Pakistan’s largest religious party, Jamat-e-Islami, staged a protest in Lahore to express their anger on the increased attack of Israel in Gaza. A huge number of protesters gathered in front of the Lahore Press Club chanting anti-Israel and anti-US slogans.

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Why Gaza? War and Conquest – Politics as Usual for the Empire

Over at Antiwar.com Justin Raimondo has put up a piece, Why Gaza? which explains the situation in the world and in Israel that gives rise to the latest assault on Gaza.

Mr. Jabari received a draft proposal for an extended cease-fire with Israel, including mechanisms that would verify intentions and ensure compliance. This draft was agreed upon by me and Hamas’s deputy foreign minister, Mr. Hamad, when we met last week in Egypt.”

This nails it: it shows why Israel escalated a series of routine border incidents into a major conflict: Hamas was ready to negotiate. Jabari was going to drop a gigantic “peace bomb” on Tel Aviv, and Netanyahu and his cabinet launched a preemptive strike to make sure it never hit its target. The last thing they wanted was peace breaking out in spite of their systematic provocations.

Hamas is useful to Netanyahu and his coalition partner, wannabe ethnic cleanser Avigdor Lieberman…

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Faced with the IDF’s overwhelming military superiority, Jabari and the moderate faction of Hamas entered into back channel negotiations, brokered by the Egyptians, and were about to go public with a peace proposal. That’s when the Israelis took him out.

Netanyahu merged his Likud party with the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu, a nationalist grouping catering to Russian immigrants which advocates the forced deportation of Arabs and a foreign policy aimed at achieving a “Greater Israel.”

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At the most basic level, Israel’s actions in Gaza are inextricably bound up with its efforts to create a Greater Israel that stretches from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Despite the endless palaver about a two-state solution, the Palestinians are not going to get their own state, not least because the Netanyahu government is firmly opposed to it. The prime minister and his political allies are deeply committed to making the Occupied Territories a permanent part of Israel. To pull this off, the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza will be forced to live in impoverished enclaves similar to the Bantustans in white-ruled South Africa. Israeli Jews understand this quite well: a recent survey found that 58 per cent of them believe Israel already practices apartheid against the Palestinians.”

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What enables this perpetual warfare is unconditional US support for Israel, both materially and diplomatically. The Jewish state could not exist beyond the next decade without the billions of US taxpayer dollars we ship to Tel Aviv every year. Israel is the single largest recipient of US “foreign aid”: we pay $3.5 billion in tribute to the warlords of Tel Aviv on an annual basis — not counting all the interest-free and forgiven “loans.” In return, they brazenly interfere in our politics — and that may be the least offensive form of Israeli intervention on American soil.

America’s Inevitable Retreat From the Middle East

By PANKAJ MISHRA
Published: September 23, 2012 NYT Op-Ed

THE murder of four Americans in Libya and mob assaults on the United States’ embassies across the Muslim world this month have reminded many of 1979, when radical Islamists seized the American mission in Tehran. There, too, extremists running wild after the fall of a pro-American tyrant had found a cheap way of empowering themselves.

But the obsession with radical Islam misses a more meaningful analogy for the current state of siege in the Middle East and Afghanistan: the helicopters hovering above the roof of the American Embassy in Saigon in 1975 as North Vietnamese tanks rolled into the city.

That hasty departure ended America’s long and costly involvement in Indochina, which, like the Middle East today, the United States had inherited from defunct European empires. Of course, Southeast Asia had no natural resources to tempt the United States and no ally like Israel to defend. But it appeared to be at the front line of the worldwide battle against Communism, and American policy makers had unsuccessfully tried both proxy despots and military firepower to make the locals advance their strategic interests.

The violent protests provoked by the film “Innocence of Muslims” will soon subside, and American embassies will return to normal business. But the symbolic import of the violence, which included a Taliban assault on one of the most highly secured American bases in Afghanistan, is unmistakable. The drama of waning American power is being re-enacted in the Middle East and South Asia after two futile wars and the collapse or weakening of pro-American regimes.

In Afghanistan, local soldiers and policemen have killed their Western trainers, and demonstrations have erupted there and in Pakistan against American drone strikes and reported desecrations of the Koran. Amazingly, this surge in historically rooted hatred and distrust of powerful Western invaders, meddlers and remote controllers has come yet again as a shock to many American policy makers and commentators, who have promptly retreated into a lazy “they hate our freedoms” narrative.

