May 18, 2007
The Bush Administration has now embarked on its fourth "regime change" operation in its global "Terror War." Following the more direct overthrows in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the aggression by paid-for proxies in Somalia, we now have the civil war in Palestine, with U.S. arms and money backing the armed overthrow of the democratically elected Hamas government. As in Somalia, where the American-trained army of the Ethiopian dictatorship joined up with Somali warlords in the pay of the CIA, the latest regime change is being carried out by a combination of foreign and native proxies: the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority.
The civil war in Palestine is of course a long-held dream of the American and Israeli Right. Israel first secretly supported the sectarian Hamas in order to undermine the secular nationalists of Arafat's PLO; now they openly take sides with Arafat's successors in the Palestinian Authority against Hamas, which -- as always happens -- escaped the control of the puppet-masters who sought to exploit the group for their own ends. But the long-term aim has been achieved: a violently divided Palestinian society, broken down, killing each other off, leaving Israel free to continue its colonization of Palestinian land. As others have pointed out, it's no wonder that the United States so staunchly supports this policy: after all, it's what we did to the Native Americans.
The latter is actually an important point, if mostly overlooked. Critics of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians -- especially those well-disposed toward Israel, who write more in sorrow than in anger -- often hold out the idea that Israel will eventually come to its senses, that its leaders will finally have to acknowledge that they can't simply brutalize their way to victory and vanquish the Palestinian cause by force, take over all the land they want and build their own society on these ill-gotten gains. But of course history is filled with examples of this very process; in the grand sweep of time, it has actually succeeded more often than not.
Now, it may be that in this particular historical instance, the Israelis will not be strong enough or numerous enough to overwhelm the Palestinians in the end. But they need only look to their chief mentors and benefactors, the United States, to see that it is indeed possible to destroy and dispossess a divided native people, take their land and build your own society on top of it. There's nothing outrageous about such a long-term strategy -- except from the moral point of view, of course. But states, like corporations, are not human, and thus have no morals. They do not -- and cannot -- act from the moral point of view. They can, on rare occasions, be swayed by morally engaged human beings from initiating or continuing some particular course of action. But it is the nature of inhuman power to expand until it is balked by some obstruction: a superior force, or institutional and legal checks and balances (if these are rigorously maintained), or some form of popular opposition that makes a certain policy too costly or inconvenient to pursue.
There is at present no superior force, no institutional or legal check (from a rightwing judiciary and a spineless Congress) or sufficient popular opposition to bring the moral obscenity of the Terror War to a halt, and redirect America's energies toward more worthy -- and more security-conducive -- ends. And so the "regime change" operations will go on, spreading death, chaos and immense suffering in its wake, and seeding future conflicts, future blowback, endless horrors to come.
As for the Palestinian "regime change," the Bush faction is scarcely bothering to hide its role in bringing about the armed conflict. Jonathan Schwarz is on the case here, with this sharp post, marked as usual with his dark wit:
If I Didn't Know Better, I'd Think This Gigantic Grey Creature With The Tusks Here In The Room With Us Is An Elephant
Schwarz first points us to this important post by Tony Karon, on the "Palestinian Pinochet": Mohammed Dahlan, nominally the "National Security Adviser" of the hapless sad sack now clinging to the office of the Palestinian presidency, Mahmoud Abbas. As Karon points out, Dahlan is actually a freebooting warlord foisted upon the Palestinian government by the Bush Administration -- in much the same way that the Bush Administration planted longtime CIA asset Mohammed Shahwani as head of the American-created "Iraqi National Intelligence Service," which is still funded by Washington, outside the control of the nominally sovereign Iraqi government. Dahlan instigated the latest fighting in a bid to thwart the unity government brokered by Saudi Arabia -- against Bush's wishes -- earlier this year. Karon's post, which provides a detailed background to the current crisis, should be read in full. [As'ad AbuKhalil has also been on the Dahlan case for a long time over at the indispensible Angry Arab.]
Meanwhile, Schwarz is still examining that strange grey creature, and we'll give him the last word:
Few Americans are even aware of the Palestinian mini-civil war going on now in Gaza. Fewer still know this civil war is to a large degree the conscious creation of the Bush administration—and specifically of America's old friend Elliot Abrams. Here's an article with some details:
Deputy National Security Advisor, Elliott Abrams — who Newsweek recently described as "the last neocon standing" — has had it about for some months now that the U.S. is not only not interested in dealing with Hamas, it is working to ensure its failure. In the immediate aftermath of the Hamas elections, last January, Abrams greeted a group of Palestinian businessmen in his White House office with talk of a "hard coup" against the newly-elected Hamas government — the violent overthrow of their leadership with arms supplied by the United States... Interesting. You know, when prominent neoconservatives talk about "hard coups" to overturn Palestinian elections, or hint at their regret the military didn't stage a coup in Turkey, it almost makes me think their purported concern for democracy is complete bullshit.Fortunately, we know that's not that case, because no one ever broaches this possibility in the US media.
Over the last twelve months, the United States has supplied guns, ammunition and training to Palestinian Fatah activists to take on Hamas in the streets of Gaza and the West Bank.