Friday, August 11, 2006

the lords of rule

I talked to a friend last night in Mexico City. Her husband had just returned from visiting one of Lopez Obrador’s encampments on the Zocalo. He was enthused. There’s even a makeshift library, as well as musicians, things for kids, etc. It sounds like Christmas along Reforma, the huge street going into downtown. There springs up, in the Christmas season all along Reforma, fairs and manger scenes. While intellectuals like to talk about political theory, I think there is something to the idea that political action is full of bricolage – take a bit of Christmas here, add it to a bit of revolutionary iconography here. The Lord of Misrule used to come to London, in Tudor times, and be very seriously treated by the London corporation. That Lord has been repressed in our time – bombed, poisoned, and chased by business, education and the military. But you can’t chase him away forever. They’ve cleared the area of the Lord of Misrule. They’ve labeled him a terrorist. Yet he keeps coming back.

Meanwhile, the Lords of Rule step on our freedom, host insane, bloody, and civilian targeting wars in which the tactics of the guerilla side are no fair (stand up so that we can kill you with our very expensive weapons, please), and talk in the language of buyouts – here a proxy, there a proxy, everywhere a proxy.

Douglas Gardner’s column in the Financial Times is, again, a plea for the only sensible course in the middle east – the U.S. and Iran must open direct talks. The pull out of American troops, the takeover of Lebanon’s territory by Lebanon’s army (which Hezbollah has agreed to), and the withdrawal of Israeli settlements on the West Bank are the natural outcomes of such talk. Israel is going to have to forget its regional hegemon ambitions.

All of which is not going to come to pass with the Lords of Rule, such as they are. The point, however, is to insert them into the mainstream so that they assume a presence, against the howlings of such as the WAPO editorial page.

“All the Anglo-American approach to Lebanon promises to do is join these up, adding a failed state on Israel's northern border to the failed would-be state of Palestine to its south, with the broken state of Iraq to its east. This is a policy that continues and compounds the failure in Iraq where, as Anthony Cordesman, the US strategist and supporter of the war, recently observed: "we essentially used a bull to liberate a china shop".
It is also a policy that is hopelessly inconsistent, adding further to Arab and Muslim perception of western hypocrisy. In Lebanon, a Shia Islamist militia allied to Iran that is also part of an elected government, Hizbollah, must be destroyed. In Iraq, however, a Shia Islamist militia allied to Iran, the Badr brigades of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, is part of an elected government Washington supports. Inconsistencies of this sort have a way of stewing for a bit, but then they boil over.
That is what is happening among the Shia in Iraq, tactical allies of the US who could soon become its enemies. Hundreds of thousands came out into the streets in Baghdad and southern Iraq last week to support Hizbollah and/or their Lebanese Shia co-religionists, not just the followers of Moqtada al-Sadr, the young Shia radical who models his Mahdi army on Hizbollah, but the Sciri, too. Indeed, how many members of the US Congress, recently addressed by Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister, would know that his Da'wa party was one of the original progenitors of Hizbollah?”

This is the Financial Times, so certain truths are discretely sheathed – Western hypocrisy becoming the ‘perception of Western hypocrisy’, etc. To get to a simple truth in the press, you do have to go through the bodyguard of lies – and in fact, sometimes all there is is the bodyguard of lies.

LI, about three years ago, already sorta said this. But, as usual, we can’t find, in our confusing archive, the exact moment when we connected the withdrawal of American troops to talking with Iran. So many words, so few paths. However, we did come upon our little predictions (in September, 2004) about what the Bush regime would look like in the Middle East. We did pretty good. Since this touches on the current situation, we will quote our own selves:

“Given the vast and almost incomprehensible incompetence of the Bush people in managing the ‘war on terrorism’ so far, in other circumstances this would surely signal an expansion of the war in the Middle East to Syria and Iran. The post Powell State Department would certainly be on-line for that adventure. And it will be vigorously pushed by the Pentagon pump house gang. One of the real winners in the upcoming election will be Cheney, whose side – the President’s base – will be massively owed.

