With the news of Israel’s blockade of Gaza still hot all around the world because of the Israeli attack on the activist boats- I think it is important to look back and assess how we have got to this point of chaos, confusion and rage.
I am going to offer a link to a Vanity Fair piece from April, 2008 “The Gaza Bombshell” by David Rose. What is interesting about this article is the evidence and argument that the U.S. policy-makers, starting with President George W. Bush, made the situation in Gaza much worse by meddling in the old tradition of the covert “Great Game” as practiced by the colonial powers throughout the Middle East from the time of WWI.
It is important to note the causes behind Hamas’ rocket attacks against Israel- were they in retaliation for anything Israel was doing with respect to Hamas’ personnel or the Gazan people in general? Was there ever a diplomatic pathway that was subverted or left untried, that could have prevented the rocket attacks on Israel (or severely limited their scope), and also prevented the collective suffering of the many Gazan people living in what has been described as so-called 4th World conditions- never a recipe for good relations or non-violent outcomes?
As you will read- the article details how President Bush pushed for legislative elections in Gaza to try to get some fresh blood into the Fatah political movement- despite warnings that Fatah was not ready for such elections. The fact that Hamas succeeded in those democratic elections caught our leaders completely off-guard. The response was to go covert and try to remove Hamas from power with a Fatah-coup, financed and controlled by “our guys”. This all backfired and led to Hamas taking more-or-less exclusive control over all of Gaza, and becoming more militant all around. What is striking and challenging for me, is that we can tolerate how our own leaders will claim to be all about giving people the opportunity to vote and have a democratic say in the Middle East and elsewhere- but apparently this is to be believed only as long as the democratic outcome is the one our leaders wanted- and if not, then all bets are off, and nothing ,it seems, is off the table- including undermining elections and orchestrating violent coups. If this is actually true- then I have big problems as an American Catholic.
I don’t see how the amoral pragmatism of Realpolitiks- in terms of foreign relations- fits in with the global solidarity and subsidiarity principles of Catholic social teachings. We need our ‘Yes’ to mean Yes, and our ‘No’ to mean No, as individuals and as a nation. We need transparency in our communication, we need to be consistent in our moral code. We cannot act with a mafia-style morality, where we love intensely and take great pride in our honor only as far as our family or national loyalties go. We cannot say to our neighbors, or even our enemies, “With you I play very differently- with you I lie, cheat and steal because you lie, cheat and steal”. Thinking to ourselves: “Your morality becomes my morality- or even worse- I don’t care if you are trying to be decent, I will seek material and worldly advantage through whatever means are available to me or to my national powers. My self-interest, or national interest, supercedes the teachings of even Jesus Christ and His Church- for I live in the “real world” not the heavenly one. “. Though many such men/women with political/economic power may also believe that God will forgive or even understand that this was all just an unfortunate means to a good or better end. It is a firm Catholic bedrock principle that the means and ends must both be morally sound.
It has been said that Christianity has not failed, it has just never been actually tried on a broad enough scale. I’m thinking of St.Augustine’s City of God thesis- how Rome fell not because of her new Christian faith, but because that Christian faith had not penetrated deep enough to prevent the moral and material collapse. I do not want to be part of another such historical phenonomen- and so I question very intently the nature of my own nation- a superpower. I do not question because I hate my citizenship as an American, I do not hate myself, I do not hate our American government- I actually have a much more positive view of our current system of governance than most- I don’t see the problems being so much systemic, but as being the result of inaction and indifference among too many Americans- Catholics in particular- allowing for shallow and/or corrupt types of individuals to become Representatives of “The People”. I ran for office myself, and recommend it to anyone who is of goodwill and believes they have a solid claim on truth and morality in the socio-political issues of our times. Now here is the article that got this ball rolling- I appreciate your time and consideration: http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/04/gaza200804?currentPage=1