By Richard Silverstein. Introduction by b. traven.
Richard Silverstein is an insightful American-Jewish commentator on Israeli affairs. His web site, http://www.richardsilverstein.com, offers a contrarian perspective on Israeli policies and coverage of them by the American mainstream media. Read on for some refreshingly critical perspectives on U.S. cease-fire and peace initiatives, such as they are. b. traven
I have nothing against John Kerry, really I don’t. He served bravely in the anti-war movement in his youth. He seems like an honorable man. But for someone of his presumed intelligence, to become engaged in the Israel-Palestine conflict and do such a bad job at it, is shocking.
Last month, he ended an ill-fated year-long attempt to broker a peace deal between Israel and Palestine. He and his chief aide, Martin Indyk, largely blamed Israel for the failure. Now, Kerry has set his sights on negotiating a ceasefire in Gaza. While the general goal is admirable, the way he’s going about doing it is ass-backwards. Meaning it too must fail.
Here are the problems: Kerry wants to stop the killing so things can go back to the status quo. He’s basically trying to sweep up the mess Israel has made so that it doesn’t jeopardize Israel’s standing any more than necessary in the world community (an outcome Israel itself seems to care little about). This is a quick fix. In and out. Israel stops bombing, Hamas stops rockets. Kerry goes home looking good and gets back to solving problems that ‘really matter,’ whether that might be Ukraine or saving the U.S. relationship with Germany from being destroyed by the CIA and NSA.
But let’s say a quick fix wasn’t the worst outcome. Let’s say it was a reasonable goal. Even if you concede that, Kerry is pursuing it like a boxer with one hand tied behind his back. How do you negotiate a ceasefire between two parties when you’ve refused to talk to one party? Not just refused, but you’ve assigned a substitute (Mahmoud Abbas) who doesn’t have the trust of the party (Hamas) he’s supposed to represent. This is a recipe for embarrassment and failure.
If you look at Kerry’s statement in the accompanying image you can see a man who’s either a robot or one of the Walking Dead. How can you be “deeply concerned” by someone engaging in “appropriate and legitimate” behavior? And as for “no country can stand by when rockets are attacking it,” can we say the same for Gaza? Why should Hamas stand by while Israel is reducing it to a heap of smoking rubble?
The first stab at a ceasefire was a comedy of errors. Anyone who doesn’t read this blog doesn’t know the half of it. Not only did Egypt make a ceasefire proposal that had been written by Israel, it essentially said “to hell with Hamas” in every way it could. What’s ludicrous is that the U.S. is still viewing Egypt as an interlocutor representing some vague Arab interest in the ceasefire process. Egypt is useless, discredited. It’s military junta doesn’t even represent Egyptians, let alone Palestinians.
Returning to that quick fix approach: it’s also destined to failure because every previous Gaza war has ended with a short-term ceasefire that’s led to war within a year or two following. What’s the point of a ceasefire that temporarily ends fighting only to see it resume in even greater fury shortly afterward?
While I have no great affection for Hamas, Khaled Meshal, its political leader, has a valid point. He’s said: “Enough with the quick fixes.” Negotiate with us about the issues that really bother us. End the siege. End open season targeted killing of Gazans by the IDF. Do that and we can talk about everything else.
Just as Israel’s ultra-nationalist leaders added a demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state to the peace talks (which helped sink them), now Israel is adding a new demand to the ceasefire negotiations. It wants to “demilitarize” Gaza. That’s all well and good. I’m for demilitarization too. Let’s demilitarize Gaza…after we demilitarize Israel.
I’m not even talking about demilitarizing Israel as a whole, which obviously would be foolish. Let’s just demilitarize the border between Gaza and Israel. Let’s forbid Gaza militants and IDF soldiers from being anywhere near the border. I don’t care how you do it. Put international observers there. Put sophisticated listening posts and surveillance gear financed by the U.S.
But talking about demilitarizing one side while leaving the other fully locked and loaded and hunting for bear–that’s a failure waiting to happen.
Finally, as long as the U.S. continues along this path, it will fail. Even if there is a ceasefire in the coming days, as long as it ignores the points I’ve raised above, it’s doomed in the short-or medium-term. War will resume. People will die (again). In greater numbers than the time before. And each time they do, Israel will sink a little lower in international standing. It’s ability to determine its own future will become incrementally weaker. The end won’t be pretty. If that’s the way the parties choose to go.
Update (7/26/14): The NSA and Saudi Arabia have a cozy relationship, as revealed in this article at “The Intercept” by Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain. If you’re known by the company you keep, the NSA is only sliding further and further from our democratic principles.
6 thoughts on “Kerry Led Bankrupt, Failed Peace Talks; Now He Wants Bankrupt, Failed Ceasefire”
All well and good, but…the bigger picture is that this is FAILURE (to achieve peace, even in the shorter term a ceasefire) BY DESIGN!!! Israel will continue to sow death and destruction on the Gaza Strip just as long as its own casualty rate doesn’t rise to level that disturbs the general public opinion at home. (And my hat is off, with the greatest respect possible, to those citizen-inhabitants of Israel who are courageously opposing this latest invasion.) Netanyahu has essentially informed the entire world that he couldn’t care less about its opinion. As long as he has our tax dollars propping him up he will go his merry way. Mr. John Kerry is just another cog in the machinery of Corporate America, ruled by White Anglo-Saxon Protestant males who will sleep soundly at night regardless of how many Arab or Jewish corpses are stacked up.
