17 – 19TH NOVEMBER 2017


As national representatives of Stalwarts and Veterans of the African National Congress and MK Council together with our fraternal organisations, SANCO, COSATU, SACP and ANC Veterans League as well as our allies from the Strategic Dialogue Group and taking into account the concerns from Civil Society, are all united by our love and concerns for our country South Africa and the African National Congress.
We are profoundly committed to the ANC, proud of its role in the achievement of our democracy and in the progress towards meeting our people’s aspirations as embodied in the Freedom Charter.
We are deeply troubled by the abandonment of the ANC’s historic values and principles, which has undermined popular confidence in government, parliament, state owned entities and other public institutions. This is an unprecedented political crisis.
We are also deeply hurt by what we regard to be a betrayal of our people’s long- standing support and trust in the ANC.
We observe that the current elected leadership of the ANC is paralysed and unable to deal with ill-discipline, incompetence and corruption that point directly to the highest office in the land.
We further observe that parliament and the executive, led by the President has been found to have failed in their constitutional obligations by the highest court of the land.
We are deeply disturbed by the leadership’s disdain for co-operation with relevant community-based organisations, thus relinquishing the ANC’s leadership of society.
The mismanagement of our economy has led to unprecedented unemployment rates. This has exacerbated the levels of poverty amongst the masses of our people. Women, the marginalised in our society, in particular the youth have suffered immensely from the full brunt of the leadership’s reckless decisions and indecisiveness.
The appalling state of the nation’s education system at all levels continues to promote marginalization of significant sections of our society especially our youth, which is destroying the lives of future generations.
The increased crime rates and the deplorable insecurity within our vulnerable communities in the background of the corrupted and dysfunctional policing and prosecution services together with unrelenting and dehumanizing gender violence, leaves a sore eye to witness.

We are witness to the moral degeneration in society that is overseen by a self- centred, non-caring leadership that lacks honesty, integrity and a vision for the future.


• The systematic looting of public resources by elected representatives and public servants to the detriment of social cohesion.

• The unparalleled capture of state institutions for factional and corrupt purposes.

• The marginalisation of many competent and honest leaders and officials who sought to protect the country from such dishonourable practices.

• Many deplorable instances of assassinations and other forms of violence relating to political infighting and acts of criminality;

• The systematic erosion of the State’s ability to carry out its constitutional mandate of delivering services to our people;

• The failure to implement the transformative social and economic programmes aimed at improving the lives of our people.

• Diminishing the stature and reputation of South Africa and the African National Congress in the eyes of our people, the sister peoples on the African continent and the world at large.


The ANC leadership has fallen prey to forces who seek to advance their own selfish and corrupt interests which is inconsistent with the values, policy positions and ethos in the advancement of the National Democratic Revolution;

• Membership of the ANC has come to be seen by some as a path to positions, personal power, privilege and licence to plunder the state resources.

• In government, some members of the ANC have failed to resist and combat actions that subvert the democratic state.

• The ANC-led Alliance is polarised, divided and weakened.

• The social distance between elected representatives and the people has

widened and support for the ANC has declined in recent elections.

• As many ANC branches have fallen prey to gate keeping, as a result of factions seeking political office to plunder public resources rather than to serve the people.

• Members who raise their voices in protest against the downward spiral of the ANC have often been threatened and marginalised.

• Our parliamentary caucus has been divided over mechanisms of enforcing accountability and for restoring the credibility of parliament.

In short, the ANC has relinquished its leadership of society and plunged itself into an untenable political crisis. This development represents a danger to all South Africans who love justice and who desire rapid progress towards a better life for all.


We feel the pain of our people whose enthusiasm, trust and love for the ANC has been dampened.

We acknowledge that our failure to address these issues timeously has contributed towards the grave reputational damage, political and moral crisis facing our organisation and country.

We are however convinced that our movement, with a rigorous, serious and genuine introspection can self-correct and be rescued from its current crisis.


• Turning the ANC from its present destructive path will not be a simple matter.

• A programme of self-correction must build on the ANC’s historic values of

service, selflessness and integrity.

Self-correction will require sustained introspection, critical analysis and concerted action to restore the ANC’s credibility as a leader of society and a humble listening organization that is rooted amongst the masses of our people it seeks to lead.


We are determined to work with many partners who share the historic vision of the ANC to build a truly united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous nation.

We will not allow the ANC to die under our watch.

We believe, with our many years of commitment and contribution, we carry the wishes and authority of ordinary members of the ANC as well as the millions of our people.

We strongly affirm our belief that this historic National Consultative Conference can help to heal the ills currently afflicting the African National Congress.

We pledge to spread the message of this National Consultative Conference to our ANC branches its higher structures, the country and the world at large.



1. The ANC Conference in December 2017, in accordance with rule 11.5 of the ANC Constitution, establishes a committee to design and develop a renewal document, For the Sake of our Future including a plan of action and oversee a thorough renewal of the ANC structures including the branches as follows amongst others:

• To assess and scrutinise the suitability of the elected leadership at all levels in line with the adopted documents, in particular “Through the Eye of the Needle”,

• Takes urgent and practical steps to professionalise and modernise the ANC with priority being given to the membership system;

• take full advantage of the advances in the information, communication technology and management sciences to continue to put in place a better membership system;

• communicate effectively with its membership, core constituency and society in general;

introduce progressive management methods in the running of the ANC;

• supervise the formulation of practical strategies to ensure that the ANC develops both human and material resources to fulfill its historic task to lead the continuing struggle for the all- round victory of the Democratic Revolution;

• promote a value system that obliges its members and those of its members who are in the State apparatus to serve in the interest of the people of South Africa;

• oppose all corrupt practices, including the abuse of power by all its members in the organization and all institutions of State to enrich themselves or individuals and/or corporations;

• must defeat the establishment of cliques and factions which subvert our united national effort to achieve the inclusive democratic transformation of South Africa in the realisation of the goals of shared prosperity, poverty eradication and reduction of inequality in a growing economy;

• work together with society for the creation of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society;

• respect for and the strengthening of the institutions of the democratic State;

• continuous respect for and strengthening of democratic practices and therefore the rule of law;

2. The Integrity Commission must be an independent constitutional structure within the ANC with the capacity to act independently from and without the influence of the ANC NEC or any official, including the president of the organization. Implementation of its recommendations of the integrity commission. The integrity commission must submit its report directly to the NEC.

3. TheremustbeaonememberonevoteforadirectelectionofNEC.

4. ThenumberofdeployedNECmembersingovernmentmustbecapped. 5. TheTripartiteAlliancemustberevitalized,strengthenedandrespected.


1. Corruption must be rooted out from all levels of government and state owned companies – Eskom, SAA and SARS in particular.

2. A judicial enquiry must be urgently set up to investigate state capture and corruption that has served to undermine ANC and the culprits must be apprehended and prosecuted without unnecessary delays.

3. Ill-gottenmoniesmustbeconfiscatedbacktofunddevelopmentalprojects.

4. Hope and confidence in the South African economy must be restored by stakeholder engagement and embarking in an investment pact with business,

labour, communities and government.

5. Youthunemploymentandjobcreationmustbeprioritized


1. WemustworkwiththeCivilSocietytodefendtheconstitutionandrightsofall our citizens.

2. TheconstitutionoftheANCmustbealignedwiththatofourcountry.

3. The president must be directly elected and her/his powers be moderated in

line with the prescripts of our country’s constitution.


1. An Electoral Review Commission must be established for the regular reviews of our electoral systems.

2. TheIndependentElectoralCommissionmusthandleourelections.

3. The ANC president and chairpersons at various levels must be directly

elected by one member one vote.


1. Retrogressive tendencies of ethnicity, tribalism, racism and all forms of discrimination must be outlawed and resisted.

2. Education and economic equity must be ensured as they restore dignity and respect and enhance racial harmony.

3. ANC as a progressive organization must promote, enrich and educate all sectors of our society on non-racialism.


1. The ANC must view and treat Civil Society as a natural ally for the enhancement of nation building and service delivery.

2. CivilSocietyispartnerindevelopment,onpolicyanditsimplementation.

3. Together with Civil Society corruption and current attempts to acquire nuclear

power must be rejected and resisted.


1. Calls on all women and men of honour and integrity within the ANC and government to stand up against all forms of corruption, expose, reject and isolate the dishonest elements that seek to undermine and destroy our organisation, government and our reputation.

2. Calls for an open and fair election of the new ANC national leadership at the forthcoming December 2017 elective conference that will be committed to stamping out corruption and state capture with immediate effect.

3. A principled new leadership will be expected to heed a call for an urgent, all- inclusive conference that will get a process underway of correcting the wrongs within the ANC through an intense and fundamental organisational renewal into a truly modern organisation that will be adequately fit for purpose and responsive to the challenges of our times.

4. Calls upon President Zuma, for the sake of our future, to resign with immediate effect because he has let the ANC, our people and country down.


Andre ZAAIMAN’s most recent position in Government (2014) was as an Advisor to Minister Lindiwe SISULU – then the Minister of Public Service and Administration in South Africa. He currently teaches and trains South African, African and UN personnel in early warning, strategic intelligence analysis and complexity as the Research & Innovation Director of the African Center for Security and Intelligence Studies (ACSIP).

He previously served in the Presidential Support Unit that advised President Thabo MBEKI on issues of conflict in Africa and the Middle East and in senior positions in the Secret Service, National Intelligence Agency and the National Intelligence Coordinating Committee (NICOC) until he left Government in 2008.

He was a member of a five-person strategic Think Tank of Prime Minister Meles ZENAWI in Ethiopia from 2008 until his passing in 2012. It assisted the Prime Minister on developmental and diplomatic-security issues in Ethiopia and the region.

As the founding Director of the Goree Institute in Senegal, West-Africa – established following the 1987 meeting between a senior delegation of Afrikaners lead by Frederik VAN ZYL SLABBERT and a senior delegation of the then banned and exiled ANC lead by Thabo MBEKI – he worked across the African continent in both urban and rural settings, building the capabilities of public and civic organizations for self-reliance. He is co-author of the book “Managing towards self-reliance: organizational effectiveness in Africa”. He worked for nine years with President Abdou DIOUF when he was President of Senegal, on political dialogue, peace and Pan-African issues.

Andre was an activist in the anti-apartheid struggle and as a member of then banned and exiled ANC underground, was responsible for amongst other things, successfully gathering and interpreting intelligence and evidence on the secret death squads of the apartheid regime. His work as part of an ANC intelligence unit, included the covert exfiltration and first debriefings of Vlakplaas death squad commander Dirk Coetzee and several other members of both the Police and the old SADF Reconnaissance Commando in order to gather both evidence and intelligence.

As a staff-researcher he contributed a chapter in the book “Pursuing Peace and Justice in South Africa” by H.W. van der MERWE (1988); then Director of the Center for Intergroup Studies at UCT, and a Quaker pioneer that hosted the first meeting between Steve BIKO and Afrikaner student leaders in the 1970’s.

Andre was one of the organizers of the first public stand against military Conscription as part of the UDF-aligned End Conscription Campaign and the South African Objector Movement. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, he worked in one of the three secret tracks that lead to the democratic transition in South Africa. He lead many delegations – business leaders, political leaders, academics, intellectuals, youth and student leaders – in the 1980’s to the Southern African Frontline States to meet with Frelimo, Swapo, ZANU and the ANC in Lusaka; then banned and exiled. He spent time with the EPLF (Eritrea) and EPRDF (Ethiopia) during their struggles in the Horn of Africa in the early 1990’s and trained the Kurdish Peshmerga in Iraq in strategic intelligence analysis. He studied at University of the Free State in the 1980s until he was prohibited from further studies because of his political activities. He is pursuing a PhD in information and intelligence studies at Stellenbosch University. With two other specialists, he developed an intelligent-machine, early warning system for the detection and prevention of anti-biotic resistant nosocomial infections in Hospitals, which is currently being tested in a major private Hospital in Cape Town.

Later this year he will head back to West Africa for an extended Research Sabbatical in Senegal, the islands off the coast of Brazil, Polynesia and the Santa Fe Institute for Complexity in the USA, and then to China.

His life story was featured in several documentaries including “EAT MY CALL-UP” directed by Naashon ZALK which tells the story of four men who – facing lengthy jail terms and a potential charge of treason punishable by a death sentence – refused to “serve” in the South African Defense Force (SADF) in the 1980’s.

MORNING SEMINAR: The G-20 and Modernizing South Africa: a discussion on a democratic developmental state, our national security priorities and lessons from China

The G-20 and Modernizing South Africa: a discussion on a democratic developmental state, our national security priorities and lessons from China


“The fundamentals do apply; as time goes by ….”
(From Casablanca: Play it Sam)


The G-20 Summit in Hangzhou, China has just ended.

It is safe to say that China has successfully consolidated its position as an emergent economy carving out a role for itself in future global economic governance. In the medium to long term term, it wants to turn the G-20 into a new mechanism for the governance of the global economy. This is in some measure the consolidation and success of a developmental process that started in 1978. What this experience teaches us is that China understands revolution and economics; especially capitalist economics. So did Karl Marx.

But this is not where the story ends – the future is an open book.

What we can learn from China thus far also includes uncomfortable lessons: revolutions take place incrementally and cumulatively and this must occur in an orderly fashion. This seems like a paradox. But the fundamental reason is simple: human beings and capabilities are both central to the process but both are slow to adapt. The architect of this transformation – the Communist Party under DENG Xiaoping – cautioned his countrymen to be patient but focused; to spend their time learning from the West as they began modernizing and building their own economy. He specifically forbade them to engage in impatient provocations and empty slogans which will lead to distraction, misadventures and ruin. His advice can be summarized in one of his many popular sayings: “seek truth from the facts”. Reality matters. Don’t try to fight when you are weak. Build your capabilities first because slogans don’t feed hungry stomachs or calm angry people.

Nor do they defeat your enemies: real or imagined.

The refrain coming out of China in 2016 is simple: we need an interconnected, (meaning open); innovation driven (meaning learning, change and invention); inclusive (meaning the idea of a rising tide that lifts all the boats equally no matter their size or position, not geo-political blocs in confrontation, and development that involves all people); and invigorated economy (meaning a new round of growth and development). The G-20 agrees.

This represents good news but also a puzzle that must be investigated and explained.

China is ruled by a Communist Party. It is neither calling for socialism nor for a confrontation with the West. It has a modernized economy and military. It is at pains to build a new Great Power relationship with USA and the West – its biggest trading partner and known in South Africa as “white monopoly capital” – based on the principle of cooperation and mutual respect. Chinese President XI Jinping repeated his mantra for a new kind of Great Power relationship between the USA and the People’s Republic of China: no confrontation; mutual respect; no conflict; and cooperation.

Compare that with South Africa: it is ruled by a democratically elected Government. It’s public discourse is peppered with anti-imperialist slogans, confrontational and antagonistic rhetoric. It’s economy is comparatively the size of a pea and its military stuck in the past based on outdated concepts, systems and infrastructure. Some senior officials are even full of bravado boasting that China – and “us” – are changing the world. Equally striking was the determined and icy way in which the US President turned his back at the end of the group photo session, on the South African President – Jacob ZUMA – placed next to him. It was clearly a blunt message.

In the ways of the Chinese proverb: this is all very interesting.

