Kevin Zeese: "It’s Time to Try Diplomacy in Middle East!"

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“Bombing Iraq (after 9/11) would be like our invading Mexico after the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor.”

— Richard Clarke, former National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush

Washington, D.C. – “The U.S. has put in place policies in the Middle East for many decades that give people of the region many good reasons to hate us,” said Kevin Zeese, an Independent candidate for the U.S. Senator for the state of Maryland. He was speaking at the Palestine Center, on September 13, 2006, before a near-capacity audience. His timely topic was: “Reformulating Policy in the Middle East.” Zeese continued, “The overthrow of the elected leader of Iran in 1953, and the installing of the brutal Shah [Mohammad Reza Pahlavi] led to years of oppressive government. [1] The one-side support of the U.S. for Israel. All of these policies provide generations of Arabs and Muslim with real reasons for hating the U.S. And, because we fail to recognize these historical facts, we continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. We continue to create more anger-more hatred of the U.S.”

Take the Iraqi War,” Zeese underscored,” it was a calamitous mistake that is making all we fear–increased terrorism against the U.S. and its allies–more likely, the longer we stay in Iraq. The more force we use, the more counter force–blowback–results. U.S. policies are strengthening extremists in the region and weakening moderates. Getting Middle East policy right is essential to the security of Americans. It is also essential to the countries and peoples of the region. The Iraqi resistance and Hezbollah’s survival against the most superior military powers in the world should send a message that, rather than relying on ‘shock and awe,’ we need to begin to rely on negotiation and diplomacy. The cost of the oil wars in the region are becoming more evident to all Americans. And the limits of military power are also more evident. We need a sensible Middle East policy that relies less on force and more on diplomacy.”

The grim stats: As of today’s date, the Neocon-inspired Iraqi War has led to the deaths of 2,683 U.S. military personnel. It has also cost taxpayers $315.4 billion. Iraqi civilian casualties have been estimated at over 100,000. Paul Wolfowitz, a raving Neocon, and then Deputy U.S. Secretary of Defense, was the “prime architect” of that conflict. With respect to Israel’s unjust 33-day war against Lebanon, its immoral terror bombing campaign killed 1,183 Lebanese, many of them children, displaced over 970,000 innocent people and caused billions of dollars in damages to the country’s infrastructures. Meanwhile, the barbaric treatment of the Palestinian people, trapped in the West Bank and Gaza, goes on unabated with the Israeli Occupation Forces’ death squads running rampant there and also destroying Palestinian homes at will. [2]

Zeese is convinced that Israel’s horrific invasion of Lebanon, launched on July 12, 2006, was “a pre-planned assault waiting for a spark,” and that Israel and the U.S. knew it was coming. When it did, he emphasized, “The Israelis were ready. And, the U.S. gave its blessing and even rushed military equipment, including 1,800 cluster bombs, which contained over 1.2 million cluster bomblets, to help it continue its attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructures.” The Bush administration, Zeese said, “cheer leaded” the Israelis. “Both [political] parties,” he argued, “as is the practice, lined up in support of Israel.” (He mentioned later in his remarks, in response to a question from the audience, that one of his opponents in the Nov. 7, 2006 general election in Maryland for the U.S. Senate seat, Rep. Ben Cardin District (D-3rd), was a part of that cheer leading clique in the U.S. Congress.)

“All of these weapons, utilized by the Israelis in Lebanon, like phosphorous shells, which are forbidden under international law, or the funds to buy them,” Zeese explained, “were provided by the U.S. There are an estimated 500,000 unexploded munitions on the ground in Lebanon. In Lebanon, the Bush administration continued its path of mistakes in the Middle East, and both of the old parties [Democrats and Republicans] are complicit in those mistakes.”

