Sunday, December 28, 2008

Where the carrot and stick policy leads

If you ask what could be the makeup or the cover story that would bring with it American official approval for the current butchery in Gaza, it might help us to recall the so-called Action Plan of around March 2007. In that document, leaked to a Jordanian newspaper, the outlines were set for a two-pronged policy: Degradation and harassment of the Hamas government of the Gaza Strip, and international cooperation for the economic and political flourishing of the West Bank. (Links and so on are available if you search "Action Plan" in the search-box at the upper left of this page).

There was a piece a few days ago--it was in the New York Times so no one paid much attention to it--in which Condi paid her last visit to Jenin in the West Bank, and there was a celebration of the West-Bank rebirth story:
Today, though, Jenin is a showcase of success for the Palestinian Authority, following a law and order campaign this spring by specially trained Palestinian security forces, and an example of how a particularly thorny situation can be turned around.
The current Israeli savagery in Gaza is best seen as part of the other arm of that two-pronged policy, namely the degradation and harassment of Gaza so long as it is controlled by Hamas. It was to be particularly in the area of the security forces that this degradation was to take place, and specifically the funding of a new Abbas-loyal, Fatah-loyal, security agency, under the wise supervision of the American General Keith Dayton, whose work is celebrated in the above-mentioned NYT piece as follows:
About 600 Palestinian security personnel members were deployed in Jenin in May, some of whom were trained in Jordan under an American-sponsored program to back up the forces already there. Most have since been redeployed to other parts of the West Bank, including Hebron.

Lt. Gen. Keith W. Dayton, the United States security coordinator, told reporters that the exercise had been a “great success,” and that the Israelis said they had reduced their incursions into Jenin by about 40 percent.
Obviously, "great success" in the Gaza part of this two-pronged strategy has been harder to come by, hence the Israeli decision, supported by the United States, to resort to what we are now seeing.

Just as the American bombing of Sadr City during the Maliki security campaigns arose out of a divide and conquer strategy for Iraq (the new airport in Najaf was opened at around the same time, amid the same kind of NYT "economic rebirth" celebrations that we saw in relation to Jenin), so the bombing of Gaza in the context of the overall American strategy for Palestine. Our friends are supposed to flourish, and the resistance wither.

The blind arrogance of this was maybe less obvious then than it is now, because as the policy fails again and again, the means become more violent and barbaric. More and more clearly, it is America that is out of control, not the resistance.

It would be well, at the same time, to remember where this destructive potential comes from in terms of the overall strategic picture that the American establishment has been trained and nursed on. For instance, to begin with, the politically-inspired nature of the WB/IMF "economic development" philosophy is part of it.

By the way, what happened to this whole idea of "public diplomacy" that we've been hearing so much about in the last little while?


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