One clear lesson stems from all of this for South Africa in 2016: we are dangerously inept at learning.

Learning from History

This discussion will be oriented towards the following two-part question: a) What can we learn from this G-20 Summit and from China’s developmental experience in general; and b) what does this imply for our national security.

A critical strategic question South Africa faces about its future is the resolution of its developmental problem within the constraints of contemporary geo-politics and political-economics – the art of the possible – and the historical context of racial dispossession and oppression. Critical other real-world constraints to consider include a democratized domestic polity; environmental factors such as climate change and over-population; human-machine integration and its effects on labour (the Fourth Industrial Revolution); weak regional, intra-African integration and coordination; and open, interconnected international trade and competition dominated by the West but challenged – with increased intensity – from the East.

With regards to the latter, we place particular emphasis on “competition and open trade”. These political-economic, geo-political and contextual factors should not be ignored as they present both new threats and new opportunities. Successful revolutions take place because of popular support, the wide-spread legitimacy of the leadership, and organized capabilities that can implement a clear strategy in a particular context. The real world matters and as Nobel Prize winners in behavioral economics Amos TVERSKY and Daniel KAHNEMAN so cogently argued in their analysis of “Bernoulli’s Error”: where one starts matters and matters more than what we think.

We – a personal opinion – define South Africa’s primary national security priorities as follows:

1.Alignment and synchronization of the economy and society with the polity (not vice versa)
2. Modernization of the economy – a technologically advanced, competitive and inclusive economy
3. Modernization of society – building a learning society (see Kenneth ARROW and Joseph STIGLITZ)
4. Undoing the two-economy hierarchy encapsulated in the phrase “undoing the legacies of slavery, colonialism and apartheid “: and one integrated, modernized and competitive economy
5. Continuous renewal and integration of the African continent and its regional and continental institutions

If we want to address these priorities we need to also evaluate the current geo-political realities and discern key trends and developments that will impact on the choices and decisions we make. It also requires that we address certain popular but dysfunctional myths about ourselves, our past and present – particularly how and why we got to the present we are in. We need to get real.

It is on all of these above issues that we will expand, elaborate on and hope to stimulate an interesting and rational discussion about. So we should emphasize that we aim to have a rational discussion and not an exchange of beliefs, a lecture or grandstanding.


Outline of an historical Model out of Underdevelopment:

How then did countries that were historically underdeveloped, catch-up with those that were developed?
Judging from the number of nations lifted out of poverty, the re-industrialization plan known as the Marshall Plan, was probably the most successful development project in human history. Contrast this with its precursor – the Morgenthau Plan. The latter was aimed at German de-industrialization (much of the thinking of Structural Adjustment Programs in the 1990’s was based on this), whilst the former was aimed at re-industrializing Germany after its defeat in the Second World War.

One of the fundamental insights behind the Marshall Plan was that the economic activities in the countryside were qualitatively different from those in the cities. Japan, South Korea and more recently the Peoples Republic of China have all followed key prescripts from the general model that emerged and because the purpose of this talk is not to bog down in a technical discussion on trade policy, supply and value chains etc. we provide the following brief overview and pointers:

In his famous June 1947 speech at Harvard, United States Secretary of State George Marshall (later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize) stressed that “the farmer has always produced the foodstuffs to exchange with the city dweller for the other necessities of life”. This division of labour, i.e., between activities with increasing returns in the cities and activities with diminishing returns in the countryside, “is the basis of our modern civilization” said Marshall, adding that at that time, it was threatened with breakdown.

But in the South African context, the “catch-up” from underdevelopment to development is three-fold:

1. The Second economy (black, underdeveloped and dispossessed) has to catch-up with the First economy – white, male, oligarchic and polluting)

2. The South African economy as a whole has to become integrated overcoming its racialized and gendered past (black and gender exclusion, labour exploitation and concentrated ownership). An important Caveat: given the requisite ecology of organizations in terms of size in a globalized economy, we absolutely also need megaenterprises competing globally
3. The economy has to be modernized: become – into the future – competitive to ensure sustainable, sustained growth. This presents us with additional complexities and significant opportunities.

The policy measures for catching-up in the capitalist mode, is well-known and proven. It was followed in one way or another by all countries that became developed. This includes both America (Hamilton) and China (Deng).

But those countries all adhered to three principles in doing so:

Learning and learning fast and wide in order to catch-up, adapt and innovate
Applying the prescripts intelligently in their particular contexts and conditions
Building the requisite and right capabilities – not rhetorics

This “formula” includes inter alia the following policy prescriptions; an iron cage:

1. Continuity of policy measures and policy toolkit, from England in 1485 (under Henry VII) to South Korea in the 1960s to China in the 1980’s and Ethiopia in the 2000’s, is a mandatory passage point for economic development. These policy prescriptions, implemented in a targeted, continuous and consistent manner, include the following (taken verbatim from the literature with a few alterations and additions here and there for contextual relevance):
2. Discontinuity of outdated policies and practices with particular focus on:
a) Recognition of wealth-creating synergies clustered around activities with increasing returns and continuous mechanization – we add technological integration and innovation and learning (Stiglitz). This also implies clearly that we cannot go on with the business model of cheap labor: it is redundant and dysfunctional, politically unsustainable in a democracy and economically unsustainable in an open, globalized economy.
b) Recognition that we – collectively – are in the wrong business by conscious targeting, support and protection of activities generating increasing returns. This is a fundamental problem in South Africa; we do not seem to know, strategically, what business we should be in as we are engaged in a racialized fight about the existing business/economy (the one we should not be in)
3. Production, innovation and learning-oriented policies and practices – creating a new economy – with particular focus on:
a. Granting of temporary monopolies/patents/protection to targeted activities in certain geographical areas
b. Recognition of development as a synergetic phenomenon and, consequently, of the
c. Need for a diversified manufacturing sector, ‘maximizing the division of labour’ (Serra, 1613) and drawing on observations of the Dutch Republic and Venice (the two primary innovators of the model).
d. This meant the following measures had to be understood and enforced (meaning as part of a Social Compact):
e. Accumulation of empirical evidence showed that the manufacturing sector solved three policy problems (that  historically, were endemic to Africa) : increasing national value added (GDP), increasing employment, and balance-of-payment problems.
f. Attraction of foreigners to work in targeted activities (historically, religious persecution was important).
g. Weakening in an organized manner, of landed interests (from England under Henry VII to South Korea). Physiocracy was a reflection of the landowners’ rebellion against this policy
h. Tax breaks for targeted activities.
i. Cheap credit for targeted activities.
j. Export subsidies for targeted activities.
k. Strong support for the agricultural sector, in spite of its clearly being seen as incapable of independently bringing the nation out of poverty: we need massive investments in the rural areas
l. Emphasis on learning and education (United Kingdom apprentice system under Elizabeth I).
m. Patent protection for valuable knowledge (Venice from the 1490s).
n. Export taxes/bans on raw materials to make them more expensive for competing nations (starting with
Henry VII in late 1400s, whose policy was very effective in severely damaging the wool industry in Medici

In its simplest form, this argument is born out of the role of increasing and diminishing returns in trade theory as the starting points for virtuous and vicious circles of growth or poverty. A praxis ignoring these mechanisms may cause factor price polarization rather than factor price equalization. Serra (1613) first established increasing returns, virtuous circles and large economic diversity as necessary elements for wealth creation. This principle was used almost continuously – with brief interruptions – until it was abandoned with the emergence of the ‘Washington Consensus’ and Structural Adjustment in the 1980/90’s (Marshall Plan to Morgenthau Plan)
The praxis of economic development has been to assimilate and produce less efficient ‘copies’ of the economic structure of wealthy nations. (We need to be building Africa’s cars, trains, ships, computers etc –
not just assembling the cars of others or importing their trains from the West or East)

A word on modernization, revolution, learning and innovation:

The notion of transformation in South Africa is often reduced to race and sometimes gender. These are important components of transformation but the concept also means much more and is not to be equated with affirmative action. The latter assumes that the institution is fine but the racial and/or gender profiles not.

The idea of transformation is much more related to deep and profound change – similar to a metamorphisis – and in the language of politics; revolutionary. This is also what we mean by modernization. It implies discontinuity, rupture and structural or underlying changes.

Entrepreneurs understand this kind of profound change or revolution as it forms part of the canon of economic theory where it is known as disruptive innovation, creative destruction and unlearning/learning.

But as South Africans we are in general, slow learners sometimes seemingly dangerously inept at it when compared to countries such as China. Modernization will however require very fast individual and collective learning: a learning society. The world around us is driven by continuous and rapid,disruptive innovation: and the G-20 believes this to be an even more important driver of growth (which in turn requires competitiveness) into the future.

This type of change is not always easy; especially in the beginning.

Even the well-known economic theorist John Maynard Keynes emphasised both the importance and difficulty of profound (conceptual) change and fast learning in economics. He had the following to say in his book The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1935):

“The composition of this book has been for the author a long struggle of escape, and so must the reading of it be for most readers if the author’s assault upon them is to be successful, a struggle of escape from habitual modes of thought and expression. The ideas which are here expressed so laboriously are extremely simple and should be obvious. The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones, which ramify, for those brought up as most of us have been, into every corner of our minds.”

Politicians should therefore understand that good entrepreneurs actually understand revolution – albeit in a different context and in the language of economic theory. And entrepreneurs must understand that the status quo in the context of rapid and ongoing innovation – social, economic, political, industrial or technological – is as life threatening to the survival or competitiveness of their enterprises as it is to our whole political-economy. Excellent entrepreneurs therefore not only tolerate discontinuity; they sometimes seek creative destruction and disruption.

In order to modernize its economy, South Africa will need a whole new crop of of risk-taking, original-thinking and fast-learning entrepreneurs: not just managers of businesses or administrators of bureaucracies.


The Outline for the Historical Model comes almost verbatim out of the existing academic literature. This is done with a purpose: all successful “catch-up” countries studied and learned from this, the exceptions being Venice and the Dutch Republic who were the innovators.

South Africa can – in our view – choose to modernize its economy and society to bring these inline with its modernized political system – successfully achieved in 1996 – and in this way also transform its new economy away from its racialized and gendered past towards a better future. Or it can just sink into a destructive racialized battle for the old economy – outdated, undiversified, exclusive and tiny – and the road to ruin. We can learn from China that such a revolution does not occur overnight and must be orderly nor is it achieved through insults and mudslinging or rhetorical sloganeering. A new economy has to constructed otherwise it will not exist.

So we need to get real: seeking truth from facts.

Please therefore engage this canon of literature in political-economics and development theory for the technical arguments. References for this and further reading will be supplied upon written request after the Discussion to Registered Delegates

RESUME: See on the Right Hand Menu


Seminar bought by a Private Client and is closed to the public

2016 – Revisiting the Democratic Developmental State

POST CURRENTLY BEING UPDATED: 2016 – Revisiting the Democratic Developmental State in South Africa



The issue – a complex and rather wicked problem – will not be understood correctly if we resort to binary thinking, oversimplification, moral preaching or political point-scoring.

As as a country, we are not in a good place: domestically one observes a resurgence of antagonistic racial and tribal discourses and our economy is not growing properly; on the Continent our soft power – the power of attraction –  risks being replaced by practices of rivalry and suspicion; whilst internationally there is a distinctly sour taste in the mouths of many countries when the name of South Africa is mentioned.

Denial or electioneering will not help to move us forward.  And the problem runs much deeper than just bad or biased press.

imageSouth Africa is in need of a DENG Xiaoping moment.

That is a moment where ideology-speak is replaced by a reality-check. Where we stop living in our heads – thinking and talking about “foreigners”, “Whites”, “Blacks”, “Women”, “Lesbians” , “Zulus”, “Sothos”, “Afrikaners”, “Coloureds” or “the Poor” – and we start encountering real human beings living in the real world.

When, in 1978 after the ideological tyranny of the Gang of Four that brought  China only economic, social, cultural and intellectual disaster, DENG and his comrades wrote the famous newspaper article loosely translated as “Seek truth from the Facts” – originally a quote from MAO Zedong – they were saying that the Chinese leadership should stop living in their heads and start living in the real world of their people. As part of this, DENG argued that China needed to face up to a hard truth: that they were backward.

Roughly 35 years after this, China became the worlds biggest economy.

Roughly 25 years after liberation, South Africa has fallen behind Nigeria whilst countries such as Ethiopia – a basket case a mere 15 years ago – is powering ahead.

In the picture above, Ethiopian technicians are putting the finishing touches to a locally built and assembled train in a factory in Addis Ababa as part of the spectacular, double-digit growth of the Ethiopian economy over the last 10 years – all done within the framework of the Democratic Developmental state. The country has just inaugurated its urban light-rail system as well as the new fast rail network to the rural areas.

Below is part of the extensive modern road network built into the rural areas and below that,  the overhead railway infrastructure being constructed for the new urban light rail system in Addis Ababa can be seen:




My contention is that rethorically, we talk of transformation but in reality we are sliding back to the discourses, mind sets and patterns of the past. I will try and substantiate this assertion in a new post. South Africa is relying too much on its small, inherited, undiversified and increasingly uncompetitive old “white” economic platforms to try and compete in an “open” world economy under domestic conditions of democracy and global techno-informationization.

As an introduction, I am first re-posting a piece on the Democratic Developmental State. This is because a number of the issues raised in this piece, touches on central elements of the underlying problem: we are politically,  economically, socially and intellectually stagnating although we are moving forward. This is off course a paradox – moving forward and stagnating at the same time; or as the old decomposes, it is recomposing in surprising ways – and it is this paradox that will be investigated and explored in the next post.

Here then is the Introductory re-posting:

The African National Congress (ANC) continues to receive – as demonstrated by the outcome of the recent national elections in the May 2014 – an overwhelming political mandate to govern the country and implement its election Manifesto. It is therefore timeous and apt that we ask: will South Africa continue to move closer to becoming a developmental state? And if so, what will be its purpose, character and impact?

In this series of three articles, we will explore these questions as well as take a closer look at the background and genealogy of this idea; some misconceptions about it; look at some comparative examples; assess how far we have come on this journey in South Africa particularly through the building of a capable State and an effective, efficient and ethical Public Administration; and finally we will attempt to look ahead.

The electoral mandate received by the ANC is democratic and political. Consequently in discussing issues of development, the economy and the state, we must also focus on the relationship between the people, the political and the economic – or the political-economy – and the domestic, regional and international contexts. In interaction these components can be observed, conceptualized and described as a complex and dynamical – therefore heterarchical – system in which the notion of the Developmental State must be centrally located. Our democratic Constitution, conceived upon a similar notion – three interacting, equal spheres – functions from such a philosophical perspective as well, hence there is not only a suitable conceptual and practical fit, but we also avoid thinking along narrow economistic and reductionist lines.

It is also necessary to mention this at the start in order to clearly differentiate this discussion about the South African developmental state from previous historical debates and examples of hierarchical, static, state-directed, centrally planned and often socialist, alternatives. This should not necessarily be interpreted as taking an ideological position about economic values – much is wrong with capitalism – but rather as an attempt to reflect on how to make optimal use of political power in the current conjuncture and context. Or in other words, how to best give expression to the idea that “the people shall govern” by effectively and efficiently implementing the political mandate that the voters of South Africa has just given the ANC through the free expression of their will in Constitutionally proscribed democratic elections. Our developmental state, given this reality, must therefore of necessity, also be a democratic one; we cannot simplistically try to imitate or transplant authoritarian versions from other contexts.

