Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Clueless in Gaza

Glenn Reynolds notes that the media is finally using the "civil war" word in connection with the situation in Gaza. The fighting continues. After three ceasefires, too. Maybe the argument that only an uncompromising terror can achieve liberation neglects the possibility that mayhem, having become a way of life, soon becomes an end in itself.


Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

It's a turf war, not a civil war. It's rival gangs fighting for control.

The vast majority of Pals are not members of Hamas or Fatah and don't carry weapons. I don't think the majority of Pals want one side or the other to win.

5/16/2007 10:18:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

It's a proxy war, with the US, EU, Egypt, and Israel supporting the PLO (oops they have been re-branded as Fatah) and Iran, Hezbollah and Syria supporting Hamas.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that Hamas wins this one hands down. All those hundreds of millions of Euros worth of weapons being shipped to Fatah will be safely stored in Hamas safehouses in a few months.

The great Iranian march forward continues…

5/17/2007 01:42:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

And since history is the theme of the Belmont Club why don’t we delve back a bit into the conditions which spawned Hamas. Back in the fifties the great Arab Satan was then being played by secular nationalist Gamal Abddul Nasser, President of Egypt (as well as by Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq but he and Iran’s democratic political system were erased in a coup which directly lead to the counterrevolution in 1979 which brought the current brand of leaders in Iran to power). In response to the horrific existential threat that Nasser posed to civilization (he was often even compared to Hitler!) the British and eventually US supported the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood in an attempt at Jihadi regime change in Epypt. After an assassination attempt, the secular Nasser, who served as a role model for Saddam, cracked down on the Jihadis killing and jailing as many as he could. And jail is exactly where Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the eventual founder of Hamas, found himself in Gaza on the day in 1967 that the Israelis conquered it from Egypt.

But strange things happened, the Israelis not only let him out of jail but:

In 1973 Israeli military authorities in charge of the West Bank and Gaza allow Sheikh Ahmed Yassin to establish the Islamic Center, an Islamic fundamentalist organization. With Israel’s support, Yassin’s organization soon gains control of hundreds of mosques, charities, and schools which serve as recruiting centers for militant Islamic fundamentalism. In 1976 Yassin creates another organization called the Islamic Association that forms hundreds of branches in Gaza. In 1978 the Islamic Association is licensed by the government of Menachem Begin over the objections of moderate Palestinians including the Commissioner of the Muslim Waqf in the Gaza Strip, Rafat Abu Shaban.

The Islamic Association created a military wing in 1987 and named it Hamas.

According to Charles Freeman, a former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, “Israel started Hamas. It was a project of Shin Bet, which had a feeling that they could use it to hem in the PLO.” Anthony Cordesman, a Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic Studies, states that Israel “aided Hamas directly—the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO.” A former senior CIA official speaking to UPI describes Israel’s support for Hamas as “a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative.” Further, according to an unnamed US government official, “the thinking on the part of some of the right-wing Israeli establishment was that Hamas and the other groups, if they gained control, would refuse to have anything to do with the peace process and would torpedo any agreements put in place.”

As you sow so shall you reap.

5/17/2007 03:15:00 AM  
Blogger Barry Meislin said...

Yes, yes, we already know that Israel and America, and the West generally, is entirely responsible for all efforts aimed at their destruction. We've been told countless times.


On the other hand, the latest mayhem together with Hamas's rather impressive ("cease-fire")missile offensive against Israel's Gaza border cities and communities, significant as it is, may well be a feint for a larger promised Iran-Syria-Hizbullah effort.

5/17/2007 04:05:00 AM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

Kevin has some sort of blowback theory, and if he works on it for a while, I am sure he will figure out why we can blame George W. Bush.

And the aptly named Utopia thinks that if the Palestinians just joined hands and sang Kum-by-yah, all would be well.

Wretchard however is correct. The Palestinians have spent the last two generations creating, not a civil society (when left alone they drown in their own $h;+), but a death cult.

Sharks in utero, having nothing else to attack, eat each other. Palestinians isolated from from Israel, having no-one else to attack, kill each other.

5/17/2007 04:51:00 AM  
Blogger Cruiser said...

Bingo Fat Man.

5/17/2007 08:17:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I don't think the majority of Pals want one side or the other to win.

Right. And Islam is a Religion of Peace, and the great majority of Muslims aren't terrorists ... they just support them.

5/17/2007 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger timem1 said...

Kevin, whats your point?

5/17/2007 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Evanston2 said...

Live by the sword...

