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The Last American War

Above photo: US President Joe Biden at the Jeddah Security and Development Summit (GCC+3) in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah on July 16, 2022. Saudi Press Agency.

The U.S. supports Israel unconditionally because it sees the entire Western project in the Middle East at risk today in Gaza.

While it may seem these our darkest days, it is also clear that the U.S. and Israel are bound to fail.

These are difficult times. Day after day, a shocking genocide is unfolding before the eyes of the whole world. Israel is nurturing a psychotic seizure as its “functional response” to the trauma of October 7. We have already become accustomed to living in the heart of an apartheid regime, oppression, and wars that have shed rivers of blood, but the death and destruction that Israel is inflicting today upon the residents of the Gaza Strip are much worse than anything we have seen before in the history of “the conflict.”

At the time of this writing, the United States has not only done nothing to stop the massacre of Gaza’s residents but has increased arms shipments to Israel. It has also directly participated in the war and has recruited its allies to do so as well by demonstrating its power against convenient and non-threatening victims such as Yemen, Syria, and Iraq.

This should not come as a surprise. Much has been written about the danger to world peace when a hegemonic power on a downward trajectory confronts a rising power that seeks to secure its place at the heart of the global order. The situation is even more dangerous because the United States still has a significant advantage in arms production and military deployment worldwide, while in other areas, especially in economic development, it has nothing to offer. Attempting to exploit its military advantage for the preservation of its international hegemony, the U.S. tries to sow conflicts and foster militarization of the international system. Gunship diplomacy, par excellence.

Toward this end, “the conflict” in Palestine has never been simply a local matter between Zionist settlers and the native Palestinian population. Britain, followed by the United States and Germany, did not invest their best money in nurturing Zionist settlement and later in building the State of Israel and securing its military supremacy over all countries in the region, with just an aim of suppressing or exploiting a small Arab public in a remote corner that had never threatened their rule or interests. Their goal was, and still is, to use Israel as a spearhead for enforcing imperialist hegemony in the Middle East as a whole – a resource-rich region of central geopolitical importance between Europe, Asia, and Africa. From their perspective, Palestinians have always been “collateral damage,” residents who happened to be on land intended for establishing an imperialist military base; they are an unnecessary disturbance that needs to be eliminated or suppressed to oblivion within the framework of this broader geopolitical grand plan.

And it is that plan that the West sees at risk today in Gaza.

The main reason, or complications, that make the current war appear endless can be first identified in the Second Israeli-Lebanon War in the summer of 2006. In that attack, Israel attempted to restore its regional deterrence, which had been damaged by its withdrawal from Lebanon six years earlier, and to regain its military reputation as a feared servant of its Western masters. The result was a triple failure. In asymmetric warfare between a state military force and a popular resistance movement, all that the resistance movement needs to win is to continue fighting, so Hezbollah’s survival meant Israel’s defeat. Second, Israel did not set achievable political goals for its war, and thus could not accomplish them. But lastly there was a crucial failure for the United States as well. Instead of acting as expected and stopping Israel’s aggression in exchange for political gains, U.S. politics and a lack of constructive strategy turned America into “cheerleaders” for continuing the war. They celebrated the “birth pangs of a new Middle East.” In the absence of a mechanism to stop the war, Israel continued “sinking into Lebanese mud” until the military cost became unbearable for it. In light of this failure, Israel finally declared that simply causing catastrophic harm to civilians and massive destruction of civilian infrastructure were to be considered the major achievements in this war within what came to be known as “the Dahiya Doctrine.” This strategy still failed to defeat the resistance but was intended to send a message.

After failing in Lebanon in 2006, the Israeli/U.S. campaign to project regional power initiated its surprise attack on Gaza on Christmas Eve 2008. They hoped that, against a weaker enemy, they could recover from the trauma caused by their repeated failed adventures in Lebanon. Since then, there have been five rounds of major assaults on Gaza – in 2012, 2014, 2018, 2021, and now again in 2023 – where each one aimed at recovering from the failure of the previous round. The “military” logic behind all is unchanged – maximum impact on the civilian population to “burn consciousness” into those who resist. The latest round is just “more of the same” – only much worse than everything before it.

