The Impossibility of Negotiated Settlements in the Gaza and Ukraine Conflicts

Although some analysts have given reasons why negotiated solutions to the wars in the Gaza and Ukraine are not in the cards, for the most part, they have also been hesitant to say that in a simple noun-verb sentence. Perhaps they hope against hope that a frame-breaking event will radically shift the current boundary conditions for the various parties. Or they hew to the “messaging can create realities” school of thought, and don’t want to legitimate very bad outcomes, no matter how likely they seem. Or it may be that as a matter of personal style, they are averse to being declarative.

So let’s look at why, despite the new round of Western officials (and in the case of Gaza, what is coming to be called the Global Majority) and the press making noises about talks the Middle East and Russia-Ukraine, there are yawning chasms between what the two sides are willing to do, and no prospect of meaningful movement in their positions even if the key players change. If you parse down the problem to key considerations, it’s not hard to find the underlying rigidities.

With Israel and Palestine, there is a widespread consensus, which includes many non-Zionist Jews, that the only route to a durable peace is the two state solution. But the current hard right government and an ever-more-powerful settler cohort are committed to a policy of securing Israel for Jews only, and on top of that, a “historical” Israel which means more territory. Existing conditions, such as the degree of balkanization of Palestinian living space, also render a two state solution untenable. And the Hamas October 7 attacks have radicalized some of the moderate Jews in Israel. A Palestinian state would have a military. Not hard in the current climate to scaremonger around that prospect.

It is true that Prime Minister Netanyahu has powerful personal incentives to keep the crisis going as long as possible. The prospect of imprisonment wonderfully focuses the mind. Therefore US punditocracy too often depicts Netanyahu were the problem. The implication is f he could be removed, the situation would become more tractable. That’s false.

While Netanyahu has been the lead architect of the anti-Palestinian policies and is an extremely cunning politician, those positions and practices are now very well embedded. As former British ambassador Alastair Crooke explained:

“Israel” has shattered into two equally weighted factions holding to two irreconcilable visions of “Israel’s” future; two mutually opposing readings of history and of what it means to be Jewish.

The fissure could not be more complete. Except it is. One faction, which holds a majority in parliament, is broadly Mizrahi — a former underclass in Israeli society; and the other, largely well-to-do liberal Ashkenazi.

So, what has this to do with Al-Aqsa Flood? Well, the Right in Netanyahu’s government has two long-standing commitments. One is to rebuild the (Jewish) Temple on ‘Temple Mount’ (Haram al-Shariff).

Just to be clear, that would entail demolishing Al-Aqsa [one of the holiest sites for Muslims].

The second overriding commitment is to the founding of “Israel”, on the “Land of Israel”. And again, to be clear, this (in their view) would entail clearing Palestinians from the West Bank. Indeed, the settlers have been cleansing Palestinians from swaths of the West Bank over the past year (notably between Ramallah and Jehrico).

On Thursday morning (two days preceding Al-Aqsa Flood), more than 800 settlers stormed the Mosque Compound, under the full protection of Israeli forces. The drumbeat of such provocations is rising.

This is nothing new. The First Intifada was triggered by (then) PM Sharon making a provocative visit into the mosque. I was a part of Senator George Mitchell’s Presidential Committee investigating that incident. Even then, it was clear that Sharon intended the visit to fuel the fire of Religious nationalism. At that time, the Temple Mount Movement was a minnow; today it has ministers in Cabinet and in key security positions — and has promised its followers to build the ‘Third Temple’.

The second problem is that the economic marginalization and cordoning of the Palestine population has become so advanced that it looks impossible to unwind it….tacitly, without costs to Israelis that they would not accept. Key sections from an article in Vox from February 2023 by Jonathan Guyer. Note his prescient call of the risk of a third Initifada:

The US policy does not take into account how entrenched the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem has become. Israeli settlement growth in the West Bank has made a viable Palestinian state all but impossible. The US-led talks between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization have been on hiatus since President Barack Obama’s second term, and even at the time, there was little hope that they would amount to much. And Arab states like Morocco, UAE, and Bahrain have abandoned Palestinians, as they normalize relations with the State of Israel and eliminate any incentives for negotiations toward a Palestinian state…

But the actions that have foreclosed the possibility of a two-state solution are decades in the making….Israeli actions, like construction of a hulking, concrete separation barrier between Israel and the occupied West Bank, have rendered the proposed borders of the future Palestinian state moot. Further cut off by Israeli settlements, Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank has been reduced to unconnected cantons, with a network of settler-only roads sometimes being the only connection between them. This brutal new geography puts into question a Palestinian state’s economic viability…

Meanwhile, the Palestinian government run by 87-year-old Mahmoud Abbas is fractured, dysfunctional, and increasingly authoritarian. It also essentially is the subcontractor of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

The third issue is despite the US in theory having leverage over Israel, in practice we don’t due to the power of the Israel lobby in the Beltway. Guyer’s article pointed out that when the Biden State Department top human rights appointee Sarah Margon had her confirmation held up for two years over a tweet that approved of AirBnB removing listings in settlements in the West Bank. Ranking member and gentile James Risch depicted Jewish Margon as an anti-Semitic. She eventually withdrew her candidacy.

As Professor John Mearsheimer put it in his interview last Friday with Judge Napolitano (starting at 1:34):

The fact is the United States and Israel are joined at the hip. There are no two countries in recorded history that have a closer history that have a closer relationship than the United States and Israel. And when this crisis broke out on October 7, President Biden made it very clear we would give Israel whatever aid it needed, and that meant both weapons and money, that we would support Israel to the hilt. And we have done that.

Once you take into account that tight relationship, how committed we already are to this war, it’s very difficult for us to back off and to begin to put pressure on Israel to do X or Y or Z. There is no question that Blinken can try to go to the Middle East and pressure Israel, but the Israelis can tell him “No” and then what is he going to do? And if he decides he’s going to then get tough, which he isn’t going to do, American domestic, the power of the Israel lobby, would kick in and make it very difficult for the Biden Administration to put pressure on Israel.

Mearsheimer charitably depicts Biden and Blinken as interested in curbing Israel, if nothing else for the benefit of Israel. But that’s hard to see. Alastair Crooke pointed out in (also in a Judge Napolitano interview) that Biden had done less than any recent president to advance the two state solution (I infer that means even Trump gave it more lip service).

Biden also has the established habit of saying things that are expedient at the time that have no relationship to his policy aims, like telling China’s President Xi that the US supports the China one-state policy, then turning around and continuing to escalate in Taiwan. So he and Blinken are mouthing the two state remedy because even though it is no answer, it at least makes them appear responsible and fair-minded when they are anything but.

So one has to wonder what the latest Blinken round of visits to the Middle East was supposed to accomplish, since all it did was expose our impotence. Even the Financial Times could not hide that the meetings with Netanyahu and then Arab leaders were a train wreck. Netanyahu rejected even any itty bitty ceasefire, branded a humanitarian pause, to get relief in, demanding that Hamas release all hostages first.1 The fact that Israel has welched or underperformed on its past begrudging promises to let trucks from Egypt in, would make that a non-starter even before getting to Hamas being sure to stick to its position of wanting to trade hostages for Palestinian prisoners. And of course the Arab states are not about to budge. Blinken got a more pointed version of what he was told before. From the pink paper:

Antony Blinken faced intense pressure from regional allies to facilitate an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, laying bare the stark gap between US support for Israel and the outrage in Arab capitals over the siege and bombardment of the strip….

Sameh Shoukry, the Egyptian foreign minister, demanded an unconditional ceasefire, a commitment that Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu bluntly rejected after meeting Blinken on Friday.

This section reveals Blinken as a rank amateur:

Blinken had been expected to “brainstorm” with Arab diplomats the future of Gaza, home to 2.3mn Palestinians, after the war ends. Safadi bluntly rejected those talks as premature.

“How can we even entertain what will happen in Gaza when we do not know how Gaza will be left?” he asked Blinken. “Are we going to be talking about a wasteland? Are we talking about a whole population reduced to refugees?”

This comes off as the sort of thing someone who had just read classic texts on negotiating trying to put in practice: “Gee, let’s get a dialogue going! Let’s get to ‘Yes’ on some less fraught issues to pave the way for further agreement!”

In addition, “brainstorming” is cringemakingly American. You don’t do that with people who are mad at you. You don’t do that in a crisis. Between independent entities, you do not do that at the top level. You have low level people or emissaries float ideas.

So why this exercise? The worst is that Biden and Blinken come off as so disconnected from reality that they though they might get someone to accommodate US needs.

