Thursday, December 31, 2015

Destiny & Powerlessness: The American Odyssey of GHW Bush

Israeli settlers are illegally invading occupied East Jerusalem and the Palestinian West Bank as we speak.

Their numbers have metastisised from 100,000 in 1982 to 850,000 today. They control 42% of the West Bank (itself only 22% of historic Palestine), and consume 80% of its water. (If you want to know what else they do, just google 'Dawabshe'.)

And American presidents, reputedly the most powerful men on the planet, have had about as much success as the legendary King Canute in halting this toxic tide.

The last substantial (this is a relative term) attempt to do so came from President George Herbert Walker Bush - Bush senior - in 1990. You can read about it, and Bush's ignominious backdown, in my 9/6/09 post 'Only One Lonely Little Guy'.

Jon Meacham's new biography of GWH Bush, Destiny & Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush (2015), does not, of course, do the subject of the raw power of Israel over the United States justice. (It's a Pulitzer Prize winner for God's sake!)

The following anecdote from his book, however, says it all about who holds the whip hand in the US-Israel relationship and the sheer cluelessness of American presidents in this matter. Read and weep:

"The politics of the Middle East were always in play. Despite their cooperation in the Gulf war, the American president and the Israeli prime minister did not have the warmest of relationships. In 1989, when Yitzhak Shamir had come to the United States, Bush had urged Israel to stop building settlements in the occupied territories in the hope that such a concession might improve relations with the Palestinians. As Richard Haass, who was in the Oval Office with the two leaders, recalled it, Shamir gestured dismissively and said 'no problem.' The exchange led to great confusion. 'Bush thought he had an understanding from Shamir that the Israelis would not cause any problems with their settlement activity, meaning that they would cease building new ones,' Haass recalled. 'Shamir, I later learned, thought he was telling the president that the settlements... should not cause any problem and that all the debate was much ado about nothing. Shamir thus continued authorizing them; Bush thought the Israeli leader had broken his word'." (p 494)

Think of the implications here:

'... in the hope that such a concession might improve relations with the Palestinians."

Concession? When did this word start creeping into use in this matter? International law does not call for concessions from occupiers (or the occupied for that matter). International law demands that occupiers end their illegal occupations NOW - no ifs or buts or maybes - or face the consequences.

After all, wasn't that GHW Bush's message to Saddam Hussein when he invaded and occupied Kuwait in 1990? And when Saddam refused to comply? Why, Bush dislodged the Iraqis from Kuwait by force in the same year.

But, hey, that was Iraq. This is Israel.

"Shamir gestured dismissively and said ' no problem'."

And Bush just accepts that, no questions asked? A bloody rude hand gesture and two muttered words plus eye-roll? That's it? You're kidding me!

Did Bush even know he was dealing with the former leader of the Stern Gang whose hands were dripping with blood? Rhetorical question, of course.

And did Bush lie down on the floor on the floor of the Oval Office so the Stern Gang boss, with a smirk on his face, could walk over him on his way out?

Meacham doesn't say. His book's title is Destiny & Power. Power? What power?

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