By Azmi Bishara
"...American democratic evangelism ended because the policy was a complete failure. It failed in Lebanon, which liberated the Arabs from the 1967 complex for the second time, because of all the drastic misjudgements over Israeli might, over the power and resolve of the resistance, and over the feasibility of driving a sectarian wedge into Arab society around a successful anti-Israeli resistance movement -- your average Egyptian couldn't have cared less what kind of turban resistance fighters were wearing or how they held their hands during prayers. The policy failed in Palestine where it had been assumed that foreign pressure would sway the minds of voters in local elections that happened to be more about family connections, corruption, the decrepitude of a movement caught in a struggle between the old guard and fresh blood, and, of course, about patriotic issues and self-determination. In Iraq, this policy along with all others proved a total and unmitigated disaster. The dissolution of the Iraqi army and the dismantlement of the state cast that country back to a Hobbesian "war of all against all," whose participants include the occupying power from overseas and the looming neighbour, and in which the primary motive for life is fear of death. In this anarchy, societal affiliations have become politicised thanks to new leaderships put into place by the occupation regardless of their lack of either a social base or a record of political accomplishment. And by tapping into an abundant source of cheap sectarian capital and feeding the occupier handpicked distorted information, these leaderships have lured the occupation into playing along with their agenda. The result is an epidemic of sectarianism where none had previously existed, an epidemic that is all the more lethal due to the lack of any effective immunity now that the conviction in an overarching Arab identity has been thrown out with the filthy bathwater of the old regime......
.....The current "internal" strife in Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon is a continuation of the clash with Washington's neoconservative administration by other means. In Palestine, the last of the neocons are to be found in the clique surrounding the Palestinian president, which refuses so much as a domestic compromise on the basis of the 4 June 1967 borders. This is the group that insists on meeting US-Israeli conditions, that frowned at the national reconciliation document because it could not serve as a basis for entering into negotiations with Israel, that prayed that the Israeli offensive against Lebanon would teach Hizbullah and all inspired by it a lesson and then lamented the victory of the Lebanese resistance, that wants Europe and the US not to lift the blockade against the elected Palestinian government so as to help it back into power. The remnants of the neoconservatives are still to be found among the 14 March group in Lebanon, who regard the Baker-Hamilton report as a defeat for them, who fear the very thought of a dialogue between the US and Syria and Iran, who rejected a ceasefire during the war on Lebanon before they could be assured that the country could not revert to its pre-12 July conditions, as though they had been the ones to have launched the assault to begin with. The last of the neocons are to be found among the Iraqi forces that restrict even those who could from reining in the militias, who obstruct any possible dialogue with the Baath Party, who have turned national reconciliation conferences into a façade that Bush can use to support his claim that something is moving forward in Iraq, into parleys that succeed in drafting closing statements only because the intent to follow through was never there to begin with, into the type of surgery that can be followed by the pronouncement, "The operation was a success, but the patient died."