Saturday, September 20, 2008

Iran, Syria, and Israel: War and Peace in the Middle East

With America busy nationalizing its mountains of bad debts, ever more dependent on capital import from East Asia and major oil exporters, will peace finally break out in the Middle East? If yes, what kind of "peace" will it be? If no, then what?

Several possibilities:
  1. Syria makes peace with Israel without extracting concessions from it (in which case the leader of Syria can get assassinated like Sadat), and Iran, now without its closest ally,1 will become the last defender of the heart -- Palestine -- of the Arab cause (to the chagrin of Iranian liberals and anti-Shia Arab sectarians).

  2. Both Iran and Syria make peace with Israel without extracting concessions from it,2 and the Palestinian people will become a homeless orphan in the Middle East (in which case the leaders of Iran and Syria can both get assassinated like Sadat).

  3. Both Iran and Syria make peace with Israel, having extracted concessions (which can get the leader of Israel assassinated -- Rabin was for only seeming to make a concession) from it that would allow the Palestinian people to establish a state (which will be to Israel at best what Mexico -- the provider of cheap labor and natural resources -- is to the United States3).

  4. Iran, Syria, and Israel settle for "cold peace": no normalization, but mutual self-restraint (i.e., both Israel and Hezbollah focus more on their respective domestic politics than on each other).

  5. Israel, having acquired 1,000 Boeing GBU-39 smart bombs (so-called bunker busters4) from the USA, attacks Hezbollah again.

  6. Israel, having successfully bombed Syria and having acquired 1,000 Boeing GBU-39 smart bombs from the USA, bombs Iran, too, and all hell breaks loose.
2, 3, 5, and 6 are much less likely than 1 and 4.

1 Sarkozy's Mediterranean Union is a far more successful first step in this direction than Bush's Annapolis.

2 That would be the final realization of a new Middle East as envisioned by the United States government:
A central component of this vision is the normalization and integration of Israel into the Middle East. The US envisions a Middle East resting upon Israeli capital in the West and Gulf capital in the East, underpinning a low-wage, neoliberal zone that spans the region. What this means is that Israel's historic destruction of Palestinian national rights must be accepted and blessed by all states in the region. (Adam Hanieh, "Palestine in the Middle East: Opposing Neoliberalism and US Power: Part 1," MRZine, 19 July 2008)
3 The Israeli vision of a Palestinian state looks like this:
Dov Lautman, the former president of the Association of Israeli Industrialists and one of the owners of "Delta-Galil Industries," stated in a meeting with Palestinian manufacturers in 1993: "The important issue is not whether a Palestinian state, an autonomy, or a Palestinian-Jordanian state is established, the important thing is that the economic borders between Israel and the territories remain open." For Lautman, and many others, economic relations between the states of Israel and Palestine should be modeled after "the free trade agreement that exists between Mexico and the U.S." For him (and others), there was no doubt as to who would play the role of the United States and who, the role of Mexico. (endnotes omitted, Efraim Davidi, "The Sewing Factory in Gaza, the Administration in Tel-Aviv, and the Owners in New York: Israeli Industrialists' Strategy in the Global Supply Chain," MRZine, 18 May 2006)
4 I say "so-called," for GBU39s are said to have an ability to penetrate only six feet of concrete. Therefore,
the GBU-39 would have limited utility against deeply-buried, hardened targets like those at Iran's nuclear research facilities. Covered by layers of concrete and earth, some of the research labs at Natanz (and other locations) are at least 30 feet underground, and perhaps as deep as 60 feet. ("The Consolation Acquisition," In from the Cold, 15 September 2008)
They represent a powerful threat against Hezbollah, but they are of uncertain utility against Iran.

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