Force, provocation, disaster…. more force

US Politics
on 7 Comments


Notice the page 1 story in today’s New York Times on the internal White House debate about Afghanistan. Holbrooke and Clinton want more troops, Gates mostly agrees, Biden is opposed to the idea. The Times doesn’t say, but we know: McChrystal and Petraeus (pictured) want more troops, while Mullen is skeptical. These advisers are in these positions because Barack Obama put or kept them there. Is the outcome not as predictable as the unevenness of the fight?

The debate and its likely outcome–escalation, which carries a momentum of its own–has broad consequences for Obama’s position on Israel/Palestine. The main thing necessary to extend Israeli militarism is the sheer presence of a large
American force in the Middle East: something like the near quarter of a million
troops we are fielding in two countries today (more if you count Blackwater and
the mercenaries). More is better, from the militarizing point of view. It means
there will be no shortage of provocations and disasters, to which the U.S. will
be "compelled" to react. If the provocations and disasters are small, they can
be construed into something larger.

Every new American commitment and every fresh disappointment gives retroactive
justification to Ariel Sharon’s dictum: that force is the only thing the Arabs understand. And the only alternative to force is more force.

About David Bromwich

David Bromwich teaches literature at Yale. He is a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post and has written on politics and culture for The New Republic, The Nation, The New York Review of Books, and other magazines. He is editor of Edmund Burke's selected writings On Empire, Liberty, and Reform and co-editor of the Yale University Press edition of On Liberty.

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7 Responses

  1. seafoid
    September 4, 2009, 2:49 pm

    Force may be the only thing the arabs understand but many Americans understand Government debt run up in imperialist wars. And they can’t be run up indefinitely.

    • VR
      September 4, 2009, 8:29 pm

      “Every new American commitment and every fresh disappointment gives retroactive justification to Ariel Sharon’s dictum: that force is the only thing the Arabs understand.” (racist to the core)

      This statement is the same one no matter what the circumstances, when you wish to enslave a people. It was used in the antebellum (and post) to describe the only thing the black people understood, and what their mission in life was supposed to be to the white man, the only unspoken part in the statement of Sharon –

      Heflin speaking in the legislative chambers of Montgomery Alabama:

      “I believe as truly as I am standing here that God almighty intended the negro to be the servant of the white man…everybody knows the character of the negro and knows that there is no punishment in the world that can take the place of the lash with him. He must be controlled that way.”

      You also find the same language in all of the orientalist literature penned by the Zionist cult. They use these words because (they only understand force) to tap the deep racist undercurrent in the American psyche.


      Imperialism in other countries is nothing but the extension of their deep abiding racism and intention to enslave other nations. Zionism is a bedfellow in this process and their genocide of the Palestinians is a cause of celebration among the privileged settler states.

  2. Citizen
    September 4, 2009, 7:01 pm

    We have at least a half million troops “over there” when you count are de jure Hessians (Blackwater et al) as well as our de facto Hessians (regular, lesser paid “voluntary”) troops. And Israel keeps right on expanding its “facts on the ground” settlements in the
    OT even as it keeps giving lip service to Obama’s call for a freeze (no uprooting, just
    a freeze that never comes). And yet, despite our current depression and growing second
    big bump of it, Obama doesn’t even threaten a slow down, or actual cut-off of borrowed
    money dumped into Israel. The banks, Big Pharma, Big Banking, and Israel RULE OBAMALAND, as they did Shrubville. Obama is pissing away his credibility, especially
    amongst the Independents.

    • Citizen
      September 4, 2009, 7:02 pm

      He’s also fawning over the Insurance Industry and Ike’s military-industrial-security complex.

  3. alec
    September 5, 2009, 12:04 am

    Change at the highest echelons has to happen slowly.

    But as the financial bills for these misadventures continue to fall due (not to mention the human costs: about 5000 soldiers dead and over 30000 wounded), the Titanic continues to list.

    What happens to people who are underwater with their mortgages? Eventually they just have to give it up and their property is taken away from them. It appears that there is a bigger grab going on, as a lot of the top banks used the crisis as a chance to buy out and bankrupt their smaller and more independent competitors.

    Extreme financial crisis is an opportunity to privatize everything. At that point, the state will break down and one will be left with a fractured nation, like the Italian city states and later the patchwork German princedoms. The infighting will eventually drain all parties and the fractured lands will fall to external powers.

    Call it the natural failure of capitalism. Living through such episodes is not pleasant. It would be nice if the Obama White House would put ruin off for some years by shutting down the expensive foreign misadventures.

    • VR
      September 5, 2009, 12:18 am

      “It would be nice if the Obama White House would put ruin off for some years by shutting down the expensive foreign misadventures.”

      It would be nice Alec, but they won’t, why not? That is because “empire” never serves the people, it only serves the interests of the few. In fact, the government has never served the interests of the people unless they were forced to do so. That is because government (in most cases) is nothing but the franchise of the elite, not of by and for the people. Unless of course it is the new “we the people,” moneyed corporations which are nothing but the instruments of the few.

      • Citizen
        September 5, 2009, 7:36 am

        You tell it like it is (and always has been), V.

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