Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A New Gimmick - Occupation With Equality

No serious observer of the Israeli political scene ascribes any significance whatsoever to a new highly publicized flurry of publications emanating from right wing circles. For the journalist, ever in search of a new angle, these circles are supposed to represent a sea change in basic attitudes regarding the rights of the Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories. The evidence for this is that a number of right wing politicians came out for a one state solution based on equal rights for the Palestinians. Of course, there is no real program, and not even the semblance of an organization. Just a rather quaint list of right wingers who seem to be willing to make some limited concessions on their way to the imposition of complete, sovereign, control of all of the land of Palestine, the Land of Israel.

The best guess as to the reason for this wave of sensitivity among right wing annexationists for “equal rights for the Palestinians” appears to be linked to the ‘legitimacy crisis”. The existence of such a crisis is now part of the received wisdom of Israeli political discourse. Many semi-official experts (PR people, pollsters, analysts) have joined forces to impress the public that the deligitimization of Israel is the greatest threat, bar none, to the very existence of Israel. This is of course a rather superficial way of looking at matters, but even so, anyone can see that there is some truth to it. Israeli policy and actions have destroyed the last vestiges of sympathy for Israel the whole world over. But official Israel would have Israel’s growing isolation seen as matter of imagery, public relations and unfair coverage.

There are some annexationist politicians intelligent enough to understand that they need some sort of answer to the obvious objection that they meet with regularly. People have asked them what is supposed to happen after the annexation of the territories. Therefore, it has occurred to some of them that they need an answer to the objections against pure Israeli control, and so they came up with the idea of Israeli citizenship for all. None of them see any need to grapple with the fact that they have turned their back on the principles of democracy and equality absolutely essential in addressing the basic rights of the Palestinians. The individuals concerned (a few leading lights of the right, several MK’s and a former minister) reject, without exception, any solution of the Palestinian refugee problem or the inclusion of Gaza and its people as part of the new one state entity. None of these people have ever uttered a word of compassion and regret regarding the imposition of decades of suffering and degradation on the Palestinians under occupation. You do not even have to read the fine print. It’s a gimmick from the beginning to the end and almost all readers’ responses noted that the “plan” is based on the unilateral imposition of a new form of occupation. One can be certain that the inevitable resistance to the ‘approaching unilateral generosity’ will be suppressed with the full might of the Israel Defense Forces.

This being clearly the situation, it was rather strange to see that a number of Palestinians and their friends rose to take the bait. One outstanding example is Ali Abunima*, the editor of the Electronic Intifada. Abunima makes almost every conceivable mistake as he totally misreads the map and the significance of the latest gimmick. Believe it or not, for Abunima, the print splashed on a weekend supplement is, no more and no less than an important sign that the Israeli occupation is crumbling. Not only the occupation, but the entire Zionist edifice is shaking to its foundations.

“This awakening can be likened to what happened among South African whites in the 1980s. By that time it had become clear that the white minority government's effort to "solve" the problem of black disenfranchisement by creating nominally independent homelands -- bantustans -- had failed. Pressure was mounting from internal resistance and the international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions.

By the mid-1980s, whites overwhelmingly understood that the apartheid status quo was untenable and they began to consider "reform" proposals that fell very far short of the African National Congress' demands for a universal franchise -- one-person, one-vote in a nonracial South Africa.”*

This attempt at a parallel interpretation of current events and South Africa before the end of Apartheid is so far off base as to almost eliminate any need for rebuttal. First of all, it exhibits a total and complete misunderstanding of Israeli politics and the power structure in the country. Secondly, it shows a strange inability to analyze current reality. The South African ANC was basically united and enjoying international prestige and respect. Unfortunately, the movement for Palestinian national liberation is deeply divided, in a deep crisis and the Palestinian Authority has lost all authority. Part of the Palestinian cause has been literally taken over by the military and economic direct control and influence of the United States, which also acts as a surrogate for Israeli interests. The US and Europe in its wake refuse to impose any genuine curbs on Israeli control and expansion. I could go on and on, but Abumima’s entire conception is obviously dictated by wishful thinking. He is so enthusiastic over the meager incomplete reflections of a handful of chauvinist politicians that he is close to declaring victory. Sadly, he is hopelessly wrong and conceptual narrowness has led him far astray from genuine contact with political reality.

