Two more on Gaza and Ukraine

15 Nov

I speak often of the burgeoning ranks of gamekeepers-turned poacher who mark, as I yet again switch metaphors, canaries in the coal mine of the west’s increasingly transparent decadence.

One such is the former UK career diplomat, Alastair Crooke. His closely argued piece yesterday begins:

The Unspoken Elephant in the Room of Netanyahu’s Intent in Gaza

Is this punishment on Gaza’s civilian population, prompted by desire for vengeance? Or is it an outpouring of eschatological rage and determination?

The point about the Gaza crisis is that should everyone agree to stick their head in the sand and ignore the ‘elephant in the room’, it’s easy enough so to do. The meaning to a severe crisis is only properly understood when someone notices ‘the elephant’, and says look out; there’s an elephant stamping here. That’s where we are today. Slowly, the West is beginning to take notice. The rest of world however, is transfixed by it, and is being transformed by it.

What is the ‘elephant’ (or elephants) in the room? Blinken’s recent regional diplomacy was ‘a bust’. None of the regional leaders that Blinken met would talk further about Gaza beyond demanding stridently, ‘no Palestinian population displacement into Egypt’ a ‘stop to this madness’ – the carpet bombing of Gazans – and the demand for an immediate ceasefire.

And Biden’s calls for a ‘pause’ – softly, at first, and the more strident now – is being bluntly ignored by the Israeli government. The spectre of President Carter’s impotence during the Iran hostage crisis hangs ever more soberly in the backdrop.

The truth is that the White House cannot force Israel to do its will – the Israeli lobby holds the more clout in Congress than any White House team. Thus, ‘no exit’ from the Israeli crisis is readily to be seen. Biden ‘made his bed’ with the Netanyahu cabinet and must live with consequences. 1

Impotence then, as the Democratic Party fractures beyond the simplistic division between centrists versus progressives. The polarisation emanating from the ‘no ceasefire stance’ is having stark destabilising effects on politics, both in the U.S. and Europe.

Impotence then, as the shape of the Middle East crystallises into sharp antagonism towards the West’s perceived accommodation of the mass slaughter of Palestinian women, children and civilians. The die may be too far ‘cast’ to brake the ongoing tectonic reset already underway. Western double standards are just too inescapably obvious now to the Global Majority.

The large ‘elephant’ is this: Israel has dropped more than 25,000 tons of high explosives since 7 October (the 1945 Hiroshima nuke was 15,000 tons equivalent). What exactly is Netanyahu and his war cabinet’s aim here? Ostensibly, the earlier military operation in Jabalia Camp was about targeting a Hamas leader suspected of lurking under the camp – but six 2,000 lb bombs for one Hamas ‘target’ in a crowded refugee camp? And why too the attacks on water cisterns, hospital solar energy panels and hospital entrances, roads, schools and bakeries?

You can read Alastair’s piece in full on the ICH website. There’s nothing sparklingly new to its claim of an Israel fully intent – her ethnic cleansing Plan A having been dust-binned by Cairo’s refusal to open the Rafah Crossing – on Plan B genocide. (See in this regard yesterday’s post, featuring Caitlin Johnstone on how Israel’s best efforts at hasbara  are constantly undermined by an Israeli right which couldn’t give a flying fuck what the world thinks.).

But like others I cite often – Scott Ritter, Brian Berletic and Alexander Mercouris to name a few – Alastair backs his wider claims with military analyses I deem vital. In his ICH piece yesterday he follows an assessment of IDF and Hamas tactics with this:

Israel is only now coming to understand the scope and sophistication of the underground Hamas facilities. He acknowledges that the ‘military brass’ – unlike the cabinet circles – “is not talking about eradicating the seed of Amalek” (a biblical reference to the extermination of the Amalek people) – i.e. genocide. But even the IDF military leaders are not sure about their ‘end-purpose’, he notes.

