DAMASCUS, Syria, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- In a recent press conference, President George W. Bush described the American economy at the end of 2006 as "strong, productive and prosperous," as an outcome of his Middle East policies and their consequences on the Americans.
"We continue our development policy to make our economy stronger and raise the standard of lives," Bush stated. He then discussed the importance of oil and gas for the U.S. economy and scientific development.
This is how Bush summarizes the real objectives of his policies of wars, occupation, sanctions and instability in the Middle East.
A few days later, American military officials announced that new military vehicles will move to the Gulf to enhance U.S. permanent existence in the area. This was media justified as "to be close to Iran." Robert Gates, the new secretary for defense, declared during his first visit to Iraq that "Iraq's neighbors should understand that we will stay long in the Gulf."
This comes with the confession of an ex-diplomat at the U.K. mission to the U.N. who said that "the British government has never considered Iraqi weapons of mass destruction a threat to the U.K. and the Americans have always agreed with this." There is no doubt that the same applies to Iran. The U.K. and the U.S. start talks with North Korea after the north tested its nuclear bomb, and both made nuclear agreements with India and Pakistan who have nuclear weapons.
However, the American talk about "freedom, democracy and human rights," as pretexts for interferences and wars, seems to be an expression of American official belief that Arabs are politically ignorant of what is going on around them. This becomes clear when Bush did not even refer to the killing of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians and 3,000,000 displaced, nor to the infrastructure damage in a country that it is about to go into civil war and partition.
These were not in Bush's lose/win formula. We Arabs should stop adopting U.S. measures of "humanity"," freedom" and "democracy." Bush admitted that he is neither losing nor winning the war. He concluded 2006 by honoring Natan Sharansky who called on the American administration to concentrate on "democratizing the Middle East before talking about peace" to distract Arabs' attention away from fighting Israel on lands, rights and peace, till Israel deals with what it calls the "the demographic threat" and all other files like 1948 Arabs and the right of return.
Arab public opinion is not that stupid to believe Bush's claims on his objective to spread "freedom" since it sees the bloody occupation. Statistics showed that Arab opinions towards the U.S. administration, culture and products became more negative in 2006 because of the war in Iraq and of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
What about the Democrats' success in the mid-term election, the Baker-Hamilton Report, Collin Powell's regretting statements? All faced strong resistance by American decision-makers on the Middle East.
Reaction to the Baker-Hamilton report showed that Israel is defending certain policies that Americans do not agree on. Israel declared that occupying Iraq is in the Israeli strategic interest and that dividing Iraq is an Israeli target, while the Iraq Study Group report insisted on the need of keeping Iraq united and that war in Iraq damaged the U.S. status, interests and reputation. The report underlined the importance of solving the whole situation in the area. Israel's foreign minister replied that "Palestine's case has nothing to do with what is going on in the area."
After Israel's war against Lebanon last August, some Americans started to understand the difference between Israeli interests and the American ones. But they are still not in charge yet. Arabs should be aware of what the Israelis are promoting for the area in 2007.
Israel's Yedioth Aharonot newspaper revealed a few days ago that Israel launched an intensive secret diplomatic campaign to gain the European countries' approval to impose sanctions on Iran. The campaign is silent to avoid showing Israeli involvement. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gave Bush a book about the Israeli military strike on the Iraqi nuclear facility in the 1980s as an indirect hint of an intended Israeli military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, according to Ha'artez newspaper.
It is time for the Arabs to see the real facts and American intentions behind words like "freedom" and "democracy," putting aside their ethnic differences and illusions about "friendship" with their enemy.
Bouthaina Shaaban is Syria's Minister of Expatriates.
(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)