Who is the Vassal? – The USA or Israel regarding Iran – By Uri Avnery

Who is the Vassal? – The USA or Israel regarding Iran

By Uri Avnery

“IF YOU want to understand the policy of a nation, look at the map!” Napoleon is supposed to have said.  It is good advice.

If you are living in Israel, these days, you get the impression that the huge State of Israel is dictating to its American vassal what to do about Iran.

President Donald Trump listens and complies. Bibi the Great tells him to tear up the Iranian deal for no obvious reason, and he obeys. He has no choice, poor man.

But then you look at the map, and to your great surprise you discover that the USA is a huge country, while Israel is a mere speck, so small that its name has to be written outside its borders, in the sea.    

So what is wrong? Geography, of course, is not the only factor. Israel has some millions of faithful adherents, who are American citizens and have a lot of money. But still.

Can it be that we got the picture wrong? That Trump is not the vassal of Netanyahu, that it’s the other way round? That Trump dictates, and Bibi, for all his bluster, just obeys?

IT WOULD not be the first time. In ancient times, the leaders of the Jewish commonwealth in Palestine tried very hard to please the imperator in Rome. Nero, for example, the man who enjoyed setting fire to his own city, and to the world, while playing the flute, or whatever.

Donald Trump is the present-day Nero, the imperator of the New Rome.

Trump’s main object in life is to get out of the Iran deal, “the worst deal ever”. Why?

I have listened intently and have discerned no other reason than that the deal was forged by his hated predecessor, Barack Obama.

What other reason was there for annulling the deal? I have heard none. The deal stopped Iran from proceeding with the building of a nuclear weapon. All experts, without exception (even in Israel) confirm that Iran has scrupulously adhered to its commitment.

Indeed, the entire world outside the USA – and Israel, of course – has now decided to go on with the deal. Germany, France and Britain, three significant powers, believe that the deal has to be maintained. So do Russia and China, no tiny countries, either.

Except Israel. Ah, Israel – of course.

MOST PEOPLE in Israel now believe that Binyamin Netanyahu, Bibi the Great, is really leading Trump on a leash. Bibi has such a magical hold over Trump, that the American president has to follow Israel’s lead.

Bibi is obsessed with Iran. He wakes up in the morning with Iran and goes to sleep with Iran.

Nobody seems to ask: Why, for God’s sake?

Going back to Napoleon’s map: There seems to be no clash of interests between the countries of Iran and Israel. No common border. No territories of one that the other desires. Also, no natural resources of one that the other would like to get its hands on.

Proof: NOT so long ago, well within my lifetime, Iran was Israel’s closest ally – except our American vassal, of course. Iran was governed by the Shah, with his beautiful uniform and his beautiful wife – please indulge me for once, dear feminists.

Israel and Iran went to steal chickens together, as we say.

The Iranians helped us to infiltrate agents into the Kurdish region of Iraq, in order to make trouble for the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein. Later, we supported Iran in its war against Iraq, started by the same Hussein.

In one of the greatest scandals of its time, the so-called Iran-Contra affair, Israel transferred American arms to Iran. Iran paid for them, and the Americans used the money to illegally finance the “Contra'” war against the leftist government in Nicaragua.

My friend Amiram Nir, a journalist turned government security advisor, personally delivered the arms to Tehran. His US counterpart, Oliver North, has just been appointed to head the powerful American Rifle Association.

Enough amusing anecdotes. There is no basic antagonism, dictated by geography, between our two nations. So what is it?

Well, there is ideology. The present rulers of Iran are extreme Shia Islamists. They want to become the overlords of the Arab Muslim world. The Arabs hate Israel, mainly because of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. So the Iranians pretend to be the great enemy of the “Little Satan” – their rather insulting appellation of Israel, to distinguish it from the Great Satan, the USA.

Frankly, I think that the rulers of Iran don’t give a damn about Israel, except as an useful instrument. The hatred of Israel is a weapon in the battle with the Sunni Arab world, led by the hyper-active Saudi Crown Prince.

The conflict between Sunni and Shia goes back almost to the times of the Prophet, more than 15 centuries ago.

SO WHY is Bibi obsessed with Iran, to such an extent that he commands his American vassal to drive towards World War III?

Depends how cynical you are.

If you are very cynical, you might well say that both Trump and Bibi are up to their respective necks in criminal investigations. With a bit of luck, both might end up in prison.

What better way to divert the attention of their subjects than a little war? It is a precept that has been tried out since the beginning of the world, and it almost never fails. Who will worry about trifles like Trump’s porno stars or Bibi’s gifts from American billionaires, when the lives of our boys are at stake?

