Friday, July 18, 2008

Sarcko the Ist; Prisoners and their fate; Obama and the Left

The Anointment of Sarcko, the First – Release the Prisoners – Support Obama and Build the Left
Sarkozy's Annapolis

A regional or local conflict reaches crisis status when there is enough violence to fear continued death and destruction. As a rule, international power brokers pursue their interests by feeding the conflict, while they explain to the world that anything that can be done "to bring the sides together" is exactly what they are doing. So everybody else should mind their own business.

Ah, but our world of hype and PR demands more and much more. The dominant power is called on nowadays to show the world its efforts for a solution of the conflict – even though these do not exist. One would assume that serious people would not play with a conflict such as ours, and the vast sea of suffering and pain it involves, only on the hype-PR level. However, despite artificially inspired expectations, the promises for peace made in Annapolis turned into lengthy siege and massive malnutrition for Gaza and complete and utter degradation for the Palestinian Authority and the West Bank. And since the prisoner issue is in the news, let us note that Annapolis has left 10,500 Palestinian prisoners rotting in Israeli jails. We are just as realistic as the next person, but the US behavior – big talk and no action - in Palestine has broken every record for cynical hypocrisy.

Sarkozy: Thinking Big with A New Tin Messiah

The technique of making a splash in the media without actually doing anything is now being employed by the French President, Sarkozy, who at the least has a bit more style than the Yankee bumbler in DC. But the success of the technique requires many dull minds masquerading as political analysts. Roger Cohen is one of the dull minded hagiographers who is expert in promoting circuses as serious affairs.

First of all he loves Sarkozy. Second of all, he lists Sarko's immense achievements. (See, International Herald Tribune, July 17, 2008.)

"But this man is a tonic to his country and the most important European leader of his time. In the space of a year, he has transformed France's relations with the United States, Israel, its North African neighbors and NATO....Let's take international matters first. Sarkozy's Mediterranean Union summit — a kind of Club Med Bastille Day bash — had its share of vapid ostentation, but was significant for several reasons…"

The details of these transformations in France's relations with US, etc. are simply missing. No solid facts or significant changes in policy, on the ground, are noted. But sit tight, because Roger has a biggie for you. Do you know who showed up at Club Med?

"It got the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, and the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, in the same room, drew the latter out of isolation and signaled a new European awareness of how its identity has become inseparable from societies across the "mother sea" that have sent so many of their Muslim sons and daughters northward."

Olmert and Assad in one room is listed as gigantic achievement number one, though they did not meet or greet one another. Olmert and Sarkozy wanted to stage a handshake and declare success! Now it was not Sarkozy who pulled Assad out of isolation but Syria's success in Lebanon. If there was any new diplomacy, it came from Assad, who used the Turkish (and not the French) connection to signal a qualified degree of independence from Teheran. Sarko just wanted to steal the show.

But the biggest journalistic gobbledygook comes in those sentences which seem to mean something. Sarkozy has fostered it seems, according to Cohen "a new European awareness of how its identity has become inseparable," from the North African countries. More ephemera.

All this happens, says Cohen on the basis of the following miracle: "The Union for the Mediterranean is a near-empty shell but an important impulse for Europe to think big." Cohen, determined that Sarkozy is a world ranking leader by virtue of his thinking big. A near empty shell but an important impulse!?

Cohen, somehow fails to remark on another "gigantic success" of the Sarkozian festivities. There, our inimitable Prime Minister informed the whole world that the Israelis and the Palestinians had never been closer to an agreement. Now, it is common knowledge that the talks are paralyzed and that Abu Mazen and the Palestinian Authority have been totally marginalized by Israeli settlement activity. One of Mazen's leading negotiators, Yassar Ab'd Rabbo, has suggested that the Authority end the negotiations charade.


Definitions in the region follow politics very closely. Our soldiers are heroes and theirs are vile murderers. We are motivated by morality and values and they are motivated by hatred and desire for revenge. You can follow the supposedly "free" government run Israeli television and radio for months without encountering a single dissenting voice to these axioms.

If wars are inevitable, prisoners should be treated fairly and repatriated speedily to their homes. But what kind of moral high ground can we hold when we hold more than ten thousand prisoners. Thousands of these are infirm, chronically ill, imprisoned for more than two decades, women and youngsters. Thus, it is very important for the average Israeli to be convinced, day after day, that these are terrorists and criminals though it is quite clear that almost all of them acted out of a sense of duty to redress the wrongs to their national rights and existence. Elementary decency requires massive release of these people. This might conceivably help in clearing some of the poisoned air hovering over all of us. It is worthwhile learning to respect all prisoners and fostering universal concern for their fate.

A Category Mistake

Let me reiterate the principles that could and should guide the response of the consistent left to many of Barak Obama's clearly incorrect, core positions. Obama is not the candidate of the left in the United States. Morally we have every right to demand a candidate from the left and for the left in the race to the White House. But the given relationship of forces is such that the left does not have sufficient clout at this stage to have its own candidate. Barak Obama who is not the candidate of the left will have the overwhelming support of the left in the US.

The nature of US politics is such that it is perfectly acceptable that a large section of the Obama supporters from the left have independent expression and their own frameworks within the Obama camp.
This is an excellent strategy for the rebirth of a strong independent left in the US.

Progress has been made in fortifying the correct impression that a sizable section of Obama's overall support comes from the left. Obama will have to take this fact into account. We will not condemn our friends on the left who feel it absolutely necessary to run a third party campaign. Disputes in the left must be the subject of friendly discussion and debate. But the facts are stubborn. The overwhelming majority of the left is in the Obama camp, and its potential constituency is right there. They can and will be influenced by the dynamic and open presence of a left wing in the Obama camp.