Monday, January 26, 2009

Listen to the silence

On January 15, The Jewish Chronicle, oldest Jewish newspaper in Britain, published an attack on three people often interviewed on British TV and critical of Israel: First, Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor in chief of AlQuds alArabi (pro-Palestinian partisan); second, Richard Falk, the American Jew who is UN Rapporteur for Gaza (Israel-hater); and third, Dr Mads Gilbert, the Norwegian surgeon who went to Gaza at the height of the fighting and performed operations at a hospital in Gaza City (leftist). Oddly or not, similar Zionist groups in the United States seem to have had nothing to complain about as far as American television was concerned.

Atwan himself, in an op-ed today, noting with quiet pride his place on that list, says those media did most honorably who let the sounds and images of the slaughter speak for themselves, and obviously here too the situation was different in America, where the "Israeli self-defence" motif was paramount, and AlJazeera apparently isn't widely available.

And now, as Israeli society contemplates its options in the run-up to national elections on February 10--including the possibility of a Nazi-style citizenship-certificate law--and Hamas leaders are reportedly under continued threat of asassination, the American foreign-policy establishment has fallen silent. Everyone from Brookings to CAP to NSN and including the courtiers and court-watchers at Foreign Policy are finding other things to talk about. And the reason is perhaps not surprising: They have not yet been told what to think, so they are waiting.

The tea-leaves suggest that the aim will be to dust off the two-state solution, even though as even the common people were able to see on "60 Minutes" last night that is a possibility that has already been strangled by the Wall, that separates at various places a farmer from his land, and neighbour from neighbour, and the other West Bank strangulation policies, not to mention the recent butchery in Gaza.

Or they will be "given" something. Ackerman talks about the need to "give the Muslim world much of what it wants that is also in our interest, so it can accept, passively or actively, the pain of seeing the application of force in eastern Afghanistan and western Pakistan". That is the Pentagon talking.

This has been a popular form of American Mideast thinking since it was first summarized in a Sept 2006 speech of Rice's assistant Philip Zelikow, the game at that time being Rice's constuction of an "axis of moderates" (Arab regimes like Egypt and Saudi Arabia) ready to confront Iran, and the quid pro quo, or pot at the end of the rainbow for these Arab regimes was supposed to be a "sense"--Zelikow used that word, not "reality" or "implementation", just "a sense"--of progress on the issue of Palestine. This was, in other words, escalation against Iran backed by the fig-leaf of "progress" on Palestine. Moreover, in terms of timing, this was in the wake of the summer 06 Israeli war on Lebanon, and it was hoped the spectre of extremism (Hizbullah), and what that leads to, would stiffen the spine of these autocratic Arab regimes.

And that seems very similar to where we are today. The Americans hope that the recent war (caused by "extremism") will stiffen the spines of the "moderate" (autocratic) Arab regimes, and make them accept the figleaf of "giving the Muslim world much of what it wants that is also in our interest," (an illusory two-state solution in Palestine, or perhaps something else?) in exchange for accepting an American decision to set fire to eastern Afghanistan and western Pakistan.

At the time the original Rice axis-of-moderates plan was rolled out, it was widely dismissed as a figment of the crazed mind of the Bush administration. This time, the former critics are now courtiers, and they are silent.

2 Comments:

Blogger Mike said...

Just regarding your point on Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai is more and more speaking out against the U.S. policy of using air power against Afghanis and killing many civilians in the process. Officials in the U.S. are simultaneously criticizing his government for being corrupt.

I think the U.S. is angling to remove Karzai from power, because he's overstepping the role allotted to him of puppet-leader. He's finding allies in Germany and especially in Russia.

I really don't think the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is going to succeed, because they want to monopolize conflict resolution there, to the detriment of other countries like India, Iran, Russia and China. My prediction is that yes, while it's certainly possible that the U.S. may bring more massive destruction to Afghanistan, ultimately the SCO member countries are going to play a much larger role within the next few years and fight back against U.S. unipolarism.

I am basically just echoing M K Bhadrakumar's recent string of reports on Afghanistan, which strike me as highly plausible (especially considering the primary sources he mentions).

Link: http://atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/KA27Df01.html

5:06 PM  
Blogger badger said...

Interesting. I like his concluding sentence: "No matter the fine rhetoric, the Obama administration will find it difficult to sustain the myth that the Afghan war is all about fighting al-Qaeda and the Taliban to the finish."

I agree his is a pretty convincing story of that part of the real world, but isn't it almost like saying it will be hard to sustain the myth that American support isn't behind continued agressive Zionism.

By that I mean:

In both cases, the correct response would be to abandon the myth, and make the necessary re-adjustments (full democracy in a one-state Israel/Palestine; region-wide accomodation in Afghanistan/Pakistan). But the American political system won't throw up the correct response, and the question is: What will it come up with? That's where I think the path that is easy from a domestic-American political point of view is likely to be the path they go down. And judging from recent history, this will include: Continuing to pull the wool over people's eyes re Israel/Palestine (showing "a sense of progress), and using that to back the idea of pushing ahead with the GWOT-idea in Afghanistan/Pakistan. I know I'm being a little one-sided here, and I hope I'm wrong.

(But already you can see the Washington courtiers starting to praise the Mitchell mission as a great thing because he is such an important person and an American, without even having any idea what he will be saying. To me this looks too much like empty-headed neo-con evangelism warmed over. I repeat I hope I'm wrong.)

5:55 PM  

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