Tom Friedman has written one of the oddest, most dispirited columns of his career advocating that the Obama administration turn its back on Israel and Palestine as ungrateful obstructionists to the U.S. sponsored peace process. Personally, I think Friedman’s piece demonstrates the bankruptcy of the liberal vision of the conflict which argues that the U.S. can’t want peace more than the parties themselves. I call it: when the going gets tough the tough take a powder. In the world according to Tom, that reflects the current situation:
It is time for a radically new approach. And I mean radical. I mean something no U.S. administration has ever dared to do: Take down our “Peace-Processing-Is-Us” sign and just go home.
This approach isn’t radical and isn’t new. It’s essentially the approach of Bush pere and Bush fils (though Bush Jr. insisted he was doing “something” when he wasn’t).
Right now we want it more than the parties. They all have other priorities today. And by constantly injecting ourselves we’ve become their Novocain. We relieve all the political pain from the Arab and Israeli decision-makers by creating the impression in the minds of their publics that something serious is happening.
…This enables the respective leaders to continue with their real priorities — which are all about holding power or pursuing ideological obsessions — while pretending to advance peace, without paying any political price.
According to this perspective, the parties are being recalcitrant schoolboys and if we just withdraw that parental love they’ll somehow realize what they’ve been missing and come to their senses. It’s an extraordinary attitude to take given the history of this conflict. By which, whenever there has been a vacuum created by just the sort of withdrawal Friedman proposes, it gets filled with more blood and mayhem.
You can see Tom’s blinders in the last paragraph in the above passage, by which he seems to try to assign blame for this impasse to both parties. The Palestinians are just as much at fault as the Israelis because the former are just so damned stubborn about petty things like settlement freezes and such.
The N.Y. Times columnist won’t admit this to himself or his readers but this impasse is entirely the fault of the Israelis. Barack Obama led the Palestinians and the world to believe a settlement freeze was his highest priority. Then he caved. Now Tom is PO’ed that Mahmoud Abbas is threatening to quit because Obama folded on him.
Needless to say, Tom’s current admission of impotence contradicts a column he wrote only a month ago or so in which he boasted of “Fayyadism” as the wave of the future, predicting that this new malleable Palestinian vision would provide Israel with a partner with whom it could “do business.” Why the columnist soured so quickly on this vision is anybody’s guess.
The sheer condescension of this passage is maddening:
The fact is, the only time America has been able to advance peace — post-Yom Kippur War, Camp David, post-Lebanon war, Madrid and Oslo — has been when the parties felt enough pain for different reasons that they invited our diplomacy…
Today, the Arabs, Israel and the Palestinians are clearly not feeling enough pain to do anything hard for peace with each other…
The facts of the matter are these: Israel feels no pain and there is no way to make Israel feel pain with America out of the picture. Israel can continue with this charade indefinitely. So Friedman’s plan to abscond from the playing field will essentially cede it to Israel and leave it in control of all the levers of power. The claim that Palestinians aren’t feeling enough pain to play ball is odious and morally repugnant. Tell it to the 1.5 million Gazans who are under Israeli siege. It’s easy for Friedman to sit in his $9-million Bethesda home, eating off the fatted calf, with his kids probably ensconced in high-priced private schools and tell the Gazans that they need to feel more pain before they’ll be ready to make peace. I find the notion sickening.
Here Tom reveals how little he understands anything of contemporary Palestinian thinking:
…This Palestinian Authority still can’t decide whether to reconcile with the Jewish state or criminalize it and this Hamas leadership would rather let Palestinians live forever in the hellish squalor that is Gaza than give up its crazy fantasy of an Islamic Republic in Palestine.
By referencing the “Jewish state” meme Friedman is regurgitating a major Bibism, that Israel cannot negotiate with the Palestinians till they accept Israel as a Jewish state. It’s a foolish notion and shows how completely divorced the N.Y. Times mandarin is from political reality. Palestinians aren’t going to accept Israel as a Jewish state because it’s none of their business what that state is. Palestinians only have to recognize Israel as A state. Anything more is merely a wrench thrown into the works by the Likudist rejectionists who want to string the Occupation out indefinitely.
