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Another poor prediction…

April 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Three years ago Mr Hattsi declared that –

The weak authority of Bakiyev and the highly divided society indicate that Kyrgyzstan is perhaps closer to civil war than any other Central Asian state. However, this very lack of authority prevents Bakiyev from taking Kyrgyzstan upon an overwhelmingly pejorative trajectory. The presence of the most developed civil society in Central Asia has the ability to place checks upon the Kyrgyz authorities, whilst Bakiyev’s apparent willingness to effect some degree of positive change upon Kyrgyzstan are perhaps the two most significant developments if Kyrgyzstan is to avoid becoming a “failed” state.

…and now we have this. Unfortunately, the latest chaotic episode for a nation that specialises in pseudo-revolutions and disorder doesn’t have its origins in Kyrgyz civil society, but in an even more authoritarian opposition strengthened by support in the North of the country. This blog (ironically) predicts that conditions are likely to worsen for the foreseeable future – the Western media has largely treated the story as corrupt despotic leader overthrown by plucky and maltreated general populace who will now have the freedom to move towards our definition of democracy – they should be careful what they wish for.

Here at the end of all things (Part I).

April 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Of all the mystifying injustices that are seemingly allowed to continue unpunished in our oft-disfunctional world, none is  more bizarre than the refusal of some of the world’s major powers to reproach an increasingly paranoid, aggressive, and militaristic state acting with an apparent sense of impunity not even matched by those favourite pariahs, Iran and The DPRK. A nation that is committing state-sponsored ethnic cleansing and enforces the ghettoisation of a poor-in-every-sense and demoralised populace in a brutally fascistic desecration of the principles upon which the state was founded.

Of course, we’re talking about Israel.

Enough has been written over the years on the topic to justify a genuinely weary sigh of resignation when faced with yet another appraisal of the contemporary situation, alarming as it is. Oh, it’s just Israel/Palestine/Arafat/Netanyahu/Olmert/Hamas/’67 again, is it? Yet this time there appears to be a significant worsening of the situation – in the short-term for the much-beleaguered Palestinian population and in the long-term, and it really isn’t pretty reading for those who blindly support the Israeli state regardless of its overt crimes against humanity, for Israel itself. For there are signs that a breaking point has been reached – when Israel begins to antagonise its most ardent supporter, and leaves its relationship with another of its closest allies in a critical condition, the alarms have become deafening. It’s astonishing to witness the current behaviour of the Israeli governance – there appears to be a genuine refusal to acknowledge the damage that its foreign policy choices are causing. An isolated Israel is extremely vulnerable, yet this disconcerting future beckons should Netanyahu not rapidly reverse the path he is taking his country upon.

Little dissent is apparent within the country itself (and the wider pro-Israel lobbyists around the world). It appears that loyalty is unquestioned, regardless of the vagaries of the form of governance at any given time. Support for the late 2008/early 2009 incursion into Gaza was overwhelming amongst the general populace (approaching 90% according to the New York Times), yet the international community (at least with respect to civil society) was somewhat less amenable to the idea. Hardly surprising given the illegality of the conflict itself, the atrocities and war crimes that were committed throughout, and the lack of tangible resolution, other than a grossly unbalanced death toll.

Netanyahu‘s re-election will ultimately prove a disaster for Israel itself, the Middle-East, and the wider world. When Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a key figure amongst Hamas’ leadership, was murdered in Dubai earlier this year, Western governments condemned (justifiably) the use of their citizens’ stolen identities as part of the Mossad operation, yet little criticism was made over the potentially destabilising effects such a killing may have. Netanyahu personally authorised the operation and so appears to hold the same contempt for any peace process that many of his predecessors shared.

Usually faced with predictable and preposterous cries of anti-Semitism, it is a brave individual who publicly seeks to condemn the contemporary Israeli approach to foreign policy. Yet condemn them we must. The line at which Israel’s actions could be seen as legitimate self-defence has long passed (although Hamas’ pointless and self-defeating rocket attacks should also rightly continue to be subject to criticism). Should Obama take a stronger position upon Israel’s antagonistic behaviour, with support from other disillusioned Western parties, Netanyahu would have to rethink his approach to governing. Should he fail to do so the repercussions could be catastrophic.

The sheer belligerence, nee arrogance, of Israel’s present approach has to be challenged in order to retain some semblance of a peace process, and, subsequently, relative stability in the Middle East. The lack of discernible popular political plurality is extremely damaging – Israel (and the wider world) would undoubtedly benefit from a period of good governance from a fair, socially progressive and internationally engaged party from the left. Switching between the centre-right to far-right and back again merely reduces the democratic choices for the Israeli population and, ultimately, the life choices for Palestinians.

There are two potential scenarios that could face Israel in the foreseeable future, distinct only with respect to whether Netanyahu remains as leader. In the way that the West has supported efforts to destabilise the undemocratic and antagonistic regime of Ahmadinejad, similar efforts could be made to undermine Netanyahu’s authority in favour of a more amenable leader. Clearly this will never happen with Israel remaining closely allied to the West, and any interference would face legitimate criticism. Yet such qualms are conveniently ignored when the United States in particular, seeks to overthrow governments that it does not ideologically agree with, most of which are/were far less threatening to international peace than the current Israeli administration. The caution exercised within Western foreign policy towards Israel is not reciprocated and so it is perhaps pertinent that such an approach be abandoned. Stipulations could be placed upon any new administration to prove committed to a two-party state solution, cease the expansion of settlements and remove those already built, return borders to their pre-1967 state (with territory rescinded made part of the new Palestinian nation), and demand the payment of reparations in order to at least start to reverse the damage caused over the decades through Israeli incursions into Palestinian settlements and unjust economic sanctions.

This would be a fair agreement. An unfair one could yet arise. Should Netanyahu’s administration persist with their present policy approach, the implications are uniformly grave. Continued attacks upon Gaza will only serve to legitimise violent Palestinian reactions, whilst simultaneously tearing apart the foundations upon which the Israeli state was founded and the horrors that led to this. Perhaps the most upsetting facet of the modern Israeli state are the echoes with Nazi Germany – clearly there is no mass extermination plan for the Palestinians, yet the creeping ethnic cleansing associated with settlement building, economic ruination, and militaristic bullying, is rapidly becoming a scandalous tragedy. The memory of the Holocaust grows stronger by the day, whilst remaining seemingly invisible to the Israeli government. That a nation founded in response to one of the greatest atrocities the world has ever witnessed should turn out as modern Israel has, is not only an appalling indictment of the failures of 20th century foreign policy, but also a brutal and cold insult to those millions of victims who lost their lives to such an impersonal, undignified, mechanical slaughter.