Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Dayton Plan

Al-Jazeera broadcast a summary of the Hani al-Hassan controversy, reviewing exactly what this venerable Fatah leader said (on Al-Jazeera's program "No boundaries" a few days ago), and exploring why the Abbas faction has deemed it necessary to vilify him.

The introduction went like this:
Moderator: In statements on the program "No boundaries", Hani al-Hassan, a member of the Fatah central committee, accused a faction within the [Fatah] movement of associating itself with the plan laid down by General Keith Dayton, the American security coordinator between Israel and the Palestinians, the gist of which plan was to ignite the fires of internal fighting. But he also said Hamas went [beyond what was necessary] in its reaction to the events in Gaza.

Tape of al-Hassan interview: "What Dayton was trying to accomplish was to find a faction that believes in internal fighting; but what was surprising to us in Fatah was that Hamas went beyond reacting to the Dayton faction, and this was a big surprise, because the actual takeover of power in Gaza did damage to the democratic idea".

Moderator: Hani al-Hassan also stressed that what happened in Gaza was the collapse of the plan of the American general Dayton.

Tape of al-Hassan interview: "What really collapsed was the Dayton Plan, and what collapsed with it was the small group of his collaborators who believed in the American point of view. As for the Fatah movement, the Fatah movement did not collapse in Gaza, because 95% of it has no relationship with that Plan."
What is dramatic about this is the blunt summary of the Dayton Plan: to ignite the fires of intra-Palestinian fighting. It is true that Al-Hassan blames Hamas for not precisely calibrating its reponse to the exact size of the challenge, implying Hamas in Gaza could have defeated the Dayton Plan and still stopped short of a complete takeover, but that is a question of a different order. Whatever the size of the challenge, the nature of it is clearly expressed: The Dayton Plan--the American plan with its local collaborators--was to ignite intra-Palestinian fighting.

Hani al-Hassan, the venerable Fatah figure, didn't find it necessary to argue that that was the nature of America's Plan--rather it is his self-evident starting point. His argument is that while it is true that Hamas was able to defeat that Plan in Gaza, they went a little too far in doing so. But clearly the point is that there was such a Plan, and that a small group in Fatah collaborated with it. The Abbas faction has seen it necessary to vilify Hani al-Hassan because of the clear implication: They themselves are part of the Dayton Plan.

In this way, the Dayton Plan is like the Adhamiya Wall. It sums up in a simple and direct way the nature of the American strategy: division, of the kind that Israel has been promoting among the Palestinians. With respect to Iraq, the Washington groupies are split between those who say violent division is the result of bungled US planning on the one side, and those who say it is the result of pre-existing fault-lines, or some such argument on the other. With respect to Lebanon, the role of the US and its local allies in fomenting divisions is similarly plastered over with coats of verbiage or ignored. But it is the moments of lucidity provided by the Adhamiya Wall and the Dayton Plan that define America in Arabic. The Americans are there to promote fitna.

There are two points here. One is that the clarity this provides with respect to the nature of the American strategy. But the other is the role of Israel, and it is worth noting that this cuts two ways. In the Arab world, a higher profile for Israel means a sharper focus on strategies of brutality and humiliation. But in America, it is possible that the Israeli factor will end up helping promote the neocon idea that all resistance to foreign occupation is terrorism. Here's Matt Yglesias talking about the recent Bush remarks to the effect Israel provides a "good indicator of success that we're looking for in Iraq":
[Mockery of Bush] shouldn't completely obscure the fact that Bush is making a sound analytic point. What he's saying about Iraq is, in essence, what John Kerry was saying about the US when he said he thought we should aim to reduce terrorism to a kind of nuisance.
And here he is misrepresenting Alistair Crooke's condemnation of US policy:
In other words [Matt writes], while Western governments dream up ways to promote moderate alternatives to Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood, events on the ground may be trending in the opposite direction.
"Dreaming up ways to promote moderate alternatives to Hamas..." He is talking about the Dayton Plan.


Blogger Helena Cobban said...

Great post, Badger. Don't worry about Yglesias. He's a bit of a blowhard who knows almost zero about the Middle East.

8:59 AM  
Blogger D. Ghirlandaio said...

That's reason not to worry?

9:54 AM  
Blogger badger said...

Helena is right as far as that goes, but there's also (as Matt would put it) the issue not so much of his being a blowhard per se as being an influential blowhard.

Beyond that, there's something about the quaquaqua boy-professor schtick with the flip hip and slick patter that makes me thing someone could do a daily spoof of it. Waste of time, or worthwhile project? As he would say: "One would like to think one has better things to do

10:01 AM  
Blogger D. Ghirlandaio said...

If people didn't take him so seriously there'd be no reason to mention him at all.
I had a Quaker education but it didn't rub off on me. Apologies to H.C.

"Arrogant thoughtfulness is not the same as thoughtful arrogance"
Someone should explain that to fat matty.

3:38 PM  
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