Moreover, in as far as development is concerned, there is a Constitutional imperative that is not often mentioned or discussed. The Constitution (Chapter 10) requires the State to be developmental in its orientation, and that the country must pursue substantive equality. This was eloquently analyzed by Chief Justice Pius LANGA in his 2006 Public Lecture (Stellenbosch) on the radical or transformative nature of our democratic Constitution.

The concept of and the rationale for the democratic developmental state in South Africa is therefore not in dispute: fast, sustained and inclusive growth; moving the most populous part of our dual economy – Black and poor – out of underdevelopment caused by colonial and apartheid dispossession; historical catch-up with developed economies by our national economy as a whole; and building competitiveness into the future. With the polity in South Africa having been fully democratized, key sectors of the economy however still largely function on the basis of cheap African and migrant labour from rural areas – precisely how the colonial and apartheid economies were built – and so the structure of the South African political-economy will have to be fundamentally changed, reformed and retooled.

A democratic developmental State will allow us to do so in an orderly and planned fashion, as we – through targeted State intervention – build a new majority-Black industrial class whilst at the same time expanding, diversifying and growing our industrial base. The twin pressures of a democratized polity and global competition in open markets, create two iron cages from which no Government or political party can insulate itself when it considers its economic policy or political performance.

In this respect I will argue in this Series that the democratic developmental State is a national priority ideally suited as the framework around which an inclusive National Compact can be successfully and productively negotiated and constructed. By combining this with a strategy of industrialization through regional integration – the latter already the consensus position in the African Union – the ANC Government will smartly leverage the investments it has made in Continental renewal over the last 20 years, and which are now beating fruit.

Background and Context

Some initial remarks about the context, both historical and contemporary, are important. In the immediate aftermath of the Cold War and at the height of neo-liberal triumphalism, it was impossible to raise any critique of free-market capitalism. As Wendy BROWN perceptively argued in her 2003 Essay entitled “Neo-liberalism and the end of liberal democracy”, the logic of the market had not only penetrated spheres where it did not belong – for example the public sphere that pursues the common (not private) good and which must protect or empower the weak against the strong – but also imposed a new form of rationality. Neo-liberalism is generally understood to be the repudiation and replacement of Keynesian welfare state economics with the deregulated, free-market or private sector capitalism associated with Hayek and the Chicago School of political economy. It is also closely associated with the phenomenon that came to be called “globalization”.

As BROWN pointed out: “The neo in neo-liberalism, however, establishes these principles (pre-Keynesian assumptions about the generation of wealth and its distribution) on a significantly different analytic basis as set forth by Adam Smith…Moreover, neo-liberalism is not simply a set of economic policies; it is not only about facilitating free trade, maximizing corporate profits, and changing welfarism. Rather neo-liberalism carries a social analysis, that, when deployed as a form of governmentality, reaches from the soul of the citizen-subject to education policy to practices of empire. Neo-liberal rationality, while foregrounding the market, is not only or even primarily focused on the economy; it involves extending and disseminating market values to all institutional and social action, even as the market itself remains a distinctive player”. Wendy Brown: Edgework; pp. 39-40)

Earlier in 1989 in an essay published in The National Interest under the title “The End of History?” Francis FUKUYAMA asked whether we had arrived in a post-ideological world and the triumph of liberal democracy. The ensuing debate gave politics, political agency and the State a bad name and for a while it seemed as though the world was doomed to live the nightmare of market fundamentalism, conservative realism, financialization, militarism and rapidly escalating inequality. For Africa, this situation would have meant remaining locked in the colonial and post-colonial state of poverty, inequality and underdevelopment; a situation that under conditions of democracy, would automatically and rapidly lead to any Government presiding over such a situation, being unceremoniously voted out. The intricate and tenuous relationship between the people, politics in the form of democracy, economics in the form of free-market capitalism and the context quickly became apparent.

In that post Cold War period of conservative liberal – if not belligerent American – hegemony, South Africa and Africa had to steer a very careful course, given the then balance-of-forces internationally and in the case of South Africa, domestically. It was a most dangerous period fraught with enormous risks. The ANC Government realized early on that both the NDR and the project of a developmental state were political, strategic, context-sensitive and would have to be constructed through patience and human agency, effort and ingenuity.

American unipolarity and triumphalist belligerence, gave rise to a conservative liberal orthodoxy which came to be known as the Washington Consensus. It is important to note that the origin and history of the key body of policy measures that came to be known as the Washington Consensus, remains contested. Whilst the British economist John WILLIAMSON claimed that “the story started in the Spring of 1989 when I was testifying before a Congressional committee in favor of the Brady Plan. I argued that it would be good policy to help the debtor countries overcome their debt burden now that they were making profound changes in economic policy, along the lines advocated by Balassa, Bueno, Kuczynski, and Simonsen (1986)”; none other than Joseph STIGLITZ highlighted the fact that the key policy measures contained in the Washington Consensus, actually originated in the rational response of some South American countries to the objective political-economic and social conditions they faced at the time. Regardless of its origins, one of the enduring legacies of the Washington Consensus and how it was politically wielded on the international stage by the USA and other developed countries, was that the State was discredited and fingered as a key problem; particularly when it came to economic and developmental issues. Through viciously policed Structural Adjustment Programs, developed countries coerced developing countries into pursuing the withdrawal and weakening of its States; the deregulation and opening of its markets,; the privatization of its public assets; the reduction of its public debt and the “toeing of the line” internationally.

When the African National Congress became the first democratically elected, and therefore legitimate, Government in the history of South Africa in 1994, it inherited not only a country steeped in racism, division, fragmentation, violent strife, inequality and poverty but also one with an empty fiscus, a large public debt, a dual economy with one part developed and living off an underdeveloped part.

As far back as in its 1997 Discussion Paper entitled “Developing Strategic Perspective on South African Foreign Policy”, the ANC conceptually linked the people, democracy, development and the context; both domestic and international. In what was to become known as the “African Renaissance”, the Discussion Document presciently sets out the following strategic agenda:

1. The recovery of the African continent as a whole
2. The establishment of political democracy on the continent
3. The need to break neo-colonial relations between Africa and the world’s economic powers
4. The mobilization of the people of Africa to take their destiny into their hands thus preventing the continent being seen as a place for the attainment of the geo-political and strategic interests of the world’s most powerful countries; and
5. The need for fast development of people-driven and people-centered economic growth and development aimed at meeting the basic needs of the people.

From an ideological perspective, the implicit anti-imperialist and anti-neoliberal stance, emerging from the liberation struggles of the African continent against foreign domination and underdevelopment, in these positions are self-evident and need no further emphasis at this stage. We will however return to these at a later stage as they are central to contentious contemporary debates about the South African economy, growth, industrialization and development.

The ANC and the Developmental State

By 2007 the ANC had articulated its understanding of the Developmental State with specific South African characteristics, and defined its key features:

• The first attribute of a developmental state in our conditions should be its strategic orientation: an approach premised on people-centered and people-driven change, and sustained development based on high growth rates, restructuring of the economy and socio- economic inclusion.

• The second attribute of a developmental state should be its capacity to lead in the definition of a common national agenda and in mobilizing all of society to take part in its implementation. Therefore, such a state should have effective systems of interaction with all social partners, and exercise leadership informed by its popular mandate.

• The third attribute should be the state’s organizational capacity: ensuring that its structures and systems facilitate realization of a set agenda. Thus, issues of macro-organization of the state will continue to receive attention. These include permutations among policy and implementation organs within each sphere, allocation of responsibilities across the spheres, effective inter-governmental relations and stability of the management system.

• The fourth attribute should be its technical capacity: the ability to translate broad objectives into programs and projects and to ensure their implementation. This depends among others on the proper training, orientation and leadership of the public service, and on acquiring and retaining skilled personnel.”

Importantly it also went on to emphasize three additional tasks:

1. Developing the capability to intervene in the economy in the interest of higher rates of growth and development
2. Effecting interventions that address the challenges of unemployment, poverty and underdevelopment
3. Mobilizing the people as a whole, especially the poor, to act as their own liberators through participatory and representative democracy

Following vigorous internal debates and linking the developmental state to the National Democratic a Revolution (NDR), a senior ANC leader at the time – Alec ERWIN – observed:

“A key point will be that neither the NDR nor a developmental state can be taken for granted. It is absolutely essential to understand the complexity of these phenomena. Neither of them can be treated as technical matters that can be brought into existence by political decisions and institutional changes alone, although both of these are important. An NDR is a historically defined possibility requiring a particular conjuncture of class forces. A developmental state is not some stage of development in state formation or a blueprint of governance. A developmental state comes into being when a political movement can translate its political power into a set of institutions that support developmental processes which can be sustained over decades.”
Alec ERWIN: The Developmental a state and the National Democratic Revolution in Ben TUROK (Ed): Wealth doesn’t trickle down: the case for the developmental state in South Africa; p.129; 2008.

ERWIN then went on to argue that even when an appropriate conjuncture for the NDR and for a developmental state may exist, it will not be brought into being in the absence of “strategic and sustained political leadership. This aspect is of great importance, particularly as the consensus in the literature and theory of the developmental state is that it needs to be constructed, usually under adverse conditions, and that a development-oriented leadership, governance and strategy is therefore one of several critical variables for success.

These factors connect the developmental state and statecraft directly: before one talks about a capable State one needs to talk about a competent Government. Sun Tzu in explaining the five factors that will determine victory or defeat in war, placed a particular emphasis on Statecraft too.

By the 2010 National General Council, the ANC Discussion document on economic transformation had concluded that “implementing a more effective development strategy requires a developmental state, in the sense of a state that can co-ordinate all its efforts around core developmental priorities and implement its programs efficiently. A particular problem is that groups with economic power can lobby the state, or even corrupt officials, to achieve favorable policies at the cost of broader transformation. The pressure comes mostly from large companies, backed by threats of disinvestment, and from black entrepreneurs, who use their personal contacts and the claim of equity to obtain political back up and funding.” The National Planning Commission, which had been established in 2009 to design a National Development Plan, launched its Plan in 2012 after extensive, inclusive if not sometimes rancorous debate, division and contestation. The DPSA started the process of building a capable State that is corruption-free, professional, effective, efficient and ethical. In other words, we can conclude that South Africa has already embarked on the journey of building a democratic developmental state – quite an extraordinary achievement given the short space of time and complexity of the task.


It is always useful to start a discussion by clarifying what meanings we ascribe to some of the key concepts that are central to this series. Concepts, as social constructs and linguistic expressions of ideas in ordinary language, can and do, within certain limitations, have different meanings and the particular meanings used, often reflect ideological preferences, contextual realities and power relationships. Their meanings are not fixed but under conditions of hegemony, some singular, specific meaning may be accorded exclusive preference which will make it seem or appear natural. The definition of a meaning is therefore itself a political act – of this we are acutely aware ourselves – and it is therefore also in the interest of transparency that we lay bare the meanings we attribute to different ideas and concepts.

In the next installment in this series, we will look at the concept of a democratic developmental State and highlight some surprising and counter-intuitive aspects of it.

On Deliberation: (epistemic)justice and (press)freedom in South Africa in word and deed


The rancid and acrimonious public exchanges peppered with strong racial and gender undertones that mark what goes for public debate in South Africa, raises a question that may at first glance, seem preposterous: are we sliding into a form of “civil war by other means”?

Words, information and knowledge can easily become dangerous weapons of a different kind.

Although deliberation – a free and critical public dialogue – is an essential feature of a stable and robust democracy, it is by no means certain that its citizens will know how to engage in this civic art. Besides, freedom of speech and expression as civil liberties are necessary but not sufficient conditions for this (that is inclusive, deliberative and equitable democracy) to happen: amongst many other things the citizenry has to be capable and the body politic free too.

But what does this freedom mean?

Certainly it means different things to different people and like all concepts, the dominant meanings ascribed to it have evolved and changed over time. In his 1997 Inaugural Lecture in Modern History at the University of Cambridge – later published as a book entitled Liberty before Liberalism (1998) – Professor Quentin Skinner skillfully traces the rise and fall within Anglophone political theory of what he labels “a neo-roman or republican understanding of civil liberty”. He describes how the “neo-roman theory rose to prominence in the course of the English revolution of the mid-17th century…but the ideological triumph of liberalism left the neo-roman theory largely discredited…the rival view of liberty embedded in classical liberalism went on to attain a predominance in Anglophone political philosophy which it has never subsequently relinquished.”

In the neo-roman conception of freedom, civil liberty was not defined by civil society or non-interference, but instead, by not being in servitude. In other words not being ‘in potestate‘ or literally ‘in the power of someone else’ as for example in the case of slavery; or something else as for example in the case of colonialism. The patronizing, patriarchal and paternalistic idea of “the good Master” is therefore anathema to the republican notion of freedom as non-domination.

Importantly, this is not necessarily the case in the classic liberal motion of freedom as non-interference.

In his 2014 book ‘Just Freedom: a moral compass for a complex world’, the political theorist Philip Pettit argues that “freedom in this sense requires the absence not just of interference, but of the subjection to another that was known at the time of the Roman republic as dominatio or domination”. He goes on to explain that “a common metaphor suggests that you are free insofar as you are given free rein in your choices. If you have all the leeway or latitude you could wish for, if you enjoy carte blanche in determining how to act, then by this suggestion you enjoy freedom in the fullest measure. The phrase ‘free rein’ is drawn from horse-riding. When a rider lets the reins hang loose, the horse enjoys free rein: it can go in whatever direction it wishes. When you are given free rein, so the metaphor suggests, you too can take whatever path you choose: you are under no one else’s operative control. But while giving the horse its head in this sense, I remain in the saddle…I do not exercise operative control over the horse, then, but I do enjoy potential or reserve control. And as that holds in the literal case, so it holds also in the metaphorical. When I give you free rein, I refrain from exercising operative control, but I still enjoy the reserve counterpart of that control. I may not pull on the reins but I do remain in the saddle.”

According to Pettit, a “republic, as it came to be conceptualized, is nothing more and nothing less than a community organized around these ideas of equality before and equality over the law. By a curious irony, however, it was at this very time that another way of thinking about freedom emerged to displace republican ideas. Under this conception, freedom in any choice requires just the absence of restriction or interference, not the absence of domination. One can enjoy freedom, in other words, just by enjoying free rein; it does not matter that another party sits in the saddle, retaining reserve control over how you choose”

This conceptual contestation is crucial to understand in our current debates, disagreements and firefights about transformation – in particular transformation in and of the media – towards a society in South Africa that is both free and just. It also raises the real question: what are the subtle and not-so-subtle residual forms of domination – of un-freedom – in the infosphere and beyond, that still plague our stuttering journey towards a fuller democracy?

And perhaps it explains the bitter tones between former comrades and across racial divides in our public discourse: the intuitive and tacit use of entirely different conceptions of freedom and what it means?