Might Israel and the U.S. achieve military victory this time? The simple and firm answer is “no.” The declared goal of Israel’s war, as well as that of the United States and European countries supporting it, is the “elimination of Hamas.” However, Hamas was established and became popular in response to the ongoing Israeli occupation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Hamas is a political party, and “Al-Qassam Brigades” are an armed resistance movement associated with it. It goes without saying that Israel is not interested in who opposes the occupation, whether it be Hamas, another faction, or unorganized residents. Therefore, the goal of “eliminating Hamas” should be understood not as eliminating a specific organization but as eliminating all resistance to the occupation. The Israeli-American strategy, then, is to eliminate any attempt to resist the occupation by making it more brutal and terrifying.

I assume that many within the Israeli and American establishments and publics understand that achieving the stated goal of “eliminating Hamas” is impossible. Of course, there are messianic and fascist factions within Israel who believe wholeheartedly that they can kill or expel all Palestinian Arabs, complete the ethnic cleansing in all of Palestine, confiscate Palestinian property, and settle on their land. The less extreme Zionist factions would be happy (or at least agree) to stop this cycle of destruction if they could justify it through an American dictate. As long as the United States and major European countries oppose ending the war, even those in Israel who are aware of the damage and futility of the continuation of mass massacres and war crimes would not dare to stop it.

In previous wars, the United States limited Israeli aggression and demanded a political price from its Arab rivals, but in this war, the United States is primarily concerned about Israel’s inability to win, and it is pushing it to continue fighting. In order not to bear full responsibility for Israel’s aggression, the U.S. might issue toothless calls for Israel to limit harm to civilians, abide by the laws of war, and increase humanitarian aid reaching the residents of Gaza. But these are empty words. In practice, the U.S. continues to arm Israel and does not exert any pressure on it except to go on fighting at any price.

With utmost hypocrisy, the U.S. pretends to be a “mediator,” whether on the issue of prisoner exchanges or even on a grand “solution” to end “the conflict.” But in the end, it is always clear that these U.S.-led processes are a cover for maintaining the Zionist occupation of Palestine and, through it, a Western beachhead in the region.

In the current prisoner exchange negotiations, the U.S. is trying to get Hamas to agree to release prisoners without clear assurance of stopping the war or Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. They hope that after the prisoners are exchanged, Israel will be able to act even more lethally. The blockade organized by Biden’s administration against UNRWA, which provides most of the humanitarian services for Gaza residents during an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, illustrates how fully involved and complicit the U.S. and its allies are in committing genocide.

For decades, U.S.-led peace negotiations, with endless talk about the prospect of a Palestinian state in most of the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, have been at the forefront of imperialist foreign policy. In practice, nothing has been done to advance such an agreement, and discussions on this topic have served as a convenient cover for continued support for the occupation of all of Palestine by Zionism, for ongoing ethnic cleansing, and for maintaining a racist apartheid regime throughout the territory between the river and the sea.

Every time someone tries to apply even minimal pressure on Israel to reduce its systematic violations of Palestinian human rights, respected Western politicians claim that “it harms the peace process.” Now, this empty talk about the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel has been repurposed to serve as cover for supporting and encouraging genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza.

Many in the West argue that Hamas is an obstacle to peace agreements that, of course, are just waiting around the corner. Therefore, what needs to be done now, according to this distorted logic, is “to eliminate Hamas for the sake of peace.” After successfully completing the genocide on Gaza’s residents, they promise, of course, to “speak forcefully” with Bibi and Ben-Gvir, and everything will fall into place peacefully.

In the real world, we are trapped in Israel’s Catch-22. When resistance to occupation does not manifest itself violently, it is ignored because “who cares about these Palestinians anyway?” But when resistance erupts again violently, it must be crushed at any cost because “we are against violence and you cannot make peace with terrorists.”

While it may seem we are in our darkest days, and in many ways we are, we can also see that this is the last American war.

The current war, more than any other war I remember, has united all the peoples of the region, the entire Third World, and all people of conscience in the imperialist countries in a call for an immediate cessation of hostilities and support for the Palestinian people and their aspirations for justice and freedom.

Meanwhile, a united front of imperialist countries is supporting a continuing genocide against Gaza’s residents by refusing to pressure Israel while defending it from international law. By doing so, they expose the “values” and “rules-based international order” they claim to protect in the clearest possible way.

As America’s hypocrisy becomes clearer with each atrocity broadcast live worldwide, they push on continuing the war “until victory.” And as they lose humanity’s sympathy in this conflict, it becomes all the more important for them to burn into our consciousness Western weapons’ destructive power and the unbearable price of fighting for freedom.

But battleships can no longer dictate the world order.

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