Biden Wastes Little Time Launching His Own Middle Eastern Bombing Campaign
PARIS — It took U.S. President Joe Biden barely a month in office to drop bombs in the Middle East. At this point, you’d think it was some kind of initiation ritual for anyone who steps into the role, regardless of party affiliation.
When Donald Trump claimed that a January 2020 airstrike at Baghdad’s airport that killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani was to prevent a future attack on U.S. personnel in the region, the Iraqi parliament voted to kick American troops out of the country. Yet Biden just approved the bombing of Iranian-backed fighters in Syria in retaliation for attacks on U.S. personnel ... in Iraq. Why are Americans still there when Iraq already asked them to leave?
If U.S. personnel actually did leave Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, there would be no reason to keep bombing countries in self-defense. So what’s the holdup? What’s preventing the U.S. from packing up and leaving the Middle East to sort out its own affairs? There’s only one reason that Iran is a problem for America. It’s because the U.S. keeps hanging out in Iran's neighborhood — on the other side of the planet.
But what about protecting Israel, you say? Israel is armed to the teeth with U.S. weapons and fires rockets at its neighbors on a near-weekly basis. It doesn’t need America to hold its hand or to step into the fray like some kind of white knight against schoolyard bullies.
Oh, but Iran is an oppressive violator of human rights that punishes dissidents and limits free speech! All right, let’s take that rationale at face value for argument’s sake.
The Biden administration just declassified and released a U.S. intelligence assessment entitled: “Assessing the Saudi Government’s Role in the Killing of Jamal Khashoggi.” The U.S. government determined that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” who wrote for the Washington Post and was a U.S. resident.
To put a finer point on it, Biden has acknowledged that the Saudi government was found by U.S. intelligence to be responsible for the murder and dismemberment of a member of the American press. And what exactly was Biden’s response? Did he slap economic sanctions on Saudi Arabia or on the crown prince personally for human rights abuses? Nope. It’s hard to imagine any other country not being sanctioned under the same circumstances.
“Saudi Arabia faces missile attacks, UAV (drone) strikes and other threats from Iranian-supplied forces in multiple countries,” Biden said just last month. “We’re going to continue to support and help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity and its people.”
By all means, the U.S. must protect poor, weak Saudi Arabia from big, bad Iran. Did it ever occur to Biden or any of the other establishment neocon interventionists on both sides of the political aisle that maybe Iran is as fed up with Saudi antics as some of us in the rest of the world are? Why are flagrant Saudi human rights violations worthy of kid gloves, yet Iran can’t catch the slightest break from any U.S. administration?
The reason is simple. Notice how many weapons Saudi Arabia has bought over the decades from the U.S. and its Western allies such as France and Canada? And yet rarely has the Kingdom ever actually used those weapons in any kind of conflict. It’s one reason that no Western nation has had any qualms about selling arms to the Saudis until the recent war in Yemen — in which the U.S. isn’t involved beyond making a fortune peddling weapons to the Saudis for Iran-backed Houthis to blow up. When the Saudis have bought weapons from Western powers over the years, they’ve always known that the real purchase was something much more valuable than hunks of metal that would sit gathering sand in the desert.
What the Kingdom was really buying was a guarantee that the U.S. and its allies would come to its defense if it faced aggression. Which is exactly what Biden has just promised to do, even as his own intelligence services acknowledge grotesque Saudi human rights violations.
It’s time to let Saudi Arabia and its regional allies — Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain — deal with Iran like big boys without the constant presence of U.S. hall monitors. There’s a really easy way to not have to bomb the Middle East under pretext of protecting U.S. interests: Just don’t have any U.S. interests there.
(Rachel Marsden is a columnist, political strategist and host of an independently produced French-language program that airs on Sputnik France. Her website can be found at http://www.rachelmarsden.com.)
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