"road map to peace" in the Middle East has turned
into the highway to hell – and given rise to what, up until
a few months ago, would have been unthinkable: the prospect
of direct U.S. military intervention in Gaza and the West
Bank. How did we get to this point?
"road map," you'll remember, was supposed to have
been George W. Bush's big concession to the Arab world. After
backing Ariel Sharon to the hilt, even at his most brutal,
and taking out Saddam Hussein – Israel's worst enemy in the
Middle East – the idea was to secure peace and garner some
brownie points with the remnants of our Arab friends by throwing
U.S. support to a nascent Palestinian state. But it hasn't
worked out that way.
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has reached new heights of
bloodthirsty intensity, with the two sides engaged in all-out
war. Worse yet, the Republican administration is openly floating
the idea of U.S. military intervention in Gaza and the West
Bank: alone, as part of a NATO force, or in collaboration
with the UN. Speaking to Fox News on Sunday, Senator Richard
Lugar, the influential GOP foreign policy maven, raised
this startling possibility:
force is required ultimately to root out terrorism, it is
possible there would be American participation."
a plan, Lugar made plain, is being actively considered. The
Israelis, having decimated the Palestinian Authority's military
capacity and waged a relentless war against its political
legitimacy, now complain that the PA cannot control Hamas.
A power vacuum created by Israel has been filled with the
fanatics, and the defanged PA is powerless to stop it. Lugar
recognizes this, albeit in a rather roundabout way, and proposes
a terrible solution:
dilemma for the Israelis is that it's possible that Abbas
simply does not have security forces that are adequate to
take on Hamas, quite apart from even the territories being
suggested for his security now. And pragmatically, this may
mean down the road and this will come after a good number
of talks there has to be some fill in. At this point, Kofi
Annan of the U.N. has suggested U.N. peacekeepers, maybe even
armed peacekeepers. There have been suggestions that NATO
may be involved, that the United States may be involved. At
that point, the polls turn very sharply south, with regard
to United States involvement."
like as far as the South Pole, but that could change. The
sudden discovery that Hamas possesses weapons of mass destruction
might be a hard one to put over. But the spillover effect
of the Iraq war may be enough to drag us in. Spreading the
meme that growing resistance to the U.S. occupation of Iraq variously
described as consisting of "Saddam
loyalists," and/or "foreign fighters" vaguely
affiliated with Al Qaeda – is really being engineered
by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad might be just the
ticket. I can see the headline in the Telegraph now:
"Hamas Fighters Ambush American Soldiers."
a story-line rich with possibilities, including the quite
plausible scenario that Hamas is harboring Saddam Hussein.
He was supposed to have been in Syria, you'll remember, but
Lebanon is more likely. The mere possibility may be enough
to lure U.S. soldiers back to Beirut, at least as far as the
American public is concerned. If, later, the connection to
the Iraqi resistance turns out to be tenuous, at best – and
Saddam is nowhere to be found it can always be claimed
that getting rid of Hamas was worth it as an end in itself.
was laugh-out-loud hilarious watching Israeli ambassador Alon
Pinkas on MSNBC piously agree with Pat Buchanan that U.S.
troops in Gaza is not a good idea: "I object to it on
the grounds that we have always prided ourselves on our self-sufficiency,"
he said, with a perfectly straight face. With U.S.
military and economic aid to Israel at $6 billion-plus
per year, Israel is less self-sufficient than a welfare mother
on crack. Yet, as
Jim Lobe points out, it is Sharon, not President Bush,
who is in the driver's seat:
months ago, US President George W Bush demanded that Israeli
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon halt incursions into Palestinian-controlled
areas, withdraw from cities Israeli forces had re-occupied,
and refrain from further unilateral actions that would inflame
the conflict. 'Enough is enough,' snapped the president, who
had conquered Afghanistan four months before.
"Sharon, of course, treated Bush's demands in much the
same way as he would the yapping of a chihuahua, politely
explaining that protecting Israeli citizens from suicide bombs
was his first responsibility, and otherwise ignoring him.
Two weeks later, the president was praising Sharon as a 'man
of peace,' while stepping up his rhetoric against Palestinian
President Yasser Arafat, and then ostracizing him altogether
just two months later."
in the wake of the U.S. victory in Iraq, with America ensconced
as the new regional power, the Israeli Prime Minister is driving
in accordance with a road map of his own design. As Lobe puts
might have thought and many people, including Arabs
and Israelis, did that 14 months and a decisive US
military victory in Iraq later, Bush's demands for Israeli
cooperation in a new, US-backed initiative to calm tensions,
bolster the authority of a new, more-moderate Palestinian
leader Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and impart
some hope for an eventual peace agreement might be received
by Sharon with somewhat more respect. But it now seems that
Bush has once again gotten the chihuahua treatment, and the
big question is whether he will do something about it this
we start hoping that Bush will "do something about it,"
however, one has to wonder exactly what that might be. In
the name of enforcing the "right" of the Palestinians
to self-determination, will America find itself shoring up
a puppet regime that is largely a U.S.-Israeli creation? In
the name of building "peace," will we be dragged
into yet another war?
