ISRAEL’S BOOMING SECRETIVE ARMS TRADE – MERCHANTS OF DEATH

Jonathan-CookJonathan Cook is an award winning British Journalist who has lived in Nazareth since 2001.

From his unique perspective on the ground, he has written three books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This is his latest column that appeared in Al-Jazeera August 16, 2013 israel-palestine-war-peace mazeand re-posted here with his permission. He does not get much exposure in the Western news media, but he should.

Nazareth, Israel – Israel’s secretive arms trade is booming as never before, according to the latest export figures. But it is also coming under mounting scrutiny as some analysts argue that Israel has grown dependent on exploiting the suffering of Palestinians for military and economic gain.

A new documentary, called The Lab, has led the way in turning the spotlight on Israel’s arms industry. It claims that four million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have Prevent_Holocaust_BOMB_IRANbecome little more than guinea pigs in military experiments designed to enrich a new elite of arms dealers and former generals.

The film’s release this month in the United States follows news that Israeli sales of weapons and military systems hit a record high last year of $7.5bn, up from $5.8bn the previous year. A decade ago, Israeli exports were worth less than $2bn.

Israel is now ranked as one of the world’s largest arms exporters – a considerable achievement for a country smaller than New York.

Yotam Feldman, director of The Lab and a former journalist with Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, says Israel has turned the occupied territories into a laboratory for refining, testing and showcasing its weapons systems.

His argument is supported by other analysts who have examined Israel’s military industries.

Neve Gordon, a politics professor at Ben Gurion University, said: “You only have to read the brochures published by the arms industry in Israel. It’s all in there. What they are selling is Israel’s ‘experience’ and expertise gained from the occupation and its conflicts with its neighbours.”

Inside Story – The shift in global arms trade

Pre 1948 to TodayAnother analyst, Jeff Halper, who is writing a book on Israel’s role in the international homeland security industry, has gone further. He argues that Israel’s success at selling its know-how to powerful states means it has grown ever more averse to returning the occupied territories to the Palestinians in a peace agreement.

“The occupied territiories are crucial as a laboratory not just in terms of Israel’s internal security, but because they have allowed Israel to become pivotal to the global homeland security industry.

“Other states need Israel’s expertise, and that ensures its place at the table with the big players. It gives Israel international influence way out of keeping with its size. In turn, the hegemonic states exert no real pressure on Israel to give up the occupied territories because of their mutually reinforcing interests.”

Suggestions that Israel is exploiting the occupied territories for economic and military gain come at a sensitive moment for Israel, as it returns this week to long-stalled negotiations with the Palestinians. The commitment of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to the talks has already been widely questioned.

Booming arms sales

Israel’s growing success at marketing its military wares to overseas buyers was highlighted in June when defence analysts Jane’s ranked Israel in sixth place for arms exports, ahead of China and Italy, both major weapons producers.

However, Israel’s own figures, which include additional covert trade, place it in fourth place ahead of Britain and Germany, and surpassed only by the United States, Russia and France.

Shemaya Avieli, the head of Sibat, the Israeli defence ministry’s agency promoting arms exports, said at a press conference last month that the record figure had been a surprise given the “very significant economic The Separation Wallchallenge” posed by the worldwide economic downturn.

The [Israeli] defence minister doesn’t only deal with wars, he also makes sure the defence industry is busy selling goods.

– Leo Gleser, specialist in developing weapons markets in Latin America

The arms-related trade is reported to account for somewhere between one-tenth and one-fifth of Israel’s exports. The main buyers are Asian countries, especially India, Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and Latin America.

The importance of the arms trade to Israel can be gauged by a simple mathematical calculation. Last year Israel earned nearly $1,000 from the arms trade per head of population – several times the per capita income the US derives from military sales.

Israel’s reliance on the arms industry was underscored in June when a local court forced officials to publish data revealing that some 6,800 Israelis are actively engaged in exporting arms.

Separately, Ehud Barak, the defence minister in the previous Israeli government, has revealed that 150,000 Israeli households – or about one in 10 people in the country – depend economically on its military industries.

These disclosures aside, Israel has been loath to lift the shroud of secrecy that envelopes much of its arms trade. In recent court hearings it has argued that further revelations would harm “national security and foreign relations”.

‘People like to buy things that have been tested’

Feldman’s film – which won an award at DocAviv, Israel’s documentary Oscars – shows arms dealers, army commanders and government ministers speaking frankly about the way the trade has become the engine of Israel’s economic success during the global recession.

Leo Gleser, who specialises in developing new weapons markets in Latin America, observes: “The [Israeli] defence minister doesn’t only deal with wars, he also makes sure the defence industry is busy selling goods.”

prisonersThe Lab suggests that arms sales have been steadily rising since 2002, when Israel reversed its withdrawals from Palestinian territory initiated by the Oslo accords. The Israeli army reinvaded the West Bank and Gaza in an operation known as Defensive Shield.

There’s a lot of hypocrisy: they condemn you politically, while they ask you what your trick is, you Israelis, for turning blood into money.

– Yoav Galant, head of the Israeli army’s southern command during Cast Lead

In parallel, many retired army officers moved into the new high-tech field. There they found a chance to test their security ideas, including developing systems for long-term surveillance, control and subjugation of “enemy” populations.

241_cartoon_us_arms_aid_middle_east_large

The biggest surge in the arms trade followed Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s month-long attack on Gaza in winter 2008-09 that provoked international condemnation. More MIDEAST ISRAEL PALESTINIANSthan 1,400 Palestinians were killed, as well as 13 Israelis. Sales that year reached $6bn for the first time.

Benjamin Ben Eliezer, a former defence minister turned industry minister, attributes Israel’s success to the fact that “people like to buy things that have been tested. If Israel sells weapons, they have been tested, tried out. We can say we’ve used this 10 years, 15 years.”

Nonetheless, The Lab‘s argument has proved controversial with some security experts. Shlomo Bron, a former air force general who now works at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, rejected the film’s premise.

“It may be true that in practice the military uses the occupied territories as a laboratory, but that is just an unfortunate effect of our conflict with the Palestinians. And we sell to other countries only because Israel itself is too small a market.”

The film highlights the kind of innovations for which Israel has been feted by overseas security services. It pioneered the airborne drones that are now at the heart of the US programme of extra-judicial executions in the Eviction from the landMiddle East.

Israel hopes to repeat that success with missile interception systems such as Iron Dome, which was much on display when rockets were fired out of Gaza during last year’s Operation Pillar of Cloud.

