Salon Article on Fallujah

My piece on Fallujah and its connection to the Palestine issue is online at

Readers interested in this angle will also benefit from Tom Engelhardt’s “The American Legacy in Iraq at

See also the always essential Josh Marshall’s Talking Points Memo for the important point that the US has abandoned the principle of a negotiated settlement in favor of unilateral action by the stronger party.

The credibility of the US in the Middle East as a broker is finished, kaput, nada, zero. And the problem is that there is no other credible broker.

You know, my colleague Rashid Khalidi of Columbia University got slammed by the Neocons for having predicted that the Arab street would come out during the Gulf War and threaten the region with instability. Actually, there were huge demonstrations, especially in North Africa. But his critics pointed out that there were no real changes as a result. The power of the urban crowd in the Middle East cannot be sneezed at (see: the Islamic Revolution in Iran, 1978-79). But it is true that most governments in the Middle East have muddled through even if they have been associated with unpopular US or Israeli policies.

Rashid was right, though, about the danger of doing things that cause anger to fester in large numbers of people. And, it occurs to me that the very inability of those huge crowds to change anything (or even to go to the streets in most countries of the region, given the controls put in place by the secret police) gave rise to the frustrations that eventuated in the wave of terrorism we are now seeing. That is, the Arab street has not so much admitted defeat as ramified, into radical social movements with a religious cast, and (on the part of a small number of the really angry and frustrated) into terrorist cells.

The Neocons are convinced that parliamentary elections would fix this problem, or at least that’s what they say. But that would only be true if the urban crowds were angry about the parliamentary issues. If they are angry because they think a large-scale, long-term injustice is being done, then elections won’t assuage their anger. Doing the right thing would. And the right thing was an Israeli withdrawal back to 1967 borders and the erection of a Palestinian state. Neither thing is going to happen, and there is going to be more anger, and the anger is going to circulate and come out in rage and terrorism. Elections won’t fix that, and main force can’t forestall all effective such operations.

Sharon and Bush just painted big red targets on us all.

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