Dr Lawrence Davidson to Algeriepatriotique : « The NSA has eroded the constitutional freedoms of Americans »

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Dr Lawrence Davidson. AP.D.R.

Algeriepatriotique : How do you analyze the current balance of the strengths between the United States and Iran ? Can we say that this is a strategic reversal of the Obama administration in the Iranian case ?

Dr Lawrence Davidson : The balance of power between Iran and US might appear very one-sided in favor of the Americans.  But if you look at it on a regional level, the balance is much more equal. In the Persian Gulf the Iranians are capable of doing a lot of damage to American interests by interfering with the flow of oil out of the area. Inland, Iraq is now a de facto ally of Iran, as is Syria (where Assad is winning the civil war).The Iranians consider themselves the strongest military power in their own neighborhood and they are probably right. I don’t think that Obama’s willingness to deal with Iran is so much a strategic reversal as a response to domestic US politics. The American people do not want more war, particularly in the Middle East, and to defy that mood is, on the national level, political suicide. Only crazy neoconservative ideologues, now concentrated on the right-wing of the Republican Party, would do so. If, on the other hand, the public mood should shift and neocons (think of the people from the old Bush Jr. administration) come back into power, they might very well provoke a war with Iran. 

What is the real weight of the Zionist lobby in the American decision-making ?

The Zionist lobby, in both its Jewish and Christian manifestations, carry the most weight when Congress supports a foreign policy in the Middle East.  Congress does not have the final say about such policy, the president does. But keep in mind that president is also a politician who must work with Congress and with the other members of his own political party.  Thus it is rare, though not unheard of, for the president to go completely against the wishes of Congress when it comes to foreign policy.  Obama’s negotiations with Iran is one of those rare instances.   

As an analyst, what reading do you give the global espionage revealed by Edward Snowden and what is its impact on American politics ?

I consider Mr. Snowden to be a hero. What the National Security Agency is doing is eroding the constitutional freedoms of Americans in the name of alleged security. Snowden stood up for constitutional rights and the citizenry as a whole. There is always a tendency within any government bureaucracy to abuse power and the U.S. government is not immune from this. Throughout its history the U.S. has experience episodes of despotic behavior by elements of its government. This began as early as the late 1700 s with something called the Alien and Sedition Acts. Later on, under the cover of war or alleged threats of war, the government repeatedly infringed on rights and freedoms. What was rare was people standing up to this behavior and challenging it. Snowden is one of those rare people. For this he is has had to flee his country and probably will never be able to safely return. It is a real travesty of justice and a mark of shame for the United States.

What is your vision of what is happening in Ukraine ? 

I think we have to face the fact that Ukraine is solidly within the Russian sphere of interest. The Crimea is militarily important to Russia. 17% of the Ukraine is Russian and most of them are unhappy under Ukrainian rule. It is a touchy situation. If you examine the timeline of events carefully you realize that Putin took a hands off position right up until the compromise negotiated by the (apparently fairly) elected pro-Russian president and the opposition collapsed. It collapsed because the opposition leaders could not get the protesting crowds in Kiev and elsewhere to accept it. From that point on there was anarchy in the capital and some of the regional cities. Only then did the Russian government move to protect its interests in the Crimea. I think in that the Russians have a pretty good case for their actions. 

Do you think that the unipolar world under the absolute U.S. dominance is over ?

I don’t think the world has ever been « unipolar » and under the domination of the US. After all there are the Chinese and the Russians who are certainly great powers and can act quite independently of the Americans. In terms of Europe and the « non-aligned » world, it is true that the U.S. has a major economic and political position, but it has never been uncontested. Even the French get defiant now and then.

The State Department has just published a damning report about our country, Algeria, on the question of human rights, do you believe that the American government can continue to give lessons of democracy in people of the Earth ? Do not you think that the alibi to defend human rights is a pretext to defend the strategic interests of the United States ?

The US government should clean up its own human rights act before it goes about pointing fingers at others. But, of course, it won’t because very few of its own citizens recognize the deep hypocrisy involved in this finger pointing. In fact the reports you mention are largely for domestic (US) consumption. Particularly for the use of Congress when deciding who gets foreign aid or who can be called names during congressional hearings. Sometimes the media also uses these reports to define enemies and slander this or that nation. I recommend the Algerian government issue and publicize its own report on US civil rights abuses. You can start with what is going on at Guantanamo Bay. 

Interview realized by Mohsen Abdelmoumen

Who is Dr Lawrence Davidson ?

Doctor in history, committed intellectual, Lawrence Davidson was a professor of history of the Middle East, the history of science and intellectual history of modern Europe, at the university of West Chester in Pennsylvania during 27 years. His interest for the Palestinian cause and the Zionist questions results from the period when he studied at the university of Georgetown supervised by Hisham Sharabi, professor and Palestinian patriot, who became a close friend. He obtained a doctorate to Alberta’s university, Canada. His research works are centered on the history of the American foreign relations with the Middle East. Virulent critic of the alliance of the United States with Israel and the Zionist treatment of the Palestinian people, he tries as intellectual to contribute to a change in the American public opinion concerning the situation of the Palestinians in particular and the Arab world generally. He is also the author of several works : Islamic Fundamentalism-An Introduction (1998, re-edited in 2003 and 2013), America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood (2001), A Concise History of the Middle East (co-author, 2006), Foreign Policy, Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest (2009), A work on the phenomenon of cultural genocide was also published in 2012. Dr Davidson also writes a blog in which he expressed his views : 

Published in Algeriepatriotique on April 4th, 2014.