miércoles, 21 de enero de 2009

El árabe de la calle árabe habla con Reuter's

Esto no es una buena señal para los adictos del proceso de la paz en medio oriente.

"Ahora Hamas está negociando una tregua. Se les ofrecieron renovarla en deciembre pero se negaron. ¿Ahora, tras miles de bajas, cómo explica Hamas esto?"
Para Hamas, la capacidad de lanzar cohetes a hasta 40 km de distancia al interior de Israel fue un desarrollo de tácticas desde los ataques suicidos que eran el emblema de las primeras fases de la segunda intifada (levantamiento) en contra de Israel que empezó en el 2000. For Hamas, the ability to fire rockets up to 40 km (24 miles) into Israel was a progression in tactics from the suicide attacks that were a hallmark of the early part of the second intifada (uprising) against Israel that began in 2000.
Sin embargo, con las cantidades de muerte y destrucción visitadas sobre Hamas y Gaza por Israel como resultado de los cohetes, inclusive los que apoyaron la táctica empezaron a cuestionarla.

"Yo siempre he apoyado de los cohetes y de todas las formas de la resistencia," dijo Azia, el chofer de taxi. "Pero tal vez en vez de esto, Hamas debe regresar a las operaciones de martirio," dijo en referencia a los ataques suicidos.

Hassan, padre de cinco, dijo que lanzar cohetes era inútil si no iba a ser efectivos.

"Los cohetes—creo yo que se debe detener este asunto un rato y reevaluado," dijo. "Una vez que tengamos un cohete que alcanza el corazón de Tel Aviv y explotar un edificio, tal vez puedan renovar el fuego."

domingo, 18 de enero de 2009


jueves, 15 de enero de 2009


"The Mexican possibility may seem less likely, but the government, its politicians, police and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault and press by criminal gangs and drug cartels. How that internal conflict turns out over the next several years will have a major impact on the stability of the Mexican state. Any descent by Mexico into chaos would demand an American response based on the serious implications for homeland security alone."

The above isn't the half of it. I'd like to be able to write some kind of chart that illustrates all the groups that are "assaulting" Mexico today. But to stick with the narco for a moment, here's a map: The shaded areas show [my own estimate of] territory where power is wielded by the narco or sometimes by the narco/guerrilla, as in the south. Official estimates are that some ten percent of Mexican counties are under narco control, but, as bad as this is, it is surely an underestimate. This just shows the geographical extent of the above phrase, "criminal gangs and drug cartels." Narcomapa

The geopolitics of this is more interesting and dangerous: these regions have never been brought under state control. Never. Ever. [Well…maybe Don Porfirio accomplished this for a while] The phrase is "lawless regions" but this isn't all that accurate: it's more like feudalism, with the feudal lords (called caciques in Mexico) controlling overlapping fiefs, each with its own laws. Like in other areas of the world controlled by insurgencies, these narco/caciques provide social services—as people like to say about Hizbollah and Hamas—that the government can't. They get the loyalty of the people by these means, but violence is their main MO. Nobody would be so stupid as to refuse an offer by the narco, if they wanted their families to survive. They have no other resources. They can't call the cops, like people can in the States. The cops are hundreds of miles away across dirt tracks and they are narcos as well. Today, of course, the government is establishing a presence in these areas in the drug war by the army. It amounts to Mexico invading itself, or a civil war.

Another way to look at it is with these World Bank charts:

Apart from the narco, there are many other groups holding fiefs in Mexico: the various security branches—federal police, army; guerrilla [shown on the map]; "opposition" political groups, both in the government and out of it [these include the different "militant" unions, who disrupt daily life on a daily basis]. It's important to note that all of these groups are violent.

That's just considering the domestic situation. What about the bugbear of foreign intervention? Just as in the Cold War, the drug war is fought through proxies. Our proxy is of course the government of Mexico, under Felipe Calderón. But Hugo Chávez has his proxies here. Chávez is a proxy of Hizbollah and Russia.