Futuristic weapons

The Lab also underscores the Israeli arms industry’s success in developing futuristic weapons, such as the gun that shoots around corners. The bullet-bending firearm caught Hollywood’s attention, with Angelina Jolie wielding it – and effectively marketing it – in the 2008 film Wanted.

Halper believes that Israel has made itself useful to powerful states not just in terms of developing weapons systems, but by becoming particularly successful at what he terms “niche-filling”.

“The United States, for example, knows better than anyone how to attack other countries, as it did with Iraq and Afghanistan. Israel can’t teach it much on that score. But the US doesn’t have much idea what to do after the attack, how to pacify the population. That is where Israel steps in and offers its expertise.”

Palestinian Identity checksThis point is underscored in The Lab. Its unlikeliest stars are former Israeli officers turned academics, whose theories have helped to guide the Israeli army and hi-tech companies in developing new military techniques and strategies much sought-after by foreign militaries.

Shimon Naveh, a military philosopher, is shown pacing through a mock Arab village that provided the canvas on which he devised a new theory of urban warfare to deal with the second Palestinian intifada, after it erupted in late 2000.

 
UN states fail to reach arms trade treaty

SONY DSCIn the run-up to an attack in 2002 on Nablus’ casbah, much feared by the Israeli army for its labyrinthine layout, he suggested that the soldiers move not through the alleyways, where they would be easy targets, but unseen through the buildings, knocking holes through the walls that separated the houses.

Naveh’s idea became the key to crushing Palestinian armed resistance, exposing the only places – in the heart of overcrowded cities and refugee camps – where Palestinian fighters could still find sanctuary from Israeli surveillance.

Another expert, Yitzhak Ben Israel, a former general who is now a professor at Tel Aviv University, helped to develop a mathematical formula for the Israeli military that predicts the likely success of assassination programmes to end organised resistance.

Ben Israel’s calculus proved to the army that a Palestinian cell planning an attack could be destroyed with high probability by “neutralising” as few as one-fifth of its fighters.

Cast LeadThis merging of theory, hardware and repeated “testing” in the field has had armies, police forces and the homeland security industries lining up to buy Israeli know-how, Feldman argues. The lessons learned in Gaza and the West Bank have also had applications in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Yoav Galant, the head of the Israeli army’s southern command during Cast Lead, however, criticises the double standards of the international community.

“While certain countries in Europe or Asia condemned us for attacking civilians, they sent their officers here, and I briefed generals from 10 countries,” he says. “There’s a lot of hypocrisy: they condemn you politically, while they ask you what your trick is, you Israelis, for turning blood into money.”

A spokesman for the Israeli defence ministry called the arguments made in The Lab “flawed and illogical”.

“Our success in defence industries reflects the fact that Israel has had to be resourceful and creative faced with an existential threat for more than 60 years as well as a series of wars with the Arab world.”

My interest in this report calls me to question such a fundamental conflict of interest. Examining the reality in this world, the American-Israeli Axis proliferates more israel-cartoon-iran-drone-un-turing-a-blind-eye-on-dimonaWeapons of War, Death, Destruction and Intimidation to the world than all other Nations combined. These two Nations claim to behave with the highest morality, integrity and standards of Almighty God.

When, O LORD, will you fulfill the words of your Servant, The Prophet?

the word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and ALL NATIONS shall flow unto it.
And many people shall go and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

O house of Jacob, come, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.
Therefore you have forsaken your people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers.
Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots:
Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made:

And the mean man bows down, and the great man humbles himself: therefore forgive them not.
Enter into the rock, and hide yourself in the dust, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty.

The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.
For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low:
And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan,
And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up,
And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall,
And upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures.

And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.
And the idols he shall utterly abolish.
And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he arises to shake terribly the earth.
In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats;
To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he arises to shake terribly the earth.
Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?

Isaiah 2

gaza

For more information supporting the premise of Jonathan Cook’s article, follow the link below.

Reading Jeff Halper’s ‘War Against the People: Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification’

Israel’s booming secretive arms trade

18 August 2013

Al-Jazeera – 16 August 2013

Israel’s secretive arms trade is booming as never before, according to the latest export figures. But it is also coming under mounting scrutiny as some analysts argue that Israel has grown dependent on exploiting the suffering of Palestinians for military and economic gain.

A new documentary, called The Lab, has led the way in turning the spotlight on Israel’s arms industry. It claims that four million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have become little more than guinea pigs in military experiments designed to enrich a new elite of arms dealers and former generals.

The film’s release this month in the United States follows news that Israeli sales of weapons and military systems hit a record high last year of $7.5bn, up from $5.8bn the previous year. A decade ago, Israeli exports were worth less than $2bn.

Israel is now ranked as one of the world’s largest arms exporters – a considerable achievement for a country smaller than New York.

Yotam Feldman, director of The Lab and a former journalist with Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, says Israel has turned the occupied territories into a laboratory for refining, testing and showcasing its weapons systems.

His argument is supported by other analysts who have examined Israel’s military industries.

Neve Gordon, a politics professor at Ben Gurion University, said: “You only have to read the brochures published by the arms industry in Israel. It’s all in there. What they are selling is Israel’s ‘experience’ and expertise gained from the occupation and its conflicts with its neighbours.”

Another analyst, Jeff Halper, who is writing a book on Israel’s role in the international homeland security industry, has gone further. He argues that Israel’s success at selling its know-how to powerful states means it has grown ever more averse to returning the occupied territories to the Palestinians in a peace agreement.

“The occupied territiories are crucial as a laboratory not just in terms of Israel’s internal security, but because they have allowed Israel to become pivotal to the global homeland security industry.

“Other states need Israel’s expertise, and that ensures its place at the table with the big players. It gives Israel international influence way out of keeping with its size. In turn, the hegemonic states exert no real pressure on Israel to give up the occupied territories because of their mutually reinforcing interests.”

Suggestions that Israel is exploiting the occupied territories for economic and military gain come at a sensitive moment for Israel, as it returns this week to long-stalled negotiations with the Palestinians. The commitment of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to the talks has already been widely questioned.

Booming arms sales

Israel’s growing success at marketing its military wares to overseas buyers was highlighted in June when defence analysts Jane’s ranked Israel in sixth place for arms exports, ahead of China and Italy, both major weapons producers.

However, Israel’s own figures, which include additional covert trade, place it in fourth place ahead of Britain and Germany, and surpassed only by the United States, Russia and France.

Shemaya Avieli, the head of Sibat, the Israeli defence ministry’s agency promoting arms exports, said at a press conference last month that the record figure had been a surprise given the “very significant economic challenge” posed by the worldwide economic downturn.

