What is US foreign policy in the Middle East all about – and for whose benefit is it being conducted? In two short paragraphs, this news story says it all:
"The U.S. confirmed that an American citizen, identified as 19-year-old Furkan Dogan, was killed by multiple gunshots during the Israeli raid on a flotilla carrying activists attempting to run a blockade of the Gaza Strip.
"State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley said the U.S. has made no decision on a response to Dogan’s death."
Apparently official Washington is torn between issuing a mild protest, and thanking them.
"Protecting the welfare of American citizens is a fundamental repsponsibility of our government," Hillary Clinton assured the media, "and one that we take very seriously" – but not seriously enough to issue an official protest. "We are in constant contact with the Israeli government attempting to obtain more information about our citizens." Do they want to know how many holes the IDF put in Furkan Dogan’s head before they make a decision on a response?
In reality, the US already made a response in the form of Vice President Joe "Loose Cannon" Biden, who, when asked about the attack on the flotilla, said: "So what’s the big deal here?"
At the time he said it, the odds were fair that an American citizen – out of nine with the flotilla — was among the dead. Now that it’s been confirmed, I wonder if it’s dawned on our dim-witted Vice President that it is indeed a very big deal.
In a brazen act of international piracy, the Israelis boarded a ship in international waters and killed an American citizen – so what is the American government going to do about it?
The answer is: nothing, zero, nada, zilch. Israel refuses to let an international investigation look into the matter, and Biden is cool with that, as he told Charlie Rose:
"Biden: We passed a resolution in the UN saying we need a transparent and open investigation of what happened. It looks like things are…
"Rose: International investigation?
"Biden: Well, an investigation run by the Israelis, but we’re open to international participation."
That’s certainly impartial, fair, and transparent – let the Israelis investigate themselves! No, Biden isn’t stupid: he’s smart enough to know the Israelis will never be held accountable by our government, and that any attempt to do so would be aborted before it ever became known.
The reason for this peculiar passivity is because, contra Hillary, protecting the welfare of American citizens is not considered a fundamental responsibility of our government insofar as it means protecting their welfare against the government of Israel. In any conflict between American and Israeli interests, Washington’s instinctive response is to uphold the latter and ignore the former. Under the Bush administration, such a conflict of interests was considered impossible: the very idea that there could be daylight between Washington and Tel Aviv on any given issue was considered heretical. Even under the Bushies, however, there was still some vague stirrings of American independence, especially toward the end of the second term. And they never had to face a situation like this, in which an American citizen in transit was murdered by our faithful "allies." That kind of thing hasn’t happened since the sinking of the USS Liberty – and it may be a sign of what’s to come that a survivor of that heinous assault was traveling with the flotilla, too.
In the case of the USS Liberty, the whole thing was covered up in a shameful act of official suppression: against the testimony of the sailors on that ship, 34 of whom were killed, the US government ruled that the savage Israeli assault was a tragic "accident." Yet US government officials knew the truth. As then secretary of state Dean Rusk later put it:
"I was never satisfied with the Israeli explanation. Their sustained attack to disable and sink Liberty precluded an assault by accident or some trigger-happy local commander. Through diplomatic channels we refused to accept their explanations. I didn’t believe them then, and I don’t believe them to this day. The attack was outrageous."
So is this attack outrageous, but if the US government can whitewash the Israeli murder of 34 American sailors, it can overlook the murder of a single American in nearly identical circumstances.
Of course, this is not 1967: the news of an American’s death at the hands of the IDF is being transmitted around the world, even as I write this, and all the details are coming out: the pitilessness of the Israelis, young Furkan’s idealism, and the horrific circumstances of his death.
What is being transmitted, above all, is the braying arrogance of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his media shills, as they deride the dead as "terrorists looking for trouble." Bizarrely, the Vice President of the United States is joining right in, declaring that Israel had a "right" to board the ships and detain the passengers because it has a "right" to ensure its own "security" – yet the ships were inspected by the Turkish government in Cyprus before they left, and found to contain only items such as building material and children’s toys. The Israelis, as part of their serio-comic propaganda offensive, are triumphantly showing off a cache of "weapons" found on the ship – which looks like nothing more than a collection of old kitchen knives and a couple of metal poles.
An American is killed as heavily armed soldiers of a foreign nation board a ship in international waters, firing live ammunition at the passengers as they rappel onto the deck. Among those passengers: a former US ambassador, a former US colonel and Pentagon official, several members of the European parliament, a member of the Israeli Knesset, and members of parliament from several Arab countries.
Imagine if Iran had done this. Washington would have reverberated with the sound of thunder emanating from the White House, and the attack fleet would already be steaming toward the Gulf, taking up position. That the culprit was Israel, however, puts a whole different face on the matter, at least as far as our government is concerned: they’re content to let the Israelis "investigate," and let the matter drop.
For years, some of us have been saying that the government of Israel and its partisans in this country exercise a decisive – and unhealthy – influence on the making and execution of US foreign policy. We’ve been accused of everything from anti-Semitism to pushing "conspiracy theories," and yet the Mediterranean Massacre – and our government’s non-response – underscores that, if anything, we’ve been underestimating the extent to which the US takes its orders directly from Tel Aviv.
The Israel Lobby controls official Washington: Congress is, as Pat Buchanan trenchantly observed, "Israeli-occupied territory." Yet one would think that, in spite of these circumtances, the wanton murder of an American on the high seas by Israeli commandos would provoke an angry response from Washington. Unfortunately, one would be wrong.
Instead, what we have is the grotesque spectacle of our Vice President commending the Israelis, and the US and Israel scrambling to come up with a "joint response." What more proof do we need that the US government is the political equivalent of occupied Palestine, where truth and justice are under blockade?
For years, they’ve been spying on us, collaborating with our enemies, stealing our secrets, manipulating our politicians, and now they’ve gone so far as to murder one of our citizens on neutral ground – and still our government cannot manage even a peep of protest. A more disgusting display of cowardice would be hard to imagine.
We attacked Iraq in large part due to the influence of the Lobby, and we are gearing up for an armed conflict with Iran in response to the same sort of pressure: will we now countenance the execution of one of our own citizens in order to appease Tel Aviv?
This was no "accident." The Israeli government knew precisely what it was doing, it knew there were Americans on those ships, and chose to go in guns blazing: it was the equivalent of spitting in Uncle Sam’s face.
After all, how dare those Americans try to freeze the building of settlements in what is "Greater Israel"? How dare Obama tell us what we can and cannot do?! We’ll show them! Let’s kill a few. Don’t worry – they won’t retaliate. We own them: and they know it.
In view of the Obama administration’s shameful crawling, one can hardly disagree. Which raises a question: how many American lives are to be sacrificed on the altar of the "special relationship"? It’s a question to which one doesn’t really want to know the answer.