Chuck Spinney: Is Israel on Cusp of Grand Strategic Set-Back as Universities Mobilize (Precedent South Africa)?

Academia, Corruption, Ethics, Government, IO Deeds of Peace, IO Deeds of War
Chuck Spinney

Grand strategy (described here) can be generalized as a game of interaction and isolation. Viewed from this perspective, Israel's grand strategy has been to maintain or increase its freedom of action in implementing the expansive Zionist apartheid/colonialist agenda, to include gaining control of the region's scarce water resources (see here), by —

(a) preying on the collective guilt in the west for western complicity/passivity during the Holocaust (i.e., compelling an interaction); 

(b) allying itself with a great power or combination of powers and inducing/co-opting those powers' domestic political interests into acquiescing to Israeli regional actions and ambitions, first Britain and France, and since 1967, the United States (i.e., compelling an interaction); 

(c) executing a divide and conquer regional military strategy — interaction and isolation via military compulsion — examples: interacting selectively by making peace with Jordan and Egypt, isolating Palestinians inside Israel, forcing surrounding countries to turn inward and expend resources maintaining and policing unwanted Palestinian refugee camps, periodically preying on Lebanon and Syria, in part reflecting enduring ambitions to control the Mt Hermon watershed), and encouraging its great power partners to engage in warlike/isolation activities against its more distant regional adversaries (e.g., UK & France in Suez Crisis, US wars/sanctions in Iraq, and the current pressure for warlike sanctions on Iran as well as pressuring a strategically overextended US to attack Iran); and 

(d) maintaining an overwhelming regional nuclear capability to bully/terrorize friend and foe alike with the equivalent of a nuclear Masada Option

To date, this grand strategy has well served Israel's expansionist agenda.  But there is a long term vulnerability implicit in this grand strategy: Namely, it is weak on building strong mutually-reinforcing bonds of constructive ‘interactions.'  Grand-strategic interaction Israeli style is not based on mutual respect or enlightened self interest but on crude compulsion, via a cynical manipulation of guilt for an event that ended almost 70 years ago and an equally cynical manipulation of its allies' domestic politics.  Israel's predilection to crude compulsion has reached unprecedented levels in Prime Minister Netanyahu's appearances before Congress and his bullying contempt for an American President.  Israel's addiction to grand-strategic  compulsion has created a clear vulnerability that leads to the suspicion that sooner or later the people on the receiving end of the Israel's grand-strategic cynicism will become disgusted and fed up with Israel's nasty behaviour.  When that happens, Israel will find itself irreversibly isolated and vulnerable, with only the presumption of the suicidal and therefore insane Masada Option to prop up its independent existence.  Moreover, as Israel isolates itself, especially at he moral level of conflict, it is the nature of grand strategy that the bonds of empathy (interaction) for the Palestinian people and Israel's regional adversaries will naturally become stronger.  

Given the mounting hysteria over Iran in the American press and politics, the preceding conclusion may seem odd and misplaced.  But, the bubbling forces described in the attached op-ed by Rami Khouri, an editor of the Lebanese Daily Star newspaper, may be indicative of Israel's mounting grand-strategic vulnerability in this regard.  If Khouri is close to being correct, we can expect the hysteria and desparation of the Likudnics in Israel and in the United States to increase sharply during the coming months and years.

Chuck Spinney

by Rami G. Khouri
Agence Global, 12 Mar 2012
Rami G. Khouri is Editor-at-large of The Daily Star, and Director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, in Beirut, Lebanon.

BEIRUT — The visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the United States received the lion’s share of publicity about Israel’s position in the Middle East and the world last week, but the real story about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict rests elsewhere. The great tale that goes largely unrecognized reflects that combination of bubbling forces around the world — grassroots, professional, political — that achieve two important things: to assert that the world will not forever acquiesce in the systematic denial of the national rights of the Palestinian people, and to apply new forms of pressure on Israel to end its systematic oppression of Palestinians that more and more is routinely compared to Apartheid South Africa.
Two simultaneous developments brought this to mind last week — one in Beirut and the other in many countries.
[1] In Beirut, I was struck by the force of a two-day conference on health conditions of Palestinians in and outside Palestine, co-organized by the American University of Beirut Faculty of Health Science, Birzeit University and The Lancet, the London-based leading international journal on public health. The gathering of 75 or so health researchers from around the world was impressive, especially the opening remarks of Lancet editor Richard Horton.
In his analysis of research as a tool for social justice, equity and addressing power and inequity, in Palestine, refugee camps around the region, and throughout the world, he said that research and universities can play an active role in promoting justice, citizenship, voice and accountability. They can generate knowledge in the service of “defending universal principles of human rights and human dignity.”
Specifically addressing The Lancet’s interest in disseminating research about health conditions of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation, he said that university research is a form of peaceful resistance and non-violent protest that oppose forces that use health or medicines as an instrument of war. Researchers have an obligation to analyze and expose such inhuman practices, and, where possible, to oppose them. Researchers who do this, he said, should aim to report on and help bring an end to an “epidemiology of terror.”
The only thing more powerful than a piece of knowledge, I thought, is a committed human being who uses that knowledge in the service of justice.
[2] At the same time, scattered developments around the world reinforced my sense that we might see new momentum soon for resolving the Palestine issue equitably, and working for a just Arab-Israeli peace. More specifically, these developments suggest that the political balance of power of the past four decades that saw Zionism subdue and dominate Arabism in this region and abroad may be entering a historic stage of greater equilibrium between the two. Here are some intriguing developments that make me think this way:
• A new poll among citizens across 12 Arab countries, conducted by the Qatar-based Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies (reported by Marwan Bishara on al-Jazeera’s website, in advance of the poll’s full release), shows that three out of four people see Israel and the United States as the two most threatening countries; 84 per cent believe the Palestinian question is the cause of all Arabs and not the Palestinians only, and reject the notion of their state's recognition of Israel; only 21 per cent support, to a certain degree, the peace agreement signed between Egypt, Jordan and the PLO with Israel. Less than a third agree with their government's foreign policy.
• Recent conferences at several American and Canadian universities on the boycott, sanctions and divestment strategy against Israel, and for a “one-state” solution, giving Israelis and Palestinians equal rights in a single country, faced stiff opposition from pro-Israeli zealots, but in all cases the conferences went ahead.
• In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama openly challenged the Israeli desire for war on Iran now, and was widely supported by many in American society, despite the intense efforts of the maniacs in the pro-Israel lobbies there. The power of those lobbies is slowly being confined to members of Congress and journalists who remain deeply vulnerable to the intimidation tools of the lobby groups, while others in American society have learned that they can push back and survive.
• Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is increasingly seen as a thug whose heavy-handedness in the United States and repeated references to the Holocaust as a reminder of what he sees as threats to Israelis and Jews today have even bothered some fellow Israelis and Jews. His combination of insincerity, lies, exaggeration and arrogance has brought Israel to the point where its foreign policy sadly is essentially based on building walls and threatening wars.
• Palestinians and fellow activists are working hard to make the March 29 Global March to Jerusalem the new face of nonviolent resistance to Israeli colonial expansion and Apartheid-like Zionist ethnic privileges.
The combination of these and other developments may well comprise a historic transformation in the Arab-Israeli conflict. We will find out in the coming months.

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