Friedman’s characterization of Hamas is breathtakingly off the mark. Not a single one of Hamas’ senior leaders is talking about an Islamic Republic in Palestine. I’m sure Israeli intelligence is talking about such a concept and this tells you where Tom gets some of his wackier ideas.
Stephen Walt notes that Joe Klein has written a post at Time arguing that it’s time for Obama to take the gloves off and forget about half-measures like settlement freezes. If Bibi continues to refuse, the president should institute a temporary freeze on all economic and military aid to Israel. I’d venture to say that just announcing that he was considering doing so should get Bibi’s attention. I feel more positively toward Klein’s suggestions than Walt. But it is true that this would set up a potential showdown between the executive and legislative branches, with the latter being pretty much in the pocket of the Israel lobby.
The most important idea we should take from all this is that leaving the playing field is NOT an option. Liberals may despair of having an impact because they don’t have the courage of their convictions. They’re the sunshine patriots who walk away when their best intentions are mocked by one party or another. The truth is that when Israel smacks your convictions in the face is precisely when you should redouble your efforts to show it that you mean business.
Tough love is the only answer. Intervention if necessary (of course in league with our EU and other allies). Declaring a Palestinian state within ’67 boundaries is one option. Threatening to cut off U.S. aid is another. Israel as a country believes in put up or shut up. If you want Israel to do something but aren’t willing to follow it through to the end, Israelis will quickly get the idea that you’re all talk, no action. That’s why what is now required is an escalation.
Watch the signs over the next month or two. If there is an escalation you’ll know Obama hasn’t given up. If there isn’t, batten down the hatches and get ready for all hell to break loose somewhere in Israel’s vicinity…either Gaza or Lebanon or Syria. Once the U.S. leaves the scene the vacuum will surely be filled by more blood, more violence, more hate. It’s the way of the Middle East.
And Tom Friedman can sit back in that easy chair in his study probably with a lovely view of the 9th hole at the Bethesda Country Club and smugly say: “I told you so.” Tom prefers to fiddle while the Middle East burns.
Gene Schulman says
Who even bothers to read Friedman any more? He’s a lapdog propaganda monger for the neocon Israel lobby crowd. He can bark all he wants, but Israel and the US are so well connected at the umbilical cord (Zionist Chang and neocon Eng) that ne’er the twain shall differ. Two-state solution? In your dreams.
1. Obama made a promise he couldnt or wouldnt keep, the blame is solely on him.
2. funny how you are against sanctions on Iran and Gaza because they “never work” while you support them on Israel.
3. you say Obama can’t cut off aid but should threatened it? makes no sense, Israel will call his bluff, again.
4. Obama can stop vetoing UNSC res, can recognise Palestine like 104 countries already have, but i dont think he has the courage of his convictions.
5. the most probable “Hell break loose” scenario is Israel attacking Iran.
Richard Silverstein says
It’s not true that sanctions “never work.” They do work sometimes, though they never work when they are the sole leverage in an attempt to change a nation’s policies. Sanctions worked against S. Africa, but that was because there were other levers working against the apartheid gov’t.
Iran has adjusted to 15 yrs. of sanctions & so new sanctions will have little impact. Iran has developed many alternate methods of circumventing sanctions.
Israel is in entirely diff. circumstances. Israel, more than most countries, is highly reliant on the outside world for trade, cultural relations, intellectual exchange, etc. Its high tech & military industries are also highly reliant on interaction & trade w. other countries. The threat of suspending U.S. aid alone (w/o even doing so) would send a huge shockwave through Israeli society. Again, one tool will not bring down the Occupation. A combination of tools are necessary.
