Saturday, January 10, 2009

Left Margin - Goodbye Condi

Left Margin


Goodbye Condi


By Carl Bloice - Editorial Board

Black Commentator

January 8, 2009


Of all the outrageous statements coming out of the Bush

Administration over the course of its eight year reign,

perhaps the most odious came from the Secretary of

State. It was the summer of 2006. Israel troops had

entered Lebanon to wage war against the Lebanese

Hezbollah movement and the Israeli Air Force was

raining bombs on that country and Condoleezza Rice was

laboring mightily to justify the Bush Administration's

policy of delaying a ceasefire so the Israeli military

could continue its assault that was daily claiming

Lebanese civilian lives.


Her task 'was hardly helped when she explained that the

violence that had already killed more than 400 Lebanese

and turned more than a half million into refugees

represents the `birth pangs of a new Middle East,"

wrote Tony Karon of Time magazine in a report titled,

'Condi in Diplomatic Disneyland' 'Phrases like that -

and her rejection of the call for an immediate cease-

fire on the grounds that `whatever we do, we have to be

certain that we're pushing forward to the new Middle

East, not going back to the old Middle East' - carry a

revolutionary ring that scares the hell out of

America's allies in the region.'


It should have caused us all to shudder.


Imperial hubris is no stranger to Rice. She calls it

'transformational diplomacy.' The idea that prolonging

a military conflict that nearly all the world community

wants ended - and thus claiming additional innocent

lives - could usher in anything good betrays an

unvarnished arrogance seldom seen in modern

international diplomacy. But it was consistent, Karon

noted, with a proclamation she had made the previous

year about spreading 'creative chaos' in the Middle East.


'Now, for Act 2, the Arabs are being told to sit

quietly while Israel tears Lebanon apart, after months

of watching it slowly throttle Gaza through a U.S.-

backed economic blockade, and then bomb it for weeks on

end,' Karon wrote, 'Hardly surprising that the Arabs -

from the U.S.-backed autocrats to the beleaguered

liberal democrats and the rising Islamists - see little

to cheer in the Bush Administration's `new Middle East'.'


As New Year 2009 came she was at it again. Rice was

successfully staving off international diplomatic

efforts to prevent an Israeli ground assault on

Palestinian Gaza and secure a ceasefire in the deadly

conflict between the Israel and the Palestinian movement, Hamas.


Following a meeting with President Bush January 2, she

said the Administration would only agree to a ceasefire

'that would not allow a re-establishment of the status

quo ante where Hamas can continue to launch rockets out

of Gaza.' She added: 'It is obvious that ceasefire

should take place as soon as possible, but we need a

ceasefire that is durable and sustainable.'


It is obvious that what Rice calls a 'doable and

sustainable' ceasefire is one in which Hamas

surrenders. The condition that would be placed on the

Palestinians is that their ability to strike inside

Israel be eliminated but no conditions would be placed

on Tel Aviv to end the brutal siege of Gaza - let alone

end the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory

that is the root of the larger conflict.


After being briefed by Rice on the situation in Gaza,

President Bush was asked if Israel would be justified

in launching a ground assault. To which he replied,

'Those will be decisions made by the Israelis.' Sheer

poppycock. Few people would doubt that a phone call

from the White House to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud

Olmert or from Rice to Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi

Livni could have prevented the invasion. Moreover, as

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has

charged, effective United Nations action is stymied by

the threat of a U.S. veto of any resolution it doesn't

like, as was the case last Saturday. During the war in

Lebanon, the Beirut's Daily Star reported, 'The

international divide over Israel's ongoing assault on

Lebanon widened on Thursday as the United States

reiterated its demand that any cease-fire be

`sustainable,' while the European Union pressed for an

immediate end to the bloodshed.'


'Getting anything done diplomatically in the region

will require a lot more than talking about President

Bush's 'vision' of a Palestinian state and a `road map'

that is the functional equivalent of the old Beach Boys

song `Wouldn't It Be Nice' - there is no active process

associated with it, nor is there likely to be for the

foreseeable future,' wrote Karon in 2006. 'Without

revisiting the kind of peace process that the current

Israeli government has sought to avoid, the `birth

pangs of the new Middle East' may be interminable.'


