Saturday, November 24, 2012

One Last Reluctant Post on the Recent Clusterfuck in Gaza.

The discussion on the whole question of who did and is doing what to whom in the portion of the Middle East where Jews and Arabs butt heads has gotten rather huffy, which is frankly what I expect whenever this issue comes up. As I've said here, and there, repeatedly, there IS no solution outside genocide of one faction or the other OR a massive concatenation of impossible actions on the part of a dozen different parties in the dispute.

For example, here's my friend Lisa, a brilliant and lovely person whose opinion I respect in every sense, commenting on this post;

"The very tiny nation that is Israel could not be defended without the Golan Heights."

Which just makes me tired and sad. Here we are, sixty years after watching two insane World Wars that were ginned up to a great extent because of Germany and France repeating this about Alsace-Lorraine, and look at where it got them.

The sad thing about the argument that we've been having here and at MilPub is how it just convinces me how insoluble this problem is.

Lisa - for all her wisdom and humanity - refuses to see the Arab residents of the former Palestine as anything but "the problem", and meanwhile here are bb and Ael - for all their intelligence and decency - saying exactly the same thing in reverse about the Israelis.

Here Lisa is equating "liberal sympathy" with the Pals with anti-Semitism, while here are the guys - who I have to assume from mere politeness if nothing else are not arguing from a base of "Jews suck" - arguing for sympathy for the Pals because of the actions of the Israeli Right.

I don't think either one of them is "wrong"...and yet, in terms of solving this clusterfuck, they're BOTH appallingly and terribly "wrong".

The simple reality is that Israel is and always will be a Middle Eastern colonial solution to a European social problem.

Israel may very well be "warred upon" - certainly the Arab residents of the Levant chose to fight rather than accept its existence - but what the fuck else could the Zionist founders expect? They were Normans in England, colonists in New England, Portuguese in Brazil. They tried and succeeded in doing what hadn't been done since the late 19th Century; founding a colony. And this was just as the rest of the world had turned it's face decidedly AGAINST colonialism.

Now I'm more than willing to own my own country's atrocities and vileness in genociding the pre-1492 residents of the place I live. If a native American "terrorist" organization started rocketing North Portland and blowing up Tri-MET buses I'd shake my head in grim sympathy - before arming up to exterminate them like vermin. In that fight I'd completely understand WHY my enemies were fighting, and at the same time understand that there was no middle ground there; we both wanted exactly the same thing, and for them to win I and mine would HAVE to lose. And I'd choose for their women and kids to die rather than mine.

But at the same time, I'd also understand that that would make me a monster. I wouldn't make excuses for myself. I would be doing wrong, and willingly, because that's the nature of colonialism.

The very nature of Israel and its situation in the Middle East makes for monstrous choices. Lisa has made hers, Ael and basil have made theirs. And so it goes.

But here's the thing; as a citizen of the U.S. I don't HAVE to make a choice. I can blithely wish a curse on both the houses in this colonial mess. I can wish that everyone involved in the business had made better choices. I can wish that Truman had offered Utah to the Zionists. I can wish that David Balfour had choked on a kipper at the age of 16. I can wish a lot of things, and none of them will made a half-damn's worth of difference.

But one thing I cannot do is change the utterly-fucked condition of the eastern Levant, and the only thing I mourn is that it sets my friends at each other's throats.

12 comments:

Leon said...

I'm going to paraphrase here: why can't we have both?

Assuming we can shut the idiots on the extremes on both sides, why can't the two co-exist in one nation of Isralistine? Then the world can shut up and hate each other for more legit reasons: twihards and bieliebers.

FDChief said...

Leon: the problem is that neither side is willing to be a "nation like other nations". A "Jewish state" means that everyone who is NOT Jewish must, by the nature of the state, be inferior. Likewise an "Arab State" means that everyone not an Arab Muslim is inferior.

So we CAN'T have both, and that's what Truman's State Department people told him 60-odd years ago. He didn't listen, and here we are.

What a flamin' disaster...

gruff said...

I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

basilbeast said...

Due to household budget constrains, we had to drop our cable tv service at the beginning of the year, and just a couple of months ago due to improved finances, courtesy of the US SS Service, we got DISH and its 3-month premium services. Thus were we introduced to Boardwalk Empire, a story of 1920s Atlantic City NJ and the relationship between Jewish, Italian and Irish immigrants trying to make their way in the New World and their way of life thanks to the Volstead Act.

Some gangster wisdom for the ages.

>>Leon said...

I'm going to paraphrase here: why can't we have both?

Assuming we can shut the idiots on the extremes on both sides, why can't the two co-exist in one nation of Isralistine?<<

Arnold Rothstein: Do you know what the nice thing is about the Bronx zoo, Charlie? There are bars between you and the monkeys.

bb

basilbeast said...

Chief:

>>Lisa - for all her wisdom and humanity - refuses to see the Arab residents of the former Palestine as anything but "the problem", and meanwhile here are bb and Ael - for all their intelligence and decency - saying exactly the same thing in reverse about the Israelis.

Here Lisa is equating "liberal sympathy" with the Pals with anti-Semitism, while here are the guys - who I have to assume from mere politeness if nothing else are not arguing from a base of "Jews suck" - arguing for sympathy for the Pals because of the actions of the Israeli Right.

I don't think either one of them is "wrong"...and yet, in terms of solving this clusterfuck, they're BOTH appallingly and terribly "wrong".<<

More wisdom concerning the Human Condition:

Joe Masseria: [in Italian, referring to the Jewish Rothstein] What are you doing with these Christ-killers? Come with me, I'll make you rich.
Lucky Luciano: [in Italian] With your other hand in my pockets.
Joe Masseria: [in Italian] I'm watching you, boy. Every fucking step.
[Charlie Luciano stands up angrily as Masseria exits]
Arnold Rothstein: Charlie.
Lucky Luciano: A.R., two grand is bad enough, but 10% of the fucking game?
Meyer Lansky: We already pay half the take on that game to you.
Arnold Rothstein: Yes. And now you boys know why.


