And then it happens, right there, for our eyes. The pattern, above all a product of the US-Israel alliance (inspired by Jesaiah 2:1-5), is unraveling. The pattern was always the same, by force or bribes or both to create “friendly governments”, “allies in the peace process” as VP Joe Biden–Obama’s foreign policy expert–says. These hours, these days. Some process.
The unraveling has no precise starting point in space or time. Rather, it is a process, “peace by pieces”, resisted from the beginning. Palestinians inside Israel have been ambiguous, partly bribed into accepting 2nd class citizenship in a theocratic state. Palestinians outside have been divided, PLO/Hamas being an important dividing line, West Bank/Gaza another. After the revelations by Al Jazeera and The Guardian 24 January of the moral corruption of PLO negotiators Hamas is stronger than ever, with a base in Syria that never boarded the US-Israel Titanic. Lebanon is increasingly ruled by Hizbollah; in Jordan, where CIA outmaneuvered the peace oriented Crown Prince Hassan in favor of Abdullah, there is revolt. In Egypt much more so, Yemen and Somalia revolted long ago; things happen in Morocco, Algeria, Sudan, Mauritania. And behind and above looms a (neo-ottoman?) Turkey.
Of course, there are at least two other issues at work, not only the machinations of the US-Israel alliance. There is the political issue of multi-party democracy with free and fair elections vs. dictatorship by one party, or autocracy by one ruler; of human rights vs. crushing the freedoms protected by them. And there is the economic issue of increasing misery and unemployment and inequality vs. sharing. The linkages between the three issues are often pointed out by demonstrators on posters about US-backed dictatorships and exploitation, about autocratic cliques and royal houses enriching themselves, etc. Which of the three is more important? All of them of course, it is a solid US-Western-Israeli nexus with such crucial points as London establishing a Jewish “homeland”–not defined in international law–in Palestine, cutting Palestine into two with Jordan serving as a buffer state protecting the oil of “mandated Iraq” and that very same Churchill using gas against Iraqi “barbarians” threatening civilization in their struggle for their homelands-all familiar themes. Till an Israel declared itself a state more afraid of a peace that could set limits to its zionist expansion than of war for expansion.
Till history catches up with them, these weeks, these days.
Which of the three factors the demonstrators, the rioters, choose to spin their rhetoric around will vary, like with the distance to Israel. Another is the longevity of the autocracy, like 20, 30 years. Yet another is pure tactics, how to make more allies, by denouncing the USA or by downplaying that theme? Some US commentators are celebrating no “down with US imperialism” in some revolts, and the focus on democracy and human rights, maybe planning how to manipulate elections and bribing with freshly printed Fort Knox bills. Investment will be promised, known to benefit the rich more than the poor. Soon we will hear from China.
But right now let us celebrate. By and large nonviolent revolts in most of Maghreb and Mashreq reveal the fragility of even global and regional superpowers. They now face moments of truth with WikiLeaks truths that no doubt inspired and ignited the masses up front. US commentators with unfailing talent for choosing wrong levels of analysis point to demonstrators being mostly young, educated and unemployed. Give them fellowship and jobs? Maybe they need some agility to jump up on a water cannon tank, some education to see through the massive propaganda, and be unemployed to have time off for political work in the streets, no fear of losing a job? Being denied expression in free elections maybe the demos, the people, find ways of reclaiming power?
I remember a meeting in Cairo 18 December addressing Cairo University professors on world trends, including in and around Israel and the USA, and rising inequality, predicting revolts. They said, our poor get poorer by the hour, but police and military make revolts impossible. I said that they might join being themselves repressed, exploited and alienated. And exactly that seems to have happened–and not only in Egypt–after initial brutality. A shock for the powers-that-were, now collecting their gold for oasis life in Saudi Arabia. Also soon to go.
And the USA? And Israel? An Israeli general recently revealed plans to attack Hamas and Hizbollah in Gaza and Lebanon. But many more plans are needed. Attacking a Muslim Brotherhood guided Egypt? Maybe too much even for Israel and the USA, given that both hegemons have very serious polity and economy problems.
Or, could this wave of people reclaiming foreign policy, the polity and economy from the clammy hands of small groups come to–miracle of all miracles–hit the hegemons themselves? And open for a real peace process, involving everybody concerned? Inshallah.