One thing this will certainly mean, given the characteristic bloodthirstiness of this group, is a lot more Iraqi deaths. The Vietnam comparisons are always to the number of Americans killed – not to the number of Iraqis killed. But with the re-installation of an ultra-hawkish wing in D.C. (who will justly take the election as a legitimation of their methods) surely we will see an acceleration of Rumsfeld’s kind of warfare – the terror bombing of Fallujah, the pillage of Najaf, that kind of thing. The Bush people have been pushing a re-definition of the aim in Iraq as ‘working democracy” – which means that they will skew what election process they allow, in January, to put in an American puppet. Allawi is the candidate right now, and he does have one essential quality – he will rubber stamp any terror tactics the U.S. forces take against the Iraqi population. But it is hard to see how an election, no matter how corrupt, could be won by Allawi. Without opposition in Washington, however, there might be no pressure to hold elections at all. Postponing the elections next year would surely be on the Pump house wish list.

What are the constraining factors here? We think the major constraint is the Bush fear of having to resource its war. It has been obvious for some time, in Iraq, that the distance between what Bush says is the goal in Iraq and Iraqi reality could have only been bridged if Iraq were treated as a serious occupation. That would require about two to three times the manpower that is there right now. Instead, this war is being fought like a child playing with the puddles from its bottle of milk on the high chair – American soldiers go into an area, ”pacify” it, then withdraw. Then the insurgents return. Going to war with Iran and/or Syria is going to require a lot more military manpower. We think the fear of that will drive the Bush administration to make threats, and to maybe use its airpower, but not to invade. The worst case scenario would be: seeing that we need a proxy in the Middle East, Wolfowitz et al encourage an Israeli attack on Syria.

The down side of the constraint on Bush’s aggression is that the administration will increasingly use Rumsfeld tactics. That is why we expect a big upsurge in Iraqi deaths – that will be the major characteristic of at least the first year of the Bush administration. At a certain number of deaths, as Saddam Hussein has shown, a country can be pacified. Will the Bush people reach this threshold?

Another component enters the picture, here. That’s the unknown variable of the network that has radiated out from Al Qaeda. Again, the vast, almost incomprehensible incompetence shown by the Bush people in the past, vis a vis Al Qaeda, will no doubt continue. So far, the Bush’s have benefited enormously from their errors – from the attack on the towers itself, from the comedy of the WMD, and from actually colluding in the preservation of a continuing Al Qaeda threat in Peshawar. Each of these were failures that should have brought down the administration. Instead, they renewed the allegiance of the American public to this administration. Will the thinking in the administration change about these things? We’d guess that the answer, for Pavlovian reasons, is no. When the button rings and the animal responds badly, and is rewarded multiply for the bad response, it will keep responding in the same way when the bell rings again. Other terrorist attacks, in Europe, Latin America, or the U.S., will be mishandled in the same way, and surrounded by the same aura of propaganda that will disallow criticism of the performance as a subtle aiding of the perpetrators.

To sum up: four more years of Bush, if these components are near correct, will lead to a multiple of Iraqi deaths, more successful terrorist attacks, and a belligerence towards Iran and Syria that will either encourage a war between Israel and Syria, or will, at the least, lead to some American military action, short of war, targeting one of those countries. Wild cards here are the effectiveness of the Al Qaeda like organizations – will they, for instance, opt for what, to an outside observer, seems like the obvious ploy? Namely, disrupting the flow of oil. Especially Saudi oil. Will the Saudi royals, through its usual combination of mass murder and bribery, be able to tamp down its rebels? And finally, if Israel under Likud has already managed to seize a goodly portion of the West Bank. Will it be satisfied with that amount, or will it try for more?”

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The New Bloody Assizes

Ominous headlines today, making me wonder how my friend S. is ever going to get rid of all the conditioners and shampoos she no doubt packed this morning before she went to the airport.

