|Reuven Kaminer |
December 6, 2010
It is clear enough that the WikiLeak affair will play out differently from country to country. The establishment here is quite pleased that there are no major revelations to embarrass the government – so far. The fact that Bibi Netanyahu, the leader of the “loyal opposition” bad mouthed his own government when visiting Washington was well known. No one thought otherwise. Still, many of the specific reactions by our widely recognized “experts” are worth a look. Their ranting and raving over the WikiLeak project are barren of any insight, but they do tell us much about their own political mentality.
Two very sour apples stand out: Professor Shlomo Avineri, who has abandoned the halls of academia for the pages of Ha’aretz, and one of Ha’aretz’s prime, well-connected court scribblers, Ari Shavit. (All quotes from Shavit and Avineri are from the English edition of Haaretz, December 3, 2010). Shavit has a field day maligning Assuage and WikiLeak. This ‘gentleman’ of the press fumes with hatred and violence. He slanders WikiLeak hysterically and incites to violence against Assange, the “dangerous criminal”, “the cyberterrorist”, the “delusory anarchist”, “the uninhibited megalomaniac”. But after presenting his anti-WikiLeak credentials, Shavit decides that Assange has unwittingly performed a service for him. It seems that for all his “misanthropy”, Julian Assange has “shattered the accepted dogma… that the main problem in the Middle East is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the occupation, the settlements.”
Now this accepted dogma did reign supreme precisely among the local “analysts” who presented this version of things so as convince the public that all the Arabs want to destroy Israel, the only democratic state in the area, and that the main obstacle to peace is arbitrary Arab intransigence. Now on the basis of WikiLeak info, the Israeli establishment is intensively promoting a brand new updated, post WikiLeak line. For its own nefarious strategic political aims, the Israeli establishment wants to impose its own “interpretation” of the WikiLink revelations concerning Arab presence in the anti-Iranian coalition. The new line goes like this:
All the blather about the centrality of the Israeli-Arab conflict and the urgent need to solve the Israeli-Palestinian issue is without any base. On the level of propaganda and empty rhetoric, the “moderates” still talk about the suffering in Palestine, but they want and need Israel to protect their feeble, rotting regimes.
Even Abu Mazen and his weak Palestinian Authority know full well that they cannot survive Iranian ascendency. This is the real reason that they have pinned their fate to full scale military and strategic cooperation and integration with the United States and its allies in the Middle East. Thus, say our Israeli friends, all the story about the urgency and the centrality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is pure twaddle and nonsense.
Now this twaddle and nonsense was precisely the way that Shavit and his buddies commented on events over the years. In fact they are the ones who built up the scenario in which about Israel, alone and isolated in the region, faced a united front of single minded Arab regimes. Now they have jumped on the emergence of a new stark game changing revelation. This so-called ‘”discovery” merely serves to verify the previous narrow minded short sightedness of the conformist Israeli and pro-Israeli media. It is Shavit and other court scribes who wanted the world to see the area in terms of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even though they could have and should have known better.
On the left, it has been clear almost from the beginning of the conflict that developments in the Israeli-Arab conflict are the results of deeper and wider causes. These can be summarized in the following axiomatic terms. The mainspring of events in the region is the ongoing drive of the United States, acting in its imperial interests, to maintain control of the regions oil reserves and refineries and to maintain for this purpose a local configuration of “friendly” countries and forces which will defend US interests. The history of the Middle East is replete with instances where Israeli arms and/or military potential were employed for the overthrow of progressive Arab regimes or for the survival of reactionary Arab regimes, faced with popular uprisings.
The Real Contradictions
And relating to more current developments, I do not know of any serious left wing commentator, here and abroad, who has not noted the fact that the so called “moderate” Arab countries have become an integral link in the US-Israeli preparations for war against Iran. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are all manifestly corrupt and unpopular regimes. The existence of an alternative based on the political and economic support of Iran, Turkey, Syria and Lebanon (and a host of political groups and forces) is an extreme and immediate danger to these unpopular regimes.
Even before WikiLeak leaked the truth about the real line up in the Middle East, Israel and its powerful friends in DC have blocked whatever remained of Obama’s intentions to try the ‘Palestine before Iran gambit. Thus, Washington’s slim hope of gaining prestige and using it against Iranian interests through progress in ending the Israeli-Palestinian stand off appears to have been seriously damaged. The Israeli establishment is using the WikiLeak details and general atmosphere to explain to all the softer hearted pro-Palestinians the hard facts. Palestine and the Palestinians are of secondary interest to the “Arabs.” Israel and the “Arabs” want to take out Iran.
Bibi’s racist coalition and the fundamentalist Saudi regime are harnessed to the US war machine and hum the same chorus: on to Teheran. The goal is simple – regime change in Iran. Simply taking out a few nuclear installations, which can be rebuilt in a matter of months, is clearly insufficient. Iran must be either destroyed or occupied. This is the common and urgent message of Bibi and Abdullah, the Saudi king.
Obama Downgraded - Netanyahu Elevated
The second bit of buzz around this place is that Obama is weak and getting weaker all the time. Whether or not there is any logic in blaming Obama for WikiLeak is irrelevant. It happened on his watch. In truth there are massive indications that the United States hegemony is crumbling and that the brains that advise the US President do not have the foggiest idea about how to reverse the trend. WikiLeak is just another unpleasant affair. And according to the Israeli school of flakey interpretations, if Obama is getting weaker, then Bibi is growing stronger. If not so long ago, DC was acting as if it was trying to convince Israel to stop construction in the territories – it is clear now – post WikiLeak, that nobody really cares about the Palestinian issue. Hillary does not need to waste her energy on finishing the letter about what she and Bibi did or did not agree on in their famous seven hour meeting. Bibi could not care less. The Israelis are convinced that WikiLeak has defanged US Middle East diplomacy on Israel-Palestine, leaving DC with only one real option- the military one against Iran.
