I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy — but that could change.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Perfidious Albion: A short lesson in history

"I won't lend a hand to the establishment of a terror state on the borders of Israel," Bush told the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, on the eve of his visit to Israel. What follows is a most poignant reminder by Sarah Honig of Jerusalem Post of not too distant history of Palestine at the core of territorial dimension of the conflict in the Middle East.

To make it up to the losers, British imperialism in 1921 gave Mesopotamia - which London called Iraq and which it ruled via another League of Nations mandate - to Feisal, one of Hussein's sons. So rooted to Fertile Crescent soil was Feisal that he previously declared himself king of Syria, only to be chucked out by the French after they had procured a mandate over that possession.

Britain obligingly fashioned an alternative realm for the frustrated Feisal by artificially stitching together the three Ottoman vilayets (regions) of Baghdad, Basra and Mosul, despite the absence of common ethnic or religious bonds. Upon these Britain imposed Sunni Hashemite rule, against which the natives kept rebelling. In 1958 the Hashemites were ignominiously deposed. Subsequent ruthless Sunni tyrants kept the pressure-cooker lid tightly sealed until benevolent Americans - perceiving democracy to be natural even in democrat-deficient environments - lifted it.

Also in 1921 an intrinsically related British treachery ripped away 77 percent of the Palestine Mandate - designated as the national home for the Jewish people - and handed it to Feisal's brother, Abdullah. He automatically sought the title of emir of Palestine, but London made him settle for Transjordan.

No Transjordanian nation appears in human chronicles (but then again, neither does a Palestine appear). Artificially conceived during the first partition of Palestine, Transjordan expanded into Jordan when in 1953 it unilaterally annexed the "West Bank." Its headliners consistently stressed that "Jordan is Palestine" and so did Palestinian hotshots, including Yasser Arafat. The PLO Covenant indeed covets all of Jordan precisely because it's Palestine. In time it became expedient, propaganda-wise, to claim that Palestine exists only west of the Jordan River, justifying the campaign to wrest more territory from Israel in order to launch a second Arab-Palestinian state.

Fearing that his Palestinian subjects would collude with the PLO to overthrow their imported Hashemite monarchy, King Hussein (Emir Abdullah's grandson) kicked out the PLO in Black September 1970. Too bad. Had Hussein failed, Arafat's heirs would today run Amman instead of Abdullah II and nobody could dispute that Palestine is divided among Jews and Arabs, with Arabs owning nearly four-fifths thereof.

Bush's grand historic "vision" is founded on abetting the falsehood of Palestinian disenfranchisement so as to help America suck up to anxious Arab autocrats (including those double-dealing Saudis). Washington's current hope is that the unholy mess his majesty's meddlers left in Iraq might be alleviated by exacerbating the mess they created in the Jewish homeland's barren badlands, which the international community earmarked for Jewish resettlement.

Hard to unsnarl the twisted strands of British-Hashemite-Iraqi-Jordanian-Palestinian-American duplicity/folly? Don't ask Bush to figure it out. His frantic bottom line is to conjure something at Israel's expense. By the time his quick-fix threatens the Jewish state's very survival, he'll be retired in Texas and it won't be his lookout any more. No skin off his nose - only ours.

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I am a cantankerous man living and working in the Silicon Valley where reading books is an abomination that is virtually unheard of, frowned upon and may be detrimental to one's career. I avoid censure by never conceding that I ever read or owned a book in my life. If anyone accidentally glimpses my scant proficiency in any subject matter, I immediately accredit it to having glanced at DrudgeReport that day.

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