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亓官先生
胡卜凱

相對於社會學和心理學,我對政治學的興趣開始得比較晚。一方面從1415歲開始,我主要想了解的問題在倫理學;另一方面,我和大多數人一樣,性向上急功近利;對政治學的興趣始於軍事學。

大學一年級前後我讀了徐訏先生的《回到個人主義與自由主義》,印象深刻35歲以前,我在聖荷西大學附近舊書攤上,買了常常被其他學者介紹和引用的《君王論》和《政府論》,但大概都只讀了1/41/3。不過,馬克思的政治經濟學批判我倒是讀得非常仔細,此書也構成我對政治的基本理解。當然,之後偶而也會涉獵一些政治學方面的書籍,但為數不多。

2002年以前,除了以上四本經典名著之外,我對政治/政治學的了解,大部分來自新聞報導和報紙/期刊上的政治評論。2001年我退休以後開使在網上漫遊由於在不同論壇上經常和其他網友就政治理論與實際議題進行討論,我不時有「書到用時方恨少」的感慨。於是我開始花較多時間閱讀「政治學」領域的書籍

我對「政治」的「定義以及對「民主政治」的詮釋,都是根據以往30多年對政治實務的觀察,以及這段時間對政治理論的領悟,綜合兩者而形成。

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維護自由主義的歧路 -------- Alexander Stern
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胡卜凱

史特恩博士公益》雜誌上這篇文章相當有料(請見本欄下一篇文章)。雖然文章有4,000多字,約一般論文的三到四倍;對美國政治「自由主義」和「自由主義」前景有興趣的朋友,不妨花點時間和腦力仔細讀讀。

How Not to Defend Liberalism

Embracing technocracy will only fuel the populist surge.

Alexander Stern, 09/14/23

Liberal democracy, we are told, is under attack. On op-ed pages and cable news panels, at university conferences and economic summits, and in politicians’ interviews and speeches, defenses of liberal democracy have proliferated in the face of threats from populist and authoritarian leaders around the world. Most of these defenses, whether they come from the center-right or the center-left, share a great deal in both their diagnosis of the crisis and their prescriptions for how to recover a liberal democratic polity that seems to be slipping away.

It is hard to deny their main premise. A movement has indeed arisen on the Right that disregards democratic norms and liberal assumptions with alarming nonchalance. It’s shown a willingness to undermine the integrity of our elections, barred discussion of certain ideas in classrooms, and even fomented a half-witted assault on the Congress itself. Meanwhile, on the other side of the political spectrum, an intolerance for dissent from progressive orthodoxy, as well as skepticism of the cultural value of free speech, have led to coercive conformity and “cancellation.”

However, the defenses of liberalism tend to dwell on, sometimes for good reason, the risks posed to liberal democracy by ordinary people and popular movements—i.e. “wokeness” and populism—while neglecting those posed by the people closer to the levers of power. These defenses also tend, implicitly or explicitly, to equate liberalism with technocracy, or rule by expertise. In the end, they suggest that we must settle for an undemocratic, technocratic form of liberalism that leaves power in the hands of the few in order to forestall the most illiberal outcomes. This line of argument threatens to exacerbate the crisis of liberalism, widen the fissures in our society, and provoke the very outcomes it seeks to prevent.

Although centrists tend to portray liberalism as besieged by both the woke Left and the populist Right, they usually acknowledge the obvious fact that the threats from the Right are much more serious and immediate, targeting political institutions and processes. The repudiation of liberal values on the Left remains for the most part limited to cultural institutions, journalism, education, and human-resources departments.

The explosion of identity politics on the woke Left is, according to George Packer’s Last Best Hope, a “rebellion from below,” driven by the youth. “Young people coming of age in the disillusioned 2000s,” Packer writes, picked up ideas from “critical theory,” which “upends the universal values of the Enlightenment.” In Liberalism and Its Discontents, Francis Fukuyama writes that the woke regard racism not as a personal or policy problem but as “a condition that is said to pervade all American institutions and consciousness.” Systemic injustice thus provides a rationale for the suspension of liberal values in reeducation programs that take cultural sensitivity to an illiberal extreme, in policy proposals that would try to distribute goods like vaccines on the basis of race, and in a culture of sanctimony, censorship, and cancellation.

Whereas the woke Left regards the establishment as a continuation of rule by straight white men, the populist Right conceives of it as a left-liberal, globalist elite that has seized power and decimated traditional white working- and middle-class communities. According to the right-wing narrative, this elite imposes its woke cultural values on everyone, unfairly distributes handouts to undeserving minority groups, and opens borders to new immigrants. In The People vs. Democracy, Yascha Mounk pins the worldwide rise of populism on “rising immigration, coupled with a deep, sustained stagnation of living standards,” along with a loss of establishment control of the means of communication. This combination provides the rationale for a suspension of liberal values that will hand the country back to its rightful heirs, who can forcibly reestablish nationalist, Christian values and bring industry back to the American interior. This kind of right-wing populism leads eventually to its own bizarre postmodern consequences: nationalist and “trad” LARPing, wild conspiracy theories, and the carnivalesque assault on the Capitol.

Centrist defenders of liberalism, such as Packer, Fukuyama, and Mounk, tend to see a common root in these two illiberal movements, despite their obvious differences. Packer writes:

In some ways Just America [Packer’s term for the woke Left] resembles Real America [his term for the populist Right] and has entered the same dubious conflict from the other side. The disillusionment with liberal capitalism that gave rise to identity politics has also produced a new authoritarianism among many young white men. Just and Real America share a skepticism, from opposing points of view, about the universal ideas of the founding documents and the promise of America as a multi-everything democracy.

In short, Packer sees both these movements against liberalism as misguided reactions to social and economic dislocation: a “new tribalism” that comes from the bottom up. Coupled with this tribalism is an assault on reason itself that started with “critical theory” and postmodernism, which, according to Fukuyama, undermined the objective, scientific standpoint intimately tied to liberalism. “Of late,” Fukuyama writes, “many of the arguments pioneered by the progressive left have drifted over to the populist right. When combined with modern communications technology, this critique lands us in a cognitive wasteland.”

There is good reason to doubt aspects of this centrist narrative. To begin with, it doesn’t go back far enough. The history of American politics from the 1960s shows that it is not “disillusionment” but satisfaction with liberal capitalism that has underwritten the rise of the cultural politics that undergird both the woke Left and populist Right. Both standpoints arise from the culture war that has increasingly gripped American politics since the 1980s and taken over from the more materialist political conflict that dominated the immediate postwar period. Indeed, the turn toward cultural politics depended on a period of relatively widespread prosperity in the West. As Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris have argued, this broad prosperity allowed baby boomers to focus their political energies on issues that were less obviously material, such as civil rights, gender equality, and gay marriage. But according to Inglehart and Norris, this kind of cultural politics eventually helped undermine the prosperity on which it was based. As traditional left-right disputes over economic issues were left behind, a technocratic, neoliberal consensus on economic policy set in. This consensus allowed the proceeds of growth to go to an increasingly small and wealthy minority while marginalizing the left-wing economic dissent that had made the relative equality of the postwar boom possible.

Instead of class conflict, politics became a battle between two cultural factions, neither of which represented the working class. On the left side of these politics are many professionals whose concerns for equality have narrowed to involuted and essentialized conceptions of race and gender detached from the real material needs of the marginalized groups they claim to support. Meanwhile, the reactionary Right is populated by many relatively high-earning but uneducated small-business owners and tradespeople who obsess over the excesses of the Left, indulge in fear-mongering about crime and immigration, and toy with—or outright embrace—racist tropes. While this right-wing identity politics likes to invoke the downtrodden white working class and sometimes borrows from the rhetoric of mid-century labor politics, it effectively serves the interests of another set of the elite through a standard business-oriented Republican playbook. Our fervid cultural politics do not emerge, bottom-up, from a public that channels its economic anxiety in misguided, illiberal directions; it originates with those at the top of the economic system, whose privileges it obscures.

These cultural politics may appear to “politicize” absolutely everything—from sports and music to gas stoves and canned beans—but in actuality the public sphere has been effectively depoliticized, to use Jürgen Habermas’s term. In his 1962 book, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, Habermas already recognized that the liberal space in which ideas about how to organize society were once debated—however exclusionary that space may have been—had given way to a largely simulated public sphere captured by advertising and other forms of manipulation. He writes:

When the laws of the market governing the sphere of commodity exchange and of social labor also pervaded the sphere reserved for private people as a public, rational-critical debate had a tendency to be replaced by consumption, and the web of public communication unraveled into acts of individuated reception, however uniform in mode.

The commercialization of media, in other words, effectively turns the public sphere into the plaything of the interests that control it. Entertainment and information are mixed together to the point that “instead of doing justice to reality,” the media tends “to present a substitute more palatable for consumption.” Radio and television tend to replace critical public debate with manipulable preferences and tastes. Finally, the public and private spheres become inextricably tangled together. On the one hand, public matters “are garbed in private dress and through personalization distorted to the point of unrecognizability.” And, on the other, private life is “pried open” to the point that not just individual lives but “the problems of life” themselves become media fodder and “politicalmatters.