But some more generous possibilities: To try to get in front of a mob and pretend we the indispensable power, are leading a parade? To try to reverse some of the damage to our reputation as more of the world recoils from our not stopping or even criticizing the genocide in Gaza? To try to placate American Muslims who are moving away from Team Dem to the degree that the party might lose Michigan? Perhaps insiders comfort themselves with the thought that American supporters of Palestine have nowhere to go; Donald Trump is a rabid supporter. But they forget that these voters can just stay home. If there was a PR angle, that turned out to be a bust too.

The information on the IDF progress against Hamas fighters is thin and not likely to be reliable. But even though it seems likely that Israel will be able to declare a victory even though that will amount clearing Gaza of civilians more than destroying Hamas, Israel is likely to suffer real damage in the process.

As to the inevitable failure of the kinda-sorta revival of the idea of having Ukraine negotiate with Russia, that’s an even more obvious non-starter, despite Putin making polite noises that he’s willing to talk. The excitement about a new NBC article stating that the US is pressing Ukraine to negotiate is just another example of the Ukraine coalition side talking to itself without considering seriously what it might take to get the other side to agree.

However, on a practical level, this does start to let the air our of the Ukraine hype balloon.

As with Israel, we have the apparent obstacle of a non-negotiable leader obscuring other fundamental problems. We can go through the usual litany. The West has repeatedly been a bad faith actor, with its welching on its “not one inch further east” promise, its gleeful admission of duplicity in the Minsk Accords, it not delivering on its part of the grain deal bargain, and getting Ukraine to renege on its preliminary deal in March 2022. The West keeps talking about having Ukraine negotiate with Russia when Russia knows and the West has admitted that Ukraine is a proxy. You don’t talk to the money, you talk to the organ grinder.

The West also continues to be well behind the state of play for what its side would need to concede even to get Russia’s attention. Merely allowing Russia to keep the territory it presently occupies won’t do when the Ukraine army is now increasingly admitted in the Anglosphere press to be low on arms and men with no prospect of getting to adequate levels. That translates into collapse being in the foreseeable future. As many observers, including yours truly, have pointed out, Russian officials have increasingly signaled that they intend to return formerly Russian land to Russia. That has been taken to mean areas with significant ethnic Russian populations, meaning the territory east of the Dnieper and the Black Sea coast.2

But we described the showstopper in our September post, Original Sin: How the Weak Legal Foundations of NATO Make Negotiations With Russia Virtually Impossible. One of Russia’s fundamental demands is that Ukraine never enter NATO. NATO so far has rejected that idea with hostility. But even if NATO were to have a Damascene conversion, “NATO” cannot commit as a body. Each member state has to agree individually. As we wrote then, expanding on an important post by Aurelien:

So this goes a long way towards explaining why the so-called Collective West gets so wrapped around the axle of having to negotiate with itself. If “NATO” has to act in some manner to settle the conflict in Ukraine, every member of NATO (an as Aurelien argues, potentially even interested parties like Switzerland) would have to come to an agreed position, since each country would have to sign off individually on any pact for it to amount to a NATO-equivalent treaty.

Aside from the procedural mess, do you think the Baltic states would ever agree?

So again, we need to remind readers that despite the US floating yet more negotiation trial balloon, nothing had changed. And tragically, it’s pretty certain nothing will change.


1 Seymour Hersh’s new article, How the Hostage Crisis Could End, based on accounts from “an American official” on the claim that ngotiations with the Hamas political leadership are underway. Hersh also cites a supposed Middle East expert, but this expert was spitballing on how Hamas political leader Yayha Sinwar might respond (I really do not like Hersh’s slippery formulation with respect to this guy: “…who knows of the seriousness of current hostage talks.” If he really had inside knowledge, he would not need to speculate.) His other sources, which include an Israel general, are not corroborating the fact of these supposed negotiations.

The claim here is that the Hamas political leadership was in the dark as to what the military wing was going to execute on October 7, the military force is collapsing, about to suffocate in the tunnels, and the political leadership is willing to sell the armed forces out to save their hides. Specifically, we are told Israel is negotiating for the men in the tunnels to be released if Hamas also frees all hostages and will subject everyone who participated in the October 7 attack to war crimes trials, including “combat leaders” who are accused of witnessing the purported crimes and not attempting to stop them. This account also presupposes that most of the hostages still alive after all the shelling and the political wing of Hamas can get whoever is left standing in the military wing to release them. Pray tell, why should they cooperate? Even Hersh has to concede this scheme comes off as something “out of a bad novel.” One has to think the Hersh account is nothing more than yet another idea cooked up by the US that is going nowhere.

Perhaps Hersh will be proven correct, but I have trouble buying this as anything more than the US and Israel depicting Hamas as a spent fighting force in Gaza and to get the meme that Hamas committed war crimes back in circulation as Israel is being correctly accused of mass scale war crimes in Gaza, and increasingly, genocide. Scott Ritter can be melodramatic, but as an ex-Marine, he often talks about soldiers putting their lives on the line, as in that’s understood to be fundamental to the role. Hamas fighters had to expect that they could die in this operation. Not that anyone welcomes that outcome, but one has to think that the rank and file, and even more the leadership, were prepared. Why should they let Israel attempt to reclaim the moral high ground, particularly since Israel is also demanding death for any Hamas member who is successfully prosecuted? Dead is dead. Better to die with some dignity, fighting.

2 Putin has started to argue that Kiev might be subject to incorporation as “historical Russia.” However, Putin has also made a point to hold elections to validate territorial acquisition and it’s doubtful there would be a credible win in Western Ukraine ex its South. And holding hostile territory is corrupting. So this section of his speech may be a warning that Russia sees it as legitimate to march to Lviv if it has to….but then what happens? Alexander Mercouris also called attention to his remarks at Meeting with members of the Civic Chamber. Key section:

First of all, we all know very well – these are the facts of history – that all, as you said, the South Russian lands were given to the Soviet Ukraine during the formation of the Soviet Union.

There was no Ukraine as part of the empire, there were regions, and it came in the 16th century, Ukraine, consisted of three regions: Kiev and the Kiev region, Zhitomir, Chernigov – that’s all. It came from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, from Poland voluntarily. We have a letter in our archives – I have already mentioned it – we, the Russian Orthodox people, appeal to Moscow, to the Tsar, and so on. In an attempt to defend our rights, we addressed the same letter to Warsaw: we, the Russian Orthodox people, ask to preserve this and that, demand, and so on.

Then what happened happened. They started to form the Soviet Union and created a huge Ukraine, and primarily and to a large extent at the expense of the South Russian lands – all the Black Sea region and so on, although all these cities, as we know, were founded by Catherine the Great after a series of wars with the Ottoman Empire.

Ok, so it happened, modern Russia came to terms with it after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But when they started to exterminate everything Russian there – that is, of course, extreme. And in the end they declared that Russians are not an indigenous nation in these lands – it is a complete outrage, you know? And at the same time, they also started exterminating Russians in Donbas to the applause of the West.

So if you read this carefully (and what follows), Putin is still concerned with the treatment of ethnic Russians, but warns this issue could be considered expansively.

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  1. J

    “You don’t talk to the money, you talk to the organ grinder.”

    … But the organ grinder is the one
    with the money.

    Pretty sure you meant “monkey”,

    1. urdsama

      I actually like the typo.

      It’s fitting to the current situation: seeing someone trying to have a conversation with a $10 bill (or your money of choice), while the organ grinder looks on in confusion.

  2. DJG, Reality Czar

    Many thanks, Yves Smith. As always, I cannot take exception to the facts as presented or to your synthesis: Negotiations look unlikely.

    First, a question of rhetoric, as described / diagnosed in the footnote: Is important to clear away all of the stuff such as “Hamas as terrorists,” “attack on the kibbutz was a pogrom,” “two important democracies,” “Russian aggression”–all of which are litmus tests being put in place in the first paragraphs of many articles by McCarthyites. Clearing out the absurd rhetoric may lead toward recognition of the matter at hand: Negotiations.

    Although one must pay the piper, I am not sure any longer if the U S of A is the piper or the organ grinder.

    This sentence is remarkable: “brainstorming” is cringemakingly American. You don’t do that with people who are mad at you. You don’t do that in a crisis.

    In short, it isn’t that Biden, Blinken, Sullivan, Hillary, and so on are detached from reality. It is that they are “cringemakingly American.” They assume that their way of thinking is the only way. Therefore, they come off as hollow men (and hollow women) who can’t be trusted around the silverware. It is also a sign of a cultural collapse. (Less talk about “civil war” in the U S of A and more talk about cultural collapse may be in order.)

    All of which is to say: The U S of A may have to be reduced to one more party in negotiations. I am thinking of how South Africa extricated itself from a situation that supposedly couldn’t be negotiated. Yet it was. Was the U S of A instrumental? (I will await correction from our South African commenters, but I’d venture: No.)