More ominous than the threat of attack from an Al Qaeda that was, readers will recall, cynically put on tap five years ago in the comedy cut up campaign in Afghanistan, the one designed to give the political establishment a ready, remote control threat (and which has proven to be beyond their control, and which is happily working from its base in Pakistan, to the almost unanimous disinterest of the Western Press). At the moment, there is a tremendous threat by to our civil liberties posed by the ill named Labour party (Surely the name should be the Blood and Soil party) in Britain and the D.C. party – the LieberCheney party – in the U.S.

This is from the horrendous British home secretary, John Reid, the man who espouses the Blairist policy of minimum freedom and maximum unctuousness – that peculiarly British twist on the authoritarian personality:

John Reid yesterday accused the government's anti-terror critics of putting national security at risk by their failure to recognise the serious nature of the threat facing Britain. "They just don't get it," he said.

"The home secretary yesterday gave the thinktank Demos his strongest hint yet that a new round of anti-terror legislation is on the way this autumn by warning that traditional civil liberty arguments were not so much wrong as just made for another age.

""Sometimes we may have to modify some of our own freedoms in the short term in order to prevent their misuse and abuse by those who oppose our fundamental values and would destroy all of our freedoms in the modern world," he said.”"

LI can see a certain justice in those words, but applies them to the greatest threat to our fundamental values – that posed by the current British and American governments. A sneaking foreign policy, politicized to expand the brute power of the operatives who benefit from it, coddled by a syncophantic crew of journalists, has indeed been striking at all our freedoms; they have thwarted investigations into their low and negligent acts, they have designed, in a remarkably short time, one of the world’s great machines for peculating public funds, showering favored companies with billions, and they have actively delayed any of the necessary changes to our current system of production to prevent an environmental catastrophe, which we actually know is coming. This, more than anything else, will make the depleted future generations curse us.

Now, traditionally the blog thing to do at this point in my rant is to roll out the Nazis as the epitome of evil. I am truly sick to death of the Nazis as stage devils, stalking into that garden of Eden, universal history. I do think there are more devils than are dreamt of in the blogger philosophy – home grown ones too. Reid doesn’t remind me of Hitler – he reminds me of a very British character, Lord Jeffrys.

Jeffrys, like the Home Secretary, was a carious, career tending, threatening man. He became King James II’s right hand man for mass repression. As his biographer, Woolrych, says, “to secure his own fortunes, let the means or consequences be as they might, was the utmost he had any care for, but the difficulty lay in discerning the best political game for accomplishing those ends.”

Jeffrys is most famous for the “bloody Assizes.” This is the story. James II combined the Stuart idea that he was God on Earth with the idea, unpopular in England, that God on Earth should be worshipped in the Roman Catholic way. His accession led to revolts – or, as Reid might say, “the serious nature of the threat facing Britain” was embodied by various invasions, starting with the Duke of Monmouth, one of those handsome, stupid Protestant nobles with a vague, blood claim to the throne, in 1685. Jeffrys was a judge at the time, and had married upward, and was eager to please James, since he had made many enemies among the Dissenters. In fact, he appears to have been a regular New Labour personality, and would certainly have fit in at any of the Murdochian conferences to which Blair likes to flit and kiss, on bended knee, Rupert’s ring.
Jeffrys was appointed as the cleanup man in Western England after the Monmouth army had been defeated. His first victim, Alice Lisle, was dispatched with alacrity – hung. This is how Macaulay describes his coming into Dorchester:
“Jeffreys reached Dorchester, the principal town of the county in which Monmouth had landed; and the judicial massacre began. The court was hung, by order of the Chief Justice, with scarlet; and this innovation seemed to the multitude to indicate a bloody purpose. It was also rumoured that, when the clergyman who preached the assize sermon enforced the duty of mercy, the ferocious mouth of the Judge was distorted by an ominous grin. These things made men augur ill of what was to follow.”

This is Reid, numbering the things that need to change if England is to be purged of terrorism:

The media commentators who "apparently give more prominence to the views of Islamist terrorists rather than democratically elected Muslim politicians like premier Maliki of Iraq or President Karzai of Afghanstan"."

