From its founding in 1948, Israel has gotten away with murder.
It has systematically flouted the laws of war.
It has violated relentlessly the sovereignty of its neighbours, even going so far as to annex Syria’s Golan Heights in violation of international law.
Since 1967, Israel has occupied and colonized territory which the international community reserved for a Palestinian state.
Israel has established a system of apartheid more brutal than that to which the Afrikaner regime subjected Black South Africans.
Israel has discarded, like toilet paper, countless directives and denunciations by the Security Council and General Assembly of the United Nations.
Israel is the only state in the Middle East to possess nuclear weapons and, at the same time, the only Middle Eastern state to have remained outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Thus far, four weeks into Israel’s campaign to obliterate the Palestinian people, the world has seemed powerless to stop it. Yet a closer examination of the facts reveals that the days of Israel’s impunity are coming to an end. Its system of apartheid is finished. Its days of lording it over its enemies, both real and imagined, are over.
To understand why, we must first understand the nature of Israel’s power.
America’s ‘unsinkable aircraft carrier’
Israel’s domination of the Middle East was not made possible, as Israel’s propagandists would have us believe, by the moral and intellectual superiority of its ruling class.
On the contrary (and for reasons I will explain in Part 2 of this article), Israel is a geopolitical pipsqueak.
This diminutive state has always derived its power from the world’s most powerful nation. Israel is, in reality, a huge American military base masquerading as a country.
The primary reason for which the United States created and sustained this hyper-aggressive military outpost can be summed up in one word: oil.
As Professor Noam Chomsky has explained:
There’s been a very consistent U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, at least since the Second World War, whose primary concern has been to ensure that the energy reserves of the Middle East remain firmly under American control. The State Department noted in 1945 that these reserves constitute “a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history.”
When the Second World War ended, the anti-Semitic governments of the West claimed that they wished to establish a sanctuary for the Jewish people on Palestinian land. That claim was implausible from the outset. Stealing Palestinian land and colonizing it with Jewish refugees from Western states was never going to make the Jewish people more safe – a reality that became painfully clear on October 7.
By establishing a U.S.-controlled, hyper-militarized and Western-oriented outpost in the heart of the Middle East, the U.S. government sought to maintain control over a “stupendous source of strategic power.” In moments of candour, U.S. officials have effectively conceded as much.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig once described Israel as “America’s largest aircraft carrier which never could be sunk.”
Joe Biden has asserted repeatedly that, “were there not an Israel, the United States of America would have to invent an Israel to protect her interest in the region.”
It is no coincidence that the first government to recognize the State of Israel was the United States, a superpower bent on global hegemony. The Truman administration blessed Israel’s creation a mere eleven minutes after Israel’s ‘provisional government’ declared statehood.
Since then, the United States government has showered Israel with military aid. A recent U.S. government report boasted that:
Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. Successive Administrations, working with Congress, have provided Israel with assistance reflective of robust domestic U.S. support for Israel and its security; shared strategic goals in the Middle East; a mutual avowed commitment to democratic values; and historical ties dating from U.S. support for the creation of Israel in 1948. To date, the United States has provided Israel $158 billion (current, or noninflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding. At present, almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance; from 1971 to 2007, Israel also received significant economic assistance.
Evidently, $158 billion is not enough for the rogue state. The Biden administration just announced that it intends to lavish upon Israel an additional $14.3 billion in military assistance, and to do so at the very moment that Israel is committing genocide before the eyes of the world.
Live by the sword, die by the sword
Critics of Israel sometimes claim that Israel and its lobby ‘control’ the United States government. Such claims are both unhelpful and misleading.
A more accurate characterization of the U.S.-Israel relationship is that the United States and Israel are one and the same. In the Middle East, Israel is the glove on the U.S. government’s hand. That hand is now dripping with the blood of Palestinians.
Israel’s true raison d’être is to intimidate, harass, contain and, if necessary, destroy any Middle Eastern government which refuses to submit to U.S. domination. That is why the United States has armed Israel to the teeth. Without the United States, there would be no Israel. Without Israel, U.S. power in the Middle East would be greatly diminished.
Israel’s dependence upon the strength of a distant superpower comes with steep costs, however. One such cost is that, if Israel’s benefactor becomes either unwilling or unable to shield its protectorate from the consequences of its criminality, then the power of that protectorate is liable to collapse – a particularly dangerous prospect for a small country that has done everything within its power to alienate its larger neighbours.
That is precisely the crisis Israel now confronts: the power of its protector is in rapid decline, and its enemies know it.
The demise of American power
For some twenty months, NATO has waged war against Russia through a well-armed and highly trained Ukrainian proxy.
As of July 2023, Western military aid to Ukraine amounted to nearly $100 billion, and half of it had come from the United States. This aid substantially exceeded the entire annual military budget of the Russian Federation ($82 billion in 2022). In addition, the U.S. and its NATO allies have provided real-time battlefield intelligence to Ukraine. They trained tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops to NATO standards. They furnished thousands of NATO-trained mercenaries.
Despite this massive and unprecedented investment in a proxy war, the United States and its NATO allies have suffered a humiliating, strategic defeat.