    I am also reminded, though, of frozen wars that keep populations under control and even immiserated as in Cyprus and Sri Lanka. Cyprus is the most obvious example of why negotiations that depend too much on the U.S. and its “Greece” (sheesh) the U.K. are bound to fail. The Anglo-Americans just don’t want to talk about those “extraterritorial” military bases that truly belong to the Cypriots.

    Likewise, Israel. The U S of A is not an honest broker. Likewise, Ukraine, the U S of A and its attack poodle, England, are not honest brokers.

    What is needed is a peace conference for each of these situations: Ukraine: A new Congress of Vienna. The two-state solution: Maybe the U.N. This is not outside of human experience.

    But on the U.S. end, it may be that Americans have to admit that the wars will go on because of cultural collapse. And once there is cultural collapse, the war comes home. And it already has.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I well remember Sri Lanka. That civil war went on decade after decade and nothing serious was done to stop that by the west but only endless negotiatins. At one stage India went in to sort things out and broke their teeth there forcing them to get out. It was a slow drip, drip of terrorist attacks and in fact I understand that suicide vests were first used there. But then the Chinese went in with aid, money, weaponry, technical expertise plus political cover at the UN and before too long the government rolled up the rebels and ended that civil war. But the west was absolutely furious with the Sri Lankans for doing so and were talking about war crime charges and were making all sorts threats. It was a revelation to listen to.

      1. hk

        I kept thinking of another situation that couldn’t be negotiated: USA in 1850s. I suppose the same people would have made noises about war crimes charges against Lincoln and Sherman, among other things. (Come to think of it, they DID do that…even of they might claim otherwise by wrapping themselves in politically correct moralism.)

    2. pjay

      – “All of which is to say: The U S of A may have to be reduced to one more party in negotiations. I am thinking of how South Africa extricated itself from a situation that supposedly couldn’t be negotiated. Yet it was. Was the U S of A instrumental? (I will await correction from our South African commenters, but I’d venture: No.)”

      I’ve been thinking a lot about the obvious parallels – and differences – between these two examples. Among the differences is the absolute centrality of US support for the continued existence of Israel in its current form. If the US *really* wanted to exert pressure on Israel, it could (it has, very rarely, in the past). As Yves points out, there is no political will for this today; the Israel lobby is all powerful here. Such bipartisan capture of our entire political class was never the case with South Africa.

      The other key difference between the cases of South Africa and Israel is the centrality of the latter’s identity as an ethno-nationalist state from its very beginnings. As Yves also notes, this identity has become more and more intractable as secular Zionism has given-way to increasingly religious and conservative forms that take the idea of God’s Chosen literally. And while support from the US political class often depends on money (or other forms of political coercion), popular support for Israel in the US is especially linked to religious belief – among Christian Zionists certainly, but also from the cultural influences of such beliefs among a larger segment of the population who know little about the actual history of Israel’s founding.

      All of this certainly reinforces the title of this piece: the “Impossibility” of a negotiated settlement. Any such solution would have to reduce these impediments significantly. It’s hard to see how this might happen at this point. One would like to think that enough pictures of Palestinian children blown to bits might have an effect. But I’m not sure there is even past precedent for that outcome.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      The Congress of Vienna was done in the wake of Napoleon’s abdication, and if the carry over government elites didn’t trust each other, the soldiers and officers from these countries had worked together. Trust was a requirement of domestic politics.

      The problem with Palestine is the ’67 two state solution was always absurd given the demand of the modern world and issues like water. Too many people simply don’t know this, even people who should no better. Only absorption into a larger super state could make those viable. Then we have the current problem which is a single state can’t function either. The Israelis are committed to genocide. Even if the consequences are recognized, living and working along side Israelis is impossible.

      Kosovo like setups are necessary.

      1. hk

        The two prerequisites of a “Kosovo” vis a vis Israel are a bombing campaign against Israel lasting months and the Israeli government selling out the settlers. Both are utterly inconceivable.

        1. Kouros

          What is unconcievable at this point is a declaration by UN that Israel is an apartheid country, hell bent on ethnic cleansing, and it demands all countries to boycot, divest, and sanction Israel and its citizens.

    4. tunabe

      I’m a white South African, I grew up under Apartheid. The situation was “resolved” at the exclusive expense of the whites. It was imposed on the whites, who were told to go along or FO.
      We have accepted the outcome, even though the country has deteriorated in many ways. So to transfer the situation to Palestine would imply that the conflict be resolved at the expense of the Israelis. Getting them to agree to that may be a little harder than it was to force the whites into submission back then.

      1. Donald

        Poor white people.

        I don’t doubt South Africa has serious problems, but of course when apartheid ended it should have been resolved at the expense of whites.

        1. tunabe

          I’m guessing you are a limousine liberal. Self-righteousness is your trademark. And of course you missed the point entirely.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            You need to apologize or you will be blacklisted. Ad hominem, which is a violation of site Policies, and a personal attack. And he did understand your point and rejected it.

      2. MFB

        I’m also a white South African who grew up under apartheid and served in the South African army in Angola and Namibia.

        The situation was resolved almost entirely at the expense of the blacks, who got virtually nothing out of it except promises while we got to keep all our stolen money and most of our power and privilege. South African whites should go down on their knees every day to thank Mandela and Slovo for selling out their supporters.

        South African white whine tends to be very weakly flavoured and poorly labelled, I must say.

    5. lyman alpha blob

      I was in Greece over 30 years ago when Poppy Bush came to visit. The Greeks then wanted to know what the US was going to do for them regarding the situation in Cyprus. I don’t even remember why Bush went there, but I don’t think it was to discuss Cyprus – nothing was done then and 30 years later nothing has changed.

      It’s almost like the US wants Turkiye and Greece at loggerheads in perpetuity – more weapons to sell that way.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I warned you no more of your comments would be approved unless you provided links substantiating your claims. I took a step here that I’ve implemented maybe twice in the entire nearly 2 million comment history of this comment section, of editing your comment, here to remove claims you did not substantiate. This is your final warning.

    6. tiebie66

      There are quite a few differences between South Africa and Palestine/Israel and possibly Ukraine. For starters, the situation was never as bad as portrayed in the media (which should come as no surprise!). Remember that Desmond Tutu disappeared from the news pages after remarking that the situation in the Occupied Territories was worse than under apartheid. Second, the Bantustans were encouraged to become independent and secede from the rest of the country. Third, the Bantustans had self-government and there was no apartheid within them. Fourth, economic development and border industries attempted to improve conditions in the homelands to allow people to remain in their traditional areas and reduce the pressures of migrating to “white” areas in search of work – a stark contrast with what is happening in Palestine/Israel. Finally, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was an important factor permitting extrication from the situation – I cannot see that happening in either of these cases!

  3. zagonostra

    …despite the US in theory having leverage over Israel, in practice we don’t due to the power of the Israel lobby in the Beltway.

    So a foreign country has captured (if that’s too to strong, how about exerts a disproportionate influence) the U.S. gov’t and yet MSM obsessively covered a phantom Russiagate for 4 years. That control more than likely extends to social media. Sadly, even though most would agree, I think, all you get is a shrug of the shoulder. Besides, hasn’t it always been the case that monied interest pull the levers of gov’t, what does it matter that they originate in a foreign land? It only matters if that foreign land is designated an “enemy.”

    1. timotheus

      We had an eye-opening moment on the power of the Israel lobby in local politics here (New York City–I’ll avoid specifics). A local pol innocently signed onto a petition about the illegal West Bank settlements and was called onto the carpet by the party (D) pooh-bahs who told him straight out, Take your name off that, or you are finished. You will get 0 dollars and 0 cents for any campaign ever again. Being a party hack, he immediately complied.

      The only pols minimally interested in resisting are those backed by DSA, which gives them enough free volunteer muscle to possibly retain their seats.

    2. dandyandy

      US gov’t is not the only captive.

      Our prescious UK gov’t is equally captured sorry disproportionately influenced. As I listen to gov’t directed UK newsreels shaping the public mind, I can almost expect to hear an official draft call for Brits to go and fight the war for the “right side”.

      1. sharonsj

        I’ve been watching GBN (Great Britain News) and TalkTV–alternatives to the BBC. If anything, the UK government has been captured by Muslims as evinced by the Met Police doing nothing during the constant protests (except perhaps ripping down posters of kidnapped Israelis) as well as hiring an
        advisor who used the office mike to call the chant of “from the river, etc.” I also watched Sky News and Australia is having the same problems. There is endless talk about how the values of the West are being eroded–and they’re not talking about the Jews….

        1. Anthony Noel

          So, your argument is that the UK govt has been captured by Muslims because despite the fact that the government have given official sanction to Israel committing ethnic cleansing and are providing material support to them while they do it, is that the cops, didn’t break up a legal Pro Palestinian protest.

          Wow… that’s amazingly stupid.