idea that the U.S. is or ever can be an "honest broker"
in the Middle East is nonsense. No one – neither the Palestinians,
nor the Israelis – believes it. Confronted with the growing
possibility that U.S. troops may soon be defending Israel's
ill-gotten borders, Americans may begin to realize why we
went to war in Iraq. The point was not to find nonexistent
"weapons of mass destruction," but to substitute
ourselves for those Israeli bulldozers that have humbled many
a Palestinian dwelling: to re-order the Middle East along
lines that are more conducive to Israel's long-term survival.
The conquest of Iraq was the first step in knocking out Israel's
enemies in the region: first the Ba'athists, then Hamas, and
soon perhaps American troops will be "liberating"
Break" scenario – a study authored by Richard Perle,
James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Douglas Feith, Robert
Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser in the early
1990s, in consultation with then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visualized
the taking of Baghdad as a necessary stop on the road to Damascus.
And that is exactly where we are headed.
IN THE MARGIN
as to whether ex-commie turned neoconservative David
Horowitz reads the junk he posts on his website before
it goes up is rife with the appearance, the other day, of
Greg Yardley's "The
Trotsky Two-Step," the latest installment in the
article by Jeet
Heer in the National Post, pointing to the Trotskyist
past of leading neocons – and suggesting that they have merely
updated Trotsky's theory of "permanent revolution"
on behalf of "democratic" globalism – has the Right
in an uproar. Heers quotes blabbermouth Stephen
Schwartz, another ex-Trot-turned-neocon,
who proudly proclaims the "relevance" and "continuity"
of Trotsky's thought for today. Ex-Stalinist-turned-neocon
Beichman went ballistic at Schwartz's indiscretion, and
now one Greg
Yardley has taken up the question of whether Trotsky's
ghost is currently haunting us, in (where else?) David Horowitz's
Frontpage. The ex-Trotskyist credentials of leading war birds
– influential Iraqi exile Kanan Makiya, Christopher Hitchens,
Schwartz, Irving Kristol are just a coincidence, says
and, by the way, he too is an ex-Trot, a
former member of the Communist League of Canada:
both the Communist League and the Socialist Workers Party
began quietly dropping the Trotskyist label around 1990, the
other members reassured me repeatedly that this was merely
a tactical issue. After the collapse of the Soviet Union,
they felt that they could claim the sole mantle of Communism
for themselves, and avoid confusing a working class that had
never heard of Trotsky. And make no mistake Trotskyism is
a variant of Communism. This shouldn't be glossed over; ex-Trotskyists
like myself are ex-Communists. But let me also make this clear
- the transformation from Trotskyist to conservative involves
a fundamental break with the main tenets of Trotskyism. By
suggesting that a conservative can remain in some way a Trotskyist,
the isolationist right traffics in oxymoron, and their conspiracy
theories fail bitterly."
begin with, I have never claimed, as Yardley avers, that neoconservatives
are "secretly Trotskyists." The purpose of digging
up the neocons' leftist roots is to point out that the content
of their ideology may have changed, but the form – the clear
pattern – remains all too constant.
cites anti-Stalinism and adherence to orthodox Marxist economic
theory as the hallmarks of Trotsky's thought, but surely this
could describe any number of non-Stalinist leftists, from
anarcho-syndicalists to Bukharinites. What distinguishes Trotskyism
from all the other variants of Communism is the
theory of "permanent revolution."
believed that socialism in one country could not long survive,
and that the encirclement of the Soviet Union by the capitalist
powers would soon bring the "workers fatherland"
to its knees. According to the Trotskyists, communism had
to be exported to other countries, by force if need be: anything
less amounted to a betrayal of the revolution. The crux of
their opposition to Stalinism was their militant internationalism.
same militant internationalism is central to neocon ideology,
with the goal of world communism abandoned for global "democracy."
To pursue the phantom of "democracy in one country"
is the mortal sin of "isolationism" – to hear the
neocons tell it, the U.S. government has a duty to "liberate"
the oppressed peoples of the earth. Anything less is a "betrayal"
of American ideals. Their project to democratize the Middle
East rests on the premise that democracy in one country, or
region the West – is unthinkable, on account of the existence
of radical Islamism. Their answer to the terrorist threat
is securing our "national security" via world conquest.
It is Trotskyism turned inside out.