The arms-related trade is reported to account for somewhere between one-tenth and one-fifth of Israel’s exports. The main buyers are Asian countries, especially India, Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and Latin America.

The importance of the arms trade to Israel can be gauged by a simple mathematical calculation. Last year Israel earned nearly $1,000 from the arms trade per head of population – several times the per capita income the US derives from military sales.

Israel’s reliance on the arms industry was underscored in June when a local court forced officials to publish data revealing that some 6,800 Israelis are actively engaged in exporting arms.

Separately, Ehud Barak, the defence minister in the previous Israeli government, has revealed that 150,000 Israeli households – or about one in 10 people in the country – depend economically on its military industries.

These disclosures aside, Israel has been loath to lift the shroud of secrecy that envelopes much of its arms trade. In recent court hearings it has argued that further revelations would harm “national security and foreign relations”.

‘People like to buy things that have been tested’

Feldman’s film – which won an award at DocAviv, Israel’s documentary Oscars – shows arms dealers, army commanders and government ministers speaking frankly about the way the trade has become the engine of Israel’s economic success during the global recession.

Leo Gleser, who specialises in developing new weapons markets in Latin America, observes: “The [Israeli] defence minister doesn’t only deal with wars, he also makes sure the defence industry is busy selling goods.”

The Lab suggests that arms sales have been steadily rising since 2002, when Israel reversed its withdrawals from Palestinian territory initiated by the Oslo accords. The Israeli army reinvaded the West Bank and Gaza in an operation known as Defensive Shield.

In parallel, many retired army officers moved into the new high-tech field. There they found a chance to test their security ideas, including developing systems for long-term surveillance, control and subjugation of “enemy” populations.

The biggest surge in the arms trade followed Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s month-long attack on Gaza in winter 2008-09 that provoked international condemnation. More than 1,400 Palestinians were killed, as well as 13 Israelis. Sales that year reached $6bn for the first time.

Benjamin Ben Eliezer, a former defence minister turned industry minister, attributes Israel’s success to the fact that “people like to buy things that have been tested. If Israel sells weapons, they have been tested, tried out. We can say we’ve used this 10 years, 15 years.”

Nonetheless, The Lab’s argument has proved controversial with some security experts. Shlomo Bron, a former air force general who now works at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, rejected the film’s premise.

“It may be true that in practice the military uses the occupied territories as a laboratory, but that is just an unfortunate effect of our conflict with the Palestinians. And we sell to other countries only because Israel itself is too small a market.”

The film highlights the kind of innovations for which Israel has been feted by overseas security services. It pioneered the airborne drones that are now at the heart of the US programme of extra-judicial executions in the Middle East.

Israel hopes to repeat that success with missile interception systems such as Iron Dome, which was much on display when rockets were fired out of Gaza during last year’s Operation Pillar of Cloud.

Futuristic weapons

The Lab also underscores the Israeli arms industry’s success in developing futuristic weapons, such as the gun that shoots around corners. The bullet-bending firearm caught Hollywood’s attention, with Angelina Jolie wielding it – and effectively marketing it – in the 2008 film Wanted.

Halper believes that Israel has made itself useful to powerful states not just in terms of developing weapons systems, but by becoming particularly successful at what he terms “niche-filling”.

“The United States, for example, knows better than anyone how to attack other countries, as it did with Iraq and Afghanistan. Israel can’t teach it much on that score. But the US doesn’t have much idea what to do after the attack, how to pacify the population. That is where Israel steps in and offers its expertise.”

This point is underscored in The Lab. Its unlikeliest stars are former Israeli officers turned academics, whose theories have helped to guide the Israeli army and hi-tech companies in developing new military techniques and strategies much sought-after by foreign militaries.

Shimon Naveh, a military philosopher, is shown pacing through a mock Arab village that provided the canvas on which he devised a new theory of urban warfare to deal with the second Palestinian intifada, after it erupted in late 2000.

In the run-up to an attack in 2002 on Nablus’ casbah, much feared by the Israeli army for its labyrinthine layout, he suggested that the soldiers move not through the alleyways, where they would be easy targets, but unseen through the buildings, knocking holes through the walls that separated the houses.

Naveh’s idea became the key to crushing Palestinian armed resistance, exposing the only places – in the heart of overcrowded cities and refugee camps – where Palestinian fighters could still find sanctuary from Israeli surveillance.

Another expert, Yitzhak Ben Israel, a former general who is now a professor at Tel Aviv University, helped to develop a mathematical formula for the Israeli military that predicts the likely success of assassination programmes to end organised resistance.

Ben Israel’s calculus proved to the army that a Palestinian cell planning an attack could be destroyed with high probability by “neutralising” as few as one-fifth of its fighters.

This merging of theory, hardware and repeated “testing” in the field has had armies, police forces and the homeland security industries lining up to buy Israeli know-how, Feldman argues. The lessons learned in Gaza and the West Bank have also had applications in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Yoav Galant, the head of the Israeli army’s southern command during Cast Lead, however, criticises the double standards of the international community.

“While certain countries in Europe or Asia condemned us for attacking civilians, they sent their officers here, and I briefed generals from 10 countries,” he says. “There’s a lot of hypocrisy: they condemn you politically, while they ask you what your trick is, you Israelis, for turning blood into money.”

A spokesman for the Israeli defence ministry called the arguments made in The Lab “flawed and illogical”.

“Our success in defence industries reflects the fact that Israel has had to be resourceful and creative faced with an existential threat for more than 60 years as well as a series of wars with the Arab world.”

– See more at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net/2013-08-18/israels-booming-secretive-arms-trade/#sthash.nm2M6NtF.dpuf

Israel’s booming secretive arms trade

18 August 2013

Al-Jazeera – 16 August 2013

Israel’s secretive arms trade is booming as never before, according to the latest export figures. But it is also coming under mounting scrutiny as some analysts argue that Israel has grown dependent on exploiting the suffering of Palestinians for military and economic gain.

A new documentary, called The Lab, has led the way in turning the spotlight on Israel’s arms industry. It claims that four million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have become little more than guinea pigs in military experiments designed to enrich a new elite of arms dealers and former generals.

The film’s release this month in the United States follows news that Israeli sales of weapons and military systems hit a record high last year of $7.5bn, up from $5.8bn the previous year. A decade ago, Israeli exports were worth less than $2bn.

Israel is now ranked as one of the world’s largest arms exporters – a considerable achievement for a country smaller than New York.

Yotam Feldman, director of The Lab and a former journalist with Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, says Israel has turned the occupied territories into a laboratory for refining, testing and showcasing its weapons systems.

