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21 June 2007

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jonst

An eloquent post PL. And this really gets to the heart of the matter. This desire to lump everyone into the AQ dream. There is no way around this ignorance.

On another matter, one wonders what fate awaits Elliott Abrams. I know what I have in mind for him if it were in my power. And this time there would no pardon. Is it any wonder we are in the shape we are in with arrogant, and ignorant, men like him perceived as face of America.

zanzibar

Excellent post again PL. Very well stated.

As I said in the previous thread I am convinced there will be no change in Israel until US policy changes and that will not happen until the AIPAC and Likudnik hold on our political and media elite across both parties change. I don't see that happening any time soon since the corporate media and the political elite spin that everyone in the ME opposed to the current policy are terrorists that mean harm to the US. How can any meaningful discourse take place here when those that speak up for a more evenhanded policy in the ME are immediately denounced as terrorist sympathizers? When will our people demand that our foreign policy reflect our national interests?

Do we need to wait until blowback reaches our shores in ever increasing intensity?

FB Ali

Colonel,

“Hamas and the IRA are both terrorist nationalist organizations”.

I beg to disagree with this analogy. The counterpart to Hamas is Sinn Fein. The equivalent to the IRA is the Izzedin al-Qassem Brigades. Sinn Fein is a political organization which operates in the public sphere, and has fought and won elections. Hamas is exactly the same.

The IRA was a terrorist organization fighting for the same goals as Sinn Fein; there was undoubtedly a shadowy connection between them at the policy level (Martin McGinnis was reputed to be on the IRA’s Army Council). Similarly, the Izzedin Brigades are a terrorist group linked at the policy level to Hamas. But just as Sinn Fein was never treated as a terrorist organization, it is incorrect to label Hamas thus.

The hypocrisy permeating the West’s dealings with the Palestinians includes the way it differentiates between Hamas and Fatah. The latter, too, has a military wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which operates as a terrorist organization, and has the same connection to Fatah as the Izzedin Brigades have to Hamas. Yet Fatah is treated as a political organization while Hamas is branded as a terrorist body.

D.Witt

Ironically, Abrams' title is National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy.

from his Wikipedia entry:

In his new position, Abrams became responsible for overseeing the National Security Council's directorate of Democracy, Human Rights, and International Organization Affairs and its directorate of Near East and North African Affairs.[24]
Abrams accompanied Condoleezza Rice as a primary advisor on her visits to the Middle East in late July 2006 in the course of discussions relating to the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict.

That last sentence is funny, in a morbid way, given that Abrams' advice was essentially 'let 'em go.' Democracy through superior firepower!

lina

Didn't the IRA keep itself funded throughout the 20th century with private American dollars (primarily out of Boston and NY)? They were too shrewd to attack any British interests inside the U.S.

Regardless of funding, Hamas seems to have given iself a fairly narrow jurisdiction.

J

Colonel,

bush is in the process of re-nogtiating a new 10yr u.s. govt. support for israel package. doing the 'follow the money', one has to not look far to see who has to 'gain' with a such a continuing palestinian disharmony. israel is making billions and billions of free u.s. military and economic aid, while at the same time they are one of the richest nations on the planet. it's called israel's major soaking of the u.s taxpayer and its heavy drain on the u.s. economy. meanwhile the palestinians receive mere pittance u.s. aid in comparison. israel uses modern u.s. made weapons, while the palestinians use rocks and sling-shots.

arbogast

Once again, wonderfully stated.

Incontrovertible.

Thucydides was arguably right. I wonder what he would say about the present situation? The US is tired of war and its army is at the breaking point. Israel seems to be only able to fight civilians.

What would Thucydides say?

Babak Makkinejad

zanzibar:

What do you propose to do with the Christian Churches in US that support Israel so much?

Even if you take AIPAC out of the picture, they remain.

meletius

Great post, but this is all water under the bridge now.

Abrams and Bushco intentionally sabotaged and derailed a free and fair election (which they demanded!) and have thrown the situation into an unmanageable chaos of human suffering, all of which was predicted, as the post demonstrates.

There's no use observing that Hamas' "truce" made diplomatic sense, or calling for moderation and respect for democratic self determination now, that well is poisoned for a long, long time.