The embrace of neoliberalism in the decades since Habermas’s book was published has only further advanced commercial control over the public sphere, including on the internet. Depoliticized culture-war content monopolizes attention, drives subscriptions, and pleases advertisers, while catalyzing anger and further confusing private and publicculture and politics—through partisan sensationalism. The political conflict that plays out in the media is not the negotiation of conflicting material interests and ideas about the common good, but a dramatized escalation of personal grievance and cultural antagonism.

It is this manipulation, far more than the adoption of little-read postmodern texts, that has placed us in a “post-truth” moment. And it is this manipulation, far more than any spontaneous discontent emerging from the youth or the hoi polloi, that has produced our illiberal, “depoliticizedpolitics. The tribalism that so concerns centrist liberals is not just a misguided expression of discontent, but the predictable and increasingly uncontrollable escalation of the pseudo-politics that our elites have favored for decades. As Nancy Isenberg memorably put it in her book White Trash, “When you turn an election into a three-ring circus, there’s always a chance that the dancing bear will win.”

In the face of ubiquitous culture war, we should actually be heartened by the relatively material—and, in their way, liberal—concerns of the general public. Take the line of critique that united the surprisingly popular Trump and Sanders campaigns in 2016. Both candidates emphasized a rigged economic and political system where decisions were made by an entrenched elite. Both candidates claimed, albeit with wildly different degrees of sophistication and credibility, that the costs of elite failure were borne by the middle and working classes, and that the priorities of global corporations had been allowed to take precedence over the interests and desires of the American people. But cultural politics either completely overwhelmed these critiques from the start (in the case of Trump) or were deployed against them (in the case of Sanders).

To their credit, many centrist liberal authors acknowledge the fact that inequality is a principal cause of our political crisis. However, their construal of the problem suggests solutions that would neither distribute economic power more evenly nor promote democracy. This starts with how they conceive of the relationship between democracy and liberalism.

Both Mounk and Fukuyama treat liberalism and democracy as completely separable categories: they may be historically intertwined but they are, according to this view, logically unrelated. As Mounk and Fukuyama rightly point out, there can be illiberal democracies—like those of the ancient world—and undemocratic liberalismHong Kong under British rule, for example. For Mounk, this is evidence against the claim that liberal rights and democratic sovereignty are naturally complementary; they were not always associated in the past and need not be in the future.

Mounk admits that the technocratic rule of developed nations today amounts to its own form of “undemocratic liberalism,” but he seems to find this trend inevitable—and preferable to the alternatives. Fukuyama, meanwhile, contends that “the present-day crisis of liberal democracy revolves in the first instances less around democracy strictly understood than around liberal institutions.” The implication is that we can combat the crisis in liberalism without combatting the crisis in democracy. The important thing is preserving individual rights; genuine democracy is a luxury at best and a threat to liberalism at worst.

But as Marc Plattner 
puts it in an article for Foreign Affairs, “overstating the disjunction between liberalism and democracy can easily lead to new misunderstanding.” The illiberality of ancient democracies—which heavily restricted voting rights—also made them, by today’s standards at least, undemocratic. Similarly, illiberal restrictions on freedom of speech in nations like Russia and Turkey put the democratic nature of their elections in serious doubt. Meanwhile, undemocratic liberalism tends—because of its restrictions on voting rights—to restrict other freedoms as well. Without access to the ballot in the United States, for example, women and Black people were also denied other basic rights. Democratization made the country more liberal, and liberalization made it more democratic.

The intertwining of liberalism and democracy is not just historical contingency, but the result of the fact that, as Plattner writes, “the political doctrine at the source of liberalism also contains a deeply egalitarian and majoritarian dimension.” Classical forms of liberalism have emphasized that, in addition to a balance of powers within government, liberal democracies require a “wide dispersion of power in both the private economy and civil society,” as Paul Starr 
explains in his book Freedom’s Power.

Early- and mid-twentieth-century American liberalism made advances by recognizing that, under industrial capitalism, supporting individual liberty and economic freedom required democratizing workplaces through support for unions, preventing undue concentrations of market power through antitrust lawsuits, regulating financial institutions to prevent unfair and destabilizing speculation, and maintaining a robust welfare state to provide aid to those left behind by the market. This liberalism recognized that liberty needed to be protected not just from governments or the masses, but also from an economic order that, for example, colludes to raise prices on consumers, extracts burdensome rents from small producers by monopolizing distribution, and undermines worker power by intimidation and, sometimes, coercion. As Edmund E. Jacobitti 
puts it, “[T]oday wealth is as powerful a threat to liberty as the masses ever were.”

Separating liberalism from democracy allows centrist liberals to sideline the egalitarian implications of liberalism and associate it with anti-democratic technocracy. While expressing some regret that deference to expert decision-making may be undemocratic, Mounk doesn’t even seem to consider the possibility that it might also be illiberal. Given the “considerable technical expertise” required to understand an “increasingly complex” world, he writes, “it seems we must choose between achieving international cooperation on key issues by a troublingly undemocratic path—and not achieving it at all.”

Fukuyama, for his part, presents a narrow account of the origins of liberalism that focuses exclusively on its protection of individual and cultural freedom. Liberalism arose, Fukuyama writes, in the religious wars following the Protestant Reformation, where various “Christian sects” sought “to impose their religious dogma on their populations.”

Classical liberalism can therefore be understood as an institutional solution to the problem of governing over diversity, or, to put it in slightly different terms, of peacefully managing diversity in pluralistic societies [my italics]. The most fundamental principle enshrined in liberalism is one of tolerance: you do not have to agree with your fellow citizens about the most important things, but only that each individual should get to decide what they are without interference from you or from the state.

Liberalism, in other words, is little more than an antidote to culture war. Its guarantees of individual rights, a private sphere of autonomy, and limited state power are emphasized at the cost of its prescriptions for how private and political power should be distributed and exercised in society. Liberal governance, meanwhile, is conceived of as a form of apolitical management that balances diverse interests according to its own calculations rather than allowing them a measure of genuine political power.

A conception of governance as a technical matter for experts, as Habermas writes in his 1970 book Toward a Rational Society, obfuscates its fundamentally value-laden nature and takes deliberation about the best way to organize society out of the hands of the citizenry. Technocracy is the natural partner of mass media’s reduction of information to entertainment, which places the real work of governance behind an emotionally charged screen. For Habermas, this system amounts to a form of domination, since the arena for rational deliberation by an informed populace is both degraded in itself and detached from the actual levers of power.

A narrow focus on individual liberty allows centrist authors to ignore these substantive threats to liberalism. The only important danger, they believe, is that one side of the culture war or the other will take control of the government and impose its beliefs on the public at large. Other dangers get short shrift. Even when these authors are critical of policies that have led to the upward redistribution of wealth and power, they tend to construe them as examples not of elite capture of the economic system, but rather of “too much” philosophical liberalism in economic policy—an error of management that requires a managerial fix, rather than the predictable result of too much concentration of political and economic power in the hands of too few people.

Fukuyama cites Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek as among the liberal thinkers who “sharply denigrated the role of the state in the economy and emphasized free markets as spurs to growth and efficient allocators of resources.” Beginning in the 1970s, neoliberal policymakers and economists freed corporations from what they regarded as counterproductive and inefficient regulation and held individuals more responsible for their well-being by cutting welfare spending.

But it is misleading to characterize neoliberalism as simply “anti-regulation” and “pro-market.” As Quinn Slobodian shows in his book Globalists, proponents of neoliberalism conceived of it from the first as a movement to develop and shape a new super-national regulatory structure for a global economy. It was not primarily an anti-government movement in favor of an unfettered market, but rather an effort to insulate the global economy from what neoliberals regarded as the irrational behavior of democratic nation-states. Hayek himself rejected the idea of a “minimal state” and made explicit that he was after a “dethronement of politics,” not of government as such. The goal, Slobodian writes, was a new form of empire with “an invisible government of the economy first, and a visible government of neutered nations second.” The government of the economy was designed not to protect individual rights, nor to constrain government per se, but to create institutions that would “override national legislation that might disrupt the global rights of capital.”

The global economic order created by neoliberals has not merely dethroned democratic politics; it has established a new kind of political power. As governments turned from containing to facilitating the excesses of big business, the lines between national governments and private banks and corporations have blurred. Our technocracy involves the alignment of private and public bureaucracies, facilitated by revolving doors between them. Consider the U.S. bank bailouts of 2008. The bailouts and favorable terms given to reckless banks—however necessary they may have been to rescue the larger economy—involved a state of exception where sovereignty itself was difficult to locate, as Adam Tooze points out in his book on financial crises, Crashed. “If this was an act of sovereignty, whose sovereignty was it? The American state’s, or that of the ‘new Wall Street’—the network personified by figures like [Henry] Paulson and [Timothy] Geithner who tied the Treasury and the Fed to America’s globalized financial sector?”

For centrist authors, part of liberalism’s role of “peacefully managing diversity” involves correcting the mistaken policies that have led to the populist surge. Here, they reflexively take on the perspective of the managers without seeming to realize that technocratic management is a significant part of the problem. Their proposed reforms leave untouched the existing private-public power structure, the tendency toward policymaking by compromised, if not outright corrupted, actors, and the insulation of economic power from democratic accountability.