        2. Danco

          GBeebies isn’t a serious news channel, and neither is TalkTV. They are both hard right sensationalist channels. The first is owned by multi-millionaire hedge fund manager Paul Marshall, the second by human stain Rupert Murdoch. Agendas, not accuracy, are the order of the day.

      2. Kevin Walsh

        I don’t think the UK government is captured – rather it is important to support Israel to the hilt in order to take the fight to the real enemy, Jeremy Corbyn.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      I was going to point out the time recently when Netanyahu addressed the US Congress directly. When I searched for the date, I found out that Israeli PMs have addressed Congress several times in the last couple decades, not just the most recent one I remembered.

      But somehow Russian influence is the problem. Right.

      1. Pat

        I have been thinking about something that happened years ago. I got a huge reaction from a PMC Karen once when I stated that the biggest foreign influence on elections and politics was Israel. I then continued to throw inconvenient facts that destroyed the BS Russian interference story and a few a that pro Israel out in the open donations and positions. The person I had been talking to laughed and thanked me after I apologized to him for going off when she left. He actually said if she ever realizes how hard she had been played she was really going to lose it.
        I have no idea if this person is still taking HRC’s and Barry’s and Joe’s word as gospel or has come to the devastating reality that she has unknowingly been supporting war criminals (both Americans and Israeli) that actively target children. But I do have to hope that more than a few people have had the scales torn from their eyes much as it might hurt.

  4. Aurelien

    As you know, I have been extremely pessimistic about the possibility for negotiations over Ukraine for some time, and I now think the same applies to Gaza. To recapitulate, boringly, negotiations are only of value if the following considerations are met. (1) There is an agreed list of things to negotiate about (2) the teams and the cast of negotiators are acceptable to all sides, (3) each side has something it wants that it can get more easily by negotiation than by fighting (4) each side has something it is prepared to give in exchange (5) each side is able to deliver the promises it makes (eg ratification) and (6) the envisaged settlement can actually be put into place, and will last, for a while. The chances of that happening for Ukraine are minimal, the chances of that happening for Gaza are non-existent. I would go further, and say that in the case of Gaza even talks of “cease-fire” are fantasy. Between who and who? How long? For what purpose? What happens afterwards.

    Genuine negotiations only begin when the alternative is evidently worse. Factions can be bullied into negotiations by outside powers, but this seldom works and can be disastrous. If the will exists, results will follow, if not then no amount of external pressure will be of any benefit. This happened in South Africa from 1990-94 as the parties looked into the abyss and didn’t like what they saw. The only alternative to total disaster was compromise on all sides, and this was achieved by completely national negotiations, with no outside countries involved.

    I see two particular dangers here. In Ukraine, the West is still in the delusional phase when it thinks it can simply declare negotiations open and have the Russians accept. But “negotiations” are not a term of magic. There are enormous and bitter disagreements within the West, within Ukraine and between the two about what negotiations should even be about, and what is acceptable as an outcome. And I really can’t see what interest the Russians have in negotiating now. In Gaza, the “two-state” solution is a mirage, and would essentially be a repetition of the status quo before 7 October. There is no “solution” in Gaza, except for a Bosnia-style mandate covering the whole territory of 1947 Palestine, with all forces disarmed and all ethnic political parties disbanded. And we know how likely that is.

    The other danger, perhaps, is that, whilst the US now has very little influence on these crises, it continues to act as though it does, because that’s all it knows how to do. The results could be potential disastrous.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      As you say, its very hard to see how there could be any ‘negotiated’ end to the war in Ukraine. The only possible motivation I could see for Russia to do a deal would be a fear that a Ukraine that collapsed into a ragbag of warlord led statelets (not impossible, I think), would be more of a threat than giving Kiev some crumbs to save face.

      Oddly enough, I’d be more optimistic about Gaza. Hamas have strategically won in that they’ve met their immediate objectives – they have put Palestine back on the worlds agenda; they have split up the informal rapprochement between RSA, the Gulf States and Israel; they have undermined the perception of Israels military dominance; they have raised their own importance within the loose alliance of anti-Israeli non-state groups. The only way Israel can ‘win’ is by completely eliminating Hamas, which the IDF may or may not judge to be an achievable objective. So some sort of grudging ceasefire deal could be reached if Israel believes they can’t achieve any more than they already have on the ground, or if they fear a Grozny style urban warfare disaster.

      Any deal of course would not be a long term solution. Incidentally, I don’t think anyone treats a two State solution as realistic anymore, at least outside the US. Edward Said always argued that only a non-sectarian one-state solution could possibly work and I would have thought that outside of those arguing for a complete ethnic cleansing of one side or another, most commentators have concluded that he was right.

      1. hk

        I tend to think that, by acting irresponsibly, the Biden regime may have thrown the Israeli government under the bus. I had the hunch that Netanyahu etc talked big with the expectation that US would make big noises about “peaceful solution” early so that they’d have a cover for winding down their operations after some time. Even if US did that, winding down the operations would have been difficult enough since the humiliation inflicted by Hamas on Oct 7 was so extreme, but that at least fit into Israel’s past MO.

        But Biden and Co didn’t: if anything, they were at least as bellicose as Netanyahu. The change in tone is coming too little, too late: not only has the horse run away, there is no barn left to fix now. So even if Israeli leaders don’t want to go “all the way” (Of this, I am quite positive) who’s going to give them the necessary cover so they can do it without seeming to have “lost”? Maybe if the status of Russia and China were elevated to that of US during the Suez Crisis? (Which would mean that US would be reduced to that of France and UK back then?) Like in 1956, that would wind up being a bigger debacle for US than for Israel.

        1. Librarian Guy

          The West, specifically the NeoCon captured US gov’t. has zero credibility with any Arab leaders, even with their bought off servant M. Abbas. Mercouris & Christoforou report that Blinken was openly jeered at by every official he met with! Blinken doesn’t do “diplomacy,” he probably doesn’t even know the word’s meaning, he just barks orders at his subordinates, but right now RoW (the rest of the world) is not impressed with US power & leadership, so he is ignored or ridiculed.

          Everyone knows these people are war criminals; the only good news is that they are incredibly insane & incompetent ones. It is only going to end badly for the “indispensable” USA, & we will fall into Marx’s “ashcan of history.” And it’s about time, too.

          1. hk

            In this context, the credibility US would have lent is vis a vis Israel, that US is not so crazy as to let Israel go completely bonkers. Arabs are irrelevant on this point: the Israeli government would have been able to tell its own ppl, “we have to tone things down because Americans disapprove.”. That did not happen. So it’s not just Arab leaders who are openly disrespectful of Blinken and Biden, but also Natanyahu. US didn’t have too much credibility with one side of the conflict. Now, we have no credibility with either. US losing credibility (as an “adult” who provides cover for politically expedient Israeli tantrums) at a single stroke vis a vis Israel is a new and important development, IMHO.

      2. Ignacio

        IMO, such an agreement on Gaza rather than between Israel and Palestinians should be between Israel and all the Muslim countries surrounding Israel (Let’s say an Ankara-Tehran-Riyad-Cairo axis) allied in a united front to fulfil at least Aurelien’s points (3) and (4) in kind of Middle East version Bosnia 2.0 if I have read him correctly. And yes my intuition is that this looks just a little bit less implausible than a negotiation on Ukraine given the delusional state of the West. Problem is, again and again, that the US will find it unacceptable.

        1. John k

          The us can turn on a dime and has, multiple times. How many countries have we promised to ‘stay the course’? Ukraine is just the latest. Granted israel is special, but that means we do what they want, or don’t do what they don’t want us to do. And israel will do what the far right wants.
          Some say they want to ‘kill them all’. It’s not clear to me that an agreement has any chance until some fundamental change occurs, which clearly wont come from Biden.
          Aurelian thinks Hamas fighters are at most 25k, but half the men are unemployed, and half of that, if limited to the 18-39 cohort, is about 100k. And I can imagine other age groups plus some women helping. A lot of us men lined up to fight in ww2.
          Anyway, I can’t see this lot surrendering. What would persuade israel to stop? Maybe what is causing Ukraine difficulty, running out of war material or men. Us stocks were low before 10/7, how many 2k-lb bombs are left? Missiles, too? Plus, I had the impression israel doesn’t do long wars, it’s already been 4 weeks.
          I don’t see an agreement of any kind but maybe a sputtering out as the west reaches the very bottom of its armaments and the idf exhausts itself. It does seem likely this will accelerate the rush to join BRICS.

      3. Aurelien

        I would agree on Gaza with the exception that I don’t think a cease-fire would involve any real negotiation, and any settlement, even for the medium term. A cease-fire would be a pragmatic judgement by both sides that they could not defeat the other militarily, although, as you rightly note, Hamas have pretty much won the political war now. But you’d also have to take the confrontation with Iran/Hezbollah, and for that matter the position of Hamas in Lebanon into account. Which is to say that I can see some kind of fragile, de facto ceasefire, possibly with some kind of document attached, and, just possibly, with some kind of observer mission involved. But I don’t see any chance of substantive negotiations.

