Monday, June 18, 2007

Gaza becomes Hamastan, Part 2 - Clarity and an opportunity

Keepin' the faith at a Hamas mosque in Gaza

Gaza has now become Hamastan. And I'm not surprised in the least, having been predicting this for at least three years or so.

After millions of dollars and months of arming and training the Bush Administration's preferred terrorists in Fatah under Mahmoud Abbas and spending millions of dollars on them to prepare them to push Hamas out of the picture, the US has ended up with what stockbrokers genteelly call a `non-performing investment'.

Normally when that happens, an investor cuts his losses and pulls out. But since that would upset the Bush Administrations Arab pals, it looks like we're going to do nothing of the kind.

Instead, the Bush Administration is planning on giving even more arms and money to our preferred terrorists, Abbas and Fatah.

The horse manure pushed all along by the Bush Administration was that the solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict was an eventual two-state solution with Israel living next to a `Palestine' that somehow marvelously turned from the genocidal terrorist enclave Arafat created into Switzerland by signing some papers and maybe transferring some real estate. And that fantasy was based on the idea that Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah were somehow different than Hamas when it came to their long term goals of conquering and destroying Israel or siding with the West.

You would think that the fiasco of Oslo and the experience of the Arafat regime would have taught people something.

President Bush, Condaleeza Rice and yes, certain Israeli politicians conveniently forget that Abbas was Arafat's lieutenant all along, went along for the whole sordid post-Oslo ride and is still the paymaster of the terrorist Tanzim and the al-Aqsa Brigades.

And they forget that the Palestinian people, in a democratic election freely chose to put Hamas in charge and thus signaled that they were perfectly happy with Hamas' agenda. The hypocrisy of the US attempt to subvert this choice by essentially preparing Fatah and Abbas for a coup over Hamas while President Bush and Secretary Rice were preaching the gospel of `Arab democracy' was not lost on the Arab world.

With Hamas' ascension, the West has - if it wants to - the opportunity for what I call a clarifying moment.

Current US foreign policy in the Middle East is a meme made up of two conflicting ideas. First is the idea that the Arabs are just like us, and want the same kind of Western style freedom and democracy we do. And the second is the idea that the Sunni autocrats so beloved by the Bush Administration are our friends and allies, and thus we need to cater to them and keep the status quo ( and the oil) flowing.

This conflict between misplaced idealism and pragmatism is exactly how things got so screwed up in Iraq, with the Bush Administration constantly weaving back and forth between placating the Saudis and the UAE and empowering the Sunnis in Iraq on the one hand and trying to reconcile the dominant Shiites to forget tribalism and revenge and embrace western style tolerance and values in the name of `Arab democracy' on the other, because we assume that that's what they want.

In practice, while individual Arabs may yearn for that kind of free and open society, as a group that's the last thing Arab society as a whole appears to want. Tribalism and Islam trump almost everything, and historically the Arabs have killed off any vestige of western style democracy that surfaced in the region - or in the case of Israel, at least tried to. And every time the Arabs themselves have had the chance to vote, they choose exactly that - Islam and tribalism. Arab society by its innate nature almost always tends to extremes of either dictatorship or near-anarchy. That it simply the way it is.

One of the reasons Islam is so authoritarian is because in many ways, it is an designed to address exactly this trait in Arab society. And it's worth noting that the Ottomans ruled the Arab world successfully for five centuries with few problems, even though they bled the Arabs white with taxes and generally treated them as an underclass because the Ottomans were prepared to enforce an authoritarian order in the region.

What we, as westerners constantly attempt to do is to find `democratic, moderate' Arab leaders who conform to our norms, and we're invariably disappointed. Especially when we're bending over backwards trying to cater to some of the most hardline, authoritarian regimes in the world at the same time.

'Palestine' is yet another example of the utter failure of this policy. On the one hand, to please the Saudis and our other Sunni `friends' the West gave millions to a dysfunctional band of gangsters headed by Yasir Arafat and later Abbas and gave them the functioning apparatus of a state with absolutely no consequences for their embrace of terrorism, gross human rights violations, total disregard for the international agreements they committed to and outright theft and corruption on a grand scale. A country like Myanmar was internationally isolated for far less.

Yet, when the president's fetish of `Arab democracy' reared its misshapen head, and the elections empowered one set of genocidal thugs in Hamas at the expense of the ones in Fatah that were already in place, rather than washing our hands of the matter, the West played twist-ee in a frantic effort to continue the status quo and please the Arab world by continuing to fund the old set of corrupt brigands who were a bit more subtle about their intentions...although anyone honestly looking at who Fatah was and what kind of `state' they had been running would have quite a time justifying continuing to support them, financially or morally.