Abunima goes on to define this week end supplement gimmick as a major development furthering the cause of a one state solution.

You see, the Israeli right and the militant Palestinians really want the same thing. It is only a question of terminology.

“The proposals from the Israeli right-wing, however inadequate and indeed offensive they seem in many respects, add a little bit to that hope. They suggest that even those whom Palestinians understandably consider their most implacable foes can stare into the abyss and decide there has to be a radically different way forward.

We should watch how this debate develops and engage and encourage it carefully. In the end it is not what the solution is called that matters, but whether it fulfills the fundamental and inalienable rights of all Palestinians.”

One is left with deep concern that our “one staters” have become the last bulwark of sterile dogmatism. If Abunima sees the statements of this almost random collection of Israeli annexationists as a serious political development, he will be sorely disappointed. One has the impression that his opposition to a two state solution and his dislike of the Zionist left has seriously impaired his critical faculties.

*Ali Abunimah is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. This article first appeared on Al-Jazeera English and is republished with permission.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Pearlman Affair

The GSS (General Security Services), or the Shin Bet, is the Israeli intelligence service apparatus devoted to the formulation and the execution of policies designed to perpetuate the repression against Palestinian Arabs, especially in the occupied Palestinian territories. However, the Palestinian Arabs, citizens of Israel, who comprise a fifth of the Israel’s population, are also objects of the GSS attention.

Israeli expansion, annexation and expropriation have been at the heart of government practice since the establishment of Israel in 1948. Even so, there have always been dangerous, extremist circles which operated to the right of the government. These circles constantly attacked the various governments for not being consistent in ousting the Palestinians. The settler right argued that the ruling circles do not have the courage of their Zionist convictions. In short, the government was faulted for hesitating to carry out the full maximum program – a land of Israel, without Arabs.

Since 1967, there has been a consistent increase in the numbers and varieties of right-wing extremist groups. Their main base is in the settlements, where they are routinely issued guns and other military equipment, for the ostensible reason of “fighting terror.” Some of them are distinguished writers and academics while there is no shortage of activists who are clearly as nutty as a fruit cake. Many are “nice” souls trying to implement values with which they have been imbued from childhood. But, the main point is that they are all convinced that full redemption is just around the corner - if the regime and the citizenry would only dare to get on with the job.

There are two matters that require our attention at this point. Firstly, the settlement framework means that there are literally thousands of gun toting fanatics who believe that the redemption is right around the corner. Most of them are deep within the interstices of the IDF and the settler communities. They are not law abiding citizens but an angry constituency who fears that even Netanyahu could sell them down the river. Secondly, what they are saying is not too far from the core beliefs of Israeli society. There may be tactical differences with the establishment, but the settlers have a surefire technique how to easily overcome mainstream hesitation. The settler vanguard knows that in case of any serious clash between the Arabs and the settlers, the majority of Jews will ignore the real causes, as they line up with their Jewish brethren fighting the good fight for “our” land.

Now, any government that does not want the settlers to be the ones to set the time to embroil it into a major confrontation is advised to keep its eyes and ears open. This is why we are all protected here in Israel, in addition to our nuclear devices and our NATO size army, by the GSS in general and specifically by its Jewish division (GSS-JD). In order to feel really secure and safe, let us recall that it was the criminal negligence of the security pros in this unit who "guarded" Yitshak Rabin in a fashion that made him easy prey for assassination by a right wing fanatic back in 1995.

Ha’aretz military correspondent, Amir Oren, informed his readers this week that the current head of the Jewish division of the GSS makes his home in a settlement on the east side of the green line.

This helps me to illustrate that there may be differences between the GSS detachment monitoring the Jewish extremists in matters of form, and style and discourse, but there is a lot of spiritual symbiosis between the Jewish division and the objects of its attention. It is this mutuality of goals and aspirations that is at the heart of the inability of the Jewish division to function with a semblance of efficiency. Again and again, their operations tend to end up in a farce and a debacle.