Albert O Hirschman in his wonderful 1991 Essay entitled “The Rhetoric of Reaction: perversity, futility, jeopardy” argued that “a democratic regime achieves legitimacy to the extent that its decisions result from full and open deliberation among its principal groups, bodies, and representatives. Deliberation is here conceived as an opinion-forming process: the participants should not have fully or definitively formed opinions at the outset; they are expected to engage in meaningful discussion, which means that they should be ready to modify initially held opinions in the light of arguments of other participants and also as a result of new information which becomes available in the course of the debate”.

But he hastened to point out that to achieve this informed, self-critical and free opinion-forming, deliberative process, is far easier said than done for there are several obstacles and dilemmas that stand in its way. These obstacles require further scrutiny and we will briefly look at three: 1) contextual dilemmas; 2) rhetorics of intransigence; and 3) epistemic injustice.

The first difficulty arises from the context because most modern democracies empirically-speaking, come into being not as a result of a pre-existing consensus on shared or basic values “but rather because various groups that had been at each other’s throats for a prolonged period had to recognize their mutual inability to achieve dominance. Tolerance and acceptance of pluralism resulted eventually from a standoff between bitterly hostile opposing groups.” (Hirschman 1991).

One will be forgiven for thinking that Hirschman had South Africa in his mind when he wrote this, for in trying to understand this as well as his later descriptions of the nature and the rise of conservative, neo-conservative and reactionary politics that flows from such standoffs and subsequent transitions, one cannot but notice the relevance of this and of what he observes next:

“A people that only yesterday was engaged in fratricidal struggles is not likely to settle down overnight to those constructive give-and-take deliberations. Far more likely, there will initially be agreement to disagree, but without any attempt at melding the opposing points of view— that is indeed the nature of religious tolerance. Or, if there is discussion, it will be a typical “dialogue of the deaf”— a dialogue that will in fact long function as a prolongation of, and a substitute for, civil war. Even in the most “advanced” democracies, many debates are, to paraphrase Clausewitz, a “continuation of civil war with other means.” Such debates, with each party on the lookout for arguments that kill, are only too familiar from democratic politics as usual. There remains then a long and difficult road to be traveled from the traditional internecine, intransigent discourse to a more “democracy-friendly” kind of dialogue. For those wishing to undertake this expedition there should be value in knowing about a few danger signals, such as arguments that are in effect contraptions specifically designed to make dialogue and deliberation impossible.”

Secondly, these arguments, contraptions and rhetorics of intransigence that block social change – transformation in South African parlance – and make sound deliberation impossible, can be defined, according to Hirschman (1991), as three reactionary narratives: 1) the perversity narrative in which policies or actions intended to effect socio-political and economic change are portrayed as having the opposite effect; 2) the futility narrative in which all attempts at transformation are portrayed as likely to fail creating a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy and negative-expectancy behavior; and 3) a jeopardy narrative in which the costs of transformation are portrayed as too high and as endangering some previously achieved accomplishment.

But if we need to broaden our conception of freedom, then what about our conception of justice? For a lot has recently been said about freedom but much less – if anything – about justice. From Charlie Hebdos insistence on its supposed freedom and right to publish offensive religious symbols – even in the face of vociferous protestations – to debates about press freedom in South Africa and the right of journalists to express their political views freely albeit in a playful, social manner.

What is ignored is often more telling than what is said.

This point was not lost on African political observers, many of whom have remarked on the disproportionate media coverage given to violent events in Paris relative to similar violent events – but with much higher casualty rates – at roughly the same time in Nigeria; all perpetrated in the name of one or the other religion as such atrocities often are.

What then politically-speaking, is at play here? For this discursive game is not at all innocent but reflects quite vividly the underlying power relations in our society battling to transform itself away from an unjust to a just society: away from the evils of the past: discrimination, exclusion, violence, paternalism, patriarchy, inequality, dispossession and domination. In this sense, our democratic Constitution, based on the Freedom Charter and the wide consensus of our society, not only embodies what we mean by a “free and just society” but also calls upon all citizens to actively and practically transform our lives individually and collectively in this ongoing process.

Freedom must not come at the expense of justice.

The philosopher Amartaya SEN in his book “The Idea of Justice” argues that “We may often enough agree that some changes contemplated – like the abolition of apartheid, to give an example of a different kind – will reduce injustice, but even if all such agreed changes are successfully implemented, we will not have anything that we can call perfect justice. Practical concerns, no less than theoretical reasoning, seem to demand a fairly radical departure in the analysis of justice.” This call for a critical analysis of justice; and implicitly of freedom and of the relation between these two concepts, brings us to the third and last obstacle towards an inclusive and deliberative democracy: epistemic injustice.

What does epistemic justice entail? According to Free State University academic Tania Rauch-Van der Merwe in her provocative and insightful new study entitled “The political construction of occupational therapy: A critical discourse analysis of curriculum as discourse” and drawing on the work of Miranda Fricker, Nancy Fraser and Michel Foucault, epistemic injustice entails the unexamined a-priori assumption – often imbedded within discreet discourses of superiority and domination – that some groups of people such as women or blacks (or the poor or African?) are illegitimate or less-legitimate “bearers of truths” (Rauch-Van der Merwe) or “carriers of knowledge” (Fricker).

It’s importance derives from the simple fact that in a deliberative democracy where diverse opinions, the inclusion of marginal or excluded voices, and non-paternalistic modes of communication are critical transformative acts, epistemic injustices remain a major if hidden obstacle to making progress away from societal injustice and towards an undoing of forms of discursive domination that curtails freedom and negatively impacts on the potential for greater justice.

My contention is that such forms of epistemic injustices – a residual form of domination and therefore of un-freedom – are widespread in the South African media, public discourses and knowledge work. The opinions of white or male intellectuals and journalists in public debates frequently carry more weight than those of black or female intellectuals. If we want to move towards greater social cohesion and a society that is both free and just, then creating space for more rational, sober, inclusive and self-critical public debate, must become a priority. A free press and the media must play a central role in doing so but it will require that we all as citizens and as a society, honestly address the pernicious obstacles to real democratic deliberation and transformation that face us: the contextual dilemmas of our violent and divisive past; the rhetorics of intransigence to transform it; and the unfreedom that derives from pervasive and ongoing epistemic injustice.

But first, what masquerades as public debates or deliberation must cease to be conducted as though they are the continuation of civil strife and war by other means; we are equal citizens and not enemies after-all.





NATIONAL SECURITY: navigating the coming rough seas between the USA and China

Part 1: America


“The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish . . . the kind of war on which they are embarking.” Clausewitz

Will China and America cooperate, compete or go to war?

The emerging geo-political great game between the USA and China is of great importance to Africa and South Africa. How this great power relationship unfolds will have a commanding influence on the 21st century. As it intensifies, it will remind us that ideology, politics, strategy, money and geography matter; that history has not ended.

The South African Government will have to ensure that South African foreign, security and intelligence policy and strategy consider these developments continuously as they unfold. The recently released Defense Review is therefore significant and timely…

View original post 4,970 more words

Pondering Points: Additional Notes to the Geo-Strategic Significance of Gaza ©Andre ZAAIMAN 2014

Pondering Points: Additional Notes to the Geo-Strategic Significance of Gaza
©Andre ZAAIMAN 2014

“The cardinal maxim of guerrilla war: the guerrilla wins if he does not lose. The conventional army loses if it does not win.”

As the political-military situation in Gaza as part of Operation Protective Edge comes to an end – for now – with the announcement of the acceptance of a long-term ceasefire by Israel and the Palestinians, we can begin to make preliminary notes on what has happened, what has been said and where all of this is likely to lead to. The details of the cease-fire are not yet publicly available but will be revealed in the coming days and weeks, which will allow for a sober and informed assessment.

And as claims and counter-claims of victory and defeat are made in these early stages, I am reminded – but not for the reasons that many may assume – of the article by Gideon LEVY in the Israeli newspaper Haaertz in January 2011 under the title: “The IDF uses propaganda like an authoritarian regime”. LEVY is a fiercely independent and outspoken critic of the policies and behavior of his fellow citizens and of his Government. Writing about another issue, he says the following:

“Instead of working toward revealing the truth behind the recent death of an anti-fence demonstrator the IDF is reaching into its bag of lies. Jawaher Abu Ramah died young. She stood facing the demonstrators against the separation fence in her village, inhaled very large quantities of the gas that Israel Defense Forces soldiers fired that day, collapsed and died several hours later at a Ramallah hospital.These are definitive facts. The IDF should have immediately issued a statement expressing sorrow for the death of the demonstrator, and said it would investigate the excessive means used for dispersing demonstrations at Bil’in, which had killed Bassem, Jawaher’s brother, for no reason. He was hit by a gas canister fired directly at his chest two and a half years ago. So, the IDF began with the spreading of lies, making up facts and spinning tales, originating with officers who did not dare identify themselves. Following the investigation into Jawaher’s death, it is also necessary to investigate how the army dares to distort in this way. Perhaps it will disturb Israeli society more than the death of a demonstrator.”

I do not use this quotation by Gideon LEVY to just remind the Readers that in war, all Armies and politicians tend to exaggerate, spin and even lie: hence that we ought to submit what the military on either side claims to rigorous factual scrutiny. It is rather to make the point that such practices take on a very different meaning and significance in the context of the kind of conflict the Israelis have chosen to engage the Palestinians in; and as a direct result of that, the equally important context of the struggle for national self-determination by the Palestinians.

Let me explain:

In our first piece on the Geo-Strategic significance of Gaza (see the Menu on your right hand side) the argument was made that:

“The current violent assault by Israel on a territory (Gaza) and a people (Palestinians) that it has displaced and occupies – and on Hamas in particular – has, at a tactical level, its domestic roots in the 2005 unilateral “withdrawal” of Israel from Gaza by the then Government of Ariel SHARON. It signaled the end of the “peace process”; which had already by then, following the 1995 murder of Yitzhak RABIN by a fellow Israeli Jew, started to morph away from a real peace process to a mere extension of war-by-other-means.”

Furthermore it was argued that one of the reasons why Israel initiated the conflict was to maintain the “division of the Palestinians, both geographically (physical) and organizationally (as a movement), in order to conquer the West Bank and make the establishment of a viable Palestinian State, impossible. This divide-and-rule method is as old as colonial conquest itself and is one of the reasons why Israeli historians such as Ilan PAPPE calls this ethnic cleansing. It is also why the recent rapprochement between Fatah and Hamas is one of the principal reasons why Israel decided to go after Hamas now: Israel wants the Palestinians to remain divided and fractured; and it wants Hamas (which analytically fits into the broader idea of Political Islam), to become depoliticized and disarmed.

According to Rashid KALIDI in his article “Gaza: Collective Punishment” of 29 July 2014, Prime Minister Benjamin NETANYAHU, speaking in Hebrew [Israel frequently accuses the Palestinians of saying one thing in Arabic and another in English Ed], said the following:

“Three days after the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched the current war in Gaza, he held a press conference in Tel Aviv during which he said, in Hebrew, according to the Times of Israel, ‘I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.’ It’s worth listening carefully when Netanyahu speaks to the Israeli people. What is going on in Palestine today is not really about Hamas. It is not about rockets. It is not about “human shields” or terrorism or tunnels. It is about Israel’s permanent control over Palestinian land and Palestinian lives. That is what Netanyahu is really saying, and that is what he now admits he has “always” talked about. It is about an unswerving, decades-long Israeli policy of denying Palestine self-determination, freedom, and sovereignty.”

[On the 28th of August 2014 the PLO published the Report “Business as Usual” in which it documented these continued killings, land grabs, demolitions and arrests as Operation Protective Edge in Gaza was going on. Ed]

The PLO Report says: “The Israeli aggression against the Occupied Gaza Governorates ran in parallel with the Israeli oppression and colonization in the rest of the Occupied State of Palestine. Ongoing aggression continued throughout the period of intensive attacks against Gaza, including the advancement of settlements, home demolitions, movement restrictions, detentions and settler violence.Though Israeli spokespeople tried to present their attacks on Gaza as a particular action against Palestinian resistance groups, Israeli occupation and colonization policies all over the Occupied State of Palestine make it clear that the ultimate Israeli goal continues to be to prevent the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian State. ”

When Ariel SHARON passed away, the renowned Israeli historian Avi SHLAIM wrote the following in Open Democracy on 14 January 2014: “Sharon was an aggressive expansionist. His main aim when he came to power in 2001 was to eliminate the two-state solution and to determine unilaterally the borders of Greater Israel. By the time he fell into a coma five years later, he had gone some way towards achieving this aim. His short-term success, however, gravely diminished the prospect of a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians. Sharon’s legacy is therefore as controversial as his life. Sharon had always been an ardent Jewish nationalist, a dyed-in-the-wool hardliner, and a ferocious right-wing hawk. He also displayed a consistent preference for force over diplomacy in dealing with the Arabs. Reversing Clausewitz’s famous dictum, he treated diplomacy as the extension of war by other means…As minister of defence Sharon led Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982. It was a war of deception that failed to achieve any of its grandiose geopolitical objectives. A commission of inquiry found Sharon responsible for failing to prevent the massacre by Christian Phalangists of Palestinian refugees in Beirut’s Sabra and Shatila camps. This verdict was etched on his forehead like a mark of Cain. But who foresaw that the man who was declared unfit to be minister of defence would bounce back as prime minister?..To the Palestinians Sharon represented the cold, cruel, militaristic face of the Zionist occupation.”

The revolt of the right wing Zionist camps of Prime Ministers SHARON, NETANYAHU and to a lessor extent that of Ehud OLMERT, against the left wing Mapai/Labour and Meretz parties’ approach of negotiations towards a two-state solution, had a three-fold aim: 1) to initially freeze the negotiations for a two-state solution through unilateral-disengagement 2) then to reverse the effects in the ground and re-establish Israeli military deterrence and domination through the isolation and siege of the PLO leader Yasser ARAFAT, assassinating the top Hamas leadership, withdrawing from Gaza in order to put it under siege – in the famous phrase “putting the Palestinians of Gaza on a diet” – and then 3) to reconfigure the Middle East region in a way that suited Israeli security and political needs. This included diminishing Israeli dependence on the USA at the appropriate moment, in order to give it a freer hand in aggressively reshaping the Middle East without American interference.

I will explore this in greater detail below but suffice to state at this stage that three key outcomes of Operation Protective Edge when viewed from the Israeli side are:

1. The rapid loss by Israel of the moral dimension in the conflict with the Palestinians of which the outrage of Gideon LEVY is a good example. This is what Prof. Naomi CHAZAN (Israel’s Other War: Moral Attrition in the Times of Israel: 25 August 2014) had to say:

“Israel is currently involved in two wars. The first, the external one, is immediate and inescapably consuming. The Gaza engagement has continued relentlessly for the bulk of the summer; it is being fought openly not only militarily, but also diplomatically and politically on the ground, in the media and in the international arena. The second, the internal one, is latent and mostly subsumed from the public eye. The war against the racism and intolerance which is festering rapidly below the surface in Israel only commands public attention sporadically — most recently around the marriage of Morel Malka and Mahmud Mansur — although this threat has grown by leaps and bounds as the Gaza operation has progressed. No concerted effort, however, is being made to fight the mortal dangers it poses. While Israel is struggling to defend itself against fundamentalist-fueled enmity from abroad, it is doing very little to safeguard itself from the fanaticism that is being bred in its own backyard.”

