UN: Two Empires Crumbling – And Then What?
EDITORIAL, 3 Dec 2012
From Washington, DC
There is History in the UN 29 November 2012 vote: 138 YES to giving Palestine the UN status as “nonmember observer state”, only 9 NO, and 41 abstentions. Beyond Middle East politics the vote also mirrors the limits to the US global, and the Israeli regional, empires: 138 defy their grip and favor change, 41+9=50 do not, for various reasons. A crucial vote on a crucial issue is a crucial test. Who wants what?
First, the OIC-Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Muslim, Arab: none yielding to USA-Israel in spite of the efforts against the Arab awakening. Israel is alone in the region: Greece-Turkey-Cyprus were all YES. Next: Saraoui, Western Sahara; building on Spain-Morocco YES, and Kashmir on India-Pakistan.
Second: more than half of the not in favor was from Eastern Europe (16) and the Pacific (10: 9 mini-states, and Australia). Add 7 from Latin America, 5 from Africa, 3 from Asia (not Japan) and we get 41.
Third: Western Europe-NATO divided. The Nordic-EFTA (European Free Trade Association) countries in favor, as also Austria, France and GIPSI (Greece-Italy-Portugal-Spain-Ireland), the indebted EU periphery. Not in favor: UK, Germany, Netherlands; 3 mini-states; hard core USA-Israel (Usrael)-Canada for the 50: only a quarter of the UN membership.
The General Assembly is the closest we have to a world democracy; no Security Council big power veto. Israel has no regional support and the USA only little, shaky, insignificant, world support. Memories of the Soviet Empire—dead for 20 years–are fading and mini-states are exactly that. The US clout does not even reach Afghanistan-Iraq-Libya recently bombed-invaded-occupied. UK remains; like poodle to master.
Read the vote in terms of a world regionalization process: Green light for the OIC; some political light needed in the Latin America-Caribbean, Africa and Asia regions. The Nordic-EFTA moral light is intact, and the new Third World, GIPSI, is joining the old. Germany, beware.
The USA is out of touch. Stop droning, killing; make a beautiful North America with Mexico and Canada (R. B. Zoelick in WP 30-ll-2012).
But empires also crumble from within through demoralization.
For political demoralization: the basic factor is lack of world clout. But watch the “fiscal cliff” process for the doubts about the US political process: two parties, at logger-heads. No forgiving mortgage debts, no creative lifting of the bottom 16%–many not knowing where the next meal comes from–into the economy, increasing domestic demand.
For economic demoralization: the basic factor is a West outcompeted. Add Robert Samuelson “Why the recovery lags”: The financial crisis and Great Recession scared the wits out of most Americans–cautious, risk-aversive and defensive–spending less and saving more” (WP 26-11-12). Greg Smith-Why I left Goldman Sachs: A Wall Street Story-defines good business as “flat commissions on transparent exchange-listed trades”; not exorbitant commissions, secret deals, obscure derivatives and bonuses and status linked to the gross credits the trader brings in. Not a single person imprisoned; but lobbies against new legislation.
For military demoralization: the basic factor is the USA-NATO losing. But watch the lifestyle and affair on the top of the US Army in Afghanistan, and CIA anywhere, killing machines: General Petraeus. Imagine the effect on soldiers risking their lives for an unwinnable and dubious war with the top fooling around. See Richard Strauss 1874 opera, Die Fledermaus, for the end of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.
For cultural demoralization: the basic factor is decreasing faith in US exceptionalism, leading the world as No. 1. The USA is No. 1 in claiming to be No. 1, in the mainstream media, by public figures ignoring what happens in the real world. Truth will dawn upon them.
For social demoralization: “U.S. birthrate plummets to lowest level since 1920” (WP 30-11-2012)–“led by immigrant women hit hard by the recession”. This may imply decline in the US population and in tax revenue, as in much of the West. And the enormous gun violence.
Add it all up: the fall of the US Empire is on track.
How about Israel? Heading for a cliff of its own making: suicide.
The UN vote was on the 65th anniversary of the UN Resolution181-Partition Plan for Palestine. Two-State resolution following Folke Bernadotte, then murdered by Israel. Nakba. The problem is not Zionism but hard, revisionist Expansion-0ccupation-Siege (E-O-S). Zionism driving to the cliff. The UN vote legitimized Palestine and delegitimized that kind of Israel. Much will follow in multi- and bilateral diplomacy and NGOs; in spite of Usrael threats.
Direct negotiations lead nowhere: the Oslo process left security, Jerusalem, refugees, Israeli settlements, boundaries, for “later”.
But Israel would have to react to the rockets! Yes, by dropping E-O-S for 2-6-20plus: Two States in a Six-State community with Arab neighbors in a 20plus-State Organization for Security and Cooperation within a nuclear free zone. Nevertheless, Israel delegitimized itself by choosing violence, Hamas-Hizbollah rockets, dirty bombs, Iron Domes, David’s Sling, huge 9/11 underground shelters. Israel buried underground in a sui-sociocide.
Israel also reacts to nonviolence–boycott, non-cooperation, civil disobedience–with violence, as it did against the Free Gaza Boats trying to break the siege. Thus, it delegitimizes itself even further.
Together with mainstream USA, Israel, Usrael tries to control the discourse by branding all critics as anti-Semites, self-hating Jews, etc. A non-starter in democracies. Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Richard Falk, to mention just a few recently branded that way, are neither anti-Jewish nor anti-Israel; they use transparency and dialogue–the hallmarks of democracy–constructively. Stifle that, and we get two elites listening only to themselves.
Travel these roads: delegitimize, meet violence with violence, meet nonviolence with violence, control discourse. And down the road, very close to the cliff, the South African scenario is waiting. The USA decides one day that Israel is more of a liability than an asset.
Israel is out of touch. A regime change from within is needed.
Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He is author of over 150 books on peace and related issues, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.
Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgment and link to the source, TRANSCEND Media Service-TMS, is included. Thank you.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 3 Dec 2012.
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