© Copyright 2004, From The Wilderness Publications, www.fromthewilderness.com. All Rights Reserved. May be reprinted, distributed or posted on an Internet web site for non-profit purposes only.
Jurassic Park, Psuedo-events, and Prisons:
The fallout from US Torture at Abu Ghraib in Baghdad;
Basra; Mosul; Bagram AFB in Afghanistan; Ad Nauseam
[If the "war on terror" were real, it would involve the cessation of American terrorism against everybody else. It would also require a serious examination of anti-American motives, since nobody on Planet Grownup can possibly imagine young people blowing themselves up for some abstract hatred of American "freedom." The Israel-Palestine war-of-attrition would have to be examined (preferably while We the People are wearing our thinking caps, having taken off those super-cool hats that hold two beer cans each). Only a carefully historical reappraisal of thwarted Arab nationalism can return "our enemies" to the one interpretive category in which they can possibly be disarmed: human beings with grievances.
Here Stan Goff encapsulates that enormous story of betrayal, disgrace, and disaster. The metaphor of hubristic monster-building applies just as cogently as it has in previous installations of this long-running FTW series: Jurassic Park. With the failure of multi-polar geostrategic tension, every ancient hatred is astir, goaded by water-scarcity, Peak Oil, an Israeli policy of brutality and a century's diplomacy of lies. Today all the demons are awake, and among the noises which woke them, the riot of American sadism (lately manifest in the torture at Abu Ghraib, Basra, Mosul, Bagram AFB, et cetera) has been the loudest.
Thus Stan Goff: "The key to the whole strategy was establishment of permanent forward staging bases for the projection of US military power into Southwest Asia - the heart that pumps the black blood to the rest of the world. What was awakened by this plan was the Israeli itch to expand." -JAH]
SEPTEMBER 22, 2004: 1200 PDT (FTW) -- In the film Jurassic Park, there are four consultants who are brought to the island to write testimonials for investors: a paleontologist, a paleo-botanist, a lawyer, and a chaos theorist. When they have only just arrived, their tour jeeps pull onto a grassy hill and stop. One at a time, their startled heads turn to see a living brontosaur.
The chaotician and the lawyer are sitting together, and the chaotician exclaims, "You crazy son-of-a-bitch, you did it." The lawyer, who until now had been skeptical and preoccupied with issues of liability, gasps sotto voce, "We're gonna make a fortune on this place."
Perhaps he worked for Halliburton.
* * *
The Zionist invasion of Palestine began with the help of wealthy Palestinians: absentee landlords, to be precise. While this can be (and has been) overstated as a way to justify Zionist settlement in Palestine, it was a pragmatic mechanism by which the Zionists gained a geographical foothold.
Palestinian society was organized and stable, in a semi-feudal structure with the effendi (big landowners) owning most of the agricultural land, which was worked by peasant tenants. In the cities there was a vigorous comprador trade, particularly with the Ottoman Empire. Palestinian Jews dwelt in this society without any overwhelming friction between Jew and Arab. As modernity began to encroach, more and more landlords used their fortunes to transform themselves into compradors, and some went abroad. It was this element that began to sell parcels of land, where they no longer lived but to which they held title, to Zionists - many of whom were giving support to the Turks in their genocide against the Armenians to curry their favor.
From this foothold on land purchased from absentee landlords, the Zionists aggressively pursued expansion. According to Ralph Schoenman:
In 1917, there were 56,000 Jews in Palestine and 644,000 Palestinian Arabs. In 1922, there were 83,794 Jews and 663,000 Arabs. In 1931, there were 174,616 Jews and 750,000 Arabs…
Poet Ghassan Kanafani writes:
Ownership by Jewish groups of urban and rural land rose from 300,000 dunums in 1929 [67,000 acres] to 1,250,000 dunums in 1930 [280,000 acres]. The purchased land was insignificant from the point of view of mass colonization and of the settlement of the "Jewish problem." But the expropriation of one million dunums - almost one third of the agricultural land - led to a severe impoverishment of Arab peasants and Bedouins.
By 1931, 20,000 peasant families had been evicted by the Zionists. Furthermore, agricultural life in the underdeveloped world, and the Arab world in particular, is not merely a mode of production, but equally a way of social, religious and ritual life. Thus, in addition to the loss of land, Arab rural society was being destroyed by the process of colonization.1
This kind of social uprooting will inevitably lead to strife, but whether that strife leads to reorganization and progress or demoralization and victimization depends on indigenous leadership.