His argument is supported by other analysts who have examined Israel’s military industries.

Neve Gordon, a politics professor at Ben Gurion University, said: “You only have to read the brochures published by the arms industry in Israel. It’s all in there. What they are selling is Israel’s ‘experience’ and expertise gained from the occupation and its conflicts with its neighbours.”

Another analyst, Jeff Halper, who is writing a book on Israel’s role in the international homeland security industry, has gone further. He argues that Israel’s success at selling its know-how to powerful states means it has grown ever more averse to returning the occupied territories to the Palestinians in a peace agreement.

“The occupied territiories are crucial as a laboratory not just in terms of Israel’s internal security, but because they have allowed Israel to become pivotal to the global homeland security industry.

“Other states need Israel’s expertise, and that ensures its place at the table with the big players. It gives Israel international influence way out of keeping with its size. In turn, the hegemonic states exert no real pressure on Israel to give up the occupied territories because of their mutually reinforcing interests.”

Suggestions that Israel is exploiting the occupied territories for economic and military gain come at a sensitive moment for Israel, as it returns this week to long-stalled negotiations with the Palestinians. The commitment of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to the talks has already been widely questioned.

Booming arms sales

Israel’s growing success at marketing its military wares to overseas buyers was highlighted in June when defence analysts Jane’s ranked Israel in sixth place for arms exports, ahead of China and Italy, both major weapons producers.

However, Israel’s own figures, which include additional covert trade, place it in fourth place ahead of Britain and Germany, and surpassed only by the United States, Russia and France.

Shemaya Avieli, the head of Sibat, the Israeli defence ministry’s agency promoting arms exports, said at a press conference last month that the record figure had been a surprise given the “very significant economic challenge” posed by the worldwide economic downturn.

The arms-related trade is reported to account for somewhere between one-tenth and one-fifth of Israel’s exports. The main buyers are Asian countries, especially India, Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and Latin America.

The importance of the arms trade to Israel can be gauged by a simple mathematical calculation. Last year Israel earned nearly $1,000 from the arms trade per head of population – several times the per capita income the US derives from military sales.

Israel’s reliance on the arms industry was underscored in June when a local court forced officials to publish data revealing that some 6,800 Israelis are actively engaged in exporting arms.

Separately, Ehud Barak, the defence minister in the previous Israeli government, has revealed that 150,000 Israeli households – or about one in 10 people in the country – depend economically on its military industries.

These disclosures aside, Israel has been loath to lift the shroud of secrecy that envelopes much of its arms trade. In recent court hearings it has argued that further revelations would harm “national security and foreign relations”.

‘People like to buy things that have been tested’

Feldman’s film – which won an award at DocAviv, Israel’s documentary Oscars – shows arms dealers, army commanders and government ministers speaking frankly about the way the trade has become the engine of Israel’s economic success during the global recession.

Leo Gleser, who specialises in developing new weapons markets in Latin America, observes: “The [Israeli] defence minister doesn’t only deal with wars, he also makes sure the defence industry is busy selling goods.”

The Lab suggests that arms sales have been steadily rising since 2002, when Israel reversed its withdrawals from Palestinian territory initiated by the Oslo accords. The Israeli army reinvaded the West Bank and Gaza in an operation known as Defensive Shield.

In parallel, many retired army officers moved into the new high-tech field. There they found a chance to test their security ideas, including developing systems for long-term surveillance, control and subjugation of “enemy” populations.

The biggest surge in the arms trade followed Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s month-long attack on Gaza in winter 2008-09 that provoked international condemnation. More than 1,400 Palestinians were killed, as well as 13 Israelis. Sales that year reached $6bn for the first time.

Benjamin Ben Eliezer, a former defence minister turned industry minister, attributes Israel’s success to the fact that “people like to buy things that have been tested. If Israel sells weapons, they have been tested, tried out. We can say we’ve used this 10 years, 15 years.”

Nonetheless, The Lab’s argument has proved controversial with some security experts. Shlomo Bron, a former air force general who now works at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, rejected the film’s premise.

“It may be true that in practice the military uses the occupied territories as a laboratory, but that is just an unfortunate effect of our conflict with the Palestinians. And we sell to other countries only because Israel itself is too small a market.”

The film highlights the kind of innovations for which Israel has been feted by overseas security services. It pioneered the airborne drones that are now at the heart of the US programme of extra-judicial executions in the Middle East.

Israel hopes to repeat that success with missile interception systems such as Iron Dome, which was much on display when rockets were fired out of Gaza during last year’s Operation Pillar of Cloud.

Futuristic weapons

The Lab also underscores the Israeli arms industry’s success in developing futuristic weapons, such as the gun that shoots around corners. The bullet-bending firearm caught Hollywood’s attention, with Angelina Jolie wielding it – and effectively marketing it – in the 2008 film Wanted.

Halper believes that Israel has made itself useful to powerful states not just in terms of developing weapons systems, but by becoming particularly successful at what he terms “niche-filling”.

“The United States, for example, knows better than anyone how to attack other countries, as it did with Iraq and Afghanistan. Israel can’t teach it much on that score. But the US doesn’t have much idea what to do after the attack, how to pacify the population. That is where Israel steps in and offers its expertise.”

This point is underscored in The Lab. Its unlikeliest stars are former Israeli officers turned academics, whose theories have helped to guide the Israeli army and hi-tech companies in developing new military techniques and strategies much sought-after by foreign militaries.

Shimon Naveh, a military philosopher, is shown pacing through a mock Arab village that provided the canvas on which he devised a new theory of urban warfare to deal with the second Palestinian intifada, after it erupted in late 2000.

In the run-up to an attack in 2002 on Nablus’ casbah, much feared by the Israeli army for its labyrinthine layout, he suggested that the soldiers move not through the alleyways, where they would be easy targets, but unseen through the buildings, knocking holes through the walls that separated the houses.

Naveh’s idea became the key to crushing Palestinian armed resistance, exposing the only places – in the heart of overcrowded cities and refugee camps – where Palestinian fighters could still find sanctuary from Israeli surveillance.

Another expert, Yitzhak Ben Israel, a former general who is now a professor at Tel Aviv University, helped to develop a mathematical formula for the Israeli military that predicts the likely success of assassination programmes to end organised resistance.

Ben Israel’s calculus proved to the army that a Palestinian cell planning an attack could be destroyed with high probability by “neutralising” as few as one-fifth of its fighters.

