Monday, April 28, 2008

Notes on hiding elephants

"Around the world, there is no shortage of nations who share our values, and are willing to defend them. These include countries like Australia, which sent troops to Iraq; Israel, which has been fighting Islamic terrorism almost since its founding; and Japan, which generally follows a more "Western" policy than most of Western Europe." Rupert Murdoch - WSJ

"The neoconservative vision(...) is essentially an affirmation of ideology. Not only does it declare war on Russia and China, it places the United States in active opposition to all nondemocracies. It proposes a League of Democracies, which would presumably play the role that the United Nations now does, except that all nondemocracies would be cast outside the pale. The approach lacks any strategic framework. What would be the gain from so alienating two great powers? How would the League of Democracies fight terrorism while excluding countries like Jordan, Morocco, Egypt and Singapore? What would be the gain to the average American to lessen our influence with Saudi Arabia, the central banker of oil, in a world in which we are still crucially dependent on that energy source?" Fareed Zakaria - Newsweek

"At first, Ms. Dowd's neocon list of last names included only Wolfowitz, Perle, Kristol, Libby and their "Likudnik friends," but later, as blogger "Silver Surfer" writes on, she amended the list to include Cheney, Woolsey and Gingrich. "In Ms. Dowd's view," he writes, "adding a few non-Jewish names to her 'neo-cons' list makes her conspiratorial story-line kosher. But it doesn't. The result is a classical portrait of 'neo-con' (read: Jewish) advisors, who drip poison in the ears of their hapless gentile bosses, while they advance their global plot to subvert true American interests and take over the world--and, as Ms. Dowd is always quick to point out . . . thereby 'advance the strategic goals of Israel.' " Julia Gorin - Wall Street Journal
David Seaton's News Links
It is said that if one wanted to hide an enormous elephant in the middle of the street in a big city, the best way to do that would be to organize a huge parade of circus elephants and hide one's elephant among them.

If we start with the premise (highly controversial) that one of the main interests,of the American policy makers known as "neocons" is to reinforce Israel's position vis a vis the Palestinians, than is is easy to see that in a world at peace, Israel's conflict with the Palestinian people stands out like a lonely elephant on a busy street.

Like some one smoothing a rumple in the covers while putting the final touches on making their bed, a world at peace, with diminishing American influence, would pressure Israel to comply with UN resolutions beginning with UN-242, or the Saudi peace plan. That would mean the end of the Zionist (both Christian and Jewish) right wing fundamentalist's dream of "Greater Israel", including Judea and Samaria. This would be a great relief to many Israelis themselves, but never enough for the neocons.

If however there is constant tension and confrontation between the "West" (including Japan) Russia and China, than Palestine and even Iran become very small elephants indeed.

The necons affirm their attachment to liberal principals. Robert Kagan, one of neoconservatism's most audible voices expresses it thusly:
Only the liberal creed grants the right, the belief that all men are created equal and have certain inalienable rights that must not be abridged by governments, that governments derive their power and legitimacy only from the consent of the governed and have a duty to protect their citizens’ right to life, liberty and property. To those who share this liberal faith, foreign policies and even wars that defend these principles, as in Kosovo, can be right even if established international law says they are wrong.
Somehow, of course, none of this seems to include the human rights of the Palestinian people to escape collective punishment. Here is the law:

No general penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, shall be inflicted upon the population on account of the acts of individuals for which they cannot be regarded as jointly and severally responsible.

Laws and Customs of War on Land (Hague IV); October 18, 1907, Article 50

No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.

Pillage is prohibited.

Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.

Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Geneva, 12 August 1949, Part III : Status and treatment of protected persons, Section I : Provisions common to the territories of the parties to the conflict and to occupied territories, Article 33

Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.

Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Geneva, 12 August 1949, Part III : Status and treatment of protected persons, Section III: Occupied Territories, Article 53

This oversight converts the liberal interventionism of the neocons in pure sophistry,: "a subtle, tricky, superficially plausible, but generally fallacious method of reasoning". Sophistry by any definition of the word.

That something so spurious, so baldly and cynically false should be mainstream discourse gives an idea of how the American political system has deteriorated.

For example, Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal lends its pages to French neocon and philosopher(?) Bernard-Henri Levy, to vilifie former President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jimmy Carter and simultaneously give us a Polaroid of Barack Obama :
"Is it the senility of a politician who has lost touch with reality and with his own party? Barack Obama, even more clearly than his rival, has just reminded us that it will not be possible to "sit down" with the leaders of Hamas unless they are prepared to "renounce terrorism, recognize Israel's right to exist, and respect past agreements." Could he be suffering from a variant of self-hatred, or in this case a hatred of his own past as the Great Peacemaker? All hypotheses are permitted. Whatever the reason, Mr. Carter has demonstrated an unusual capacity to transform a political error into a disastrous moral mistake".
Apparently in Levy's opinion, Obama's rival, Hillary, is not sufficiently clear in her rejection of former President Carter and only promises to "obliterate" Iran.

As to McClain, Fareed Zacharia, describes the ageing senator's position best:
I write this with sadness because I greatly admire John McCain, a man of intelligence, honor and enormous personal and political courage. I also agree with much of what else he said in that speech in Los Angeles. But in recent years, McCain has turned into a foreign-policy schizophrenic, alternating between neoconservative posturing and realist common sense. His speech reads like it was written by two very different people, each one given an allotment of a few paragraphs on every topic.
I have some (not very much) hope that McCain's neocon part is pure, cynical pandering in order to get into the White House. And when you pander to the neocons you cannot be tepid, you have to pull out all the stops. as is shown by Levy's rapping Hillary's knuckles.

If I were a neocon, however, I wouldn't trust McCain very far on this, all through his career, until he saw the presidency in his grasp, he has been a realist and an exponent of the Weinberger-Powell doctrine: once in the White House and because of his age and whether he likes it or not, he knows he would probably be a one-term President, so it's anybody's guess what he would do.

A slim hope indeed.

Probably nothing, not even the credit crisis and the collapse of the dollar, has exasperated America's friends, clients and allies and provoked more of their contempt than the supine helplessness of the American political system on this question. Certainly future Chinese historians will have fun with it. DS


stunted said...

I just read McCain's Los Angeles speech and I have no trouble seeing it as being one man's speech with not a trace of shizophrenia, so I'll have to disagree with Fareed, whose "realist's common sense" can be crassly summed up by his take on the Iraq war--that ridding the world of Sadaam was the correct thing to do (a bright and shiny citadel of democracy in the heart of the Arab world, complete with a free-market economy will transform the whole region AND be the death-knell for fundamentalist Islamic terrorism); it was just done incorrectly. There is scarcely anything in that speech to admire and much to disagree with.

McCain seems not a schizophrenic, but someone who stands for nothing when running for the presidency, and in this respect, a reflection of Obama. McCain's Faustian moment (for me) was when he was photographed folding himself, eyes-closed, relieved into Bush's Messianic embrace like Mary Magdalene. McCain, as I write this, is a few miles away at a fundraiser organized by a prominent local Jewish couple whose goal is to wean the Jewish vote here in south Florida away from the Democrats because Republicans are the staunchest of Israel's friends. Slim hope?

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

Slim hope?
Slim as a Vogue model with AIDS