5/17/2007 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

Gaza 'Palestinians' pray for 'occupation'

Car Swarm, minutes ago

H/T Israel Matzav

5/17/2007 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

And the aptly named Utopia thinks that if the Palestinians just joined hands and sang Kum-by-yah, all would be well.


Right. And Islam is a Religion of Peace, and the great majority of Muslims aren't terrorists ... they just support them.


The reason that I say it's a gang turf war not a civil war is that calling it a civil war gives these gangs more credibility than they deserve. Many of the clans and gangs in Gaza are simply criminals out for their own benefit. Fatah seems to fit that description completely. Hamas wants to Talibanize Gaza and put themselves in charge, for their own benefit. There are dozens of factions in Gaza.

When we see hundreds of fighters in single battles and thousands of refugees heading for the exits then maybe it will be a civil war. When we see each side holding territory that is a no-go zone for the other side then maybe it will be a civil war.

Nahncee, which side do you think the majority of Pals want to win?

Hamas are bullies in beards and most Pals don't want to be Talibanized. The past year under Hamas rule hasn't made anything better for the Pals. Fatah is corrupt, is led by someone who can't make a decisive move, and has already had its chance, which is presumably why Hamas was voted in.

5/17/2007 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

My point was that evil deeds are repaid in kind. We overthrew a democracy in Iran in 1953 and we are repaid for that evil deed by a soon-to-be nuclear powered Iran who, along with her clients are on the ascendancy in the Middle East.

Israel was facing a weak and pathetic PLO who failed in the rather simple military exercise of evicting a modern conventional army from their territory. But instead of being thankful for this blessing Israel dealt with the devil in turning towards Islamic extremists to neutralize the already boxed in PLO. They will soon be paying a huge price for this evil deed in the form of Hezbollah II, which Hamas will soon become.

The US played the same game in Afghanistan with Al Qaida and 9/11 was the result

As you sow so shall you reap

When the US followed a higher morality in Europe and Japan after WW2 she was rewarded with (relatively) loyal allies.

The point is that morality counts, especially in foreign policy. The spread of groupthink and rightwing multiculturalism in the form of being unable to make moral judgments about Israeli or US foreign policy is seriously eroding the rational faculties of many members of both societies.

5/17/2007 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger howdog said...


Rightwing groupthink? I think leftwing group think is operative here. It is the limpy lefties who have tied our hands with respect to dealing a WW2 style knockout blow to these subhuman enemies of mankind. The latest example is Aug 2006 Hizbollah/Israeli conflict.

5/17/2007 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger soflauthor said...


In your posts, you make the point that “evil deeds are repaid in kind” and that “As you sow so shall you reap”. You also note:

When the US followed a higher morality in Europe and Japan after WW2 she was rewarded with (relatively) loyal allies.

But what about before WWII ended? Before we thoroughly defeated—even humiliated—both enemies? I wonder how you feel about using nuclear weapons against the Japanese mainland—evil deed or something that was necessary to defeat a vicious enemy? I wonder how you’d characterize the firebombing of Drezden—evil deed or a necessary payback for brutal attacks against UK civilian population centers?

If they are “evil deeds” then your argument about “higher morality” being “rewarded with loyal allies” falls apart, doesn’t it? And if they were necessary (and I think they were) then it tells us something about the need to crush an brutal enemy before you can ever gain a loyal ally.

On a broader note, you consistently state that the unintended consequences of “evil” decisions by the West have spawned payback (sowing and repeating and all that). The implication is that we have to study the problem even harder and longer before we act, hoping that we foresee every eventuality. I suspect you’ll admit that taken to the limit, we’d be paralyzed by analysis. We’d never act and as a consequence, the problem that existed on the ground would grow into a malignancy.

Ultimately, a decision must be made. It’s dangerously naïve to assume perfect foreknowledge and an absolutely predictable outcome for every strategic move. All we can really do is understand the risk and act in ways that minimizes it.

5/17/2007 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

It is the limpy lefties who have tied our hands with respect to dealing a WW2 style knockout blow to these subhuman enemies of mankind.

Oh really, it was the lefties who were up in arms when General Shinseki said that it would take several hundred thousands troops (WW2-style in other words) to occupy Iraq. Oh wait a minute, it wasn’t the Left at all, it was Bush political appointees Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz who said going in WW2-style would be “wildly off the mark”.

But your ingrained habit of groupthink and rightwing multiculturalism, (ie never making a moral judgement about rightwing US or Israeli foreign policy) does not allow you to think these thoughts. No, ration thought is not an option for you, the only outlet allowed to your is to pathetically lash out at the left.