This merging of theory, hardware and repeated “testing” in the field has had armies, police forces and the homeland security industries lining up to buy Israeli know-how, Feldman argues. The lessons learned in Gaza and the West Bank have also had applications in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Yoav Galant, the head of the Israeli army’s southern command during Cast Lead, however, criticises the double standards of the international community.

“While certain countries in Europe or Asia condemned us for attacking civilians, they sent their officers here, and I briefed generals from 10 countries,” he says. “There’s a lot of hypocrisy: they condemn you politically, while they ask you what your trick is, you Israelis, for turning blood into money.”

A spokesman for the Israeli defence ministry called the arguments made in The Lab “flawed and illogical”.

“Our success in defence industries reflects the fact that Israel has had to be resourceful and creative faced with an existential threat for more than 60 years as well as a series of wars with the Arab world.”

– See more at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net/2013-08-18/israels-booming-secretive-arms-trade/#sthash.nm2M6NtF.dpuf

is an award-winning British journalist based in Nazareth, Israel, since 2001. – See more at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net/about/#sthash.d27xWoeB.dpuf

Jonathan Cook is an award-winning British journalist based in Nazareth, Israel, since 2001.

He is the author of three books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

  • Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish State (2006)
  • Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (2008)
  • Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (2008)

– See more at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net/about/#sthash.d27xWoeB.dpuf

Jonathan Cook is an award-winning British journalist based in Nazareth, Israel, since 2001.

He is the author of three books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

  • Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish State (2006)
  • Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (2008)
  • Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (2008)

– See more at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net/about/#sthash.d27xWoeB.dpuf

A HOUSE DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF CANNOT STAND

Forced DemocracyProfessor Richard Falk is an International Law and International Relations Scholar who taught at Prinston University for 40 years. He is also the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Palestinian Rights under Israeli Military Occupation. falk

He has accepted this thankless job reporting in his Professorial style of writing, the facts on on an occupying power breaching International Law governing the rules for military governance of a people that lived on the land before it was captured in war. He is also Jewish, and the Jew Israelis love to hate.

I first learned of him a few years ago reading in the news about the Secretary-General of The United Nations and the US Ambassador to the UN wanting him fired from his voluntary UN position. Without knowing any of the details, my 1st thought was he must be doing something right. gaza_war_crimes_by_latuff21

Upon further investigation I understood why some special Beatitudesinterests would want to silence this gentle, intelligent, lucid, insightful and reasonable Law Professor reporting Israeli violations of International Law without prejudice from the unbiased perspective of a Scholar in International Law.For those having the mind and patience to read, weigh and consider words, and the ideas and visions behind them, I think the Professor is right on in this analysis and presentation of the information in his latest post, and the Signs of the Times. I can only hope my mind will be as lucid, disciplined and organized as his is if I live to be 83 like Professor Richard Falk.

Polarization Doomed Egyptian Democracy

Prefatory Note: I realize that some of the readers of this blog are unhappy with long blogs, and so I offer an apology in advance. My attempt is to deal with a difficult set of issues afflicting the Middle East, especially the seemingly disastrous Egyptian experiment with democracy that has resulted in a bloody coup followed by violent repression of those elected to lead the country in free elections. The essay that follows discusses the degree to which anti-Muslim Brotherhood polarization in Egypt doomed the transition to democracy that was the hope and dream of the January 25th revolutionary moment in Tahrir Square that had sent shock waves of joy around the world!

**************************************************************************

When Polarization Becomes Worse than Authoritarianism Defer Democracy

Doubting  Democracy

Marts 2013 AgileMindsetWe are living at a time when tensions within societies seem far more disruptive and inhumane than the rivalries of sovereign states that have in the past fueled international wars. More provocatively, we may be living at a historical moment when democracy as the government of choice gives rise to horrifying spectacles of violence and abuse. These difficulties with the practice of democracy are indirectly, and with a heavy dose of irony, legitimizing moderate forms of authoritarian government. After years of assuming that ‘democracy’ was ‘the least bad form of government’ for every national setting, there are ample reasons to raise doubts. I make such an observation with the greatest reluctance.

There is no doubt that authoritarian forms of rule generally constrain the freedom of everyone, and especially the politically inclined. Beyond this, there is a kind of stagnant cultural atmosphere that usually accompanies autocracy, but not always. Consider Elizabethan England, with Shakespeare and his cohort of contemporary literary giants. There have been critical moments of crisis in the past when society’s most respected thinkers blamed democracy for the political failings. In ancient Greece, the cradle of Western democracy, Plato, Aristotle, and Thucydides came to prefer non-democratic forms of government, more fearful of the politics of the mob than that led Athens into imprudent and costly foreign adventures.

Of course, there are times when the established order is fearful of democracy even in countries that pride themselves on their democratic character. Influential voices in the United States were raised during the latter stages of the Vietnam War in opposition to what were perceived by conservatives to be the excesses of democracy. Infamously, Samuel Huntington in an essay published by the influential Trilateral Commission compared the anti-war movement in the United States to the canine disorder known as ‘distemper,’ clearly expressing the view that the people should leave the matter of war and peace in the hands of the government, and not expect to change policy by demonstrating in the streets.

EU-Nobel-PrizeIt was only twenty years ago that the collapse of the Soviet Union was hailed throughout the West as an ideological triumph of liberal democracy over autocratic socialism. Prospects for world peace during this interval inEuropean Peace the 1990s were directly linked to the spread of democracy, while such other reformist projects as the strengthening of the UN or respecting international law were put aside. European and American universities were then much taken with the theory and practice of ‘democratic peace,’ documenting and exploring its central claim that democracies never go to war against one another. If such a thesis is sustained, it has significant policy implications. It would follow, then, that if more and more countries become ‘democratic’ the zone of peaceful international relations becomes enlarged. This encouraging byproduct of democracy for sovereign states was reinforced by the internal experience of the European Union, which while nurturing democracy established a culture of peace in what had for centuries been the world’s worst war zone.

This positive assessment of democratization at the national level is offset by the extent to which Western liberal democracies have recourse to war to promote regime change in illiberal societies. The motivations for such wars is not purely political, but needs to be linked to the imperatives of neoliberal globalization, and to the class interests of the 1%.

democracy_comes_to_youIn the post-9/11 period the Bush presidency embraced ‘democracy promotion’ as a major component of a neoconservative foreign policy for the United States in the Middle East. Skepticism about the nature such an endorsement of democracy was widespread, especially in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Harsh criticism was directed U.S. Government self-appointed role as the agent of democratization in the region, especially considering the unacknowledged motivations: oil, regional hegemony, and Israeli security. By basing democracy promotion on military intervention, as in relation to Iraq, the American approach was completely discredited even without the admitted failure resulting from prolonged occupation of the country. The supposed antii-authoritarian interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya have not implanted a robust democracy in any of these places, but rather corruption, chaos, massive displacement, and persisting violent conflict. Beyond this disillusioning experience, foreign leaders and world public opinion refused to accept Washington’s arrogant claim that it provided the world with the only acceptable political model of legitimate government.

