National Commentary

A Martyr for Western Oil

Heads up, Israel. This is a set-up. The Bush administration fully intends to exploit the current escalating violence between Israel and the Hezbollah to advance its agenda for the entire region. The goal of the U.S. policy is not the defense of Israel. In fact, it could well involve the unleashing of unfathomable horrors and destruction against the Israeli people.

The tip off can be found in the overall behavior of the Bush administration toward the wider region in the past week. A key determinant is the fresh resolve by Bush to “stay the course” in Iraq with a commit to more, not fewer, U.S. troops there.

Anyone looking for hints that the mid-term elections in November, coming in the context of all-time low public approval ratings for Bush, might lead the administration to lighten up on Iraq is going to be disappointed. Anyone looking for what many consider a mounting fiasco and descent into civil war in Iraq to cause the administration to reconsider its deployment there will not be satisfied.

Bush has decided this November’s elections don’t matter. He has two and a half more years in the White House to push forward toward Armageddon and that means he doesn’t have the luxury of wasting any time on a mid-term election “pit stop” aimed at retaining control of the House.

After all, the Congress hasn’t bothered him yet, and GOP insiders are confident they’ll retain control of the Senate. Even if they lose the absolutely majority in the House, it will be effectively deadlocked and incapable of a veto override.

So for Bush it’s “damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead!” To ramp up their campaign against Syria and Iran, they’re using the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict to ready their next, more direct and dramatic military moves.

Israel is a mere pawn in this U.S. game. It’s been expecting that the U.S. will run to its aid if things get nasty, as they are. Hezbollah, after all, is far stronger than the Israelis have calculated, and that’s not just because it gets backing from Syria and Iran. It is strongly supported by the rank and file population in which it is embedded, something that, as in Iraq, many folks simply don’t grasp.

Therefore, in picking a fight with the Hezbollah, they’re picking a fight with virtually an entire nation, and not just some isolated terrorist militia.

So the U.S. insistence to hold the rest of the world at bay and prevent a call for an immediate cease fire is likely to bring far more misery on Israel than anything else. Still, that is just the beginning.

Just as the Israelis were urged to use the kidnapping of two soldiers as the pretext for a huge blow-up of the region, so the U.S. might be angling toward using the veritable obliteration of Israel as its pretext for its much-desired declaration of war against Syria and Iran.

Remember, Israel is of no use to cynical U.S. policy makers except as a pawn. It does not have natural resources, which, of course, is the real name of the game in the region. Syria and especially Iran, along with Iraq, have those resources. The U.S., in the form of the current administration, is willing to engage in the wildest adventurism throughout that region, regardless of the cost in terms of lives and infrastructure, if it will ultimately secure control of the flow of precious natural resources.

Of course, the long-term view is to see the capture of these resource flows in terms of preemption against the rise of China and India as world powers.

There is an ominous monotone in the exercise of U.S. policy toward the region which should set off alarms for anyone being suckered to stand in harms way on the basis of empty promises.

Is the current crisis about defending Israel’s borders and ensuring its security? That’s not what we’re hearing from the Bush administration. No, it’s about Syria and Iran, not Israel. It’s about that old fixation which started to issue forth the minute Bush and his cronies thought that reaching Baghdad with their troops marked “mission accomplished” for their phase one three years ago.

Things have not gone as planned in Iraq, that’s for sure. But still the plans have not changed. It’s taken awhile for the Bush crowd to recover its moxey about pushing the occupation effort beyond Iraq, and now we’re beginning to hear new drum beats.

With Israel as the expendable pawn, the administration is hoping to leap-frog right over the current crisis into Damascus and Teheran. The problem for Israel is that it can’t know what the Bush crowd is really thinking its role will be in all this. It may well become the ultimate martyr for western oil.