David Rose’s Gaza Bombshell is getting a lot of play in the media and deservedly so. It is an investigative piece that uncovered secret and not so secret government documents authenticating a State Department plot to engineer what Elliot Abrams at the time called a “hard coup” against Hamas in the aftermath of its election victory. Rose also interviewed key players on all sides of the story including defanged neocon officials, Israeli spymasters, Palestinian enforcers, and Hamas officials. It’s a great read. Just hearing the two-faced David Wurmser turn on his former Bush Administration colleagues is worth the price of admission. But candor like this does make you wonder whether sour grapes more than a concern for ‘getting it right’ may be his motivation:
Within the Bush administration, the Palestinian policy set off a furious debate. One of its critics is David Wurmser, the avowed neoconservative, who resigned as Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief Middle East adviser in July 2007, a month after the Gaza coup.
Wurmser accuses the Bush administration of “engaging in a dirty war in an effort to provide a corrupt dictatorship [led by Abbas] with victory.” He believes that Hamas had no intention of taking Gaza until Fatah forced its hand. “It looks to me that what happened wasn’t so much a coup by Hamas but an attempted coup by Fatah that was pre-empted before it could happen,” Wurmser says.
The botched plan has rendered the dream of Middle East peace more remote than ever, but what really galls neocons such as Wurmser is the hypocrisy it exposed. “There is a stunning disconnect between the president’s call for Middle East democracy and this policy,” he says. “It directly contradicts it.”
It’s astonishing that Condi Rice was inveigling Arab governments to pony up the money to fund this Bay of Pigs fiasco in the making because our own Congress rightly resisted providing arms to Fatah for fear they would end up in the wrong hands. Rose quotes an expert saying that she may not have violated any laws in what she did. But as the Vanity Fair journalist notes–this thing has Iran contra written all over it. It has the guns, the shady go-betweens, the dirty money from third countries. The only thing it doesn’t have is the clueless, Alzheimer’s-ridden president (Reagan) who can’t seem to remember anything about it when asked to testify about the deal. Instead we have George Bush!
The timing of the publication of this story couldn’t be better as Hamas’ steely resistance to Israeli military might and an international blockade puts it once again in the central spotlight. Rose shows unequivocally that Fatah was hopelessly corrupt and incapable of mounting any serious resistance to Hamas, let alone a coup to eradicate the latter from the political scene.
This should be a lesson for Condi Rice today as she vainly attempts to cobble together a viable Israel-Palestine policy while ignoring an indispensable player, the very same one she tried to overthrow a few years ago. Gaza Bombshell calls into question the Bush Administration’s desperate clinging to a discredited Fatah as it’s ticket to a peaceful resolution of the conflict. If Mahmoud Abbas couldn’t get his own house in order as documented in this article, why will he be any more likely to bring home the bacon (pardon the inapt figure of speech) with a peace agreement?
One thing I don’t understand is why Rose fails to acknowledge that Conflicts Forum reported virtually the same story in January, 2007, Elliot Abram’s Uncivil War–that is fourteen months ago. The only difference is the latter story was based on a report of a meeting Abrams held with Palestinian businessmen and not on the richer trove of documentary evidence Rose dug up. But at least Rose could’ve acknowledged the work that came before him. Would he even be writing this story were it not for Conflicts Forum which, as far as I know, was the first English-language source to write on this?