Despite this pushback, there remains an almost universal acceptance of the desirability of some variation democracy as the only desirable form of national governance. Of course, there were profound disagreements when it comes to specific cases. There were some partial exceptions to the embrace of democracy. For instance, there was support in the Middle East for monarchies as sources of stability and unity, but even these monarchs purported to be ‘democratic’ in their sympathies unless directly challenged by their subjects/citizens.  Democracies maintained their positive reputation by protecting citizens from abuse by the state, by empowering the people to confer authority on the national government, generally through periodic elections, and by developing a governing process that was respectful of the rule of law and human rights.

Issues during the last decade in the Middle East have brought these issues to the fore: the Green Revolution against theocratic democracy in Iran, the secular de facto rejection of majoritarian democracy in Turkey, and the various transitional scenarios that have unfolded in the Arab countries, especially Egypt, after the anti-authoritarian uprisings of 2011. The torments of the region, especially connected with the Anglo-French colonialist aftermath of the Ottoman Empire, followed by an American hegemonic regime tempered by the Cold War rivalry with the Soviet Union, and aggravated since the middle of the last century by the emergence of Israel, along with the ensuing conflict with the dispossessed Palestinian people, have made the struggle for what might be called ‘good governance’ a losing battle, at least until 2011. Against such a background it was only natural that the democratizing moment labeled ‘the Arab Spring’ generated such excitement throughout the region, and indeed in the world. Two years later, in light of developments in Syria, Egypt, Libya, and elsewhere it is an occasion that calls for sympathetic, yet critical, reflection.

In the last several years, there has emerged in the region the explosive idea that the citizenry enjoys an ultimate right to hold governments accountable, and if even a democratic government misplays its hand too badly, Oil and Democracythen it can be removed from power even without awaiting of elections, and without relying on formal impeachment procedures. What makes this populist veto so controversial in recent experience is its tendency to enter a coalition with the most regressive elements of the governmental bureaucracy, especially the armed forces, police, and intelligence bureaucracies. Such coalitions are on their surface odd, bringing together the spontaneous rising of the often downtrodden multitude with the most coercive and privileged elements of state and private sector power.

The self-legitimizing claim heard in Tahrir Square 2013 was that only a military coup could save the revolution of 2011, but critics would draw a sharp distinction between the earlier populist uprising against a hated dictator and this latter movement orchestrated from above to dislodge from power a democratically elected leadership identified as Islamic, accused of being non-inclusive, and hence illegitimate.

The Arab Upheavals

The great movements of revolt in the Arab world in 2011 were justly celebrated as exhibiting an unexpected surge of brave anti-authoritarian populist politics that achieved relatively bloodless triumphs in Tunisia and Egypt, and shook the foundations of authoritarian rule throughout the region. Democracy seemed to be on the march in a region that had been written off by most Western experts as incapable of any form of governance that was not authoritarian, which was not displeasing to the West so long as oil flowed to the world market, Israel was secure, and radical tendencies kept in check. Arab political culture was interpreted through an Orientalizing lens that affirmed passivity of the citizenry and elite corruption backed up, if necessary, by a militarized state. In the background was the fear that if the people were able to give voice to their preferences, the end result might be the theocratic spread of Iranian style Islamism.

It is a sad commentary on the state of the world that only two years later a gloomy political atmosphere is creating severe doubts about the workability of democracy, and not only in the Arab world, but more widely. What has emerged is the realization that deep cleavages exist in the political culture that give rise to crises of legitimacy and governability that can be managed, if at all, only by the application of repressive force. These conflicts are destroying the prospects of effective and humane government in a series of countries throughout the world.

Military DemocracyThe dramatic and bloody atrocities in Egypt since the military takeover on July 3rd have brought these realities to the forefront of global political consciousness. But Egypt is not alone in experiencing toxic fallout from severe polarization that pits antagonistic religious, ethnic, and political forces against one another in ‘winner take all’ struggles. Daily sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shi’ia in Iraq make it evident that after an anguishing decade of occupation the American crusade to liberate the country from dictatorship has failed miserably. Instead of a fledging democracy America has left behind a legacy of chaos, the threat of civil war, and a growing belief that only a return to authoritarianism can bring stability to the country. Turkey, too, is enduring the destabilizing impact of polarization, which has persisted in the face of eleven years of extraordinary AKP success and energetic and extremely capable leadership periodically endorsed by the voting public: strengthening and civilianizing political institutions, weakening the military, improving the economy, and greatly enhancing the regional and international standing of the country. Polarization should not be treated as just a Middle Eastern phenomenon. The United States, too, is increasingly afflicted by a polarizing struggle between its two main political parties that has made democratic government that humanely serves the citizenry and the national public good a thing of the past. Of course, this disturbing de-democratizing trend in America owes much to the monetizing machinations of Wall Street and the spinning of 9/11 as a continuing security challenge that requires the government to view everyone, everywhere, including its own citizens, as potential terrorist suspects.

The nature of polarization is diverse and complex, reflecting context. It can be socially constructed around the split between religion and secularism as in Egypt or Turkey or in relation to divisions internal to a religion as SCAF_to_restore_Mubarak_erain Iraq or as between classes, ethnicities, political parties, geographic regions. In the concreteness of history each case of polarization has its own defining set of circumstances, often highlighting minority fears of discrimination and marginalization, class warfare, ethnic and religious rivalry (e.g. Kurdish self-determination), and conflicting claims about natural resources. Also, as in the Middle East, polarization is not merely the play domestic forces struggling for ascendancy. Polarization is also being manipulated by powerful external political actors, to what precise extent and to what ends is unknowable. It is revealing that in the demonstrations in Cairo during the past month both pro- and anti-Morsi protesters have been chanting anti-American slogans, while the government invites a series of Western dignitaries with the aim of persuading the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood to accept the outcome of the coup.

Egypt and Turkey

The circumstances of polarization in Egypt and Turkey, although vastly different, share the experience of Islamic oriented political forces emerging from the shadow land of society after years of marginalization, and in Egypt’s case brutal suppression. In both countries the armed forces had long played an important role in keeping the state under the rigid control of secular elites that served Western strategic and neoliberal economic interests. Up to now, despite periodic trials and tribulations, Turkey seems to have solved the riddle of modernity much more persuasively than Egypt.