Mounk, for example, proposes reforms like more progressive taxation, better job training, and expansions of the welfare state. Tellingly, he does not mention reforms to make collective bargaining easier or to enforce antitrust laws more vigorously. Nor does he have anything to say about the way neoliberals themselves dismantled liberal regulatory structures and liberal democratic institutions like trade unions. He rightly condemns the folly of extremists who would simply tear down existing liberal institutions. But not everyone who supports radical changes in pursuit of fairer economic conditions is bent on nihilistic destruction.

In lieu of such changes, centrist liberals tend to recommend cultural solutions like individual self-restraint and moderation (Fukuyama), or being “willing to criticize your own” and resist vilification of the other side (Mounk). Packer places more emphasis on the ills of corruption and concentrated economic power than Mounk and Fukuyama do. Still, because he focuses on cultural threats to liberal democracy, he also relies heavily on personal prescriptions: he asks Americans to ditch social media and spend more time with those “who don’t look or talk or think like them.” “Creating the conditions of equality requires new structures and policies,” he writes. “Acquiring the art of self-government needs something else—new ways of thinking and living.” Such platitudes gloss over the fact that our polarization and democratic incompetence are the consequence of material disempowerment. Fixing the former requires fixing the latter. Policy tweaks and cultural exhortations will not do.

Real solutions to our political crisis would reverse the concentration of power caused by neoliberal policies. Reducing inequality by technocratic means—an unlikely prospect in any case—wouldn’t be enough. Thanks in large part to pressure from the Left, the Biden administration has taken some initial steps: Biden appointees to the National Labor Relations Board have begun to enforce labor law against companies used to interfering with their employees’ right to collective bargaining; the administration’s Department of Justice has more aggressively tackled corporate concentration; and its Federal Trade Commission has proposed rules to stop unfair hiring practices and anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions.

But, as the administration’s foiling of a rail strike and its bailout of Silicon Valley Bank show, there is still a long way to go. Alternative forms of worker representation should be pursued, such as sectoral bargaining—where a federation of all the firms in a given economic sector is forced by the government to negotiate wages with representatives of that sector’s entire labor force. A comprehensive anti-corruption program, such as the one Elizabeth Warren has outlined, is needed to combat the influence of the financial industry. Absent such a program, it is difficult to see how the hyper-financialization of so much of our economy can be checked.

Finally, experiments with other, more local forms of economic and political power must be encouraged. Some contemporary authors, like Branko Milanović, have proposed programs remarkably akin to the distributism championed in the early twentieth century by Catholics writers such as G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. These would distribute capital ownership downward through cooperatives and other common ownership structures. Others, like Michael Lind, have called for a form of “democratic pluralism” that would delegate rulemaking power in particular areas to small institutions like wage boards, with mandated representation of various stakeholder groups. Without access to new forms of power like these, the resentment and cynicism that brought us Trump will continue to grow, as will interest in a “post-liberal” future.

Centrist liberal authors are rightly troubled by exponents of post-liberalism like Patrick Deneen and Adrian Vermeule, who have argued that liberalism’s hands-off attitude toward morality deprives liberal democracies of the virtues needed to sustain a healthy political community. For Deneen, liberalism is behind a drift toward atomism that will ultimately doom the whole project to collapse, since the virtues on which liberalism depends—self-restraint, civic-mindedness, democratic competence—are systematically degraded by the logic of liberalism itself. Liberalism, on Deneen’s view, can’t help but produce technocracy and a nationalized, sensationalized politics. To the extent that the people do have a say, Deneen writes in Why Liberalism Failed, it is not surprising that an isolated, powerless electorate will opt for a strongman who claims to be capable of “reining in the power of a distant and ungovernable state and market.”

Despite their distaste for Deneen, the arguments of centrists like Mounk and Fukuyama unwittingly lend force to his critique. They propose to contain the populist threat by means of the same technocratic mechanisms that generated it. Deneen writes, “Today’s liberal critics of democracy...condemn the deformed and truncated demotic actions of a degraded citizenry that liberalism itself has created.” He is right that “their cure is the source of the ills they would redress,” but wrong to call this “liberalism.” Technocratic neoliberalism is not the rightful heir of the liberal tradition, but an anti-democratic distortion of it.

Published in the September 2023 issue: 
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左派在加薩議題和「解除殖民統治」上的思考盲點 ----- Slavoj Žižek
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齊椰克教授是當代頗有功力和名氣的左翼學者。我看過他兩本書和幾篇論文;對他的思想說不上熟悉。

他在大作中展現了他「務實現實主義者的睿智和深邃洞察力(下文倒數第5段);以及他挑戰短視左派的勇氣(1)。由於我也自認為是個「務實現實主義者(該文第2)希望以後能擠出時間進一步申論他這篇文章。

附註:

1. 
「短視左派」其實是我一種客氣的說法。「彈腿反應式的」或「不經過大腦的」庶幾近之


What the left gets wrong about Gaza and “decolonisation”

The West needs to remember that not all freedom movements are progressive or democratic.

Slavoj Žižek, 12/20/23

When left-wing critics of 
Israel characterise what it is doing in Gaza as genocide, they are often accused of inverting the true relationship: Israel is just defending itself while Hamas plans an actual genocide of Jews.

But genocidal rhetoric is increasingly present in the public speeches of Israeli politicians themselves. When the defence minister, Yoav Gallant, ordered a “complete siege” of the Gaza Strip after the Hamas attack, he said: “I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed… We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly. ” More recently, in October, when 
Benjamin Netanyahu referred to the Palestinian people in the besieged Gaza Strip, he invoked the Amalek, a nation in the Hebrew Bible that the Israelites were ordered to wipe out in an act of revenge. “You must remember what Amalek has done to you,” he said in a speech announcing the start of a ground invasion in Gaza, and added that Israeli soldiers were part of a chain that goes back 3,000 years. Genocide justified by religious fundamentalism.

There is no place for peace treaties here. 
Tzipi Hotovely, the Israeli ambassador to the UK, insisted in an interview with Sky News on 16 October that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza: “Israel is in charge of the safety of Israelis; Hamas is in charge of the safety of the Palestinians.” Of course, there is no humanitarian crisis among the Palestinians, since the Israeli high command apparently consider them to be not fully human. No wonder that, together with Netanyahu and other leading Israeli politicians, Hotovely resolutely rejects the two-state solution: “human animals” don’t deserve a state.

A day before three Jewish hostages were mistakenly killed by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in Gaza on 15 December, Netanyahu said: “I say this in the face of great pain but also in the face of international pressures. Nothing will stop us.” The addressees of this message are not only the relatives of the remaining hostages, who accuse the government of not doing enough to release the estimated 129 that remain in the Strip; the main addressees are perhaps foreign governments, including the US, that are exerting pressure on Israel to show more restraint. Netanyahu’s ultimate message is: even without the support of its Western allies, nothing will stop Israel in achieving its goals (total annihilation of Hamas; rejection of the two-state solution).

The problem with this radical stance is that, as Hani al-Masri, the director-general of the Palestinian Centre for Policy Research and Strategic Studies, pointed out correctly, in pursuing them, Israel is “a prisoner of its own unreachable goals”. Why? Because, to use another quotation, as the anarchist and pacifist president of the Palestine branch of the War Resisters’ International, Natan Hofshi, wrote back in 1946: “Without an understanding with our Arab neighbours, we are building on a volcano and our whole work is in jeopardy.”

Peace will only emerge when Palestinians are allowed to organise themselves as a strong independent political force, broadly democratic and rejecting all forms of religious fundamentalism – something Israel is doing everything possible to prevent by giving Palestinians one choice: to accept Hamas as the only voice that is fighting for them. The 
latest opinion polls show that anger over the war is boosting Palestinian support for Hamas, particularly in the West Bank, where the IDF is not conducting an all-out offensive and where Hamas does not have control. Throughout the Arab world, hundreds of thousands are protesting against Israel, and tensions are reaching a point of explosion. Some on the left may see in such an explosion a moment of truth, when liberal-pacifist illusions about the occupation are upended – I see in it a catastrophe, not only for Jews and Palestinians but for the world.  

Netanyahu’s “nothing will stop us” speech echoes 
Vladimir Putin’s statement the day before, on 14 December, in which the Russian president vowed to fight on in Ukraine until Moscow secures the country’s “demilitarisation”, “denazification” and neutrality – unless Kyiv accepts a deal that achieves those goals. “There will be peace when we achieve our goals,” Putin declared. “As for demilitarisation, if they [the Ukrainians] don’t want to come to an agreement – well, then we are forced to take other measures, including military ones.” Putin couldn’t restrain himself from cynically remarking that Russia is demilitarising Ukraine by way of destroying hundreds of its tanks and guns – war is thus presented as the ultimate act of demilitarisation. But did some Western heads of state not make a similar point when, reacting to the desperate calls for a ceasefire in the Gaza conflict, they advocated a “sustainable ceasefire”? Though their idea was a ceasefire that would lead to permanent peace, it ultimately amounts to the claim that the only “sustainablepeace is that which follows a (military) victory.

The parallel between Israel-Palestine and Ukraine is imperfect: in the case of the Palestinians and their Israeli neighbours, a compromise between the two peoples is the only way out, while Ukraine is a victim of brutal aggression and has the full right to persevere until victory. Ukraine is now paying the price for exclusively choosing the side of the Western powers, ignoring the link between its struggle for independence with the developing world’s decolonisation process, as well as suppressing its own political left as suspect, somehow associated with 
Russia. Now that Western states are sceptical about the extent to which they can continue to help Volodymyr Zelensky’s government, Ukraine may find itself in a desperate position.