Palestine was controlled by the troops of the British Mandate, but they could not prevent a Palestinian revolt that lasted from 1936-1939. When the revolt overwhelmed the resources of the British, they armed the Zionists.
I want to include a somewhat lengthy excerpt from Schoenman here, because it lays out the class composition of the Palestinian struggle so clearly, and hints at the reasons for the fabled Arab "disunity" that western pundits so enjoy citing:
A Royal Commission was established in 1937, under the direction of Lord Peel, to determine the causes of the 1936 revolt. The Peel Commission concluded that the two primary factors were Palestinian desire for national independence and Palestinian fear of the establishment of a Zionist colony on their land. The Peel Report analyzed a series of other factors with uncommon candor. These were:
1. The spread of the Arab nationalist spirit outside Palestine;
2. Increasing Jewish immigration after 1933;
3. The ability of the Zionists to dominate public opinion in Britain because of the tacit support of the government;
4. Lack of Arab confidence in the good intentions of the British government;
5. Palestinian fear of continued land purchases by Jews from absentee feudal landowners who sold off their landholdings and evicted the Palestinian peasants who had worked the land;
6. The evasiveness of the Mandatory government about its intentions regarding Palestinian sovereignty.
The national movement consisted of the urban bourgeoisie, feudal landowners, religious leaders and representatives of peasants and workers.
Its demands were:
1. An immediate stop to Zionist immigration;
2. Cessation and prohibition of the transfer of the ownership of Arab lands to Zionist colonists;
3. The establishment of a democratic government in which Palestinians would have the controlling voice…
…Ghassan Kanafani described the uprising:
"The real cause of the revolt was the fact that the acute conflict involved in the transformation of Palestinian society from an Arab agricultural-feudal-clerical one into a Jewish (Western) industrial bourgeois one, had reached its climax ... The process of establishing the roots of colonialism and transforming it from a British mandate into Zionist settler colonialism ... reached its climax in the mid-thirties, and in fact the leadership of the Palestinian nationalist movement was obliged to adopt a certain form of armed struggle because it was no longer able to exercise its leadership at a time when the conflict had reached decisive proportions.
"The failure of the Mufti and other religious leaders, of feudal land owners and the nascent bourgeoisie to support the peasants and workers to the end, enabled the colonial regime and the Zionists to crush the rebellion after three years of heroic struggle. In this the British were aided decisively by the treachery of the traditional Arab regimes, who were dependent upon their colonial sponsors."
The "disunity" of Arabs has become a western academic and media legend because it fits so comfortably with western racial stereotypes, both of the crafty and clannish Jews and the backbiting, venal Arabs.
It is important to note in this regard that these racial-religious explanations serve to conceal the very real economic and politico-strategic agendas that are behind them. The British, and then the Americans who helped destroy British imperialism then moved to replace it, were concerned first and foremost with the threat of independence (Arab nationalism) in the region. And Palestinian resistance to Jewish immigration was not based on those immigrants' being Jewish, but on the expropriation of land.
That does not preclude the use of anti-Semitism (i.e., hatred against Jews in particular) by enemies of Zionism. It is this wrinkle that makes the Zionist demagogy equating anti-Zionism to anti-Semitism even more effective. One can point to instances of Arabs and others using blatantly anti-Jewish language. As Maxime Rodinson pointed out in his comprehensive study of Zionism:
Arab propaganda against Zionism also frequently utilizes arguments and images borrowed from European anti-Semitism. That is deeply disagreeable, but it does not justify one in identifying the two phenomena. European anti-Semitism, in the sense of hatred of the Jews in their very essence, considering them as possessed of a fundamentally maleficent nature, was not born of any actions or initiatives on the part of Jews. Whatever its real motives, the reproaches it leveled against the Jews were purely mythical or, if they referred to anything concrete, it was to phenomena and activities connected with the humiliating situation imposed on the Jews for more than a thousand years by European society. The prime responsibility lay with the latter. Arab anti-Zionism, on the contrary, even if it sometimes led to a comprehensive hatred of the Jews, originated in a concrete initiative taken by some Jews, to the detriment of the Arabs, namely, the plan to transform an Arab land into a Jewish state.2
The class contradictions inherent in a struggle of this type were not limited to the Palestinians, but were characteristic of every national liberation struggle against imperial domination. These same class contradictions are evident even in the struggles of internal oppressed nationalities in the United States, from Garveyism to the American Indian Movement.
It is not possible to put Zionism and its relation to US foreign policy into any perspective without relating it to the US struggle against Arab nationalism and the consequences of the destruction of Arab nationalism. Any meaningful sovereignty in the region explicitly threatens US control over more than half the world's energy.