( cont. below )

basilbeast said...

I'm sure I told part of this before, but I could be "appallingly wrong", so bear with me.
My maternal grandpa, born 1898, grew up and farmed in NE Kansas and I was sent to spend summers with him and grandma at an early age to help out. The Klan was very active in KS when those gangsters were enjoying the good life by bootlegging alcohol thanks to the efforts of that notorious Kansan Carry Nation, who really had good reason to do what she did, but unintended consequences and all that.
He was a good Christian man, really, but still the brand of Christianity I was brought up in told me that Jews and Catholics were bound for Hell and that the Jews suffered thru the centuries after the Diaspora and the ultimate persecution of the Holocaust b/c of God's Divine Justice for killing Christ.
Jigaboos and Burrheads, there were a few good ones, but we don't associate with them good or bad, and Communists! No matter that the teachings of Christ sounded so very socialistic.
To their credit, my grandparents and parents ( and my dad is from the deep south ) always taught us kids to treat others decently. And then I lived in Philly and met some actual blacks, Jews, and more Catholics than I could shake a stick at. And homos!
I didn't kill any of them, nor did I shun them.
Thanks to the wife, I was introduced to a better exposition of the Christian Faith than the simplistic Bible Thumping brand, and we met many Lebanese and a few Palis going Orthodox.
It's irksome to me to be accused of hating all things Israel for criticizing them for their political and military actions. But that's how it goes wherever I've seen this discussion.
Short of some Vulcan Mind Meld, or extensive beer and table time, I can't convince anyone of what I believe, but I do want Israel to Live Long and Prosper, and the Palis too.
But I remain convinced that what Israel is doing to her neighbors will not end well for them. Goes for the US in the world too.
Like Rothstein said, somebody's gonna pay for this.
And I don't believe Lisa wants to see the Palis suffer as they have for the past half century, b/c I've had the pleasure of her acquaintance for a few years now.

WRT washing our hands of this situation, we can't. Not with that chain around Uncle Sam's neck leading right through PNAC, AIPAC, our adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan and now Iran.

bb

basilbeast said...

PS

Ricks at FDL

http://fdlbooksalon.com/2012/11/24/fdl-book-salon-welcomes-thomas-e-ricks-the-generals/

Welcome Thomas E. Ricks (CNAS.org) and Host Susan Glasser (Foreign Policy)

The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today

There are two key words to keep in mind when reading Thomas Ricks’s important and eminently readable new book, “The Generals”: accountability and relief. Accountability is what set Ricks out on his investigation of America’s military leaders from World War II to the present, as in the missing accountability of our generals for the failures of the post-9/11 decade of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. And relief is what Ricks believes has been too often missing, as in the old-fashioned sense of the word and one that is hardly ever used anymore, certainly by the U.S. military: firing.

In arguing for a whole lot more of both accountability and relief, Ricks has managed to write not only an impassioned plea for the return of a culture of leadership and strategic decision makers to America’s warrior class, but also a page-turning history of long-forgotten chapters in U.S. military annals from World War II and the Korean war to more recent misadventures in Vietnam and Iraq.

Full disclosure: Ricks writes an award-winning blog about national security, “The Best Defense,” on the website I edit, ForeignPolicy.com, and has long been my indispensable guide to all things military. His two previous books on Iraq, “Fiasco” and “The Gamble” are must-reading for anyone seeking to understand that ill-conceived conflict.

FDChief said...

Basil: The accusation of anti-Semitism is an industry standard for anyone who is anti-Israeli. And in some cases it is accurate. But in others, as I assume in yours, it isn't, and serves as a sort of Godwin's Law to stifle discussion of the disaster that is the eastern Levant.

And I agree that the reality is that the U.S. has now managed to fuck itself in the ME because of our long-term symbiosis with Israel. What I'd like and what is fact are two different things.

And I don't remember where I posted some comment about Ricks' latest book, but my observation was that he was comparing apples and oranges. The last "big war" (WW2/Korea) provided a hard standard of military competence. Fuck up and the Germans would make you pay.

For all that, and for all the number of flag officers relieved for cause, a large number of marginally competent GOs remained in place. And I'd argue that the standard of generalship in the U.S. Army was never all such of a muchness; a lot of U.S. generals never had to rise much above local maneuvering. Look at the advance to the Strait of Messina in Sicily, or the entire Italian campaign, or the lengthy mire in the Normandy bocage.

And since then it's been all counterinsurgency or guerrilla war. There hasn't been a real possibility for an enemy force to defeat U.S. units in the field, and, therefore, for U.S. flag officers to show a dramatic level of incompetence. There is a real possibility that the supposed incompetence of guys like Sanchez was a reflection of their civilian masters' insistence that "there is no insurgency"...

I do want to read the Ricks' book, but from outside evidence I'm not sure if I will be impressed...

FDChief said...

The whole business is depressing, but at least it offers the possibility of cynical humor, such as found here: http://paulbibeau.blogspot.com/2012/09/american-foreign-policy-by-francis.html

Worth a read for the funny...

Podunk Paul said...

Always thought Ricks was kind of a light-gauge guy, embedded to the ear lobes. But this afternoon he demonstrated enough independence to get kicked off Fox News.

FDChief said...

He did? Good for him.

Lisa said...

This is a good analysis of the law (albeit, it fails to skewer the U.S.):

Is Israel or Hamas Breaking International Law in Gaza?