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Recently, a sage observation came from a very unlikely source: 'The best way to stop violence is to understand why the violence occurred in the first place.' Reflecting on the Israeli invasion of Lebanon , President Bush said that while hanging out in St. Petersburg with Vladimir Putin and other members of the G8 leadership. Although Bush can articulate the obvious, he cannot correctly identify the root cause of that violence. Perhaps if the president was facing a mirror when he made than announcement and not the world media, the answer would have been as obvious to him as it has always been to others.
Connections are already being made that any wider conflagration that develops in the Middle East has its roots in U.S. foreign policy, including, and especially, recent activity in Iraq and Afghanistan . Why should this surprise anyone?
It's appalling to the Bush crowd to suggest that the United States could in any way be responsible for what's now unfolding in the Middle East . Remember, the bad guys attacked us on 9/11. Since we are simply responding to that attack, we are absolved of responsibility for any of the terrorism that plagues Iraq every day or the Middle East in general.
In a recent interview with George Stephanopoulos, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said of the current crisis brewing between Israel and Hezbollah, 'Those hostilities were not very well contained . . . so the notion that somehow policies that finally confront extremism are actually causing extremism' is 'grotesque.' Like her boss, she referred to the need 'to go at the root cause' of the ongoing violence in the Middle East . Also like her boss, Rice fails, or refuses, to contemplate U.S. complicity in the current Middle East crisis.
What Bush, Rice, and their corps of supporters here and abroad refuse to acknowledge is the existence of a very real consequence of foreign policy long-ago identified by the CIA : blowback. According to Chalmers Johnson, 'blowback' comes about as 'the unintended consequences of policies that were kept secret from the American people.'
In his book Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, Johnson documents the often perilous position many Americans face as they travel throughout the world, all because of what their government has done, mostly without their knowledge, to nations and peoples throughout the 20th Century. At any given time, Americans traveling or living throughout the world could become victims of blowback. The historically ignorant who hears of such attacks on the news would think of them as nothing more than normal criminal acts.
Johnson argues that many examples of blowback are subtle and escape the scrutiny of the average citizen. To the untrained observer of such events, what happens to one American while walking down the street in a foreign country, or others waiting at a traffic light in this country, could be nothing more than random acts of violence. Innocent Americans, and the innocent citizens of U.S. allies, pay the price for actions committed by the U.S. government.
The situation in the Middle East is anything but subtle. The terrorists have publicly declared on numerous occasions for all the world to hear why they do what they do. Their extremism does not exist in a vacuum; it, like all movements throughout history, has its prime catalyst. It is U.S. in-your-face, chest-pounding foreign policy that coddles and encourages Israel to act brazenly against Palestinians in its own territory, and against neighboring Arab states--such as we are witnessing now.
Being openly critical of Israel for any of its domestic or foreign policies runs the risk of being labeled an anti-Semite, so many reporters and media outlets follow the lead of the U.S. government and let Israel basically do what it wants. Any news on Israeli actions is carefully measured.
In the current crisis, it has been reported that Israeli soldiers were 'kidnapped' by 'militants' from Hezbollah. Israel answers the 'kidnapping' of two soldiers by launching a massive attack against targets in Lebanon ; Israel is acting in 'self defense.' President Bush and his minions have repeated this mantra time and again. The choice of words quickly identifies the good guys and the bad guys for the reader/viewer in faraway lands.
It is obvious to the world that America 's hatred throughout the Middle East is due almost entirely to its permissive attitude towards Israel . Terrorist leader rantings are no longer necessary to bring this point home. Perhaps Paul Craig Roberts summed it up best when he said, ' America is hated because American money and weapons are what enable Israel to steal Palestine from Palestinians.' And not to mention, kill with indiscriminate regularity. Now, the U.S. is allowing Israel to steal and murder on a greater scale with each passing day.
Terrorism happens for a reason. Americans need to choose to see what's right in front of them and admit the obvious. Until the American people wake up and pressure their democratically-elected masters to break the yoke of American-Israeli Middle East hegemony, they will continue to pull the dual burden of maintaining the American empire and expanding Israel 's.
Blowback, suicide bombings, never-ending troop deployments, billions of dollars wasted, thousands more dead and maimed, and Third World status will be our constant prizes along this journey. Stopping the violence requires those in leadership positions take the lead and stop playing games with the obvious. Look no further than the man in the mirror.