It's encouraging—although it is distressing for anyone living in this wonderful country—that the US is dealing with the facts by ranking Mexico as a risk of failure. As the above shows, the drug war intersects with the problem of illegal immigration in important ways. Immigration is caused by the failures of the Mexican economy to provide opportunities for the people. They abandon their land and it's taken over by the narco. The drug war itself is destroying any legitimacy the government has by attacking the livlihoods of Mexico's poorest citizens. Lacking legitimacy, reforming the economy is pretty-much impossible.

It won't do any good to have Obama shaking Calderón's hand and calling him a courageous leader for fighting the drug war. It's not a test of machismo.

The narco is an insurgency, but not quite. It has no interest in taking power. It has an interest in preventing anyone else from doing so. It will prosper most in an anarchy. Mexico will fall off the brink into anarchy instantly if the president is ever assassinated (got forbid). That's because there is no law of succession. There is only a procedure for choosing a new president, which means up to eighteen months of an interim government, elected by congress upon the president's murder (god forbid). One can't even imagine all the armed groups in this country playing the political process to maneuver themselves into power. So if Calderón's futile display of machismo risks his own life, maybe he's "courageous" but since he's risking anarchy, he's reckless.

miércoles, 7 de enero de 2009


Indeed as Beverley Milton-Edwards explains in Islamic Politics in Palestine:
[T]he Hamas view of the Jewish people is not drawn solely from the pages of the Qur’an and hadith. Its myopia is also the product of Western anti-Semitic influences.
All the history I've read about Arab/Muslim politics in the twentieth century shows the influence of European-style antisemitism, specifically German and French. This holds true in secular movements, like Ba'ath and religious ones, like the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda. As far as I know, this didn't exist in the Arab/Muslim world before French and German colonization. Jews had lived under the apartheid-like restrictions of Islamic law, but weren't necessarily persecuted, much less the object of genocidal hatred. So Hamas is typical, not an exception.
Syrian state TV put on a multi-part dramatization of the Protocols some years back. One can find copies of the book for sale. Check out the MEMRI website some day. The image I've posted is a screenshot of the front page today. It shows links to articles published more or less in the past month. Two of them—the "apes and pigs" and the "Judgement Day" articles—draw their inspiration from the Koran. Two are inspired in Protocols-style antisemitism—the JFK assassination article by the Syrian economist and the "Columbus" articles. The Protocols are specifically mentioned here. You can see that articles are drawn from all over the Arab/Muslim world. Of course, as you say, there is no lack of evidence that Europeans commonly hold antisemitic beliefs that would shock most Americans.
/>I wonder why it's so hard for people to see that with this background, European "anti-Zionism" and support in general for the Palestinians—so evident today in the Palestinian flag-waving protests in European capitals—looks like an unfolding threat to Israelis and to Jews worldwide. It shouldn't take all that much imagination or empathy to see this. I wouldn't blame Jews for being even more pessimistic than this because European antisemitism is the direct cause of the Zionist movement in the first place. Jews were liberated from the feudal laws were expected to assimilate into the European culture. This was the first solution to the Jewish problem: they should just stop being Jews and become Frenchmen or whatever. That didn't happen. Jews wanted to keep their identity and it really beats me why. Who would want such a thing as a Jewish identity if he could avoid it? I guess that would have been bad enough, but they began to be successful—even to dominate in some places, like Vienna—in business, the arts, science, the professions, and in the academy, when a wave of Jew-hatred and massacres swept Europe. This was when the Zionist movement was founded. Some people just thought that it was hopeless to count on Europeans to make good on their liberal values when it came to them. If it hadn't been for this, today Jews would be living in Europe as they had been for centuries and the Arabs would still have Palestine, for all the good it would do them. For that matter, there wouldn't be any Jews in the US either, since the Jewish immigration was a much better bet for the many millions who escaped from European antisemitism 1880-1920 or so.