Sunday, December 03, 2006

Thinking the unthinkable

The following notes belong to what my friends in the mainstream standard media )MSM)term a "career-destroying move." But since I have no career to destroy, I will forge ahead.

I will present three related propositions.

1) It was never in the national interest of the United States to invade and occupy Iraq. After much resistance, this conclusion has become widely accepted. I will not argue it further here.

2) It is not in the national interest of the United States to ally itself with the state of Israel. As I have indicated elsewhere, this question is related to the first, because one of the reasons we invaded Iraq was that Israel and its influential supporters in the US sought this action. Since Saddam was rewarding the families of the suicide bombers with a bounty of $25,000 per bomber, and had attempted to send missiles to devastate Israel during Desert Storm, the Israelis had at least two reasons to want Saddam gone. We had no valid reason for taking this costly step, so that our interests did not coincide. But the tail wagged the dog.

I have no desire to see Israel disappear, or even to be damaged. My view, though, is that thanks to the determination, intelligence, and industry of its citizens, Israel can now take care of itself. There is no excuse for further US subsidies to that country, or for automatic support of its internal and foreign policies.

One might think that my detachment from the Israeli cause would lead to support for the Palestinians. Far from it. I saw something like that happening forty years ago when critics of the South Vietnamese regime, disgusted with what they saw, shifted to support for the Vietnamese Communists. In my view neither was worthy of support. This leads to the final proposition.

3) It is not in the national interest of the United States to support the Palestinians. Compare the Palestinians with the Kurds. The latter, after suffering hundreds of thousands of cruel deaths at the hands of Saddam Hussein, have nonetheless rallied and created a prosperous and viable polity. Iraqi Kurdistan is a state in all but name. Over a much longer time-frame the Palestinians have been unable to achieve this. They have had many chances, and they threw them all away.

Now the world community must say to the Palestinians. Time is up. You have failed and now must face the consequences.

I acknowledge that one of my reasons for distrusting the Palestinians is the homophobia that is rife there. They equate machismo with patriotism and "softness" with acquiescence to the Israeli occupier. And where has this machismo led them?

The homophobia that exists in various forms throughout the Arab world is a subset of their general backwardness. Backwardness has its consequences, and I don't see why these Middle Easterners should be shielded from it.

So I don't really care what the Israelis do to the Palestinians. Whatever it is, it will be a far cry from what Muslims are doing to other Muslims in Darfur.

One final comment. From the above one might assume that I am an isolationist. Far from it. But I believe that we must choose our battles. So far our choices in the Middle East have been the wrong ones.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The invasion and occupation of Iraq never made sense from the outset, and as history has subsequently demonstrated, Afghanistan and Iran are out of control, Iraq is in civil war, and nobody has a clue why, how, or what for?

The Israel-Palestine situation is far more complicated (to say the very least). Why Great Britain thought it part of a Mandate to uproot indigenous people (as far as any people are indigenous), recreate a Hebrew state, and then not also include a Palestinian state as mandated (in large part because the indigenous people could not reasonably understand why their homeland for 1,800 years was to be yanked from under them).

Then, European Guilt over the Nazi Holocaust, led not to a European state for the diasporic Jews, but back to its ancient homeland well over 1,800 years ago. Displacing Palestinians and partitioning Transjordan seemed much easier than carving out a Jewish European state for reparations of the death camps in Germany and Poland. What Palestine had to do with the Holocaust is absolutely nothing.

The analogy is imperfect, but imagine handing over Manhattan to Native Americans for the reparations of American injustice to Native Americans over the centuries? At least Manhattanites' ancestors paid the Native Americans a paltry fee for their troubles. What did anyone offer the displaced Palestinians?

Add to this complexion the incongruety of a "liberal state" in the midst of bedowin socieites. And not just any "liberal state," but just as theocratic, ethnic, and an ahistorical state as the Palestinians they uprooted. To make the "deal" seem more appropriate, Europeans and Americans decided their religion's inhumanity to Jews through the centuries was a further cause celebre for the action. And the Jewish state was all to willing to marginalize anyone who was not Jewish, especially those ancestors of Haggar and Ishmael that the ancestors of Sarah and Isaac were at core the reason for the displacement.

