Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sometimes history seems doomed to repeat

Then and now.

Another sign of the times

As the pyramid schemes that characterized our "greed is good" society collapse, those on the top of the pyramids are absconding with the loot. Add Arthur Nadal to the list. His clients are missing millions of dollars, and he's scampered off, leaving behind what appeared to be a suicide note. Classic quote:
The officer said he believes Nadel is alive.

“I think he is, at least until a couple of investors find him,” Beishline said in an interview.

Nothing like some gallows humor.

Yes, it is a rather strange ceasefire

Lenin's Tomb sez:
Despite brave protests by a tiny group of leftists, polls find that 94% of the Jewish population of Israel have supported the Gaza massacres - even if grieving Palestinians are sometimes liable to cause a scene. I expect there will be a strong majority in favour of the banning of Arab political parties as well, as even the official Israeli 'left' voted for the measure on the grounds that it is "patriotic". Now, a ceasefire of some variety is imminent according to the BBC. Just so that no one gets the idea that this indicates any softening of the Sabra heart, the IDF decided to bomb yet another school today, adding a mother and her son to the 1,200 killed so far, and fourteen to the 5,300 wounded (or 1.5 million wounded, if we use Israel's method of calculation). Once again, the school was doubling as a refuge for terrified civilians, and once again, the IDF made sure to shell it several times so that none but Israel's ridiculously infatuated fan club could mistake it for an accident.

The rumoured ceasefire (it has only just been announced as I write, and no details are yet available) is most likely to be a unilateral one, rather than the result of a deal with Hamas. This would leave open the possibility for Israel to resume its attacks or launch a bombing raid at any time in the future, as there will be no binding agreement. This would mean that Olmert and the generals had lost the argument in the cabinet to Livni and Barak, who have reportedly sought this outcome for a week. In addition, the US and UK will help Israel to stop arms from getting into Gaza, thus leaving them defenseless in the event of a future attack. This is precisely the time when it is most obvious that Gaza needs all the weapons it can get, and fast. The rumoured framework isn't 'moderate' in any sense, but many of the 94% backing the attack will be furious anyway. If you look at the comments below this Ynet article, it would seem there is going to be some serious discontent with the decision: "pathetic" and "Lebanon mark 2" being among the verdicts. Under Haaretz's report, the sighs of woe are of a similar quality. You can understand why this would be. Israelis were given to understand that the gloves were off, that there would be no more of this one-hand-tied-behind-the-back bullshit. They weren't going to leave until the job was done. Some of the more excitable types called for the rebuilding of Gush Katif, and former colonists said they were ready to return. Now it is reported that they intend to withdraw, with a few Hamas leaders killed but with the party still very much the dominant political force in Gaza.

Although the war itself was supposed to be part of an electoral calculation by Kadima, it seems to have backfired. The immediate result was to widen Likud's lead over Kadima and such a ceasefire, which will surely be compared with Munich, will probably reverse any gains by Mapai and strengthen the far right. Certainly, the governing coalition will claim a 'victory' as they usually do in these circumstances. But the waves of global protest (believe it or not, there is actually a rainswept demonstration by angry youths proceeding up Edgware Road as I write, chanting "From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free!") have undoubtedly created an unprecedented fissure in the pro-Israel camp. Governments traditionally sympathetic to Israel have been obliged to utter mealy-mouthed condemnations. The protests will continue, and it is now almost certain that a global boycott campaign will take root in some form. I sense that Israel has lost a great deal of diplomatic leverage, as well as a battle for hegemony in constituencies that it values for strategic reasons. The New York Times suddenly opened up to critical perspectives. Even Murdoch's comically pro-Israel Wall Street Journal did. Israel may now be forced to allow the re-opening of the Rafah crossings, and thus end the 'diet' they have been putting the Gazans on for some years now. Mubarak has certainly been weakened at a time when he was already in critical danger. Some sort of social explosion is likely to rock the Middle East soon, and upset the precarious balance of forces favouring Israeli dominance. Any gains for Israel, which could possibly include annexed territory, have to be set against that. It may well be, despite the relative defenselessness of Gazan society, that Israel has notched up a worse loss than Lebanon.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Emerging from brief hiatus

I'm finally starting to breathe a bit, albeit I've gone out of the frying pan and into the fire. In the meantime, I've made a few changes here at the blog, including adding some links I'd been meaning to add for a while, and removing a few links to blogs that had gone fallow. I also finally decided that I could no longer justify linking to Jim Kunstler's site, Clusterfuck Nation, due to what I can only describe as a sort of cultural backwardness - though what finally drove me away was his continued obsessing on all opposition to Israel's genocidal behavior as "anti-Jew." Not only does he seem to rely on very tired stereotypes, but he simply is unwilling or unable to take into consideration that the Israeli government might actually be in the wrong, and that bulk of that government's opponents can and do distinguish between a government (the current one that has run Israel since its foundation) and a people (i.e., those who are of Jewish ancestry). Couple his current tirades with his usual insistence that all the tattooed and body-pierced human beings are some sort of threat to civilization, and well, I guess enough was finally enough. What had driven me to that dude's site was his interest in exploring some possible futures in a post-peak-oil world. Since I do consider that particular thread of inquiry to be worthy and crucial, I've at long last replaced Kunstler's link with that of the blog, The Oil Drum (see my blogroll) - this way y'all get a direct link to some info and analysis without all the baggage.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Democracy is great, except when it isn't

From the CS Monitor (h/t The Angry Arab News Service)
"A million and a half Palestinians are learning the hard way that democracy isn't so good if you vote the wrong way. In 2006, they elected Hamas when the US and Israel wanted them to support the more-moderate Fatah. As a result, having long ago lost their homes and property, Gazans have endured three years of embargo, crippling shortages of food and basic necessities, and total economic collapse."
God forbid anyone vote "the wrong way" lest the international elites take offense and unleash starvation, aerial attacks with cluster bombs and white phosphorous, and tanks to plow under what little is left. All I can say is "the ballot or the bullet" y'all. Take away the ballot as the Israelis with the aid of the US government have done to the people living in Gaza, and .... let's say you can do the math.