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Reviews of Petras & Hammond: US Delusion of Empire - Obstacle to Peace

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Reviews of James Petras, The End of the Republic and the Delusion of Empire, Clarity, 2016

Jeremy Hammond, Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Worldview, 2016

The obstacle to peace is clear as day
The obstacle to peace is clear as day
(Image by Jeremy Hammon)
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It is time to assess the legacy that President Obama bequeaths us. These two timely books contribute to this, Hammond focusing on the "special relationship", Petras, more broadly on US imperialism. Both are pessimistic about the possibility of any change without an active, articulate citizens' movement that has staying power, thereby creating the conditions for a political renewal.

Hammond's work is detailed, documenting the period starting with Obama's 2008 victory and Israel's immediate response: its invasion of Gaza in December. Throwing down the gauntlet, which president-elect Obama refused to pick up.

There were more such attacks to come, involving seizing aid flotillas headed for Gaza, culminating in a repeat of that full scale invasion of Gaza in 2014, both killing thousands of innocents. Hammond's main point is to separate Obama's weak, nice words -- "the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines" -- with his inability to move towards fulfilling them.

The gap between word and deed is really an abyss here. Either Obama is helpless, cowardly or cynical. Perhaps he will tell us someday -- when it's too late to make any difference.

Hammond realized he had to document this 'legacy' and he does it well. He writes with a quiet passion which makes the ugly reality more bearable. The Palestinians arguably have it worse than any other victim of imperialism, being under daily, direct imperial attack, not just the "soft power" behind-the-scene manipulation of local politicians, etc. "We are all Palestinians now" is increasingly the credo of anyone with a heart.

'A word means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less'*

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the 1967 war of conquest that Israel launched (Menachen Begin agrees). Hammond is a 'two-stater': advocating some kind of binational state or independent states based on 1967 borders. He reveals the confusion that the hurried, chaotic UN negotiations in 1947 leading to Resolution 181 produced. The UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) recommended an Arab state be set up on 44% of Palestine, expropriating land to redistribute to Jews.

No Arab delegate or nation was included in UNSCOP, but even so, UNSCOP realized "the partition proposal was a violation of the rights of the Arabs, as well as contrary to the very Charter under which they were acting." But they recommended the partition anyway. Sounds fishy.

The UN General Assembly rejected it and supported the Arab Higher Committee's call for the recognition of a Palestinian state "which would respect human rights, fundamental freedoms and equality of all persons before the law, and would protect the legitimate rights and interests of all minorities."

But, like UNSCOP, the General Assembly backed down, adopting Resolution 181--now it sounds like a conspiracy--and the Zionists began deporting and killing Arabs, seizing land, leading up to the end of the British Mandate on May 14, 1948.

The result was called the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, and recommended the creation of independent Arab and Jewish States and a Special International Regime for the city of Jerusalem. Hammond argues that the resolution "neither partitioned Palestine nor conferred upon the Zionist leadership any legal authority to declare the state of Israel."

Sounds to me like it did--after arm-twisting by the US. That's certainly what Humpty Dumpty would say. The Arabs clearly agree with Hammond. That's why they dared take on the state-of-the-art Israelis, armed by the US, British and Soviets, facing a rag-tag, pathetic multi-national force using WWI discards and donkeys.

So it looks like Resolution 181 was indeed a "partition plan", which Israel was able to massage into its 'facts on the ground', leaving behind a "frozen war". Until 1967, when Israel seized what was left and began to settle it with new Jewish immigrants.

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Eric writes for Al-Ahram Weekly and PressTV. He specializes in Russian and Eurasian affairs. His "Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games", "From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization" and "Canada (more...)

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