Feb 29, 2008

The Diplomacy of Buffoons

Condoleezza Rice talking in a closed system expresses sympathy for the death of a college student, general concern about the treatment of the citizens of Gaza and about deaths of Palestinian citizens. But it's generalized. Specific about an Israeli student, but not for the baby killed by the Israelis as collateral damage?

Not for two farmers killed in their fields last week when a tank artillery shell was fired. Collateral damage? Or perhaps Israel's high-tech version of the Kassams falling on Sderot? You can have bad intelligence or you can fire just to scare the hell out of the farmers, or you can fire off your homemade rockets and keep your fingers crossed that they will kill someone. Either way, who cares about really trying to figure out how to stop the violence on either side?

And then the final absurdity: the rockets must stop, she says, they must stop. So who is she going to talk to? She who immediately condemned Hamas when they won the elections and became the elected majority party of Gaza and the Occupied Territories. She who announced that Hamas was a terrorist organization so we don't deal with them. She who supported the Israeli withholding of funds legitimately due to the Palestinian government in the beginning of the collective punishment? She who failed to consider even talking to Hamas indirectly when they made back channel overtures and indeed even unilaterally ceased fire in the subtle hope that it might convince the Israelis and the US and the EU to recognize them and start just to talk?

Perhaps she thinks that even though Fatah is not in Gaza, but is in the Occupied Territories that Fatah can stop the rockets? Who stops the rockets? Can anyone? When she says the rockets must stop, who is she expecting to stop them? God? Does she ever think that the only way to stop them is to try to talk to the ones who are firing them?

This is the mind set that is equal to the passive voice, the disembodied sentences with no agents, the child in a Bill Cosby monologue that insists that "it broke." This is the voice of the esteemed citizen just stopped for speeding, "Don't you know who I am? Don't you know who is talking to you?"

Were it not so tragic, one could laugh uproariously at this madness, this diplomacy of buffoons. This is Bergson's definition of the comic: the rigid personality persisting in behavior despite the knowledge that her demand will not be listened to. The rockets must stop. If this is not a clear indication that as much as we loathe them we must talk to our enemies, then I don't know what further example is needed.

She will continue to make demands to the clouds, to the trees, to the stones. They are more liable to answer than Hamas or vengeful splinter groups in Gaza who fire the rockets in retaliation.

And while I am at it, the Kassam rockets—homemade, inaccurate, wounding or killing almost at random since they make it in the general direction of a town—they are the warfare of buffoons on the other side, people who cut off noses to spite their face. They are the gang that cannot shoot straight because they do not have the technology. They are the jerry-rigged terrorists.

These Kassams are opposed to Israel's almost accurate missile assassinations. I say almost accurate because they strike the targeted vans, or perhaps they hit an apartment in which the intended victims were thought to be, but might have left—during the moment between the intelligence and the button pushing the trigger pulling, but it just happens to kill some women and babies as “collateral damage” . . . ah yes, collateral damage, the cowardly euphemism that allows us not to give that techno-beast its proper name: state-sponsored terrorism.

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