The current Middle East policy of the U.S. is an insult to George Washington as it grossly flouts the fundamental principles of American foreign policy that he outlined in his valedictory to the nation.
In his farewell address on September 19, 1796, the foremost founding father of the U.S. cast those principles as "the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his counsel." He urged "solemn contemplation" and "frequent review" of these principles for "the permanency of your felicity as a People."
Definitely, unlike today's G.W. whose speech and acts are politically constrained or motivated, the founding father had a lot "more freedom" and wisdom when said goodbye to the nation.
Washington told fellow Americans, "Observe good faith & justice towards all Nations." He advised them to pursue a foreign policy of "justice & benevolence" that would "richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it." He said, "permanent inveterate antipathies against particular Nations and passionate attachments for others should be excluded."
He explained, "The Nation, which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest."
Washington warned that "a passionate attachment of one Nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation . . . betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels & Wars of the latter . . . It leads also to concessions to the favorite Nation of privileges denied to others . . . And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite Nation) facility to betray, or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity."
The founding father cautioned Americans against "the insidious wiles of foreign influence." He said, "history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican Government . . . Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another, cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real Patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the favorite, are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause & confidence of the people, to surrender their interests."
Unfortunately, today, the foundational U.S. commitment to equal justice to all nations has been compromised, and the U.S. government has become a "slave" to its "passionate attachment" to some states like Israel and passionate hatred of some others like Iraq.
Consider how passionately the U.S. rewards Israel and punishes Iraq for similar crimes. The pattern is that when Israel ignores a UN demand, the U.S. government understands or supports its moves, but when Iraq does the same, the U.S. showers it with bombs and missiles or threats of invasion.
Israel has violated more than 70 UN resolutions, while Iraq has resisted less than a handful. Israel invaded all its neighbors, while Iraq invaded two. Israel continues to occupy the entire Palestine and parts of Syria and Lebanon. Iraq no longer holds the territories it seized. Both states have committed war crimes and both have had to be disciplined.
Yet, Israel has received more than $100 billion in U.S. aid and commanded more than 30 American vetoes on UN resolutions that condemned or sought to change its illegal actions. In contrast, Iraq received the massive U.S. led war that killed several hundred thousand Iraqis in 1991 and the unending sanctions that have since killed a million more.
Today, all Israel's neighbors regard its aggressive policies and weapons of mass destruction as a threat to world peace. None of Iraq's neighbors thinks the weakened Iraq poses a security threat any more. Yet, Bush administration is rushing to invade Iraq.
In an ironic fulfillment of Washington's prophetic words, Bush has adopted "through passion what reason would reject"-a war on Iraq policy that many Americans and most people and governments of the world find morally indefensible and "contrary to the best calculations of policy."
It doesn't take a genius to figure out the "insidious wiles of foreign influence" that is prompting Bush's war. The right wing Israelis like Benjamin Netanyahu and their American backers are in the frontlines of the rhetorical campaign against Iraq.
The U.S. citizens who are leading this campaign are like those who, Washington warned, "betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country" by creating "an illusion of common interest" with the nation-Israel-they are passionately, not rationally, attached to. As a result, welfare and education budgets for the American people are cut in times of crunch, but the billions of annual aid dollars for Israel remain untouched.
Briefly, the U.S. government's Middle East policy-anchored in a passionate attachment to Israel and enmity to some Muslim nations-is indeed an insult to the memory of GW. In addition, it is a disgrace for American democracy as it stands against the fundamental principles on which the nation was founded.
Mohammad A. Auwal is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies at California State University, Los Angeles
Related posts from similar topics: