strategic culture

Biden Supports Many Protestors but Not Palestinians
Brian Cloughley, Strategic Culture, Jul 20 2021

Photo: Mussa Qawasma/Reuters

Biden’s Washington is reacting as might be expected over the Cuba riots. There was automatic endorsement of the rioters, with Biden declaring they were making “a clarion call for freedom.” He greatly approved of the fact that “the Cuban people are bravely asserting fundamental and universal rights” which is commendable but would be even more so if the root cause of Cuban discontent was not misery and suffering engendered by the spiteful US sanctions crusade that has been waged for sixty years. At a meeting of the UNGA on Jun 23 a total of 184 countries voted in support of a resolution demanding that the US economic blockade on Cuba should be lifted. This is the 29th year in a row that such a resolution has been passed. And the only countries voting against it were the US and Israel. UNGARs indicate the feeling of the world’s nations concerning many problems and developments, but are non-binding, which means that condemnation of the most abhorrent and shameful violations of “fundamental and universal rights” like Washington’s vicious anti-Cuba sanctions campaign can be treated with sneering contempt. UNSCRs are binding if adopted in accordance with Chapter VII of the Charter, but non-binding if under Chapter VI, which is why Israel, Washington’s closest ally, can also treat critical UNSCRs with scornful disdain. For example, as recorded by the UN itself:

UNSCR 2334 was adopted on Dec 23 2016. It concerns the Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 … The resolution states that Israel’s settlement activity constitutes a ‘flagrant violation’ of international law and has ‘no legal validity.’ It demands that Israel stop such activity and fulfil its obligations as an occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The resolution was passed by a 14–0 vote, with the US abstaining, which is not the action expected by a country that is so supportive of “fundamental and universal rights.” Further, the Council called for cessation of Israeli settlement activity, which it determined to have no legal validity. But President Biden remains unconditionally supportive of the Israeli state and on June 13 greeted its new government by declaring:

Israel has no better friend than the US. The bond that unites our people is evidence of our shared values and decades of close cooperation and as we continue to strengthen our partnership, the US remains unwavering in its support for Israel’s security.

As a placatory sop he added that he is committed “to working with the new Israeli government to advance security, stability, and peace for Israelis, Palestinians, and people throughout the broader region.” The problem is that Biden’s advancement of “stability and peace” does not extend to Palestinians. He pays no attention to evidence that there is gross mistreatment of the Palestinian community by Israel, and critical statements such as those by the European Union are also ignored. On Jul 9 the EU’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Lotte Knudsen, noted that Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory are illegal under international law, but even this open condemnation drew no reaction from Washington. To be sure, the Palestinian government administration, the “Palestine Authority” is a farcical organisation that combines incompetence with brutal repression of dissent, but the major problem is the Hamas militant group which rules Gaza and is rightly held to be a terrorist organisation by many countries, including those of the EU, the US, UK and of course Israel. The Hamas Covenant of 1988 is an eerie document, redolent of extremist Islam, as indicated (to take but one example), by Article 18 which states inter alia:

Woman plays the most important role in looking after the family, rearing the children and imbuing them with moral values and thoughts derived from Islam. She has to be of sufficient knowledge and understanding where the performance of housekeeping matters are concerned, because economy and avoidance of waste of the family budget, is one of the requirements for the ability to continue moving forward.

But this arrogant patriarchal garbage pales beside the basic tenet of Hamas:

Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.

It is not surprising that so many foreigners consider ‘Palestinians’ and ‘Hamas’ to be one and the same, and certainly a very large number of Palestinians support the group, if only because they think it is their only route to being granted “fundamental and universal rights.” It is likely, however, that for the foreseeable future the Israeli government will continue to treat them simply as obstacles in the way of Israeli settler expansion. Israel’s newly-elected prime minister, Naftali Bennett, is adamantly opposed to establishment of a Palestinian state. The BBC records:

Bennett is outspoken in his advocacy of Israel as the Jewish nation state and Jewish historical and religious claims to the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights.

