Why is Israel pounding
Gaza? Well, we know the official explanation, which goes something
like this: if you Americans were being targeted by crude, albeit potentially
lethal, rockets from, say, Mexico, on a daily basis, how would you respond?
Israel, we are told, had to take on Hamas. As Barack Obama put it, while campaigning
in Sderot, the Israeli response is "part of being a country."
They had no choice.
This is bollocks, as everyone but the brain-dead realize. To begin with, Hamas
offered a truce
and had abided by the previous cease-fire, but the Israelis weren't interested.
Instead, Tel Aviv chose to unleash what the whole world sees as an appallingly
disproportionate response, raining death
on one of the most tightly packed urban environments on earth and launching
what looks to be an invasion and reoccupation
of the Gaza Strip.
Of course, any military action by the IDF against Hamas' ragtag fighters is
given the radical imbalance in the power relationship between the two. Israel,
after all, has the most effective, high-tech military machine in the region,
bought and paid for by U.S.
taxpayers – and with no expense spared on account of that. In any case,
however, many are puzzled by what seems to be an inherently doomed project.
The attack will merely popularize
Hamas, without changing anything, and Israel will wind up back at square
one, caught in a Sisyphean nightmare of constantly re-invading the same territory,
then retreating once again. But what if they don't retreat?
The assumption that this is an overreaction
to the pinpricks inflicted by Hamas is flat-out wrong: the current conflict,
which is escalating rapidly, has zero to do with a
few rockets lobbed over Israel's impregnable perimeter. That was merely
a pretext, and a thin one at that. Yet the exhibition of such a reckless disregard
for truth and world opinion hints at the real agenda at work here and underscores
the arrogance underlying it.
If we step back and look at Israel's strategy in recent years, the Gaza reoccupation
– or, at least, regime-change
in Hamastan – makes perfect sense. Sharon's was a tactical retreat: one small
step backward, to be followed by a couple of giant steps forward. Lebanon's
recent agony was
step one. The Gaza
massacre is step two. The third is anyone's guess. Syria? Lebanon, again?
might be fun.
No one knows, of course, but the general outlines of what is going down, as
we say in America, were laid out in "A
Clean Break: A New Strategy for the Realm," a policy paper produced
by a remarkable group of American analysts in 1996, for then-Prime Minister
The realm being Israel, and the unique group that produced it characterized
by their centrality in pushing for war with Iraq. Led by Richard
Perle, the "Clean Break" group consisted of James
Fairbanks Jr., Douglas
Feith, Robert Loewenberg,
David Wurmser, and Meyrav
All of these august personages, but especially Perle, can claim the dubious
credit of having co-authored what the late Gen.
William E. Odom ruefully referred
to as the greatest military disaster in American history. While Perle is
over at The National Interest that he had nothing to do with it, that
it was all George W. Bush's fault, neither history nor the gods will absolve
him. He and his fellow graduates
of the Scoop Jackson Academy and Finishing School for Laptop Bombardiers are
so on the record as being the earliest
vociferous advocates of regime-change throughout the Middle East, and not
just Iraq, that their denials
of responsibility are a veritable pastiche of mendacity. Surely they jest.
Yet they just as surely were not jesting in "A Clean Break," where
the case is made that Israel is in a rut: Israel is endangered by an inability
to break out of its settler-colony isolation, and, in the process, renew the
Zionist project internationally. While no mention is made of the demographic
time-bomb, it can be clearly heard ticking in the background. A new aggressiveness
is called for, the Perle group argued, a clean break with the passivity of the
past. They recommended a policy of regime-change throughout the immediate vicinity
"Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey
and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort
can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq – an important Israeli
strategic objective in its own right – as a means of foiling Syria's regional
Perle and Co. urged Netanyahu to strike out in every direction. First, go
north, they advised:
"Syria challenges Israel on Lebanese soil. An effective approach, and one
with which Americans can sympathize, would be if Israel seized the strategic
initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran,
as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon."
Syria is deemed the penultimate prize, a ripe apple waiting to fall from the
tree. All that's required is a little vigorous shaking. Lurking behind these
dominoes, however, is Israel's chief antagonist, Iran, the current target of
the Israel lobby's campaign
to gin up yet another war in the Middle East.
All these scenarios have played out, and quite recently, in rapid succession.
Reading "A Clean Break," one might almost be scanning today's headlines.
This is more than mere prescience: these are policymakers, not college professors,
we're talking about. Nearly all of them were central
players in the foreign policy councils of the past administration. All are
exemplars of the neoconservative
network, a camarilla of pro-Israel ideologues that has wreaked such havoc
in eight years that it may take 800 more before we recover.
A central pillar of neoconservative dogma is its passionate
attachment – as George Washington would put it – to what it perceives as
Israel's national interests. "A Clean Break" contains an undertone
of hostility to the U.S., which is seen as being put in an impossible position
of mediating between irreconcilable foes. U.S. "intervention" in
internal Israeli affairs is subtly bemoaned, and this fits in nicely with the
theme of economic independence and a phasing out of economic aid – although
they aren't quite ready to give up military aid until such time as Israel's
armaments supply can be assured. In any case, the clear implication of all
this is to reduce U.S. influence and allow the Israelis to unleash their full
military power in a bid to "shape the regional environment in ways that
grant Israel the room to refocus its energies back to where they are most needed."
Elbow room – or Lebensraum?
Of course, any war Israel involves itself in will drag in the United States,
its principal patron and protector. In this, America is truly an empire of
unique type – one that has been taken hostage by one of its own satellites.
That, at least, is the intention, and, so far, the plan seems to be working.
The endgame is a general war against Israel's principal enemy in the region:
Iran. The Lobby is already gearing up to make the new president miserable until
he finally caves. What we have to look forward to in the next four years is
lots of aggressive "diplomacy," to be followed by even more draconian
economic sanctions and the looming
threat of war.
Israel is following the "Clean Break" plan almost to the letter,
shedding its old role as a dependent settler-colony under continuous siege.
In Gaza – and, be assured, throughout the Middle East – Israel is asserting
its new role as regional hegemon in a multi-polar world. Israel, not the U.S.,
is taking the initiative and leading its great ally and "protector"
around by the nose, with the
Lobby serving as an effective
rein on any sudden spasms of self-interest.
This can only end in one way: a general war, perhaps a world war, pitting
the U.S. and Israel against virtually every nation in the region – in effect,
the entire Muslim world. A new Hundred Years War, a molten eruption of religious
conflict that reaches into every continent and smolders for generations until
the last embers of hatred and memory are cooled. A century of escalating terrorism
and devastating war: is this what the American people want?
Well, no, but the past eight years have been an object lesson in how easily
people can be bamboozled into something they most definitely do not want. It
can – and doubtless will – happen again. Indeed, the pattern is repeating itself
with the new administration, and Obama hasn't even taken the oath of office.
Look at Gaza and see the future. Then go out and do something about it.