We have to engage with the topic of decolonisation. The scholars Eve Tuck and K Wayne Yang are right when they insist that “decolonisation” should 
not be used as a universal metaphor: “Decolonisation brings about the repatriation of indigenous land and life; it is not a metaphor for other things we want to do to improve our societies and schools. The easy adoption of decolonising discourse by educational advocacy and scholarship, evidenced by the increasing number of calls to ‘decolonise our schools’, or use ‘decolonising methods’, or ‘decolonise student thinking’, turns decolonisation into a metaphor.” Such a metaphoric universalisation blurs the actual violence of decolonisation. “Decolonised thinking” (done in a safe academic environment) is a poor substitute for the real and brutal struggle of the oppressed against their masters.

What now overshadows this is the violence of Hamas, which was perceived by many as an attempt at actual decolonisation. However, this is where things get more problematic. First, it is all too easy to dismiss the state of Israel as a result of the colonisation of the Palestinian territory – I agree with Edward Said who thought that both Palestinians and Jews have a right to live there, and that they are condemned to live there together.

I don’t consider Hamas’s stance “leftist” in any meaningful sense of the term, and I don’t envisage a military defeat of Israel as a solution to the 
Middle East crisis. In a recent piece for Al Jazeera, Jamil Khader, a professor at Bethlehem University, condemns my “lofty aspirational vision” as “completely disconnected from the realities on the ground”. What he finds “incomprehensible” is my insistence on “some liberal politics of hope in this catastrophic context”, like when I see a possible change coming through “the slow rise of solidarity between the Palestinian citizens of Israel and the Jews opposing the all-destructive war”. As a pragmatic realist, I am well aware that such a solidarity is difficult to imagine today. But it is here that we should resuscitate the famous motto of the May 1968 protests in Paris: Soyons réalistes, demandons l’impossible. Be realistic, demand the impossible. The truly dangerous utopia is the idea that the solution to the Middle East crisis can only be achieved through military force.

The second point to address on the subject of decolonisation is that the reality of it often is a metaphor for another process. Recall numerous African countries, from Angola to Zimbabwe, where the overthrow of Western imperial control ended up with corrupted social orders in which the gap between the new masters and the poor has become greater than it was before independence. “Decolonisation” was thus a metaphor for (or one aspect of) the emergence of a new class society.

South Africa today has the 
biggest gap between the poor and the rich – no wonder that a very depressing thing happened to me in July 2023. In a public debate at Birkbeck Summer School in London, a black woman from South Africa, a veteran activist for the African National Congress, which has ruled the country since 1994, said that the predominant stance among the poor black majority is now increasingly a nostalgia for apartheid. Back then, she said, that demographic’s standard of living was, if anything, a little higher than it is today, and there was safety and security (South Africa was a police state, after all). While today, the woman explained, poverty is supplemented by violence and insecurity.

If a white person were to say this, they would be, of course, immediately accused of racism – but we should nonetheless think about it. If we don’t do it, the new right will do it for us (as they are already doing, lambasting what they regard as the inability of South Africa’s black citizens to run a country properly). The temptation to risk brutal “decolonisation” irrespective of what follows should be resisted. Mao said: “Revolution is not a dinner party.” But what if the reality is that after the revolution there is nothing to eat?

The question we should raise with respect to Hamas is not just what will happen after it loses this war – it is what would happen if Hamas was to survive and continue to rule Gaza? What would be the reality in the Strip, after the waning of enthusiasm for liberation?

[See also: 
The fightback against US anti-Semitism has begun]


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中國、美國、和蘇西迪底斯難局 -- Richard Allen Hyde
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這篇文章屬於「勸和不全分」一型。由於作者是牧師,他全文沒有一絲火氣或一般美國政論家的偏頗。先行轉載,有空再討論。

他顯然對「政治現實主義」不甚以為然,提出了基於基督教教義的『現實主義』」這個概念,但沒有詳細闡述。

China, America, and Thucydides’ Trap

Richard Allen Hyde, 12/01/23

While Destined for War (2017), a study of Sino-America rivalry through the lens of Athenian-Spartan competition by Graham Allison, professor at Harvard Kennedy School, is particularly about how to manage a relationship between reigning world powers and their emerging rivals, the lessons in it are relevant not just for foreign policy experts; anyone interested in the art of balancing powers and maintaining relationships across complicated histories and competing interests will have something to learn. A marriage, family, and child therapist might find the book as useful as an ambassador or secretary of state.

If you know nothing about China, the United States or world history, Destined for War will shore up your education. The book includes: an account of how the two behemoths see the world and each other, a brief history of major conflicts in world history, and, of course, a good study of Thucydides and the devastating Peloponnesian War.

Professor Larry Radway of Dartmouth first acquainted me with the greatness of Thucydides, particularly his account of the Athenian ambassadors’ cynical abrogation of the right of self-determination for Melos, a Greek island in the Aegean that had remained neutral between Sparta and Athens until that point. One might think that pure national self-interest, the dog-like attention to defending your own turf, might work well in a dog-eat-dog world. Yet, despite the claims of so-called “realists,” such a strategy works neither in a family nor international relations, or at least not for very long.  So Christian Realism advises.  

According to Thucydides, the Greek father of history, Athens and Sparta went to war after decades of rivalry punctuated by occasional cooperation. Sparta, the traditional land power and stronger of the two, feared being outflanked and outspent by the rising naval power, Athens.  Each had built up a network of allies designed to strengthen and protect them from one another, but the network ended up embroiling the whole of the Greek peninsula in a war that was disastrous for all concerned, rather like mountain climbers linked up for protection who occasionally go over the brink together.  

Not long after this Greek civil war, Phillip of Macedon invaded and took over the whole Greek peninsula by 336 BC.  This marked the end of what’s typically thought of as Classical Greece, often described as having begun after the Greco-Persian Wars at the dawn of the 5th century BC. Did famed historian and author of The Guns of August Barbara Tuchman read Thucydides?  I’m sure she did.  

The conflict most on Professor Allison’s mind back in 2017 was the one between the US and China.  Of course, China was a great economic and military power long before the United States ratified our Constitution.  Their relationship began only some 250 years ago when an American privateer, retrofitted and renamed The Empress of China (船名), arrived in Canton in 1784.  It returned to New York with a cargo of porcelain, from which George Washington purchased several fine pieces.  Although diplomatic relations were not formalized with an exchange of ambassadors until 1935, the United States sent official representatives beginning in 1844.  China has undergone a very difficult period from about the time of the arrival of that ship, and thousands of ships like her, until fairly recently.  While the US was at the beginning of its rapid rise, China simultaneously continued a steep decline.   

Aside from the Korean War, during which American and Chinese troops were de facto at war, relations between the two countries have been peaceful and mostly amicable, with the US being a defender of Chinese independence both during late 19th Century European colonialism and during the Japanese invasion in the 1930s.  It was this support of China that caused America to impose an oil and steel embargo on Japan when its government refused to withdraw from China. When the Japanese realized it would be impossible to sustain their empire without securing natural resources from across East Asia, they attacked Pearl Harbor, hoping to cripple the US Navy long enough to seize and fortify a vast swathe of the Western Pacific.  After World War II and the triumph of Mao’s Communist Party in China’s Civil War, the wheel of fortune turned remarkably quickly.  No one on earth in 1950 expected China to become a superpower within such a short period of time, if ever.  

Thus, these two powers have already traded places, come into armed conflict once, and are now in a position of relative parity.  One would think that their chances of avoiding the Thucydidean Trap are pretty good.  Both countries are at the top of the world’s economic heap and very risk-averse.  Both have much to gain from their relationship and much to lose if it breaks down, as does the rest of the world.  

A major shooting war between the two countries would be a disaster for both and for the world at large, an even greater disaster now than it would have been a few years ago because of the major shooting war in Ukraine.  China (rather quietly) backs the Russian invasion.  The US and most of Europe are sending military aid to Ukraine.  The conflict is leading to a major upset of the world economy.  China can certainly weather this storm, but it cannot be happy about the effect on the world economy and is apparently in no mood to bail out Russia with substantial aid.  This brutal and clumsy invasion will certainly not make China’s intended digestion of Taiwan any easier.  The chance of the Taiwanese voting to become part of China now looks more remote than ever.  

Professor Allison details how conflict between smaller allies tripped off the Peloponnesian War, so two small countries, one ally of the US, one ally of China, seem the likeliest places for this conflict to get out of control.  

Taiwan is an island of only 23 million people, whose GDP amounts to a rather minor drop in the bucket of the Chinese or American GDP.  There is no material reason to go to war over this island.  Yet the Beijing government considers Taiwan an integral part of China.  The island is likewise important to China’s neighbors, many of whom are aligned with the US because they do not wish to be dominated by China.  Some, like Vietnam, have a long and bitter history with China.  China has never controlled Japan, but it is not for lack of trying; though, given Japan’s history of exploiting China in the 20th century, the Chinese may suffer from recency bias.    