2. Neither the left nor the right wing traditions of political Zionism has succeeded in delivering to Israel its key national security objective: the submission of the Palestinian national movement by any means in order to lay claim to their land and eventually obtain recognition for the exclusivist, Jewish character of the State of Israel. In other words neither the left wing land-for-peace formula obtained through agreement, nor the militarist peace-for-peace formula based on unilateral Israeli moves, have worked
As a result of these dead ends and failed strategies, the international tide is turning against the Zionist project in its current form at an unprecedented speed and scale. Neither the Zionist left nor right seem capable of offering any realistic political way out of this quagmire other than more violence and coercion.

3. More importantly, Zionism itself will enter a profound internal crisis.

This is what Henry SIEGMAN said in a radio interview with Amy GOODMAN of Democracy Now! on the 14th of July 2014:
“The Zionist dream is based on the repeated slaughter of innocents on a scale that we’re watching these days on television, that is really a profound, profound crisis — and should be a profound crisis in the thinking of all of us who were committed to the establishment of the state and to its success”

That crisis will indeed be observed in the coming months and years.

Whilst ordinary Israelis watched helplessly as their once proud Army seemed incapable of providing complete security, defending them or deterring their adversaries, they were repeatedly told by an increasingly hollow-sounding and schoolmasterish Prime Minister NETANYAHU “that the Palestinians will pay a heavy price”. The Palestinians defiantly replied with more rockets. The temporary closing of Ben Gurion International Airport during this conflict, inflicted a severe psychological blow to Israeli citizens who suddenly realized that they too may become trapped in a siege. The nightmare of Israeli citizens – as was the case in all settler colonial projects whether for example in Algeria or South Africa – is that the capacity for violence, repression and coercion of its Army will not be enough to prevent those that are Occupied (Palestinians) from “doing onto others as was done onto them”. It is this nightmare that Gideon LEVY is trying to prevent and is warning other Israelis about. It is also why the 65 dead Israeli soldiers and the continued rocket fire during Operation Protective Edge, has made such a huge psychological impact.

In apartheid South Africa, this kind of end-game crisis was reached in 1979 when the then newly elected National Party Prime Minister P.W. BOTHA made a speech in which he declared to his White constituency: “Adapt or Die”. The Israeli equivalent of this is the dead end that Zionism finds itself in today. I do nonetheless want to caution against simplistic comparisons and analogous reasoning of contexts and situations that clearly have similarities but also important differences: each context and reality must be understood with its own facts. And neither should the Palestinians ignore the important warning of the victorious Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen GIAP who lead the campaign that ultimately defeated the United States in Vietnam, when he argued in “The Fundamental Problems of our War of Liberation” that:

“The Vietnamese peoples war of liberation had, therefore, to be a hard and long-lasting war in order to succeed in creating the conditions for victory. All the conceptions born of impatience and aimed at gaining speedy victory could only be gross errors”

Therefore, the crisis of Zionism will not mean that it is collapsing. But what I will argue is that it has entered a phase of decomposition which opens up the space and imperative for real political work to be done. This political work however must be done not only because the Palestinians have become the ascending party in the conflict, but also in order to prevent an irreversible catastrophe of the kind last seen during the Second World War. In other words the paradox is that the weaker but ascending party (the Palestinians) must begin to reflect on how they will address the deepest fears of the Jewish population in the region in order to prevent them from committing unspeakable crimes. For when regimes begin to decompose, it also creates conditions of fear that can easily lead to irrational decision-making and panic amongst those that previously believed -mistakenly – that their superior military force and coercive power made them invincible.

Both Hezbollah in 2006 and astonishingly Hamas in 2014 have vividly demonstrated to Israel the severe limitations of militarism; particularly when it is devoid of politics. These are historical lessons that all colonial powers have learned; and that the Americans have now learned twice in the past 120 years: in Vietnam and in Iraq.

In the same first piece (The Geo-Strategic significance of Gaza) we also noted some of cardinal weaknesses in the Israeli side such as the moral cancer that stems from practices such as dispossession, violence and occupation which are inherent in settler colonialism, as well as the state of hubris and denial that follows from the strong beliefs in its own rhetoric and fabrications that are necessarily required to sustain a political project of this nature. Once more, it is clear that people like Gideon LEVY and others – without sounding alarmist – are desperately trying to warn their society of an approaching catastrophe caused by the increasing loss of moral sensibility amongst war-weary Israelis and their successive adventurist Governments caught up in hubris, denialism and failed experiments.

Much however, is known about this and how such projects eventually decompose. One may mistakenly assume that only a few marginal Israelis have intuitively or through real experiences, grasped the nettle of the dilemma. But nothing could be further from the truth. Right wing Israeli leaders such as SHARON and OLMERT repeatedly warned Israelis that their country risk to degenerate into a situation of Algeria during the French colonial period or South Africa during the apartheid era. As we will demonstrate later in this article, even Benjamin NETANYAHU was driven by the realization that “something had to give”; that the status quo was becoming unsustainable.

The Palestinians; like the Vietnamese, Algerians or South Africans; have however begun to smell the decay and notice the signs of the disease that infects all projects of this nature.

And none other than Yitzak RABIN, the Israeli war hero, Labour Party Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner (with Yasser ARAFAT), had very clearly understood the danger for Israel if Zionism goes into a moral crisis because it had become over-dependent on militarism and violence to sustain itself. This was expressed in his moving words on the White House lawn in 1993: “Let me say to you, the Palestinians, we are destined to live together on the same soil in the same land. We, the soldiers who have returned from battles stained with blood; we who have seen our relatives and friends killed before our eyes; we who have attended their funerals and cannot look in the eyes of their parents; we who have come from a land where parents bury their children; we who have fought against you, the Palestinians—we say to you today, in a loud and clear voice: enough blood and tears. Enough. We have no desire for revenge. We harbor no hatred towards you. We, like you, are people—people who want to build a home. To plant a tree. To love—live side by side with you. In dignity. In empathy. As human beings. As free men. We are today giving peace a chance—and saying to you and saying again to you: enough. Let us pray that a day will come when we all will say farewell to the arms. We wish to open a new chapter in the sad book of our lives together—a chapter of mutual recognition, of good neighborliness, of mutual respect, of understanding. We hope to embark on a new era in the history of the Middle East. Today here in Washington at the White House, we will begin a new reckoning in the relations between peoples, between parents tired of war, between children who will not know war.”

Despite this promise, the Israeli left failed to deliver through negotiations, agreements and the land-for-peace formula. It was no coincidence therefore that the policy document entitled “A Clean Break: a new Strategy for the Defense of the Realm” that was prepared in 1996 by a study group led by Richard PERLE for Prime Minister Benjamin NETANYAHU, started off with these words:

“Israel has a large problem. Labor Zionism, which for 70 years has dominated the Zionist movement, has generated a stalled and shackled economy. Efforts to salvage Israel’s socialist institutions—which include pursuing supranational over national sovereignty and pursuing a peace process that embraces the slogan, “New Middle East”—undermine the legitimacy of the nation and lead Israel into strategic paralysis and the previous government’s “peace process.” That peace process obscured the evidence of eroding national critical mass— including a palpable sense of national exhaustion—and forfeited strategic initiative…Benjamin Netanyahu’s government comes in with a new set of ideas. While there are those who will counsel continuity, Israel has the opportunity to make a clean break; it can forge a peace process and strategy based on an entirely new intellectual foundation, one that restores strategic initiative and provides the nation the room to engage every possible energy on rebuilding Zionism, the starting point of which must be economic reform.”

Subsequently Ariel SHARON once he became Minister, used the “clean break” of NETANYAHU to begin to reverse the “damage” wrought by the Labour approach. Israeli historian Avi SHLAIM (Sharon’s Legacy in Open Democracy: 14 January 2014) stated unequivocally that “Sharon was a man of war through and through, an Arab-hater, and an eager proponent of the doctrine of permanent conflict. He regarded the Palestinians as “murderous and treacherous” and he did not believe that the conflict with them could be resolved by diplomatic means. Following his rise to power Sharon therefore remained what he had always been – the champion of violent solutions. Baruch Kimmerling, the Israeli sociologist, coined a term to describe Sharon’s political programme: politicide – to deny the Palestinians any independent political existence in Palestine.”

Under SHARON Israel reverted back to the historical patterns of settler regimes: violence, militarism, paternalism and coercion. These patterns inevitably lead to the spreading of the cancer of moral erosion – as we have once more observed with Operation Protective Edge. Hence we can safely state that both left wing and right wing Zionist camps in Israel have been aware for some time that their historical strategies and patterns of engagement with the Palestinians and the Palestinian issue have really not brought them anywhere. But they seem stuck and incapable of moving in any direction other than retreating into denialism and pursuing “more-of-the-same” with renewed vigor.

These historical patterns also deserve closer scrutiny below.

Before we do that It is worthy noting however that it is not not only the moral cancer and failed strategies of savage violence embedded in the nature of any settler colonial project that need to be considered and appraised – the historical antecedents in Algeria, Vietnam and South Africa indicate something else that is both interesting and profound. And this may have a bearing on the claims and counter-claims of victory regarding Operation Protective Edge that we spoke about at the start of this Workshop in Doha.

In the January 1969 edition of Foreign Affairs – following the American defeat in Vietnam despite overwhelming firepower and massive aerial bombings by the US military – the former American Secretary of State Henry KISSINGER assessed the paradigmatic, conceptual and cognitive weaknesses<us of the militarily stronger party in an asymmetrical conflict under conditions of foreign occupation. This ideological and concomitant cognitive weakness that produces an intellectual iron cage – a kind of mental siege – that all settlers or occupiers suffer from or rather inflict upon themselves, has not been explored enough in the literature. But both from personal experience in the South African struggle against apartheid, and from an intelligence point of view, I would argue that the insight of Henry KISSINGER is critically important and needs far greater attention: the development of inappropriate or rigid mental models can lead to very costly mistakes.
The iron cage produced by the particular mental models inherent in anybody pursuing settler colonialism, provides those that resist it with a huge informational advantage: predictability

And the informational advantage that can be derived from this – besides the moral one – provides those that are fighting against settler colonialism, with unique and significant asymmetrical weaponry.

It is therefore no surprise that KISSINGER, in reflecting on the American defeat in the War for the liberation of Vietnam, concluded in his Foreign Affairs article of 1969 that:
“We fought a military war; our opponents fought a political one. We sought physical attrition; our opponents aimed for our psychological exhaustion. In the process, we lost sight of one of the cardinal maxims of guerrilla war: the guerrilla wins if he does not lose. The conventional army loses if it does not win.”

The celebrations on the streets of Gaza after the announcement of the acceptance by Israel and Hamas of the long-term ceasefire, attest to the fact that the Palestinians are not only relieved but also instinctively know that as the militarily weaker party that successfully stood its ground, that inflicted significant military casualties on the much stronger and well-equipped Israeli military, and that foiled the Israeli attempt to re-establish its deterrence, has scored an important victory by not losing.

The costs for Israel during this conflict were significant. Looking at this with the help of the analytical tools of Dynamical Systems Theory (see the PPT presentation) we observe that it has pushed key factors and systemic variables closer to thresholds and tipping points. Whilst nobody should make the mistake of judging the imminent collapse of Israel, we should not under-estimate its impact either as the real costs of this failed war by Israel will only be felt in the months to come.

From the Israeli perspective, some of these costs/burdens include the following: the massive Israeli slaughter of innocent civilians during this war already branded by international organizations such as the UN as possible war crimes; the disciplined and effective fighting and focus of Hamas fighters under extremely difficult conditions on restricting casualties to Israeli military personnel; the relatively high number of Israeli military casualties hence establishing its own minimal deterrence; the domestic rifts in the Israeli polity and its steady drift towards radicalism and extremism; the growing strength even in the USA and Western Europe for the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign; the fault lines opening between Israel and the US and Great-Britain due to the changing public mood; as well as the maneuvering of Israel into the camp of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Emiratis where there is little or no democracy.

Whilst Israel may be boasting about its new found convergence of interests with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Emiratis, both its tactical and its strategic positioning is eroding fast. Ironically the Iraq War that the US fought following strong Israeli lobbying, has also contributed to the weakening of its superpower ally: the United States. This has contributed in significant ways to a reduction in the US global positioning as well as making it increasingly more probable that a power-shift away from the West towards an alternative new global order and architecture lead by countries such as China and Russia, will occur. Such an alternative global architecture will for example, make it much more difficult to control the transfers of money to movements such as Hamas, as the US Dollar will lose its position as the worlds sole reserve currency. It is only because the Banks transact in US Dollars that the US can control or punish the transfer of funds to parties whom it does not like or agree with.

To any strategist that is familiar with or has experience in fighting settler colonialism or foreign domination, these signs are important as they indicate that the Palestinians are incrementally but steadily gaining the moral high ground: one of the most significant determinants of victory since by depriving the Israelis of it, the important psychological dimension will exponentially shift towards the Palestinian side. Combined with the ability of guerrilla forces to learn faster and adapt quicker – as was demonstrated by the Hamas fighters during this conflict – the moral high ground can rapidly lead to psychological exhaustion, demoralization, internal division; the erosion of the will to fight and to endure casualties in the camp of the Occupier.

Following the use of the so-called Dahiya Doctrine, the Israeli military openly targets civilians and civilian areas in a systematic manner. Stephen BONAVIDES in deploring this Doctrine (he calls it State Terrorism) says the following in Truth Out on the 2nd of August 2014:

“In the 2006 Lebanon War, Israel Defense Force Northern Commander Gadi Eisenkot, now the deputy chief of general staff, recommended and had approved the application of a military strategy that would target and destroy an entire civilian area rather than fight to overtake fortified positions one by one. This was in an effort to minimize IDF casualties while at the same time holding the entire civilian populace accountable for the actions of a few. A move some called revolutionary in modern warfare, the doctrine did away with the effort to distinguish between militant and civilian, using an overwhelming display of force through airstrikes to destroy the entire Lebanese Dahiya quarter.

The strategy itself calls for the deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure in order to induce suffering and severe distress throughout the targeted population. By targeting indiscriminately, the IDF hopes to deter further military attacks against Israel, destroy its enemies, as well as influence the population to oust the militants seen as the primary target. The IDF has planned on using the strategy since 2008, and is seen as doing so in the current conflict in Gaza based on the increasing number of civilian casualties. The result so far has been the death of more than 1,200 Palestinians, including 241 children and 130 women. Of the estimated death count, more than 70 percent have been identified as innocent civilians. The Dahiya Doctrine amounts to the direct use of state terrorism and is now the functioning military policy of the IDF.”

The moral dimension is therefore, in the application of this Doctrine, clearly lost and moreover, creates the conditions for a war-crimes accusation and prosecution of Israel.

In order to assist us in making our initial assessments – especiallythrough the prism of historical patterns, the underlying logic, and the mental modelsI will draw on some key concepts and potentially useful lessons from three well-known intellectuals of whom two were theorists of war: the Palestinian Edward SAID, the Austrian Carl VON CLAUSEWITZ and the Vietnamese Vo Nguyen GIAP.