Heckava job, Abeie...National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy---could it get any richer?

mo

Colonel,
Thank you for that quote from Thucydides. I have never read it before but I would love to commit it to memory. A great post as always but I would add that not only are Al-Qa'ida takfiris irreconcilable and universalist enemies of the West and of Israel, theres a great many of us Arabs and Muslims who would love to see the back of them.

meletius,
I would not be too despondent. A change in tack from any new administration could easily turn things around. The Palestinians, even Hamas, are proud but not so proud as to not take a real opportunity to improve their desperate lot.

jr786

Babak:

Nothing can be done about either. The only thing that can be done is for Muslim-Americans to recognize that ever since 9/11 "Muslim" has become a de facto political identity, its previous ethnic, racial and national denominators merged into a prioritized Muslimness, whether wanted it or not. Instead of running away from this, Muslim-Americans need to vote accordingly, siding themselves with organizations and politicians that promote and defend the collective interests of Muslims as Muslims, just like the Jews have always done with their own. The days of a secular resistance in Palestine are long gone - resistance should now become a matter for all Muslims. Why can't Gaza be a Muslim state? (a rhetorical question) It would be a lovely thing if every Muslims stood up and said: I have two countries: Mine and Palestine.
Unfortunately, takfir is not just practiced by the Islamists, but by secular Muslims, and even non-Muslims, who choose to paint every Muslim who does not toe the Israeli/American line on acceptable behavior as a potential terrorist. Muslim-Americans need to start getting mad at that.
There were encouraging signs of increased Muslim-American political consciousness in the recent elections in the United States, where voter turn-out may have cost Senator Allen his seat. Concentrations in key states may swing a statewide election or two.

Homer

Has the newly elected Iraqi Parliament ever extended a warm and brotherly hand to Israel in anyway?

Waiting with bated breath.....

What about Egypt and the other countries wherein Islamic fundies increased their power through the legitimate means of voting?

Char;les

RE: "Let us not let the representatives of special interests drive American policy. pl"

Only one way out of that mess:
Campaign finance reform.
It might also have the salutary collateral effect of making it easier to prosecute and impeach the miscreants who pass for governance when they drive the mighty ship of state directly into criminal misadventure.

Cloned Poster

Hmmmmmmmm, being Irish I want to give my take on PL's comparision to Hamas and the IRA.

This may not be coherent but I hope that I get my point across.

1. Google "The Pale"
The Pale or the English Pale comprised a region in a radius of twenty miles around Dublin which the English in Ireland gradually fortified against incursion from Gaels. From the thirteenth century onwards the Hiberno-Norman invasion in the rest of Ireland at first faltered then waned, allowing Gaelic Ireland to become resurgent.

Sort of like a Green Zone (what coincidence!)?

2. The Irish eventually ended the seven hundred year occupation and became the first colony to get independence that created the domino effect from India to Africa.

3. The IRA of the last century got on the coat-tails of the civil rights movements against the injusticies of Northern Ireland (only land-owning rate payers could vote) and got millions of "Boston" dollars to wage their campaign.

4. In the intervening period, Lybian, Palestinian and Russian interests helped the IRA to wage a successful 3G war in Northern Ireland, where compared to Iraq today, the British Army had five times more troops deployed there than they have in Basra.

5. Hamas have more legitimacy than the IRA of the last few decades. They deserve US support (democracy anyone?) but the billions of US taxpayer monies gets funnelled into the land based aircraft carrier called "Israel".

zanzibar

Babak

I didn't mean to single out AIPAC. They are legitimate lobbyists and should have the right to push their case.

However, I don't see why all our politicians should be on bended knees as they worship at the AIPAC shrine. As far as Christian churches that share the Israel zealotry I think they are mostly from the "rapturist" school and they are part of the 28% that will always vote a certain way. There's not much that can be done about that and yes there will always be politicians that will pander to this group and their gay bashing and insistance that creationism be taught in science class.

What I am addressing is the fact that mainstream candidates from both parties that are in utter fear of separating US national interests from the interests of Israel. As an average citizen I don't buy that Israel's interests are identical to US interests. I'd like to see more politicians have the courage to articulate an independent US foreign policy and survive the inevitable propaganda assault. As that happens I believe the tide will slowly turn.

Michael Murry

As lifelong Republican political analyst Kevin Phillips laments in his incisive book, American Theocracy: the Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century (Viking, 2006):

“The excesses of fundamentalism, in turn, are American and Israeli, as well as the all-too-obvious depredations of radical Islam. The rapture, end-times, and Armageddon hucksters in the United States rank with any Shiite Ayatollahs, and the last two presidential elections mark the transformation of the GOP into the first religious party in U.S. history.”

and ...

“The three threats emphasized in these pages could stand on their own as menaces to the Republic. History, however, provides a further level of confirmation. Natural resources, religious excess, wars, and burgeoning debt levels have been prominent causes of the downfall of the previous leading world economic powers.”

and ...

“[T]he U.S. preoccupation with the Middle East has two dimensions. In addition to its concerns with oil and terrorism, the White House is courting end-times theologians and electorates for whom the holy lands are already a battleground of Christian destiny. Both pursuits, oil and biblical expectations, require a dissimulation in Washington that undercuts the U.S. tradition of commitment to the role of an informed electorate" [emphasis mine].

