31 December 2016

One of my favorite literary expressions is the term ‘Parthian shaft.’ It refers to the favored tactic of the Parthians, a Persian people, of turning while on horseback and firing arrows while retreating.

The Roman consul Crassus, who defeated Spartacus, may have died from such a Parthian shaft after his defeat at the battle of Carrhae in 53 BC.

This week, outgoing President Barack Obama loosed his own Parthian shaft at Israel’s leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, by refusing, for once, to veto a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s ongoing expropriation of Arab land on the occupied West Bank.

There was no mention of similar expropriation and ethnic cleansing on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights which legally belong to Syria.

For the past eight years, the Obama administration has discreetly
argued with Israel over its settlement building on the West Bank and Jerusalem. In public, the Obama government maintained the ludicrous but convenient fiction that fruitful talks were under way that would lead to creation of two states in historic Palestine.

No one really believed this nonsense: not Israel, not Mahmoud Abbas, the US and Israeli-installed Palestinian Quisling, not the UN, not America’s allies, including its client Arab states. By keeping this lie going meant that no one would have to do anything to block Israel’s in-you face expansion.

When Barack Obama and his feminist foreign policy cadre made occasional public peeps of protest, he and VP Joe Biden were slapped down and abjectly humiliated. It mattered not that the Obama administration pledged to give Israel $38 billion of US taxpayer’s money to buy arms, vetoed an endless series of UN resolutions condemning Israel for illegal expansion and massive violations of human rights, Israel made clear who was really boss in Washington, and it wasn’t Barack Obama.

When Netanyahu did an end run around Obama by coming to address Congress, US congressmen and senators, made giddy by Netanyahu’s presence and its promise of lavish political donations caused these yes-men to jump up and down in crass adulation of the ‘King of Israel.’

America’s media, no less adoring, lauded Netanyahu and blasted Obama for trying, however feebly, to assert America’s interests in the Mideast and slow down Israel’s quest for lebensraum. As the wise Voltaire observed, `TO LEARN WHO RULES OVER YOU SIMPLY FIND OUT WHO YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO CRITICIZE.’

Obama should have taken action eight years ago, not in the last minutes of his administration. Now, the specter of bumptious Donald Trump hangs over the moribund administration, accentuated its manifest failures abroad. If we believe Trump’s Tweets this week in response to the US refusing, for once, to veto a mild UN resolution on Palestine, the Mideast is in for a rougher time than usual.

Trump does not know much about the Mideast. He will rely on a tight circle of extreme Zionists he has named to deal with the issue. That’s crazy and utterly deluded – unless Trump somehow hopes to push Israel into a real two-state peace deal by somehow using his cohorts of Greater Israel expansionists.

Mideast peace hardly seems in the offing. Israel’s hardline far right, increasingly ascendant, appears bent on further expanding Israel’s ‘temporary’ borders into parts of Syria. Some ultra-Zionists even talk about Iraq’s oil in Kurdistan. Why not. The feeble Arab states are collapsing. Egypt is run by a ferocious dictator funded by Saudi and Israeli money. The Saudis are useless and crazed by childish dreams ofpower. The US is now safely in Israeli hands. There’s oil and gas off in the Mediterranean (Palestinians will get none, of course.)

What to do with all those Palestinians? The late Gen. Ariel Sharon had the answer: shove them into the barren wastes of Jordan, a US-Israeli protectorate, and call it Palestine.

If the world does not like it, too bad. Israel may look small on the map but it’s a giant of a country, filled with very smart people who know just what they want and how to get it.

But that’s a very short-sighted victory. By thwarting a UN peace deal that would have ended nearly a century of strife, Israel guarantees endless more years of violence, growing anti-Semitism, and its continued estrangement from the rest of the world. A new apartheid state is being born. All of President Obama’s perfumed orations about Mideast peace have come to nothing.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2016

This post is in: Barack Obama, Gaza, Israel, Mideast, Palestine, Syria, USA


  1. threadbare says:

    45 knows more about mid east than you think. He reads news and is not fooled on all important issues. Why would mid east be an exception? He also knows clearly how strong is the support for the Jewish state. It’s not going to be his priority. Unless Israel becomes too emboldened.
    Watch how much Trump’s willing to spend. He does not like to spend money on wars. Don’t think Israel can get more than an embassy.

  2. mcdonough says:

    Thanks for the latest article and happy new year. Surprisingly i believe Obama has done the president-elect quite a favour in abstaining on the recent UN vote. Despite Trump’s team of ultras, it will be difficult to dismiss an otherwise unanimous vote on the matter of illegal settlements. Israel, Turkey and the west have just taken a beat down on the Syrian debacle and must now deal with the consequences. Trump knows that Russia is now a full player in the region, along with Iran and China. He also recognizes that continued Israeli expansion will likely be met with similar opposition in future, particularly from a disintegrating EU. The US can no longer afford to be detached from this paradigm shift, economically or morally. My guess is that Trump and the Zionist elders are prepared to cut a deal (who better to negotiate than those who created this historic mess). It will not be two states, but it will be something more than ‘no’ state. It will cost Netanyahu his job (if it hasn’t already), and the jobs of many congressional “swampers”. It might even bring a pause in the conflict but not in the battles that would follow in the raging settlements.

  3. As usual, Eric is right about this situation, too. There is no hope of peace in the Middle East, partly because Israel wants to maintain a perpetual state of war against the Palestinian people. What better way to hold a fractious nation together than by having a perpetual common enemy?

    As for Netanyahu, his presence on the world stage might come to an end before long, if the investigation into his possible corrupt dealings bears any fruit. Here’s hoping., because I’d love to see him put in jail. As for the US, Trump seems happy to take future orders from Jerusalem. However, playing nice with both Israel and Russia at the same time is bound to cause him a big headache at some point.

  4. We agree. Israeli is acting the bully. The US congress votes against it’s own interests. The unqualified support by the US will only prolong the agony of the participants.
    Apparently we have not learned much in our history of human relations

  5. Kudos Eric! Great analysis & articulation of the the whole rotten mess.

  6. Since the decision to abstain, it’s been fascinating to listen to AM talk radio in the US. Many callers are Trump supporters who happen to agree with what Obama and Kerry have done, although they are loathe to admit anything approaching even the most tepid approval of anything done by the outgoing President.

    Furthermore, the hosts of these talk shows have been going to great lengths to not insult these callers (which they would happily do to a ‘liberal’ caller) while still proffering the usual excuses for doing nothing. “This is the same policy as Reagan had” said one caller, only to be rebuffed with “no, it’s a different situation now” (it’s not). The very next caller said “we can’t afford to keep paying out billions upon billions indefinitely”, to which the host replied “there’s so much turmoil in the region, now is not the time to force the issue” etc. There had to be about 4 or 5 callers in a row saying the same thing, and all of them clearly Trump supporters. One must wonder if The Donald will be forced to address this contradiction with his supporters.

    Funnily enough, the ground may actually be finally moving on this issue, with the world’s patience finally exhausted, there could be a new impetus for a solution to be demanded/imposed from the world community.

  7. I have said for ages, When Israel starts driving the Palestinians into extermination camps, America and the world and all the media will look on passively and obediently chant the mantra, “Israel has the right to defend itself. Israel has the right to defend itself. Israel has the right to defend itself.”.

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