It is as though the United States, lulled by such ideological foils as Nazism and Communism into an exalted notion of its moral power and mission, missed the central event of the 20th century: the steady, and often violent, political awakening of peoples who had been exposed for decades to the sharp edges of Western power. This strange oversight explains why American policy makers kept missing their chances for peaceful post-imperial settlements in Asia.

As early as 1919, Ho Chi Minh, dressed in a morning suit and armed with quotations from the Declaration of Independence, had tried to petition President Woodrow Wilson for an end to French rule over Indochina. Ho did not get anywhere with Wilson. Indian, Egyptian, Iranian and Turkish nationalists hoping for the liberal internationalist president to promulgate a new “morality” in global affairs were similarly disappointed.

None of these anti-imperialists would have bothered if they had known that Wilson, a Southerner fond of jokes about “darkies,” believed in maintaining “white civilization and its domination over the world.” Franklin D. Roosevelt was only slightly more conciliatory when, in 1940, he proposed mollifying dispossessed Palestinian Arabs with a “little baksheesh.”

Roosevelt changed his mind after meeting the Saudi leader Ibn Saud and learning of oil’s importance to the postwar American economy. But the cold war, and America’s obsession with the chimera of monolithic Communism, again obscured the unstoppable momentum of decolonization, which was fueled by an intense desire among humiliated peoples for equality and dignity in a world controlled by a small minority of white men.

Ho Chi Minh’s post-World War II appeals for assistance to another American president — Harry S. Truman — again went unanswered; and Ho, who had worked with American intelligence agents during the war, was ostracized as a dangerous Communist. But many people in Asia saw that it was only a matter of time before the Vietnamese ended foreign domination of their country.

For the world had entered a new “revolutionary age,” as the American critic Irving Howe wrote in 1954, in which the intense longing for change among millions of politicized people in Asia was the dominant force. “Whoever gains control of them,” Howe warned, “whether in legitimate or distorted forms, will triumph.” This mass longing for political transformation was repressed longer by cold war despotism in the Arab world; it has now exploded, profoundly damaging America’s ability to dictate events there.

Given its long history of complicity with dictators in the region, from the shah of Iran to Saddam Hussein and Hosni Mubarak, the United States faces a huge deficit of trust. The belief that this deep-seated suspicion can be overcome by a few soothing presidential speeches betrays only more condescending ignorance of the so-called Arab mind, which until recently was believed to be receptive only to brute force.

It is not just extremist Salafis who think Americans always have malevolent intentions: the Egyptian anti-Islamist demonstrators who pelted Hillary Rodham Clinton’s motorcade in Alexandria with rotten eggs in July were convinced that America was making shady deals with the Muslim Brotherhood. And few people in the Muslim world have missed the Israeli prime minister’s blatant manipulation of American politics for the sake of a pre-emptive assault on Iran.

There is little doubt that years of disorder lie ahead in the Middle East as different factions try to gain control. The murder of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens in Libya, the one American success story of the Arab Spring, is an early sign of the chaos to come; it also points to the unpredictable consequences likely to follow any Western intervention in Syria — or Iran.

As in Southeast Asia in 1975, the limits of both American firepower and diplomacy have been exposed. Financial leverage, or baksheesh, can work only up to a point with leaders struggling to control the bewilderingly diverse and ferocious energies unleashed by the Arab Spring.

Although it’s politically unpalatable to mention it during an election campaign, the case for a strategic American retreat from the Middle East and Afghanistan has rarely been more compelling. It’s especially strong as growing energy independence reduces America’s burden for policing the region, and its supposed ally, Israel, shows alarming signs of turning into a loose cannon.

All will not be lost if America scales back its politically volatile presence in the Muslim world. It could one day return, as it has with its former enemy, Vietnam, to a relationship of mutually assured dignity. (Although the recent military buildup in the Pacific — part of the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia” — hints at fresh overestimations of American power in that region.)

Republicans calling for President Obama to “grow” a “big stick” seem to think they live in the world of Teddy Roosevelt. Liberal internationalists arguing for even deeper American engagement with the Middle East inhabit a similar time warp; and both have an exaggerated idea of America’s financial clout after the biggest economic crisis since the 1930s.

It is the world’s newly ascendant nations and awakened peoples that will increasingly shape events in the post-Western era. America’s retrenchment is inevitable. The only question is whether it will be as protracted and violent as Europe’s mid-20th century retreat from a newly assertive Asia and Africa.

 Pankaj Mishra is the author of “From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia.”

An Epistulae to America: Responsible Conservatism or Jacobin Imperialism?