Jeffrys, obviously looking down upon Reid with approval, knew just what to do with trash that didn’t praise the democratically elected, god damn it.

"“More than three hundred prisoners were to be tried. The work seemed heavy; but Jeffreys had a contrivance for making it light. He let it be understood that the only chance of obtaining pardon or respite was to plead guilty.”

Another group of people who Reid believes needs to be dashed to the ground are those puling human rightsers:

"“· European judges who passed the "Chahal judgment" that prohibited the home secretary from weighing the security of millions of British people if a suspected terrorist remained in the UK against the risk he faced if deported back to his own country.”"

And who, my Lords, isn’t a suspected terrorist in these troubled times? Yes, the only thing to do is to let those in authority, looking out for your best interest, decide on these things. Preferably in secret.

"“At every spot where two roads met, on every marketplace, on the green of every large village which had furnished Monmouth with soldiers, ironed corpses clattering in the wind, or heads and quarters stuck on poles, poisoned the air, and made the traveller sick with horror. In many parishes the peasantry could not assemble in the house of God without seeing the ghastly face of a neighbour grinning at them over the porch. The Chief Justice was all himself. His spirits rose higher and higher as the work went on. He laughed, shouted, joked, and swore in such a way that many thought him drunk from morning to night. But in him it was not easy to distinguish the madness produced by evil passions from the madness produced by brandy. A prisoner affirmed that the witnesses who appeared against him were not entitled to credit. One of them, he said, was a Papist, and another a prostitute. "Thou impudent rebel," exclaimed the Judge, "to reflect on the King's evidence! I see thee, villain, I see thee already with the halter round thy neck." Another produced testimony that he was a good Protestant. "Protestant! " said Jeffreys; "you mean Presbyterian. I'll hold you a wager of it. I can smell a Presbyterian forty miles." One wretched man moved the pity even of bitter Tories. "My Lord," they said, "this poor creature is on the parish." "Do not trouble yourselves," said the Judge, "I will ease the parish of the burden.""

The latter joke would make them roll in the Blairite conclaves. Get off the dole, you fucking twat – that’s the spirit. Reid, following in the example of his spiritual ancestor, has his own numbers:

"“Mr Reid argued that since 2000 almost 1,000 people have been arrested for terror-related offences, with 154 of them charged and 60 suspects now awaiting trial. Four significant terrorist plots had been disrupted. But the opposition from politicians, media commentators and judges had left the government ill-prepared to tackle the threat.

""In spite of these successes we remain unable to adapt our institutions and legal orthodoxy as fast as we need to," he said. "This is the area that puts us at risk in national security terms. There have been several contributory factors to this, including party political point scoring by the Conservative and Liberal opposition during the passage of key anti-terrorism measures, through to repeated challenges under the Human Rights Act and the convention, which I continue to contest

Of course, Reid has turned his face to the source of all the discontent with Britain’s gentle democratizing – the Muslims. Fuck those people.

“Such havoc must have excited disgust even if the sufferers had been generally odious. But they were, for the most part, men of blameless life, and of high religious profession. They were regarded by themselves, and by a large proportion of their neighbours, not as wrongdoers, but as martyrs who sealed with blood the truth of the Protestant religion. Very few of the convicts professed any repentance for what they had done. Many, animated by the old Puritan spirit, met death, not merely with fortitude, but with exultation.”

Suicide bombers, those exulting old Puritans.

Macaulay has a vivid description of one of Jeffrys’ spies, a man named Ferguson. I’d apply this mock heroic catalogue to many in the reactionary network that connects England and America. In fact, this sounds like a job application to work for the Sun, or the Weekly Standard.