In this situation, what is a realist, Christian or otherwise, to do?  What does Professor Allison (certainly a realist) recommend?  Drawing especially on his study of the Cuban Missile Crisis, when President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev reached an accommodation, Professor Allison’s many ideas and recommendations come down to four:  

1.  Clarify your vital interests.  Keep the list short.  You cannot have 100 vital interests.  Three or four will do.
2.  Understand what your counterpart is trying to do.  What are your adversary’s vital interests?  Do your best to work around them.
3.  Have a strategy.  Rank order your favored procedures.  Keep this list short also.  
4.  Keep your own house in order.  

Especially in light of the past five years since this book came out, this last recommendation seems the most important for both the US and China.  Neither country is in a full-blown domestic crisis at this point, but both countries, as most countries at this point, are highly stressed by the after-shocks of Covid, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the recent outbreak of violence in the Middle East. Hopefully, somewhere in Washington or Beijing, some Chinese and American diplomats are meeting informally, over drinks perhaps, to ask each other what they can do to end the war in Ukraine; what they can do to rein in the leader of North Korea; how to manage the Taiwan Strait; what they can do to keep the world economy going.  A worldwide recession leading to further domestic unrest is not in either country’s interest.


The Rev. Dr. Richard Allen Hyde began his ministry as the associate chaplain of Dartmouth College. Since then he has pastored churches in Vermont, Massachusetts, California, Maine, and now California, where he is the pastor of the Community United Church of San Carlos. He tries to live up to the civic and theological commitments of the founders of New England Congregationalism.

Along the way, he earned an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School and a PhD from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. He has been a lecturer at Dartmouth College, the School for Advanced International Studies, and the State Department. He also leads tours of the nation’s capital for university Washington programs, alumni clubs and other groups.

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《群眾取向政治路線淪為花招》讀後
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教授這篇簡短的分析指出過去十多年來「群眾取向政治路線」走紅的原因(本欄上一篇文章):

1)
決策權力」從民選的議會及政府旁落到人民監督不到的專業機構(與官僚)手中。
2)
政黨的機制和功能消失

兩者導致政府無法推動和落實人民需要的政策

他拿販賣機」來比喻政府

當民眾投了鈔票進機器,但不論按那個按鈕都拿不到飲料或食物時,也難怪有人要踢「販賣機」。

同樣的,當某政客以「群眾取向路線」為競選招術取得權力後,因為政府機關已經失效,不論這位政客按辦公桌上那個按鈕,她/他都無法推動自己拿來號召(欺騙?)選民的政策。


索引

群眾取向政治路線:Populism

entities
:個別而獨立存在的事物、機構等等(此處為複數形式)
gimmick
花招,把戲
Milei:阿根廷新當選總統
pantomime
:啞劇(比手劃腳來傳達意思)、獨腳戲
Wilders:荷蘭新多數黨領袖

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群眾取向政治路線淪為花招 –----- Michael Lind
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請參考本攔下一篇的《讀後》。

Populism has become a gimmick

From Wilders to Milei, politics is now pantomime

MICHAEL LIND, 11/30/23

When populist candidates started to win national elections in the 2010s, panicked establishmentarians on both sides of the Atlantic warned that they could consolidate their power and destroy democracy. On both counts, these misgivings were misplaced. From Donald Trump to Boris Johnson, contemporary populists have proved incapable of consolidating power or exercising it effectively. And far from being incompatible with democracy, they owe their success to today’s version of democracy, in which protest votes are becoming ritualised. As opposed to being a harbinger of a new fascism, populism is now just another political style, detached from any substantive politics and incapable of radical reform.

Donald Trump’s embrace of Argentina’s new President, Javier Milei, shows how empty of ideological consistency populism can be. If Trump in his first run for the White House and his presidency stood for anything, it was for the rejection of economic libertarianism in favour of tariffs, immigration restriction and a refusal to cut the middle-class entitlements on which his voters depended. Milei, however, is a free-market radical whose programme is the exact opposite of “Trumpism”. And yet, hours after Milei was elected president of Argentina, Trump posted on social media: “Congratulations… you will turn your country around and truly make Argentina great again!”

This might seem like a contradiction, but only if Right-wing populism is considered a coherent public policy programme. And that is far from the case. Today, populism is little more than a shared campaign style — like the weird hair Trump shares with Milei, Johnson, and Geert Wilders.

Further evidence that populism has become a gimmick, rather than a serious programme, comes from the record of populists in office. Silvio Berlusconi, the original Right-wing populist, a plutocrat and media celebrity before Trump, was prime minister in four Italian governments. Despite all the commotion, it is hard to see what, if anything, changed as a result. Under Georgia Meloni, Italy’s hard-Right has reconciled itself to the EU and softened its tone. In the UK, Johnson came and went, securing Brexit but otherwise leaving no trace on public policy. And like a bad-tempered, orange-haired Cheshire Cat, Trump in his first term left nothing but a scowl.

Populist voters in all Western democracies, whatever their other differences, want current high levels of immigration to be reduced. Trump made this central to his campaign in 2016, and it was inextricably wrapped up with Brexit under Johnson. But once in office, Trump betrayed his voters by refusing to press for the only effective way to reduce demand for immigration — requiring American employers to certify that their workers are all US citizens or legal immigrants. Instead, Trump avoided clashing with the business wing of the Republican Party, which is keen on cheap illegal immigrant labour, and diverted attention to a “big, beautiful wall” along the US-Mexican border which his own party failed to fund.

For his part, Johnson as prime minister proved to be as ineffectual in stemming mass migration to the UK as King Canute was in stopping the tide. In 2021,
Johnson promised not to return to “the old failed model of… uncontrolled immigration”. And yet, more immigrants arrived in the UK in 2022 than all those who arrived between 1945 and 2022.

The problem here is structural: the very feature of modern Western democracies that creates the demand for populist politicians also ensures their failure. In the north Atlantic, this structure has been transformed in the last generation by two phenomena. The first is the transfer of decision-making power away from democratically elected legislatures and executives to entities that are highly insulated from election results: national and transnational judiciaries, central banks, international institutions, and corporations such as the social media giants that function as de facto public utilities but with no democratic oversight or control. The second is the disintegration of political parties as mass membership organisations, in which ordinary citizens in local chapters can participate and exert influence outside of elections.

The first transformation — the loss of power to technocrats, both public and private — is in itself sufficient to explain the rage and alienation of much of the electorate in the West. In many countries, voters have learned that, no matter what party or candidate they select come election time, nothing will change in terms of policy. After they put in a lot of coins and press a lot of buttons, with no drink rolling out, they start to kick the vending machine.

This fury, particularly when it comes to immigration, is then exploited by populist candidates. But here another transformation comes into play — the capture of powerful, hierarchical organisations by outsiders such as Trump, Johnson or, for that matter, Jeremy Corbyn. With the collapse of organised parties as gatekeepers, competition among protest candidates tends to produce theatrical mavericks who take pride in their independence, even if they happen to run for office as a candidate of one or another legacy party.

Here, then, is the challenge. It took a generation or more for authority to be drained from the political branches in the West to these technocrats. And it will take at least as long for the political branches of government to regain decision-making power that they never should have ceded.


For this to happen, it will require a prolonged campaign of legislative reform and “lawfare” by disciplined parties and coalitions in national legislatures. This, in turn, will require skillful and patient leaders who are institutionalists and party-builders devoted to creating organisations that will outlast their time in office — the very opposite of the wild-haired maverick who campaigns on a slogan such as “build the wall” or waves chainsaws around. On being elected to office, the populist can try to rule by decree, but will lack an organised party to work through, and will find that many policy reforms are impossible to implement.


In the US, those who say that they vote for a particular candidate on the basis of their likely nominations to the Supreme Court or the Federal Reserve show that they actually understand where genuine power lies in modern democracies. Under the unwritten constitution of contemporary America, activist judges make the most important laws; the role of the President is to appoint them, and the role of the Senate is to confirm or reject them. Instead of a big, beautiful wall, Trump’s only lasting legacy, for instance, may indeed be his judicial appointments, which produced the conservative majority on the Supreme Court that
returned the power to regulate abortion from the federal government to the states.

For structural reasons, then, popular frustration with the thwarting of voter preferences will continue to create demand among angry, disempowered voters for outsider candidates with big, striking promises, if not always big, striking hair. And, once they are elected, populist demagogues will press the buttons on their desk that are supposed to make their government or party spring into action — only to discover that, in reality, the vending machine is broken and nothing happens.


Michael Lind is a columnist at Tablet and a fellow at New America. His latest book is Hell to Pay: How the Suppression of Wages is Destroying America.


SUGGESTED READING

Britain is Europe's liberal outcast, BY ARIS ROUSSINOS
The Left was blinded by Berlusconi, BY THOMAS FAZI

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季辛吉的「(政治)現實主義」 - Michael Hirsh
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先生這篇文章批評了季辛吉的劣跡(該欄第3)但也對季辛吉的「(政治)現實主義」有詳細的闡述。所以我把他的大作放在此欄

此文附多張歷史性照片:請至原網頁觀看。


Henry Kissinger, Colossus on the World Stage

The late statesman was a master of realpolitik—whom some regarded as a war criminal.

Michael Hirsh, 11/29/23

Henry Alfred Kissinger, one of the most influential statesmen in American history, died on Nov. 29 at age 100 after a long and tumultuous career in which he helped author some of the greatest triumphs—as well as some of the most tragic failures—of U.S. foreign policy.

