to set a different course. This has happened in history, just look at India, and how that country defeated the most powerful empire on Earth – without firing a shot.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.