“At length he turned his attention almost entirely from theology to the worst part of politics. He belonged to the class whose office it is to render in troubled times to exasperated parties those services from which honest men shrink in disgust and prudent men in fear, the class of fanatical knaves. Violent, malignant, regardless of truth, insensible to shame, insatiable of notoriety, delighting in intrigue, in tumult, in mischief for its own sake, he toiled during many years in the darkest mines of faction. He lived among libellers and false witnesses. He was the keeper of a secret purse from which agents too vile to be acknowledged received hire, and the director of a secret press whence pamphlets, bearing no name, were daily issued.”

Welcome to Reid’s world.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Gwynne Dyer gets it

LI’s recommend of the day is to Gwynne Dyer’s article, “America has to acknowledge its own vulnerability”, in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record (where I found it – Google has a link to it in the Trinidad paper.)

Journalists write way too much to think, which is why one doesn’t go to them for philosophical analysis – one goes to them to see how ‘it’ thinks – the conventional wisdom. ‘It’ actually does most of our thinking – our telephone conversations, jokes, waterfountain talk, is animated mostly by the various, multi-headed it, which has plenty of words and snap together phrases, a lego kit full – which is fine, as long as the world can be represented by legos. But is not when the world is not. However, Dyer’s article actually articulates a distinct thought – one not wrapped up in the usual columnist’s mummery:

“The three most ill-considered (and probably doomed) political enterprises on the international political scene today are the Israeli assault on Lebanon, the American campaign to force Iran to renounce its alleged nuclear weapons program, and the similar campaign that has been mounted against North Korea. What common theme unites these three enterprises? The quest for invulnerability for one side, at the expense of total vulnerability for the other."

Exactly. As Dyer points out, "between 1945 and about 1970," the U.S. had to cope with going from being by far the world's most powerful country to allowing for the fact that the U.S. could never, by way of open warfare, abolish Russia's ability to launch nuclear missiles at it. "By 1970 it was ready to concede nuclear weapons parity to the Soviet Union, an openly hostile totalitarian state, and was negotiating arms-control agreements that limited missile numbers but guaranteed the Soviets the ability to destroy the United States."

This is philosophical analysis in the Husserlian vein – it brackets other considerations that distort the outlines of what really happened – the phenomenon. This is precisely what did happen. The structure of the Cold War was about the U.S. and the U.S.S.R accepting that vulnerability. The structure of the post-War period, or, rather, the Bush end of it, has been a childish attempt to return to American invulnerability.

Dyer applies that model to Israel. I have been thinking that Israel's aggressiveness is the result of being a free rider -- but Dyer is right to point out one of the unexpected results of Israel's success:

“Israel's period of invulnerability began later, after the 1973 war, and has lasted far longer. No combination of Arab armies can defeat Israel in war, or even inflict major casualties on it. And should Israeli generals ever prove so incompetent that Arab armies did make a little headway, Israel still has its regional nuclear weapons monopoly 40 years after developing the things. (America lost its own nuclear monopoly after only four years in its confrontation with the Soviet Union.)”

This is why Israeli actions have been tinged by such arrogance. Menacheim Begin’s election began a new phase in Israel's history, one that seemed to promise power - and Israel has been going down the path, ever since, of expansion and crushing its opponents.

“Israel faces a bigger 'terrorist threat' than the US, but it is still a pretty marginal concern. Hezbollah's activities on Israel's northern borders were an occasional nuisance, but until Israel's quite deliberate overreaction to its hostage-seizure operation on July 12-- bombing targets all across Lebanon -- it had not fired rockets at Israeli towns in years. Hezbollah had the capability to do that, so Israel was theoretically vulnerable (though not very, since the rockets hardly ever hit anyone), but it wasn't actually doing it.”

At last, the acknowledgement of reality! Of course, reality creeps into the newspaper world via rather obscure Caribbean and Canadian papers, but having arrived on this side of the Atlantic, who knows where it will go?