Who knows what Israel will do. I’m glad you’re so certain. I’m not. Perhaps the threat alone would be sufficient. Israel as a nation tends to react belligerently unless it believes it can be hurt by another nation. When it does believe it can be hurt it tends to become more amenable to compromise. Barack Obama might have to use presidential power to prove to Israelis he isn’t bluffing. I don’t know if he’s willing to go that far. But if he does I predict it will have a major impact on Israeli attitudes. I don’t know if this one thing will bring Israelis around or other pressure pts would be necessary.
Zhu Bajie says
Why does anyone take Friedman seriously? Or any of the pundits? They seem to be the most ignorant people in the world, narrow-minded, with the narrowest range of life experiences.
It’s Friedman – the man is a bloody weathervane. When globalization was all the rage in the 1990s, Friedman wrote heavily on how that was good stuff. When climate change started looking real serious but there was hope over “green jobs” and the like, Friedman wrote a book arguing for that, essentially. He’s also pretty much followed optimistically on every single possible sign of negotiations with baited breath over the past decade, then wept bitter tears when they fell apart.
The whole situation is probably not helped by the fact that Friedman just doesn’t seem to do much in-depth in any of his reporting anymore.
We can thank Nixon and the responding 1974 Act that effectively killed the Presidential power to impound funds for that.
You yourself just pointed out that that’s basically impossible – if Obama were to even try, Congress would refuse any type of impoundment and pass an aid package right over his head (and the Republicans and hawks in the Democratic Party would play it up to the max, saying that Obama would “abandon our greatest ally in the Middle East, the only democracy, to a second Holocaust” or something like that).
It’s probably the only option with negotiations falling apart. Of course, that will mean bloodshed and violence, with the boundaries ultimately set between the guns of the Israeli army and whatever resistance the Palestinians throw up in their face and to their domination.
Maybe you could get the US to let that one slide by – after all, if the Palestinians are declaring a state, even the US would probably balk at openly opposing the right of the Palestinians to do so (although they would be rather displeased, and Israel would be screaming at them over the phones). But you won’t get support for any type of further international pressure from that point, like sanctions – at least not with the current government.
What type of intervention are we talking about? Obama could unilaterally order the troops on a “police action” to do something about it, but he’d still need to return to Congress for additional funding.
What’s the point of escalating if there’s nothing we can actually do? We have nothing in the way of a stick, since we can’t realistically threaten to cut off aid, sanctions are a non-starter for this Congress, and so forth.
Any words we say are going to pretty much be so much air, so why bother?
That’s more or less already the situation.
You mock him for it, but Friedman does have a point. You really can’t want peace more than the actual parties in question want it, and trying to force it is a fool’s errand, particularly when the tools you have for doing so are unreliable.
Richard Silverstein says
Many analysts have begun discussing the idea of an imposed settlement pre-negotiated with the U.S. & its allies including the Arab League. I believe that if the UN, EU, U.S. Russia & China all banded together & imposed the Saudi 2002 plan on both parties it might (note, I said “might”) work. But essentially Israel would have to be presented w. a fait accompli. In fact, I believe that once Israel became truly certain that such an imposed solution was in the offing it would become much more amenable to a compromise solution. It would come to understand that a compromise in which it has some say is better than an internationally imposed settlement in which it has little or not say.
That type of co-operation seems unlikely to say the least, Richard, particularly since Israel would almost certainly know what was going on in the negotiating process and try to sabotage it to the best of their ability.
Moreover, how are you going to impose the settlement? Sanctions? You’d have to get them past the US Congress, which (as I mentioned above) is rather unlikely. Armed intervention?
True, once it’s in their face, they might come around. The enormous trick is actually getting there.
I agree, Richard. I think the only thing that is going to knock Netanyahu into participating fully in the negotiation of a settlement is the threat of an imposed solution. Netanyahu has done more to thwart any and all progress than any Palestinian, and I am sure his intent is to maintain the status quo for the next ten years, until Israel has completely devoured the West Bank.