Not to even mention that Iraq was only a diversion from the real threat, Wahabbism as sponsored by Saudi Arabia. And who was calling for WW2-style action against the KSA? Why the horrible leftist Michael Moore of course. And how did the robotic groupthink inspired rightwing noise machine respond? Just like they did to General Shinseki.

And what about all those calls by your hero George Bush for WW2-style national sacrifice? What about his calls for privileged Americans to join the battle just like they did in WW2? Oh yeah, that’s right, all those patriotic calls were squashed by the traitorous left – or at least that’s the chant that your groupthink hymn masters have taught you to sing on cue.

5/17/2007 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...


Good points, I have been thinking about exactly that and am still struggling with it.

If a basic morality says that it is immoral to target and attack civilians then the attacks in Japan and Germany were indeed immoral. I recently finished The Forgotten Soldier by Guy Sajer where he describes being in Berlin during one of the air raids and how the Americans dropped bombs with timers that exploded an hour after landing, killing the emergency crews that had arrived.

You are correct in saying that if these deeds were evil and good came from them then my argument falls apart. One way to see it is that while the overall objective, destroying the German and Japanese states, was moral, some of the tactics used were not. In that case the payback may yet to arrive. One can easily see how we may live to regret targeting civilians with nuclear weapons. One also sees at least in Israel, where Hezbollah and Hamas are taking the equally morally dubious route of targeting civilians with airstrikes, just as we did in Germany.

I agree that one can outthink themselves but basic moral principles like not overthrowing democracies or not funding obviously dangerous and radical ideologies should not take much time be agreed on.

5/17/2007 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

Line up the D-9s on the Gaza border and move East until what used to be Gaza is a nifty sea wall and harbor. Build some seaside condos, a few good restaurants and book stores, and forget that dysfunctional pile of human detritus ever existed.

5/17/2007 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

What's happening in Gaza is merely the clearest example of what is happening -- and will happen -- everywhere. The downside of the globalized, networked insurgency, whose praises are so loudly sung by the some military intellectuals, is that they spawn groups without establishing any real command and control structure. In Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and through most of the Middle East this process results in a proliferation of gangs which are only "unified" and only intermittently, in their hatred of Israel or the US. But for the most part they are rivals for state support, popular acclaim; for the control of various rackets and in general for turf. And this is why when the enemy momentarily vanishes, they instantly turn on each other.

Not just Gaza, but Pakistan is being torn apart by this process. The Mahdi Army too, is falling into internecine bickering.

Lest anyone rejoice too quickly, remember that the "networked insurgency" model creates a mode of warfare that is nearly impossible to shut off. It begins to exist for the sake of itself. That means that if nuclear weapons or WMDs fall into their hands there will be no one, no single leader to whom one could surrender even if one wanted to. This is fundamentally the reason why no ceasefires with Arafat could ever work. He was merely a figurehead of a culture in which murder had become -- and largely through his effort -- a way of life.

5/17/2007 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


In two days, 50 rockets were launched from Gaza toward the Israeli city of Sderot.

“Hamas claimed responsibility for the intense rocket barrage on Sderot, which is less than 2km from the Gaza Strip.”



“Authorities approved the evacuation for several days of hundreds of Sderot residents, deemed to be in distress, to hotels out of rocket range.”

“Israel is now targeting those directly involved in the rocket attacks, including planners, but not Hamas political leaders.”


Hamas suicide threat after Israeli strike

Ehud Olmert is still Prime Minister of Israel.

5/17/2007 02:41:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...


The "networked insurgency" model used by resistance organizations in Europe during WWII led to the result of civil war among rival armed factions. We could be talking about Palestine now, or France and Yugoslavia then. Regular armies reporting to established governments have their advantages.

5/17/2007 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...


Did the uprising of the Paris Commune during the Franco-Prussian War ever have a chance of succeeding?

5/17/2007 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger Zeno said...

Come on, even to the most foolish ones it is becoming apparent that this "Palestinian cause" thing is only a scam... Nobody really wants an "independent state"... Too many responsibilities. No oil. No economy to speak of.

The two sides are just fighting for the UE/EU money... And terrorism is the Pali's best (and only) industry, it's what finances them. If the Palis didn't do terrorism, would the Europeans and Americans pay them "so they stop"? I don't think so.

But I agree it's not really civil war, it's a battle between two gangs for power & money.

Palestinians themselves, well, they are mostly for Hamas I would guess, since they voted them on.