Israel has, since its inception, been engaged in a long war of violent land confiscation as well as demographic attrition against the Palestinians. This was well understood by Israel’s early leaders – so no paradigmatic, mental model or conceptual problem at that time. David BEN-GURION told Nahum GOLDMAN, then the president of the World Jewish Congress:

‘If I were an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country … We come from Israel, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that?” This sentiment was later shared by former Prime Minister Ehud BARACK who remarked that if he were born a Palestinian, he would also join a “terrorist” organization.

Prof. Stephen WALT and Prof. John MEARSHEIMER – two eminent American national security scholars – argued in their article entitled “The Israel Lobby” published in 2006 in the London Review of Books, that Zionism is not only a morally flawed project that is built on the opposite of American values, but that Israel is also a strategic liability for America. Furthermore they contend that the “final reason to question Israel’s strategic value is that it does not behave like a loyal ally. Israeli officials frequently ignore US requests and renege on promises (including pledges to stop building settlements and to refrain from ‘targeted assassinations’ of Palestinian leaders). Israel has provided sensitive military technology to potential rivals like China, in what the State Department inspector-general called ‘a systematic and growing pattern of unauthorized transfers’. According to the General Accounting Office, Israel also ‘conducts the most aggressive espionage operations against the US of any ally’”

The two American Professors went on to write that “Israel’s backers also portray it as a country that has sought peace at every turn and shown great restraint even when provoked. The Arabs, by contrast, are said to have acted with great wickedness. Yet on the ground, Israel’s record is not distinguishable from that of its opponents. Ben-Gurion acknowledged that the early Zionists were far from benevolent towards the Palestinian Arabs, who resisted their encroachments – which is hardly surprising, given that the Zionists were trying to create their own state on Arab land. In the same way, the creation of Israel in 1947-48 involved acts of ethnic cleansing, including executions, massacres and rapes by Jews, and Israel’s subsequent conduct has often been brutal, belying any claim to moral superiority. Between 1949 and 1956, for example, Israeli security forces killed between 2700 and 5000 Arab infiltrators, the overwhelming majority of them unarmed. The IDF murdered hundreds of Egyptian prisoners of war in both the 1956 and 1967 wars, while in 1967, it expelled between 100,000 and 260,000 Palestinians from the newly conquered West Bank, and drove 80,000 Syrians from the Golan Heights.”

Naturally and as in all struggles against settler colonialism, a Palestinian national movement was born to resist this; to struggle for national self-determination and the restoration of their basic human rights. The Palestinians therefore not only have the right to exist and live on their land, but also have the right to defend themselves against any form of external aggression, invasion or occupation.These rights are inalienable and are not to be recognized or restored as part of a quid pro quo: Israel must leave the illegally occupied territories – all of it – as this is the source of its insecurity.

As Henry SIEGMAN has frequently argued: Israel can and has to end the occupation immediately by simply withdrawing from the illegally Occupied Territories; and there need not be any negotiations about it. What can then be negotiated after this Israeli occupation has been ended, is where exactly the Israeli borders will be. He says (Cf the Amy GOODMAN interview of 14 July 2014):

“There seems to be near-universal agreement in the United States with President Barack Obama’s observation that Israel, like every other country, has the right and obligation to defend its citizens from threats directed at them from beyond its borders…The answer to the second question — whether a less lethal course was not available to protect Israel’s civilian population — is (unintentionally?) implicit in the formulation of President Barack Obama’s defense of Israel’s actions: namely, the right and obligation of all governments to protect their civilian populations from assaults from across their borders. But where, exactly, are Israel’s borders?”

When considering the causes and the Israeli fabricated trigger of this military assault on Gaza (see The Geo-Strategic significance of Gaza in the Menu on your right hand side) in which we highlighted the formation of a Palestinian Unity Government between Fatah and Hamas as one of the principal immediate causes, it is worth quoting from the New York Times article of 17 July 2014 by Jonathan THRALL of the International Crisis Group:

“Seeing a region swept by popular protests against leaders who couldn’t provide for their citizens’ basic needs, Hamas opted to give up official control of Gaza rather than risk being overthrown. Despite having won the last elections, in 2006, Hamas decided to transfer formal authority to the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah. That decision led to a reconciliation agreement between Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization, on terms set almost entirely by the P.L.O. chairman andPalestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas. Israel immediately sought to undermine the reconciliation agreement by preventing Hamas leaders and Gaza residents from obtaining the two most essential benefits of the deal: the payment of salaries to 43,000 civil servants who worked for the Hamas government and continue to administer Gaza under the new one, and the easing of the suffocating border closures imposed by Israel and Egypt that bar most Gazans’ passage to the outside world. Yet, in many ways, the reconciliation government could have served Israel’s interests. It offered Hamas’s political adversaries a foothold in Gaza; it was formed without a single Hamas member; it retained the same Ramallah-based prime minister, deputy prime ministers, finance minister and foreign minister; and, most important, it pledged to comply with the three conditions for Western aid long demanded by America and its European allies: nonviolence, adherence to past agreements and recognition of Israel.”

This Operation Protective Edge has brought the Palestinians even closer together (and Israeli society even more divided) so from the Israeli perspective: what has it achieved politically as we now seem to be back where we started: a Palestinian Unity Government?

In The Independent on Sunday of 27 July 2014, the Israeli historian Avi SHLAIM said the following in an article in which he denounced the idea of “balanced reporting” – a favorite tactical trick in Israeli diplomacy:

“The origins of the current war in Gaza is a case in point. As always, Israel claims to be acting in self-defence, blaming the victims of its military aggression for their own misfortunes. Yet the basic cause for this war is the 47-year-old Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.
True, in 2005 Israel carried out a unilateral disengagement of Gaza. But, under international law, it remains the occupying power because it continues to control access to the strip by land, sea and air. An occupying power has a legal obligation to protect civilians in the areas it controls, yet Israel has been shelling and killing them.
Israel claims its most recent incursion into Gaza was a response to Hamas rocket attacks. Here are some facts that do not fit comfortably into the narrative of a peace-loving nation that is up against a fanatical, murderous terrorist organisation. In 2006, Hamas won a fair and free Palestinian election and formed a government, seeking a long-term ceasefire with Israel. Israel refused to negotiate.
In 2007, Hamas and Fatah formed a national unity government with the same agenda. Israel resorted to economic warfare to undermine this government and encouraged Fatah to stage a coup to drive Hamas from power. Hamas pre-empted the coup with a violent seizure of power in Gaza.
In flagrant violation of international law, Israel then imposed a blockade (still in force today) on the 1.8 million inhabitants of Gaza. Four months ago, Hamas reached an accord with Fatah, and another national unity government was formed, this time without a single Hamas-affiliated member but with the old agenda of negotiating an end to the conflict with Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hysterically attacked it as a vote for terror, not for peace. He used the abduction of three Jewish teenagers on the West Bank as an excuse for a violent crackdown on Hamas supporters there, although Hamas had nothing to do with it. The Hamas rocket attacks were a response to this provocation.”

As we also pointed out in our introductory first piece on the Geo-Strategic Significance of Gaza – the significance of which we will deal with in our third piece – significant tension had been building up between President Barack OBAMA and Prime Minister Benjamin NETANYAHU. The Wall Street Journal’s national security correspondent, Adam ENTOUS, pointed out in the Wall Street Journal of 06 August 2014 that Israel’s security interests and those of Egypt under General SISI, converged; whilst those between Israel and the USA diverged:

“U.S. officials, who tried to intervene in the initial days after the conflict broke out on July 8 to try to find a negotiated solution, soon realized that Mr. Netanyahu’s office wanted to run the show with Egypt and to keep the Americans at a distance, according to U.S., European and Israeli officials. The Americans, in turn, felt betrayed by what they saw as a series of “mean spirited” leaks, which they interpreted as a message from Mr. Netanyahu that U.S. involvement was neither welcomed nor needed. Reflecting Egypt’s importance, Mr. Gilad [Brig-Gen Amos GILAD is the Israeli military intelligence liaison with Egypt] and other officials took Mr. Sisi’s “temperature” every day during the war to make sure he was comfortable with the military operation as it intensified. Israeli officials knew television pictures of dead Palestinians would at some point bring Cairo to urge Israel to stop.”

We should not forget that NETANYAHU resigned as Finance Minister from the Cabinet of Ariel SHARON in 2005 precisely around the issue of the unilateral disengagement by Israel from Gaza:

“Netanyahu resigned during the August 7 cabinet meeting, saying afterward that he believed Gaza disengagement would create a “base for terror,” a policy with which he could no longer associate himself. He also opposed the unilateral nature of the withdrawal, saying reciprocity is better for Israel.Sharon charged Netanyahu with flipflopping from his earlier support. Indeed, Netanyahu voted four times for disengagement: twice in the cabinet, on June 6, 2004, and February 20, 2005, and twice in the Knesset, on October 26, 2004, and February 16, 2005. (He was absent on a Knesset vote held on July 20, 2005.) Moreover, Netanyahu pointedly refused to leave the government despite mounting appeals by critics of disengagement in the eighteen months since Sharon announced his intention to pull out of Gaza” (David Makovsky: Policy Watch No 511; August 17, 2005).

Nor should we forget what close SHARON confidant Dov WEISGLASS said in an interview with Ari SHAVIT in Haaretz of 06 October 2004: ” ‘The disengagement is actually formaldehyde,’ he said. ‘It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.’ Asked why the disengagement plan had been hatched, Weisglass replied: ‘Because in the fall of 2003 we understood that everything was stuck. And although by the way the Americans read the situation, the blame fell on the Palestinians, not on us, Arik [Sharon] grasped that this state of affairs could not last, that they wouldn’t leave us alone, wouldn’t get off our case. Time was not on our side. There was international erosion, internal erosion. Domestically, in the meantime, everything was collapsing. The economy was stagnant, and the Geneva Initiative had gained broad support. And then we were hit with the letters of officers and letters of pilots and letters of commandos (refusing to serve in the Occupied Territories). These were not weird kids with green ponytails and a ring in their nose with a strong odor of grass. These were people like Spector’s group; really our finest young people’ (Yiftah Spector, a renowned Air Force pilot who signed the pilot’s letter refusing to fly missions against targets in the West Bank and Gaza. ) Weisglass does not deny that the main achievement of the Gaza plan is the freezing of the peace process in a “legitimate manner.”

The Geneva Initiative, Brig-Gen Yitah SPECTOR and the core of the Israeli Refuseniks all formed part of the Spier Process facilitated by the South African Government under President Thabo MBEKI at the request of Yasser ARAFAT and the fledgling peace camp in Israel under Yossi BEILIN – the tactical aim of the Spier Process was to try and help put pressure on Israel to restart the then stalled Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process for a two-state solution that SHARON and WEISGLASS clearly opposed. SPECTOR was involved in the attack by Israel on the American Warship the USS Liberty in 1967 in which 34 US Navy Personnel were killed and Terry HALBARDIER, the American sailor who managed to send the SOS that saved the USS Liberty from complete Israeli destruction, died recently in the US. SPECTOR also flew one of the planes during the 1981 Israeli attack on the nuclear reactor in Iraq.

Ari SHAVIT in Haaretz of 06 October 2004 continued in the same article covering his interview with WEISGLASS:

“He doesn’t deny that he supported the disengagement from the start. He doesn’t hide the fact that he placed the facts on Sharon’s desk. The political problem, the economic problem, the problem of refusenik soldiers. And he made it clear to the boss that the international community will never let up. That the Americans will not be able to support us for all time. But in the end I wasn’t the one who made the decision, Weisglass says. The prime minister made the decision. While he, the bureau chief, was simply there at his side. He, the faithful advocate, simply sat with his client in the room throughout the entire process..From your point of view, then, your major achievement is to have frozen the political process legitimately? “That is exactly what happened. You know, the term `political process’ is a bundle of concepts and commitments. The political process is the establishment of a Palestinian state with all the security risks that entails. The political process is the evacuation of settlements, it’s the return of refugees, it’s the partition of Jerusalem. And all that has now been frozen.” So you have carried out the maneuver of the century? And all of it with authority and permission? “When you say `maneuver,’ it doesn’t sound nice. It sounds like you said one thing and something else came out. But that’s the whole point. After all, what have I been shouting for the past year? That I found a device, in cooperation with the management of the world [USA under George W BUSH during which SHARON took the ideas of the national camp and turned them into a political reality that is accepted by the the US Congress where the relevant resolution was passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 405-7, and in the Senate by 95-5 Ed], to ensure that there will be no stopwatch here. That there will be no timetable to implement the settlers’ nightmare. I have postponed that nightmare indefinitely. Because what I effectively agreed to with the Americans was that part of the settlements would not be dealt with at all, and the rest will not be dealt with until the Palestinians turn into Finns. That is the significance of what we did. The significance is the freezing of the political process. And when you freeze that process you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and you prevent a discussion about the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package that is called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed from our agenda indefinitely. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress. What more could have been anticipated? What more could have been given to the settlers?”

In considering Gaza and Operation Protective Edge, the study and correct understanding of the adversary, of the self and the context, is of critical importance. And over the years, the Israeli tactics have taken on familiar patterns. These patterns are the result of the iron cage mental models and moral flaws inherent in settler colonialism and not only do they provide us with exceptionally rich sources of information, but they also produce societal logics and predictable patterns.

These historical facts, trajectories and patterns create a certain kind of path-dependency and blind spots that facilitate insight in the adversary and foresight regarding their likely future paths of action. We will briefly elaborate on this by looking at what we mean by 1) path-dependency and 2) blind spots.

From an intelligence perspective, path-dependency is an important analytic key for unlocking rich sources of contextual information. From a strategic perspective, path-dependency can create funnels that will lead to a significant narrowing of possible outcomes. Strategy (largely arrived at through abductive and inductive reasoning) is often confused and conflated with planning (largely arrived at utilizing deductive reasoning), but must always lead to to an end state in which we are positioned in such a way that the probabilities of our our goal achievement are improved and enhanced.

Maneuvering our adversary onto the slippery slope of the funnel through the exploitation of contextual path-dependencies and blind spots, is a frequently used stratagem in asymmetrical warfare.

See Image 1 at the end of this article: FUNNEL

Path-dependency in academic literature is a well-studied notion. Paul A DAVID of Stanford University (Cliometrica — The Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, v.1, no.2, Summer 2007) argues that:

“’Path dependence’ is an important concept for social scientists engaged in studying processes of change, as it is for students of dynamic phenomena in nature. A dynamic process whose evolution is governed by its own history is “path dependent.” The concept, thus, is very general in its scope, referring equally to developmental sequences (whether in evolutionary biology or physics) and social dynamics (involving social interactions among economic or political agents) that are characterized by positive feedbacks and self-reinforcing dynamics. Although the assertion that “history matters” has come to be coupled frequently with references to the concept of path dependence, the precise meaning of the latter term—and hence the significance of the former expression—more often than not remains rather cloudy. This is unnecessary as well as unfortunate. The fundamental idea is straightforward enough to be intuitively grasped without any instruction in economics; indeed, a thorough training in modern economics actually might interfere with human intuitions about history, and especially about processes involving historically contingent evolution. Even the formalizations of the concept of path dependence (to be introduced subsequently) are far from forbidding and readily will repay the effort spent in absorbing them. They will be seen to lend a useful measure of precision to descriptions of the special class of dynamical systems that are neither completely deterministic nor purely random in their workings, and in which the specific details of history govern the unfolding course of development.”