In both countries electoral politics mandated radical power shifts unacceptable to displaced secular elites. Opposition forces in the two countries after enjoying decades of power and influence suddenly saw themselves displaced by democratic means with no credible prospect of regaining political dominance by success in future elections, having ceded power and influence to those who had previously been subjugated and exploited. Those displaced were unwilling to accept their diminished role, including this lowered status in relation to societal forces whose values were scorned as anti-modern and threatening to preferred life styles that were identified with ‘freedom.’ They complained bitterly, organized feverishly, and mobilized energetically to cancel the verdict of the political majority by whatever means possible.

Recourse to extra-democratic means to regain power, wealth, and influence seemed to many in the opposition, although not all, the only viable political option, but it had to be done in such a way that it seemed to be a ‘democratic’ outcry of the citizenry against the state. Of course, the state has its own share of responsibility for the traumas of polarization. The elected leadership often over-reacts, becomes intoxicated with its own majoritarian mandate, acts toward the opposition on the basis of worst case scenarios, adopts paranoid styles of response to legitimate grievances and criticisms, and contributes its part to a downward spiral of distrust and animosity. The media, either to accentuate the drama of conflict or because is itself often aligned with the secular opposition, tends to heighten tensions, creating a fatalist atmosphere of ‘no return’ for which the only possible solution is ‘us’ or ‘them.’ Such a mentality of war is an anathema for genuine democracy in which losers at any given moment still have a large stake in the viability and success of the governing process. When that faith in the justice and legitimacy of the prevailing political system is shattered democracy cannot generate good governance.

The Politics of Polarization

InequalityThe opposition waits for some mistake by the governing leadership to launch its campaign of escalating demands. Polarization intensifies. The opposition is unwilling to treat the verdict of free elections as the final word as to an entitlement to govern. At first, such unwillingness is exhibited by extreme alienation and embittered fears. Later on, as opportunities for obstruction arise, this unwillingness is translated into political action, and if it gathers enough momentum, the desired crises of legitimacy and governability bring the country to the brink of collapse. Much depends on material conditions. If the economy is doing reasonably well, calmer heads usually prevail, which may help explain why the impact of severe polarization has been so much greater in Egypt than Turkey. Morsi has succumbed to the challenge, while Erdogan has survived. Reverse the economic conditions, and the political outcomes would also likely have been reversed, although such a possibility is purely conjectural.

The Egyptian experience also reflects the extraordinary sequence of recent happenings. The Tahrir Square upheavals of January 25th came after 30 years of Mubarak rule. A political vacuum was created by the removal of Mubarak that was quickly filled by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAP), but accompanied by the promise that a transition to democracy was the consensus goal binding all Egyptians, and once reached the generals would retire from the political scene. The popular sentiment then favored an inclusive democracy, which in 2011, was a coded way of saying that the Muslim Brotherhood should henceforth participate in the political process, finally being allowed to compete for a place in the governing process after decades of exclusion. There were from the beginning anxieties about this prospect among many in the anti-Mubarak ranks, and the Brotherhood seemed at first sensitive to secular and Coptic concerns even pledging that it had no intention of competing for the presidency of Egypt. All seemed well and good, with popular expectations wrongly assuming that the next president of Egypt would be a familiar secular figure, almost certainly drawn from the renegade membership of the fuloul, that is, a former beneficiary of the regime who joined the anti-Mubarak forces during the uprising. In the spring of 2011 the expectations were that Amr Moussa (former Secretary General of the Arab League and Mubarak Foreign Minister) would become Egypt’s first democratically elected president and that the Muslim Brotherhood would function as a strong, but minority, force in the Egyptian parliament. As the parliament would draft a new constitution for the country, this was likely to be the first show of strength between the secular and religious poles of Egyptian political opinion.

Several unforeseen developments made this initial set of expectations about Egypt’s political future unrealized. Above all, the Muslim Brotherhood was far more successful in the parliamentary elections than had been 2 secular_day.gifanticipated. These results stoked the fears of the secularists and Copts, especially when account was taken of the previously unappreciated political strength of several Salafi parties that had not previously shown any interest in participating in the government. Religiously oriented political parties won more than 70% of the contested seats, creating control over the constitution-making process. This situation was further stressed when the Brotherhood withdrew its pledge not to seek control of the government by fielding its own candidate for the presidency. This whole transition process after January 2011 was presided over by administrative entities answerable to SCAP. Several popular candidates were disqualified, and a two-stage presidential election was organized in 2012 in which Mohamed Morsi narrowly defeated Ahmed Shafik in the runoff election between the two top candidates in the initial vote. Shafik, an air force commander and the last Mubarak prime minister, epitomizing the persisting influence of the fuloul. In a sense, the electoral choice given to the Egyptian people involved none of the Egyptian revolutionary forces that were most responsible for the overthrow of Mubarak or representing the ideals that seemed to inspire most of those who filled Tahrir Square in the revolutionary days of January 2011.  The Brotherhood supported the anti-Mubarak movement only belatedly when its victory was in sight, and seemed ideologically inclined to doubt the benefits of inclusive democratization, while Shafik, epitomizing the fuloul resurgent remnant of Mubarakism, never supported the upheaval, and did not even pretend to be a democrat, premising his appeal on promises to restore law and order, which would then supposedly allow Egypt to experience a rapid much needed economic recovery.

It was during the single year of Morsi’s presidency that the politics of extreme polarization took center stage. It is widely agreed that Morsi was neither experienced nor adept as a political leader in what was a very challenging situation even if polarization had not been present to aggravate the situation. The Egyptian people anxiously expected the new leadership to restore economic normalcy after the recent period of prolonged disorder and decline. He was a disappointment, even to many of those who had voted for him, in all of these regards. Many Egyptians who said that they had voted for Morsi expressed their disenchantment by alleging the ‘nothing had changed for the better since the Mubarak period,’ and so they joined the opposition.

secular-vs-religious-webIt was also expected that Morsi would immediately signal a strong commitment to social justice and to addressing the plight of Egyptian unemployed youth and subsistence masses, but no such promise was forthcoming. In fairness, it seemed doubtful that anyone could have succeeded in fulfilling the role of president of Egypt in a manner that would have satisfied the majority of Egyptians.  The challenges were too obdurate, the citizenry too impatient, and the old Mubarak bureaucracy remained strategically in place and determined to oppose any change that might enhance the reputation of the Morsi leadership. Mubarak and some close advisors had been eliminated from the government, but the judiciary, the armed forces, and the Ministry of Interior were fuloul activist strongholds. In effect, the old secularized elites were still powerful, unaccountable, and capable of undermining the elected government that officially reflected the political will of the Egyptian majority. Morsi, a candidate with admittedly mediocre credentials, was elected to the presidency by an ominously narrow margin, and to make matters worse he inherited a mission impossible. Yet to unseat him by a coup was to upend Egypt’s fledgling democracy, with currently no hopeful tomorrow in view.