Faced with being marginalized, Hamas found new backers in Syria and Iran and took the initiative of a pre-emptive strike, routing Fatah in a mere 4 days.

Now that Hamas has taken over Gaza, the West is once again playing the same old game of pouring more money down this rat hole and reaffirming that Abbas is our preferred terrorist. They will undoubtedly send them millions more in aid and lots of fresh new weaponry..what most sensible people would rightly call throwing good money after bad.

This is a huge mistake from a strategic point of view as well. Hamas has plenty of supporters in the West Bank, Abbas and Fatah have very little strength on the ground and any arms and money we give them - the part that doesn't get stolen - will eventually be used against Israel and the West, either because Abbas winds up getting assassinated , or because he will have to unleash the Tanzim and the al Aksa brigades against Israel to avoid being deposed by Fatah as a collaborator with the Americans and the Evil Zionists.

Either way, it's a continuation of a no-win situation.There was no way for a viable Palestinian state to exist next to Israel before Hamas took over Gaza and there's even less of a chance for a viable Palestinian state in the Palestinian parts of Judea and Samaria. And in any event, Abbas hands are tied as far as any negotiations go. He can't settle for less than all of Judea and Samaria, half of Jerusalem and the flooding of Israel with millions of Palestinian `refugees' (AKA the Saudi `peace' ultimatum) and Israel would be committing national suicide to give it to him.

Rather than continue the same old song and dance, the US could use its leverage to enforce a realistic and permanent solution to this situation by standing up to the Saudis and our other Arab `allies' and demanding that they take a hand in solving the refugee problem they created when they attempted to invade Israel in 1948 - and by having Jordan and Israel negotiate final borders and having Jordan resettle the `Palestinians' within their country.

There was never any logical rationale for a second Arab Palestinian state except as a tactic by the Arabs to destroy Israel, and an excuse for the Arabs not to accept Israel's existence. It's time to put this chimera to rest...and failing to do so is a recipe for continued war and strife in the region. Resettling these people in the other Arab countries means that, with the fiction stripped away, the Arabs will for the first time since 1948 have a clear choice to make - peace or continued hostilities - in front of the entire world,without the excuse of the Palestinians to hide behind.

Unlikely as it seems, losing this baggage will make it much easier for the Arab nations, at least most of them, to finally reconcile themselves to Israel's existence and to peace in the region.

And we might just might find that the Arab autocrats, seeing us behave with pragmatism and from a position of strength would turn out to be extraordinarily cooperative - which is exactly how they've historically behaved when confronted in that way.

As for Gaza, that's going to have to be dealt with one way or the other. The Israelis should be very wary about simply sending the IDF in to shed blood for Abbas and Fatah and then just handing Gaza over to the `Palestinians'. Both Fatah and Hamas have amply proved that any agreement made with them has the same value as so much used toilet tissue. Likewise, Olmert's inane remarks aside, I think Israel has had enough experience with `international peacekeepers' in the past to deepsix that idea for the foreseeable future.

The entire Hamas buildup of weaponry and the influx of trained fighters from Syria and Lebanon took place under the auspices of EU `monitors' stationed in Rafah. Ditto for the Hezbollah buildup in Lebanon,in direct violation of the very UN resolution that stationed UNIFIL there.

The most important step Israel can take with Gaza is to isolate it, which includes retaking the strategic Philidelphi corridor to control the border(and thus the arms traffic) with Egypt.They can likewise use Israel's control of Gaza's electricity, fuel and water to their advantage.

If the Israelis do decide to go in and destroy the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza, they need to annex this strategic area permanently, and see that the majority of the local population is resettled elsewhere. Failing to do that would merely make Israel responsible for this festering splinter, and for another `occupation'.


Unknown said...

This conflict between misplaced idealism and pragmatism is exactly how things got so screwed up in Iraq, with the Bush Administration constantly weaving back and forth between placating the Saudis and the UAE and empowering the Sunnis in Iraq on the one hand and trying to reconcile the dominant Shiites to forget tribalism and revenge and embrace western style tolerance and values in the name of `Arab democracy' on the other, because we assume that that's what they want.

Mixed motives is the very essence of American politics. Check out Walter Russell Mead on how this has informed and strengthened our foreign policy.

Freedom Fighter said...

Will do...thanks.

Anonymous said...

Another conflict, perhaps bigger than that between idealism and pragmatism, is what Hamilton warned of--"imperio in imperium"--a state within a state. The permanent parts of the US government, who refer to elected administrations as "the Christmas help", soon to be gone, are more and more open in their subversion of White House policy. The hand of our State Department is all over the mess known as our foreign policy, and no president seems able to take the reins back. So we have one government we elect, another we did not and can never get rid of.