Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ibn Khaldoun's Lesson

The middle is a hard place to be, and a harder place to remain. To some, I sound like a “Zionist Apologist”, to others, like a “Naïve Idealist”. I am neither.

I am a realist.

There is no such a thing as “Military Solutions”; it is a logical fallacy. The Military is a tool, and should be used in the service of a specific policy, itself the implementation of a longer term vision.

The current situation is not new. The process we find ourselves stuck in has been described much earlier by Ibn Khaldun, the great Arab historian. Whenever a community united by ethnicity or common interest (“العصبيٌة”; or “Assabiya”), needs to reach power and maintain its hold on it (“المك”; or “Mulk”), it relies on a religious or political ideology (“الدٌعوة”; or “Daawa”).

So, In countries like Syria and Iraq, clans founded their claim to power on a “Daawa” such as the “Popular Democracy” and “Socialist Equality”, co-opting Arab nationalism of the Baath Party. And today’s Israelis are not much better, having mostly moved far away from early ideals. Across the region, all those nice members of the “Assabiya” have now secured their “Mulk” well in hand, and are focusing on securing power by all means, focusing on narrow self interests.

This was made easy in all our countries.

We have all inherited from colonial times an apparatus that had invested many more resources in military-security apparatus than in civil-legal institutions to maintain control either over restive societies or unaccommodating neighbours. In some countries, the mokhabarat enforce the prevailing orthodoxy. In others, a common ideological groupthink takes care of that.

Care to move on?

Then Challenge your own mindset…

Only there will you find the real “Infrastructure of Terror”.

...Before this BF mess moves north...

6 comments:

Nobody said...

So, In countries like Syria and Iraq, clans founded their claim to power on a “Daawa” such as the “Popular Democracy” and “Socialist Equality”, co-opting Arab nationalism of the Baath Party. And today’s Israelis are not much better, having mostly moved far away from early ideals. Across the region, all those nice members of the “Assabiya” have now secured their “Mulk” well in hand, and are focusing on securing power by all means, focusing on narrow self interests.

And on what particular ideology Israelis rely these days? If anything the early ideals were a political ideology. If anything Israel has been massively de-ideologized over the last decades. The end of your line simply negates its beginning.

ghassan karam said...

Jeha,
There must be something in the water or maybe in the air that prevents residents of the ME to solve problems instead of aggravating them. You are absolutely correct to point out that many a problem in the world does not have a military or technical solution. This fact has been pointed out by many thinkers over and over again. All what is needed is a change in attitude and behaviour.
Israel has not learned yet that it cannot "buy" security and acceptance through military means. Israel has already won besides 1948, the 1967 ,1973 and 1982 battles not to mention 2006 and the recent Gaza onslaught. But what has it gained outside the military battles? Absolutely nothing. Actually the military "victories" of 2006 and the recent Gaza adventure were futile efforts that demonstrated that practice runs by a sophisticated air force can topple buildings over their civilian inhabitants. Israel would have been so much better off without these two recent brutalities.
But the same also applies to Hamas, HA and all their ilk. They can make all the bombastic claims that they want about their "divine" victories when the only tangible resu;ts of these misadventures were the killings of thousands of innocent non combatants and the destruction of what little infrastructure the Palestinian civilians had. Their claim of a victory when in essence they have caused the death and destruction of many is nothing short of a purely delusional Orwellian rhetoric.
In the final analysis , however, both Hamas and HA do not pose an existential threat to the state of Israel and are not in a position to make peace with Israel. They are too weak in order to influence negotiations with Israel. Israel on the other hand is in a position of power and it can make the Palestinians a credible offer for peace if it really wants to. Unfortunately no Israeli government has shown that it possese the wisdom and courage that are required to make peace happen.. Peace will become a reality as soon as the Israelis decide that they are willing to go back to the 1967 borders and accept to live in peace with their next door neighbours.

Nobody said...

Israel has not learned yet that it cannot "buy" security and acceptance through military means. Israel has already won besides 1948, the 1967 ,1973 and 1982 battles not to mention 2006 and the recent Gaza onslaught. But what has it gained outside the military battles? Absolutely nothing. Actually the military "victories" of 2006 and the recent Gaza adventure were futile efforts that demonstrated that practice runs by a sophisticated air force can topple buildings over their civilian inhabitants. Israel would have been so much better off without these two recent brutalities.

One would think that in 1948 the Arabs were begging Israel not to resort to military means while Israel rejected compromise and sent five armies to attack neighboring Arab countries. Brilliant. And I was under impression that it was the Arabs who were learning all this time that this conflict can't be resolved by military means. What a fallacy.

And so what Israel gained outside the military battles? I would advise you to talk to one of the Darfurian refugees looking for shelter here. I am sure they can explain this to you in a very comprehensible manner.

In fact, it's very clear what the war of 2006 and "adventure" in Gaza have achieved. They busted a certain doctrine still popular in the Arab world and elsewhere which claims that while Israel can defeat regular Arab armies, the IDF is ineffective against guerrilla warfare. There was always a problem with this concept since from the moment such a guerrilla force takes over a country, it becomes a state that tries to fight another state using guerrilla tactics and as such it can't defend its military and civilian infrastructure. The lack of hostilities on the border with Lebanon and in the West Bank this time suggests that some people have indeed learned the lessons of the last war in Lebanon, but not Hamas who had to go through this one more time to get convinced.

Neither I see how Israel could be much better without the last two wars. Hezbollah would have stopped its cross border raids? Or maybe the government of Lebanon would have agreed to negotiate something? Israel repeatedly called on the Lebanese government to strike a deal. Her calls were rejected. Now don't be surprised if you see Israel going to talk to your boss.

Jeha said...

Nobody,

Thank you for proving my point. Good luck keep that mental "Mulk" of yours.

Nobody said...

Jeha

There are whole essays published on the Web about these "Thank you for proving my point" one-liners. I am sure you can do better

Roman Kalik said...

I'm afraid that you've basically ignored Nobody's last comment here without due concern for its actual content. He has a valid point in this case.

You can argue about this or that mistake in Israeli local and foreign policy that, had it not been committed, would have brought a different reality to the fore... but frankly, I can't honestly say that you require such foresight and political moves from the other regional players, be it Palestinian leaders or your own Lebanese government.

And I know the reason to that as well as you. The regional politics of most Arab states are just as stagnant and static as always. You expect Israel to be the more flexible one in the regional political sphere because, as it seems to me, you believe it to be the only one that can actually afford the luxury of doing that.

I'm afraid that most Israelis much prefer waiting for such "flexibility" to appear in other countries in the region before we commit ourselves to any bending ourselves.

And by the way, Ghassan, if it really is something in the water in the ME that's causing our problems, I assure you that we seem to have that particular factor taken care of... we won't actually HAVE any water soon. Israel's already building new desalination plants at an accelerated pace now that the current drought is making matters worse, with contracts having the National Water Company buying water from the plant's contractors at the price the end-customers would have paid...

Other countries in the region should start planning ahead as well. At this point, meetings about re-dividing the regional water supplies won't help much - not only do we not have the power the old colonial powers had when they did the dividing, I don't think we have much left to ration out and re-direct as it is in most of the area.