Patterns not only lead to path-dependencies but have other interesting effects too. Behavioral patterns are often tacit; and this means that it becomes behavior-without-awareness. For intelligence officers, behavior-without-awareness – like thinking-without-awareness – create blind spots and these become another rich source of information when studying the adversary. Many specialized techniques have been developed in intelligence praxis, to harvest such information unobtrusively from the adversary.

Furthermore, there is a surprising thing about surprise: it is most often not caused by a lack of information. Very often, we have the information right in front of us but we are unable to see its significance or relevance to other facts. Likewise strong convictions – such as ideological convictions – may cause informational blindness and this remains the major cause of foresight failure. This phenomenon is often driven by three factors: belief perseverance, judgmental heuristics and groupthink. The Israeli intelligence and security services suffer from a serious dose of informational blindness: not only did Hamas transform itself into an effective fighting force; it also built the required capabilities based on their new war-fighting Doctrines. This happened undetected but right in front of their eyes, because Israel focused on imaginary nuclear threats from Iran. Its Mental Model does not allow it to see what is really “out there in the real world” because it has hardened, narrowed and became rigid.

(Readers that have completed our Basic Course in Intelligence Analysis will understand precisely how this happens cognitively and psychologically)

In order to understand the significance of this, it is worthwhile getting a brief historical perspective through the eloquent voice of the Palestinian intellectual Edward SAID; and in particular his description of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon In reading this and several other historical documents written by Palestinians and Israelis, one is struck by the patterns and enduring – and therefore predictable – nature of the Israeli political-military template vis-a-vis the Middle East and the Palestinian national movement. Readers should therefore keep the patterns that emerged during the British colonial occupation of Palestine, the 1947 expulsions of the Palestinians, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and Operation Defensive Wall (sometimes called Defensive Shield) of 2002 in mind as we consider and begin to reflect on Operation Protective Edge of 2014.

As mentioned earlier, in the policy-document A Clean Break: a new strategy for the defense of the realm” drawn-up in 1996 by a group of American and Israeli neo-Conservatives for Prime Minister Benjamin NETANYAHU argued for not only ending the land-for-peace foundations of the Oslo Accords, but also for the reconfiguring and Balkanization of the entire Middle East. The idea was not new for in 1982, Oded YINON, an Israeli journalist previously working for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, published a document titled ‘A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties.’ He advised that for Israel to maintain its regional superiority, it must fragment its surrounding Arab states into smaller units. The document, later labelled as ‘Yinon Plan’, implied that Arabs and Muslims killing each other in endless sectarian wars was Israel’s best insurance policy.

In the SHAHAK translation of this document, the Editor notes:

“In his Complete Diaries, Vol. II. p. 711, Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, says that the area of the [proposed] Jewish State stretches: “From the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates.” Rabbi Fischmann, member of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, declared in his testimony to the U.N. Special Committee of Enquiry on 9 July 1947: ‘The Promised Land extends from the River of Egypt up to the Euphrates, it includes parts of Syria and Lebanon.’ This is not a new idea, nor does it surface for the first time in Zionist strategic thinking. Indeed, fragmenting all Arab states into smaller units has been a recurrent theme. This theme has been documented on a very modest scale in the AAUG publication, Israel’s Sacred Terrorism (1980), by Livia Rokach. Based on the memoirs of Moshe Sharett, former Prime Minister of Israel, Rokach’s study documents, in convincing detail, the Zionist plan as it applies to Lebanon and as it was prepared in the mid-fifties. The first massive Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1978 bore this plan out to the minutest detail. The second and more barbaric and encompassing Israeli invasion of Lebanon on June 6, 1982, aims to effect certain parts of this plan which hopes to see not only Lebanon, but Syria and Jordan as well, in fragments. This ought to make mockery of Israeli public claims regarding their desire for a strong and independent Lebanese central government. More accurately, they want a Lebanese central government that sanctions their regional imperialist designs by signing a peace treaty with them. They also seek acquiescence in their designs by the Syrian, Iraqi, Jordanian and other Arab governments as well as by the Palestinian people. What they want and what they are planning for is not an Arab world, but a world of Arab fragments that is ready to succumb to Israeli hegemony. Hence, Oded Yinon in his essay, “A Strategy for Israel in the 1980’s,” talks about “far-reaching opportunities for the first time since 1967” that are created by the “very stormy situation [that] surrounds Israel.” The Zionist policy of displacing the Palestinians from Palestine is very much an active policy, but is pursued more forcefully in times of contlict, such as in the 1947-1948 war and in the 1967 war. An appendix entitled “Israel Talks of a New Exodus” is included in this publication to demonstrate past Zionist dispersals of Palestinians from their homeland and to show, besides the main Zionist document we present, other Zionist planning for the de-Palestinization of Palestine. It is clear from the Kivunim document, published in February, 1982, that the “far-reaching opportunities” of which Zionist strategists have been thinking are the same “opportunities” of which they are trying to convince the world and which they claim were generated by their June, 1982 invasion. ”

So: divide your adversaries and make them fight each other violently – isn’t that what was happening in Lebanon in the 1980’s and between Hamas and Fatah in the 2000’s? Isn’t this being fueled between the Shi’i and Sunni communities accross the region as we speak?

So this regional approach and desire to reconfigure the Middle East through violence, by dividing the adversary and setting them up to fight each other (instead of fighting the Colonizer), is really not new at all and the pattern is as old as colonialism itself and therefore part of a certain kind of path-dependency and predictability.

It is therefore also worth noting the geo-strategic origins of the term “Middle East”. Roderic H. DAVISON in Foreign Affairs: July 1960 noted that:

“In the same year in which Hogarth put the stamp of geographical approval on the new Near East, Middle East was also born. This was the creation of the American naval officer, Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan. Mahan had made his reputation with the publication in 1890 of “The Influence of Sea Power upon History.” Soon he was sought out by magazine editors for articles on naval affairs and world strategy. Russian expansion, the partition of China, and the German penetration of Turkey, as well as the American conquest of the Philippines, turned Mahan’s attention to Asia. Among his articles on Asia was a piece on “The Persian Gulf and International Relations” which appeared in the September 1902 issue of theNational Review of London. Here Mahan considered the Anglo-Russian contest along with the new element of the projected German Berlin-to-Baghdad railway with its probable terminus on the Persian Gulf. Envisioning the desirability of Anglo-German coöperation to keep the Russians out, he affirmed the need for Britain to maintain a strong naval position, with bases, in the Persian Gulf region. “The Middle East, if I may adopt a term which I have not seen, will some day need its Malta, as well as its Gibraltar . . . . The British Navy should have the facility to concentrate in force, if occasion arises, about Aden, India and the Gulf.” And so the term Middle East saw the light of day just over a half-century ago.”

The “Middle East” – a Western conceptual invention as other parts of the world use different terminologies to describe that region – carries with it the baggage of its invention: colonial geography and social engineering.

We now see a series of strong patterns – some even carried in concepts – emerge and that have hardened into a template within a particular Mental Model. As I cannot do justice to the views of Edward SAID and since he makes a compelling case, I will simply utilize a longish quotation from his article published in the London Review of Books in 2002 under the title: “We know who we Are”. He was writing following the invasion of the West-Bank by the Israeli Army in an Operation called Defensive Wall or Mivtza Homat Magen (sometimes incorrectly reported as Defensive Shield).

Readers should note the similar patterns a real cognitive and behavioral template – in each of these Israeli operations: the 1982 Lebanon invasion, Protective Wall (2002) and Protective Edge (2014).

Prior to this invasion – seen by many as the largest military operation in the West Bank since 1967 – this is what then Prime Minister Ariel SHARON said as reported by Matt REES in Time Magazine of 18 March 2002:

“The Palestinians must be hit, and it must be very painful,” he said. “We must cause them losses, victims, so that they feel a heavy price.”

This sounds very familiar in 2014 doesn’t it? The language of “paying a heavy price” is the paternalistic, authoritarian and violent language of the Colonizer. All colonized people recognize it immediately and instinctively.

At the start of Operation Defensive Wall in 2002, the Mukataa – Headquarters of Yasir ARAFAT was invaded, damaged by tanks and bulldozers and he was placed under – yes you guessed it – a long term siege.
I spent a few hours late at night in the heavily damaged Mukataa with ARAFAT at that time to convey him the good wishes of the Government and people of South Africa with all of us being rushed in and out of the room by a phalanx of security personnel as Israel helicopter gunships flew overhead and missiles were fired in the distance.

The Mukataa itself has an interesting colonial history; dating back to the British Mandate, were a series Forts designed bySir Charles TEGART – a British Policeman who designed the forts in 1938 based on his experiences in suppressing the Indian insurgency that eventually lead to Indian Independence. When the Arab Revolt started in 1936 in protest against the decision of the British Colonial Government to allow the emigration of Zionist settlers from Britain to Palestine, TEGART was brought in to quell the unrest. Apart from his techniques for extracting information from colonial subjects, he also built a system of Big Brother style surveillance as well as a series of Forts – which he proposed to be connected with a Fence. They were built of reinforced concrete with water systems that would allow them to withstand a month-long siege. Dozens of the structures were built according to the same basic plan, along the so-called “Tegart’s Wall” of the northern borders with Lebanon and Syria.

At the end of this article in IMAGE 2 is a photo as an example of a TEGART Fort of which more than 60 were built all over Palestine during the period of British occupation.

As we pointed out, Edward SAID wrote this article in the London Review of Books during Operation Defensive Wall (2002) but it also worth pointing out that this was written before the 2003 invasion of Iraq – an invasion that we have argued elsewhere (See The US and China in the Menu on your right hand side) was an inflection point in the post-Cold War history that significantly shaped and influenced the current global context and dynamic. The pattern is now very distinct and predictable: the Israelis are locked into a self-imposed mental siege inherent in the nature of managing what from the Palestinian point of view is characterized as settler-colonialism.

This then is what Edward SAID wrote already in 2002:

“Lebanon was heavily bombed by Israeli warplanes on 4 June 1982.

Two days later the Israeli Army breached the country’s southern border. Menachem Begin was then Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon Minister of Defence. The immediate reason for the invasion was the attempted assassination of the Israeli Ambassador to Britain, blamed by Begin and Sharon on the PLO, whose forces in South Lebanon had been observing a ceasefire for a year. By 13 June, Beirut was under siege, even though the Israeli Government had originally said it planned to go no further into Lebanon than the Awali River, 35 km north of the border. Later, it became all too clear that Sharon was trying to kill Yasir Arafat by bombing everything around him. There was a blockade of humanitarian aid; water and electricity were cut off, and a sustained aerial bombing campaign destroyed hundreds of buildings. By mid-August, when the siege ended, 18,000 Palestinians and Lebanese, most of them civilians, had been killed.

The civil war between right-wing Christian militias and left-wing Muslim and Arab nationalist groups had already lasted seven years. Although Israel sent its Army into Lebanon only once before 1982, it had early been sought as an ally by the Christian militias, who co-operated with Sharon’s forces during the siege. Sharon’s main ally was Bashir Gemayel, leader of the Phalange Party, who was elected President by the Lebanese Parliament on 23 August. The Palestinians had unwisely entered the civil war on the side of the National Movement, a loose coalition of parties that included Amal, a forerunner of Hizbollah (which was to play the major role in finally driving the Israelis out of Lebanon in May 2000). Faced with the prospect of Israeli vassalage after Sharon’s Army had in effect brought about his election, Gemayel seems to have demurred and was assassinated on 14 September. Israeli troops occupied Beirut, supposedly to keep order, and two days later, inside a security cordon provided by the Israeli Army, Gemayel’s vengeful extremists massacred two thousand Palestinian refugees at the camps of Sabra and Shatila.

Under UN and of course US supervision, French troops had entered Beirut on 21 August in the aftermath of the siege and were later joined by US and other European forces. The PLO fighters were evacuated from Lebanon; and by the beginning of September Arafat and a small band of advisers and soldiers had relocated to Tunis. The Taif Accord of 1989 prepared the way for a settlement of the civil war the following year. The old confessional system – under which different religious groups are allocated a specific number of Parliamentary seats – was more or less restored and remains in place today.

Earlier this year Sharon was quoted as regretting his failure to kill Arafat in Beirut. Not for want of trying – dozens of buildings were destroyed, hundreds of people killed. The events of 1982 hardened ordinary Arabs, I think, to the idea that Israel would use planes, missiles, tanks and helicopters to attack civilians indiscriminately, and that neither the US nor the Arab governments would do anything to stop it.

The invasion of Lebanon was the first full-scale contemporary attempt at regime change by one sovereign country against another in the Middle East. I bring it up as a messy backdrop to the current crisis. The main difference between 1982 and 2002 is that the Palestinians are now under siege inside Palestinian territories that have been occupied by Israel since 1967. The main similarity is the disproportionate nature of Israeli actions: the hundreds of tanks and bulldozers used to enter towns and villages like Jenin or refugee camps like Deheisheh, where troops once more set about killing, vandalising, obstructing ambulances and first-aid workers, cutting off water and electricity and so on. All with the support of the US, whose President called Sharon a ‘man of peace’ during the worst assaults of last March and April. Sharon’s purpose went far beyond ‘rooting out terror’: his soldiers destroyed every computer and carried off files and hard drives from the Central Bureau of Statistics and the Ministries of Education, Finance and Health, and vandalised offices and libraries.

I don’t want to rehearse my criticisms of Arafat’s tactics or the failures of his deplorable regime during the Oslo negotiations and thereafter. Besides, as I write, the man is only just hanging onto his life: his crumbling quarters in Ramallah are still besieged and Sharon is doing everything possible to injure him short of actually having him killed. What concerns me, rather, is the idea of regime change as an attractive notion for individuals, ideologies and institutions that are vastly more powerful than their adversaries. It is now, it seems, taken for granted that great military power licenses large-scale political and social change, whatever damage that may entail. And the fact that one’s own side will not suffer many casualties seems only to stimulate more fantasies about surgical strikes, clean war, high technology battlefields, changing the entire map, creating democracy and so on, all of this giving rise to dreams of omnipotence.

In the current American propaganda campaign for regime change in Iraq, the people of that country, the vast majority of whom have suffered from poverty, malnutrition and illness as a result of ten years of sanctions, have dropped out of sight. This is entirely in keeping with US Middle East policy, which is built on two mighty pillars: the security of Israel and plentiful supplies of inexpensive oil. The complex mosaic of traditions, religions, cultures, ethnicities and histories in the Arab world is lost to US and Israeli strategic planners. Iraq is either a ‘threat’ to its neighbours, which, in its currently weakened and besieged condition, is a nonsensical idea, or a ‘threat’ to the freedom and security of the United States, which is still more absurd. I am not even going to bother to add my condemnations of Saddam Hussein: I shall take it for granted that he deserves to be ousted and punished. Worst of all, he is a threat to his own people.” (Edward SAID: We know who we are: LRB 2002).

