By James Brooks
Special to PalestineChronicle.com
In a June 23 article published by the venerable Dissident Voice website, Gabriel Ash offers a fresh and erudite meta-analysis of western support for Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories. (1)
The piece, ‘Why Boycott Israel? Because It’s Good For You’, begins with a review of the reactionary response in the UK and Europe to the British University and College Union’s call for an academic boycott of Israel.
Mr. Ash asks why Europe, especially the EU, has become such a craven supporter of the US-Israeli agenda in occupied Palestine, and of the “war on terror” in general. “What…lies at the root of this quite natural [sic] alliance between Christian fundamentalists, market fundamentalists, billionaires, Zionists, islamophobes, and garden variety warmongers?” He finds answers in the ideological history of postwar Europe and the ascendance of a neoliberal capitalist power that spawned a neoconservative political agenda.
We are reminded that neoconservatives are anti-labor just as surely as they are “pro-Israel”. They inherit the right-wing tradition of an anti-labor ideology that has served the propaganda needs of financial and business elites for the past century. (2) Today’s neocons still read Karl Schmitt, “the Nazi philosopher of law…. [who] saw the necessity of having an existential enemy, one that the whole state can be fully mobilized against.” Mr. Ash notes that in Europe the “new Schmittianism of the Islamophobic front is a rightwing reaction veiled in the trappings of the traditional left.”
The demise of the Soviet Union and the “communist threat” necessitated the invention of a new enemy. Anyone who lived through the mainstream US media of the 1990s should be able to recall how this was done. First we got warnings about the coming age of “asymmetrical warfare”. Then we began to acquire new enemies, because they supported or committed “terrorism”.
Ash explains: “Having an enemy across the border – alien, total, menacing – helps the right assert political power domestically, the power it now needs to liberate stock markets from the fetters of the welfare state. This is the revolution’s goal, and support for Israel is right at the center of it.”
This provocative premise suggests that US and European elites have had a long-term economic interest in cultivating “terrorist” enemies. The “forward leaning” types among them would have been laying the groundwork for the next enemy even before the end of the Cold War.
And so they were, in many places around the world. The exposure of the NATO-CIA Operation Gladio in Italy during the 1980s peeled the lid on similar false-flag intelligence networks across Europe. Formed by NATO intelligence in the 1950s as mole networks that would resist communist takeover of the host nation, they morphed into agents provocateurs that controlled “left wing” groups like the Red Brigades. They also perpetrated the kidnapping and assassination of Italian PM Aldo Moro and dozens of other political crimes in Europe that were routinely blamed on “leftist terrorists”. (3)
Southwest Asia and Northern Africa comprised the main laboratory for the creation of the “existential” enemy of the future. Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Somalia, Lebanon, and Chechnya were a few of the places unfortunate enough to attract the combined “assistance” of the CIA, the Mossad, and their nefarious shadows.
As demonstrated throughout Latin America since the early 1950s (to cite one large example), the prime objective of CIA “black operations” has been destabilization of local economies, governments, and civil societies in order to expand opportunities for western control and plunder.
Frequently, this has involved ‘false flag’ attacks to discredit and demonize indigenous political movements. At one time, the object was to brand labor organizations and land reform movements as part of the “global communist threat”. Nowadays, similar tactics are used to tar Arab and Muslim resistance groups with the broad brush of the “global terrorist threat”.
Neconservatives chafed under Bill Clinton despite his prodigious advancement of their shared neoliberal economic agenda and his unwavering allegiance to Israel. In foreign policy, the problem was not so much that he failed to fight “terrorism” but that he failed to instill the desired fear of “terrorism” in the public heart.
The mysterious creation of Bush II by the Supreme Court provided the platform neoconservatives needed to make up for lost time. After the highly questionable events of 9/11, it was all downhill. On 9/12 we were informed that we had ‘joined the Israeli people’ in a fight for survival against a shared ‘scourge of terrorism’, etc.
Carrying the logic forward, as long as “terror” is the existential enemy of choice for the all-fronts campaign to rob and disempower labor, the poor, and indigenous peoples while demolishing the Bill of Rights and humane values in general, Israel’s grossly illegal and unjust treatment of Palestinians must continue. It is a centerpiece of Islamophobic provocation, a kind of ‘eternal flame’ that helps sustain the necessary “terrorist” fires burning around the world.
And if the domestic intent of the “war on terror” is to cow the people into accepting the steady erosion of their rights, wages, government services, personal privacy, and economic security, its overseas effect is to create what neoconservatives call “constructive chaos”; bountiful opportunities to take control of resources, free land, and cheap labor while advancing geostrategic objectives.
This analysis offers a fresh perspective on the 40-year failure of the “peace process” to yield anything but death, misery, and dispossession for the Palestinian people. Conventionally, this astounding record of diplomatic failure is blamed on a complex interaction of forces unique to the situation, including the power of the pro-Israel lobby over US policy, racist Zionist ideology, western guilt over the Holocaust, the supposed inability of Palestinians “to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”, and so on.
Yet even this tangle of real and imaginary factors does not seem to explain everything, especially since the US has armed and trained a faction of Fateh to challenge Hamas and trigger Ariel Sharon’s dream; a schism in the recently unified PA, half of which the US controls through the malleable hands of President Abbas. A Palestinian friend says that Abbas is now referred to as “Mahmoud Abdul Maliki el-Karzai”.
Will “sheer stupidity” be added to the perennial list of reasons for the ongoing “diplomatic” failure? Do you feel your credulity being strained? Does it smell like Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Somalia, and El Salvador all over again?
The art of enemy creation, the meat and potatoes of US foreign policy-in-practice in Southwest Asia, involves more than simply spreading chaos in foreign lands. It must also hide the real enemy from public view.
Mr. Ash identifies the influence of Europe’s financial giants, especially the City of London, behind the steady rightward march of European politics and foreign policy. He cites instances in which European politicians have used the “enemy threat” card to distract public attention from their attacks on labor rights and government services.
We are weary with such stunts in the US. We need only remember Katrina, or gaze at the astounding growth of the national income gap over the past thirty years, to realize that we are being taken for a long, rough ride. Corporate power, which is nearly the definition of the problem with today’s media, Congress, and universities, is so pervasive that we must seriously consider its influence in every nook and cranny of US foreign policy.
Gabriel Ash’s robust and compelling hypothesis may explain a good deal more than we can glean from the conventional wisdom. It certainly suggests fresh grounds for considering support for Israel’s apartheid regime in its true “globalized” context, right down to the sustained erosion of our own wages and rights and the dwindling of our children’s future. For that reason alone it deserves our careful consideration.
1. Why Boycott Israel? Because It’s Good for You, Gabriel Ash, Dissident Voice, 6/23/2007
2. Taking the Risk Out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty, by Alex Carey, Posthumously edited by Andrew Lohrey, Foreword by Noam Comsky, University of Illinois Press, 240 pages, 1996
3. 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA, by Webster Griffin Tarpley, Progressive Press, March 2005