    2. hk

      This is somewhat tongue in cheek, but if I were Russia, if US insists on being involved in “negotiations,” I’d respond that they put something on table: say, by demanding return of “historical Russian” territories in North America: Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and California north of the Russian River. That’d get some reaction.

      1. juno mas

        …and then France could demand the return of the middle USA because we didn’t honor Article III of the Louisiana Purchase. :)

        1. hk

          Well, the point for the Russians would be that it’s no business of US when Russia is dictating terms to Ukraine, unless it’s prepared to pay a steep entrance fee…..

          1. Jams O'Donnell

            The problem with that is that it is not just the Ukraine which was the cause of the SMO. Another was the creeping advance of NATO, and the emplacement of (possibly) nuclear tipped missiles on Russias borders. As indicated above, NATO is also ‘not agreement capable’ because of its diverse nature. However, the driving force behind NATO is the US, which could, and does, make NATO conform to its demands. So the US is a necessary part of a resolution to the Ukraine war. Whether it is willing to take on such a part depends on whether the US government becomes able to recognise actual ‘reality’, or whether it still believes that it can ‘make its own’.

    3. Maxwell Johnston

      I certainly don’t see Russia negotiating anything with the USA re Ukraine, and I very much doubt that any potential talks between the present Ukrainian government and Russia will lead anywhere. But if (or perhaps ‘when’ is more appropriate here) military facts on the ground lead to regime change in Ukraine, then I can easily see Russia and Ukraine (what remains of it) reaching a negotiated settlement. In fact that’s how I expect this Ukraine fiasco will finally end.

    4. Feral Finster

      In Ukraine, the West is still in the delusional phase when it thinks it can simply declare negotiations open and have the Russians accept. But “negotiations” are not a term of magic. There are enormous and bitter disagreements within the West, within Ukraine and between the two about what negotiations should even be about, and what is acceptable as an outcome.

      Not to mention, what can the West offer the Russian leadership that it wants and that Russia cannot take?

    5. JonnyJames


      It seems Russia has finally realized that the US does not negotiate in good faith, it likes to dictate terms that are not negotiable. When it does make an agreement, the US ignores it. (Minsk Agreements etc.) Not only flagrantly violating many international laws and agreements, the US gov.also ignores many domestic laws (the AECA for example) but that’s another story.

      Re: Turkey, Jordan, KSA and Gulf States: would Turkey ever withdraw from NATO and ask US military to leave? Would Jordan, KSA and the Gulf States ask US military to leave? This would be policy with TEETH, not just symbolic or rhetorical actions.

  5. Alan Roxdale

    Israeli settlement growth in the West Bank has made a viable Palestinian state all but impossible.

    People keep saying this but there are only 400000 settlers against 3 million total. It is easy to draw and redraw areas of farmland but harder to conjure up people.

    In an independent West Bank the apartheid roads and privileges go away — in principle. Probably a lot of settlers with them. This is at least no more unrealistic than plans about clearing Gaza or sparking global thermonuclear war.

      1. hk

        Yes. For Palestinians to be protected from the Settlers, there has to be some third party “policing,” then we are back to the days of the Mandate…

        1. Polar Socialist

          If we give the Palestinians tanks, artillery, fighter bombers and some nukes, Israeli security will take care of the settlers in a quick fashion.

          1. hk

            If the Palestinians had tanks and fighter bombers, then settlers would not be a business of the Israeli security forces any more.

      2. bertl

        There is always the possibility of negotiations or total surrender, and each depends on the willingness of one or other of the parties to sacrifice an appropriate amount of blood and treasure before reaching either of these points. And whether on the basis of negotiation or total surrender it is advisable to explore the foundations of the dispute to reach some form of workable settlement.

        The Balfour Declaration simply states: “”His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

        It says nothing of a Jewish State and mentions only Palestine, the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities, and the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

        The Mizrahi, like the Ashkenazi settlers, will doubtless be welcomed back into the nations they left on the basis of patriality, as will many more established Israeli Jews who choose to leave a country which, until a political settlement is agreed, whether it is a two state solution or single, is always on the edge of spilling over into conflict and genocide, as it has done since the events of October 7.

        The US is losing patience and treasure in it’s support of the Israeli state as it is presently constituted and, other than genocide, a clear strategy to create stablility in the shared territory of Palestine and the “historic” lands of Greater Israel, whether through external intervention by it’s neighbours (whom I believe will be more than capable of dealing with armed settlers as well as the IDF) the first step involves a conflict of mutual attrition followed by the recognition by Israel and the US government, it’s Congress and lobbyists, that the only secure homeland for the Jewish People is one in which they have reached a mutually beneficial agreement with the Palestinians and their neighbours. The alternative does not bear thinking about.

  6. Not giving up

    Re Palestine, the US is not and has never been an honest broker. No solutions will come out from a Neocon State Department any more than a compromised WH

    While Palestinian two state solution appears insurmountable, as chronicled in this article, I’m reminded that Neanderthal DNA was decoded – imagine that. Israeli intransigence can only work as long as the US Lobby keeps exerting blackmail. Perhaps a surprise offensive against this destructive for-profit Lobby group can cut it down to size. Since AIPAC has publicly gone
    against African American members of Congress who oppose the Gaza genocide, litigation for illegally interfering in our democratic process might work.

    The illegal settlements can be dismantled. The massive border walls are meaningless as the sophisticated Gaza tunnel network shows. No matter the propaganda that presents the two state solution as unattainable, were money involved in a “settlement “, corrupt Israel an it’s diaspora might change their tune.

    1. nippersdad

      With the clear potential for a civil war in Israel between the two competing factions, I have to wonder how many of their very mobile population of more politically moderate Jews will be willing to stay there for the show. The Gaza war is having a very real effect on their high tech economy, for example, and we are already hearing about people just upping sticks and leaving.

      So when it becomes clear that we are joined at the hip with what appears to be a dangerous mob of religious fanatics, what are the odds that people in Congress will rebel from their AIPAC paymasters? Things work until suddenly they don’t, and in the increasing opposition we are seeing in Congress, sometimes in the unlikeliest of places, to maximalist Zionist positions we may have a clue as to what comes next.

      The Biden Administration is going down in flames already. By the time he is running again he will be responsible for the messy pull out from Afghanistan, a loss in a war against Russia that they started and whatever debacle happens in Israel. That is not something that even the furthest right Democratic pols will want to be associated with, there will be no coat tails there. At a minimum, making AIPAC register as a foreign influence operation will be on the cards. I think you have a point there.

      The US population is fundamentally insular and all of these disastrous wars that have cost a fortune and none of which (save for Grenada?) we have won for over fifty years now, are going to be on the ballot. I can see them being an easy target, and no pol wants to be in the bulls eye. We may end up doing what we always do, take the money and run, leaving Israel out to dry by its’ lonesome. Without all of those C130’s to keep them supplied with munitions Israel, like Ukraine, may suddenly find that they have a lot to talk about.

      Or at least that is what I am hoping to see.

  7. Lexx

    But even though it seems likely that Israel will be able to declare a victory even though that will amount clearing Gaza of civilians more than destroying Hamas, Israel is likely to suffer real damage in the process.’

    I’ve been wondering what further value the hostages have? If they can’t be leveraged then they’re a drain on resources.

  8. Russell Davies

    It seems to me that Biden is congenitally incapable of negotiating any form of ceasefire, let alone peace, between Israel and Palestine, so that everything that Blinken is currently doing is merely narrative performativity, diplomatic theatre, as if to say “at least we tried” in the aftermath of the total destruction Israel intends to sow in Gaza and probably the West Bank as well. As Yves says, this is Blinken’s parade, the living definition of a charade, and it requires that the watching world forget everything they know about history and context and so on as the spectacle unfolds.

    For Biden, Israel and the USA are intertwined to such an extent that the one presupposes the other. This is reflected in his pronouncements going back almost 40 years. As Biden has said on many occasions, the most recent being his meeting with Israel’s President Isaac Herzog at the White House in July this year, if there were no Israel, the United States would have to invent it in order to protect its interests in the region.

    In 1986, Biden claimed that Israel was the best $3billion investment the USA had made; in 2007 he said that “Israel is the single greatest strength America has in the Middle East”, because that meant it didn’t have to station its own troops and battleships there. And in April 2015 at the 67th Annual Israeli Independence Day Celebration, Biden said: “As many of you heard me say before, were there no Israel, America would have to invent one. We’d have to invent one because…you protect our interests like we protect yours.”

