What National Interest?
President Obama and his congressional colleagues are carrying on an established, yet clearly dangerous, tradition of U.S. foreign policy — the mixing up of national interest and the parochial interests of powerful lobby groups. Indeed, given the way U.S. federal politics has long operated, national interest is, except in rare cases, an impossible notion. This is because almost all politicians and both political parties are so tied to, and financially dependent upon, powerful lobby groups that they cannot formulate independent positions on issues important to these lobbies. Thus, what is put forth as national interest is most often the interest of a particular interest group with too much money buying too much influence.
In today’s foreign policy arena this conflation of the general and the particular is best seen in U.S. policies in the Middle East. Here are four recent examples:
Why can’t the U.S. be the “honest broker”? Because the American government is in no position to formulate an independent policy reflecting the nation’s national interest in a just and therefore lasting peace. The Zionist lobby (made up of both Jewish and Christian Americans) is so powerful that the vast majority of politicians and both political parties will not defy it. So the U.S. position is always pro-Israel.
That is why the Obama administration recently appointed Martin Indyk “special envoy to shepherd [Israeli-Palestinian] talks toward a final settlement.” Indyk is an outright Zionist whose lack of impartiality contributed to the failure of peace talks under the Clinton administration. There is no secret about this, nor is there any apparent embarrassment on the part of the Obama administration at simultaneously claiming to be a worthwhile mediator while assigning an overtly prejudiced envoy to the talks.
The only conclusion that can be drawn from this is that, if there is a “settlement,” it will be a pro-Israeli one forced upon a Palestinian National Authority, which, in any case, is made up of people who are not representative of the Palestinians at large and really have no legal standing to negotiate anything, much less a final status agreement. Is this a formula for future peace? Of course not. But it is what the Zionist lobby finds acceptable.
Part II – Lobby Interest and the War on Terror
What has this literal selling out to the Zionists of U.S. national interests in the Middle East gotten the country? For one thing, it helped bring on the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. However, you can’t expect those who sold their independence for a handful of campaign silver and other political support to admit this. Thus, no branch of the U.S. government has ever owned up to the fact that terrorist attacks are in part a product of American foreign policies. Having refused to grasp this fact, the U.S. government has failed to make any reforms in how it formulates such policies. Which means the special interests are still in charge.
As a consequence we find the following: “The State Department issued a worldwide alert on Friday [2 August 2013] as it suspended operations in 21 Muslim countries in response to ‘current information’ that suggests al Qaida and affiliated militant groups could strike within the next month.” By the way, just a year ago Washington was telling us that the “defeat of al Qaida was within reach.” This premature optimism was then replaced by last May’s gloomy prediction that the “war on terror” is likely to last “another 10 or 20 years.” The truth is that unless we come to see national interest apart from the parochial interests of powerful lobbies such as the Zionists, there will be no end at all to the terrorist threat.
Part III – Conclusion
This is a hole that the U.S. political system dug for itself. There is enough entrenched conservatism in the country to make campaign finance reform unlikely for the foreseeable future. At the same time, money coming from private interests to fund the campaigns of their favorite candidates (who in turn have sold their political souls to these interests) is declared the equivalent of “free speech” by the Supreme Court. As a consequence special interests such as the Zionist lobby can and do buy themselves control over vital aspects of Middle East foreign policy. It is a failed system which has already dragged the nation halfway to hell. Another “10 or 20 years” will take us the rest of the way in.
Lawrence Davidson is a retired professor of history from West Chester University in West Chester PA. His academic research focused on the history of American foreign relations with the Middle East. He taught courses in Middle East history, the history of science and modern European intellectual history.
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