War cheerleaders often give two justifications for America’s ongoing, seemingly endless occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan: 1) We’re there for the good of those we are occupying, and 2) We’re there to prevent that country from attacking us in the future. Those justifications can also be used to justify Israel’s occupation of Palestine, as New York Times columnist Ross Douthat shows us today.
Douthat’s argument as a whole is virtually incoherent, and after defending the Crusades and unsurprisingly characterizing Israel as The Little State Who Could, he offers this insight.
Israel’s critics often make this extrication [from the occupied territories] sound easy. In reality, it promises to involve enormous sacrifices, of land and everyday security alike — whether in the form of extraordinary concessions to a divided Palestinian leadership, or a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank that would be more wrenching than the 2005 retreat from Gaza.
What’s more, either approach would almost certainly invite stepped-up violence from the irreconcilable Palestinian factions and their Iranian and Syrian backers, who will see any retreat as a cue to escalate the struggle. [emphasis added.]
Let’s recap. In Douthat’s nimble mind, the violence that Israel is waging on the citizens of Gaza is simply taken as a given and is not in any way responsible for the animosity receives from its neighbors. Withdrawing from the occupied territories, however, will “almost certainly” result in those blood-thirsty Muslims stepping up their attacks.
In the past several years, Israel has bombed Lebanon and Gaza and possibly committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the latter, according to UN reports. That country’s blockade of Gaza has caused one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. The United States has refused to condemn Israel’s conduct in raiding the Freedom Flotilla, and continues to occupy two Muslim countries as well as bombing a third, Pakistan.
Yet Muslim countries are still considered to be aggressors by the right-wing in this country and by the media generally. It’s that idea, that the United States and Israel are always “responding” to aggression, never instigating it, that determines how narratives of victim-hood are created and play out. Greenwald has more on the psychology of how countries self-identify as victims — though they are in fact the aggressors — here.