But both Hamas and Fatah are useless as government. The actual people would be better off under Israeli administration. Not that it is the best solution. In fact, there's no solution, short of the assimilation of such people into Egypt or Jordan, which will eventually happen. Or not.

But "two peoples, two states"? The Arabs didn't want it in 1948, and they don't want it now. They want it all. They want war. Eternal war. It would be easier if the Western apologists were not such useful idiots. Oops. Sorry Kevin.

5/17/2007 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...


One should take care not to hold to the solipsistic presumption that the American political establishment is the only actor in world affairs, with assumption that “we act and they react”. Other actors have their own agendas and often insist upon seizing the initiative.

The Freikorps were used by the Weimar Republic to stop a Communist takeover of the German state. Did that mean the Weimar Republic deserved to fall to the Nazis (who were the lineal descendants of the Freikorps)? If one takes a collective “as you sow so shall you reap” mentality to its logical conclusion, would you personally deserve to die in a suicide bombing attack because of the sins of American foreign policy over forty years ago?

Shouldn’t we act in a manner so our enemies reap what they sow?

Technically speaking, the CIA did not overthrow Mossadegh. The CIA was bamboozled into thinking it overthrew Mossadegh. The CIA was complicit and it was involved, but it was not the principal actor. Although the CIA did fund a plot to overthrow the Iranian prime minister, he was only overthrown once funding for the coup plot was shut off. The coup plotters worked on their own schedule, not on an American schedule. Moreover, the coup plot was also supported by Ayatollah Kashani (speaker of the Majlis); it was the success of the “White Revolution” (and a propensity for American spymasters to gloat) that allowed Iran’s clerical class to distance itself from the coup. The American political establishment overestimates itself.

The United States (and Britain and the Soviets) invaded Iran and installed Mohammed Reza Shah as a puppet. Was that “higher morality”? Although Iran was an Axis power (and its train station still has a big swastika…), Iranians resented that invasion. Few Iranians if any felt any gratitude.

It is commonly assumed that the “Islamic Revolution” in Iran was a revolt against the United States. If one actually reads Iranian rhetoric, it was a revolution against the Cold War itself – against both sides. Islamists were fed up with being pawns in a Cold War power game that placed everything within a prism of “capitalism vs. communism”, of “East vs. West”. They wanted (and still want) to define the world’s conflicts on their terms, and although it is not wise to let them get their way, it is also unwise to be so blind to other cultures that one necessarily sees other people as one’s tools, not realizing how one is being used by foreign actors.

Although Israel had a minor role in fostering the Muslim Brotherhood, that role should not be overestimated. The Muslim Brotherhood has had a strong following throughout the Middle East since the 1920’s. During the Arab Cold War, the Gulf states gave the Muslim Brotherhood safe haven. If one compares the policy of Israeli authorities to the largesse of Wahhabi subsidies, it would appear that Saudi causality for the rise of Hamas is vastly greater. Although I do not dispute that America’s historic alliance with the Saudi Kingdom has vastly undermined our position in the Middle East, the progressive movement has hardly been a spearhead to counter the power of Saudi public relations.

The Left and the Right each has its share of bigots. The reason why modern conservative critique of current events has recently been superior is principally because it seeks to understand our enemy as our enemy presents himself. Whatever disagreements one may have with President Bush, he is not our enemy, any more than Mr. Roosevelt or Mr. Dewey were our enemy back in WWII. (Much of America’s grand strategy in Europe stank, especially in its bungled invasion of Italy.) The Islamofascists are our enemies and will continue to be until they are decisively defeated.

If the United States were to act according the America’s “higher morality” of WWII, it would be interning Muslims in concentration camps, just as the US did to Japanese, German, and Italian civilians (often with American citizenship). If the United States were to act according to the “higher morality” of WWII, it would be carpet bombing Middle Eastern cities. If the United States were to act according to the “higher morality” of WWII, saboteurs would be shot on the spot. Torture against members of the Nazi SS was standard then, so applying “higher morality” would be standard against members of al-Qaeda. So far as I can tell, the principal reason why leftist historiography presents World War II as noble is because our ally was Uncle Joe. (Hmm. Was the Cold War "blowback" for allying with the Soviet Union during WWII??)

If you’ve read the Belmont Club regularly, you will notice that the governments of the United States and Israel are relentlessly criticized. You might not agree with the criticisms, but they are criticisms. Remember Dubai Ports World? Both progressives and conservatives could agree to oppose that, and if President Bush had insisted on pushing the issue he may very well have been impeached and removed from office! Still, there were some here who advocated hiring a firm controlled by the Emir of Dubai to manage American ports. It was a lively discussion, yet civil. Although there are places where right-wing and left-wing groupthink predominate, one aspect of the Belmont Club I really appreciate is how civil people can be in their disagreements with one another.