Yardley, as a former Trotskyist, must know all this. Yet,
perhaps not. The group to which he once belonged, the Canadian
affiliate of the American Socialist Workers Party, was – as
he notes once the biggest Trotskyist group in the U.S.:
founded in 1928, as the Communist
League of America, it is also the oldest. After attaining
some degree of influence on the American left during the Vietnam
war, however, the SWP abandoned
its Trotskyist heritage, and expelled hundreds of longtime
members in a series of mass purges. Today, it is an idiosyncratic
leftist sect that devotes itself to selling books, magazines,
newspapers, and pamphlets put out by its publishing operation,
a Marxist version of the Bible Tract Society.
the SWP/CLC is the North
American branch of the Church of Fidel Castro: Pathfinder
reprints the Cuban dictator's books and speeches,
and SWPers regularly
travel to Cuba in an attempt to ingratiate themselves
with the regime. It is no wonder that poor Yardley hasn't
the slightest conception of what Trotskyism is about: the
bombastic effusions of Castro and SWP
Maximum Leader Jack Barnes have long since taken Trotsky's
place in the SWP's theology, and actually reading "the
Old Man" is probably not encouraged. A more boring
and sterile sect than the Socialist Workers Party/Canadian
Communist League would be hard to imagine.
doesn't confide when he joined the SWP/CLC, but, writing under
the pseudonym "Brian Sayre" – I'm assuming Yardley
and Sayre are the same person, unless Horowitz has roped in
two former Fidelistas who both happen to live in Canada he
began my career as a communist radical in Toronto in 1996,
when I joined an organization called the Communist League
of Canada. The Communist League was oriented towards factory
workers; when I decided to go back to university in 1998,
I left it and joined a mostly student communist organization
called the New Socialists. Both of these groups were split-offs
of split-offs, tracing their lineage back trough the 1960s
left to the heyday of American communism. Although small in
numbers, thanks to their activity they and other groups like
them had a great deal of influence over the broader left.
While in these groups, I helped organize and participated
in many protests demonstrations against "globalization,"
demonstrations against war, and demonstrations against the
government. As a communist, I used people as simply means
to an end. I discarded people as they ceased to be useful,
and came to my senses only long after I was discarded in turn."
a neocon, Yardley won't have to make much of an adjustment.
manipulative, power-hungry, and blinded by dogmatism: that's
the neocons, alright. Although Yardley does make vague reference
to having been "discarded" – perhaps in one of the
purges that routinely convulse the Barnes group as a former
member of an authoritarian cult, his transitioning from neo-Trotskyist
to neo-conservative seems to have been relatively effortless.
Yardley such a humorless ideologue that he fails to see the
irony of his own position? After all, here is someone converted
to Communism in the year 1996, fer chrissakes, lecturing longtime
conservatives on who is and is not a conservative. One might
as well ask a former phrenologist
to address a convention of brain-surgeons.
of ruthless, manipulative, power-hungry, party-lining neocons,
I note the
following squib in The Hill:
all think tanks are getting along in the conservative movement's
sandbox. The libertarian Cato Institute has been at 'right
angles' with the Bush administration since Sept. 11, according
to an influential conservative writer. 'In my view, too many
on the right are supportive of the administration when it
is right and when it is not right,' said David Boaz, Cato's
executive vice president. 'I think some conservatives probably
want us to be as reflexively supportive of the Bush administration
as they think we should be.'"
conservatives, notably the magazine The Weekly Standard,
argued that Cato blundered in its 2001 annual report that
pictured the second World Trade Center tower as the second
jet burst into flames. Across the photo, the report reads,
'It is our true policy to steer clear of entangling alliances
with any portion of the foreign world" from George
Washington's farewell address. Although no specific alliance
is named, the Standard believes Cato is referring to the United
States's relationship with Israel. Boaz said that was 'off-base.'"
the wall is more like it. What will the conspiracy theorists
come up with next? But Boaz's tepid response was pretty limp-wristed:
we'll be just as reflexively supportive of the President as
we damn well please. Never mind defending George Washington:
say, wasn't he an anti-Semite? Citing the "Farewell Address,"
the works of Leo Strauss, or those of Trotsky – these are
all "code words," you understand, the covert language
crap! I have a hard time believing that conservatives, who
have a temperamental aversion to such nonsense, will swallow
this swill without a protest.
gets me is that these neocons have the utter gall to carry
on about the evils of Stalinism when they are its ablest practitioners.
sliming of longtime conservatives, such as Pat Buchanan,
Bob Novak, David Keene, and others, resembles nothing so much
as the Moscow
Trials, in which hundreds of Old Bolsheviks were convicted
of trumped-up charges and jailed. While the neocons can't
send their political opponents to the Gulag quite yet
– from the tone of their polemics one gets the definite impression
that they would like nothing better.
spies inside Cato tell me that a recent purge of a prominent
anti-interventionist scholar was not enough for the neocons:
they want more heads. The neocon takeover of what was once
a venerable libertarian institution – founded and named by
the late Murray N.
Rothbard – started with the
addition of Rupert Murdoch to Cato's board of directors
in 1997, but was never complete. This latest smear campaign
is the signal that the neocons are moving in for the kill.
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