Israeli Euphoria and the Stubborn Facts
It was indeed the routine practice of Israeli politicos to present the Middle East as a battleground between Arabs and Jews for favors from Washington. The truth is that the Arab Israeli conflict was and remains a subsidiary issue in the region. We repeat that the main issues were and remain the control of Middle East oil, its production and distribution and the political and strategic configuration designed to ensure that control. Coordinated activity between Israel and the Arab “moderates” against regional indigenous forces challenging that control is an old, well known story. The punsters believe it is to their advantage at this point to use WikiLeak to expose the seamy side of the Israeli and Arab connivance so as to absolve the US of any need to exert pressure on Israel if, indeed, it had contemplated anything so radical.
But let us get things straight. If Bibi feels elevated by Obama’s inadequacy, he is like that passenger going up the elevator in a ship that has begun its final stages of listing to its side. He and his patron are thinking about starting a war that is an act of desperation. They are contemplating a throw of the dice which means gambling with the fate of perhaps millions of men, women and children. The fact that the Jewish state is blindly leading the region into a new holocaust, under US auspices, is new evidence of the horrific corruption of humanity that can result from a regime, Jewish in name, but bereft of any roots in a philosophy of justice, a regime built around chauvinism, racism and occupation.
Who is Behind WikiLeak?
Our Israeli ideologues, whether a distinguished professor or a noted journalist, express the insecurity of a class, which has a deep distaste and suspicion of anything that challenges the need for control and order. The ideologues explain that we simply cannot have unauthorized people running around and speaking the truth. In particular, Prof. Avineri is angry about US inability to keep its secrets, the inadequate level of intelligence gathering, sloppy reporting and the clogging of future contacts. But this is nothing compared with Avineri’s disgust with Obama’s inability to understand the region where “we are looking at a political culture a bit different from the kind taken for granted by us and the Western democracies. We desire peace with our neighbors, but this isn’t a world into which we need or want to integrate into in terms of morality and values. It isn’t pleasant to say this, but it should be acknowledged.” Avineri dislikes two-facedness, but shows his racist mindset precisely in a week when the entire world is learning, via WikiLeak that among the all the powers that be two-facedness is the rule and not the exception.
Avineri is worried because he doesn’t know Assange’s political agenda, though he is certain that something smells bad. He warns us that, ”This is a person with clear aims – although no one has figured out exactly what they are.” (!!) Professor Avineri asks, ”Are we certain there isn’t a security service behind him and his efforts? This should be on the public agenda in the next few weeks.” Avineri must know that there are not too many possibilities. Al Quaeda, with a laptop in the cave? The North Koreans battling over the leadership succession. The “inscrutable Chinese”? Really!!
If Prof. Avineri had made a minimal effort to read about Julian Assange’s work and his philosophy, he might be surprised by the fact that Assange’s main political inspiration and references are standard liberal fare. Assange quotes as his mentors people like Lech Walenska and Solzhenitsin. He is quite open regarding his motives. All the following quotes are from an address by Julian Assange at the Stockholm Freedom Forum in May 2010.
“[We must] understand that the alliance which once existed between liberals and libertarians and the military-industrial complex in opposing Soviet abuses in the Cold War - is gone. Where once upon a time, people who stood up for enlightenment values domestically, in Western countries, who stood up for human rights and freedom of the press domestically in Western countries, liberals, libertarians and the press itself were in a tacit alliance with warmongers. They were in a tacit alliance with those people who opposed the Soviet Union merely for geopolitical reasons. And that alliance was to pick up a moral stick and to beat the Soviet Union for its abuses, its terrible abuses, censorship The government and military joined this alliance in recognition of the geopolitical value of the alliance as a moral stick with which to beat the Soviet Union for its terrible abuses in its censorship. As of 1990-91 that artificial alliance, that temporary alliance had dissipated, with reversion to a different standard, where the natural interests of authority, the natural interests of the intelligence agencies and the natural interests of the military is in stifling press reportage of abuse, and it has been reasserted in Western countries.
In this broader framework of what we do, it`s to try and build a
historical, intellectual record of how our civilization actually works
in practice, now, from the inside, everywhere, in every country around the world, from the inside.
Because all of our decisions, individual decisions, our political
decisions are based on what we know, humanity is nothing but what we know and what we have. And what we have can be replaced and degrades quickly. And what we know is everything and it is our limit of what we can be. So before we can embark on any particular political stratagem we first have to know where we are. If we don`t know where we are, it`s impossible to know where we`re going. Likewise, it`s impossible to correct abuses unless we know that they`re going on.
So I ask you to think about the words of Macchiavelli, think about them in their negative, when he said, `Thus it happened in matters of state when knowing afar off which is only given a prudent man to do the evils that are brewing, they are easily cured; but when for want of such knowledge they`re allowed to grow until everyone can recognize them, there is no longer any remedy to be found.`
For secret planning is secret usually for a reason. This is because if it`s abusive it is opposed. So it`s our task to find secret abuses planned and expose them where they can be exposed before they are implemented: for if they are exposed by their implementation by people suffering from that abuse, then the abuse has already occurred and it is too late. He who controls today`s Internet servers, controls the intellectual record of mankind.”
Our good professor once understood something about contradictions and the limits of power, but he has reduced himself to the role of apologist for the Israeli state. Instead of calm discussion and reasoned disagreement, he joins the pack of jackals baying for the blood of an honest liberal.
Thus, the significance of the information culled from WikiLeak is interpreted by Israel’s ideological cadre so as to further the current strategic goals of the regime: The “Arabs”, (even if only the US hirelings among them) are on our side! We can now manage Palestine without outside interference and get down to business with Iran.
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