The main strategy of the ultra-right is to find and exploit every opportunity for violence, open or hidden, to attack, maim or even murder Palestinians who are guilty of being Palestinians. So the announcement at the end of last week that the GSS was holding one, Chaim Pearlman, for a number of murders and attempted murders might have been greeted with some satisfaction. But it became clear right from the start that the GSS-JD just cannot get anything straight. Pearlman it turns out is fully prepared for the arrest. He has the services of on call legal counsel and his experienced buddies have prepared him with a bag of tricks to counter attack. Chaim, it appears, is well known to the GSS. He has worked for them, and received money. His line of defense is ready; he is being persecuted and falsely charged because he has rejected GSS overtures to continue to work for them.

Pearlman’s backers, the well known Meir Kahana disciples, Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben Gvir, began immediately to distribute videos to the media. They had in their possession a lengthy video of a GSS representative, disguised as a right wing militant, trying to convince Pearlman to perform specific acts of violence. Pearlman, aware that everything was being taped, lectures the GSS-JD agent about how he restricts himself to legal political work. At one point, the representative of the GSS, unaware, of course, that he was being filmed and staring right into the camera, tries to convince Chaim to carry out a joint project with him in which they would assassinate Sheikh Ra’ad Saleh. Saleh just happens to be the head of the northern section of the Islamic movement and probably the most influential individual in the Palestinian community in Israel.

The media are still sitting on this bombshell and waiting to see if the GSS will get an indictment. This is quite a technique that the GSS is employing. You try and entrap a terrorist suspect by enticing him into murdering a prominent Palestinian figure who enjoys the respect and admiration of tens if not hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. Pearlman was free and on the loose at the time of the interview and could have conceivably tried to do something important for the cause. And the GSS feeds Pearlman with the idea of a project to murder a prominent Israeli Palestinian Islamic leader.

At this point Pearlman is being held on the basis of a court order, remanded while the GSS lawyers work on an indictment. But the clumsiness and ineptitude of the GSS has made the whole operation seem ridiculous. One can evaluate GSS efficiency from the fact that the three murders ascribed to Pearlman occurred as far back as 1998! There were, it seems some more murders and attempted murders between 1998 and 2004. The GSS which fell down on the job for years and years is now made out to appear vindictive since the arrest comes after Perlman refused to go to work for them and simply stated, the fascists are having a field day making a mockery of the GSSJD.

The left, for its part, is hardly surprised that the regime is so confused and disorganized when it comes to imposing the rule of law against the ultra-right. There is simply no clear line between principles commonly held by the extreme right and between the core political beliefs of many ranking GSS officers who are, supposedly, combating their illegal activities. In their arguments with the GSS apparatus, the theorists of the radical right sense that they hold the moral high ground. It is not hard to understand why the armed settlers roam the occupied territories with the sense that “God is on our side!” Unable to employ the brutal methods that are standard operating procedure against Palestinians, the Jewish Division flounders and bungles on with inefficiency and deadly negligence.

There are reliable accounts to the effect that the GSS has violated constitutional rights of many of the right wing activists. In principle, the left could deem itself obliged to denounce such violations as, per example, the denial of the rights of the defendant to meet with his or her lawyer. The same methods and many more are commonly used against Palestinians. The difficulty lies in the fact that more often than not, the clash between the radical right and the GSS is a chapter in an ongoing sham. We do not have even the most minimal information on the active network of connections and ongoing manipulation that characterize the constant large scale cooperation and mutual understanding between the two forces who work together against the Palestinians and their most basic rights. In this nether world of hatred and oppression first and foremost against Palestinians as Palestinians, much of what transpires as antagonism between the right and the GSS is far from being what it appears to be. The overall impression is that any crack down by the GSS, when and if it occurs has something to do with settling accounts. Though civil rights people will find it necessary to condemn certain high handed and even brutal practices, employed here and there against the radical right, it would be naïve to believe that we have the full and complete picture that would enable us to determine exactly the sources of these clashes. But both these operations are different arms of the same ruling regime. The GSS and the organized fundamentalist radical right thrive on deceit and prosper on lies. And more often than not their resources are pooled in coordinated efforts. Very few, if any, democratic principles are involved.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Solidarity with Iran Facing Aggression and the Nature of the Regime

Fidel Castro, as is his custom, published his views on current developments in his June 26, 2010 column entitled Reflections. The thrust of Castro’s Reflections, printed last week, is crystal clear. Castro describes in detail the recent ongoing United States- Israeli naval build up in the Middle East, stressing that it is, “now a matter of calculating when the American and Israeli naval forces will be deployed off the coasts of Iran joining there the aircraft carriers and other US military ships already on watch in the region.”