Where in the World Are We Going?

By Claes G. Ryn

The legacy of the Cold War and the need to resist communism can only partially explain why so many American so-called conservatives have foreign policy attitudes that are not conservative in any meaningful historical or philosophical sense. They assume that to be conservative is to be always hawkish and prone to intervention. America, many “conservatives” assert, is an “exceptional nation” called to promote “American values” in the world, by military means whenever needed. But such thinking is characteristic not of conservatism but of radical ideological movements for which the French Jacobins are a prototype. According to the militant ideologies, the world should be made to conform to the dictates of Righteous Power. At the 2006 national meeting of the Philadelphia Society, Claes Ryn, a former president of the Society, discussed the anomaly that the term “conservatism” should be attached to a militant ideological spirit or to a primitive nationalistic desire to “kick butt.” Ryn’s 2006 remarks are republished here because they are relevant to sorting out what is what in current public debate and addressing the larger moral and political principles involved. Most generally, the article sketches the contrast between a conservative and an ideological temperament. Recent opinion surveys indicate that a majority of Americans, now including approximately half of Republican voters, are disinclined to foreign policy interventionism.

Within the so-called American conservative movement intellectual and political confusion are today rampant. Hence the following attempt to sort out what is what.

First of all, a conservative is acutely aware of the flawed nature of man. The capacity of human reason is limited. Our existence is ultimately a great mystery. Conservatives recognize that for these reasons we need the best of the human heritage to help guide us.

The Jacobin suffers from no such humility. Who needs history when there are universal principles that are also self-evident? It’s all so clear. Traditions are but historical accidents, props for old elites that should be replaced by the enlightened and virtuous, people like him. Leo Strauss and his disciples have taught us to disdain “the ancestral” and heed only principles of reason.

Conservatives and Jacobins differ profoundly on what ultimately commands our loyalty. Conservatives stand in awe of a higher power. The ancient Greeks spoke of it as the good, the true and the beautiful. Others refer to it as the will of God. This higher reality is, in any case, not some ideological blueprint. To feel obligated to look for and to do the right thing is not the same as to know just what it is in particular circumstances. The complexity and unpredictability of life disincline the conservatives to sweeping, categorical assertions.

The Jacobin is a true believer. He has access to universal principles, you see, and they demand “moral clarity.” You are either for his principles, which makes you virtuous, or you are against them, which makes you evil. It’s all so clear.

To have unquestioning faith in one’s own moral superiority is for Christians the cardinal sin. Only a profoundly conceited person could think that for another to oppose him is by definition morally perverse.

But the Jacobin assumes a right to have his way. Behind his moralism hides a desire to dominate. The hesitation or trepidation that may trouble men of conscience do not deter him. The will to power silences all doubt.

For the conservative, the universal imperative that binds human beings does not announce its purpose in simple, declaratory statements. How, then, does one discern its demands? Sometimes only with difficulty.

Only through effort can the good or true or beautiful be discovered, and they must be realized differently in different historical circumstances. The same universal values have diverse manifestations. Some of the concrete instantiations of universality take us by surprise.

Because there is no simple roadmap to good, human beings need freedom and imagination to find it. Universality has nothing to do with uniformity.

For the Jacobins, ahistorical, ideological precepts define universality, and these demand conformity. Comply with them, or else.

The conservative is attracted to both universality and diversity, because the two do, in a sense, need each other. He does not cherish diversity for its own sake, for much of the diversity in the world offends all higher values, but diversity of another type is how universality comes alive in the infinite variety of individuals and circumstances.

Because universality manifests itself variously, the conservative is no narrow-minded nationalist. He is a cosmopolitan. This does not mean that he is a free floater, at home everywhere and nowhere. That describes the Jacobin ideologue.

The conservative is a patriot, deeply rooted in the best of his own heritage. It is because he is so attached to what is most admirable in his own culture that he can understand and appreciate corresponding achievements in other cultures. He is able to find in different places variations on a common human theme. The culturally distinctive contributions of other peoples deepen and enrich his awareness of goodness, truth and beauty.

The Jacobin is not interested in diversity, only in imposing his blueprint. What history happens to have thrown up is just an obstacle to what ought to be. Only what is “simply right” deserves respect. It’s all so obvious.

Conservatives see in Jacobin principles a hair-raising obliviousness of life’s complexity. To implement such principles may devastate a society. A society may be wholly unsuited or unprepared for changes demanded of it. So what, say America’s neo-Jacobins. We need moral clarity. What was there before does not matter. “Democracy” must take its place. One model fits all. To ensure a democratic world, America must establish armed and uncontested world supremacy.

