The Desire to Talk About How Leftists Are Wrong

A lot of commentators with big platforms have spent the last 48 hours criticizing the left for its cruelty and bloodlust. For some, like Naomi Klein, it appears that real pain, despair and vulnerability have led to posting one of these pieces in the Guardian, although Klein should certainly understand the implications of publishing her frustrations in a rag whose main political advocacy over the last decade has been calling genocide against trans people “feminism” and punching left like a Player 2 E Honda. For most of these columnists, however, calling the left bloodthirsty is the first thing they have said about the situation that wasn’t “Have we considered nuking Iran yet?”

Yesterday Trump staked out an anti-Israeli state position by making the undisputable point that Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is a jerk. Of course, Trump’s anti-Bibi position has everything to do with feeling personally let down and insulted by Netenyahu’s failure to support him in 2020, while his claim that Hezbollah has some very fine people in it reflects an increasingly open geopolitical alignment with the Kremlin. In any case, the possibilities for a red-brown anti-interventionist alliance accelerate, and it seems to go through a Duginist/Bannon “multi-polarity by way of Moscow” angle.

But for those of us who’ve watched the war machine rev up in the past, we must resist the seductive pull of these debates, reject knee-jerk contrarianism of any kind, and think carefully about what we can do to throw our bodies in the gears before the machine gets fully going.

If you spend any time engaging with any mainstream news, you will see that the overwhelming majority of sentiment is for blood. Liberal, conservative, they all want to see violence done to Palestinians, Iranians, Lebanese, and they want it done NOW. The pieces attacking leftists for their bloody mindedness is as much projection as anything.

Hamas broke through the ideological impenetrability of the Israeli state when they broke through (and glided over) the wall, and by taking hostages they have, for the time being, stopped Israeli ground action at the border. Of course, Israel has been bombarding Gaza, and has recently added battlefield artillery pieces to the genocidal mix, but the fact of the hostages means that Netenyahu will need time to build up the political case for the all out ground war he so clearly desires.

The reason that everyone is so furiously and unequivocally declaring alliance with Israel at the moment is that the attacks have fundamentally shaken the status quo ante. As Tareq Baconi argues in this interview, Hamas has refused their role as peacekeepers in Gaza who can be relied upon to only escalate to the degree it serves both Israeli and Palestinian interests, and has instead staked a position of full-throated, if nihilistic, resistance.

As I tried to state in my previous post, I do not believe in simply picking sides, in falling completely behind one camp or the other, no matter how seductive or satisfying that might be. I do, however, believe in total liberation for Palestine, and the actions of Hamas have opened a window, one which much of the US would like to use to go to war.

I could imagine the math coming out of Langley going like this: Putin, nose bloodied in the quagmire of his Ukranian folly, would not be able to intervene decisively on behalf of Iran should it come to that. If he were to, all the better, NATO could finally wipe out the fucker. There is no better time in terms of public acceptance and geopolitical positioning to make a move to strengthen US military objectives in Eurasia. And if Israel is a bit humbled in the process, well, all the better, since the US  prefers Israel as a junior policy partner, not the increasingly far right wild card of the last few years.

I dont think any of this is correct: I think a cornered regime with ICBMs is not one to poke, I think the US vastly overestimates its capacity for succesful engagement, its actual political pull in Israel and the ferocity of Palestinian resistance. This is, however, the kind of math that could start WWIII.

But I also don’t think we have crossed the point where any of this is inevitable. I think the US military establishment of 2023 is not chomping at the bit as hard as it was in 2003, and the Biden administration’s continued statements that they have no evidence of direct Iranian involvment points to at least some internal debate on their part, even if they’re talking beligerently out of the other sides of their mouth.

And another thing that we should have learned from the Iraq War buildup is that marches will not work once the state’s mind is made up. There is no surefire way for people to stop a war, but it seems likely that more direct forms of pressure and action are required. Whatever you believe about Hamas or their attacks, if you are in the US or Europe the targets for such action are clear.

And if we act with clarity against the war makers where we can, we can then discuss with our friends and comrades, internally (not in the fucking Guardian for christsakes) about how best to communicate our feelings about the current situation, how to support one another in grief and anger and fear. We may not know exactly what will stop the war, but posting ain’t it. And if the window closes on Israel or the US’ terms, we will be very sorry we didn’t act.