In a matter of importance related to our discussion, Castro also makes short shrift of the opposition to the regime in Iran, exposing its class nature: “The US administration worked out a plan to promote a political movement that, based on capitalist consumerism, would divide the Iranians and overthrow the government. Such hope is now harmless.”

The Anti-imperialist Left
Even in the West, with all the weaknesses of the socialist movement, there fortunately persists a current of critical thought, best defined as the anti-imperialist left (AIL). The essential position of the anti-imperialist left is based on the contention that the United States acts as the global hegemonic force, imposing regimes of subservience and exploitation over great sections of the globe – wherever it can and for as long as it can.

As my reader might guess, the AIL is hardly a monolithic affair. As a matter of fact, Castro reignited a serious debate over important issues related to Iran, already the source of much acrimony and friction in the left.

The crux of the often heated debate involves the relation between the growing danger of US-Israel aggression against Iran and the serious charges regarding the reactionary and dictatorial record of the regime in that country.

The two opposing trends here are realists who stress the decisive importance of Iran’s international role and the democrats who call on the AIL to confront the Iranian regime’s record of repression. Naturally enough, there are shades and nuances both in theory and in practice. Even so, the opposing trends are quite recognizable in day to day political discourse.

Precisely, in the heat of the debate, it is vital to stress that all sections and streams in the AIL vigorously oppose US threats and preparations of war against Iran. It is important not to lose sight of this fact both on the theoretical level and in practical politics.

In practical day to day politics, the democrats are heavily engaged in exposing dictatorial repression in Iran and mobilizing support for the human and political rights of the opposition. The democrats insist on placing the issue of repression in Iran high on the public agenda.

The realists deny the progressive nature of the opposition in Iran and consider it linked, formally or not, to the interests of Iran’s enemies. For the realists the main objects of repression are linked to the opposition, which is mainly subversive.

The democrats argue that criticism of the regime and internal changes may be necessary to improve the capacity of the country to repel and overcome aggression. The weaknesses and repressive nature of the regime may even impair its ability to mobilize international sympathy and support.

Weaknesses in the Democratic Approach
This argument, lofty in intent, is essentially a matter of speculation. Even if we knew much more about Iranian society than we know, it is impossible to know the effects of this or that development on the overall strength and viability of the regime, especially in regards to its ability to resist provocations and foreign aggression.

We have no real evidence, as many democrats argue that U.S. intelligence prefers Ahmadinejad and the present rulers of Iran over the opposition, an accusation bandied about by people in the solidarity movement with the Iranian opposition. It is, of course, reasonable to assume that the Iranian opposition is a heterogeneous affair. But it would be naïve to doubt that it must include a major component of forces seeking to overthrow the present regime towards a rapprochement with the U.S. But it is also true that the opposition includes many noble, dedicated women and men of the radical left.

Even though it is correct to say that “in the long run” it is the internal dynamic that would determine Iran’s path. In the real world, here and now, the two fronts, the internal or the external front, are two separate arenas, much less interrelated than they would appear to be, especially in matters related to Iran’s ability to resist U.S.-Israeli aggression. Of course, the “home front” is important but that importance does not match the vital and all embracing importance of the international role of the regime, its will and ability to resist imperialism machinations. Of course, we cannot ignore the eventual significance of the internal dynamic, but we do argue that consistency and determination on the international front can create historical space for advancement on the internal domestic front, for greater democracy and human rights.

Chomsky Backs Fidel
An article published by Noam Chomsky two days after Fidel’s Reflections fully verifies Fidel’s analysis of the approaching storm. Of course, in his own inimitable fashion, Chomsky mobilizes overwhelming evidence for his central point. Iran is in danger of death and destruction not because it is a “terrorist entity,” but because of its deepening political influence in the region. No one could consider Chomsky, with his sensitivity to human rights issues, a friend of the Iranian regime which many have characterized as a regime in war with its own people.

I think that we in the independent left operating in circumstances of severe public debate, dominated by the imperial media monopoly on the prevailing discourse, must develop our own nuanced approach to the question at hand. It would be a crucial mistake if we fail to understand the justifiable reasons for Fidel’s blanket denunciation of the Iranian opposition and his characterization of it as ”a political movement based on capitalist consumerism.” On the other hand, there is an additional dimension, that on the level of human and civil rights, which demands a measured, serious response.

