Noam Chomsky: The Real Reasons the U.S. Enables Israeli Crimes and Atrocities
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Well, Israel effectively destroyed Nasserite secular nationalism and the whole Arab nationalist movement that was centered in it. That was considered a major contribution to U.S. geopolitical strategy and also to its Saudi Arabian ally. And, in fact, that's when attitudes toward Israel changed sharply and the U.S. support for Israel -- material, diplomatic, and other -- also increased sharply. In 1970, there was another turning point. In 1970, the Jordanian army (Jordan was a strong, close U.S. ally) – the Jordanian dictatorship was essentially massacring Palestinians during what's the month that's called Black September.
And the U.S. was in favor of that; it supported that. It looked as though Syria might intervene to support the Palestinians against the attack by the Hashemite dictatorship. The U.S. didn't want that to happen. It regarded it as a threat to its Jordanian ally and also a broader threat, ultimately, to Saudi Arabia, the jewel in the crown.
While the U.S. was mired in Southeast Asia at the time -- it was right at the time, a little after the Cambodia invasion and everything was blowing up -- the U.S. couldn't do a thing about it. So, it asked Israel to mobilize its very substantial military forces and threaten Syria so that Syria would withdraw. Well, Israel did it. Syria withdrew. That was another gift to U.S. power and, in fact, U.S. aid to Israel shot up very sharply -- maybe quadrupled or something like that -- right at that time. Now at that time, that was the time when the so-called Nixon Doctrine was formulated.
A part of the Nixon Doctrine was that the U.S., of course, has to control Middle-East oil resources -- that goes much farther back -- but it will do so through local, regional allies, what were called “cops on the beat” by Melvin Laird, Secretary of Defense. So there will be local cops on the beat, which will protect the Arab dictatorships from their own populations or any external threat. And then, of course, “police headquarters” is in Washington. Well, the local cops on the beat at the time were Iran, then under the Shah, a U.S. ally; Turkey; to an extent, Pakistan; and Israel was added to that group. It was another cop on the beat. It was one of the local gendarmes that was sometimes called the periphery strategy: non-Arab states protecting the Arab dictatorships from any threat, primarily the threat of what was called radical nationalism -- independent nationalism -- meaning taking over the armed resources for their own purposes.
Well, that structure remained through the 1970s. In 1979, Iran was lost because of the overthrow of the Shah and pretty soon the Khomeini dictatorship -- clerical dictatorship -- and the U.S. once tried to overthrow that and supported Iraq's invasion of Iran, and so on. But, anyway, that “cop” [Iran] was lost and Israel's position became even stronger in the structure that remained. Furthermore, by that time, Israel was performing secondary services to the United States elsewhere in the world. It's worth recalling that especially through the '80s Congress, under public pressure, was imposing constraints on Reagan's support for vicious and brutal dictatorships. The governments around the world -- say Guatemala -- the U.S. could not provide direct aid to Guatemala, because -- which was massacring people in some areas in a genocidal fashion up in the highlands -- Congress blocked it. Congress was also passing sanctions against aid to South-Africa, which the Reagan administration was strongly supporting South Africa and continued to do so right through the 1980s.