Following a discussion on Juan Cole, MEMRI and others , this is what I answered:
You raised so many problems and unfortunately i don’t have all the time i want to answer everything. i noted down some key points for any future discussion on this type of subject:
– When judgement statement are made on Israel, people don’t usually condemn specific moves such as the assassination of Hamas. Cole for example is not just pissed because Israel killed Hamas leader. no, there are other stuff Israel has been doing since it was founded as a nation which is far worse than just this killing. Well to start with, the guy who got killed should not have existed were it not for Israeli policies. It’s better to have a broad vision of events when analyzing a particular move.
– Help is not easy to get. the whole debate of nations asking for help and then stealing everything, repressing their population, etc. is a whole field of inquiry on why is this happening this way. Developmental economics has interesting answers for you. Don’t think neocons discovered something by attacking and erasing the institutions of a country from the map just because they were thought to be deficient. This is not the way to go about things. Historically in any case this type of behavior never helped. notwithstanding the fact, that these people never thought of helping anyone and even less so build democratic institutions (whether in Iraq and Palestine, neocons are increasingly calling for …less democracy).
– Israeli-US Relations: Ariel Sharon does not litterally have Bush on a string but if you face the facts everything the US is doing in the region is in the interest of one single power which is Israel. Not only that, but the US can sometimes be harmed by doing so (surely the case in the long-term). Add to this the Neocons holy alliance with Israel (US national security breachs to the profit of Israel, Wolfowitz, Perle, Wurmser, Hadley, etc. all have done it, just check FBI files). At this point of your inquiry you can basically use the “string” metaphor. Now if you want to be picky you can say that the current Israeli government is strongly in line with the current US administration and these people think of Israeli interests as being identical to US’s, thus sometimes missing the clear difference between both. Today in the US voices from left and right are speaking these things because they are scared of where their country is going because of Israeli (and of course specific interest groups in the US) military fantasies.
– Institutions or Culture ? now a small remark on the definition of “institution”. A clan is an institution, pre-capitalistic in a sense. Today the Arab world, knows old and new institutions struggling to living side by side. That’s why you have conflict erupting sometimes. The Lebanese civil war, the current crisis in Sudan, the past Algerian ‘Islamic’ uprising, Saudi austering rules, etc. It does not mean that daily Arab rulers wake up and because they are bloodthirsty they decide to do some killing. Also, these conflicts have nothing to do with “cultures” or “values”, it has to do with societal dynamics that are not functioning properly anymore. By lump-summing these into a sentence like: “these Arabs are killers so let’s go and do some killing” , nothing can be resolved. Remarks by Fouad Ajami (picked up by Tony in his next post) making fun of Shia practices is falling into the “cultural trap” or what I call the “Bernard Lewis Trap”. Ajami himself a shia, frustrated by his environment went to live the American dream (and here i am not using a cultural argument mind you) becoming a professor so gaining what i would call “knowledge legitimacy” is now throwing back at his origins all the hatred he has packed inside. This guy has done nothing to improve deficiencies in the Arab except whining and uttering the usual you-see-i-told-you-(americans)-Arab-cannot-evolve mantra. Why should they evolve, well because people like Bernard Lewis said that they were “culturally” backward…
I’ll leave you with some stuff to work with (even though much more should be said). I hope things i presented were clear!