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Justifying hypothetical intervention as a ‘defined obligation’

Ramona WadiFollowing Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent allegations that “the Iranians already have five bombs’ worth of low-enriched uranium”, General Martin Dempsey, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff defined US support for a possible Israeli attack on Iran as a ‘defined obligation’. Diplomatic efforts regarding a possible halt to Iran’s nuclear programme have been constantly criticised by Netanyahu, who declared the possible easing of sanctions as part of a deal with Iran “a bad diplomatic solution”.


The clash between the US and Israel regarding a possible interim deal with Iran was characterised by a statement reminiscent of the Orientalist attitude. “I have to think about the survival of my country and the survival of my people and we are not going to let ayatollahs with nuclear weapons threaten that.” Shifting culpability diminishes prospects of Israel’s accountability for its own security concerns which entails a historic responsibility for intensifying militarisation in the region. The illusion of victimisation, together with the US backing the possibility of ‘damaging Iran’s nuclear capabilities’, is reminiscent of past interventions resulting in obscene atrocities in the name of protection and human rights by countries whose accumulation of nuclear weapons is deemed a privilege and a right associated with ill-defined morality.

Despite alleged differences in the approach to Iran, with Israel regularly threatening pre-emptive strikes and the US focusing on diplomacy; it is evident that both are departing from an identical premise which justifies possible intervention based upon a fictitious regional and humanitarian necessity ultimately resulting in self-bestowed impunity. The isolation of Iran and its association with countries whose anti-imperialist policy has been openly flaunted facilitates the construction of the enemy which in turn nurtures the inherited conspiracies of conquest through discourse supposedly implying validation and commitment. In this case, the adversary happens to be a territory surrounded by US military bases and constantly catapulted into the limelight by Israeli insistence regarding preoccupations of security and defence.

Rhetoric of commitment on behalf of the US has reverberated intensely. Secretary of State John Kerry affirmed US commitment to Israel, stating that “nothing that we are doing here, in my judgment, will put Israel at any additional risk”. General Dempsey elaborated further, utilising both the imperialist agenda as well as the promotion of misconceptions to illustrate the importance of the colonising power in the Middle East. “I feel we have a deep obligation to Israel … That is why we are in constant contact and collaboration with them.” Dempsey went on to exalt Israel’s superiority in the Middle East, evoking his “Israeli counterparts” as being able to assert that Arabs living in Israel have ‘a better life than Arabs living in the region”. The statement fails to contextualise the reality and ramifications of the ongoing colonisation supported by the US – the glorification of selective indulgence as opposed to legitimate rights for all Palestinians threatened by the Zionist state; resulting in pillaging and plunder sanctioned by the international community and human rights organisations whose survival is dependent upon the securing of further imperialist conquests.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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