The possibility of war looks real.
Can the EU states restrain Trump and Netanyahu from going to war?
Is Trump restrainable?
Saner elements in the US Democratic Party establishment have been trying to get Trump out of office for months through legal action. A few Republicans have indicated they would revolt against Trump – initially saying they would do so after the tax cuts on the rich last autumn.
But the legal challenges to Trump drag on. The anti-Trump Republican revolt has yet to happen if it ever does.
I remember one of the ‘dissident’ Republican congressman explaining their strategy saying “of course, we will have to keep our fingers crossed that he doesn’t push the button”. He may have said “or launch a war”. Today that ‘dissident’ may regret depending on his ‘crossed fingers’.
What is going on in Trump’s head?
No matter what one’s view are about Trump’s psychological state at the start of his presidency, just think how he may have changed over the last few months.
What must it do to such a clear narcissist to be almost daily humiliated?
He can dream of long-term heroic stature as the ‘greatest US President ever’ but the truth will break through in momentary shudders.
Trump faces eventual impeachment and after that probably a lifelong notoriety worse than Nixon. He will become the most joked about and reviled President in history.
Every day he probably gets a briefing on the legal action being taken against those who were close to him at some time.
Each day, a briefing – each day a shudder followed by an arrogant shrug. ‘I survive, I survive, … I am invincible.’ And locked away from reasonable counsel this is the man taking decisions about war!
Meanwhile in Israel/ Palestine things look no safer. I have read a couple of reports about Hamas in Gaza. There has been growing dissent against them which the Israeli government knows all about. A sane Israeli government would see this as a suitable time to make concessions, if needs be over the heads of Hamas to the Gaza Palestinians: to reduce the appalling conditions they have to to endure because of the blockade. But no, in response to the ‘Great March of Return’ protests at the fence, without there being any breaches of it, the IDF have so far killed over 40 protestors!
This is hardly intended to promote peace or to encourage more Gazans towards any ‘peace process’ or negotiations for a two-states solution!
In fact the opposite. Aware of the fracturing of Hamas’s control in Gaza, Netanyahu is choosing to drive as many Palestinians either back toward Hamas or breaking away towards an even more militant force, hostile not only to Netanyahu but to all Israelis. A major war is what Netanyahu seems to be preparing for.
Netanyahu and Likud have scared and politically exploited the Israeli people with the prospect of a war with Iran for decades. Iranian militants might try to make the aim of a war the destruction of Israel. Every pronouncement made by them would get amplified by the Israeli government. “This is a war for Israel’s very survival”, Netanyahu will claim.
War will give a legitimacy to him despite his crimes.
Iran does not yet have nuclear weapons. But their control over Syrian territory is strong. Their ally Hezbollah in Lebanon has demonstrated its continuing near total dominance over Lebanese Shia in the recent elections.
The Iranian leader Rouhani is part of a tyrannical regime to his own people but on international issues he has been a comparative moderate. The likes of former President Ahmedinijad are still lurking within the ranks of the ruling elite. Like the failing demagogue Trump, they may also welcome a war to unite a sceptical, even hostile people behind them.
The Palestinians and the Kurds may see a wider war as an opportunity to get progress on their grievances: being continually militarily attacked and having a democratic homeland denied to them. But the belligerent role of the major actors, US, Iran and Israel will give a baptism in blood to any territories ‘liberated’ for the Kurds or the Palestinians. Both peoples need liberation from continuing horror but so do the Syrians. There can be no liberation of one if it means continuing or increased horrors for another.
US and Israeli bombings of Iran or Iranian forces and Hezbollah in Syria can only have significant human casualties. They will wreak havoc on the millions of displaced refugees. More people will be drawn towards variants of nationalism where internationalism and human solidarity are forgotten. More towards apocalyptic missions whether that be jihadist or for a Greater Israel.
A war will be a disaster. None of the main protagonists, the US, Iran, Israel can be supported. Anti-war sentiment will be widespread throughout the world. It must not only bring pressure to stop any war, it has to address the rights of the Palestinians to a viable homeland, a genuine two state settlement that can ensure long term peace. It has to address the rights of the Kurds and the Syrians to democracy and peace – an end to the Assad regime and the carving up of Syria by Iran, Russia, the US and Israel.
These things won’t be either initiated or carried through by governments. They can only start through growing dialogue between the peoples: starting off with internationalists, secularists and workers. Opposition to war can only be driven by such dialogue. The governments have to be forced to accept them.