Monday, February 4, 2008

"Israel and the Clash of Civilisations"

A Review of Jonathan Cook's book

by Stephen Lendman

Global Research, February 4, 2008

".....Cook's newest book, just published, is called "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East." It's the subject of this review in the wake of advance praise. Noted author John Pilger calls it "One of the most cogent understandings of the modern Middle East I have read. It is superb, because the author himself is a unique witness" to events and powerfully documents them. This review covers them in-depth along with some of this writer's reflections on the region from America.....

In 1982, Israeli journalist and former Foreign Affairs Ministry senior advisor, Oded Yinon, proposed an even more radical idea. Like Sharon, he advocated transforming Israel into a regional power with an added goal: breaking up Arab states into ethnic and confessional groupings that Israel could more easily control. Similar to Huntington's "clash of civilizations," Yinon suggested we were witnessing cataclysmic times, the "collapse of the world order,".....

Remaking the Middle East

After the Soviet Russia dissolved, Israel's military had to convince Washington it could be useful in a post-Cold War world. Would it be a bullying enforcer or a regional guarantor of US and Israeli dominance by sowing disorder and instability? In the 1990s, "two new kinds of Middle Eastern political and paramilitary actors" emerged - Sunni jihadis called Al-Queda and elements like the Taliban in Afghanistan and Hezbollah in south Lebanon. They represent formidable challenges that aren't easily intimidated or bullied.

In this type world, threats are at a sub-state level, so Yinon's scheme was appealing - encourage discord and feuding within nations, destabilize them, and arrange their dismemberment into mini-states. Tribes and sectarian elements could be turned on each other, and alliances with non-Arab, non-Muslim groups like Christians, Kurds and Druze could be cultivated to advantage.......

It's a new version of the older colonial "divide and rule" scheme that so far proved ineffective, and Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, thinks he knows what's going on. He says Israel and Washington want to partition Iraq, Iran, Lebanon and Syria. If he's right, as seems likely, it means the idea is to change the way colonial powers ruled post-WW I, and Cook challenges it. He believes making it work is "improbable (and) little more than a deluded fantasy." It worked in Yugoslavia, but the Arab world is different.

He concludes his book saying a generation of Washington policy makers have been "captivated" by thinking the Middle East can be remade by "spreading instability and inter-communal strife." Instead, Cook sees a different outcome - new political, religious and social alliances forming across the region. If Washington pursues its "war on terror," he sees continued "war without end" with no victory. After the chaotic Bush years, it's hard disagreeing with him....."

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