'Gaza to be sure, was already a cauldron,' the

Financial Times editorialized last Saturday. 'But it

got that way in no small part because of flawed western

policies: first, through allowing the Israeli-

Palestinian conflict to stew; and then attempting to

isolate Hamas - which was democratically elected three

years ago - and doing nothing to lift the Israeli siege

that has turned Gaza into a prison for its 1.5m inhabitants.'


Recall when former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and

South African religious leader Desmond Tutu were

denounced by the Israeli rightwing and its supporters

in the U.S. for comparing the situation in Gaza and the

occupied territories to past apartheid rule in South

Africa. Seven years ago, in a Boston address, Tutu said

that while he condemned suicide bombings by Palestinian

militants against Israel, Israeli military action would

not bring it security. Israel, he said, must 'strive

for peace based on justice, based on withdrawal from

all the occupied territories, and the establishment of

a viable Palestinian state on those territories side by

side with Israel, both with secure borders.'


A new administration will take office January 21, a few

days before Rice, who previously served as national

security adviser to the President (and who played a

major role in promoting the invasion of Iraq), would be

observing her fourth year as secretary. Her tenure has

been nothing to celebrate. Just as George W. Bush is

being cited as arguably the worst President in the

nation's history, so too Condoleezza Rice has to be

right up there with the worst - perhaps the worst -

secretaries of state. Throughout the world, wherever

she has reached over the past six years things have

turned to . well. crud. It has amounted to what the

Financial Times last week called the 'Perils of

ignoring festering conflicts' - or, in some cases, Rice

and company making matters worse. This is particularly

true when it comes to the Middle East and the Asia subcontinent.


Take the conflict between India and Pakistan. A

potential for a measured rapprochement between

Islamabad and New Delhi over disputed Kashmir and the

fierce competition between the two countries over

influence in Afghanistan has been continually undercut

by U.S. efforts to bolster India as a counterweight to

emerging China. The recent hypocritical agreement with

India allowing it to ignore requirements of the Nuclear

Nonproliferation Agreement (which it never signed) has

only raised the stakes in the festering conflicts in the region.


Somalia, wrote the Financial Times January 3, 'imploded

into a long night of anarchy and warlordism nearly two

decades ago. After the messy failure of US intervention

in 1993, it was left to rot - until the Union of

Islamic Courts began to provide a rough semblance of

Islamist order. That panicked the Bush administration

into backing Ethiopia's devastating invasion two years

ago. It was a bit like taking a hammer to a ball of

mercury: the Islamists were routed but regrouped under

radical leadership, and are taking over swaths of

Somalia (and maybe its new business, piracy) as Ethiopia withdraws.'


The common denominator in all of these foreign policy

disasters is the decisive reliance on military power,

in Iraq at the cost of over 4,000 lives of young women

and men from this country and hundreds of thousands of

Iraqis. Or, in the other cases, giving encouragement -

or the 'green light' - to aggression by clients, as

with the Ethiopians in Somalia, or 'allies' as in

Israel. The problem people like Rice don't seem to get

through their thick heads is people don't like

foreigners occupying their countries. The British and

the Russians learned that in Afghanistan, the U.S.

doesn't seem to have learned it in Vietnam.


'Happily, the superficial muscularity of the Bush-

Cheney era - the idea that you can bomb people into

moderation and alignment with western interests - is

about to end,' the Financial Times editors concluded.

'Barack Obama has the opportunity to approach afresh

these unresolved conflicts before they disappear into a

lethal stew of rejectionism and radicalism. He looks to

be preparing to appoint several special envoys,

including for the Middle East and Kashmir. Good. That

concentrated focus is needed: to identify and act on

tractable grievances before they become the property of

jihadis and extremists.' That will happen only if they

start by rejecting the ruinous policies of the Bush

Administration and the mindless bellicosity of its secretary of state.

_______________ Editorial Board member Carl Bloice is a writer in San Francisco, a member of the National Coordinating Committee of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism and formerly worked for a healthcare union.


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