Kissinger, a German-born refugee from Nazism who came to the United States at the age of 15, was credited with several of the most epoch-making diplomatic achievements since World War II. These included launching detente with the Soviet Union to preserve peace during the Cold War and, along with his boss, President Richard Nixon, dramatically altering the terms of that 40-year conflict by opening relations with communist China in 1972.

As Nixon’s national security advisor and then secretary of state, two roles he combined, Kissinger was also possibly the most successful Mideast negotiator ever, creating the art of “shuttle diplomacy” that produced four Arab-Israeli agreements. In doing so, he “established a new American-led order in that turbulent part of the world and laid the foundations for Arab-Israeli peace,” wrote veteran Middle East negotiator 
Martin Indyk, author of the book Master of the Game: Henry Kissinger and the Art of Middle East Diplomacy.

In the view of some biographers, Kissinger ranks in stature with George Kennan, the principal author of America’s successful Cold War containment strategy, as well as with other hallowed architects of the post-World War II global system. “The structure of peace that Kissinger designed places him with Henry Stimson, George Marshall, and Dean Acheson atop the pantheon of modern American statesmen,” Walter Isaacson wrote in his 1992 biography of Kissinger. “In addition, he was the foremost American negotiator of this century and, along with George Kennan, the most influential foreign policy intellectual.”

Yet Kissinger also came to be reviled, especially by liberals, for practicing what they regard as a cold-blooded projection of American power that contributed to countless deaths. At Nixon’s side, he supported the disastrous bombing of Cambodia that led to the rise of the Khmer Rouge and its monstrous slaughter of more than a million people. Following the U.S. invasion of Cambodia, Kissinger completed peace talks with Vietnam that won him a Nobel Peace Prize but ultimately led to the humiliating North Vietnamese takeover just two years later in America’s worst defeat in a war until that point.

Kissinger also backed the 1973 coup d’etat against elected President Salvador Allende in Chile, who was considered friendly to communism, and turned a cold eye to the 1971 genocide in Bangladesh. Nixon and Kissinger stood behind Pakistani generals as they sought to prevent independence by East Pakistan (later Bangladesh) and armed them, in violation of U.S. law, as they oversaw the mass slaughter and rape of Bengalis. 
Gary Bass, a political scholar at Princeton, later characterized this episode as “among the darkest chapters in the Cold War.” Declassified White House tapes and documents quoted by Bass show that, in internal meetings at the time, Kissinger expressed contempt for those who “bleed” for the “dying Bengalis.”

In his 2001 book The Trial of Henry Kissinger, the late Christopher Hitchens argued that Kissinger should be prosecuted under international law for “ordering and sanctioning the destruction of civilian populations, the assassination of inconvenient politicians, the kidnapping and disappearance of soldiers and journalists and clerics who got in his way.

Born Heinz Kissinger in Fürth, Germany, on May 27, 1923, Kissinger was forever haunted by the breakdown of order in Weimar Germany and the rise of the Nazis, who killed much of his family. Exiled to the United States, he embraced his new country with passionate zeal and yet never abandoned his admiration for European-style realpolitik, just as he never lost his heavy Franconian accent.

His hero in international affairs was Otto von Bismarck, the fabled “iron chancellor” who, as Kissinger later wrote, “urged that foreign policy had to be based not on sentiment but on an assessment of strength.” As Isaacson noted, “That would also become one of Kissinger’s guiding principles.”

An academic star at Harvard, Kissinger became known both for his brilliance and his ambitiousness in wangling his way into the confidence of rising U.S. leaders, starting with John Kennedy, then Nelson Rockefeller, and finally Nixon, whose notorious insecurities were sometimes rivaled by Kissinger’s own. Kissinger often displayed an incendiary temper behind the scenes, and he was ever at work trying to sideline rivals such as William Rogers, Nixon’s first secretary of state.

Kissinger also became, to the chagrin of Nixon and his many rivals in government, an international celebrity, squiring Hollywood actresses to movie openings and fancy restaurants. Power, Kissinger famously said, “is the ultimate aphrodisiac.” At one point, when Marlon Brando, star of The Godfather, declined to show up for the film’s premiere in 1972, producer Robert Evans prevailed on Kissinger to appear in Brando’s place, as the only celebrity with sufficient star power to do so.

Yet it was as a scholar and a persuader par excellence that Kissinger left his most enduring mark. After completing a doctoral dissertation at Harvard that dissected the successful 19th-century realism of Klemens von Metternich and Lord Castlereagh, Kissinger first achieved some renown with his book Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, which improbably hit the bestseller list. The book argued in favor of limited nuclear war, a view Kissinger later disavowed.

He supported the Vietnam War—even though scholar Barry Gewen notes that Kissinger had concluded as early as 1965, after a visit, that the war was futile—but also brilliantly calibrated its draining effects on American power. Thus, he launched the era of detente and nuclear-reduction talks with the Soviets, angering many conservatives.

At the same time, however, Kissinger blindsided Moscow in 1972 by launching an unprecedented rapprochement with communist China, with which the USSR had split. According to some scholars, this may have helped prevent the outbreak of war with the Soviets at a time when Washington was distracted and split by domestic turmoil.

It was a moment in history uniquely suited to Kissinger and his equally realist-minded boss, Nixon. Both men came to realize earlier than most that the 1960s concepts of monolithic communism and the domino theory, by which successive nations would inevitably topple to the communists, were unsound. As Gewen wrote in his 2020 book, The Inevitability of Tragedy: Henry Kissinger and His World, “Once the idea of a monolithic communism was discarded, what sounder policy could there be for two Realpolitikers than to play the feuding Communists off against one another?”

“Detente was ultimately driven by the Vietnam War, by the sense of overreach,” said Charles Kupchan, a scholar of international affairs at Georgetown University. “Kissinger and Nixon saw the need to, one, retrench, and two, lower the temperature when it came to the Cold War. They were largely successful at this, especially in moving China out of the enemy column.” He added, “Kissinger thought strategically in a way that some other important figures have not. When it comes to U.S. statecraft, I often think there is a problem of too much policy and not enough strategy. Kissinger was someone who reversed that.”

And yet Kissinger also became renowned for his personal touch, winning over foreign leaders and diplomats with his charm, humor, and mastery of history. It helped, of course, that he never seemed terribly bothered by the abuses of the dictators with whom he negotiated.

The two foreign leaders Kissinger came to admire most, according to Isaacson, were Premier Zhou Enlai of China and Egypt’s Anwar Sadat, whom Kissinger considered a “prophet” for his willingness to engage in talks with the Israelis. During Kissinger’s first attempt at shuttle diplomacy in 1974, Sadat brought him to a tropical garden by his presidential villa and “beneath a mango tree, kissed him,” Isaacson wrote. “You are not only my friend,” Sadat told the startled secretary of state. “You are my brother.” Kissinger later joked to the press corps that “the reason the Israelis don’t get better treatment is because they don’t kiss me.”

Despite the controversy that surrounded him, Kissinger never really lost his reputation as America’s preeminent foreign-policy expert. In the decades before his death, both Republicans and Democrats, along with many world leaders, sought his counsel. Kissinger bolstered this reputational rebirth with a tireless output of memoirs, books, and articles that some scholars consider to be the most exhaustive and profound elucidation of foreign policy by any American expert.

Considered America’s foremost realist, Kissinger also proved prescient in his skepticism about the world-changing Wilsonian idealism—essentially the notion that Washington can reorder the world in America’s image—that has so often characterized U.S. foreign policy. More clearly than most, he saw Wilsonianism’s pitfalls even as he conceded that it formed the “bedrock” of American foreign policy.

Nowhere has he been more vindicated than in his skepticism that, after the Cold War, the spread of democracy would prove a panacea. As Gewen noted, Kissinger foresaw that the end of the Cold War would not lead to the triumph of American-style liberal democratic capitalism, but was more “in the nature of a brilliant sunset.”  

This proved especially true for China—the country Kissinger came to know best—as developments in the last decade or so have shown. Successive administrations, starting with Bill Clinton, sought to co-opt China into the post-Cold War system of global markets and emerging democracies, what Kissinger once called “the age-old American dream of a peace achieved by the conversion of the adversary.” But China, along with post-Soviet Russia, has become the driving force behind a new era of autocracy and suppression of human rights.

The only reasonable approach to China and other major powers, Kissinger long argued, was a brand of realpolitik that did not seek to solve the world’s problems in an idealistic way, but rather to manage them through a careful tending of the ever-changing balance of power. “The task for policymakers in his view is a modest, essentially negative one,” Gewen wrote. “Not to steer the world along some preordained path to universal justice but to pit power against power to rein in the assorted aggressions of human beings and to try, as best they can, to avert disaster.”

The key to his approach was to identify achievable goals rather than permanent solutions. Or as Indyk put it, “For Kissinger, peacemaking diplomacy was a process designed to ameliorate conflicts between competing powers, not resolve them.”


Kissinger himself defined this realist philosophy in Diplomacy, his 1994 masterwork. “International systems live precariously,” he wrote. “Every ‘world order’ expresses an aspiration to permanence. … Yet the elements which comprise it are in constant flux. Indeed, with each century, the duration of international systems has been shrinking.”


This would be especially true of the 21st century. He added, “Never before have the components of world order, their capacity to interact, and their goals all changed so rapidly, so deeply, or so globally.”