He is a forceful supporter of Jewish settlement of Palestinian land, and has stated:

As long as I have any power and control, I won’t hand over one centimetre of land of the Land of Israel. Period.

His attitude to Palestinians was summed up by the BBC report:

He once admonished an Israeli Arab member of parliament for saying Jews had no right to settle in the West Bank, telling him: “When you were still swinging from trees, we had a Jewish state here.”

This is an intriguing contention, given that on Jul 15 Israeli forces bulldozed and totally destroyed the oldest known Canaanite Cemetery in Palestine, in the town of al Khadir just outside Bethlehem; 4200 years old, to build a Settler road. When Bennett became prime minister he had a phone call from Biden who issued a statement:

I look forward to working with Prime Minister Bennett to strengthen all aspects of the close and enduring relationship between our two nations. Israel has no better friend than the US.

On Jul 14, the JPost reported that Bennett will visit the White House in August, which decision sent messages far and wide, and most notably to despairing Palestinians who learned, as reported by Stratfor:

On July 15 the IDF advanced plans to build 3,412 new apartments in the West Bank along the strategic highway which helps link East Jerusalem to the rest of the West Bank.

There will be many topics of discussion between Bennett and Biden, but it is a fair assumption that Israel’s forced and illegal occupation of Palestinian lands will not be among them. The Palestinian people will continue to be savagely repressed, with the open support of President Biden’s administration, and more young Palestinians will embrace violence as a solution. There is increasing probability of massive blowback involving unprecedented violence, but the White House will carry on undermining the Cuban government while strengthening the “close and enduring relationship” with the country that is determined to crush the Palestinian people.

Liquid Modernity
Alastair Crooke, Strategic Culture, Jul 21 2021

Photo: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

US pollster Dr Franz Luntz, after a mega round of polling and focus-group sounding in the US and Britain, warned starkly that woke culture wars are on course to become the biggest dividing line in British politics, as they are already in the US. Some may argue that Britain is not Europe (post-Brexit). But those that cling to that life-raft of hope are surely deluding themselves. The European young are addicts to screen-time and to (mainly American-led) social media. The woke-populist divide was Luntz’s key focus, albeit on a definition of Populism that is lacking, defined as being simply ‘not-woke.’ His analysis has caught the attention. However, in amongst the 3k interviews on which the survey was based, is a relatively less noticed underside; It is as important, maybe even more important than his headline thesis. It showed that British voters are as fed up with business as they are with politicians, whom they revile as self-seeking mercenaries. They reject the corporate, money-centred, Wall Street-centred ethos; they resent the big disparity of wealth, and the young regard Capitalism as a dirty word: To be a capitalist is to place a big red target ‘X’ on one’s front. See this video interview:

Just focus on these three take-aways. They are stunning:

  1. In response to the statement: “when I look at the corporate leaders and how they treat us, I just think ‘fuck them all’”, 77% of respondents either agreed or were neutral, and only 23% disagreed.
  2. Less than half the country (43%) feels “invested” in the UK. Worse, only 27% feel that the UK is invested in them. “That is the single most alarming finding because it suggests rougher times ahead,” Luntz warns.
  3. “The core component of both populism and wokeism is that the economic and political systems (and the people who run them), are stacked against you, no matter what you do,” says Luntz. Both sides use this same weaponised rhetoric against each other. The perception of a rigged system already exists among more than a third of the population.

There is a marked difference among generations. The old remain relatively untouched by these new currents swirling through their societies, but a significant proportion of the young (say under 50 years) are turning their back on the system, and on their country. 22% of voters believe Britain has failed them. 37% of voters said the UK was ‘institutionally racist, and discriminatory.’ Less than half the population (44%) believe the next generation will have a better quality of life than they do. And you think that when the pandemic pulls back, and the economy opens, we will be returning to the ‘Old Normal’? You think that when the corporate economy cranks back into life, the popular ‘feelgood factor’ will surge? No way. Say farewell to the ‘Old Normal.’ Faith in democracy itself is at an all-time low. When 70% of the population think their representatives are in politics either for themselves, or their party, you have a problem. But when the voters think they’re either “ignored” or “irrelevant” or both, you have a crisis.