The will to power is here bursting at the seams. What argument could be better for placing enormous power in the hands of the neo-Jacobins than a grandiose scheme for remaking the world? At lunch yesterday we got to hear [from Max Boot] the pure, undiluted neo-Jacobin message.

All Jacobins warn of the Enemy with a capital “E.” The Enemy is the embodiment of evil, a force with which no compromise is possible. For the American neo-Jacobins the Enemy is Terrorism with a capital “T.” Though the only superpower, America must be in a permanent state of emergency, be armed to the teeth and relentlessly pursue the Enemy.

One current assumption about conservatives is nothing less than weird: that they are hawks, always looking for prey and always bullying. Conservatives are in reality normally doves, looking for ways to settle conflicts peacefully. They view war differently from neo-Jacobin desk-warriors. The suffering and destruction of war are frightful realities involving actual human beings. War is the very last resort.

Conservatives harbor no illusions about the international arena. Bad people behave badly. So conservatives want to be prepared to handle threats to their own society and civilization or to international peace. But their normal way of interacting with other peoples is to try to defuse conflict and to pursue a common human ground. This is the cosmopolitan way.

In domestic affairs, American conservatives have always feared unlimited power, partly because of their belief in original sin. Fallen creatures must be restrained by law. Government must be limited and decentralized, hence the separation of powers and federalism.

The sprit of constitutionalism forms the core of the American political tradition. Unchecked power is an invitation to tyranny. The framers even wanted the U.S. Congress, which was to be the preeminent body of the national government, to have divided powers. Needless to say they disdained democracy.

Jacobins see no need for restraints on virtuous power. Today American neo-Jacobins are promoting presidential ascendancy and great leeway for the executive. Old restraints and liberties must yield to the needs of the virtuous national security state.

Neo-Jacobins undermine American constitutionalism by radically redefining its meaning. They have little loyalty towards the culturally distinctive, historically evolved America. This country, neo-Jacobins assert, represents a sharp break with the past. They love to speak of the “Founding,” because that term suggests that America does not have historical origins but emerged afresh from enlightened minds. Harry Jaffa and others insist that to celebrate America is to celebrate radical innovation and revolution.

Conservatives cherish local autonomy and strong communities. As far as possible people should be able to shape their own lives, partly because the good life has to be lived differently in different circumstances. Jacobins resist anything that might interfere with ideological homogeneity. Individual and local autonomy could, they think, so easily get out of hand.

It should be obvious that, due in large part to barely masked neo-Jacobinism, American conservatism has in the last few decades been turned virtually inside out. In 1952 many conservatives regarded Dwight D. Eisenhower as too “liberal” because he was not willing to dismantle the New Deal. He would only prune it. Today, in all but rhetoric, people calling themselves conservatives accept a vastly larger and more intrusive central government. Under the current allegedly conservative president [George W. Bush] alone the federal government has expanded [as of 2006] by 25%. Yet representatives of the so-called conservative movement proceed as if nothing had happened and absurdly celebrate “triumphs of conservatism.”

Only a major intellectual or moral flaw in American conservatism could have made so many susceptible to the neo-Jacobin bug. Many who caught it were myopically preoccupied with practical politics and Republican partisanship. They lacked historical perspective and philosophical discernment. Others dimly recognized what was happening but went along to reap financial rewards and advance careers. They concealed almost from themselves that they had become hired guns advocating the positions expected of them. Both groups made alliances that will prove compromising. Historians will wonder how so many could have been so easily swayed and manipulated.

Today the utopianism, recklessness, cynicism and sheer incompetence of the neo-Jacobins are becoming obvious. Many of their fellow-travelers are trying to save what remains of their reputations by jumping ship. Intellectually challenged supernationalists just raise their voices and call critics unpatriotic. As for the neo-Jacobins themselves, they are blameless. It is those who implemented their policies who should be blamed. They didn’t do it right.

The neo-Jacobin virus should have been flushed out long ago.

Claes G. Ryn is professor of politics at the Catholic University of America, chairman of the National Humanities Institute, editor of Humanitas, and president of the Academy of Philosophy and Letters.

“The most extravagant idea that can be born in the head of a political thinker is to believe that it suffices for people to enter, weapons in hand, among a foreign people and expect to have its laws and constitution embraced. No one loves armed missionaries; the first lesson of nature and prudence is to repulse them as enemies.”

– Robespierre