The Watch

The Watch is concerned about the increasing pressure towards feudalism in the United States from corporations, social regressives, warmongers, and the media. We also are concerned with future history concerning our current times, as non-truths which are “widely reported” become the basis for completely false narratives.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

The Israelification of American conflicts

Terrorism is how poor people wage war. War is how rich people wage terrorism.

I don't know who's right and who's wrong in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The prejudices go back centuries, and even the immediate problems are older than I am. I do know that most of the rest of the world feels profound sadness over the situation, as the extremists on each side harm and aggrieve innocent people on the other, and drag both societies into a continuing cycle of violence, retribution, mourning, revenge, and cruelty. The moderate voices on each side don't have the volume to rise above the rhetoric of the hard-liners, who seem to have the eradication of the entire opposing side as their only ultimate goal.

The Israelis always seem to go into "peace talks" with the same promise. If the Palestinians will only stop the violence, then they can have peace. But that always puts the ball in the extremists court. They don't want peace - they want violence, or they wouldn't be extremists. Therefore the peace process teeters on the actions of the extremists, and always seems doomed to failure. I've often thought that for peace to happen it would take an Israeli leader to stand up and say, "Look, we're going to continue to have bombings anyway. Here's what we are going to do. We are going to remove our settlements in the occupied territories. Then we will keep our defenses up, but we won't retaliate for violent acts. We will dampen the cycle of violence, until both sides can see that we are acting with integrity and the healing can begin." By accepting the fact that more bombings would probably keep coming until both sides realized they were serious about peace, it would take the power away from the extremists. (I should note here that I think Arafat blew it in a major way when he balked at the Oslo peace process and eventually killed the negotiations. He personally had a chance to make real progress for his people, and blew off the chance.)

But extremists like to have power. In particular, the more reticent Arafat is about reining in the bombers, the more power Sharon and Likud gets in denouncing them, launching their own horrible attacks against Palestinian civilians. So this horrible pattern of violence seems to work pretty well for the ruling classes of both groups - it is just the innocent, less powerful people getting maimed.

I don't know how exactly a country gets embroiled in a terrible, tragic quagmire like Israel/Palestine. But we've seen it before, in situations like France and Algeria, for example. France's ultimate answer was to withdraw from the aggrieved Algeria, thus ending the terrorism. One thing I do know, and that is that I wouldn't want to go down that path in this country. Our country is a wonderful place. Open and free, with the freedom to travel from place to place. Suspicion is not necessary in every public place. People are free to relax in safety in public, without worrying that something is about to explode and kill them. We are (still) relatively free from oppressive government monitoring to fight "terrorism", and I for one would like to keep it that way.

To keep it that way, we cannot be drawn into situations that could devolve into something like Israel/Palestine. However, that requires some subtlety on the part of our leaders. The solution is not just to smash the enemy, but to do some things about the underlying causes - to really think about why people are so antagonized that they would sacrifice their lives to kill and terrorize Americans. I'm not saying that the attackers are justified. But _they_ think they are justified, and to keep our situation from devolving into a horrible cycle of violence we need to think about that.

The Bush administration, of course, instead of trying not to antagonize people in the Islamic world, has been giving them more fuel for their hatred of us. Thousands of innocent Muslims have been killed by us in Afghanistan. Thousands of innocent Muslims have been killed by us in Iraq. We are not only antagonizing all of our traditional allies, including about 80% of the UK population, we are also bullying and threatening smaller countries into joining our "coalition", and are actively threatening Iran and Syria with invasion. What we have done is gone up to a hornet's nest, and beaten it vigorously with a stick. Obviously, there will always be people who want to attack the US just because it is a big, fat target: a rich, free society, and the only defense against them is good security and intelligence. But do we really have to give those people ample recruiting talking points in the world of moderate Muslims?

When we were attacked on September 11th, the world poured its collective heart out to us, reacting with support. The (hated) French responded by announcing that "We are all Americans", and there were many large gatherings of Germans, too, with "Ich bin Amerikaner" signs and shirts. Think about that. If the Eiffel Tower were bombed, would Americans announce that "we are all French"? That's the kind of allegiance we are in the process of killing with France right now. If we suffer another attack, after what we have now done in the Middle East and Central Asia, the only emotion it is likely to elicit from the rest of the world is schadenfreude.

I've attached a picture of an Iraqi boy named Ali. You may have already seen it. It is pretty heartbreaking - you may not wish to open it. Our forces killed Ali's mother and father, and all of his siblings. They also blew both of his arms off, and burned a large portion of his skin. This picture will be used to recruit lots and lots of Muslims into hating the US even more than they already do. And we handed this bit of PR to Bin Laden on a silver platter.

Let's review our accomplishments in our two foreign wars so far: We deposed the Taliban, who faded into the woodwork, and drove Al Qaeda even farther underground. We installed a former oilman as the leader of Afghanistan, but his sphere of influence is very small, limited to the capital city, and warlords control the rest of the country as they have always done. Osama "Dead or Alive" Bin Laden and Mullah Omar are still at large, and the Taliban is reported to be regrouping and gathering strength in the hills of western Pakistan. We deposed the Baathist Iraqi government, but we are now bringing parts of that government back into power to help us rule Iraq. We are in the process of installing an embezzler as the leader of Iraq. We are trying to get Iraq to have self-government, just not the kind of government they want (good luck with that). Saddam "Dead or Alive" Hussein is still at large, with at least a billion dollars.

We managed to make secure the Iraqi Oil ministry and the oilfields, and also to secure the way for an oil pipeline to be built across Afghanistan.

We weakened the UN, NATO, all of our alliances, and the rule of international law. We have severely antagonized the Muslim world. We have also demonstrated to the world that if you don't want to be invaded, you should quickly develop nuclear weapons, because then the US treats you much differently.

Iraq is a Pyrrhic victory. You cannot fight "terra" by waging war. Terrorism isn't a limited, particular set of people. It is a methodology, and a mindset. We have strengthened the mindset, and weakened our standing in the world.

The only conclusion I can come to is that the Bush administration looked at the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and decided that it was an excellent model for how the US should live. Because we are getting ourselves into a cycle of terrorist attack and retribution, with both sides laying the blame on the other. It takes subtlety and wisdom to stay out of that kind of situation, attributes that our Cowboy in Chief's administration lacks.

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