Thursday, October 14, 2010

Unkempt, Powerless Head of State Yells at Clouds, Frightens Small Children

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad traveled to Bint Jbeil, Lebanon today to shout at Israel.  It was a sorry display, by any measure and for any number of reasons.  But there are two very important things to keep in mind when observing this bit of theater.  First, Israel is much more militarily powerful than Iran, and even then, has the full support of the United States armed forces at her beck and call, and second, Ahmedinejad is a figurehead.  He has very little actual power within Iran, and none when it comes to international and military affairs.  He's not a little dog barking, he's an old videotape of a dog barking.  So everyone kind of shook their head and ignored the whole thing, right?

Of course not.  Iran is far too convenient a villain for the US and Israel to let this pass without responding with appropriate fear and anger.   The US State Department called his trip "a provocation".  Think about that, how sad and pathetic and SICK that actually is.  In 2006, the Israeli Army and Air Force destroyed literally every bit of Bint Jbeil.  With methodical precision, using jet fighters, tanks and artillery, they destroyed every building, every house, every place of business and every mosque in that blighted little village.  Now it's true that the Israelis also suffered serious casualties in the savage fighting around that little town, but let's not forget that it is in Lebanon, so yeah, aggressive war will get your soldiers killed.  Another argument for keeping them in your own country.

But here's the thing.  The houses and businesses and schools and mosques of Bint Jbeil have all been rebuilt.  As good as new.  How could that happen?  The Iranian government provided the money, the expertise and in some cases the raw materials to put back everything Israel petulantly wrecked.  And for the representative of that lone benefactor to come to the place where his people have done actual good, and built where the others only killed and destroyed, for that to be called a "provocation" is the worst kind of dehumanizing propaganda.  As an American, I completely and without equivocation would like to disassociate myself from that kind of rhetoric.  Anytime anyone in the middle east in general, and Palestine in particular, is building, and not destroying, that is something to be encouraged, not derided.  Shame on those who cheer on the killers, and make it harder for the builders and teachers.

And the Israelis are even worse.  When it began to become clear to Likud that the Palestinian Arabs were no longer an effective "existential threat", they began casting about for something to replace them with.  The intifada, for all the sound and fury, never touched most Israelis, and those vaunted rocket attacks that form the basis for so much violence and hatred, killed less than a dozen people over ten years.  A problem, but most would agree a completely manageable one.  With most Arabian governments unwilling to invest significantly in the Palestinian "Problem", the Iranians sponsored both Hamas and Hezbollah.  So the Iranians would become the new threat to the very survival of the Jewish people and the nation of Israel, never mind how laughable that prospect might be here on planet earth.

The Israeli leadership called Ahmedinejad "Hitler" and announced that this is 1938.  It's all on the line, right now.  Think about this.  This laughable little man without political power or control, who could be removed from office tomorrow by Khameini if it suited the regime, who commands no tank divisions, who has no air force, who has no sway over the armed forces, is "Hitler".  Iran, who has never fought an aggressive war in modern times, who was bled dry by the Iraqis under Saddam with the support of the American Intelligence community, who's military expenditures amount to less than 2% of those of the US, is Germany in central Europe in 1938.  That the US government is willing to buy this ridiculous premise is embarrassing, more than anything else.

This is what we've come to. Powerless to make Israel behave like a real modern Democracy, powerless to influence China's currency manipulation, powerless to enforce the "crippling sanctions" we've placed on the Iranian regime, to the benefit of Russia and China, we rail and splutter at an oddly dressed, unshaven man calling us names in the South Lebanon desert.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is how empires end in the twenty first century.  Not with a bang, but with stupidity...

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