Friday, September 21, 2007

Empire's Best Weapon

The empire's media gleefully report on Hamas's trouble in Gaza: e.g., Associated Press, "Palestinian Opinion Poll Shows Hamas Trailing Fatah, Criticism of Gaza Takeover," 17 September 2007.

The case of the Hamas government shows that the US-led multinational empire's most effective weapon is political and economic, not military: economically deprive the enemy, financially support collaborators, and wait till the desperate populace begin to desert the enemy and to turn to the collaborators. Coups and other military means, if they become necessary at all, are often mainly just the finishing touch.

This mode of subversion is especially suitable for the enemy who lacks domestic economic resources for independent survival to begin with, as is the case with the Palestinians now and the Haitians before them. (What has happened since the elections that put Hamas in power, by the way, demonstrates that the idea of a "two-state" solution is merely a mirage that obscures the reality of the Jewish state from the sea to the river.) It moreover has a crucial ideological advantage: the empire can pretend that its hands are clean, and its populace either "spontaneously" consent to that pretension or (more typically) remain completely ignorant of what is done and to what effect.

Unlike wars, which considerable numbers of people in the global North may be moved to oppose in the streets, as they did before the invasion of Iraq, there is no tangible opposition in the North to economic sanctions of this or that government in the South.

Whither Hamas? Tel Aviv just declared Gaza a "hostile entity" and decided to "impose sanctions on supplies of electricity, fuel, and other basic goods and services to the civilian population of Gaza" (The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, "Gaza: A Call for Urgent Action," 20 September 2007). If pushed against the wall, Hamas may very well (belatedly) decide that entry into electoral politics was an error and go back to armed resistance. Or they may fade into nothingness, leaving the vacuum to be filled by terrorist cells of the al Qaeda variety. Ahmed Yousef, a political advisor to Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, writes in Ha'aretz: "Hamas is a bulwark in the face of radical and militant ideas and trends. Policies whose aim is the isolation or marginalization of Hamas will not only fail but will also set the stage for the spread of extremist thinking in occupied Palestine" ("Hamas Is the Key," 21 September 2007). I hope for a different outcome, but from here there is nothing I can do to help the Palestinians find it.

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