This last point made by Phillips -- regarding the American government's pathological need to lie about policies it cannot and will not acknowledge to the general public -- for fear of sounding either simply ridiculous or obviously venal -- only reinforces the first of Paul Krugman's five rules for how to make sense of "neoconservative" (neither new nor conservative) doublethink-Newspeak:

"1. Don't assume that policy proposals make sense in terms of their stated goals. When you are dealing with a revolutionary power, it's important to realize that it knows what it wants, and will make whatever argument advances that goal. So there should be no presumption that the claims it makes on behalf of its actions make any sense in their own terms."

... and the other four rules?

"2. Do some homework and discover the real goals."

"3. Don't assume that the usual rules of politics apply.

"4. Expect a revolutionary power to respond to criticism by attacking."

and finally ...

"5. Don't think that there's a limit to a revolutionary power's objectives."

The radical neoconservative Dick Cheney Shogunate Regency has had six long years to really stick it to us common folk (residing in several affected countries). Regarding their "aspirational goals" to go on doing the same for as long as they and any of their successors possibly can, we need first to understand these marauding predators as contemporary barbarians in three-piece suits: the equivalent of the European "sea pirates" (who first colonized America) that the late novelist Kurt Vonnegut described in Breakfast of Champions: "The chief weapon of the sea pirates" he wrote, "was their capacity to astonish. Nobody else could believe, until it was much too late, how heartless and greedy they were."

We need to believe the ugly truth about the radical neoconservative sea-pirates now ruining our government and several countries. If we go on naively accepting at face value what they say about what they don't mean, then we'll only get the misgovernment we deserve -- while the Palestinians and Iraqis get more of the same that they don't.

Montag

In Martin van Creveld's "The Sword and The Olive: A Critical History of The Israeli Defense Force," he does a good riff on Thucydides. He's describing the frustration of the British in failing to crush the Zionist underground forces after WWII:

"The British government was learning that under certain circumstances and given sufficient time Thucydides's words in the Melian dialogue may become inverted. It is not always 'they who are strong do what they can, they who are weak suffer what they must.' Instead, and no less frequently, it is the weak who do what they can, the strong who suffer what they must....It was a lesson that others, not least the Israelis themselves, were destined to learn later and to their cost."

Babak Makkinejad

jr786:

I think in US Muslims are politically organizing. There are affluent Muslim immigrant communities (almost exclusively Sunni) that are joining the African-American Muslim communities (also Sunni but much les wealthy) for political action. And I believe that Shia (mostly from Arab background) are also organizing politically in US.

I personally do not condone or approve deep involvement by the citizens of the United States (recent immigrants or native-born) in the affairs of other states and other polities.

While I can see that the recent immigrants are emotionally attached to their places of origin, I think it a mistake to perpetuate that attachment in the later generations. I think it will only drag the United States into interminable wars and squabbles of other parts of the world with no benefit to any one in the United States.

For the life of me I cannot see why an American boy from an Irish Catholic background, or a Jewish boy, or a Muslim ought to die for Ireland, Israel, or Palestine. It is just such a waste. And quite frankly, I think all those who care strongly about these areas ought to renounce their US citizenship and enlist in various armies and militias over there and leave others alone. And that goes double for government officials who seem to have the best interest of this or that government in mind.

I think the immigrant parents are responsible for perpetuating these ancient and irresolvable problems& hatreds into the next generation. I also think that native-born Americans are also responsible - they ought to stop dragging US into these stupid involvements abroad. How many times have US citizens given money to the IRA while attending yet another charity ball for the Brotherhood of the Aerie Firemen/Policemen?

As a country of immigrants, there are many people who come to US from Latin America, from Asia, or from Europe who do not care one bit about all these problems. They have come to US to be free from the chains of history. They deserve better than be dragged by these other immigrants and their native ideologues into their deaths. How many Americans have to die for the sake of fantasies of those who are fighting the Shoah, the Crusades, Oliver Cromwell, you name it?


walrus

Is there any Congressman who is not a successful millionaire businessman, or an inheritor of fabulous wealth?

Is there any way to be elected to Congress (let alone the Presidency) absent raising election funds of tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars?

Are the sources of election funds not Corporations, or the rich individuals that own them?

Are these 'benefactors" who fund the electoral process not going to ask for their pound of flesh?

Is there any chance that decisions in Congress are going to be made in the interests of the entire American citizenry and not merely special interest groups?

Is there any hope that the elected will reform the system that emplaced them in power?

The answers, to these six questions seems to me to be, regretfully, a resounding "No".

The obvious future for America was spelt out in Cyril Kornbluth and Frederick Pohl's "The Space Merchants" published in 1953.

In this book America is run by giant commercial cartels whose products reinforce cravings for other porducts.

"(Corporations elect Senators, as in "the senator from Du Pont Chemicals"), an adman speaking with joy and moral resignation about the incredibly addictive properties of a popular consumable (like the novel's "Coffiest"-brand drink or "Kiddiebutt" cigarettes), people having to wear anti-soot noseplugs because of environmental degradation, or a multinational corporation proudly billing itself as the agency that succeeded in "merging a whole subcontinent into a single manufacturing complex" (thereafter known as "Indiastries")."

