Washington’s war against Iran, a war designed to humiliate the regime and force this independent state to bow down to Washington’s highly discriminatory rules (“Iran can’t; Israel can”), has given way, slightly, offering a brief respite during which to consider the possibility of peace – not love or admiration or understanding but possibly at least mutual acceptance of the fact that the other exists. In diplomatic parlance, that is called “recognition.”
Obviously, we aren’t there yet. Officially, Washington still refuses to admit that Iran, as a state governed by the Islamic Republic, exists. Let’s put it like this: if you encounter a stranger in a narrow alley, you have three choices – turn back, smash into the stranger, or recognize the stranger’s existence and try to work out a way for you and the stranger each to continue on your separate ways. And after 30 years of glaring at each other in the alley, Washington remains unwilling to do that. More, Washington continues to punch the stranger in the face (economic warfare continues and there is no public evidence that computer warfare has ended).
And yet, after 30 years of idiocy, significant progress occurred this week, since Obama managed to stand up to Netanyahu, whose career prospects are now notably weakened by the declining prospects for U.S.-Iranian military conflict. While contemplating the historic defeat of Netanyahu and his gang of militarists, one should also recognize the other militarist faction weakened by this week’s compromise: the “neo-con” war generation/IRGC group of super-nationalists who, like Netanyahu, hold violence to be the preferred path to conflict resolution.
So, this week Obama and the cause of peace had a good week, but that is not to say the agreement was either very substantial or very good. The agreement we need, at a minimum, to open the diplomatic door to genuine consideration of whatever policies might be of mutual benefit would include U.S. recognition of Iran and the end to U.S. acts of war against Iran. Then, the two sides can start discussing in a reasonable atmosphere the various issues that divide them, such as Iran’s right to do in the nuclear realm what Israel does, the Israeli nuclear threat to Iranian security, the stabilization of Afghanistan, the flow of illegal narcotics out of Afghanistan, the interference of both the U.S. and Iran in Iraq and Syria, the Israeli effort to eliminate the Palestinian people as an organized social group, Iranian-Pakistani plans for a joint gas pipeline…
There is lots of work to do. Formal diplomatic ties constitute the grown-up method for getting started.
The Tea Party extremists made fools of themselves, and the GOP is mired in civil war, but this is a time of danger for momentarily victorious Democrats. Democratic politicians need to face up to the fact that Obamacare, while marvelous in theory, is so imbued with gifts to Big Pharma that it constitutes endless ammunition for the Tea Party. Obama needs to become a real leader and focus on arresting financial criminals, but perhaps only second in domestic priorities is to clean up Obamacare so as to solidify support for the principle that health care is a natural right, not a privilege for the lucky. Obama would look very good if he were to follow up this shutdown victory with a serious effort to reform Obamacare to cut costs while strengthening the principle of a national health care safety net for every citizen.
If, instead, Democrats get overconfident, they will play directly into the hands of the Tea Party extremists and their elitist millionaire backers, who are playing everyone for fools in their attempt to bleed the public for their private profit. The goal of those rich Tea Party bankers appears to be the weakening of government to facilitate their own selfish priorities, i.e., various get-rich schemes requiring weak government regulation of Big Finance, the food industry, the environment, etc. Failure to address weaknesses in Obamacare, like failure to arrest powerful financial criminals, just makes Democrats appear hypocritical and empowers extremists who really want to reverse the rise of the American middle class.
Although the true agendas of Republican radicals is profoundly dangerous to the American way of life, the Tea Party and their hidden bankers are correct that Democrats waste money, that health care is too expensive, that corruption is widespread in government, just as the Bolsheviks in 1917 were correct that the Tsars were corrupt, elitist, and oppressive. But the Tsars were too arrogant to reform, so the impotent Bolsheviks were able to burn the house to the ground to serve their own private agenda. Extremists win because they focus on real problems.
With extremists making the GOP look like the enemy of society, now is the time, indeed perhaps the last opportunity, for Obama to turn his back on the elite and demonstrate that the Democrats really are friends of society.
We will never know if bin Laden had it all figured out in advance, but he launched a project that is, after his death, running on its own and moving steadily toward the result he wanted.
Once upon a time there lived a strange individual, a very rich but nonetheless very angry man: he despised what he had, though he had much, and gave it all up to change the world. His dream, or nightmare – depending on one’s perspective, was to destroy the world’s last superpower (not so unreasonable, considering its similarities to the superpower that actually was destroyed, at least in some measure due to himself). But how could one man, even with a gang of his own, bring down the giant? Of his own accord, he could not. The only way would be to use the giant’s own weight, the inflexibility of its momentum on its chosen course.
So he nudged, rather minimally by the historical standards of, say, the Mongols at the gates of Baghdad or Hitler on the Polish border. Indeed, less: he tweaked. The superpower reacted with pathetic predictability. Then he mocked, running into a cave, then across the Himalayas, publishing his word all the time by CD or on the Internet. Again predictably, the superpower became enraged, red-eyed and blind with righteous fury.
It went from trying to swat the fly with a sledgehammer to trying to colonize a secular country that sneered at and ignored the rich fundamentalist. It struck out in every direction, smashing anyone who remotely looked like our poor-dressing rich man, alienating millions and burning its way through trillions of dollars – a success for the rich man that he could never have achieved against a rational opponent.
One by one, the superpower’s endless string of military victories began adding up to diplomatic, financial, and moral self-destruction: Somalia, Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran (whoops, not quite, not yet)…and now Syria? The rich man is gone…dead too soon to know the margin of his victory.