So, the Elephant in the room for inhabitants of the Middle East – watching the destruction of the above-ground, civil structure – is what exactly is the objective of this killing? Hamas are deep below the ground. And although the IDF claims many successes, where are the bodies? We don’t see them. The bombing therefore must be to force an evacuation of civilians – a second Nakba.

Here again is the link.


Did I just mention Brian Berletic? As a former US Marine, he’s a gamekeeper-turned-poacher too. And two days ago this sober, highly informed and gifted communicator spoke for forty minutes on his New Atlas site about the current balance of forces in the West’s failed war on Russia in Ukraine.

(Allow me to shamelessly plug the three way discussion, below the line in yesterday’s post, between Dave Hansell, Jams O’Donnell and YT. The point is not who is right or wrong. We’re old pals trying to peer into the future amid the fog of war, albeit fast lifting. No, my reasons for invoking those BTL exchanges are twofold. One, they are way ahead of the drivel on offer from Guardian, Economist et al. Two, they dovetail neatly with Brian’s more extensive coverage.)

He sets out with characteristic, cartographically aided clarity the truth of Ukraine’s impossible situation after its failed counter-offensive. 2 He then does something interesting. In January 2022, just weeks before the Russian SMO, a coup with ‘colour revolution’ fingerprints all over it (MI6, CIA or both) was attempted in Kazakhstan; largest and – by that fact and its geographic location vis a vis  New Silk Road – most important of the Central Asian “Stans”.

In a post on that failed coup I cited a 350 page, 2019 report commissioned by the Pentagon and delivered by the think tank Rand. In particular I noted its advocacy of forcing Russia:

… to compete in domains or regions where the USA has a competitive advantage, causing Russia to overextend militarily or economically or to lose domestic and/or international prestige and influence

Chapter 3 of the report assesses four “economic measures” to that end. For each, the potential benefits, risks  and likelihood of success  are set out, and a conclusion  given. The four measures being:

    1. Hinder Petroleum Exports
    2. Reduce Natural Gas Exports and Hinder Pipeline Expansions
    3. Impose Sanctions
    4. Enhance Russian Brain Drain

In Chapter 4, the same template is applied to six “geopolitical measures”:

    1. Provide Lethal Aid to Ukraine
    2. Increase Support to the Syrian Rebels
    3. Promote Regime Change in Belarus
    4. Exploit Tensions in the South Caucasus 1
    5. Reduce Russian Influence in Central Asia 2
    6. Challenge Russian Presence in Moldova

In its overarching conclusion for Chapter 4, the report says this:

Russia’s commitment in Eastern Ukraine is its greatest point of external vulnerability; local opposition is active and Ukraine is a more capable adversary than any of the other states where Russian troops are committed. But even here, Russia has local military superiority, so controls the possibility of escalation dominance. Any increase in US arms and advice to Ukraine would need to be carefully calibrated to increase the costs to Russia without provoking a much wider and even more violent conflict.

That Rand Report is often quoted by Empire critics, and Brian is no exception. But what he did two days ago is especially interesting. He mapped the opportunities and risks as set out in its 2019 SWOT analysis to the actual outcomes for Ukraine in late 2023.

Watch and be wiser …

* * *

  1. The power of the Israel lobby in Washington does indeed “hold more clout than any Whitehouse team”, but that’s not the half of it. Israel has the bomb, and fanatics at or close to the reins of power. Like it or not, any “persuading” of this rogue apartheid state to mend its ways will have to be by economic, carrot and stick means to be explored in Part 2 of A way forward for Palestine?
  2. In a post two days ago, Simplicius the Thinker, whom Brian Berletic cites, writes of the disarray and disunity in Kiev in the wake of the failed counter-offensive.

2 Replies to “Two more on Gaza and Ukraine

  1. Greetings all the way from Germany to you Phil, and of course Dave and Co.
    Thanks for pointing me in the direction of your comments section.
    I have to admit then in an effort to simply keep-up with some of the most amazing commentary out there, I often forget to go back and have a gander at what Dave for example has written.
    Keep up the good work.
    Oh, and before I forget. Very special pics from Saturdays Protest.
    Cheers, Billy

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