The USA is still far from war with Iran but we are not. Perhaps we are already in it, without believing it.

These days – or should I say, these nights – our brave boys fly over Syria and bomb Iranian army installations there. Until this minute, the Iranians have not reacted, except for a feeble attempt that was quickly answered by a massive Israeli air strike.

Why are Iranians there in the first place? It is a part of their objective to create an Iranian sphere of influence extending from Iran proper to the Mediterranean Sea. In Iraq, which has a large Shia population, they are already dominant. With the help of Russia, they are now almost dominant in Syria. In Lebanon their close allies, the Shia Hizbollah movement, controls a large part of the country and has just won the elections.

THE USA does not like this at all. True, Trump has decided to withdraw from the Middle East – it costs too much money, but he does not want the void to be filled by Vladimir Putin. Not at all. So he sends his boys back, and tells Israel to make the life of the Iranians in Syria hell.

That is playing with fire, for us. Until now, the Iranians have limited their reaction to our nightly bombing of their forces to the utterance of dire threats and the ineffectual response this week. But for how much longer?

Iran is a wise country. Whatever the bluster of the present regime, it does exercise a lot of restraint. It remembers that quite recently – just about 2500 years ago – it was a world power. It can wait. It does not satisfy Trump’s expectations. After all, how long has the USA existed?

So we bomb. So they react with threats. So Trump is happy.

AND THE Israeli public?

One may wonder: is there such a thing?

Some local commentators are already asking: Have Israeli citizens turned into mere subjects?

Israel is obviously on the path to war. The nightly bombing of Iranian forces is an insult to their national pride. In our region, national pride plays a large role. Our army has told the population in the north of the country to open the air-raid shelters and prepare them for use. Large anti-aircraft forces have been moved to the Syrian frontier.

And the Israelis? They shrug their shoulders. They know that Bibi is a showman of genius. Just now he has held the country and the world in thrall with a superb TV demonstration, in which he revealed a wealth of information about Iran’s nuclear activities. The brave boys and girls of the Mossad stole this trove in Teheran and brought it to Israel, risking their lives.

Wonderful. Except that it turned out that this trove consists of obsolete documents from before the deal, which show what everybody already knew: That Iran wanted to emulate Israel and produce its own nuclear bomb. It was to prevent this that the nuclear deal was initiated in the first place.

But what showmanship! What a stage set! What wonderful American English! What perfect coordination with Trump’s decision to scuttle the deal! Can it be that the entire show was ordered by Trump?

Some Israeli commentators pointed all this out. But there is no real opposition to Bibi in the Knesset, the popular press or on TV.

The vast majority of the people in Israel – and everywhere else – stand at attention when the word “security” is mentioned. OK, Bibi may be a tiny bit corrupt, he may have taken some bribes here and there, but he is our commander-in-chief! He is sending our boys into battle! So hail to the Chief!

Hail Bibi!

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  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 05/12/2018 at 1:44 pm

    Who can understand the mind of men intent on pursuing their own ends, whatever the cost?

  • Clyde Duncan  On 05/12/2018 at 7:27 pm

    This America First foreign policy slant is isolating the USA in a major way:

    When the USA withdrew from TPP [Tans-Pacific Partnership]; and withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement – the rest of the world signed on to the agreements WITOUT the USA and the life goes on.

    Now that the USA has withdrawn from the Iran Treaty, the rest of the world know what to do about it. I am very sure.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 05/12/2018 at 7:42 pm

    Between a Bomb and a Hard Place

    Christiane Hoffman | der Spiegel International

    Now, it is up to Europe. U.S.A. President Donald Trump has decided to withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran in the most brusque possible manner.

    There is no waiting period, no attempts at mitigation. The marching orders are clear: The greatest confrontation possible.

    For Europe, the stakes are enormous. It is no longer merely about ensuring that Iran doesn’t get the bomb. Rather, the world is faced with an uncontrolled, global nuclear arms race. The already tenuous stability in the Middle East is likewise in grave danger.

    And finally, Europe is facing the potential loss of what has been the most important, most reliable and most beneficial constant of European foreign policy for decades: The partnership with the U.S.A. and the Trans-Atlantic relationship.

    The U.S.A. has chosen a path of confrontation with Europe. Neither Macron’s advances nor Merkel’s sternness were able to prevent Trump from taking this step. In the seven decades of the postwar Trans-Atlantic relationship, there has never been such a violation of European interests, never such deep-seated discord.