Kissinger concluded, “In the next century, American leaders will have to articulate for their public a concept of the national interest and explain how that interest is served—in Europe and in Asia—by the maintenance of the balance of power. America will need partners to preserve equilibrium in several regions of the world, and these partners can not be chosen on the basis of moral considerations alone.”

Kissinger was fearful toward the end of his life that Washington, by taking a confrontational approach to both China and Russia on moral or ideological grounds, might be in danger of isolating itself and resurrecting the old alliance between Beijing and Moscow. In 2018, he reportedly counseled then-President Donald Trump to try to work more closely with Russia to counter China.

At the same time, Kissinger also warned that by launching a new Cold War against China, Washington might be creating an even greater danger than it faced against the Soviet Union. The USSR, he said in May 2021 at the McCain Institute’s Sedona Forum, “didn’t have developmental technological capacity as China does. China is a huge economic power in addition to being a significant military power.”

In one of his last essays, written for the Economist after America’s humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan, Kissinger yet again warned against an excess of idealistic zeal about changing the world for the better. He harked back to the nation’s previous counterinsurgency failure in Vietnam and diagnosed Washington’s failures in terms that fit his lifelong approach to foreign policy:

“The United States has torn itself apart in its counterinsurgent efforts because of its inability to define attainable goals and to link them in a way that is sustainable by the American political process. The military objectives have been too absolute and unattainable and the political ones too abstract and elusive,” he wrote. “The failure to link them to each other has involved America in conflicts without definable terminal points and caused us internally to dissolve unified purpose in a swamp of domestic controversies.”

Until the end, Kissinger was hard at work trying to figure out the world. In a series of writings culminating in The Age of AI, a 2021 book he coauthored with former Google chief executive officer Eric Schmidt and Daniel Huttenlocher, dean of computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he expressed his deep concerns that things were going in the wrong direction.

Ironically for a statesman who, for most of his career, had been accused of ignoring moral considerations, his main worry was the loss of the human element. He worried that the paradigm that ruled since the Enlightenment—the primacy of human reason—was being overturned and, as he put it in an essay in the Atlantic, too many decisions were now “relying on machines powered by data and algorithms and ungoverned by ethical or philosophical norms.”

With his grave demeanor and rumbling German accent, Kissinger could often seem aloof. But he was a close student of humanity, both broadly and narrowly defined, and throughout his career he excelled by studying closely the character of the leaders with whom he negotiated. He was at work on a last book summing up these experiences at the time of his death.

In an interview with me in 2000, after the death of Syrian dictator Hafez Assad, Kissinger tended to gloss over the dictator’s bloody history but otherwise frankly assessed his strengths and weaknesses. “His success was in managing to stay in office for 30 years, which was not a mean achievement,” Kissinger said. “He was a man of survival and small increments. He was not a man of huge departures. … What he lacked was to transcend the environment in which he grew up.”

Kissinger himself proved a man of huge departures, yet in some ways his assessment of Assad could be applied to him as well, at least in terms of whether he truly transcended his native environment. Throughout his life, Kissinger remained the European exile, the student of Bismarck and Metternich, even as he passionately embraced America and deftly manipulated—for better and worse—the morality-based power politics of his adopted country.

“He was much more aware of morals in foreign policy than he’s been given credit for,” said Joseph Nye, the diplomat and political scientist who was Kissinger’s student—and later became a political rival—at Harvard. “He knew that order rests on the balance of power and, at the same time, legitimacy. His wasn’t a crude realpolitik. It was a sophisticated realpolitik.”

It is this complex legacy that Kissinger leaves behind, for the United States and for the world.

Update: The regional origins of Henry Kissinger’s accent have been clarified.

Michael Hirsh is a columnist for Foreign Policy. He is the author of two books: Capital Offense: How Washington’s Wise Men Turned America’s Future Over to Wall Street and At War With Ourselves: Why America Is Squandering Its Chance to Build a Better World. Twitter: @michaelphirsh

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The Kissinger Transcripts

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DEPT OF SECRETS 
, TOM BLANTON

ESSAY 
, MICHAEL HIRSH

ARGUMENT
 STEPHEN M. WALT


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1.  評論

契林先生這篇文章,對美、以兩國在中東地區「以阿制阿;分化來擊破」的策略史有詳細報導(請見本欄上一篇)

張智北教授在他的演講中提及以色列扶植哈瑪斯的歷史(請見本欄《我看「以巴衝突」 -- 張智北》)。我以「陰謀論」回應(請見本欄《再論「以巴衝突」:敬覆張智北教授》)。因為,我相信即使以色列扶植過哈瑪斯,其目的在分化巴勒斯坦人民,並對抗「巴勒斯坦解放組織」。本質上,哈瑪斯並非以色列的「鐵桿衛隊」。以、哈鬥爭多年足以顯示:以色列政府資助或扶持哈瑪斯組織,並不表示他們「哥倆好」,只是兩者心照不宣的「各懷鬼胎,各有算計」;或美國俗話說的:「政治人物經常野合」。

這類策略幾乎都造成「尾大不掉」或「養虎貽患」的結果。計畫者自以為:「兩害相權取其輕」,得到的卻是「事與願違」,甚至「悔不當初」。增加了一些「聰明反被聰明誤」或「計畫趕不上變化」的範例,讓世人警惕而已。

契林先生這篇文章一個有趣的分析是:以色列政府資助或扶持哈瑪斯組織,除了對抗「巴解」之外,另一個目的在破壞美、歐「西方國家」希望和推動的「兩國方案」。即使在當下,以色列政府認為自己的錢「花在刀口上」,達到了她既定的排斥「兩國方案」這個目標。成效如何,恐怕要等30 - 50年才有定論。

以色列雖然不聽美國老大哥下的指導棋,但出了事以後,美國還是不得不替她擦屁股。此之謂「奇貨可居」;可知中東地區政治的複雜詭譎。也可看出:國際政治上,扯後腿或捅一刀的人往往是自己的「親密戰友」。台灣這些小孩玩大車的幼稚園級政客們,可不慎乎!

2. 
為什麼「以、巴問題 10年內無解」

我一向認為:99%的情況下,「政治是爭奪資源分配權的活動」是牢不可破的硬道理。我也深信:「資源分配」是一個沒有「皆大歡喜」解決方案的難局。兩者是我討論政治議題的出發點。

我對「中東議題」信興趣不大,自然也就沒有什麼研究。根據以上的認知談談「兩國方案」。

第二次世界大戰後,歐洲勢力不得不退出中東地區。其「核心利益」在維護(當時)「能源」的穩定供應,以色列建國是美、歐「大戰略」中所布置的後手、樁腳、或暗樁。如果中東地區有動亂,以色列立刻變身成為美、歐軍事部署的基地,軍事行動的跳板。但在第一次波灣戰爭後,此功能的重要性大幅降低。這是西方集團過去十多年來熱衷於「兩國方案」的背景。

但對在地的兩大勢力來說:泛阿拉伯世界(自認為)沒有妥協的必要,其「核心利益」是把所有的猶太人趕下海(見本欄《以巴問題 10年內無解》第1-2)小節);而以色列的「核心利益」則是開疆闢土,讓人民有更大的繁殖和生存空間。它也是歷來該國二流政治領袖鞏固基本盤的手法。

以上補充我《以巴問題 10年內無解》的「論述」

3. 
結論

在上述三方「爭奪資源」活動中,各國領導人挖空了心思來爭取對自己有利的態勢。從而,大多數老百姓也就不得不繼續生活在苦難和殺戮中。此之謂「政治領袖不仁,以百姓為芻狗」。

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以色列與哈瑪斯的崛起 ------ BRAHMA CHELLANEY
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Israel's historical role in the rise of Hamas

The Jewish state's future will be shaped by the war against a monster it allegedly help spawn

BRAHMA CHELLANEY, 11/21/23

Israel, which withdrew from Gaza in 2005, has come full circle with its invasion of that territory in response to the atrocities perpetrated by the Hamas militants.

But, just as the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to oust from power a terrorist militia whose rise it had facilitated via its Pakistani intelligence connections for Afghanistan's stability sake, Israel is tasting the bitter fruits of a divide-and-rule policy that helped midwife the birth of the Hamas "Frankenstein monster" that it is now seeking to subdue.

Treating the Hamas slaughter of innocent civilians as a kind of Pearl Harbor moment, Israel has vowed to “wipe out” the Gaza-based militia group through a military offensive that is one of the most intense of the 21st century, according to the New York Times. The terrorism-glorifying ideology of Hamas, however, cannot be crushed by military means alone, raising the question whether Israeli forces could get bogged down in Gaza the way America’s Afghanistan invasion turned into a costly quagmire.

The international focus on the war in Gaza has helped obscure the fact that Israel in the 1980s aided the rise of the Islamist Hamas as a rival to the secular Palestinian Liberation Organization and its dominant faction, Yasser Arafat’s Fatah. Israel’s policy was clearly influenced by the U.S. training and arming of mujahideen (or Islamic holy warriors) in Pakistan from multiple countries to wage jihad against Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

The multibillion-dollar American program from 1980 to create anti-Soviet jihadis represented what still remains the largest covert operation in the Central Intelligence Agency’s history. In 1985, at a White House ceremony attended by several mujahideen, then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan gestured toward his guests and declared, “These gentlemen are the moral equivalent of America’s Founding Fathers.”