Friedman is an idiot; when I read his column I was convinced he was showing his stupidity as never before. He usually makes no sense anyway, but when the subject turns to Israel, he babbles incoherently and loses himself in adoration. This time, however, he has taken a turn towards complete ennui; he’s sulking because Abbas has decided he is not going to be kicked around anymore by Obama and Bibi, thank you very much. This is a serious situation, and to simply say that everyone should just drop the whole thing because they’re not in enough pain is callous and shows that Friedman just hasn’t been paying attention since last December. Did he sleep through Operation Cast Lead and the Goldstone Report?
Walter Ballin says
Richard wrote: “Many analysts have begun discussing the idea of an imposed settlement pre-negotiated with the U.S. & its allies including the Arab League. I believe that if the UN, EU, U.S. Russia & China all banded together & imposed the Saudi 2002 plan on both parties it might (note, I said “might”) work. But essentially Israel would have to be presented w. a fait accompli. In fact, I believe that once Israel became truly certain that such an imposed solution was in the offing it would become much more amenable to a compromise solution. It would come to understand that a compromise in which it has some say is better than an internationally imposed settlement in which it has little or not say.”
Richard, How would this work if Obama can’t pressure Israel with a cut-off of aid, since you said that Congress won’t ever go for that? I remember Bush I refusing a loan to Israel to settle Soviet Jewish refugees. Congress passed an appropriation and Bush I vetoed it, and Congress couldn’t override his veto. I don’t know if there would be a 2/3rd’s majority to override an Obama veto if this situation came up.
Richard Silverstein says
I like the sound of an Obama veto. Let them try to override. Now, that would be a fight worth fighting.
Walter Ballin says
Richard wrote: “I like the sound of an Obama veto. Let them try to override. Now, that would be a fight worth fighting.”
Richard, But otherwise if Congress would not override, how can Obama be able to impose a solution on Israel?
Richard Silverstein says
I think you meant that if Congress DID succeed in overriding. If they did, so be it. At least Obama would have done the right thing & fought the good fight. I think though personally it would be very hard to override such a presidential veto. 2/3 of the House is a pretty big number even for something like Israeli aid.
But what really worries me is that as Obama becomes embroiled in some of the really big domestic fights like health care & sees his poll numbers dip, that he’ll give up on the I-P conflict as something he can really do anything about. I’m hoping I’m wrong about this. And this is certainly Bibi’s game: make any president who really wants to do anything serious about the conflict bleed so profusely politically that they’ll walk away. And I have to say that Bibi has played what few cards he has pretty well on that score.
It was reported that in his last meeting with Obama, Netanyahu more or less told him that his Aipac friends would be out for blood. I can’t remember where I saw it, but I think it was in Haaretz yesterday.
Walter Ballin says
Richard wrote: “I think you meant that if Congress DID succeed in overriding. If they did, so be it. At least Obama would have done the right thing & fought the good fight. I think though personally it would be very hard to override such a presidential veto. 2/3 of the House is a pretty big number even for something like Israeli aid.
“But what really worries me is that as Obama becomes embroiled in some of the really big domestic fights like health care & sees his poll numbers dip, that he’ll give up on the I-P conflict as something he can really do anything about. I’m hoping I’m wrong about this. And this is certainly Bibi’s game: make any president who really wants to do anything serious about the conflict bleed so profusely politically that they’ll walk away. And I have to say that Bibi has played what few cards he has pretty well on that score.”
Mary wrote: “It was reported that in his last meeting with Obama, Netanyahu more or less told him that his Aipac friends would be out for blood. I can’t remember where I saw it, but I think it was in Haaretz yesterday.”
Thank you Mary and Richard. I really want President Obama to have the spine to stand up to Netanyahu and AIPAC. He’s showing some spine now in his expressed reluctance last night to send more troops to Afghanistan. Of course I want a peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestine dispute where there can be 2 states. However if Obama will not put the necessary pressure on Israel to stop building settlements and agree to a contiguous Palestinian state, I will lose patience. In that case I hope that the Palestinian people will rise up and liberate themselves. I believe that this will happen if there cannot be a peaceful settlement, because people will not live under oppression indefinitely. If given a choice, I do not want Israel to exist any longer as an occupier and an oppressor country. A one-state solution where everyone has equal rights will be better.