What about all of these actions makes any sense? I'm hardpressed to find any justification for any of it. But 1948 is now over a half century later, the Jewish state, largely through American Jewish philanthropy, lobbying, and America's conviction that Israel serves America's national interest, is now a fait accompli. Only the Palestinian state as "left overs" has not been fully realized. And, in large part because the Palestinians haven't understood why their dislocation served everyone else's but their political and social interests.

And, for the hell of it, why not throw in American Evangelicals, who see the rebirth of the Israeli state as a "sign" of the End of Times; they're even collecting alms to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem (not for Christian use, obviously, but so that biblical prophesy can be advanced).

Oh, why don't we also add that the Israeli sense of "Chosen" that seems to grant them the special privilege to attack others preemptively (in fairness, though, they have been attacked and with American armaments fought back the attacks). The Israeli attacks on Hezbollah in Lebanon a few months ago has left even Israeli citizens wondering: What in the hell are we doing? It seems that Hezbollah and Hamas are stronger and more defiant because of Israel's own gross miscalculations. Another instance of GWB's false inspiration.

Then, let me add my own two cents. If Islam was ever a peaceable religion (as its name supposedly suggests), there's no external evidence for such a description in the past 100 years. Maybe around 1,200 in Spain and elsewhere, but the Islamic sensibility is and always has had a fixity about keeping life just as it was in Mohammad's day. The Qur'an is the sole authority, just as the Bible was Calvin's sole authority in Geneva. Geneva fell, but Islam persists. Nearly 1,500 years later, Islamic countries (with the exception of Indonesia) have not had a Renaissance or Englightenment. Indeed, the West's experience with both is perceived as a threat to the soveriegnty of Allah. Ergo, a Clash of Civilizations is indeed a factual reality. If the West did not crave Arab oil, this Clash would be immaterial and insignificant. And if the West were not so Enlightened, the Clash would not have even appeared. And as Iraq's own internal dissension, along with Turkey's and Iran's and Pakistan's and Afgahanistant's prosecution of anyone who thinks "outside" Islam, demonstrate, all independent thinking is not tolerated within the Islamic society. Even cartoons and social irony creates more barbarism.

And all this is still only "part" of the picture, a picture which is never settled and daily more disturbing and unsettling. It's too late to remove the original antagonism (Israel) and restore Transjordan (including Palestine). But at this point, Evangelicals notwithstanding, it's time for the U.S. to disengage from always defending and financially supporting Israel, which as long as we continue to do so, it's the equivalent of rubbing salt in the Palestinian wounds. But since everyone's sense of "justice" is beyond reconciliation, it's best to leave it to the Region to resolve from within a regional perspective, as if European and American tinkering never happened. Europe has long adopted this stance, and I agree the U.S. is also long past due from doing likewise. But the Jewish Lobby is itself a behemoth no one dares say "no" to. As long as more Jews live in New York City than live in Israel, can we ever extricate ourselves from a conflict that arose before our arrival, was abetted by our capitulation to the Zionist Movement, and now represents Jesus's Second Coming? Talk about a mess. And lest we want to walk away from our own intense involvement, the Peretz's, Horowtiz's, Kristol's, Zuckerman's, et alia's special-pleadings for Israel are now backed-up by the Robertson's, Falwell's, and other Evangelical Christianist's agendas. One a Zionist dream come true, the other an End of Times dream come true. In other words, it's an even bigger mess than ever.

8:27 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

I agree with all three propositions, none of which is unthinkable outside NYC and DC.

The Kurds have gotten a de facto state together under US protection since the first Gulf war without the kind of interference Palestinians, but perhaps the comparison should be de facto Kurdistan and the Zionist state. The neighbord of both are very hostile and not about to recognize a Kurdish state.

4:33 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home