    In the light of Biden’s words, the Palestinians are clearly not in the US’s interests in the region.

    1. nippersdad

      Re: living charade.

      Hard to make the case for humanitarian suffering and the laws of war when you are sending in waves of C130’s full of munitions and the fleet to fuel an ongoing genocide. Blinken is just wasting a lot of gas in all of this shuttle diplomacy, and it is easy to see why he is getting the cold shoulder everywhere he goes.

      1. JonnyJames

        Yes, this article from today talks about that as well.

        Caitlin Johnstone writes about the (lack of) “moral complexities of bombing a concentration camp
        full of children”

        Many world leaders are playing a two level game: one for domestic consumption, the other for geopolitics. So far their opposition has largely been symbolic or rhetorical.
        However, it remains to be seen what concrete actions Egypt, Jordan, Turkey or anyone else is able or willing to do to defy the US. An extreme option would be for Turkey to withdraw from NATO and ask US military personnel to leave the country. Or KSA could ask US forces to leave etc.
        They can now put their policy where the blah blah is, but how would the empire retaliate?

        1. nippersdad

          It strikes me that the easiest way to make a point would be for the oil producers to do a ’73 oil embargo redux. Biden has already reduced the strategic reserve by half, so what would he do with fifteen dollar a gallon gas going into the holiday season?

          I don’t know that there is much the empire could do about it as we are already stretched transparently thin. We have a lot of aircraft carriers over there, but they cannot run an oil platform. A two week all expenses paid holiday for oil workers in Saudi Arabia might not be such a bad idea.

          1. Acacia

            I have been wondering about this too, albeit along the lines of why aren’t the oil producers doing this yet? What else needs to happen before an embargo?

            People are being starved to death and the situation is on track to get uglier soon.

  9. The Rev Kev

    With the Ukraine, it will have to be a military victory for the Russians as there is nobody to negotiate with. The Ukraine, the US and the EU have all demonstrated that there is zero trust to be had with them and written agreed commitments mean nothing. The Russians have seen it again and again but through this war, the countries of the Global majority have see it as well and so are giving backing to Russia. So as a result the Ukraine will end up being a rump state that nobody wants to know, especially the west.

    With the Palestinians, it is just as bad. The US has jammed themselves into the ‘peace’ process between them and Israel. But the Palestinians have seen that complaining to the US about Israel is akin to complaining to your mother-in-law about your wife. PlutoniumKun has made solid points about what Hamas has achieved so now Israel as a country is going to have to decide the road ahead for them. Trying to push the Palestinians into Egypt won’t work, no matter how they badger the US to tell Egypt to accept them. They don’t want a two-State solution and a combined one-State solution is only workable if they try to replicate apartheid South African organization methods. It’s really hard to see how this turns out.

    1. Polar Socialist

      Besides Egypt, apparently the Jordanian prime minister said today that trying to evict Palestinians from Gaza or West Bank will be considered a declaration of war.

      1. The Rev Kev

        In the past the Israelis tried to push the Palestinians into Jordan so that they could turn around and say that Jordan was now the official Palestinian State.

        1. tegnost

          Overall I have to think that eviction into neighboring states was the plan and the only negotiations necessary were to be how to effect this transition…just a rational parley between interested parties. cleverly boxed in by US exceptional superiority. Then nobody would talk to the principals, it was/is talk to the hand instead.

          1. nippersdad

            It was pretty clear that the Sinai final solution was what had been cooked up between the Biden Admin and Israel, but, as usual, they were so busy debating amongst themselves that it never occurred to them to ask any of the other parties what they thought. They thought it was a fait accompli.

            They truly are high on their own supply. This just keeps on happening.

            1. Jams O'Donnell

              You are absolutely right, and this fact is possibly the most hopeful sign that progress will be made in both Palestine and the Ukraine. How long can an empire survive if it is not based on a firm grasp of reality? Perhaps we are about to find out?

    2. Don

      Do negotiations following the defeat and surrender of Ukraine count as negotiations? If so, there will be negotiations. They will result in the codification of Russia’s positions, as recently spelled out in great detail by Putin. The resulting Ukraine will be much as it was in the eighteenth century (probably plus Kiev). The US may be involved, but only on non-Ukraine-specific issues such as sanctions, trade, release of frozen assets and so on.

      Probably the same context, more or less, applies to Palestine, but Israel’s defeat would look much different: Israel would not have to be Ukrainecrushed to suffer defeat; defeat for Israel could be defined as it being no longer in a position to unilaterally deny a two state solution (or a single, secular democratic state solution). Hard to imagine, perhaps, but not beyond reason — we are after all on the cusp of civilizational change. Negotiations would involve land and/or populations transfers, asset allocations, security guarantees… and would of course be extremely complex. The US would be among a very large number of parties to these negotiations.

      If negotiations following defeats, don’t count, never mind.

  10. wayne

    The name ‘Jacob Dreizin’ appears in the middle of the article in the paragraph starting with ‘The information on the IDF progress against Hamas fighters is thin and not likely to be reliable. Jacob Dreizin But even…’; however, it doesn’t reference him or attribute anything to him. Just a small one.

  11. elissa3

    Agreeing with the bulk of the analysis presented in this post and by NC’s nonpareil commentariat, the utter hopelessness of the Gaza situation reminded me of a fantasy idea that I had in the early 1970s whilst living in Lebanon. At that time, the idea would apply to the several hundred thousand Palestinians living in that country’s southern region, mostly in poverty and squalor.

    The situation for Palestinians in Gaza seems to be a multiple more dire and pressing. When trying to explain the attacks of October 7th to an average American who had little or no sense of the history of the area; and in my usual effort to hyper-simplify a motive of Hamas, I would say “nothing to lose”.

    So here goes. The strategy is to present Gazans as simply humans with a will to continue living. The tactic would take some organizing ability, but most importantly would require a reversal of cultural norms that historically has only rarely occurred, and then in the most dire situations. What if a very large group of Gazans,–women, men and children–took off all their clothes and walked towards the border with Israel. At least hundreds, but better thousands. As naked as their immediate destiny. ‘We have nothing left and nothing left to lose. Let the Israelis, who have destroyed our homes and our livelihood figure out how to sustain our lives’. Or not.

    Even a minimal media coverage might begin to change the consciousness of others.

    Yes, it may be a fantasy, but, not to sound too woo-woo, only a change of consciousness will move things in the right direction. A consciousness that subsumes racial/ethnic/religious identity to our common identity as human beings*.

    * Or even “human animals” as the oxymoronic label presumed.

    1. Kouros

      When Japanese soldiers participating in the Nanking massacre were interviewed later in life what where they thinking during all that raping and killing, some admitted that while they were raping, they thought of their victims as humans, women, but when they killed them they thought of the victims as pigs…

      Thus, my guess is that your dream would not work. Remember all those mass graves with naked Jews from before the concentration camps?

      Also, Abby Martin has a documentary on that 2018 grass roots movement in Gaza, when each week-end thousands of people tried to challange the walls/etc, and tried to “return”? Hundreds killed and maimed by IDF snipers, who were having a competition on who’s hitting and shatters the most ankles…?

  12. Es s Cetera

    It’s also problematic that the UN body convenes in the US, now a state party to genocide, ethnic cleansing and clearly increasingly and decidedly against the overall UN mandate (as has been obvious for some time now), so another topic might be what becomes of the UN in light of all this?

    Especially since at least one member of NATO (Czech Republic) is making noises about NATO departing from the UN (see Minister of Defense Jana Cernochova’s public comments).

    1. John k

      The un, like the big lending facilities imf /world bank etc, was created in a way to provide the us veto power over all decisions. The west is trying diligently to separate the world into 2 camps, granted they may be disappointed with how few join the west. Anyway, I’ve been thinking row needs their own un, of course located somewhere in Asia, maybe China, or possibly India (if/when they firmly get off the fence.) And maybe in a more demo u-row org there would be pop-weighted voting but no veto.

  13. JonnyJames

    Great points raised here, as usual. Yves reminds me of some issues that have been in discussion for years.

    Reading Walt and Mearsheimer’s, The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy back in 2006 (original paper, before book was published) articulated and confirmed some ideas that seemed fairly clear already. I also recall having great discussions with colleagues about it.

    I remember speaking with Ali Abunimah on a call-in radio program, after the book was published. He claimed that it was not just the Lobby, but that the “MIC” also other interest groups in the US like the MIC, so-called Christian fundamentalists, BigOil and others also had a vested interest in supporting and subsidizing the state of Israel. He downplayed the central thesis of the work, but acknowledged it was indeed a factor.

    Noam Chomsky, if I recall, has a slightly different take as well. I believe he and Norman Finkelstein highlight the geo-strategic importance of Israel as a dagger aimed at the heart of the ME, as a sort of imperial crusader-state. (or something similar)

    To take the easy way out: it seems all of these are valid and explain a lot in the special relationship of the US/Israel (and I would add the UK).