Zeese was up front with his audience about the fact that it’s hard, considering the Middle East’s long history of colonialism, oppression and violence, to be “optimistic” about its future. He said that two recent items have given him room to see some, small glimmer of hope for the area. He prefaced his remarks, however, by recalling how only 13 years ago [Sept. 13, 1993] that famous “Handshake for Peace” photo op was held on the White House lawn. The scene depicted Israel’s then P.M., Yitzhak Rabin, who was later assassinated in Tel Aviv, on Nov. 4, 1995; the PLO’s then-Chairman, Yassar Arafat, who died of natural causes on Nov. 11, 2004; and the then-U.S. President, the liberal Democrat, Bill Clinton, joining their hands together and celebrating working out a supposed peace pact. After Rabin’s death, Zeese pointed out, the Israeli regime has tilted “even further to the Right.” Under the terms of the over-hyped deal, the Israelis had agreed to withdraw their troops from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank by April, 1994. Zeese said it’s clear today: “These occupations have not ended. The major problem in the region has been the U.S. government’s one-sided relationship with Israel. For years, Israel has been the U.S.’s ‘unsinkable battleship’ in the region, as General Alexander Haig [later a U.S. Secretary of State] once described it.” [3]

The ongoing visit to the U.S. of the former President of Iran, Mohammed Khatami, was one item, Zeese underscored, that indicates that the Bush-Cheney administration “may” now be ready to entertain a new, less lethal, approach to the volatile area. Khatami is on record as opposing Osama bin Laden and suicide bombings. He has, however, strongly defended the right of the Hezbollah fighters to resist, in Lebanon, the evil of “Israeli colonialism.” [4] Zeese said: “The U.S. continues to emphasize the ‘big stick” rather than the ‘carrot’ with Iran. Our government treats the Iranian government as unsophisticated, talking down to them with ‘no respect.’ The threat of force continues to pervade the air in the region. Meanwhile, Iran is urging diplomacy.”

Another positive thing, lately, in the arena of full disclosure, Zeese said, has been “the bringing out of the closet of the power of the Israeli Lobby in U.S. politics. This is something that people in this city have known for quite some time, but it wasn’t discussed in polite political circles. The writings of mainstream ‘Realist’ foreign policy scholars, [John J.] Mearsheimer and [Stephen M.] Walt, have brought these issues out in the open. [5]

“Reforming U.S. policy in the Middle East,” Zeese submitted, “must begin at home. The root cause of all the confusion is the U.S.’s, and the world’s, dependency on oil. We need to break our fossil fuel-based economic model and transition, rapidly, to a sustainable clean energy future. When oil no longer dominates our country’s concerns, we can then develop more sensible policies in the region, consistent with our ideas of human rights. And when that happens, we will also no longer need that ‘unsinkable battleship,’ Israel, and can develop a more realistic policy regarding Israel-Palestine. To do the latter, however, the pro-Israel Lobby needs to be challenged in U.S. politics. When oil is no longer central in U.S. national security, then the alliance between the oil industry and the military-industrial complex will be weakened and the issue of Israel can be put in its proper perspective.” [6]

Finally, Zeese was asked this relevant question from a member of the audience, during a very lively Q & A segment, which followed his 30 minute talk: What should the U.S.’s exit strategy be with respect to Iraq? He answered, in part: “We should announce we’re going to do a dual withdrawal-military and corporate-from the country and in a managed and responsible way. I think it would take between four to six months. If we don’t do it in a managed way, what we are going to see is how it ended in Vietnam. The last person to grab a helicopter was the last person to get out. And, what is left behind is a mess.” [7]

Notes:

[1]. “All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror” by Stephen Kinzer

[2]. http://www.pchrgaza.org/

[3]. http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/
viewArticle.asp?articleID=11391

[4]. http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/09/10/harvard.khatami.ap/index.html

[5]. http://ksgnotes1.harvard.edu/Research/wpaper.nsf/
rwp/RWP06-011/%24File/rwp_06_011_walt.pdf
The “Harvard Study” documents the fact that for nearly four decades the powerful Israel Lobby, with includes the Neocon ideologues, like Richard Perle, et al., had exercised “unmatched power” over the foreign policy of the United States, persuading it to do things which weren’t in “our national interest.” It also reveals that it had extracted $140 billion-plus from our treasury to feed to the extreme Israeli War Hawks, like the Far Right’s Likud Party’s Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Olmert.

[6]. “The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy and the End of the Republic” by Chalmers Johnson.

[7]. A video, TRT- 3:36, showing Zeese’s full comments, on 09/13/06, at the Palestine Center, re: “a managed and responsible U.S. withdrawal from Iraq,” can be found at this site:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQlNXc-j87k
Another video, TRT–4:16, where Zeese discusses the subject of “Lobbies/Voting in a Democracy,” is located here:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7985979555717519974

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