Monday, December 29, 2008

Bloody Gaza

Let's begin with a fact. Gazans chose Hamas in a fair election to represent them. The Palestinians in Gaza's choice neither sat well with the Palestinian Authority nor Israel nor the United States nor some Arab government and members of the European Union. Under international law, Hamas is a legitimate government, even though the US and Israel have branded it a 'terrorist state'. Saying this, it is important to put Israel's over the top bombing of Gaza, into perspective. It is no secret that Hamas doesn't recognise the Israeli state; two, that Israel has conducted at times low level and at other times like today open warfare against Hamas; that Jerusalem has unsuccessfully tried through starvation, assassinations, bombings, temporary invasion, closed borders, the withholding of food, medical supplies, heating oil, and other basic essentials for daily life, among other things from the Palestinians in Gaza, as a spur for them to rise up and overthrow Hamas. It hasn't happened, and it won't, for the simple and plain reason that the Palestinians recognise Israeli policy for what it is: collective punishment of a people against a government that it freely elected! It is also true that Hamas retaliated against Israel by launching home made Qassam rockets on Israeli settlements near them. Rocket attacks have not made life easier for Israel but on the whole, it has not brought the degree of fear, death, and destruction that Jerusalem has visited on Gazans.Hamas is not as skilful as Israel in presenting its case, but in the latest Israeli massive bombings of Gaza, one thing is sure, as Andrew Cordesman rightly observed in the 28 December edition of 'the Washington Post', that the Israeli bombings won't have a decisive effect on Hamas; on the contrary, it will cement Gazans' bond more firmly with it.Some might say, well, the fault lies with Hamas for not renewing the cease fire truce with Israel. And they may be right. But Hamas was at its wits end by the never ending embargo imposed by Israel on the necessities of daily life and the selected and targeted assassinations, and so it responded by lobbing rockets again in Israel. A move which Jerusalem anticipated and welcomed and accordingly responded with all stops pulled out.In today's edition of Ha Aretz [29 December 2008], Gideon Levy's 'The neighbourhood bully strikes again' exposed Israel's hand. 'For two and a half years, the [Hamas government] have been caged and ostracised by the whole world. The line of [Israeli thinking] that states that through war [the Kadima led government] will gain new allies in the Strip; that abusing the population and killing its sons will sear this into their consciousness; and that a military operation would suffice in toppling an entrenched regime and thus replace it with another friendlier to [Israel] is no more than lunacy.Levy goes on to posit that war against Hamas will refurbish Israel's bloodied coat of arms in the 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. Far from it, it will expose Israel's weakness in suppressing Hamas and transforming Palestine into a colony. If anyone is looking for a parallel, he should simply cast an eye on the US/Nato war in Afghanistan against the resurgent Taliban. The simple fact that the might of Nato forces cannot mate Taliban shows that they are on the short end of the stick of victory. And so is Israel in Gaza.The world's media with some exceptions, have virtually ceased to exercise critical thinking, and have swallowed whole hog Jerusalem's and Washington's version of events. If the Israel generals had any sense of history they would know that the carpet bombing of North Vietnam, nor the fire bombing of Hamburg nor the destruction of Rotterdam brought the 'enemy' to its heels. It takes troops to occupy the land with its moon like cratered landscape, and Israeli military occupation is fraught with death and loss of honour. Jerusalem is trying to win points on the cheap, but that won't wash well. As Ethan Bonner in 29 December 'New York Times' on line writes, the Kadima government and its Labour minister of war Ehud Barack are looking to winning the February elections, and war against Gaza for Barack means making people forget his disastrous defeat in Lebanon at the hands of a weaker Hezbollah.No matter which way you slice it, Israel has no clean hands in the massive bombing of Gaza. It makes it look like a helpless Goliath against a stubborn, but determined Gazan David.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Joined at the hip

China and the US are twins joined at the hip. The dire economic recession has both countries reeling. The sharp drop in the US consumer's appetite has had a direct impact on China's economic steam engine of growth, and quite frankly has derailed it to varying degrees. China holds a large swarthe of US debt, and as such, is the US' prisoner, since it cannot 'dump' US treasury notes without causing its own house of economic cards to collapse. China is caught in a Chinese thumb twister since tugging on it will not improve its situation a whit. The incoming Obama administration has stronger cards to play, but won't necessarily use them in talking to China. The times call for caution and well chosen words. Guam Diary has no advice to give. It only observes. And there is much to see. Will China change the peg of its 'renminbi yuan' to the US dollar? How will it deal with the growing army of urban unemployed, as well as the mass migration of the rural poor seeking work? Will the central government know when and how to relax the iron fist, to inject new blood into a sagging economy? And then leaving human rights and Tibet and the Turkmen question aside, how will it seek to control runaway military spending which has one object in mind, to plan for war with the US.
What the Communist party of China fears most is the breaking up of a unified China, and when we say a unified China we are speaking of the mainland, not Taiwan. Today's leaders belong to a generation which has known not of the age of the war lords after the fall of the Qing dynasty and the harsh hold of colonial treaties nor necessarily the long war Japan waged against China. They are the sons and daughters of Mao Tse Tung and his long upheavals which caused much turmoil under the heavens. Today's leaders chant endless and meaningless ragas of Communisim but since the reforms of Deng Xiao ping have donned Savile Row hand tailored suits of capitalism, and it is precisely the road to capitalism which is the undoing of China today, in spite of a 'dirigiste' economy. We are spectators of a play which as yet has no closing act.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Guam Diary

Guam Diary begins on the eve of Christmas 2008. An island flying the US flag, it casts it eyes on Asia. And so, will make note of events and trends and things of interest there. For Guam Diary, Asia extends from the waters to the Pacific to the shores of the Mediterrean, from the edge of Siberia to the Indian Ocean and to the waters of the Trucial states. Saying this, Guam Diary will not scant other continents nor other happenings outside of Asia.