Saturday, 1 December 2012

America's affinity with Israel.

The leading supporter of Israel in the world has long been the United States. This is somewhat appropriate as the US was born out of a revolt on America's East Coast only for the colonies to expand westward into Indian territory. It isn't often discussed that there may have been as many as 18 million, possibly even 25 million, people living in North America when European settlers first arrived. The fact that the US would consist of a narrow slither of land if it weren't for genocide, war and slavery was long suppressed by historians. This denial of these origins was nothing exceptional. In the same way that the trauma of childbirth is suppressed in all of our minds, the horrors of nation-building are quickly wiped from the national memory. What follows then is the creation of a national mythology, the shibboleths of American exceptionalism were crafted by English colonists quite early on. Ronald Reagan liked to describe America as "a shining city upon a hill", well it was John Winthrop who coined that phrase in 1630 and not surprisingly it was a Bible reference.
So the notion of America as a nation chosen by God to spread its ideals actually predates the Revolution. Winthrop viewed America as ordained by God and received the charter of Massachusetts Bay from King Charles I. The charter stated that the principle purpose of the plantation was to save the indigenes from a pagan fate - in other words, it was a mission civilisatrice. The humane mission of spreading Christianity amounted to a systematic programme of extirpation and extermination. John Locke viewed America as the land where the world began and defended the theft of Indian land.  The heinous nature of the policies undertaken against the indigenous population was understood well by the Founding Fathers. Even the brilliant Thomas Jefferson made the case for the Native Americans to be forced into starvation if they didn't accept an existence as free-holding farmers. Jefferson went as far as to plan to drive the tribes into Canada, only to invade Canada and ensure that the job was finished. And so, civilisation came to America.
This was nothing out of the norm. To the indigenous population George Washington was known as the Town-Destroyer and for good reason. By the late 1770s Washington had set out to, in his own words, extirpate the indigenes from the country in a bid to expand westward to the Mississippi. As a punishment for resisting the Iroquois tribe was forced to cede their territory to compensate the butchers. Later John Quincy Adams would lament the "hapless race of Native Americans, which we are exterminating with such merciless and perfidious cruelty". Expansionism soon acquired the designs of self-defence. The Jackson administration would conquer Florida in order to maintain the security of the American Republic. There were repeated attempts to annex Canada, where the British held-off the Americans. Instead the US took on the Spanish empire with much more success, succeeding in stealing away half of Mexico, Puerto Rico and Guam. This allowed the US government to buy the Philippines from the Spanish.
This was the period of so-called American imperialism. Yet if we look closely we find that the constant expansionist aggression that the US had demonstrated since day-one, we would find that the US has been engaged in colonial violence for much longer. In much the same way that Israel seems to go to war every 3 or 4 years these days. One minute it's Lebanon, then it's Gaza, Iran next perhaps! It's bound to be the case with a highly militarised economy and an irrationally right-wing establishment. It can't be ignored anymore, with Likudniks calling black immigrants a "cancer" on the Jewish state, - and talk of Hiroshima as the model for Israeli policy on Gaza - there's a problem that has to be acknowledged. Sadly it seems unlikely that Israel has any reason to even consider a position that would change the bloody stalemate that the region has to live with. The US isn't going to withhold its veto at the UN any time soon, that's for sure. Meanwhile the next election is due in January and Bibi Netanyahu is running with Avi Lieberman, the worst of worse scenarios.

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