The Palestinian people do not have a prayer of liberating themselves by “rising up.” They will be slaughtered with US made weapons, and in the aftermath Israel will take what is left of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and all surviving Palestinians will be shoved south into Gaza to die off.
I see less and less likelihood that there is a political solution. Until the world imposes its will on Israel and ends the occupation, it will continue, aided and abetted by the US.
Not to mention the dynamics of actually rising up. The Palestinians in the West Bank could try doing something like the previous Intifadas (riots, protests, boycotts, etc), but the Israelis have really carved up the place into segments that they can dominate, and the Palestinians are more dependent on Israel economically than vice versa.
Walter Ballin says
Mary wrote: “The Palestinian people do not have a prayer of liberating themselves by “rising up.” They will be slaughtered with US made weapons, and in the aftermath Israel will take what is left of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and all surviving Palestinians will be shoved south into Gaza to die off.
I see less and less likelihood that there is a political solution. Until the world imposes its will on Israel and ends the occupation, it will continue, aided and abetted by the US.”
Brett wrote: “Not to mention the dynamics of actually rising up. The Palestinians in the West Bank could try doing something like the previous Intifadas (riots, protests, boycotts, etc), but the Israelis have really carved up the place into segments that they can dominate, and the Palestinians are more dependent on Israel economically than vice versa.”
I don’t think that it so unlikely that the Palestinians can liberate themselves. There are more Palestinians than there are Jews. Their population is growing and they will far outnumber the Jews. The Palestinians can make Israel a living hell with homemade weapons and a lot of them are willing to die for the cause. I hope that the world will be able to impose its will on the Israelis to stop the occupation, but this occupation must end by whatever means. The Israelis may have all kinds of sophisticated weapons but as I said, Israel cannot last too much longer being an oppressor and occupier country.
What will they use to fight the Israelis – Qassam rockets? Stones?
Walter Ballin says
“What will they use to fight the Israelis – Qassam rockets? Stones?”
The Qassam rockets and perhaps more suicide and other bombings inside the Green Line and on a much more massive scale. I read recently that the wall is not the reason that there have not been more suicide and other bombings inside Israel proper, but that the Palestinians simply decided not to employ that strategy. As I said, the Israelis are becoming far outnumbered.
You guys are insane. Qassams and stones, urban warfare in little enclaves, versus F16’s, cluster bombs full of flechettes and DIME, white phosphorus, tanks, the cutting off of food and humanitarian aid? The West Bank would be just like Gaza, the Israelis would blame it all on terrorists and insist it “has the right to defend itself”, the US will agree (thanks to the exertions of the Zionist lobby), and there you have it – a completely shattered Palestine, just as Netanyahu and Lieberman wanted. No more worries about not building settlements or negotiations with Palestinians.
Armchair warriors don’t stop to think of consequences, and they would be dire for the Palestinian people.
What type of “home-made weapons” are we talking about? Small arms? Rockets? Even Hamas has to import components for those via smugglers’ tunnels, and the West Bank Palestinians don’t have even that.
Numbers alone are no guarantee, either – just look up the history of failed peasant revolts to see what happens when a poorly armed group runs smack into a more disciplined, well-armed group*, even when the former has a potentially sympathetic population to hide in.
*I say “more” because Israel’s Army – the ground component of the IDF – is only so-so. They only looked good for a long time because they were significantly better than the armies of the surrounding Arab states (the Israeli Air Force is arguably the best part of Israel’s military).
The problem with that is that Israeli-Palestinian issues don’t get discussed in a vacuum. Obama has to wake up the next day and go to those same congressional folks that he probably alienated in the process to get them to vote with him on other issues (including foreign policy issues). It’s a serious issue, but it’s only one issue for the US.
That wouldn’t be surprising. Domestic issues are pretty much dominating most Americans’ concerns right now, particularly the economy in polling. When 2010 comes around, and Obama has to hit the trail for vulnerable Democrats, it will be on domestic issues that he’ll largely have to answer.
