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Who the hell do we think we are? “American Exceptionalism” has given way to madness. We insist we can have a stash of 7300 nuclear bombs….but other countries can have none. Unless of course we’ve given them permission. These other countries are called allies….until they become enemies. Today it’s fine with us that France has 300 nukes, England has 225, India has 110, Israel has 80. Out of the nine countries with nuclear bombs, these are our friends…today,

Israel has been one of our best friends for over 70 years. But on March 3rd, their hysterical Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, may have plunged a dagger into the heart of that relationship. Not only did he brazenly disrespect our 239-year tradition of regarding our President as our “head of state”, he pummeled us with his toxic paranoia.

He began by softening us up us with stories about the long love affair between Israel and the United Sates, declaring his unabashed admiration for our President, thanking him for all the wonderful things he has done not just for Israel, but for “Bibi” personally.

The mawkish flattery over, it was no more Mr. Nice Guy. Netanyahu assaulted us with lurking catastrophes. Iran is a danger not only to Israel, he claimed, but to the United States. Building his case, he added, “We must all stand together to stop Iran from gobbling up the world.” He then gave a detailed description of how easy it is to convert nuclear facilities to nuclear bombs (and he ought to know because Israel has done it 80 times) and as the Congress listened breathlessly and we at home watched on TV with eyes agape, he attempted to make us feel that it could happen, not in a hundred years, not in ten, but in one.

Recognizing that Iran is an important U.S. ally in our war against ISIS, he covered that, too. “The enemy of your enemy is your enemy!” he cried.

Let us pause for a moment and take a look at Iran’s history. Like most countries, especially in the Middle East, Iran has been through a series of dictatorships that have repeatedly denied them the pleasure of democracy. The Shah, a friend of the United States and Israel, applied gothic torture to critics of his regime. I remember a TV news clip of a young child, about four, whose arms had been amputated because his father criticized the Shah in public. Unbearable memory even now. The US, however, loved the Shah and when he developed cancer he moved to the US for treatment. And treated he was, magnificently. After all he was not only an “ally”: he was a Shah!

Then the Ayatollah Khomeini took charge of Iran and he was a monster of a different stripe. He hated Israel, befriended the enemies of the Shah, and once again, ruled Iran with an iron hand. Iran has had more than its share of iron hands, but the fact is, and this is important, Iran has not started a war in over 100 years. What other power can make that claim? Germany, France, England, Iraq, Japan, Russia, China, the United States??? The list goes on.

The U.S. is in the business of starting wars or entering wars that others have started. In the 50s, for example, it was our intention to unify Korea into one big happy satellite for the United States. Result? North and South Korea are more divided than ever. From 1957 to 1975…18 years, we destabilized Vietnam, with similar results. However, by the 1980s, we were foxier. We wanted to unseat the Ayatolla,h but we let Iraq do the dirty work for us. Headed by Sadaam Hussein, cheered on by us, Iraq invaded Iran. He was our guy. We openly supported and heavily armed him. After 8 bloody years he claimed “victory”, as the expression goes, and so did we.

The truth is nothing was permanently gained on either side. And when, in 1990, Saddam invaded Kuwait, his tiny oil rich neighbor, that did it! We instantly fell out of love with him. Bush the First was president at the time. He had mega wealthy friends living there who often hosted him.

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So Saddam, a hero of the 80s, was now a monster of the 90s. Bush-the-first ordered Dessert Storm, the pummeling of Iraq, and even much later, after Saddam was captured and executed, our attacks on Iraq never really ended. Constant war on that country followed by more war with Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the bushel of countries we continue to bomb and drone in addition ……Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia….I could country drop for the next hour. The fact is there’s no “winning” these wars.

But the uncomfortable question arises, is winning really our intention?

Consider the results of the wars we’ve discussed. North Korea has another dictatorship and North and South are still two very separate entities. Vietnam, on the other hand, is unified, into one big Communist country, exactly the opposite of why we were there. Afghanistan is still starving, abusing women, producing heroin as a main cash crop. The Taliban is re-emerging . Iraq is destroyed, its ravaged towns terminally embattled. Sect killing sect is the M.O. for all of these countries. Before we went in to “save” them, many of these sects lived side by side in relative peace. But tolerance was not our agenda. Divide and conquer is the first rule of war, and no one does it better than we do.

So in the end, we served our purpose. Our permanent war economy was fed, our arms industry thrived, and our concepts of American Exceptionalism and Manifest Destiny took giant steps forward.

So in the end, we served our purpose. Our permanent war economy was fed, our arms industry thrived, and our concepts of American Exceptionalism and Manifest Destiny took giant steps forward.

During all of these unnecessary wars, the psyche of permanent war has become entrenched in the minds of the world population. As a result, nine major countries -- the US, Russia, China, England, France, Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea -- equipped themselves with a total 16,300 nuclear bombs that we know of. Enough to destroy the planet, if not the universe.

Into this mix, Iran , once again, which has not started a war in over 100 years, wants to develop nuclear power. We have to be realistic. Awash with oil, why does Iran need nuclear anything for purposes of energy? It doesn’t. Is Iran’s real goal to develop a nuclear bomb to protect itself? Probably. But how would we feel if Canada and Mexico were loaded with nuclear bombs and we had none? Would we sit still and “obey” them while they threatened to attack us if we developed the means to defend ourselves? Would we bend to their self-described “exceptionalism”, their doctrine of “manifest destiny”? What do those exalted expressions mean anyway? Plain old “greed” is what. Greed for empire, greed for power greed for endless wealth. Greed is greed no matter what grandiose language we use to mask it.

Netanyahu is wrong. It is not Iran that endangers us. It is we, with our foreign policy of insisting that the world does it our way, or get out of the way…..our ultimate goal of empire that endangers us…and the world.

What are Netanyahu’s alternatives to a diplomatic approach with Iran? He has none. Does he once suggest that all countries begin to demolish their nuclear arsenals….including us and Israel? Does he suggest that nuclear weapons be criminalized by international law? Does he think sanctions should be imposed, not on countries that don't have nukes, but on countries that do? Netanyahu has nothing to offer, except more war. It’s an old story with him. He warned that Iraq’s nuclear weapons meant world destruction in the 1990s and again 2002. It turns out not only did they not have nukes; they didn't even have so-called weapons of mass destruction.

Benjamin Netanyahu is now and has always been a right-wing hawk. Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham, Ted Cruz…our right wing loves him. Speaking as a Jew, proud of her heritage, I say, they can have him!

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Lila Garrett
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