The so-called ‘special relationship’ between the governments of the US and is well-known. It goes without saying that the vast majority of Americans wholeheartedly support their nation’s love-fest with the Jewish state.
Most Americans feel an affinity with Israelis, to the detriment of Arabs. How mistaken they are! The fact is that while Americans benefit hugely from the Arab world, little do they know they are on the losing end when it comes to .
The US- bond has become so incestuous that few Americans even question its value. Even fewer ask themselves what the US gets out of its financial, military and moral support of a foreign entity that their government believes can do no wrong. At the same time they remain suspicious of the Muslim world.
The misguided post-September 11 policies promoted by the Bush administration have reinforced the anti-Arab, anti-Muslim stance of most Americans. A recent Gallop poll suggests four out of 10 Americans feel ‘prejudice’ towards Muslims.
These attitudes are nothing short of a slap in the face to Arab nations that have invested trillions of dollars in the US economy and consider themselves as Washington’s strategic partners.
What the Arab world gives
In reality the Arab world is far more beneficial to the US than . Here’s why:
Members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which are all Arab or Muslim (with the exception of Venezuela) exchange their oil for petrodollars, which means non-producing countries must keep vast sums of dollars in reserve, thus bolstering the dollar and the US economy.
The Gulf supplies the US with approximately one third of its total oil requirements or some 2.5 million barrels per day.
The 22 Arab League member countries import more goods and services from the US than any other country, especially vehicles, machinery, equipment, building materials, chemicals, medicines and aircraft. Saudi Arabia alone buys more than and Egypt combined.
US sales of goods and services to the GCC have totalled more than US$ 20 billion annually and “create or sustain more than half-a-million jobs in the United States”, according to the American Business Council of the Gulf Countries.
The GCC states invest billions of dollars annually in US acquisitions, property and bonds. Saudi Arabia alone invests an estimated 60 per cent of its global investment in the US, according to Tanya C. Hsu, a senior analyst at the Middle East political economy at the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy.
She says “this commitment has enabled the United States to finance an ongoing trade deficit and produce new economic growth opportunities”.
Many Arab countries, in particular Jordan, Egypt and various GCC countries are strategic partners of within the region, hosting US bases and working closely with the American government in the ‘war on terror’.
Morocco and several GCC countries have signed up to Free Trade Agreements with the US, which the US hopes will lead to a Middle East Free Trade Agreement (MEFTA).
More than 50,000 American civilians live in the GCC, representing the largest expatriate community in the world.
What Americans sacrifice for
What about the American people? What are they obliged to sacrifice for the sake of maintaining ’s favoured relation ?
First on the list is the official figure of US$3 billion each year, which American taxpayers donate to Israeli coffers whether they like it or not.
This is split up into US$1.2 billion in economic aid and US$1.8 billion in military aid, two-thirds of which must be spent on American-made military hardware and planes.
In reality, receives much more than that because there are extra sums, which The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs reports “are buried in the budgets of governments departments such as the Defence Department”.
The US also gives billions of dollars in loans and often writes off these amounts so that it can say with hand on heart honesty that has never defaulted on a loan. It further guarantees loans to to the tune of US$2 billion annually.
By conservative estimates by the end of a US citizen’s life he or she will have contributed US$25,000 in taxes to support , which for some signifies an entire year’s pay.
Since 1949, the US has given the Jewish state a whopping US$140 billion or more. To put this in context, this represents almost one-and-a-half times the annual GDP of the United Arab Emirates, which in 2005 stood at US98.1 billion.
Are Israelis grateful for all this financial support? Do they feel loyalty to their kindly big brother across the ocean?
The answer is no. Many Israelis I’ve spoken to over the years feel positively hostile towards the US. They both resent having to rely on Washington’s generosity as well as having to abide by its orders. This is anecdotal rather than scientific, but the proof that is deeply suspicious of the US is the fact that continually spies on its number one ally.
Fox News, which is generally perceived as a propaganda arm of the Bush administration, detailed these spying activities in a four-part series hosted by one of its investigate reporters Carl Cameron.
