imperial nation-building and calculated precarity

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 instil 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.

Alastair Crooke, “Permanent Temporariness”

This continues to be Western imperial strategy, from Sudan to Kosovo. This is in turn what is waiting in the wings for the revolutions in the Arab world, should the West gain much of a foothold. Hold strong, Libya!

But this piece is remarkable in another sense. It’s long been understood that the colonies were laboratories for a variety of techniques and technologies, which were then exported to the mainland: from concentration camps to industrial modes of accumulation.

It was Sharon who pioneered the philosophy of ‘maintained uncertainty’ that repeatedly extended and then limited the space in which Palestinians could operate by means of an unpredictable combination of changing and selectively enforced regulations, and the dissection of space by settlements, roads Palestinians were not allowed to use and continually shifting borders.

…a kind of Kafkaesque praxis that should ring familiar far beyond the Palestinian territories.

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