That is precisely why the word "sovereignty" is being so exquisitely mangled by the Bush administration and the hack press right now to describe as "sovereign" a US-appointed government, protected by a US military occupation force.
Israel has been used as a weapon against Arab nationalism, while paradoxically Zionist incursions were one of the catalysts of this nationalism. Islamist political movements were supported by both the US and Israel as a counterbalance to secular nationalist currents.
Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya, or the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), is a case in point. This year, an Israeli Apache helicopter was used to assassinate Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the wheelchair-bound, paraplegic, spiritual leader of Hamas. But Hamas was registered in Israel by Yassin himself as a legal organization in 1978. That was feasible because Israelis and Americans saw Hamas as a clerical antagonist to the secular nationalism of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
This same strategy led to the Taliban.
But things sometimes turn into their opposites. History has transformed imperialist tools into anti-imperialists. How did Islamism do this? What has been its trajectory?
At the same time that Hamas was first being organized, in the late 70s, there was a revolution forming in Iran against the US puppet regime of Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi in the face of an economic crisis created in large part by Pahlavi's grandiose schemes at a time of terrible inflation and massive in-migration to the urban centers. Because of the Shah's devastating policies and the extreme repression he used to quell social unrest, and because he was identified with his American sponsors, the Iranian revolution took on an understandably bitter anti-American character. This animosity toward the US was shared by both secular and clerical sectors within the anti-Pahlavi movement. The exiled Shia cleric, Ayatollah Khomeni, who was well regarded in Iran as a personality who could bridge these sectors, was nurtured by the French to derail the Iranian communists who had been extremely instrumental in the resistance to Pahlavi. When we consolidated his power, he had 6,000 communist activists killed and transformed the Iranian state into a theocracy.
It is easy to lose the forest for the trees here by focusing overmuch on personalities, but bear in mind that this is the same period when the Carter Administration's CIA had begun to draw the Soviets into the Afghan trap, where the CIA was supporting the anti-communist theocratic militias of the future Taliban, just as they had recently supported Hamas as a counterweight to secular nationalism in Palestine.
Suddenly, Islamists were at the center of a revolution in a key oil state, Iran, and they had captured the US embassy on November 4, 1979, and taken 66 Americans hostage. Thirteen were released, but the other 53 were kept captive until dear departed Ronald Reagan was inaugurated on January 20, 1981.
This precipitated a political crisis for the Carter administration, and Jimmy Carter's fate was sealed with the failure of Operation Rice Bowl in April, 1980, the spectacular failure of Delta Force at its first real mission. Partisans of the future Reagan administration, veterans of the Bay of Pigs and others, were already in motion before the election cutting deals with the Iranians that eventually leaked as the Iran-Contra scandal. The Reagan administration veterans that followed have been largely put back into play today by Bush II, with Reagan's death-squad supporting Ambassador to Honduras, John Negroponte, now taking over as the "ambassador" (read: Viceroy) in Iraq.
The Islamists of the Iranian government moved to endorse Islamist Hamas in Palestine as well as Hezbollah in Lebanon, and there was a tectonic shift in regional forces. Friends were to be declared enemies, and enemies, friends.
Hamas was drawn into an anti-American orbit against their old supporters in the CIA as formerly anti-communist forces were transformed by events into anti-Americans.
Ronald Reagan's emissary, Donald Rumsfeld, was then sent to make friends with an Arab nationalist in order to cajole him into a war with Iran. That nationalist was Saddam Hussein. By 1990, with the Soviet Union crumbling, we would glimpse the new realignment of forces in the world, a world where something would have to replace imperial multilateralism just as imperial multilateralism had replaced colonialism. Then Saddam - not because of his considerable crimes, but precisely because of the Ba'ath Party accomplishments in developing Iraq into a "modern" nation - would be transformed back into our enemy. In fact, during the Iran-Contra hearings, it became apparent, that the US betrayal of friend-Saddam was already being planned by 1985.
Hamas became effective first through the provision of badly needed social services in Gaza. This service provision has been the key to expansion of Hamas influence and prestige among Palestinians. The other event that contributed to their expansion was the decision by the PLO, under extreme pressure, to displace its headquarters from Palestine to Lebanon in the 80s, effectively ceding geographic Palestine to Hamas.
There is one factor, however, that has contributed more than any other to the increased standing of Hamas in recent years. That has been the consistent perfidy and betrayal of the Israeli government in every negotiation with the PLO and the Palestinian Authority. With the launching of the Intifada in the 90s, the ranks of Hamas swelled with new fighters, attracted by the unequivocal language of Hamas about an independent Palestinian state and the necessity to wage a protracted armed struggle against Israel.