Cameron was told by investigators within the FBI and other intelligence agencies that to pursue or even suggest that was spying on Americans is nothing less than “career suicide”.
Cameron quotes a defence intelligence report explaining why would want to spy on its ally. It reads:
“The Israelis are motivated by strong survival instincts which dictate every possible facet of their political and economical policies. It aggressively collects military and industrial technology and the US is a high priority target”.
Put simply, each US citizen pays an average of US$25,000 in tax to , which, in turn, is spying on his country. It’s inconceivable that most ordinary Americans are even aware of Israeli treachery on such a large scale.
’s strategic worth
The question is: What does the American government get in return for its unerring devotion to ? From the US government’s perspective is the guardian of its strategic interests throughout the Middle East.
It uses to stir up trouble throughout the region, fight its proxy wars, test out cutting edge US-made weaponry and create a regional demand for American fighter jets, helicopters, tanks and missiles.
In previous years, has served its master well by shipping illegal arms to prop up pro-US Central American dictatorships, apartheid South Africa and groups within the Arab world out to topple anti-American nationalist regimes.
In turn, the US is committed to fighting ’s wars.
A former advisor to George W. Bush, Philip Zelikow, tells us the invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction but was rather conducted to eliminate a growing threat to .
The investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, who first broke the Abu Ghraib scandal, quotes insider sources as saying the recent war between and Lebanon was planned by and the US last Spring. This was to protect from Hezbollah as a prelude to a possible US pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Americans should take note. Almost 2,000 American soldiers have died in Iraq, while billions of US dollars have been spent maintaining the ’s occupation not to make safe, not to spread democracy, but to protect .
Cheered on by the US government, furthers regional disunity in the Arab world with some Arab government having signed peace treaties with Tel Aviv while others remain vehemently hostile.
A feuding Arab world allows minority groups within the region, supported by the US, to stir dissent so as to weaken Arab leaderships. This is particularly true in Iraq where Shiites have been set against Sunnis.
In this way, the US gets to control the region’s resources and ensure they don’t fall into the hands of rising superpowers, such as China and India.
The Bush administration plays lip service to a Palestinian state but if there ever was a comprehensive peace process sealed between all the 22 members of the Arab League and , eventually a united and prosperous Middle East that included would have no need for Washington.
So, just as is not a true friend to , Washington is not a true friend to . The difference between Israelis and Americans is this: Israelis are aware of the ‘I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine’ game, while most Americans are not.
This is because Washington and the powerful pro- lobby rely on media propaganda to indoctrinate the American people into believing that Israeli and American policies coincide.
The US government needs Americans to believe that Israelis are the good guys, so they will be happy to open their purses to keep armed to the teeth even if this means the US becomes a target for extremists prepared to use heinous methods to vent their genuine grievances.
“Why do they hate us?”
When it comes to Arabs and Muslims, a small percentage of which are seen on television burning US flags, Americans are fond of asking, ‘Why do they hate us?’
Until five years ago, the US was held up throughout the Arab world as a beacon of human rights and civil liberties; American technology and culture was admired, while the Arab youth dreamt of studying and working in the US. This changed post 9-11 when the Bush administration used this pretext to invade Afghanistan and Iraq and began detaining Muslims without charge or trial.
For his own agenda, George Bush wants us to believe extremist elements, “Hate democracy and freedom”.
However, a 2004 Pentagon report that was placed on its website, tackles this subject with rather more honesty. It reads:
“Muslims do not hate our freedom but rather they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favour of and against Palestinian rights. Thus, when American public diplomacy means bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy.”
This is true. Arabs and Muslims are angered by American bias in favour of , highlighted each time the UN Security Council attempts to pass a resolution censoring . On almost every occasion the US uses its power of veto and is often the lone dissenting voice.
It is time for the US to revert to the honest broker it once was and for the American people to reassess their country’s relationship with .
The day will certainly come when Americans will begin to question the US- relationship and ask whether is truly ’s best friend or a state that only pretends to be as long as the US props it up financially, wages wars in its interest and turns a blind eye to its growing catalogue of war crimes.