“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Monday, October 06, 2003


Israel's strike against Syria poses a real question for Iraq -- although this angle seems to have wholly escaped the American press. The neo-con dream was to create, wholesale, a country that could accept an Israel that had absorbed the West Bank and shipped the pesky Palestinians to Jordan. However, this idea was and is crazy. It's shred of plausibility stems from Saddam resentment. Under Saddam, support for the Palestinians created a lot of that -- understandably so, given that the tyrant granted more money to the family of Palestinian martyrs than the average Iraqi could make in a year under the brainless system of looting that was Saddam's notion of the national economy. And one didn't have to be a genius to figure out that the money going to the martyrs was plunging the Palestinian state into an uncontrollable confrontation with a stronger power that wouldn't hesitate on killing two or three Palestinians for every Israeli killed.

That said, there is no way that any Arab nation is going to revert to 30s truckling to a Western colonial agenda. Personally, LI doubts that Israel is serious about attacking Syria -- bombing an empty camp was more of a gesture than a strike, and it was meant for home consumption. Sharon was signalling his one saleable characteristic -- his toughness -- to an audience that has to suffer the consequences of his career long effort to eliminate the "Palestinian menace" by any means possible. Sharon has brought the war home to every home in Israel, without successfully stemming the intifada. In normal circumstances, that failure would have long ago left him in the dust. But there is a special madness that reigns in besieged states -- it is the madness that does not reckon on the success or failure of strategies, but rather bets everything on the visceral reactions attendent on the momentary carrying out of the violent act. Retaliation feels good. Helplessness doesn't. Politics gets down, here, to two choices in the endocrinal system. That the retaliation feeds the helplessness is a view that is just too exterior, too cold, to be accessed in the moment. Sharon exists on that organic amphetimine surge. Given that, he could well decide to initiate other attacks, for instance in Lebanon, or against Iran, just in order to survive, politically. There's something ironic in this. Sharon is the most typically Middle Eastern leader Israel has ever had -- he is Israel's Nassar. And not from Nassar's golden period -- more from the decline, more from the late sixties.

Now, if Sharon acts to promote his interests in this way, it would surely provoke a reaction in Iraq. That the Bush administration seems blind to this is typical of the absurd way the Pentagon (which, by the grace of Bush's ignorance, is in charge of policy, here) has gone about reforming the Middle East without bothering to know anything about the Middle East.

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