Fidel is telling us what we should already know. It is the duty of any progressive regime to identify in any given circumstances the forces with which it can develop cooperation and mutual advantage. Given the historical hegemony of imperialism over the years, it must be understood that this is a legitimate historical approach and a means of resistance. The principle is simple: the regime (our regime) must do and will do that which is essential to prevent isolation, to ensure security, to put bread on the table of its citizens. It must utilize all these opportunities as a matter of course.

I myself, and others of similar irrepressible sensitivities witness in Iran a series of sickening actions that jar the core our own values and political needs, legitimate in and of themselves. This might create false hope for the emergence of an opposition more to our taste. But is it so hard to understand, that Castro having seen the role of capitalist consumerism in the fall of the USSR, and on the basis of his own analysis of Cuban reality, sees the dreams of Westernized middle class for a “freer” society as one big trap? The U.S. is, as we know, ever ready to assist regime change, more democratic elections, a new lease on life for civil society – all for free.

Castro’s dismissive description of the Iranian opposition may be the basis of Cuban politics on this issue, and it may be basically correct, but it cannot serve all the requirements of those fighting against U.S. aggression in the heartlands of imperialism and its allies. The issue of human and civil rights, the protection against arbitrary arrest, torture and punishment cannot be ignored by the left, even in the rarified and tense atmosphere of an international campaign against the Iranian people and its leadership. Many things are happening which cannot be countenanced.

Strategy and Tactics on the Iran Issue
When we unavoidably relate to the glaring crimes of the Iranian regime, we are faced, whether we wish so or not, with a number of urgent practical and strategic questions. Since silence on this issue is not an option, but since we also refuse to reduce in any way our iron clad obligation to work with the forces in opposition to U.S.-Israeli aggression, we face the challenge of integrating the two elements, of conveying some sense of proportion between the importance of the two issues, and the choice of partners in the day to day political battle. There is, of course, no easy formula, but there are certain guidelines that might prevent serious distortions from the policy we seek.

The main front is the fight against U.S.-Israeli aggression, as long as the real danger persists. It is here that we are interested in the establishment of the widest possible front. The internal Iranian front is a secondary battle. We cannot prove this, but our instinctive sense is that the danger of war increases domestic chauvinism and disregard for human rights. An eventual relaxation in tension over a broad period should open the way for more respect for the rights of Iranians in all spheres. And as long as the danger of war is there, our main duty, is opposition to the war, which is in the final analysis the best thing that we can do for the people of Iran, including victims of repression in Iran.

Knowing that there is at the least some truth in the Castro point regarding the nature of the opposition, we should desist from undifferentiated, overall support for the opposition on the basis of liberal principles and democratic rights. We should support analytical and documentary reports to expose regime brutality. But we are not “fans“ of an entity identified in the media as the “democratic opposition” nor do we believe that the forces identified with the “democratic opposition” are a more humanitarian and just alternative.

Two categories: Iran’s international status, and Iran’s internal regime – reflect two important interrelated aspects of Iran’s existence. But they are not two dimensions of equal import and impact. The decisive axis of development, the major impact and influence stem from the first category, Iran’s international status. The Iranian issue has long lost any vestige of localism, of involvement in mere local interests. The battle around Iran has taken on immense importance as a critical stage in the weakening of U.S. hegemony in the Middle East and even on a wider scope.

For the above reasons, we reject the simple formula often suggested in thorny issues like this one, i.e., Fight aggression against Iran without relating to the character of the regime in that country and fight against the regime, as if there were no danger of aggression. However, the two issues, both admittedly important, are not on the same scale of importance and influence on the course of events.

An Echo from the Past
Marxist theory on the issue suggests that it may seem as if this is some sort of “replay” of past disputes. But it isn’t. The material conditions obtaining today and their political ramifications are simply vastly different. The communist movement no longer exists as an international force, and Trotskyism has no role in presenting an alternative to the communist option. Moreover the theories associated with Stalin and/or Trotsky no longer possess, without further contemporary development, a degree of internal consistency that can supply answers to any strategic dilemma. Inevitably, they have become, on the theoretical level, historical schools of thought, which do inspire different and often conflicting approaches to the very same issue. In short, the dispute that we are dealing with is not based on the different theories of Stalin and Trotsky.