    All of the above agree that overwhelming support of Israel is bipartisan in the US Congress, govt. the D/R duopoly, and leading financial institutions and large corporations.

    Also, the institutionalized corruption (e.g. political bribery is legally defined as “free speech”) is deep-seated and pervasive in the US, it is not just the Israel Lobby.

    <"…Perhaps insiders comfort themselves with the thought that American supporters of Palestine have nowhere to go; Donald Trump is a rabid supporter. But they forget that these voters can just stay home…"

    This can be said on most policy options, and is at the heart of the political dilemma: don't like the Ds? Whadda we gonna do? Vote R? and vice-versa. There is no way to vote against the interests of Israel, the MIC, BigOil, Wall St. BigPharma. The US is an oligarchy, run by a de-facto one-party state. Going through the charades of democratic PR rituals can't change that.

    What can be done?

    1. caucus99percenter

      A thought experiment. What if all the compassionate Americans either went expat, or withdrew from making any further contribution to the corrupt institutions of broader society — what people in the old Soviet-bloc countries called “inner emigration” ?

      Instead of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged metaphor for capitalists going on strike, how about a strike by the people whose caring for others and caring about justice holds things together? Who tend to be ignored and who often suffer greatly because they care too much?

      Caritas shrugged?

      Nah, it’s self-contradictory. By definition, such persons care too much to quit, so Moloch, The System, whatever you want to call it, can continue to rely on their service as they thanklessly sacrifice themselves to the point of burnout.

      1. Don

        I have thought for a long time that the only way forward on pretty much every geopolitical issue, requires a defeat of the the US, or maybe more accurately, and this is well underway, a series of defeats; that whatever might happen within the US is, for now, irrelevant. It is an American conceit that it can, or will be, changed from within; I can only imagine voting (federally) in the US at the point of a gun, and the sad passing waves of enthusiasm for entities such as Bernie or The Squad or most recently, RFKjr, astonish me. (It is not cynicism, it is clear headedness.) Imperial America, which includes the five eyes, most of NATO, much of Western Europe, and so on, will be the last to know that it has been defeated.

        If you dwell in the bowels of the monster, only treasonous thoughts reveal the way forward.

    2. Kouros

      If the vast majority of the population stays home that Tuesday, where will the legitimacy be drawn from?

      1. JonnyJames

        That would be something. But I don’t think US elections have quorum requirements. Even if only 10% of eligible voters turned out, they would certify the results as if it were legitimate.

  14. JohnH

    A bigger issue is the substantial, well-funded cohort of chicken hawks (neocons and liberal interventionists who never fought in a war), who insist on “resolve” and the need to “stand tall” to protect America’s “credibility.” They demonize anyone who wants peace and make their political careers by claiming that reasonable opponents are weak or soft. One of their concerns with Hillary was whether a woman could be “tough enough” to be President. Congress-critters signal their virtue and “toughness” by constantly lavishing more on the military than the Pentagon requests.

    Back in the 1950s we had Joe McCarthy. During the Vietnam War, we had Scoop Jackson, the Senator from Boeing. Then we had John “bomb, bomb Iran” McCain. Now we have Lindsey Graham. You can make a pretty good case that Biden is one of the true believers.

    Republicans are salivating at the thought of Biden making any conciliatory noises (showing weakness) towards Putin or Palestinians. As if “losing” Afghanistan weren’t bad enough! Now, they would charge, Biden is “abandoning our friends” in Ukraine and Israel. The last thing Biden, will do, even if he is not a true believer, is to hand his opponents that trump card.

    Sadly, intransigence pays off. Anti-Russian and pro-Israeli propaganda is so deeply rooted in the American psyche, that adopting a less “forward leaning” foreign policy and behaving reasonably in the US’ own self interest is virtually a non-starter. Chicken hawks wield a powerful veto.

    And if that isn’t depressing enough, Zelensky and Netanyahu are chicken hawks in charge.

    1. Feral Finster

      “Muh American Credibility” was one of the central arguments for “staying the course” in Vietnam, long after it was obvious that the Pentagon and State’s rosy predictions were so much hot air.

  15. JCC

    An editorial in The Irish Times written by one of the most strident right-wing ideologues in Irish politics and a member of the Upper House and former Justice Minister, Michael McDowell –

    Irish politicians seem to have shown, for the most part, that they get it.

    1. Razor

      Michael Mc Dowell is not a strident right-winger. He’s a very typical middle class small c conservative. A thinking man, and a very distinguished and successful Senior Counsel.

      In Ireland today, anyone who does not bow down to the new Western neo-liberal agenda is marked in the media as right wing, or God help us, extreme right wing. No debate is allowed in this “democracy”; you either conform, or be shamed and cancelled. Ain’t dumbocracy wonderful?

      1. PlutoniumKun

        McDowell is a straight down the line neo-liberal, very much a mainstream centre/centre-right winger. He is though, as you say, very intelligent and as a lawyer, an unambiguous legalist. Like a lot of Dublin anglophile conservatives, he found him self intellectually homeless after Brexit when he belatedly realized that the people he admired in Britain actually hated him.

        The Irish centre and centre right is pretty unique in the west right now in being generally pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel. Even the Irish editions of the main UK right wing newspapers have taken a pro-Palestinian stance.

        The reason for this is pretty straightforward – Ireland has had a presence in the Lebanon as part of UNIFIL for several decades now, as a result of being perceived as friendly to Lebanese Arabs have been systematically targeted by Israel, resulting in a very deep anti-Israeli stance within the security establishment here and this has leaked into the wider mainstream establishment. The Israelis have compounded it by active interference in Irish elections (leaking information to damage one Presidential candidate), using faked Irish passports for Mossad operations in Iran, and continual verbal sniping as well as real life sniping in South Lebanon. The recent comment by one Israeli cabinet minister that the Gazans can ‘go to Ireland’ did not go down well, to put it mildly. Several dozen Irish soldiers have died at the end of either Israeli or SLA shelling, most certainly deliberately aimed. This despite the Israeli President qualifying for an Irish passport (one of the Cork Hertzogs, as they’d say around here).

  16. Darius

    If the Democrats lose an election because their reflexive pro-Israel stance has alienated base voters, that may speed the transition of Israel into a partisan Republican Party issue, with Democrats generally opposed.

    1. Feral Finster

      To be fair, a lot of Team D would be less reflexively pro-Israel if Team R were in the White House.

      Witness how many a goodthink Democrat uttered such heartrending wails of pity over the plight of the suffering people of Yemen, demanding that the Saudis be defunded immediately, only to reverse course the moment Biden was in charge.

  17. SG

    I don’t think Israel’s hard right government is a permanent impediment to a negotiated settlement, since I expect them to be voted out of office for their negligence and provocative behavior leading up to the current war. I don’t think Hamas will be a permanent impediment, either, because I don’t expect them to survive the next few weeks (although it may take longer to get rid of their absentee leadership).

    As for Ukraine, the PTB have always been willing to sell out small countries that are being bullied by powerful neighbors. It worked so well in 1938, after all.

    1. Kouros

      Ukraine is not a small country. It is the biggest country in Europe after Russia and it was in the top 10 population wise.

    2. Feral Finster

      Sell out? More like “led on”. As in “trust me, baby, sure I’ll marry you….”

      Gee, if the West hadn’t done everything in its power to prevent Minsk and Minsk-2 from being implemented, Ukraine would be at peace today.

    3. nippersdad

      There are as many, or more, Hamas in the surrounding states as there are in Gaza. Were Israel to eliminate Hamas in Gaza, something that they could not do short of getting rid of the entire population, all they would have managed to do is sow the dragons teeth* for the next conflict, and this time there is no guarantee that even Jason could survive it.


      1. Polar Socialist

        One would think that both Hamas being able to really hurt Israel and then Israel showing how little it cares for any Palestinian has made sure that Hamas has around half a million new recruits in Gaza alone. Certainly way more that they can train or arm during this conflict.

        Everyday there are more and more Palestinians who have nothing else left in their destroyed life than to try to kill as many Israelis as they can before the Israelis kill them.

        1. nippersdad

          Yes, that would just be human nature. There doesn’t appear to be anyone thinking about that right now.

          But I also have to wonder what Blinken et al are thinking when they call for an “operational pause” to the conflict. They cannot actually believe that Hamas is going to give them everything they want and just enough time to fatten up the calves before the sacrifices continue?

          If it is bad PR to drop J-dams on a population that you have purposely walled in and starved, it can’t be much better to have given them a plate of spaghetti spiced with a few band aids and false hopes. If they think this will end well they need to read OBL’s rationale for why AQ targeted the World Trade Center twice.

