Monday, December 4, 2006

Which Authoritarian Governments?

It’s always nice to find a news items that expand on a topic from the last entry, the statement of an Israeli writer that, "A dialogue between Washington and Damascus [Syria]would arouse questions and fears in Jerusalem.”

This has now appeared on a wire service:

“The bipartisan Iraq Study Group headed by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III is expected to recommend in a report this week that the United States open up diplomatic channels with Iran and Syria to discuss the subject [of cooperation concerning Iraq]. That suggestion has already been received coolly by the White House, where some senior officials say opening talks with those two countries would in itself be a major concession to their authoritarian, anti-American governments.”

Does the White House really dislike authoritarian governments so much that it refuses talks with them even when there's a really good reason to talk, such as saving American lives in Iraq? No. In this case it’s because Iran and Syria are on Israel’s hit list. Authoritarian governments of anti-American countries which have been “tamed” and are not immediate targets in Israel’s “Destroy all Competition” policy get very different treatment.

Egypt and Jordan received rich rewards, and are now favored by the White House as “moderate Arab states”, after they yielded to American pressure to sign peace treaties with Israel. Both their governments are just as authoritarian as those of Syria and Iran.

“Egypt is dominated by the ruling National Democratic Party, which uses a 23-year-old emergency law to restrict civil liberties. There are strict limitations on the establishment of newspapers and political parties, and presidential elections are single-candidate referendums.” Christian Science Monitor, 2004.

“In 2005, the government of Egypt faced unprecedented public criticism when Egyptian democracy activists challenged President Hosni Mubarak's quarter century of authoritarian rule. Some of the most serious violations according to HRW's 2006 report on Egypt include routine torture, arbitrary detentions and trials before military and state security courts. Discriminatory personal status laws governing marriage, divorce, custody and inheritance which put women at a disadvantage have also been cited.” Wikipedia

If that’s the case, why is Egypt “our friend” if Syria is not? Egypt was the first Arab state to recognize Israel and establish diplomatic relations with Israel, with the signing of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty (1978-79).

What did Egypt get for what most Arab states regarded as a betrayal? Answer: Lots of money from the U.S. taxpayers. “Aid” is central to Washington's relationship with Cairo. The US has provided Egypt with $1.3 billion a year in military aid since 1979, and an average of $815 million a year in economic assistance. Also, each year USAID gives $200 million to the Egyptian government in cash handouts to do with as it pleases. It is distributed by the Egyptian government in an anarchic way, through personal contacts and political influence. Those cash handouts have probably bought a lot of limousines, wine, and expensive clothes. (The president of Egypt at the time of the treaty was even rewarded and depicted as a hero in a Hollywood movie, "Sadat" -- banned in Egypt.)

Did Israel get anything out of the treaty with Egypt besides official diplomatic recognition and its major goal of neutralizing a major arch-enemy? (Of course it was already the largest recipient of U.S. "aid".) In a separate Israel-US Memorandum of Agreement the United States spelled out its commitments to Israel (but not Egypt) in case the treaty is violated, and provided for the future supply of military and economic aid to Israel. Also, the treaty proposed a linkage between peace with Egypt and Palestinian autonomy that was never implemented; the unfulfilled promise allowed Egypt the illusory pretense of helping the Palestinians while requiring nothing of Israel.

Jordan followed in 1994 with the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace, and also received U.S. payoffs. Since then it has been, after Israel and Egypt, the third largest recipient of U.S. taxpayer largesse.

Jordan calls itself a "constitutional" monarchy, but in fact is an authoritarian monarchy. “By any standard, Jordan is nowhere close to joining the ranks of the world's democracies and remains, in form and function, an absolute monarchy.“ "Jordan: Democracy at a Dead End", by Shadi Hamid (Fulbright Fellow in Amman, Jordan, conducting research on democratization and political Islam in the Arab world.)

So, the proclaimed distaste of the White House for Iran’s and Syria’s “authoritarian” governments has no more to do with authoritarianism than the invasion of Iraq had to do with weapons of mass destruction. As always in U.S. Middle East policy, it’s Israel, Israel, Israel.

End note: The following figures are somewhat out of date, and Iraq is now listed as a large recipient of U.S. “aid”, but the 2003 numbers illustrate my point. Those are the kinds of sums it is costing us to support Israel and neutralize two of its enemies.

Israel - The largest recipient of US largesse in 2003, getting $2.1 billion in military aid annually; $600 million in economic aid.

Egypt - Egypt was the second largest recipient with $1.3 billion in military aid; $615 million for “social programs”.

Jordan – Was the third largest recipient. In 2003 it got $250 million in economic support; $198 million in military financing.


Anonymous said...

--"Israel’s “Destroy all Competition” policy "--

Are you completely off your rocker? If Israel could control the ME like you think, there would be no Jew-haters to attack them the way they do now.

Fleming said...

Anonymous (of course),

I’m publishing your rude comment only in order to use it as an illustration of the lower depths of Zionist “argument” about which I’ve complained in this blog.

Your most obvious idiocy is equating critics of Israel with what you call “Jew-haters”. If you’d read all of VIEW FROM THE MOON, and in particular the most recent post (Feb. 1, 2007), you should have been cured of at least that much ignorance. If you have any interest in actually learning anything, look for my next post, which will concern charges of antisemitism against Jewish critics of Israel.

At first I thought you might have studied polemics with Alan Dershowitz, but upon a moment’s reflection I realized that you could not have passed a college entrance exam.

I re-read “Which Authoritarian Governments?”, and your “comment” addresses anything in that post. You misstate what I wrote and then come up with a non sequitur. The “straw man” and “argumentum ad absurdum” fallacies come to mind: You tell me what I think (which isn’t what I think), and then you try to knock down the straw man you’ve set up. But in your case you can’t even do that: You say that if Israel could control the Middle East “there would be no Jew-haters to attack them the way they do now.”

Is that a threat of genocide or just a blast of brainless verbiage?