Although the war continues and Ukraine’s military retains the capacity to inflict significant damage on Russian forces, Ukraine’s months-long, summer counter-offensive is now widely acknowledged to have been a colossal failure. Oleksiy Arestovych, formerly a key adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, recently described the counter-offensive as a “disaster”.
Weeks ago, close aides of Zelensky told Time that Zelensky is now “messianic” and “deluded” about Ukraine’s prospects of winning, that some front-line Ukrainian commanders disobey orders to advance from Zelensky himself, and that Ukrainian government officials are “stealing like there’s no tomorrow”.
Quite apart from Ukraine’s military defeat, its economy lies in smoking ruins. So dependent is Ukraine on U.S. government support that the U.S. has bought seeds and fertilizer for Ukrainian farmers and is covering the salaries of Ukraine’s first responders, all 57,000 of them. Were it not for tens of billions in Western economic aid – which may soon dry up – Ukraine’s economy and military would surely collapse.
Meanwhile, Russia has overcome a seemingly endless series of economic sanctions. Despite these unprecedented sanctions, the IMF forecasts that, in the current year, Russia’s economy will outperform the economies of the United Kingdom, Germany and the entire euro area.
For the United States and its NATO allies, the Ukraine war is a death-blow to Western hegemony. It has exploded the perception of America’s military and economic invincibility. It has drained NATO weapons stocks, tarnished the brands of U.S. arms manufacturers, severely degraded the credibility and diplomatic influence of the United States, and diverted vast sums of public money away from strengthening Western economic foundations.
The catastrophic ‘war on terror’
It is critical to understand that the Ukraine debacle is but the latest in a series of U.S. foreign policy disasters over the past twenty years, most of which have had a far greater impact on the Middle East than the Ukraine war.
This horrific period began, of course, with Bush’s declaration of a ‘war on terror’ and his illegal invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Both wars were based on a pack of demonstrable lies, caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians, and spawned the creation of ISIS.
Then came NATO’s destruction of Libya. Before NATO began its bombardment, Libya was the most prosperous country in Africa. NATO governments declared sanctimoniously that they had intervened for the benefit of Libya’s people, but their oil-rich nation is deeply impoverished and mired in violence.
The U.S. and its allies then sought to overthrow the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. They failed once more, but not before escalating a vicious war that caused the deaths of more than 300,000 Syrians.
Refusing to accept defeat in Syria, the U.S. left nearly 1,000 of its troops there, and did so in violation of international law. When asked what his troops were doing in Syria, Donald Trump casually admitted that their function was to “keep” Syria’s oil.
After the West’s regime-change operation collapsed in Syria, Trump withdrew the United States from the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran. He did so despite the IAEA’s confirmation that Iran was complying with the deal. Trump’s obvious motivation for subverting one of Obama’s few foreign policy successes was to set the stage for the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions and, it was hoped, the destruction of Iran’s economy.
That, too, was a failure. Although innocent Iranians suffered greatly from U.S. sanctions, Iran weathered the economic storm. Then, in 2021, Iran entered into a massive 25-year cooperation agreement with China. More recently, Iran gained admission to the BRICs and, with the help of Chinese mediation, re-established diplomatic relations with the Saudis.
The West also faltered in Yemen, where a U.S.-backed war on the Houthis did not defeat a regional ally of Iran, but did succeed in inflicting Biblical levels of suffering upon innocent Yemenis. These same Houthis just published a video of their forces launching multiple missiles and suicide drones at Israel.
Then there’s the CIA’s torture program – a series of atrocities for which no U.S. official has been held accountable. To this day, some fifteen years after Obama promised to close the Guantanamo hell-hole, the U.S. government continues to intern Arab and non-Arab Muslim men on a piece of land stolen from the Cuban people. After all these years, Gitmo’s long-suffering prisoners have been convicted of no crime. Accordingly, human rights groups have condemned Guantanamo as a crime against humanity, yet three successive U.S. administrations – two Democrat, one Republican – all refused to end this abomination.
Arguably, the mother of all debacles in the U.S. ‘war on terror’ was NATO’s twenty-year escapade in Afghanistan. A key part of the U.S. government’s stated justification for invading Afghanistan, and waging war there for two decades, was to free Afghans, and particularly the women of the country, from the deeply oppressive rule of the Taliban. Although the whole of NATO was brought to bear against this rag-tag insurgent army, which possessed little more than Soviet-era small arms, the Taliban swept to power within days of the U.S. military’s chaotic departure from the country. Since then, Afghanistan has teetered on the edge of economic collapse. The U.S. government has tried to push the Afghan economy over the edge by imposing sadistic sanctions upon the country.
In the West, our governments’ disastrous escapades in distant lands tend to recede swiftly from the public discourse. Aided by a complicit media system, Western elites adroitly distract us from the far-reaching consequences of their depravity and ineptitude by shifting the conversation to some newly manufactured or exaggerated threat.
But those who suffer daily from the consequences of their crimes are not so easily distracted.
And they do not forget.
(Part 2 of this analysis will be published on this website next week.)