The moral cancer of settler colonialism and occupation as well as the predictable patterns of behavior and strategies that its mental models lead to, make of it a phenomenon that is well-understood and therefore quite predictable. This gives the Palestinians an amazing informational advantage: knowing the context and knowing the adversary. For as long as the Occupying side remains locked into its mental and moral siege, it will remain transparent, stuck and inflexible. The political task is to lead them of out of this.. With Political Zionism having exhausted itself and entering into a phase of decomposition – accompanied by more denialism and calls for more vicious violence as Israel drifts into further extremism – it is now incumbent on the Palestinians to come forward with the outlines of a political end state that will assist the Israelis out of their conundrum and break the patterns of the past.

All sides should by now understand that for as long as the occupied “don’t lose”; they really win.. There are important additional concepts that must be taken into consideration too. In the third and final piece on Gaza, I will inter alia apply the Clauzewitzian concepts of the “culminating point of attack as well as the culminating point of victory”, as well as the “political tasks” as articulated by Vo Ngueyen GIAP to explore how this logjam can be broken.

The worn-out face and posture of Prime Minister NETANYAHU at the Press Conference yesterday in which he claimed “victory”, was reminisced of the equally false claim of victory made by President George W. BUSH at the end of the American assault on Iraq in 2003.

And all the signals are there that deep down the Israelis know that they have reached a dead end; that the Palestinian unity is stronger than before and that this round belongs to Hamas: “because they did not lose”.





PP: The Geo-Strategic significance of Gaza

PONDERING POINTS: Short, quick-and-dirty pieces of thinking out loud

PP1: The The Geo-Strategic Significance of Gaza

©Andre ZAAIMAN 2014


“Thus in the beginning the world was so made that certain signs come before certain events.”  


The current violent assault by Israel on a territory (Gaza) and a people (Palestinians) that it has displaced and occupies – and on Hamas in particular – has, at a tactical level, its domestic roots in the 2005 unilateral “withdrawal” of Israel from Gaza by the then Government of Ariel SHARON. It signaled the end of the “peace process” which had already by then, especially following the 1995 murder of Yitzhak RABIN by a fellow Israeli Jew and the death of the Palestinian leader Yasser ARAFAT in 2004 – a year after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq – started to morph from a real peace process into a mere extension of war-by-other-means.

As indicated amongst other things by several Israeli military Operations such as Defensive Wall (2002), Cast Lead (2008/9) and now Protective Edge (2014) – all militarily aimed at but failing to restore Israeli deterrence – as well as the unabated construction and expansion of settlements in the West Bank and the Jerusalem area, that the principal tactical goals for Israel in its domestic and regional theaters are respectively:

  1. The division of the Palestinians, geographically (physical) and organizationally (as a political movement), in order to fragment and ultimately conquer the West Bank and make the establishment of a viable Palestinian State, impossible. This divide-and-rule method is as old as colonial conquest itself and is one of the reasons why Israeli historians such as Ilan PAPPE calls this ethnic cleansing. It is also why the recent rapprochement between Fatah and Hamas is one of the principal reasons why Israel decided to go after Hamas now: Israel wants the Palestinians to remain divided and fractured; and it wants Hamas (which analytically fits into the broader ambit of Political Islam), to become depoliticized and disarmed. In the long run, it is still pursuing the defeat of the Palestinian national movement, the reduction in the numbers of the Palestinian population in the area as a whole, and the obliteration of any forms or traces of Palestinian history in historical Palestine.
  2. The re-establishment of the regional status quo ante bellum – meaning as it was before the Arab Spring and rise of Political Islam in the Middle East. Current dominant groups in Israel, as well as those in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the Emirates cannot afford that a situation of real, majoritarian democracy based on free and fair elections in which all their citizens participate freely and equally, prevails: at least in the case of Israel, until it has reduced the Palestinian (non-Jewish) numbers through a process of social and geographical attrition to such an extent, that it would never pose a threat to the ethnic concept of a Jewish State, secured through the engineering – by means of a series of wars, expulsions, geo-political “facts-on-the-ground” and annexations – of a “permanent Jewish majority”. This process started in 1947 and continues to this day; it explains the national obsession of Israelis with demographics and geography. From an Israeli perspective, until the Palestinians are bludgeoned and weakened to the point where they accept this exclusivist, ethnic and Jewish character of the State of Israel and permanently give up any historical claims to the land of their birth, there can simply be no peace.

Reverting back to the status quo ante bellum, will therefore permit Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and others to once more demonize, marginalize and diminish the forces of Political Islam (which includes Hamas) and recapture the strategic initiative. Moderate forces such as those of Political Islam that can square Islam and Democracy (for example such as in Turkey) therefore pose a real threat to the interests of Israel and Saudi Arabia, hence both countries prefer radical Islamic variants as opposition, which can be thought and fought through the trope of “fighting terrorists”. That off course should not be read as the slightest endorsement of terrorism – this is an analytic exercise aimed at understanding and not a treatise on morals or moral judgment: terrorism in any form is obviously quite simply, wrong. Fighting settler colonial occupation and expansion should however not be equated with terrorism either; there is no moral equivalence between an Occupier and the Occupied. And Israel is, under international law, an Occupier.

Viewed as a complex system, the Middle East can only be understood as the simultaneous interplay of various components. These components interact horizontally with each other within three scales: domestic, regional and global. But these components also interact vertically between scales creating an intricate, dynamic interplay of individual actors, groups, coalitions and alliances. It can be visualized as an adapted Rubik’s Cube.

Rubik's Cube Not understanding these horizontal and vertical relationships and interactions will render a proper understanding of the current situation rather difficult if not impossible.

The oversimplifications below should therefore be understood as a first attempt to start drawing initial, broad lines of an eventual analysis primarily focused on the higher, strategic level: and not as a deliberate neglect of detail or cutting with a blunt knife.

We would first like to start with two caveats and one observation:

  1. Caveat: The views of the Obama White House on these matters differ in significant ways from the majority views on Capitol Hill; but the White House views are more in synch with the sentiments of the majority of Americans. The restocking of Israeli munitions by the US, which takes place under their existing treaties and legal obligations to each other, was deliberately leaked to the Press by the Israelis as a way embarrass Obama and to cover up their feud.
  2. Caveat: Obama will not be President forever: the next US President is more likely to step in line with the views of Capitol Hill; views that are heavily influenced by the powerful, well-organized and monied pro-Israeli lobbies.
  3. Observation: In the current situation, there are significant misalignments and divergences between US and Israeli strategies in the Middle East, revealed through their differing positions on both the Iranian and the Palestinian issues.

Operation Protective Edge was launched by Israel following its initiation through a fabricated trigger, a favored technique of the Israeli security establishment. But just as the incessant focus of Israel on Iran’s supposed nuclear weapons program, Gaza and Operation Protective Edge is a ruse; a distraction and obfuscation of the real target which in this instance, at the tactical level, is the West Bank and the Jerusalem area which is central to making the establishment of a viable Palestinian State, impossible. Regionally, the strategic target for Israel (and Saudi Arabia), remains Iran – and therefore the subversion of the current White House outreach to Iran and the nuclear negotiations – since they have already successfully reversed the effects of the wave of popular uprisings which helped bringing forces of Political Islam initially in power in places such as Egypt, Tunisia and Gaza (Hamas).

Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt wants to return to the regional situation where forces of Political Islam (such as Hamas in Palestine and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt) are perceived as “terrorists”, internationally isolated and turned into outlaws. Iran must also once more be perceived as the grave “threat” – in much the same vein as Saddam HUSSAIN’s Iraq was portrayed until it was militarily attacked and invaded by the US.

Operation Protective Edge, when seen from this vantage point, therefore forms part of a broader, regional strategy by Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia to seize back the initiative from Turkey and Qatar and ultimately to end the Iranian rapprochement. The overthrow of the Mursi- Government in Egypt and the attempted destruction of Hamas in Gaza through Operation Protective Edge, are therefore not separate events but intimately linked.

As we have argued before in another piece on this Website (The US-China-Africa Part 1 America: see MENU on your right), the current world order has entered a phase of decomposition and realignment of forces. This military assault on Gaza must also be located within this context too and several other international, regional and domestic driving factors must be considered as well, which include:

  1. The 2003 invasion of Iraq by the USA, actively but stealthily pushed and nurtured by Israel and Saudi Arabia at the time
  2. The subsequent decline of American influence in the Middle East and the general weakening of its strategic position in the world
  3. The US Pivot or Re-Balancing to Asia and its outreach to Iran
  4. The rise of political Islam in the Middle East through the Arab Spring and its reversal starting in Egypt following Turkish over-reach
  5. The emergence of countries (Russia and China) and alliances (BRICS) that are perceived to threaten American primacy
  6. Hyper-connectivity and Technology that facilitates rapid flows of both information and new forms of informational weaponry

We can therefore begin to make the argument that both Israel and Saudi Arabia seem to be adjusting, sometimes quite violently, to the reality of the absence of an active and offensive, US military prioritization in and of the region: Asia, Eastern Europe and to a lesser extent Africa seem to be the new American military priorities. The Middle Eastern political and security game is influenced by the global, geo-strategic moves of America, China and Russia; but its actors are increasingly regional and driven by the conflicting interests of their own regional positions and interests.

This implies that both countries (Israel and Saudi Arabia and their allies,) are likely to get more directly involved (albeit through proxies) in places ranging from Lebanon to Syria and Iraq – they will rely less on the US to “do the dirty work” in a manner-of-speaking. The outbursts and defiance of Israel in respect of some of the initiatives of OBAMA and KERRY concerning Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, a clear sign that they have understood that they must take decisive action when their interests require it; even if this comes at the price of tension with their principal big power ally, the USA. But this also means that actors such as Russia will, for geo-strategic reasons, become more directly involved too. Hence the metaphor of the Rubik’s Cube becomes important again as an analytical tool.

The successful reversal of the initial ascendency of political Islam by Saudi-Arabia, Israel, Egypt and the Emiratis has solidified their loose alliance based on a convergence of interests. From an Israeli perspective, this is useful in terms of intelligence and military coordination and cooperation, but highly embarrassing from the point of view of its diplomacy: it needs to present itself as democratic and Western because its national security concept was hitherto based on this.

But it now finds itself in the company of states that nobody would really hold up as beacons of human rights and democracy.

As key international actors are in the process of repositioning (strategy, goals, capabilities); recalibrating (their perceptions and calculations of themselves and others) and reconfiguring (power and alliances), countries will have to adjust and adapt. This reconfiguring of power-balances brings with it significant winners and losers – countries that will behave differently if not irrationally, as a consequence of either losing or gaining of influence and power. For example, presently Turkey and Qatar – key sponsors of the various projects of Political Islam – are licking their wounds and regrouping, whilst Iran has significantly improved its prospects. Israel suffers from the cancer that all projects based on dispossession and violent occupation suffer from and in the long run succumb to: moral degeneration from within. Israel and Saudi Arabia, having built their strategic and national security conceptions upon a close attachment to a great Power – the USA in particular – have found both the military withdrawals from the Middle East and the Pivot to Asia disconcerting. The overtures of the Obama White House to Iran being almost the final straw that “broke the camels back.”

The current tension between Obama’s White House, Israel and Saudi Arabia has been long in the making. Leaving aside the specific characteristics and brash conduct of the current Israeli Prime Minister, including the condescending attitudes regularly on display towards the “naive” Americans – it was Obama’s tacit backing of the rise of Political Islam across the Middle East during the Arab Spring that really set off loud alarm bells in Tel Aviv and Riyadh.

To fully understand this, it is necessary to step back to the discussions and decisions about Strategy and Tactics in the movements of Political Islam during the late 1990s and early 2000’s. And to also revisit Israeli tactics during that period, most notably its widely reported announcements at the time, that it “would no longer guarantee the safety of Yasser ARAFAT (PLO) and his subsequent death in November 2004 in France. I will focus on Hamas – the bête noir for the Sharon and Netanyahu Governments, specifically the decision of Hamas in 2005 to pursue the path to political power through the ballot box in the Occupied Territories. For the sake of brevity and focus, I will not yet highlight in any detail the key roles of Qatar and Turkey in all of this.

In response to this decision and the subsequent electoral victory of Hamas in Gaza in free and fair elections in Gaza and the West-Bank in 2006, Israel and particularly Egypt under Hosni MUBARAK, convinced and coordinated closely with the Americans (under George W. BUSH) to overturn, subvert and set Hamas up to fail. America, Israel, Egypt, Jordan and to a lesser extent Saudi Arabia (with the cooperation of the Fatah at the time), strictly policed a very hard line that made it impossible and costly to give any legitimacy to Hamas: Hamas needed to fail and be isolated politically, financially and regionally: not even dialogue with Hamas was permitted.

And it is precisely this line that the Israelis, with nods from Cairo and Riyadh, now want to re-establish and of which Operation Protective Edge is not the beginning (it started with the Mursi overthrow in Egypt) nor the end but nonetheless forms an intricate part.

The South African Government at that time, had understood early on that once the Israeli guarantees of the safety of Yasser ARAFAT were removed, the probabilities of his incapacitation or death, rose significantly. And that the Palestinian movement represented by the PLO, would face severe internal difficulties if this were to occur. The Government therefore, presciently and wisely, carefully traversed and crossed these lines in order to keep itself abreast of developments in the ground: we established and maintained discreet channels of dialogue and communication with movements of Political Islam, including with Hamas. As a consequence, we were one of a very few countries in the world that were not surprised by the Hamas decision to participate in the 2006 elections in Gaza, or with their subsequent electoral victory in Gaza.

AZ Hamas Liaison


When Obama came to power in the USA in 2008 he initially continued to pursue this hard-line position of his predecessors, but was eventually convinced that this situation was no longer tenable or sustainable. When the Arab Spring occurred, the Americans did very little to prop up their former allies in the Middle East, preferring to watch as the people basically coalesced into a popular uprising. This was an important strategic divergence between Israel, a Saudi Arabia and America that was followed eventually by a logical second one: the Obama rapprochement with Iran.

Some countries however will make the serious miscalculation of not correctly reading or adapting to a rapidly changing world. From a risk perspective the three countries in the Middle East that stand out in this respect at the moment, is Israel and the loose alliance it has constructed with Egypt (except for the brief period before the democratically elected Mursi-Administration was overthrown) and Saudi Arabia. The emergence of a new balance-of-forces or of alternative global architectures combined with rapid power shifts may well catch these countries off-guard and ill-prepared.

Judging from the very serious intelligence failure Israel has suffered as part of Operation Protective Edge – Hamas succeeded in building a vast and sophisticated network of underground bunkers, tunnels and factories undetected right under the noses of all the sophisticated Israeli surveillance – the prognosis does not seem very good. Israel is in a state of hubris and has started to believe its own rhetoric to such an extent, that it is behaving irrationally and will continue to make strategic miscalculations based on a misreading of what is going on around them.

Depending on which side of the fence one sits, this may either fill you with optimism or with a sense of alarm.

But this reconfiguration is not only driven horizontally in the form of shifting power-balances between nation states; there is also a vertical dynamic at play: between ordinary people and elites. Ordinary citizens of the world, in all parts of the world without exception, are desirous of profound changes in the way the global commons is governed: politically, economically, financially and socially. The plethora of social protests, uprisings and civic movements – a real yearning for the return of politics and people – that the world has seen over the last 10 years are not only directed specifically against Leader X or Party Y, but are expressions of a much deeper discontent with the “the way the world is organized and works”.

These are indeed the “morbid signs of the inter-regnum” that signals a profound shaking up of the fundamentals, is already underway.