          The mind just revolts from these people.

  18. Feral Finster

    In Ukraine, the West seems to be in the bargaining phase. In Palestine, the West appears to bounce from denial that this is genocide, denial that Israel is not allowed to “defend itself” and denial that Biden has any influence over Israel whatsoever.

    In each case, what western policy has in common is an overreliance on over-the-top rhetoric and PR, which leads to maximalist positions that are very hard to back away from.

    If Putin is Evil Incarnate, intent on genociding The Whole Entire World for no particular reason and only the brave little Nazi hobbits of Ukraine can stop him, how to you go back to “well, maybe we can talk….“?

  19. Feral Finster

    NATO so far has rejected that idea with hostility. But even if NATO were to have a Damascene conversion, “NATO” cannot commit as a body. Each member state has to agree individually. As we wrote then, expanding on an important post by Aurelien:”

    Even if every NATO member were to sign a blood oath never to admit Ukraine, what’s to stop them from reneging on their promise the moment they could do so?

    1. John k

      Meaning, again, there is no one with whom Russia can negotiate with. putin accepts that and therefore will grind on until the collapse and surrender phase.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, Skippy is a famous Australian TV show. Our skippy is an American who has been in Australia for a very long time. Christoforu is Greek (I think a diplobrat) educated in the US.

  20. David in Friday Harbor

    I agree that “Negotiated Settlements” involving the U.S. government are an impossibility.

    The Powell Memorandum’s system of Inverted Totalitarianism that settled-in during the Clinton/Gingrich dismantling of FDR’s New Deal resulted in a series of ever more un-serious seat-warmers masquerading at the important national offices.

    Biden’s only claim to fame is being elected to the U.S. Senate from a state that is currently less populous than 47 U.S. counties. Blinken’s sole credential is having a father who was a founding partner of Warburg Pinkus. These men are not serious persons, let alone international leaders.

    Let’s not kid ourselves: Their sole goal is shoveling cash into the corporate/private-equity billionaire-factory of the Military-Industrial Complex. At this, they are excellent.

  21. Mikel

    All of these “talks” by the USA adminstration is just theatre before the election, while body counts continue to rise as a result of so many systemic failures. The newest war is just the latest addition.

  22. Tom Carroll

    The Arabs had contempt for the Palestinians because they thought they could not fight, the US admired Israel because they thought it could fight-now it is reversed it will take several years to play out-but Israel will resemble Armenia one day
    seymour Hersh would not lie for the US but he will readily lie for Israel sad but his story is so obviously planted

  23. Synoia

    In South Africa there was general agreement that both sides needed each other. I was close to the land Afrikaans Finance minister, and listened to what he would discus, coupled with person to person discussions.

    Nelson Mandela was very focused on not having a blood bath.

  24. Tom

    I enjoy reading here now and then over the years and generally enjoy it but in this rare moment I feel the need to comment. To see the word “genocide” thrown around is disturbing. The Palestinians, including Gazans, goes up every year. Overall, it has risen far faster than average global rates. Genocide, on the other hand, makes numbers go down. Genocide is why there are fewer Jews alive than before the Holocaust. There are 18 million when there would be over 200 million. Hamas’ stated goal is to eradicate Jews. It’s in its charter. “From the river to the sea” is a genocidal chant. And this hatred of Jews goes way, way back in history.
    The Uighurs are currently experiencing genocide. Please look up the definition.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Sorry, this word was used ten days ago if not more by Aaron Mate, who has Holocaust survivors in his family, Max Blumenthal, and many other anti-Zionist Jews, as well as Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst and daily briefer to three Presidents. Alexander Mercoursis, who didn’t like using the word, has suddenly switched and has taken to pointing out that there would be a credible case for genocide before the International Criminal Court.

      It is apparent that Israel is exterminating 2.2 million Gazans. And you can’t stand to have that called genocide? They are now starting to starve (that is per the UN and takes a few weeks) and suffer dehydration (which takes about 10 days to be fatal) so the death count will start accelerating dramatically.

      1. caucus99percenter

        Thank you. In this moment, it is more important than ever that one calls things by their proper names. In Chinese philosophy the so-called “rectification of names” is the first step, prerequisite to any understanding.

    2. vidimi

      what Israel is doing is somewhere between ethnic cleansing and a holocaust. It’s only been a month, also, no hamas targets have been eliminated, targeting instead explicitly civilian infrastructure.

    3. JonnyJames

      The Uighurs are currently experiencing genocide? That’s what they say on TV, but: Any credible sources for evidence of this?

    4. Don

      In WWII, civilian neighbourhoods in Dresden were specifically targeted by Britain and America, using incendiary devices, killing 25,000 civilians. The primary intention was to demoralize the civilian population of Germany. Although it was not prosecuted, this was a war crime.

      Dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, small cities with no military significance, as the Japanese military was on the verge of collapse, killed 110,000 civilians. The US considered demonstrating the bombs on uninhabited areas (Japanese troop concentrations were no longer available), but were curious about the bomb’s effects on a population. They also thought that destroying entire cities would more effectively shorten the war and reduce American troop losses. Although not prosecuted, this was a war crime.

      Bombing Gaza has killed over 10,000 civilians (and counting), about 40% of them children.

      Killing civilians was an intended purpose of fire-bombing Dresden, Killing civilians was an intended purpose of the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For the Israeli state, civilian deaths in Gaza are not a regrettable and unavoidable consequence of defeating Hamas, killing Palestinian civilians in Gaza is an intended purpose.

      It is a war crime, and without a doubt, it is genocide.

    5. Bobalot

      From the River to the Sea is in Israel’s Basic Law and Likud’s founding documents (as well as complete opposition to a Palestinian state).

      Yet, I don’t see much hand wringing about that.

  25. Max Z

    What stood out for me from Hersh’s article is that one of those US officials said something along the lines of “Hamas can’t keep this up, they have no power and without power the food will be spoiled and the water will go rancid so it’ll be over soon”. So, in his opinion, Hamas are so barbarous and savage, they have not yet uncovered the secrets of food preservation and bottled water. I’d imagine if they prepped for 2 years for this event digging tunnels and stocking ammo, they’d also have solid stocks of preserved food/water for a few months at least.

  26. Glen

    Worrying reporting:

    At least 45 U.S. service members possibly injured in Iran-backed attacks – NBC News

    These are the attacks that Biden was trying to stop by deploying all the military (seems like over kill). What’s not reported at all by NBC News is the following from 2020:

    Iraq parliament passes resolution to expel US-led coalition troops from country

    And from 2014:

    American intervention in the Syrian civil war

    On 22 September 2014, the United States officially intervened in the Syrian civil war with the objective of fighting the Islamic State as part of Operation Inherent Resolve in the international war against the Islamic State. The U.S. also supports the Syrian rebels and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces opposed to both the Islamic State and Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

    So what NBC News fails to mention is that the militias that attacked the American troops may very well be backed by the Iraq and Syrian governments too.

    But at least Trump may have told us why we’re even in Syria:

    We’re keeping the oil’ in Syria, Trump says, but it’s considered a war crime

    Hmm, I wonder when it stopped being a war crime?

    Little-known U.S. firm secures deal for Syrian oil

    Well, Biden doesn’t want to negotiate yet in the Middle East. Judging by Ukraine, the situation has got to get a whole lot worse before he decides to do that.


  27. Victor Sciamarelli

    On the impossibility of a negotiated settlement, imo it’s worth pointing out that the US, with all its imperfections, was nonetheless founded on secular liberal political philosophy from real people like Locke and Montesquieu. You can argue all day over rational concepts like separation of powers or liberty v freedom.
    In contrast, it must be admitted that Israel was founded on a superstition. And it’s difficult to negotiate when one side argues that the “historical” Israel was pronounced by god and “more territory” is part of the package.
    It would be only slightly different if Israel were a totally secular government; but it’s not. Rather than “hard right” I’d describe the current Israeli government as religious zealots.
    It’s a pity Sarah Margon withdrew her candidacy after being accused of anti-semitism. No doubt, anti-semitism exists, as does anti-Black, anti-Asian, and on. Mindless people don’t like people who are different.
    The current use of anti-semitism, however, which is intended to intimidate and is undemocratic, imo is also based on a superstition. That is, any criticism of Israel or its policies is by definition anti-Semitic.
    I think this tactic is, in fact, not a sign of strength but a sign of weakness of those who use it. Whether it’s the Israel Lobby or the msm, people should stand up to it and turn it around because the people who use it are themselves anti-Semitic; they will eventually wreck Israel.
    There were flair-ups with the Palestinians in 2006, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2018, 2021, 2022, and now 2023. When does the US stand up for democracy and negotiate a rational settlement to this conflict and stop giving in to irrational people who will harm the US, as well as themselves?

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