FRED HALLIDAY MISINFORMED? Is this another example of transatlantic differences in perspective? In earlier this week, the veteran British Middle East specialist and prof at the London School of economics Fred Halliday was quoted as having said that, “Anyone who wants a just Palestinian solution should be supporting a war in Iraq… It would be good for Palestinian aspirations.”
His reasoning on this was that, “We are far more likely to see real progress on Palestine if there is a war in Iraq… The Americans will push on it and compromised Arab leaders will probably try to revive the Saudi proposals that came through the Arab League last year and have since been on ice.” He pointed to a notable precedent: the fact that the aftermath of the last Gulf War in 1991 led to the convening of the Madrid Middle East Peace Conference. “There was this positive linkage,” he said…
I strongly demur.
In fact, if Halliday really said what he was quoted as saying, I would wonder what planet he’s been living on over the past two years?? Has he left his LSE ivory tower recently and ventured across either the Atlantic Ocean or the Mediterranean Sea to see what the true situation regarding W’s Middle East “policy” has become since January 2001?
What I’ve been reading in Ha’Aretz pretty consistently over the past few months, what I certainly found out in numerous places during my two trips to Israel/Palestine since last April, and what I continually read and encounter all the time here in the United States is that this administration ain’t at all your father’s Bush administration when it comes to Arab-Israeli peacemaking.
Egged on by his friends in both the U.S. evangelical-Christian-Zionist movement and in the strongly pro-Likud branch of the Jewish-American community, W has aligned his agenda almost totally with Sharon’s. He has given Sharon carte blanche to do what he wants in the occupied territories (which Rumsfeld even once described as “the so-called occuped territories”). The much-awaited speech of last June 24 in which W laid out his approach to Palestinian-Israeli peacemaking was greeted with huge delight by Sharon and his aides– not surprising, since they practically wrote it themselves.
And W has even, disgracefully, incorporated many aspects of Sharon’s ultra-tough-guy policies on dealing with perceived opponents into the practice of the U.S. government: extrajudicial killings, disregard for international humanitarian law, use of massively escalatory policies, contempt for broad alliances, etc etc.
None of which policies, as applied by Sharon on behalf of the Israelis, has brought them even one whit closer to the security and wellbeing for which they long. And nor can such policies be expected to work any better for W…
But what I’d love to hear from Fred Halliday– if he really did utter those quotes cited above– is where on earth can he find any evidence at all that Bush may be headed in the direction of moving, post-Iraq, toward the kind of serious and fairminded engagement in Arab-Israeli peacemaking that might help meet the Palestinians’ aspirations?
I certainly haven’t found any such evidence. And with the likes of Elliot Abrams, Doug Feith, Richard Perle, etc running Washington’s Middle East policy it is highly unlikely that anyone could do so.
I can understand that maybe from London things might look a little different. Tony Blair has been rushing around trying to reassure the Palestinians, the other Arabs, and the Europeans that he, at least, is serious about getting the Palestinian-Israeli “road map” moving well forward both before and after the war against Saddam.
Poor Tony. He believes he can make a difference! He believes he can help steer the juggernaut of Bushian militarism in a direction where it might do some good.
Maybe he’s sincere in believing all that. But the rest of us, who have seen the reality and strength of the organic link between Sharon and the Bush administration from close up, also need to make our own judgments.
Fred Halliday, who I’m assuming is not totally Blair’s lapdog (can a lapdog have his own lapdog, I wonder?) should make his own informed judgment on this too.

4 thoughts on “FRED HALLIDAY MISINFORMED? Is this”

  1. RIDICULOUS. Though I’m not surprised,having read your works on the Shi’a of Lebanon,which pale in comparison to those of Augustus Richard Norton. You claim a “U.S. evangelical-Christian-Zionist movement,” a little bit of reach, but typical of the Leftist academia that in the last 50 years has typified anything American, anything faith-based as evil without question. It’s understandable though,in the face of 80 years of European failure to secure peace on her own shores,her own shame in acceeding to the evils of the extreme Left and Right,and her loss of world dominance.

  2. Now we have to look at the situation in Palestine/Israel after “the liberation” (!), which should be supported by the Palestinians as a condition to get a part of the cake thereafter, so Halliday. Now Mrs Cobban can show , who is right. Now again someone will come and advise the Palestinians to support the Amis in their “right” war against Syria and then Iran to get their 43% or maybe less of the West Bank. Oh just cause!

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