We gave people 18 different descriptions of how British economic leaders make people feel. The result: eight of the top ten choices were negative attributes, led by “disappointed” and “ignored.” We then asked a simple question about what the public thinks business and economic leaders in Britain care about most. The Top Four results were decidedly negative. ‘Profit over people’, ‘They put shareholders first, not ordinary people’, ‘Excessive CEO/executive compensation’ and ‘Avoids paying taxes’

What do the younger generations want? Their response to the question: “what is the single most important objective of the government” should serve to tell us precisely which way the wind blows: Protecting the poorest, weakest and most vulnerable is #1. When do you hear sentiments such as that coming from Europe’s political élites? “Fuck them all” was the overwhelming voter response to its leaders, with only 20% in disagreement. You don’t see it? You think it will be Cabaret time, 1920s style, when the economy fully opens, and we all party? Research from the Institute of Economic Affairs confirms Luntz’s findings that younger people are deeply hostile to capitalism, and hold positive views of socialist alternatives: 67% say they would like to live under a socialist economic system; 75% agree with the assertion that climate change is a specifically capitalist problem; 78% blame capitalism too, for Britain’s housing crisis. The IEA suggests its own findings should serve as a wake-up call to supporters of the market economy. Luntz reports that even the word ‘capitalism’ itself has become a disaster. His polling and focus groups show its connotations to be all uniformly negative. Perhaps this hostility goes some way to explain the paradox troubling US bank forecasters as to why unfilled job openings are soaring, whilst unemployment remains high. Is it perhaps the case that those who are presently unemployed are simply saying “fuck these jobs,” at least whilst the Biden ‘stimmy’ cheques continue? Many have had it with the work regime of employers like Amazon. The internal convulsions of the US, however, are one thing. But the implosion of social trust and now personal safety in the US, following the ‘defund the police’ campaign, is radiating out across the globe. If the imprecarity of our times, compounded by the virus, is making us nervous and tense, it may also be because we intuit that a way of life, a way of economics too, is coming to its end. If so, Dr Luntz would say, our intuition hits the nail.

The fear of social upheaval sows distrust. It can produce the spiritual state that Emile Durkheim called anomie, a feeling of being disconnected from society; a conviction that the world around one is illegitimate and corrupt, that you are invisible, a ‘number,’ a helpless object of hostile repression imposed by ‘the system,’ a feeling that nobody is to be trusted. People today live in what the late sociologist Zygmunt Bauman called liquid modernity. All the traits that were once assigned to you by your community are now being redefined by woke doctrine, according to how you look, and according to fixed categories, irrespective of your sense of your own self, your own ethics, your biological gender, your education, your human merits, and the place and ties associated with your historic belonging. Biology no longer applies. Your gender is not what you thought. It is liquid, and can and perhaps should be changed. You are ‘white,’ therefore supremacist; you are ‘white,’ therefore racist; élite, therefore privileged. Lintz concludes:

Wokeism radically challenges the system. ‘You’ have not succeeded by your own efforts, or merits. You have succeeded by virtue of your visible identity alone. That identity reaches back hundreds of years, and precisely rests on opportunities deliberately denied to others. Therefore any semblance of success you have had in life is illegitimate. It is not deserved. And it is right to take it from you. Wokeism is truly hostile to history, culture and tradition. They don’t respect it, and they insist they are right. It is not up for debate. If you become Woke, you reject everything around you. You reject other people’s success. You identify them by how they look rather than what they have achieved, and I am so pessimistic because of the combination of wokeism, social media and politics. Politics divides the country, seeks to weaponise the language of wokeism, and social media allows you to disseminate it. It is getting worse in the US, you are getting worse here. It’s not what you want, but it’s coming anyway. There’s no vaccine to stop it.

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