Obama could threaten to block any appropriation bill that grants aid to Israel with his veto. That would probably lead to some ugliness (since Congress is creative, and they’d attach the aid on to some bills he otherwise would very much like to pass), but it would be pressure of sorts – assuming he is able to actually block it. If Congress overrides him, though, then his ability to pressure Israel goes to zero – Israel will ignore him and focus on key leaders in Congress instead.
We do plenty of this already. We let the Congo and its surrounding nations fight what was probably the bloodiest single conflict since World War 2 in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Even earlier, we let Rwanda chew itself up in 1994.
It’s not particularly moral, but it’s not our obligation to fly in and save everybody from themselves.
Richard Silverstein says
That was a large part of George Bush’s foreign policy before the 2000 election…until he was elected & decided we did, after, have to “fly in” & save Iraq and Afghanistan fr. themselves.
At any rate, the U.S. does have a huge moral responsibility for the mess that is the Israeli-Arab conflict. We’ve fueled this conflict with our arms sales and our winks & nods to Israel as it pursued a lethal policy of Occupation. Walking away is unconscionable.
And that was a bad shift, for the most part, don’t you agree? Afghanistan may have been unavoidable (regardless of whatever merits might have existed in doing so, the domestic pressure to “do something!” was enormous), but Iraq certainly was quite avoidable.
It has some good realpolitik merits, though, immoral though it may be. All states do things like fund clients, and so forth – and when whatever the client is needed for ends, the patron walks away.
Besides, your point is based on US intervention being an asset. Friedman and Klein would argue that it’s not – that the US role in the Israeli-Palestinian situation only exacerbates the problem while undermining faith in the possibility of any particular solution through negotiations (seeing as how the US is trying to be both an impartial mediator and a strong political and military client of one side at the same time).
Sorry, but to clarify- in the second paragraph, what I meant is that if an active US role in the process is inhibiting any type of peace process in of itself, then it’s probably better if the US stayed out, regardless of our past role.
Richard Silverstein says
But the hidden part of Friedman’s argument is that the U.S. would continue offering all the financial & military assistance it currently offers, plus I’m sure Friedman isn’t suggesting that the U.S. stop being Israel’s godfather in the Security Council. So in effect, the U.S. withdraws nothing of substance fr. supporting Israel, thus allowing Israel to maintain the status quo quite nicely, thank you.
This proposal would not only be unconscionable it simply would be a disaster even in terms of realpolitik.
Oh, certainly. That’s why Klein’s is better, if we wanted to go that way.
yaacov lozowick says
This is off topic, but I can’t find your e-mail so so this is the way to contact you.
You may recollect how a week or two ago we disagreed on the Goldstone Report which you haven’t really read, and I have.
Well, I’ve written my findings, and posted them here.
Feel free to surprise me by reading and relating.
Well, I skimmed your piece and it just makes general complaints. Since everyone except the IDF seems to agree that many hundreds of civilians were killed and white phosphorus used (even the IDF acknowledges 300) and since Israel’s behavior there seemed consistent with their behavior in other wars (Lebanon 2006 and Lebanon 1982), there doesn’t seem to be any reason to doubt the general picture given by Goldstone.
It’s easy for Friedman to sit in his $9-million Bethesda home, eating off the fatted calf, with his kids probably ensconced in high-priced private schools …sounds like a little jealousy to me
Clearly Congress, largely in Aipac’s pocket would not go along with such a draconian shift in U.S. policy….Why dont the Saudis and the Iranians simply outbid AIPAC? They have the resources.
Tell it to the 1.5 million Gazans who are under Israeli siege…Why cant they travel thru Egypt?
Friedman always writes from the perspective that the US government has good motives and the rest of the world is composed of unruly children at best, barbarians at worst, who have to be brought into line. The only exceptions are foreigners who tell him what he wants to hear.
He also thinks it’s okay to educate Palestinians by bombing them–he was describing Israel’s motives during the Gaza War in just those terms, with every indication that he thought this was a reasonable way to proceed, though it might or might not work.