Check it out, people. You can find the full piece here.

a monster loses in CT

Mr. Scruggs has advised Limited Inc. of the bad effects of shooting up elections. Soon you become addicted. Soon you actually think they are important. He’s counseled the hard cases, the ones eventually found sprawled, bluefaced, dead, under the set blinking and winking the CNN news. All my friends they died/died! as the song says. But LI –in a junkie’s relapse – was pretty happy about the CT. primary. In the end, we even felt sorry for Lieberman – we wanted his ass kicked, but that clueless fellow, out of his D.C. shell, in the pictures in the NYT seemed so … harmless. We couldn’t put him together with the vicious little prick from his identikit presence on so many blogs, getting his aids to write him up another scorcher for the WSJ editorial page, browbeating the head of the SEC to give accounting firms one more chance to defraud investors and workers – instead, here’s this guy with his hand out in the diner I used to breakfast at in New Haven. You want to lead him to a booth.

Of course, this is the whole problem of democracy, one not often talked about – the elected by a mysterious process become monsters. Their egos become huge and grotesque, Mr. Hydes, stamping around with a cane, pillaging, hobnobing with the worst, vicariously enjoying death. The monster problem is the central problem in democracy – and Carl Schmitt is not the guy you want to go to to have it all explained to you. Try Richard III, instead.

But there are better monsters and worse ones. We know what Lieberman was. Lamont sounds harmless, and he might do some good, who the fuck knows.

In any case: Hurray!

Although I dread the morphine treatment Mistah Scruggs will make me go through in the next coupla weeks.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

advertisements for myself

I hate August, as it is a terrible month for getting editing jobs. No money, no happiness, autumn in my heart and spectacles on my nose, as I. Babel once put it in a different context. The landlady at the door with an axe in her hand… Etc.

So I am going to U.T. and put up my advertisement for editing work here and there. I’ve sent out my flyer to sororities and fraternities, honor societies and all kinds of student organizations, which are all pretty much in suspended animation in the summer. This is a reminder to my readers who may know someone who needs an editor for a paper, an article, or a translator, or a ghostwriter – please refer them to my writing services site. It is here:

Monday, August 07, 2006

Jonathan Chait's heart breaks -- but don't worry, he doesn't use it anyway

Jonathan Chait’s column in the Guardian begins like this:

“Let's face it, Israel's counter offensive in Lebanon doesn't seem to be going very well. Liberals are saying it. Conservatives are saying it. Plenty of Israelis are saying it. But here is the odd thing: nobody is paying very careful attention to the alternative. The criticism of Israel's ground campaign - however sound much of it may be - takes place against an assumption that peace could be at hand if only Israel stopped fighting.”

Of course, we know that Chait, being a clever American, will tell us that peace isn’t the absence of fighting. In this way, a garden variety word, peace, suddenly starts doing summersaults.

“Let's examine that idea. The United Nations types argue that Israel should withdraw from Lebanon and cease its airstrikes and that an international force should patrol southern Lebanon. But every country that could contribute to such a force has insisted they don't want to fight Hizbullah. Kofi Annan has said that a "cardinal principle" of any peacekeeping force would be obtaining Lebanon's consent. And neither Hizbullah nor the Lebanese government has evinced any willingness to remove Hizbullah's forces from southern Lebanon.”

Hmm. So, peace, it turns out, and Israel’s victory are one and the same thing. If Lebanon itself doesn’t have any willingness to remove Hizbullah’s force from Southern Lebanon – an unwillingness reinforced, in the last two weeks, by the evidence that other than having that force there, Israel will invade and batter the country any time it feels like it –well, according to the impeccable logic of Chait, Israel just has to keep fighting. They are fighting, you see, for peace. Such peaceful bombing of children was never seen before. A regular miracle.

In Chait’s view though, the problem is that Israel is threatened. Lebanon, which Israel has invaded now three times in the last twenty years, is, by contrast, unthreatened. Funny, that. To be really unthreatened, you have to have an air force making hundreds of bombing sortees over your cities every day. It makes things more and more peaceful. It is almost like they are dropping apple pie, except the bombs are not sugared, and they rip your guts out and your arms off. But otherwise, it is just like a picnic.

