Saturday, September 21, 2002

Our Defeat is not Pre-ordained - Victory is a Distinct Possibility

Groups and individuals on the left are, at this juncture, cautious, and maybe even a bit suspicious regarding any expressions of orthodox optimism based, as it were, on the ‘inevitability’ of our success. The reversals suffered by those laboring for peace and progress over recent years suggest to most of us that, if we are to continue to do our moral duty, we may well get used to the idea of anticipating failures. This is the reason that we prefer a healthy cynicism in our immediate environment and dislike traditional methods for rallying the troops. In current language, one might say that we have to understand that we are losers and get used to the idea of living with that fact. Plodding, stubborn determination to register our opposition seems to be the premium quality for struggle. Hopes for successes and the belief that we make a difference are considered irritating and even counter productive – in the face of unfavorable odds and the ‘given relation of forces.’

Indeed, caution and low expectations are helpful in the sense that in the absence of illusions. one is rarely disappointed. But, here again, too much of a good thing [i.e., caution and low expectations] can be harmful. Realistic analysis does demand sober assessments of the strengths and virtues of contending forces nor de we tend to underestimate the strength of our current enemies, Ariel Sharon and George W. Bush. However, there are serious indications that the sharpest attacks by our enemies of peace and progress are a result of weaknesses and not strengths.

It is almost commonly accepted that the hope that the United States was overcoming the current recession was a delusion. Lower than expected profit reports, continuous financial scandals, and the disintegration of that last hope for recovery, consumer confidence, have convinced observers that the U.S. will undergo a ‘double dip’ depression. No one knows how much Iraq will cost Bush in money and in lives. However, it is certain that the whole economic system is very fragile and that any big mistakes will cost the system and its leadership dearly. The unmistakable conclusion is that the leadership of the United States is under enormous pressures to demonstrate its willingness and its ability to impose its will anywhere and anytime. This will includes universal natural resource and regime regulation. More than anything else this need reminds one of an over extended empire rushing in all directions at once to gird up its crumbling positions. Asides from the commonly held belief that the Bushites are suffering from one or more different forms of clinical loss of contact with reality, there seems to be no better explanation for the Busharon pincer movement in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine than this metaphor of the over extended empire. Empires tend to over-extend before their demise.

The logic that inspired the imposition of Israeli control over all of Palestine has run into similar difficulties. The official explanation being offered that suicide resistance re-emerged because the IDF has relaxed the siege and curfew over all the Palestinians, leads on to the inevitable conclusion that Israeli security under Sharon requires constant IDF presence everywhere in the territories. With 8,000 Palestinians already in Israeli jails, the IDF and the Shin Bet must continue to go all out to kill or capture another 20-30 Palestinians that remain on their wanted list.
It is also getting more and more far fetched to hold Arafat responsible for activities by the Islamic and the breakaway Fatah militants, after proving to all that he is irrelevant. After totally isolating him, it will be even harder to blame him for the ‘violence.’ People are indeed asking how we are going to explain the next round of violent resistance, after Arafat has been isolated or even murdered, by one of the stray bullets flying around the compound.

Now this, from the point of view of our local imperialists is the preferred way to run things. It is the exact opposite of their dream of imposing a ‘democratic’ pro-Israel Palestinian regime, which could govern the underlying population in circumstances approximating a sort of normalcy. Israel is on its way to creating the ultimate occupation, where not only the area is occupied and general population administered, but where every single home, school, and neighborhood will have its own personal tanks and occupying forces. Leaving the occupied with no alternative to blind, random responses should engender enough ghastly violence against Israeli citizens to keep fear and loathing at the appropriate political level.

Thus, we too in Israel will have our own government of homeland security that will continuously wage a totally successful, perpetual and unending war against ‘terror’ ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

Here in Israel, the policy of force, is also bleeding the economy. Sharon may be popular in the Wall Street Journal, but on the same street, the credit managers in New York decided on a serious downgrade of all the major Israel banks. Citigroup, the biggest of the banking bunch, decided to cancel plans for expansion here in the country. Sharon, it appears, hopes to get a bail out for the Israeli economy listed as an incidental U.S. expense in the war against Sadaam Hussein. And that is the limit of his willingness to relate to the increasing difficulties of the local economy.

Bush and Sharon are incurring the wrath of too many people and operating with a very narrow margin of popular support. Though most of their victims are organizationally disarmed and militarily frail, the dire necessity to fight back in order to live and survive was, is, will continue to be a powerful historical force. The weak spots of the aggressors and the needs of the repressed will, at some point, converge and reshape the relations of forces and prove the we are still very far away from the ‘end of history’ here in the Middle East.