Said Larry Johnson, a former State Department counter-terrorism advisor, "The Israelis are their own worst enemies when it comes to fighting terrorism. They are like a guy who sets fire to his hair, then tries to put it out with a hammer."
But the facts are more subtle than that. The Israelis had already heavily infiltrated Hamas when they were supporting it against Arafat. While many of the collaborators inside Hamas have been identified and eliminated, some remain, and this accounts for the brutal efficacy of many Israeli operations against Hamas. Moreover, the right-wing within the Israeli government prefers a strong Hamas vis-à-vis the PLO, because they have no genuine intention of signing treaties worth any more than the treaties signed between the US government and the Indians. Hamas provides a better pretext for the creeping holocaust that will depopulate expanding Israel of those troublesome Arabs.
With Arab nationalism now apparently in tatters, with the Soviet counterbalance consigned to history, a new vision was conceived by the likes of Douglas Feith and Richard Perle and Dick Cheney. The "New American Century" of unbridled American power in which a Pax Americana presides over the shrinking world in which, like the Titanic, there are too few lifeboats and hard choices must be made.
The key to the whole strategy was establishment of permanent forward staging bases for the projection of US military power into Southwest Asia - the heart that pumps the black blood to the rest of the world. What was awakened by this plan was the Israeli itch to expand.
In October, 2003, as Ariel Sharon accelerated the slaughter of Palestinians and the destruction of ever more Palestinian homes, Lieutenant General "Jerry" Boykin, with whom I served in Delta in the early 80s, a quietly crazed evangelical religious fanatic, as a token of his deep appreciation of the necessity to win the hearts and minds of the region, was publicly declaring that Muslims did not worship a "real" God.
In the cases of both Sharon and Boykin, wrists were lightly slapped, and business went on as usual - damn the consequences. Some might say that this attests to the intractable stupidity of the Bush administration, which it very well might, but I want to post an alternative hypothesis.
There is seldom a singular cause for political policy. Most decisions are "over-determined," that is, made in the face of a relationship of forces originating in more than one phenomenon. It is very common knowledge that the Republican Party is lashed to a frighteningly large constituency of millenarian theocrats that believes with all its heart that the End Time is nigh, and that for Jesus to come and take them all home with him, Israel has to reclaim all the territory under the crown of David, bulldoze the Dome of the Rock, and rebuild the Temple that the Romans destroyed. This "mainstream" religion, which claims Bishop Boykin as one of its own, is far larger than the much-ballyhooed (even by proto-fascists like Buchanan) "Jewish Lobby."
This does not, however, take into account that Democrats are just as rabid in their support for Zionism as Republicans. When Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney dared to criticize unqualified US support for Israel, it was her own party that torpedoed her seat by running an AIPAC-financed Primary smear campaign that was unparalleled in its audacious mendacity and unbridled nastiness.
To coin a phrase, it's the region, it's the region, it's the region. Translated, that means, it's the oil, it's the oil, it's the oil.
The US government does not see Israel primarily as a political asset (or liability, for that matter). It sees it for what it is: a force multiplier. For a few billion a year, Uncle Sam can maintain a lethal modern surrogate military on the very border of the world's biggest oil patch; one that is hostile in its very essence to the brown people who have the audacity to have encamped for these few centuries upon all that gasoline and fertilizer and plastic.
It should surprise no one that US troops have been trained by the Israelis for the occupation of Iraq, including in the fine arts of… ahem… interrogation.
It is not "Muslim paranoia" that invariably associates the occupation of Palestine with the occupation of Iraq. In a very real sense, if you just back up enough to get the whole perspective, this is absolutely accurate. That the Israelis want lebensraum and the water to live on it, and that the Americans want to control the oil to hang onto their doddering empire, does not negate the fact that these agendas are absolutely symbiotic.
US dependency on the Israelis as a mercenary force has only deepened as the grand strategy of Cheney, Perle, Wolfowitz, and Rumsfeld has sunk into the quagmire of an increasingly generalized Iraqi, and regional, resistance.
The resistance is fueled by anti-Zionism, and so the Bush administration now finds itself locked inside its own burning automobile, with what might be a lake or might be a mirage in the distance, and their only choice is to stamp down on the accelerator to try and get there in time to prevent their own immolation.
Perhaps the UN can rescue them. It is standing alongside the road. But standing there with it are a billion pissed-off human beings.
End of Part Five
*For more on US torture:
This function has been disabled.