Middle East Democracy: Blowback Through the Looking Glass
"If I had a world of my own . . . nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would." -Alice in Wonderland
Alice: "You want democracy in the Middle East?" Uncle Sam: "I do." Alice: "And Iran was a democracy?" Uncle Sam: "It was." Alice: "With a constitution?" Uncle Sam: "Of course!" Alice: "But you replaced that democracy with a dictatorship?" Uncle Sam: " I certainly did!" Alice: "I don't understand you?" Uncle Sam: "My dear, how else will democracy flourish in the Middle East?" Alice: "It's all so dreadfully confusing."
In Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking Glass," the White Queen assured Alice that "it's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards." A contemporary reader stepping into the "looking glass" world of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East may well understand the Queen's contrariness as "blowback" -- an event that appears to be without cause but is the unintended consequence of a past action. Blowback is a "sort of memory" that always works forward.
In 1953, Uncle Sam, at the behest of his British ally, stepped through the looking glass to attack Iran. The CIA's month-long covert war deposed the popularly elected Mohammad Mossadegh and ended the Middle East's oldest constitutional democracy.
To secure a foothold for democracy in the region -- and keep oil flowing at an Anglo-American price -- Uncle Sam placed Mohammad Reza Shah back on the Peacock Throne. The twenty-five years of oppressive dictatorship that followed was the "sort of memory" that came blowing back through the looking glass with the Islamic Revolution in 1979, which resulted in a fundamentalist Islamic theocracy in Iran and the transmogrification of Uncle Sam into "Shaytan Bozorg" -- the Great Satan.
The Islamic Revolution brought to power a group of fanatically anti-Western clerics who have inspired a generation of new recruits in the war against the imperialist aggression of the West; a war that blew back through the looking glass -- and the Twin Towers -- as the "War on Terror."
This June, both presumptive presidential candidates made their obligatory supplication at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee convention in Washington D.C. In the "looking glass" world of American politics, candidates for national office -- from federal dogcatcher to the White House -- cannot get elected without first being "voted in" by Israel's representatives in the United States.
John McCain told the AIPAC audience, "The State of Israel stands . . . as the great democracy of the Middle East. [It has] thrived and . . . built a nation that's an inspiration to free nations everywhere."
Barack Obama told the same audience, "In a state of constant insecurity, Israel has maintained a vibrant and open discourse, and a resilient commitment to the rule of law."
The White Queen told Alice, "Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
In 1948, Uncle Sam was the first in line to recognize the birth of the State of Israel in the Land of Palestine. The birth pain of this "great [Jewish-only] democracy of the Middle East" is known to the entirety of the Arab world as the "Nakhba" (catastrophe) -- the murder of 800 Palestinian Arabs in twenty-four separate Israeli terror attacks that were calculated to initiate the "ethnic cleansing" of 700,000 Palestinians and the destruction of 500 villages.
After the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel occupied and began to illegally settle the whole of the Land of Palestine. It has since created an apartheid state whose "resilient commitment to the rule of law" has forced over four million Palestinians behind walls and beyond the reach of human rights.
In its sixty-years as an "inspiration to free nations everywhere," Israel has yet to draft a constitution, much less a bill of rights. To do so would mean the self-destruction of the Jewish State as envisioned by the Zionist ideology that created and sustains it. If Israel is to self-destruct, it will be in an apocalyptic battle to save itself from itself.
Uncle Sam's implicit support for Israel's repressive policies against the Palestinian people and his overt support of Israel's aggression against neighboring states has blown back through the looking glass with Iran's determination to acquire the nuclear technology with which to both power and protect itself.
As AIPAC-vetted politicians vow to "totally obliterate" Iran if it continues along a nuclear path, the other side of the looking glass reveals Uncle Sam offering to help the Shah develop an Iranian nuclear weapons program in the 1970s, just as he had earlier given a wink and a nod -- and no doubt assistance -- as Israel began developing its now 200-strong nuclear arsenal.
Uncle Sam's foreign policy in the Middle East has created Alice's contrary world where "what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would." It is a world filled with the "sort of memory" that always works forward to become the stuff of nightmares and the roost for returning chickens.
Alice: "So, you ended a democracy that was and support a "democracy" that isn't or ever will be until it ceases being a "democracy" so that democracy will flourish in a land whose only experience of democracy has been what democracy isn't?" Uncle Sam: "Well said!" Alice: "It would be so nice if something made sense for a change."
Robert Weitzel is a contributing editor to Media With a Conscience. His essays regularly appear in The Capital Times in Madison, WI. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org