I can remember many decades ago, when the “Prime Minister” of the Apartheid Zionist Entity, Golda Meir notoriously proclaimed: “There is no Palestinians.” As well, I can remember another A.Z.E. PM, Ariel Sharon — a.k.a., the Butcher of Beirut — boasting that he didn’t just want to drive the Palestinians out of their homes and off their land. More importantly, he wanted to destroy “even their hope.” The current A.Z.E. PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, feels the same way. He, like a majority of his fellow crusading Zionist squatters, does not consider Palestinians as an existing species of humanity. And his current bludgeoning of the captive Palestinians in Gaza (not to mention the West Bank) has only the goal of destroying their hope for any kind of dignified, independent future. Yet as the psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton said of the “kill anything that moves” American military pounding of Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos): in the end, “they could annihilate, but not defeat, the tiniest enemy.” The Apartheid Zionists, with the full support of the thoroughly corrupt American government, can certainly annihilate any number of Palestinians at their whim and pleasure. They just can’t defeat their tiny, desperate hope.
There are two things emerging in this catastrophe that may change the equation on achieving some kind of a real cease fire.
First, the IDF ( Israli Defense Force ) has suffered close to 35 casualties ( in Israel that is an unsustainable level) and I suspect many more wounded than it counted on. In the last invasion they suffered less than half as many in the entire operation. This has been a result of the Hamas tunnels underneath the city so that they can appear in ambushes, surprise the IDF, and disappear just as fast.
Second: The rising of mass support in the West Bank to support the plight of the Gazans. In these marches with tens of thousands of PLO residents they have in essence opened a “second front” thus splitting IDF and police forces. These mass protests are only in their second day so it is hard to tell where they will go. But since the Israelis decided to use lethal force against the protestors and killed two and “arrested many others it would appear that they have virtually guaranteed the protests will escalate.
These two factors set up a new paradigm which may force the Israelis to the table with a cease fire that also deals with Gazan’s concerns including lifting the eight year closure of their borders.
I consider it past exasperating that U.S. secretaries of state and Presidents endlessly flit about the globe while accomplishing nothing of substance. They ought to just stay at the home office and save taxpayers the exorbitant costs of fuelling their lavishly appointed jumbo-jets. The same goes for the top brass of the U.S. military, some of whom — like the now-defrocked General David Petraeus — have even more lavishly appointed personal aircraft at their disposal than the cabinet secretaries who ostensibly outrank them. Officials of the American government ought to just stay home and use the phone or video conferences to communicate with foreigners. All this flitting about for nothing just makes them — and us — look like beggars and fools.
I can remember when supplicant leaders of foreign governments travelled to the U.S. to plead their causes. In those days, the U.S. Secretary of State or President only travelled abroad once they had a done deal to sign, like a treaty. Anything less they — and the world at large — rightfully considered a failure.
So now U.S. presidents and their chief cabinet officers insist on travelling and failing. John Kerry and Barack Obama may justifiably look feeble and incompetent, jetting here and there and babbling bullshit baloney by the basketful, but they have many recent forebears. For example: Americans — or at least those in the Republican Party — tend to give Richard Nixon credit for “opening” China. However, as a fact, Nixon did the travelling to China. Chairman Mao did not travel to the U.S. And when Nixon’s advisor Henry Kissinger did all the secret preliminary travelling and tried to bullshit Mao, saying: “I know you don’t want anything from us and we don’t want anything from you,” Mao cut him off, replying: “If I wanted nothing from you, I would not have invited you. And if you wanted nothing from me, you should not have come.” Thus spoke a real emperor to an upstart minion of a poor imitation of one.
The U.S. could have decided — for its own reasons and at any time — to liquidate the failed War on Southeast Asia, but to do that too openly would have opened up any administration to domestic political criticism for “losing” something or other that the United States never owned in the first place. So U.S. presidents needed a political fig leaf — any one would do — behind which to scoot out of a self-inflicted disaster while appearing to have actually accomplished something. Chairman Mao understood this and decided to get something for his own country while American desperation made the likelihood of concessions most probable. In fact, China “opened” itself to the “West” when China felt that appropriate. Whichever way Richard Nixon wanted to sell his retreat from Southeast Asia meant nothing to the Chinese.
Neither John Kerry nor Barack Obama will accomplish anything of lasting value by travelling to the Middle East just to have the racist leaders of the Apartheid Zionist Entity publicly humiliate them by starting new illegal settlements during their visits. Most knowledgeable world observers understand that the two obstreperous tails — Saudi Arabia and the Apartheid Zionist Entity — mercilessly wag the American dog because they know they can. Watching the hapless U.S. dog shake and shiver uncontrollably — even as it pathetically pronounces itself the most “exceptional” and “powerful” dog ever — only whets the appetites of the two tails for more wagging.
John Kerry and Barack Obama should just stay home and let a few low-level flunkies do all the travelling. Until they do, no one will respect them enough to bother with their bullshit babble.
Well said, Mike. This so-called shuttle diplomacy makes no sense at all. It’s all motion and no progress. As a result, America looks weak and desperate rather than strong and resolute. And maybe that’s the lesson. We are weak and desperate, at least in that area of the world at this moment in time.
What’s the point in sending ANY U.S. official, of whatever rank, when U.S. policy is to support Israeli policies carte-blanche?? The only “peace” Netanyahu desires is on his terms, i.e. the extermination of Palestine. But, I guess the kabuki act (as b. traven labels it) is for domestic consumption. Who else in the world but the U.S. populace is gullible enough to believe this nation can be “an honest broker” in these dealings? I’m sure POTUS must be swelling with pride that “only” 33% in a recent CNN opinion poll approve the GOP Crazies’ notion of his impeachment!! Way to go, Mr. Pres, big win!!