March 14, 2010

Stupidity and the "peace process"

Foreign Policy writer Mark Perry reports an interesting story, interesting because of course nobody knows exactly who decide to leaks which part of what transpired somewhere behind the closed doors of the Pentagon. Allegedly, Gen. Petraeus, the Proconsul of Arabia, who aims high and probably sees himself as a future president, threw the White House a gauntlet when he asked that Gaza and the West Bank be transferred from EUCOM to CENTCOM. This is of course very serious. It signals a development that Chalmers Johnson has already predicted as the natural trend in a militarized global empire. As the government in Washington slowly bleeds both its capacity to act and its legitimacy, power is shifting to the Proconsuls, who are in fact the governors of the different provinces and command the only U.S. governing institution that is well funded and functional, the military.

It does not signal a breach in the relations between Israel and the U.S. The problem for American dominance is not Israel, which is and will remain a valuable ally, but the out of control populist right wing in Israel which has developed a sort of bulimic land eating disorder, and needs to feed more and more often on Palestinian land to feel satiated. That populist right wing is also a problem for the Israeli ruling class, but primarily to the extent that it matters to the US. As long as the US allows it, the Israeli ruling class would rather not confront it. Let the fanatics, as far as the Israeli center is concerned, get their daily nibble at the Palestinian expense. The predatory relation is already deeply institutionalized; the whole Israeli military apparatus is organized around the colonization process; it can be slowed down or sped up, but it cannot be dismantled with serious damage all around. The US will not risk serious damage to Israel, unless it is pushed really hard by its Arab clients. They, in their turn, couldn't care less, except occasionally when they fear that things have gone too far and they need to get a bone that they can hang on their breast as proof to their people that they are not totally venal but can get some respect from Washington. It's a political game whose object for all the players is none other than the ultimate goal of politics according to Raymond Aron, "to make things last." In its Middle East version it is often known as the bicycle principle, in the words of former Israeli FM Meridor: “the peace process [is] like being on a bicycle; one must keep pedaling lest you crash and fall off.” Except it is cycling on training rollers and need not actually go anywhere.

We are now in one of these moments when, because of a few momentary lapses, the bicycle seems about to fall off the rollers. Enter Proconsul Petraeus. We wish him to fail. But that is a far fetched expectation given that all he needs to do is remind all the bikers in the room of the importance of pedaling. But trust the commentariat and the blogosphere to read it as some kind of cosmic battle between Israel and the U.S., Netanyahu and Obama, the Lobby vs. the Army, Cpt. America vs. The blue-white Hulk.

The silly phrase of the day belongs to Mark Perry, who hyperventilates like he was just given the go order for the invasion of Normandy:
America's relationship with Israel is important, but not as important as the lives of America's soldiers. Maybe Israel gets the message now.
Really? That must be why the Bush administration couldn't find money for body armors in the half a trillion dollar a year defense budget, not to mention the Walter Reed scandal or other moments when the truth about how much the ruling class cares about the grunts emerges in broad daylight. Soldiers are cheap, really cheap. They are made in large batches from unemployed and looking forward to a life of un- and under-employment youth. The supply is growing, and I have full faith in the White House to create the economic conditions that will keep it growing for a while.

Go to your beds now, and wait for the next occasion to hyperventilate.

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