Out of the mujahideen evolved the Taliban and al-Qaida. As then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton openly admitted in 2010, “We trained them, we equipped them, we funded them, including somebody named Osama bin Laden ... And it didn’t work out so well for us.”

Hamas, for its part, is alleged to have emerged out of the Israeli-financed Islamist movement in Gaza, with Israel’s then-military governor in that territory, Brig. Gen. Yitzhak Segev, disclosing in 1981 that he had been given a budget for funding Palestinian Islamists to counter the rising power of Palestinian secularists. Hamas, a spin-off of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, was formally established with Israel’s support soon after the first Intifada flared in 1987 as an uprising against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.

Israel’s objective was twofold: to split the nationalist Palestinian movement led by Arafat and, more fundamentally, to thwart the implementation of the two-state solution for resolving the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict. By aiding the rise of an Islamist group whose charter rejected recognizing the Israeli state, Israel sought to undermine the idea of a two-state solution, including curbing Western support for an independent Palestinian homeland.

Israel’s spy agency Mossad played a role in this divide-and-rule game in the occupied territories. In a 1994 book, “The Other Side of Deception,” Mossad whistleblower Victor Ostrovsky contended that aiding Hamas meshed with “Mossad’s general plan” for an Arab world “run by fundamentalists” that would reject “any negotiations with the West,” thereby leaving Israel as “the only democratic, rational country in the region.” Avner Cohen, a former Israeli religious affairs official involved in Gaza for over two decades, told a newspaper interviewer in 2009 that, “Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel’s creation.”

To be sure, some others, including the U.S. intelligence establishment, have not endorsed the Israeli connection to the rise of Hamas, portraying it simply as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.

About seven years before U.S. special forces killed bin Laden in a helicopter assault on his hideout near Pakistan’s capital, an Israeli missile strike in 2004 assassinated Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, a quadriplegic and partially blind cleric. By drawing specious distinctions between “good” and “bad” terrorists, Israel and the U.S., however, continued to maintain ties with jihadis.

While Barack Obama was in the White House, the U.S. and its allies toppled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, creating a still-lawless jihadi citadel at Europe’s southern doorstep. They then moved to overthrow another secular dictator, Syria’s Bashar Assad, fueling a civil war that helped enabled the rise of the Islamic State, a brutal and medieval militia, some of whose foot soldiers were CIA-trained. And apparently shocked by the brutality of some of those U.S.-backed militants, and amid questions over the effectiveness of the policy, then-American President Donald Trump in 2017 is reported to have decided to shut down the covert Syrian regime-change program.

Israel, by contrast, persisted with its covert nexus with Hamas. With the consent of Israel, Qatar, a longtime sponsor of jihadi groups, funneled $1.8 billion to Hamas just between 2012 and 2021, according to the Haaretz newspaper.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been in power for much of the past decade and a half, told a meeting of his Likud Party’s Knesset members in 2019 that, “Anyone who wants to thwart the establishment of a Palestinian state has to support bolstering Hamas and transferring money to Hamas,” adding, “This is part of our strategy — to isolate the Palestinians in Gaza from the Palestinians in the West Bank.”

Israel, like the U.S., may have been guided by the proverb, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” But, as history attests, “the enemy of my enemy,” far from being a friend, has often openly turned into a foe.

America’s longest war ended with the Taliban’s return to power. The reconstitution of a medieval, ultraconservative, jihad-extolling emirate in Afghanistan has no direct bearing on a distant America. But Israel’s war against the monster it helped spawn will greatly shape Israeli security.

Brahma Chellaney is a geostrategist and the author of nine books, including “Water: Asia’s New Battleground.”


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0.  前言

我把拙作以巴問題 10年內無解》的簡略版發表在另一論壇。承智北兄賜教(本欄《我看以巴衝突》;這個標題是我加的)謝謝他的指正。以下進一步申論見。

1. 
共同觀點

我同意張智北教授以下的觀點:

1)  巴勒斯坦問題帶給阿拉伯各國領袖許多困擾;
2) 
阿拉伯各國人民支持巴勒斯坦人民;
3) 
哈馬斯10/07的攻擊目的在破壞「和談」,尤其是以、沙烏地和談。

但我不了解:

4) 
以色列扶植哈馬斯這個判斷。

看起來這是個近於「陰謀論者」的說法

2. 
阿無法共存的原因

但是以上四點和我認為「以阿無法共存」的判斷並不衝突。

1)  「政治是爭奪資源分配權的活動」;在中東地區,石油之外,我所謂「資源」指的是土地和水源。隨著人口增加,土地和水源的爭奪勢必加劇。我對當地「族群結構」沒有研究,但是僅僅「宗教信仰」的歧異,就足以使得以阿雙方的「爭奪」是典型的「你死我才能活」模式
1)- 1 如果以上分析成立,則我對阿衝突長期結果的預測應該成立
1)- 2 目前的「和談」與「承認」只不過是阿拉伯國家「以文書換取時間」的拖延策略。套用美國人一句俗話:所有「和議」「協議」與「協定」的價值,都沒有登錄它們的那幾張紙值錢

2) 
阿無法共存的第二個原因是有人發「衝突財」「難民財」「戰爭財」;或借這個「衝突」擁兵自重,當寨主或軍閥來幹收買路錢這類勾當(如黎巴嫩)。此所以一旦和平有望,就有暗殺(如薩達特、拉賓),以及武裝衝突(10/07事件)

3. 
阿拉伯各國」不團結的原因

1) 
深度分析

我們討論政治議題時,要盡量避免使用「全稱名詞」「全稱概念」

阿拉伯世界」是個「全稱名詞」;但在這個「全稱概念」之下,它並非鐵板一塊。除了我們熟知的回教什葉派-遜尼派之爭外,就我上面提到的「族群結構」而言阿拉伯世界」有五花八門的部落和族群。相對於以色列,她/他們是「一個」族群;彼此之間,她/他們爭奪資源敵對行為的慘烈,不遜於和以色列的生死鬥爭。如過去的兩伊戰爭,巴勒斯坦的內鬥,現在進行式的葉門內戰等等

除此之外,統治者和被統治者之間也有嚴重的內部矛盾。如阿拉伯之春」,伊朗不時發生的抗議示威,埃及軍政府、沙烏地王室等和穆斯林兄弟會」的鬥爭等等。宮廷陰謀就不在話下了。

推而廣之任何社會、國家、或族群的內部都有同樣「爭奪資源分配權」的活動。我們討論政治必須確認和分別這些衝突和矛盾。否則,如黑格爾所說「晚上一眼望去,所有的牛都是黑的」(精神現象學79頁;我的翻譯)

2) 
巴勒斯坦建國

阿拉伯現有的政府並不願意巴勒斯坦建國成功。原因很簡單多一個正式政府就多一個分大餅和分一杯羹的勢力。反之,有了巴勒斯坦議題」就多一個和美、歐政府討價還價的籌碼還附帶一個號召國民向心,接受壓榨的正當性

4. 
結論

1) 
要解決以巴衝突或任何「戰爭問題」,只有兩個方法

a.  建立一個大多數人可以接受的,公平公正的「分配資源」機制。
b. 
老百姓從政客手中拿回決定是否開戰的權力。

不幸的是:這兩個方法在現階段都是鏡花水月,說了等於沒說。

2) 
國際社會仍然是一個適用「弱肉強食」規則的場域。如我以前說過:「權利」(包括「生存權」)不是「天賦」的是爭來的,搶來的,拼命拚出來的巴勒斯坦人民能否建國,不是根據道德公平正義這類概念來決定。

事實上,巴勒斯坦菁英遍佈全球。可惜的是:絕大多數的這些菁英們都以做個「自了漢」或「嬌嬌女」為己任。巴勒斯坦建國與否,要看她巴勒斯坦人民自己能不能像當年猶太人一樣,團結一致和建立實力。

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胡卜凱

我想你的第二點不存在(編者以巴問題 10年內無解文)。美國幾十年來的外交攻勢已經破解了阿拉伯國家要繼續支持巴勒斯坦的意願。除了埃及和一些阿拉伯國家紛紛已經承認以色列,基本上爲了自身利益放棄替巴勒斯坦人奮鬥之外,沙地阿拉伯也接近用承認以色列換取美國的安全保證。這些阿拉伯國家都已經膩了為巴勒斯坦老百姓花錢和出來各種頭痛,只是在大群人民的壓力之下不敢公開說而已。

埃及的情報系統就一直和以色列合作提供加薩走廊和哈馬斯的情報,它和約旦都拒絕讓巴勒斯坦的難民進入,因爲會帶來沉重的負擔和各種麻煩。約旦就好幾次很生氣巴勒斯坦難免鬧事想逼迫約旦出兵。這次就是哈馬斯認爲巴勒斯坦人已經要被完全放棄,在以色列逐步清除驅趕下永遠翻身無望,才做出的絕筆。

將來他們就只剩下伊朗的支持,前途一片黑暗,説不定就會像美國的印第安人逐漸消聲,或世界很多族群慢慢流失。這正是反對兩國方案的以色列右派所希望的。這個希望也正是以色列爲什麽扶植哈馬斯的原因。我的視頻裏有這些分析。

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