Friday, June 15, 2007

Another cartoon blockbuster !

The Lebanese paper Al-Safir leads with this on its front page this morning:
By design or under constraint, the Palestinians have entered into a dark tunnel, throwing the question of the Palestinian lands and the whole issue of the ummah into the unknown. The Hamas and Fatah movements had undertaken a war to the bitter end in Gaza...which ended with the complete control of the Gaza Strip by Hamas, and this has created a strategic situation that is new, and of unknown consequences for the Palestinians, for Arabs generally, and for Israel.
For instance, is it possible, as the Al-Quds al-Arabi editorialist suggests this morning, that Fatah's defeat in Gaza could trigger a purge of the "collaborationists" within the organization and a return to its nationalist traditions? Is Hamas going to be able to govern the Gaza Strip in any even-handed way? Another question that hasn't been explicitly raised is whether continued blind allegiance of the big Arab regimes to the US-Fatah-Israel policy will have any popular fallout in the region as a whole.

In short, there is good reason to talk about "unknown consequences". And by contrast this permits us to catch a glimpse of the breathtakingly clairvoyant self-assurance of the American commentators from top to bottom. Starting at the top, the NYT editorialist this morning says the US administration must intensify its existing policy of helping Fatah but pointedly not Hamas, something made much more convenient by the de facto geographic split. Simple.

Moving a little downscale, Matt Yglesias of the Atlantic Monthly has an equally firm grip on what these events clearly mean. He writes:
Deliberately initiating a proxy war and then having your proxy lose is really just incredibly shoddy. I've said before that we should hope for a Democratic Party that puts something better on the table than superior implementation of a Bush-esque worldview, but it really would be nice to see some better implementation.
Meaning: The policy of crushing the elected government of Hamas was botched and it should have been done in a less "shoddy" way; but on the other hand wouldn't it also be nice to have "something better on the table". Visionary meets party hack.

Laura Rozen, for her part, quotes a piece by someone called Ami Iseroff who says:
In Gaza, a relatively small force of Hamas Islamist extremists are liquidating the possibility of a two state solution and a secular Palestinian democracy. The tragedy is exemplified by two items....
Forgetting that Hamas won the election and that the US and Israel have been working to undermine it.

For all the differences, this looks to me a lot like the recent blockbuster Iraq cartoon feature. A wicked regime. The creation of a situation where in America it is politically risky to oppose the toppling of it in one way or another. Expertise-vendors getting set up with their black boxes. (And only later on, in a remote future, the realization that the nationalists have to be "brought into the process...")

But my point is also a more general one. In real life, up close, important and dramatic events don't just have predictable and one-dimentional implications. That's why I think some familiarity with Arab-language reporting is important for a well-rounded appreciation of what is going on in the region (slight ironic tinge there). Putting it another way, I think these two things go together: one-dimentional, self-assured bloviation on the one hand, and unquestioning support for the imperial regime on the other. It's one way of seeing past the "progressive" or "liberal" labels.


Blogger D. Ghirlandaio said...

right on as usual B.

7:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i really like ur blog and thoughts B, and since i have the chance to read most of your sources in my native arabic, i have to say ur translation is very accurate and usually capture the subtle meaning of what\s writtin.
u don't seem to have a phd but ur work is of FAR more quality than Juan cole who sees the world centered around the pathatic SCIRI , SISTANI ETC :)

keep up

7:19 PM  

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