    When France and Germany elected not to follow U.S.A. President George W. Bush into Iraq in 2003, the dissent came within the framework of an intact partnership. It was a serious disagreement, to be sure, but it didn’t threaten the foundation of the relationship.

    This time, it is different. This conflict has the potential to escalate into a real confrontation between Europe and the United States of America.

    In a worst-case scenario, Trump could force Europe to make a choice between the U.S.A. and Iran. If you’re not with us, you are against us.

    Europe finds itself facing a diplomatic challenge that is almost impossible to solve. On the one hand, Europeans must seek to prevent the Americans from further escalation. On the other, they are tasked with convincing Iran not to give up on the deal themselves.

    The Vital Interests of Germany and Europe

    To do so, European leaders must first agree with the nuclear deal’s remaining signatories – Russia and China – on what steps must now be taken to keep Iran on board. Europe cannot allow itself to be used by Trump to isolate Iran.

    On the contrary, Europe must make it clear to Washington that the U.S.A. is isolating itself on this issue. There is a global community that wants this agreement – and there is an American president who is, with support from Israel and Saudi Arabia, seeking to torpedo it.

    It is in the vital interests of Germany and Europe that Iran continues to adhere to the treaty. If it doesn’t, the consequences could be dramatic:

    It is likely that not just Iran would seek to arm itself with nuclear weapons, but also other powers in the region like Saudi Arabia or Egypt. It would mark the de facto end of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The entire system established to control the spread of nuclear weapons would be in danger.

    The danger would be no less great if Israel or the U.S.A. were to launch military strikes in an attempt to prevent Iran from continuing its nuclear program. The risk of military escalation in such a case would be significant, with Tehran potentially responding with attacks carried out by its proxies against Israel or against American troops based in the region.

    Furthermore, Iran has placed many of its nuclear facilities underground, making them much more difficult to destroy than, for example, the Syrian reactor bombed by Israel in 2007.

    On the weekend prior to Trump’s decision, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani made clear just how important Europe’s reaction would be. It wasn’t Trump’s decision that would be decisive, he said, BUT “whether the Europeans distance themselves from his stance or not.”

    Protecting European Companies

    Europe, Russia and China must now make an offer to Iran. That is the only way to help reformers in Tehran stand up to hardliners in the country who would like to continue building a bomb.

    Thus far, Iran has adhered to the agreement even though many of the economic benefits the country had hoped to reap from the deal have failed to materialize.

    Now, it will be important to prevent European companies from pulling out of Iran.
    That, though, will be difficult. Trump has threatened companies with punitive measures should they continue doing business in Iran. And the incoming U.S.A. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, tweeted on Tuesday that “German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.”

    It won’t be easy for Europe to protect its economy from U.S.A. retaliatory measures, even if France announced on Wednesday that Europeans will “do everything” to protect their companies in Iran.

    It still isn’t clear how far the U.S.A. will go to force Europe into an anti-Iran alliance. Trump could exert economic pressure, of course, but he could also take a further step into security policy.

    He could threaten to weaken NATO solidarity if Europe doesn’t join forces against Iran. That would be a catastrophe.

    Still, the Europeans need to be clear on one thing:

    Trump has never been impressed by docility. Europe will now need to muster all of its diplomatic skill and lean on its international alliances.

    More than anything, though, Europe needs a strong conviction to reject anything that harms its own interests and endangers world peace.

  • kamtanblog  On 05/13/2018 at 3:05 am

    Nice one
    Alelulah ! Praise be to Jesus aka god of
    the “free” world.
    Why Iran ?

    Why was Iraq invaded by GW bush ?

    Allow my suggestion of answers to above.

    OIL aka black gold.

    As we all know oil and most other commodities are traded in USD$ as per WTO rules. USD is the recognised world reserve currency.
    What happens if that situation changes overnight…..? Food for thought.
    Will Jesus still threaten to invade Iran

    History has a funny way of repeating itself…go figure

    Remove Jesus may seem the right outcome but the bigger question will god replace him !

  • Clyde Duncan  On 05/13/2018 at 3:43 am

    kamtanblog: INSERT President Obama ….

    Affordable Care Act – President Obama
    TPP – Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement – President Obama
    Paris Climate Accord – President Obama
    Iran Nuclear Treaty – President Obama

    Traitor Trump’s America First foreign policy is geared to the elimination of President Obama’s legacy and achievements, and to isolate the USA.

    ‘isolate America’? – Traitor Trump is doing the work for the other guys.

    As I see it, that experiment has unintended consequences.

    Be careful what you wish for – You may get it.

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