Realists, who have experience with the various oppositions against authoritarian governments which chose to set out on an anti-U.S. path, have reason to be highly suspicious. The pressures in the opposition to be drawn into the vortex of US support are tremendous. Orange, velvet, yellow or green oppositional forces do tend to go the way of U.S.-sponsored “democracy”, even when they set out to do battle on the basis of the most sincere and naïve basis. The realist challenge to the democrats centers, more than on anything else, on the question of the real nature of the Iranian. Their approach is that the opposition grew and developed on the basis of U.S. spiritual and ideological foundations, with the hope for a more material equivalent not too far off in the future. My impression is that the realists, in rallying to the defense of Iran, are not so much in sympathy with its rulers as motivated by anxiety over the negative repercussions of the possible downfall of the present leadership.

Between Two Worlds
One of the more intelligent attempts, from a friend in Europe, to come to grips with the two different approaches argues that –

“Fidel stands for the raison d’état, like Chávez, by the way. Both Cuba and Iran are harassed by the US, and both suffer the effects of an embargo. Whether this implies to embrace the regime in Iran is another story. Neither Chomsky nor myself have interests of state which might blind our critical approach. Therefore my position is that as citizens, and this extends to the civil society at large, we may not support a reactionary theocracy, a clerical and military regime based on crony capitalism.

Any approach to Iran from the civil society should stress this paradox: Iran has the right to development but also to freedom, and a set of political liberties may be set aside temporarily on behalf of development, when the improvement of the people is delivered (like in China), and social and cultural overtures are promoted, and legal equality for all citizens is guaranteed.”

But despite the nature of the regime - a reactionary theocracy, a clerical and military regime based on crony capitalism - This doesn't allow imperialist intervention to change the regime, as the only consequence it brings is chaos, civil strife, and political and economic subjugation. Iran is living out very interesting contradictions, but they are internal, and Iranians must be left alone in order to experience their own autonomous resolution.”

Our friend is mindful of the source of the different views on the issue and he tends to justify both, depending on the level of the discourse. But this solution, despite the penetrating analysis of the difference in the circumstances of states on one hand and actors in civil society, is still quite unsatisfactory. There is something both wrong and inadequate in the attempt to separate the worlds of power and interests on one hand and that of critical minded activists, on the other. There is some faulty, rather quaint logic here that implies that we would have to change our position if, God forbid, state power would be thrust upon us. But, to be practical, the distinction, between the two worlds, though tempting, is not really viable. If we accept the validity of the “reasons of state,” we are not and cannot remain indifferent to the intense political struggle regarding the actions of those countries which enter into alliances with Iran. This means on our part the active defense of Cuba, Venezuela, etc precisely on the Iranian issue. This calls for active support for Iran trying to break out of isolation imposed by the US. “Reasons of state,” when the state involved is struggling against suffocation by the still very powerful hegemonic force, are valid political currency in the real political battles.

Human Rights – Yes! Alternative Regime – No
I do not sense that there is any serious contradiction between full support for Iran versus the United States plans for aggression and refusing, at the very same time, to condone many of the ugly violations of human rights and dignity.

But there is a contradiction between support for Iranian resistance and the claim that there exists a completely satisfactory alternative to the given regime in the form of a democratic opposition which could with sweep of its hand, as it were, enhance Iran’s prestige as a democratic entity – thus erecting a moral barrier to aggression against the country. With all due respect, the orientation on an alternative regime means faith in a new formation that would emerge rather quickly as the true and tested ally of the United States. Aggression might be avoided in the new circumstances precisely because now that we have pro-Western government, it has been rendered superfluous. The country and its assets would be in safe hands, just like Iraq today.

Castro and Chomsky have made the dangers crystal clear indeed. The bloody war in Iraq is far from being over. Afghanistan is a quagmire of quicksand. Turkey is opting for neutrality. Syria and Lebanon insist on their independence. Obama and the U.S. are running out of money and corporate U.S. has barred governmental access to the mint. Faced with significant, multiple regional defeats, the United States entertains dreams of a military fix that might reverse the trends. Israel is pinning its hopes on confrontation. War to protect the edifice of a crumbling hegemony seems to be, for the rulers of the U.S., a way out of the swamp.