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September 4, 2012

Electionsí Major Sideshow

Roy Meachum

From now until November 6 – National Election Day – both Republicans and Democrats are guaranteed to have eyes on the Middle East: Will Israel seize this countrywide distraction to attack the new nuclear facility in Iran?


My veteran journalist’s mind goes back exactly 56 years, to November 6, 1956: GOP President Dwight Eisenhower vs. former Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson. In the last days of October, the Hungarians, sick and tired of Russian occupation, staged an uprising. Israel attacked the Sinai, pushing Egyptian troops toward the Canal, followed two days later by France and England bombing the canal. The Sunday before U.S. voting, the Red Army brutally represses the revolutionaries in Budapest and other cities and towns – sending thousands to the United States.


This nation came together behind a trusted military figure; I even wore a Stevenson shoe-pin into the booth but cast my ballot for General of the Armies Dwight David Eisenhower. The day following, without absent Russia exercising a veto, the United Nations General Assembly ordered Israel, France and England out of the Suez Canal.


Of course, these days no experienced military commander sits in the Oval Office; neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney spent a day in the armed forces – nor did the vice presidential candidates. The day is long past when political figures are expected to serve in uniform; these days dying and bleeding under the red-white-and-blue are left to career men and women, the reserves and the National Guard. (I objected to the abolition of the draft, feeling that only mercenaries would be left – as they were when the Roman Empire collapsed.)


For all the tumult last week in Tampa and tonight in Charlotte, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been publicly speaking of attacking Teheran soon; of course, he would have preferred to do so before the Iranian facility came on-line. But the major stick in the mud was – and continues to be – Washington. The U.S. chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, said Friday to the British Guardian newspaper: “I don’t want to be complicit if they (Israel) chose” to attack Iran.


There was much finger-pointing at Washington in 1981 when the Jewish state forces obliterated Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor south of Baghdad, and Syria’s al-Kibar, in September 2007. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other officials have pledged security to Israel, while not giving it carte blanche.


Furthermore, the 120-nation Non-Aligned Movement unanimously approved the Iranian nuclear energy program; they criticized the American-led effort to isolate and punish the Islamic Republic. Most of the countries were in Teheran to witness the passing of the movement’s chair from Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. What they didn’t anticipate was the Cairo’s Islamist giving a hell-and-brim fire lecture to the Syrian president for the oppression of his citizens.


Mr. Morsi was chided for his decision to go to Teheran, rather than Washington, which pays many of Egypt’s bills. But everybody in Islamic countries knows it is hush-money for making Israel’s life easier. With no power given by the military that fought him tooth and nail, the new president beside the Nile is very much his own person. This may not go down well in the Pentagon and at Foggy Bottom that have demonstrated they like foot-kissers, democratic principles be damned.


The real caution is for Benjamin Netanyahu, who’s quite accustomed to having all American politicians bow to him. There’s no bowing now, nor can there be when he comes to the United Nations in October. He might not have many of the Non-Aligned Movement leaders, but now they’re to be reckoned with.


The NAM judgment on Iran’s nuclear activities stands squarely in the way of any destruction as happened in Iraq and Syria.


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