"Let nothing human be alien to me"- Terence

Friday, March 5, 2010

Other Article

This one is a long semi-fisking, so it gets its own post.  Also, I get paid more if I have more posts.

That second sentence contains many errors.

The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs has a strange piece about Yemen's famous vote in the 1990 Security Council.  Briefly, Yemen, newly unified (not "reunified") voted against the US coalition to get Iraq out of Kuwait.  The US shut off aid, and the Gulf countries (especially Saudi Arabia) kicked out their migrant Yemeni workers, which destroyed precious remittance money.  This destroyed a fragile economy that was dealing with unification (for context, look at how long rich Germany struggled to merge two economies).  The reverberations of this vote are only now subsiding, with the Gulf is recognizing that maybe Yemen shouldn't fail. I think the article, by Ian Williams, does a good job in talking about that aspect.

I say it is strange for a few reasons.  First, there is this paragraph.
A few years ago, an incident like the Christmas Day crotch bomber might have precipitated another heedless attack on Yemen, a small faraway country of which U.S. politicians like Joseph Lieberman know little and care less. Somehow, they can always countenance a military response against almost any Arab country. When ignorant intelligence goes to war hand-in-hand with such galloping prejudices, the consequences of a massive American incursion into a complex and variegated society such as Yemen would be unimaginable—if it were not that we have actually seen the results in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Nothing could be more calculated to turn Hillary Clinton’s words about Yemen becoming a regional and global threat into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

No, I am second to few in my disdain for Joe Lieberman, as his Yemen comments were insane.   But it is strange to be a moral scold when the outcome has been the opposite of what he criticizes.  I also don't quite get how he seems to distance Hillary Clinton from American actions, as if she was standing on the outside and warning people about this self-fulfilling prophecy, instead of being part of the team that crafted as far better one, one which I imagine the author might approve. 

It gets odder, though.

He (Gordon Brown) even seems to have reinforced Obama’s disinclination to send in the bombers and the Marines, not least since both Washington and Sana’a seem to have realized that too visible an American hand would be guaranteed to unite all the contending parties under a jihadist banner.

Not a jihadist one.  Certainly it would be a propaganda boon for AQAP and sundry other jihadists, but it wouldn't unite the south and the Huthis.  This is a wild misread of the situation.  Still, just a misread.  We haven't gotten to the crazy yet.

Even so, while Brown’s Jan. 27 conference on Yemen was important, in terms of combating terrorism, it was only a sideshow to George Mitchell’s mission to Israel. Economic development and some reining in of corruption in Sana’a might ease the tribal and regional conflicts, but as long as the U.S. sides uncritically with Israel then al- Qaeda will recruit people to carry out its work—and to sanctify whatever tribal battles it puts itself at the head of.
And unless Obama stops the checks and votes going to Binyamin Netanyahu, Mitchell will fail and the bombers will succeed.

Wait, what? Where the hell did Israel come from?   Part of me feels like this was put in just to give Marty Peretz a seizure.   But no: for an article that criticized the "ignorant intelligence" and "galloping prejudice" (a nice phrase, admittedly) of the US, to then assume that the number one concern in Yemen happily dovetails with the ax the author has to grind is the height of narcissism.
People in Yemen don't particularly care for what is happening in Palestine, and yes, it animates some, but it is of far less concern than food, water, money, and the combined neglect and oppression of their own government.   It is the tribal and regional conflicts that are providing the majority of the fuel for AQAP, and a good bulk of its recruiting theology.  There is no need, except for reflexive prejudice, to include Israel into this.  I can't stand the current Israeli government, and am very worried about its rightward lurch, but that doesn't have anything to do with Yemen.  Much like Lieberman and the neo-cons, the author is imposing his worldview onto Yemen, grafting their as awkwardly as that of the most rabid, US-centric warmonger.  Neither side leads us any closer to a solution. 

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