5/17/2007 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger jane said...

But both Hamas and Fatah are useless as government. The actual people would be better off under Israeli administration.


Even better were we to offer that the Palestinian Territories become a protectorate of Pelosi’s district and give them US voting rights. This wouldn’t change SF politics or election results any—obviously-- and we could tax the Palis to recover some of our insane PA aid and UN contribution monies. Ahnuld the Environator could try to pacify the place with cool green initiatives, although one must admit they do a pretty good job of reducing emissions already by sequestering lots of carbon-based lifeforms six feet under.

5/17/2007 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I am convinced that "most Palestinians" are inhuman animals, that they do *not* have the same wants, needs and desires as normal human beings, and that the sooner they can kill each other off, the better.

For decades now, they have been interbreeding with each other which has got to be bad for their health and physicality. Even worse, however, is the brainwashing they impose upon each other from infancy, being told that death is good, murder is not a sin or a crime, and hatred is the norm.

The Germans did this sort of brainwashing for ten or 15 years before they were defeated, and individual Germans immediately tried to deny and cover up their involvement with their Nazi party and its Final Solution.

The Palestinians have been doing it to themselves and to anyone who gets within blowing up range since 1948. I wonder if there remains a single Palestinian who could be considered normal, and who hasn't been raised on a physical, mental and emotional diet of murder and mayhem.

If you yourself are a Frankenstein, does it really matter a whole lot if you're voting for a vampire or a werewolf?

The whole tribe of Palestinians are mutants, who need to be scooped up and dispersed throughout the world, with a maximum of one Palestinian for every 100 miles to see if they can rediscover their humanity if they're by themselves. Lacking that, the best that can be hoped for is that they'll speedily and summarily finish killing each other off, saving the rest of us the task of having to do it while we defend ourselves from their murderous insanity.

5/17/2007 03:51:00 PM  
Blogger timem1 said...

Kevin, based upon your "points" what is the best path forward for western civilization with regard to radical Islam?

5/17/2007 08:27:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

"When we cut off the water and electricity both of which are supplied to Gaza by Israel and we keep both off for two weeks and then we enter Gaza in mass, then Israel is serious about stopping the rockets.

Until then it is just smoke and mirros to make the public feel better."

PR Games


5/17/2007 10:29:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...


what is the best path forward for western civilization with regard to radical Islam?

Short term: Recognize and kill the source of the infection

Long Term: Recognize and eliminate the ecosystems within which it thrives.

First I would have differentiated between the Sunni (Al Qaida) and Shia (Iran) threats. After 9/11 we had more than enough moral authority to go in and force the Saudis by military means if necessary to close all Wahabbi Madrassas. Similar pressures were needed in Pakistan but I recognize the difficulty in this. As it stands Afghanistan is hopeless if the infection of Islamic Militarism is allowed to spawn and fester in Pakistan.

After 9/11 I would have accepted the olive branch extended by Iran and through diplomacy and soft power tried to nudge them towards reform. As it was we issued empty threats which were intended to scare them but has only further radicalized them.

The ecosystems that Islamic Militants prefer are that of the dysfunctional Arab states and the ongoing occupation of Palestine. In order to place Israel on the moral high ground, the Golan goes back to Syria for peace and Israel goes more or less back to 1967, just as Martin Van Creveld has suggested. Economic and political pressure would then be put on the dysfunctional Arab states to start a democratization process. Where these policies fail, short but exceedingly sharp military strikes against Islamic militants would be the order of the day. The political cohesion of forming and enlarging an anti-Islamic militant bloc would be a guiding principle of diplomacy.

And after several years of this policy the Sunni branch of Islamic militancy should be under enough control to allow us to start reviewing the results of the nice-guy approach to Iran. If progress is being made great, if not other options would need to be considered.

5/18/2007 01:35:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

The Turks dropped Jihadism when they lost large swaths of territory. Conquest of land is what drives Islamists. To stop Islamism, you need to reverse the equation. You need to reward anti Islamists with land, at the expense of Islamists and their sympathizers.

4th generation war strategists say that the era of successful colonial and neocolonial wars is over. In my view, this is a serious and possibly fatal error. It's not about electricity, it's about land. Everything else flows from that. And this is where the Islamists (playing "good cop" "bad cop") have our war strategists mauled silly.

5/18/2007 08:23:00 AM  

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