The Authoritarian Temptation

What was surprising, and disturbing, was the degree to which the protest movement so quickly and submissively linked the future of Egypt to the good faith and prudent judgment of the armed forces. All protest forces have received in exchange was the forcible removal of Morsi, the renewal of a suppressive approach to the Brotherhood, and some rather worthless reassurances about the short-term nature of military rule. General Adel-Fattah el-Sisi from the start made it clear that he was in charge, although designating an interim president, Adly Mansour, a Mubarak careerist, who had only days before the coup been made chief judge of the Supreme Constitutional Court by Morsi’s own appointment. Mansour has picked a new prime minister who selected a cabinet, supposedly consisting of technocrats, who will serve until a new government is elected. Already, several members of this civilian gloss on a military takeover of the governing process in Egypt have registered meek complaints about the excessive force being used against pro-Morsi demonstrations, itself a euphemism for crimes against humanity and police atrocities.

Better Mubarakism than Morsiism was the underlying sentiment relied upon to fan the flames of discontent throughout the country, climaxing with the petition campaign organized by Tamarod, a newly formed youth-led Military Democracyopposition, that played a major role in organizing the June 30th demonstrations of millions that were underpinned in the final days by a Sisi ultamatum from the armed forces that led to the detention and arrest of Morsi,. This was followed by the rise to political dominance of a menacing figure, General Adel-Fattah el-Sisi, who has led a military coup that talks of compromise and inclusive democracy while acting to criminalize the Muslim Brotherhood, and its leadership, using an onslaught of violence against those who peacefully refuse to fall into line. This military leadership is already responsible for the deliberate slaughter of Morsi loyalists in coldblooded tactics designed to terrorize the Muslim Brotherhood, and warn the Egyptian people that further opposition will not be tolerated.

I am certainly not suggesting that such a return to authoritarianism in this form is better for Egypt than the democracy established by Morsi, or favored by such secular liberals as Mohamed ElBaradei, who is now serving as Deputy Prime Minister. Unfortunately, this challenge directed at a freely elected democracy by a massive popular mobilization to be effective required an alliance with the coercive elements drawn from the deep state and private sector entrepreneurs. Such a dependency relationship involved a Faustian Bargain, getting rid of the hated Morsi presidency, but doing so with an eyes closed acceptance of state terror: large-scale shooting of unarmed pro-Morsi demonstrators, double standards dramatized by General Sisi’s call to the anti-Morsi forces to give him a populist mandate to crush the Brotherhood by coming into the streets aggressively and massively. Egypt is well along a path that leads to demonic autocratic rule that will likely be needed to keep the Brotherhood from preventing the reestablishment of order. General Sisi’s coup will be written off as a failure if there continues to be substantial street challenges and bloody incidents, which would surely interfere with restoring the kind of economic stability that Egypt desperately needs in coming months if it is to escape the dire destiny of being ‘a failed state.’ The legitimating test for the Sisi coup is ‘order’ not ‘democracy,’ and so the authoritarian ethos prevails, yet if this means a continuing series of atrocities, it will surely lead to yet another crisis of legitimacy for the country that is likely to provoke a further crisis of governability.

Signs and Symptoms Of FascismThe controversial side of my argument is that Egypt currently lacks the political preconditions for the establishment of democracy, and in such circumstances, the premature attempt to democratize the political life of the country leads not only to disappointment, but to political regression. At this stage, Egypt will be fortunate if it can return to the relatively stable authoritarianism of the Mubarak dictatorship. Because of changed expectations, and the unlawful displacement of the Morsi leadership, it has now become respectable for the Tamarod, self-appointed guardians of the Tahrir Square revolution to support the ‘cleansing’ the Muslim Brotherhood. It is sad to take note of these noxious odors of fascism and genocide now contaminating the political atmosphere in Egypt.

The very different experience in Iraq, too, suggests that ill-advised moves to install democracy can unleash polarization in a destructive form. Despite his crimes, polarization had been kept in check during the authoritarian rule of Saddam Hussein, The attempted transition to democracy was deeply compromised by coinciding with the American occupation and proconsular rule. It produced sectarian polarization in such drastic forms that it will likely either lead to a new authoritarianism that is even more oppressive than what Saddam Hussein had imposed or resolved by a civil war in which the victor rules with an iron hand and the loser is relegated to the silent margins of Iraqi political life.

In the post-colonial world it is up to the people of each country to shape their own destiny (realizing the ethos of self-determination), and outsiders should rarely interfere however terrible the civil strife. Hopefully, the Matthew6_33peoples of the Middle East will learn from these polarization experiences to be wary of entrusting the future of their country to the vagaries of majoritarian democracy, but also resistant to moves by politically displaced minorities to plot their return to power by a reliance on anti-democratic tactics, coalitions with the military, and the complicity of the deep state. There is no single template. Turkey, although threatened by polarization, has been able so far to contain its most dire threats to political democracy. Egypt has not been so lucky. For simplistic comparison, Turkey has had the benefits of a largely evolutionary process that allows for a democratic political culture to take hold gradually at societal and governmental levels. Egypt has, in contrast, experienced abrupt changes in a setting of widespread economic distress, and a radical form of polarization that denied all legitimacy to the antagonist, transforming the armed forces from foe to friend of the opposition because it was the enemy of their enemy. If this is the predictable outcome of moves to establish democracy, then authoritarian leadership may not be the worst of all possible worlds in every circumstance. It depends on context. In the Middle East this may require a comparison of the risks of democratization with the costs of authoritarianism, and this may depend on the degree and nature of polarization.

Fascist CapitalismThe presence of the oil reserves in the Gulf, as well as Iran, Iraq, and Libya, along with Israel’s interest in avoiding the emergence of strong unified democratic states in the region makes the Middle East particularly vulnerable to the perils of polarization. In other regions similar structures of antagonism exist, but generally with less disastrous results. The dynamics of economic globalization cannot be divorced from the ways in which nominally independent sovereign states are subjected to the manipulative storms of geopolitics.