|The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by Josh Nossiter
|Shut Up, Lose the Stick
Tuesday, June 19th, 2007
|The Nossiter Net is cast to snare some of the riper rascalities of the day. Comments? email@example.com|
|The U.S. is firmly behind Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority and leader of the Fatah faction. We’re lavishing money and supplies on an organization that spent the past decades lining the pockets of its leaders, fomenting discord among the Palestinian people, and doing whatever it could, from hijacking airplanes to blowing up student cafeterias, to perpetuate the war without end with Israel.
Still, we prefer Fatah to rival Hamas. Both the U.S. and Israel consider Hamas a terrorist organization, just as Fatah was not so long ago. But Fatah now makes a pretence of wanting to negotiate a peace with Israel, while Hamas makes no bones about its desire to blow Israel up. This is somewhat ungrateful, since Hamas’ early support came from the Israelis. Israel viewed the faction as a strategic counter-weight to the enemy it knew better, Fatah. Now that Hamas has shown itself to be more rabid than its rival, the enemy of Israel’s enemy has become Israel’s enemy, while Israel’s former enemy is for the moment its former enemy. The only constant in this shifting landscape was put in a nutshell long ago by Tom Lehrer in the refrain of his song, National Brotherhood Week: “And everybody hates the Jews.” He might have added, “And the Americans.”
We’re firmly behind the government of Ethiopia, our self-declared ally in the fight against Muslim extremists in the Horn of Africa. The U.S. supplies training, weapons, and cash to Addis Ababa, whose government treats its own people with a degree of savagery rarely seen outside of places like Abu Ghraib. In Jeffrey Gettleman’s long report in yesterday’s New York Times, a Human Rights Watch official likens Ethiopian army actions against Ethiopians to crimes against humanity. But as the enemy of our enemies, the Ethiopians must be our friends.
And of course the same is true of nasty and repressive regimes in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and elsewhere. You’re either with us or against us in the war of terror. After all, it doesn’t do to be too choosy about one’s allies when you’re trying to avert Armageddon.
Or does it? We made ourselves hated throughout the world in the last war, the cold one, by supporting brutish dictatorships who draped themselves in the mantle of anti-communism. We propped up the Shah in Iran, Somoza in Nicaragua, Marcos in the Philippines, and thuggish governments from Angola to Vietnam. This was fun while it lasted, particularly for the Pentagon, the defense industry, and the CIA, but the aftermath has been messy. Hostile regimes, continuing bloodshed, and widespread misrule are unintended consequences that haunt us, and our former allies, to this day.
Of course when it was all over the menace of Armageddon turned out to exist only in the minds of the anti-Communist faithful. Communism collapsed not from our efforts but from within, brought down by its own intellectual and moral rot. The threat to civilization was in the end a threat mostly to itself. The whole exercise of forcible containment was a waste of money, lives, and good will that we and the rest of the world are still paying for.
So a thoughtful citizen might conclude that less activism on our part in the cold war would have made little difference to the outcome. More inaction might also have laid the foundation for a more stable post cold war peace. A thoughtful administration might have considered this lesson from history before embracing yet another unsavory regime in our newest war. Fatah might not be the worst government in the world, but it has brought its own people nothing but misery and violence. Surely that ought to be some sort of warning to keep clear.
Israel backed Hamas and hasn’t liked the outcome. We funded the mujahadeen, including elements of the Taliban and Al Queda, against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. That certainly came back to haunt us. Our latest strategic romance won’t turn out any differently. We’re rolling the same boulder up the same old hill, an endless repetition of the same old story from which no lesson is ever learned, no moral is ever drawn. And here’s the worst of it: unlike Sisyphus, we have a choice.
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A NOTE TO READERS
There was nothing new at The Nossiter Net between March 3rd and April 26th, nearly eight weeks. The reason: tech sabotage. Yahoo Geocities, the host for this site, denied access for the entire period. At one point, they even managed to lose all the files. In many discussions with Yahoo staff, no clear explanation was forthcoming. No one seemed able to fix the problem. Ruling out the possibility of Dubbya’s revenge, I finally wrote to Mr. Terry Semel, Chairman and CEO of Yahoo! Inc and described the ordeal the page had undergone since the beginning of March. A week later, a helpful Yahooo engineer named Jason called. He had my letter before him. Though he couldn’t do the repairs on on the spot, he promised a fix by the next day. That was April 26th, nearly two months after shutting me down in the first place.
The Nossiter Net apologizes, which is more than I can say for Yahoo Geocities.
©Joshua C. Nossiter, 2007
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