All but forgotten in the wake of Obama’s wonderful magical speech is the fact that the Palestinians are still living under the jack boot of Israeli domination. Their economy brought to a standstill by the constricting grip of the Israeli occupation the Palestinians live with a shortage of water, food, medicine, power, in other words all the basic necessities that we in the U.S. take for granted. To anyone paying attention it is quite clear that Israel is not interested in peace unless it is on their terms. In fact it seems even clearer that their goal is to drive the Palestinians completely out of Israel.
On the surface, the recent statements regarding the “natural growth” of Israeli settlements by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton sounds like a step in the right direction until one considers that Israel has in the last sixty years taken almost every square inch of Palestinian land already and that much of it is illegal by international law. There is almost a worldwide consensus that a two-state solution is the only way to bring about peace in that war-torn corner of the world. The only two nations that oppose this consensus are the U.S. and Israel. The U.S. is now fully involved in destabilizing different parts of the world through the ever broadening war in Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as on other fronts in Somalia and Iraq. Considering the endless wars and occupations you have to ask just how serious Obama and Clinton are in their deep abiding concern for the Palestinians. In my opinion it is nothing but farcical posturing.
There is a confluence of forces at work driving the imperial wars. The industrial-military-scientific-congressional complex, the usage of war as a means for political gain such as Lyndon Johnson’s Tonkin Gulf incident, and then there is the issue of oil. Though there is some controversy over just how much oil is left anyone who believes that there is enough oil to last forever is sadly mistaken. Likely in the next few hundred years the battle for controlling oil sources will intensify as supplies dry up and emerging industrial nations clamor for more. There is also evidence that the recent brutally murderous attack against Gaza by Israel was driven by the fact that natural gas was found off the coast of Gaza and Israel now controls it even though it belongs to the Palestinians.
Compounding the confusion and misconceptions in all of this are the mainstream news media whose purpose is to make a profit like any other business. Guardians of the flame of truth they are not. The most popular opinion-mongers seem to be the most likely to get everything wrong as in the case of Tom Friedman. Yet people continue to take him seriously and the New York Times continues to employ him despite his dismal record of being wrong on almost every issue and topic.
Noam Chomsky touches on all these topics and more in a recent article which is absolutely worth reading.
Obama's "new initiative" is spelled out more fully by John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, now chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in an important speech at the Brookings Institute on March 9. (http://kerry.senate.gov/cfm/record.cfm?id=309250). In interpreting Kerry's words, we have to suspend normal rationality, and agree that the actual facts of history are completely irrelevant. What is important is not the contrived picture of past and present, but the plans outlined.
Kerry urges that we acknowledge that our honorable efforts to bring about a political settlement have failed, primarily because of the unwillingness of the Arab states to make peace. Furthermore, all of our efforts to "to give the Israelis a legitimate partner for peace" have foundered on Palestinian intransigence. Now, however, there is a welcome change. With the Arab Initiative of 2006, the Arab states have finally signaled their willingness to accept Israel's presence in the region. Even more promising is the "unprecedented willingness among moderate Arab nations to work with Israel" against our common enemy Iran. "Moderate" here is used in its technical meaning: "willing to conform to US demands," irrespective of the nature of the regime. "This re-alignment can help to lay the groundwork for progress towards peace," Kerry said, as we "re-conceptualize" the problem, focusing on the Iranian threat.
Kerry goes on to explain that there is also at last some hope that a "legitimate partner" can be found for our peace-loving Israeli ally: Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. How then do we proceed to support Israel's new legitimate Palestinian partner? "Most importantly, this means strengthening General [Keith] Dayton's efforts to train Palestinian security forces that can keep order and fight terror... Recent developments have been extremely encouraging: During the invasion of Gaza, Palestinian Security Forces largely succeeded in maintaining calm in the West Bank amidst widespread expectations of civil unrest. Obviously, more remains to be done, but we can help do it."
Routinely, Kerry describes the attack on Gaza as entirely right and just: by definition, since the US crucially participated in it. It doesn't matter, then, that the pretext lacks any credibility, under principles that we all accept -- with regard to others.
General Dayton's forces, armed and trained in Jordan with Israeli participation and supervision, are the soft side of population control. The tougher and more brutal forces are those trained by the CIA: General Intelligence and Preventive Security.
Kerry is right that we can do more to ensure that West Bank Palestinians are so effectively controlled that they cannot even protest the slaughter in Gaza -- let alone move towards meaningful self-determination. For this task, the US can draw on a long history of colonial practice, developed in exquisite detail during the US occupation of the Philippines after the murderous conquest a century ago, then widely applied elsewhere. This sophisticated refinement of traditional imperial practice has been highly successful in US dependencies, while also providing means of population control at home. These matters are spelled out in groundbreaking work by historian Alfred McCoy (Policing America's Empire, forthcoming). Kerry should be familiar with these techniques from his service in South Vietnam. Applying these measures to Palestine, collaborationist paramilitary forces can be employed to subdue the domestic population with the cooperation of privileged elites, granting the US and Israel free rein to carry forward Bush's "vision" and Olmert's Convergence-plus. Gaza can meanwhile be kept under a strangling siege as a prison and occasional shooting gallery.
“In interpreting Kerry's words, we have to suspend normal rationality, and agree that the actual facts of history are completely irrelevant.” This is true not just about Kerry but almost every politician and commentator as well. But go read the whole article.