Monday, February 28, 2011

Counter-insurgency in Palestine: collective "management"

"The emphasis on 'trust-building' with Israel has coloured the evolution of the political process since 2003. The general movement towards providing 'law and order', security co-operation and 'institution-building' is well known. But the 'state-building' project as a whole should be understood in the context of counter-insurgency – as tangled up with Israel's unique approach to the collective management of Palestinians – rather than as part of any genuine effort at 'good governance'. Security action against 'insurgents' is only one small element of an American counter-insurgency doctrine which dates back at least to General J. Franklin Bell's campaign of the early 1900s against Filipino 'rebels'. Its principles include building a ruling elite to carry out the occupier's plan; establishing security services accountable only to that elite; concentrating economic control within that elite; and setting up a generous aid policy which sustains a 'trickle-down legitimacy' for that elite. The underlying rationale, from the Philippines to Vietnam, has been to instill acquiescence. In the Palestinian case, the doctrine hopes to facilitate close collaboration with Israel and the dismantling of Palestinian resistance. In return, the Palestinians have been promised a depoliticised 'state' hardly worthy of the name and subservient to Israel. Perhaps, in such a state, a new Palestinian middle class might live more comfortably; perhaps the visible tools of occupation and control over Palestinian life would be more discreetly concealed; but such 'statehood' would amount to little more than a more benign occupation." (thanks Laleh)