31 January 2011
What a week! And we have no idea how many weeks are ahead of us!! We only know that the process cannot be reversed, and we can watch on CNN+ one reason why.
That lack of understanding, picking the wrong discourses. Nobody will deny that political repressions into the grotesque and economic distortion causing great misery are basic. But the autocrats unmasked are also puppets at work, which should attract attention to the puppeteering in the USA and Israel.
Israel, evidently in total panic at the structure they believed to be relatively solid, based on Camp David “peace” treaty and a peace “process” is more honest. Their concerns, from the supply of gas from Egypt, via deep concerns whether a new Egypt will “cooperate” keeping Gaza isolated, blocking the tunnels, via asking the USA to see to it that the peace treaty will remain intact, to offering Omar Suleiman, the notorious vice president (of vices indeed!) of Egypt, head of the secret services since 1993 (the mukhabarat), from 1995 organizing the torture of the victims of rendition by the US, services to keep Egypt stable. To raising the question of a possible reoccupation of Sinai to secure the “southern front” (of Israel, the newly appointed head of the Israel “defense” forces being a northern front specialist). To question fundamentals of the Israel construction: see Ha’aretz.
In the meantime the USA is playing who knows what game or double triple games, maybe pushing Obama up front for his favorite “change” rhetoric, slowly indicating that Mubarak’s expertise may be needed for the transition. In the meantime probably cooperating with Israel, see all of the above.
Evidently they were all taken by surprise. So were the media, and the public at large. Two empires at work: a world empire peaking in Washington and a regional in Jerusalem. How can anybody be surprised that there could be some resistance and not only in the shape of “terrorist” action?
Answer: because imperialism does not enter as analytical category. Question: why? Answer: because it is a complex category, with economic, political and cultural elements backed up by military action, establishing a center in the Periphery countries, rewarding them well with Camp David bribery money, turning the eye when they loot their own people, demanding political loyalty in return, exporting their culture under such labels as modernity and democracy, always ready to send the marines when needed, sending the CIA-Mossad sharks before that, as warning. 4-5 brain cells are needed.
Instead of having a closer look at this holistic construction evaluating its fragility when exposed to inevitable counter-forces (always a part of holism that dialectic perspective), they resort to some kind of intellectual infantilism, focusing on minor factors in the chain of events, like the social media–facebook, twitter or internet in general and “the Al Jazeera factor”–as if people have not been able to make revolts like the American, the French and the Russian by word of mouth and chains of communication before that. But holism-dialectics is not at home in US intellectualism, they probably smack of New Age and marxism for those who have heard those words, and not of, say, the Chinese cultural comparative advantage over the West with its aristotelianism-cartesianism and deductive pyramids, theories (of course, a good formula would be both-and, and more). Hence they will only make piecemeal changes before the whole thing collapses, including sending the marines.
This is written on Superbowl Day 2011, in Dallas, Texas, where snowfall–obviously terrorist–is threatening the stadium and that sacred time and place. Maybe the USA should focus on such events rather than messing up the lives of so many countries and peoples. They do it well and take great pleasure doing so, like they manage the life of the rich and the super-rich in West Maui, for instance.
But instead of that, President Obama’s State of the Union speech had competition on very traditional lines as its theme. Why not focus on improving the USA, competing with itself, winning over yesterday, yesteryear, September 2008 with a deeper analysis and practice? Competition in education, research and infrastructure–the point is not to beat other countries on these three. The point in a democracy would be to serve the people. There will be no improvement in education anyhow with idiotizing TV being the major guide to the world–admittedly now with the better part of the Internet as a competitor. How can a child learn with parents focused on TV, and no books available? How can there be real re-search, opening new perspectives, when so much is in the service of today’s business? Is the point about infra-structure to have faster trains than others?–looks like the USA now wants to join that game, or to open all kinds of facilities including access to land for alternative, more cooperative ways of running the basic economy, the economy serving the basic needs of the most needy? Healthcare for instance, that dense network of polyclinics equipped for the most common diseases of the highest possible number of with generic medicines–not waiting for the prices to go even further up when the health insurance reform makes the government pay?
Harping on old imperial themes, no deep cuts for the military, no gun control, will not help. Nor will closing one’s eyes to reality. Nor, indeed, using too few brain cells at the same time.
The USA is deeply challenged. We hope for a deeper response.
7 February 2011