Meanwhile, back in the Middle East

I haven’t had time to comment on events in the Middle East since a relatively optimistic post on Israel/Palestine a couple of weeks ago. Since then we’ve had a full cycle of pessimism and optimism, with things currently looking as good as they have in a long time – a ceasefire from the main militant/terrorist groups and the withdrawal of Israel troops/Zionist occupation forces from much of Gaza (readers take their pick regarding preferred terminology. But as the pessimists, notably including regular commentator PM Lawrence will no doubt point out, we’ve been here before and gone nowhere but backwards.

In Iraq, things are turning out much as I thought they would before the war, though the extent of looting has surprised me. Some pro-war commentators gloated when it was reported that many of the treasures of the National Museum had been removed for safe keeping before the fall of Baghdad, and that the total loss was ‘only’ 6000 items rather than the 60 000 initially estimated. This seems bizarre to me, in view of the fact that it was also reported about the same time that Iraq’s main nuclear facility had also been looted. The absence of any attempt to secure this facility is a pretty clear indication that the Administration knew there weren’t any weapons there, but the resulting spread of radioactive material is still a disaster.

The central question now is whether, having largely conceded that the pretext for the war was incorrect, if not bogus, the Coalition will deliver on the promise implicit in claims about a war of liberation, that is, a genuinely democratic and prosperous Iraq. I opposed the war because I did not think Bush would deliver, but I still hope to be proved wrong.

5 thoughts on “Meanwhile, back in the Middle East

  1. Only Jack Strocchi believes that peace can happen in the Middle East.

    Both countries are full of people who are lusting for blood and who have voted for men who are both unrepentant murderers.
    Each side has both justification and blame on its side, neither side can forgive or when they say they are they don’t forget which means they are not forgiving at all.

    In Iraq its democracy Jim but not as we know it!

    Who would have thought ignorant mullahs in Iran would out-think the Neo-cons in Washington !!

  2. HP has drawn the wrong conclusion. Getting peace in the middle east is straightforward, though neither quick nor cheap – he just hasn’t thought it through. He supposes it must involve co-existence.

    While JQ has predicted some of my incidental asides, he still doesn’t get where I am coming from. No doubt if he did, he wouldn’t be such a dangerous optimist, always encouraging people to go out on a limb. (I’m not saying it’s never worth going out on a limb, just that there has to be some point to it rather than a mere reflexive optimism with no reward on offer.)

    Here’s how I see things thereabouts:-

    – There’s no point being optimistic, when one can move forward slowly and give running progress reports rather than encourage people to take profits they haven’t even got yet.

    – A stalemate is a win for Zionism. It started out doing “peaceful penetration” in a nineteenth century style, which is like the socialism in social democracy – concede the essentials at stake and we won’t take them by force. Jump or be pushed.

    – No Palestinian can safely embark on, or commit others to, non-violent means of surrendering their future to others. Violence means pain for them, not harm, so they have nothing at all to lose by it (no, not even violent reprisals – they would still have to drink the standard water that poisoned the Australian athletes when they fell in it at the Maccabee Games).

    – There has not in fact been any shift away from the peace of the bulldozer, ever, in any of what was offered by Israel on any occasion, which means no grounds for optimism (unless you mean nonviolent extirpation is good, which means taking a pro-Israeli position).

    So I do not actually see any back and forth at all, merely a side to side – all phases have included Israeli encroachments by one means or another.

    At this point in my description pro-Israelis usually react by branding that as antisemitic or whatever. Actually, it is merely a limited subset of a larger analysis. It omits real Palestinian violence etc., but not from pushing any agenda, merely since it is irrelevant to showing that Israeli variations are invariant with regard to assimilation and encroachment, differing only in emphasis and violent content.

    The Palestinians are not going quietly, but that doesn’t make them good guys. It merely makes for two lots of bad guys. Israel knows quite well what happens when you corner a rat, and that doesn’t make a rat into a non-rat, but it does mean that the process is predictable and under Israeli control.

    In the end, two lots of bad guys and only room enough for one lot means no peaceful outcome short of making a desert and calling it peace – which HP has forgotten does work.

    I actually expect an Israeli slow genocide to succeed over decades, at great economic and cultural cost, but to be followed within centuries by some outside invader destroying an Israel adapted to internal repression. Unless some exogenous deus ex machina turns up and says “right, nobody gets anything”.

  3. On the Iraq matter, “democratic” and “liberation” are currently incompatible in that cultural context, never mind being distinct. Democracy and liberty aren’t the same thing anyway – giving rise to the sneaky trick of substituting the former for the latter in a large number of questions (social democracy, anybody?).

  4. On the very narrow point of 6,000 missing artifacts rather than 60,000, are there any good screenwriters out there? As I heard it reported, many of the 54,000 artifacts not stolen were hidden away before things got out of hand. A quite, dark-eyed (no surprise there) woman in her early middle years was involved in saving the world’s more ancient cultural artifacts for posterity. There it is. Secrecy. Intrigue. War. A determined woman in a culture verging on perversely stuffing a highly capable woman into traditional garb and into the kitchen (I’m guessing, based on recent reports from Iraq). Good guys winning (inside the museam). Can I get a screenwriter here?

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