“But the death toll doesn't quite capture the damage wrought by Hizbullah. The purpose of the missile attacks is to force Israelis to live under a constant threat - missile attacks or cross-border raids that, while sporadic, can occur at any time. No nation would consider that condition acceptable. And even if Israel learns to take periodic attacks from Hizbullah with good cheer, there's no guarantee that the attacks won't get worse. After all, Hizbullah is acquiring newer, more powerful rockets from Iran.”
So, we are to consider Israel as doing what any nation would do. There are things that are acceptable for all nations, according to Chait. An interesting concession. Similarly, no nation would allow its neighbor to occupy its land. No nation would allow its neighbor to repeatedly violate its air space. No nation should remain uncompensated for damage wrought over eighteen years of occupation. No nation would tolerate its neighbor calmly planning and carrying out assassinations of its political leaders.
In actuality, just as Chait’s idea of peace is simply war, Chait’s appeal to the universal acceptable behavior of nations is not meant to be taken seriously. One nation, Lebanon, according to Chait, should happily swallow anything that Israel wants to do to it. In return, Israel has the right to reply in any way it feels fit to aggression. But of course, if another nation, say Syria, occupied Lebanon, why that would be a serious crime against humanity.

Chait’s logic is about an equivalence that is simply bogus. That equivalence is between Israel and the more powerful nations. He is simply appealing to the behavior sanctioned by the special group of nations of which he wants to make Israel part – the great powers, the former and present empires, who have given themselves the right to bomb and invade at will.

This overlooks the fact that Israel simply isn’t part of that group, and never will be.

Chait is correct to sum up the pluses and minuses of the Israeli military operation against Hezbollah, but somehow he misses the alternative that would emerge if Israel’s ruling class hadn’t made military supremacy and the settlement of the West Bank Israel’s supreme goals for the last forty years. The inability to triumph militarily in Lebanon is a sign that this ruling clique has lead Israel into a trap. The trap is disguised by Israel’s current idea that it will take unilateral action – which really means endless violence, resting on endless efforts to achieve military supremacy, financed by the United States. That, it seems to me, is the path that Israel is taking in Southern Lebanon. As with many an American proxy, though, Israel is going to find out the limits of existing as a free rider on American benevolence. Squandering its moral stature and its wealth against a militia party that is unlikely to be dislodged at all in Southern Lebanon is not a good deal at all – although no doubt the red meat boys at the New Republic, where Chait writes, think that it is neat. The same thinkers thought invading Iraq was neat.

Unilateralism is dead. Military action has obviously reached its limit. Oh oh, that means the dreaded and wimpy negotiation thing – even, perhaps, giving up the Golan heights, and giving up the settler’s welfare state on the West Bank. If Israel heeds the call of its “friends” such as Chait, however, it will be giving up much more, in the not too distant future.

“The doves are right that any solution that involves attacking innocent civilians is a terrible one. It's heartbreaking to see houses flattened and children killed. But when you have a nation populated in part by murderous religious fanatics who delight in killing enemy civilians and see the deaths of their own civilians as a strategic boon, any option is going to be terrible.
Israel is hoping to change the equation, to force Lebanon to take control of its border or accept an outside force that would do so. The tactic of striking Hizbullah has some chance of bringing that about. Stopping the attack and hoping for the best has no chance at all.”

Heartbreaking, is it? I think those are the mass manufactiured, Hallmark kind of hearts he is alluding to. Any breaks they may suffer are easily healed. It isn't the likes of Chait who will refer, again, to the Children's Massacre in Quana.

However, the more Israel heeds the words of hawks like Chait, the more it is going to confront no choice at all. As Iraq showed, an insurgent force can stop an occupier. And certainly as Israel huffs and puffs about bombing Teheran if Tel Aviv is bombed, they are moving blindly in a direction that has been mapped out by group that has never yet been right in the middle east – the neo cons.

The synthetic progressive

I have been searching for a term to encompass one of the great features of capitalism – the non-necessary synthesis. I guess I will call it ...