MARCH OF FOLLY

PERHAPS it was naive to have expected otherwise. A rational observer would have assumed that the men and women who govern the world's democracies would side with the Middle East's only democracy in its ongoing battle against forces of authoritarian tyranny.

Not generally driven by altruism, those countries would - one would have thought - at least have taken a stand once they found themselves increasingly targeted by terrorists, particularly those spurred on by militant Islam.

Tiny entity that it is, Israel has a great deal to teach the world about fighting terror, having long been a primary target. Its successes in the intelligence and operations fields are widely acclaimed. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, is an acknowledged expert on the subject. The concept of a multi-national effort, spearheaded by the US and Israel, to combat terrorism - especially the strain originating in the Middle East - should not be far-fetched.

But cynical self-interest, greed and, yes, an unhealthy dose of anti-Semitism, continue to pervade the corridors of power in the West, informing the debate on Middle East policy as they have done for most of this century.

The spirit of anti-Zionism which possessed the British Mandate administration in Palestine from 1919 to 1948 continues to drive the Arabist manipulators in the US Department of State to this day. The French, fostering characteristic delusions of grandeur, seek to regain a dreamed-of influence in Middle East affairs by hastening their foreign minister from one regional capital to the next.

The Germans, meanwhile, pander to the Iranians in an attempt to oil the channels of commerce between Berlin and Tehran, while collaborating with Syria in the manufacture of gas-warfare weapons. (The German policy of "critical dialogue" with Iran echoes the earlier British approach of "constructive engagement" with the Nationalist regime in South Africa. Whatever Helmut Kohl says now, or Margaret Thatcher said during the 1980s, neither scheme succeeded in its stated aim of encouraging reform.) Other European countries, too, continue to exert pressure on Israel's new government to return to the Oslo-inspired path of capitulating to its Arab enemies.

Unlike the members of the antagonistic Arab and Islamic blocs, the ineffectual Organisation of African Unity and the ludicrous Non-Aligned Movement, these are the world's leaders, nations which should experience a natural affinity towards their fellow democracies in peril.

But as terrorists, state-sponsored or otherwise, have broadened their theatre of war beyond the Middle East, the ostensibly civilised countries of the world have shown themselves incapable of drawing up a decisive, meaningful response.

As a major target along with Israel, the US pays lip service to the fight against terror, but an administration moderately friendly towards the Jewish state faces a fifth column within its own State Department. Even as President Bill Clinton recites once again his litany of dictatorships he wants to isolate for their support of terrorism - Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan - conspicuously absent, once again, is Syria.

Some argue this is State Department deviousness at work; others would see in the omission Clinton's own need for a significant Middle East foreign policy success to boost his second-term chances in November. Whatever the case, if Clinton, who takes the firmest anti-terrorism stance among Western leaders, fails to place national and universal interests above his own need to be re-elected, his attempts to unify his allies against the threat are bound to fail.

Across the Atlantic, those allies are growing increasingly disenchanted with American pressure to join the anti-terrorist campaign. Particularly irritating in the chancelleries and boardrooms of Europe is the US blacklisting of states which provide lucrative markets for EU goods. As always, financial considerations drive political policy.

The repercussions run deep. Misdirected by their governments and brainwashed by their media, large numbers of citizens of Western countries have been lulled into a sense of starry-eyed optimism by myths of universal brotherhood and dreams of a new world order, encapsulated in the spirit of Olympism currently pervading the planet.

Whether or not the fatal pipe-bombing in Atlanta on July 26 shakes some of these men and women in the street from their stupor remains to be seen. Lessons of the past suggest that their leaders will press on along their chosen paths, regardless.

"Ten years after Israel was pilloried for bombing Saddam Hussein's nuclear factory," noted The Jerusalem Post shortly after the Atlanta attack, "the world had to return in force to finish the job. After 20 years of disgracefully refusing to honour the memory of the [Israeli athletes murdered in Munich in 1972, in the name of 'Palestine'], the Olympic Committee is standing to mourn more victims of Olympic terrorism. That is the reality of the world we live in, and until the international community gets together to say yes, this is the enemy and it must be destroyed by a joint effort, the purveyors of false dawns will continue leading everyone into even darker nights of terror."

With the explosions over Long Island and in Atlanta still ringing in our ears, (and terrorists of various persuasions also struck in recent weeks in Israel, in Spain, in Russia, in Northern Ireland, in Egypt, in Pakistan, in Sri Lanka ... ), the march of folly seems destined to go on. Patrick Goodenough
Middle East Intelligence Digest
PO Box 1192
Jerusalem 91010
ISRAEL
Tel: ..972.2.631418
Fax: ..972.2.631062
email: meid@icej.org.il

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