Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Peace as portrayed by Washington

Tue, 06 Nov 2007 14:41:21
By Bita Ghaffari, Press TV, Tehran
Washington's plan to host a Middle East PEACE conference has raised many eyebrows in the Muslim world, prompting a large number of political figures and analysts to express cynicism about the sincerity of US intentions.

Given Washington's war rhetoric and the confrontational policies it pursues in the region, it's hard to believe the White House is contemplating the creation of a Palestinian state and the establishment of peace between the age-old foes through negotiations on an equal footing - especially given the coincidence of such 'peace-mongering' propaganda with the evident US failure in Iraq, and its growing go-to-war rhetoric against the Islamic Republic.

The US foreign policy agenda is a confused amalgamation of leniency and severity in its dealings with different countries on exactly the same issues, be it human rights or nuclear technology.

Take Egypt for instance. The country has on many occasions accused the US of interference in its internal affairs, in reaction to American criticism of Cairo's human rights record.

But during her mid-October visit to Egypt, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice unveiled a sudden about-face, asserting that the US always raised human rights issues 'in the spirit of friendship and respect'.

That was an obvious effort to win Cairo's support for the upcoming conference on the Middle East slated for November or December in Maryland, as well as for Washington's anti-Iran strategies.

Condi's intense Middle East shuttle diplomacy in preparation for the sham peace conference - she is currently on her seventh visit to the region this year - has been an absolute failure. The conference thus far lacks any definite date or agenda.

The same can be argued about the US nuclear cooperation deal with India - a country that has not signed the NPT and has violated its commitments to use the technology for civilian purposes by conducting nuclear bomb test in 1974.

India is being offered US nuclear assistance despite its proclaimed nuclear weapons program. Conversely, Iran is threatened with military action for enriching uranium to provide fuel for nuclear power reactors and despite cogent confirmation by the IAEA regarding the country's non-deviation from a civilian program.

Such a contradictory course of action sends a clear message that the US is not earnest in its interactions with the rest of the world. The US gives leeway as long as its interests are ensured. It threatens to use force and military strike when its stakes are endangered.

Analyzed against the background of US hypocrisy, nothing much can be expected of the upcoming Annapolis conference. In fact, the event should be viewed in the light of usual US propaganda efforts.

In its last-ditch desperate attempts, the Bush administration is struggling hard to emerge successful from its foreign policy fiasco and has pinned hope on the conference as a face-saving opportunity.

Former US secretary of state Madeline Albright took to task America's situation in the international system and its fight on terror, saying a foreign policy disaster would be Bush's legacy for his successor.

What the Palestinians want to gain out of any peace conference is a treaty to permanently resolve the issues including borders of a Palestinian state, Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the status of al-Quds and the return of Palestinian refugees. The Palestinians also want a timetable for creation of a state.

But any peace conference will stand little chance of success should it fail to provide a comprehensive forum where all parties involved in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict get together for some momentous decisions. And this means without Hamas now controlling the Gaza Strip with 1.5 million residents, any peace talks are certain to break down. How can one expect to achieve peaceful results when one major constituent of the fracas is absent? What executive guarantee can there be for any resolution achieved at the conference?

The US needs to acknowledge the role of Arab neighboring countries particularly Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia in working out any durable peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Hamas announced it will hold a conference in Syria to rival the Maryland gathering. The Islamic movement even postponed the confab so it would coincide with Bush's ME conference. As can be clearly witnessed, by only inviting Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction and leaving out Hamas from the peace talks, the US has already deepened the confrontation and further distanced the rival Palestinian groups.

Many officials and analysts across the Arab world have reiterated their concerns over any peace deal reached in the absence of Hamas.

It is evident from the start that a durable peace between Palestinians and the US strongest Middle East ally, Israel, is the last outcome Washington expects to derive from the conference.

One has to bear in mind the US fragile economic conditions as testified by the steady fall in the dollar against a broad range of currencies including to a record low decline against the euro of $1.45, the prospects of recession in the world's largest economy and its colossal budget deficit of $770 billion.

Add to this the fact that the US leads the international arms market, recording $16.9 billion worth of arms sales in 2006.

Sizeable amounts of money injected into the US economy through drug trade should not be downplayed either. As Leuren Moret, an American expert on radiation and public health issues, points out, “Over $850 billion a year in drug money in the US is the CIA cash-flow through the US economy. The US economy would collapse without it.”

Join the pieces of puzzle together and you will simply arrive at the conclusion that what the US needs more than anything else in the Middle East is war and not peace. Conflict and chaos are what can help the world's largest economy keep its lucrative drug and arms business running.

The region is in precarious conditions and can by no means afford another failed attempt to settle the decades-long antagonism that has marked relations between Arab Palestinians and Israelis.

The bottom line is Washington is clearly devoid of characteristics required for an impartial trustworthy peace broker. The proposed conference will fail to pave the path to a permanent peace pact.

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