People who object are known as, wait for it - "Consies" - conservationists who object to the destruction of the country in pursuit of greed.

Watch the healthcare industry reaction to Michael Moore's "Sicko" if you want a taste of the brave new world you are steadily advancing towards.

Then of course there is Orwell's "1984".

Leila A.

Hmm Babak - I agree that no American soldier of whatever ethnicity ought to die for Palestine, Israel, or Ireland.

However I do think that of course native-born Americans are going to care more about their countries of origin. (Some, not all). Some of us will read the news from these countries, and concern ourselves with politics and foreign affairs because of our personal connections.

I'm a Lebanese-American of center-leftist persuasion (I'm more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause than most Lebanese Christians; I am more familiar with Judaism and sympatico with my fellow Jewish-Americans than most Arab-Americans). I am therefore deeply concerned about what goes on in Lebanon. My two surviving uncles live on the doorstep of Ain-el-Helweh refugee camp. Because I grew up visiting that camp, I feel concerned about the question of Palestine and the Palestinians. We won't have peace in Lebanon until a deal is worked out that is tolerable to all parties.

I cannot vote on a single issue, however, not even Middle East policy. If I did, I would have to sit out most American elections, or vote for the wacko Communist Party candidate.

Right now I like John Edwards; I don't like his stances on Israel but I like most of the rest of his message. I also like Al Gore. I am lukewarm to Obama (he's too unseasoned - my issue with Edwards as well) and I am cold, cold cold towards Senator Clinton. (She's more two-faced than even a politician ought to be)

I made a promise to myself years ago that I would never write a candidate off because of their Middle East politics.

However, some politicians accumulate negatives in my book and eventually the balance gets tipped. I finally did vote for the Green Party Senate candidate against Dianne Feinstein. She's just a bigot and I'm tired of her.

But anyway - it is only natural that ethnic Americans will retain an interest in the politics of their country of origin. Of course I agree that it's wrong for the Shamrock Bowling Club to send money to armed Irish groups. But why shouldn't the Firemen's Union or whomever raise money for Irish orphans? Or lobby their congresspeople on the peace talks?

Arun

A great post!

Let us not let the maximalist demands on either side be the enemy of a decent life for the people.  Let us not let the representatives of special interests drive American policy.

Words to live by!

swerv21

colonel:

thank you. reading the melian dialogue just blows my mind. i was totally ignorant of it until this morning.

so, i know you're views on the 'oilies', but reading this makes me think of 'tribute' and 'oil'. isn't the oily thing just the modern vehicle for tribute to the empire?

jr786

Babak:
The issue, to me anyway, is how to further the cause of Palestinian nationalism. The way for Muslim-Americans to counter Israeli influence is with their own votes, the point of my post. Some of your comments are extremely naïve, to say the least. There is no level playing field when Netananyu can speak from the podium of the U.S. Senate and Tariq Ramadan is denied entry to the US after being invited to teach at Notre Dame. When the consequences for Muslims and Jews are the same, I’ll agree with you.

Similarly, however well meant this is:

They have come to US to be free from the chains of history. They deserve better than be dragged by these other immigrants and their native ideologues into their deaths.

It does not apply to Muslims. To abandon one’s fellow Muslims to their fate is not to be “free from the chains of history” but to cease to be Muslim. Muslims who feel that oppression against Muslims (made simply because they are Muslims) can be ignored are no longer Muslims. And that is not takfir.

The operative clause in the above is “simply because they are Muslim”. Col. Lang wrote:

Neither does it mean that every national struggle involving Muslims should be seen as a part of the jihad of the Al-Qa'ida network for that impossible vision.

Not every Muslim, nor even every Islamist, sits around dreaming of a return to the Caliphate. Most are motivated by the hope of a worldly tauheed, which starts and ends with unity amongst Muslims. Mr. Abrams may hope to drive the Muslims from their homes without just cause (perhaps you understand the reference) but this new Fatah/Israeli/US alliance against Muslims is a very dangerous precedent indeed.

Babak Makkinejad

Leila A:

I am not against charitble contributions - Charity is the supreme form of religious practice in Judaism, in Christianity, and in Islam.

But I do not believe anything beyond that is called for.

At any rate, there are many many African-American communities in US that are in dire need of charity - say Detroit, or Camden while USG sends money to Egypt, to Israel, etc.

In the eternal words of James Baker III: " We have no dog in that fight!"

Jay

I thought the current policy was to spread Democracy and Freedom throughout the Middle East. Now that Democracy has empowered Hamas, we want a proverbial "do-over". I guess this reenforces the old saw about being careful what you wish for...

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