Arie Brand says
Quite apart from Friedman’s bona fides his proposal might have some merit. Forty years of US engagement has produced remarkably little except a lot of obloquy for itself.
If disengagement also implied the US abstaining from a vote in the UNSC on matters pertaining to the conflict we might indeed see some real progress in the form of further erosion of Israel’s international legitimacy.
Arie Brand says
“But the hidden part of Friedman’s argument is that the U.S. would continue offering all the financial & military assistance it currently offers. ”
Well, maybe. But he came up with at least one line that suggests otherwise:
“If the status quo is this tolerable for the parties, then I say, let them enjoy it. I JUST DON’T WANT TO SUBSIDIZE IT or anesthetize it anymore. We need to fix America.” (emphasis added – AB)
Richard Silverstein says
That a very frail reed on which to hang such a belief. If Friedman wanted to say anything on this score he could’ve done it far more clearly than this. He might just as well have said nothing as said something so veiled as this.
Arie Brand says
The withdrawal of American support for Israel, whether that was the thing Friedman was pleading for or not, would in my view be the main factor in speeding up matters. The Soviets ‘ rather aloof stance re East Germany at the end of the eighties speeded up matters there as we recently had occasion to commemorate.
The present attitude of Israelis and their overwhelming physical superiority is not necessarily an indication of the solidity of their regime. Ali Abunimah has recently recalled how, not long before the collapse of apartheid, white South Africans too had moved to the right and how their regime seemed physically impregnable. Well meaning white liberals had therefore advised the ANC to tailor its political aspirations to what seemed feasible. Even a long standing and percipient critic of the regime as Helen Suzman predicted not long before its collapse that a change to majority rule would take longer and be more bloody than in Zimbabwe where it took 15 years and cost 20,000 lives. We know the rest of the story.
What was the key factor in the collapse of the regime. Abunimah wrote:
“What did change for South Africa, and what all the weapons in the world were not able to prevent, was the complete loss of legitimacy of the apartheid regime and its practices. Once this legitimacy was gone, whites lost the will to maintain a system that relied on repression and violence and rendered them international pariahs.”
This is the thing that has to be worked for. And once the US’s helping hand is withdrawn this proces of delegitimation might acquire unexpected momentum..
Arie Brand says
Richard, I see the logic of your re-arranging of posts on the basis of their contents but it does imply that one has to go through the whole series again to pick up the latest ones.
Richard Silverstein says
Not sure what you’re referring to. I have a Related Post plugin which randomly associates posts & links to them for readers who may want to read other posts on related subjects. This is an automated feature & one over which I have no direct control.
Let me throw a spanner into the works here.
It’s true that Congress appropriates money for foreign aid, but to my understanding, and correct me if I’m wrong, it’s the Executive Branch that actually disburses the aid.
Let’s suppose that Congress passes an aid bill for Israel, Obama vetoes the bill, and then Congress overrides the veto. Obama goes to the Treasury Department, or whoever it is that disburses the aid, and says, “I order you to not disburse this aid,” and the deciding official obeys Obama. Obama says to Congress, “This aid is unconstitutional, and if you want an ugly fight in the courts over this, I’ll give you one” – a fight he would win if he had the stomach for it.
I realize, for reasons given above, that this is a rather ‘academic’ (read: exceedingly far-fetched) scenario, but isn’t it at least theoretically possible that it could happen?
Walter Ballin says
This morning I spoke with a Palestinian-American gentleman who lives here in Chico California. I must mention first that he’s no lacky for Israel. He goes to Palestine fairly frequently to see his family. He says that the Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad is actually working on building a functioning state on the ground including a good security force. My friend says that Fayyad doesn’t take any nonsense from any faction. He says that if this works, there is a good chance that the UN will declare a Palestinian state in a couple of years and Obama might very well go along. However he does agree with me that if the U.S. will not go along with this, then the Palestinians will prevail by force as I said. He also says as I said that Israel cannot exist too much longer by being an oppressor and an occupier, especially being that Palestinians are far outnumbering Israelis.