Our mistake was to think the Middle East wants democracyWhat we really must remember is that the entire situation is about power dressed up as religious differences, and righting imagined historical wrongs. It's always been about power. Arafat used the conflict to get rich. His uncle, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem used the Jews and nomad tribes to gain favor with Hitler, thereby gaining real estate to get rich. He then sold the land to early Jewish settlers at inflated prices.
The Sunday Times Online
June 17, 2007
So, the Palestinians have got their “two state solution”, even if it’s not quite the thing they, or the rest of the world, envisaged. The homicidal fundamentalists of Hamas now control the Gaza Strip, while the corrupt and incompetent Fatah controls the West Bank enclaves of Hebron, Nablus and Ramallah (although let’s see how long that lasts: I give it three months). That’s the choice the Palestinians have when they go to the polls: happy-go-lucky Hamas versus the good old PLO, Fatah - and the people, the voters, seem to like it.
If a third party came along that was simultaneously corrupt, incompetent, homicidal and fundamentalist it would probably clean up in Palestine. The old neocon fallacy, upon which we went to war in Iraq, was that the people of the Middle East desire nothing more than to be led by decent, secular, democratically minded politicians who wished ill upon nobody - Menzies Campbell in a headscarf. And then every time they are given a chance to vote they go for the likes of Hamas, or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran. In the case of Palestine, the election result so appalled Tony Blair that he generously invited them to have another poll and this time try to get the right result - a suggestion considered a little cheeky by most Palestinians. Which is another thing he and George Bush do not understand: the more closely identified they become with supposedly moderate forces in the Middle East (such as, laughably, Fatah), the more fervently the mass of people will side with those Bush and Blair consider extremists. This is part of what has happened in Gaza and may soon happen on the West Bank. By and large, the Arabs and the Iranians hate and mistrust us and have no great appetite for liberal democracy; rather, it seems the people of each benighted satrapy yearn only for a leader who will exert maximum violence and misery upon almost everybody else but themselves.
“We want peace, my frent,” ordinary Arabs plead with the western news crews in front of smashed homes and bombed buildings after each successive spurt of nihilistic carnage, from Basra to Beirut. And so they do, probably, just as soon as they’ve exterminated one or another local enemy - Fatah, Hamas, Sunni, Shi’ite, Kurd, bedouin, Druze and, of course, the Jews.
And the more western politicians treat democracy in each of these countries as a means to their own strategic ends and refuse to accept election results, the more democracy will be seen as just another western con trick, never to be trusted.
As the recriminations begin in Gaza, the Israelis - whom the world knows to be in the wrong in its occupation of the West Bank - will sit back and say, “See, told you, that’s what happens when these people are allowed to rule themselves”.
Both the Israeli deputy defence minister and a bunch of West Bank Jewish settlers repeatedly told me recently that the Palestinians would turn their country into “another Somalia”. Being a good western liberal I replied well, I doubt it, but that’s their right. And so it is.
But the Palestinians would seem to have exceeded even these hawkish expectations. The Gaza Strip right now makes Mogadishu look like Lucerne. The Katyusha rockets will soon be raining down on those Israeli citizens unfortunate enough to be within striking range of Gaza City - and who, then, will have the nerve to censure Israel for responding with what one imagines will be insuperable force? They knew it would happen; it did happen.
The money provides power. Without strongmen leading them by the nose, the Muslim Arabs, and their pagan tribalists before them, are simply incapable of governing themselves either as a nation, or as individuals. They not only don't want democracy, their culture is unable to meld with democracy. It simply isn't possible.
The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.