Flotillas and Foreign Policy

In seminary, a buddy of mine who was interested, like me, in both foregn policy and theology introduced me to a great resource called STRATFOR.  It is essentially a private inteligence company used by governments, corporations, and private individuals.  You can pay for their full line of resources, or sign up for free analysis that comes on a weekly basis.

Today’s article had some very interesting analysis of the situation with Israel and Gaza:

This maneuver was far more effective than suicide bombings or the Intifada in challenging Israel’s public perception and therefore its geopolitical position (though if the Palestinians return to some of their more distasteful tactics like suicide bombing, the Turkish strategy of portraying Israel as the instigator of violence will be undermined).

Essentially, they argue that the flotilla is less a humanitarian relief effort, as stated, and more a political ploy designed to weaken the position of Israel.  it makes perfect sense, really; Israel has been backed into a corner – either don’t show force have their position weakened in the region, or respond as they are expected to and weaken their position on the international scene.

Judging by how often video of an Israeli “commando” raid is currently playing on the news, its obvious this tactic is working against Israel.

The STRATFOR piece goes on to suggest that most people in the international community – not having a taste for complexity – won’t see this situation for what it is (a geopolitical chess match).

How true.  As Tom Friedman once wrote, “When it comes to discussing the Middle East, people lose their minds.”  For most of us, our picture of Middle East relations fits into a very simple narrative such as Israeli aggression, or Palestinian terrorism.  We like one side to be wholly right and one side to be wholly wrong.

In that part of the world, it’s almost never the case.  That remains true in this instance, also.

[This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR]

2 thoughts on “Flotillas and Foreign Policy”

  1. A couple of points, Stephen.

    The STRATFOR piece raises the question, “Is this simply an innocent relief effort?” It seems to me like it is at least a legitimate question whether, and to what degree, this is also a PR stunt by anti-Israeli forces.

    You’d have to ask Israel why they saw force as important; I’m not saying its legitimate, I’m simply suggesting what their own picture of their national interest might be.

    I think this was designed to back them into a corner:

    Either do nothing, with the possibility that all of the “relief” coming in might not be non-military, or;

    a show of force, the option they chose, which would maintain their hard posture in the region and perhaps deter future attempts at (in their view) sneaking in weapons – but at the risk of alienating them further from the international community.

    The presence of cameras on both sides suggests to me a degree of PR on both sides. I don’t think either side is wholly right or wrong; but I don’t think we should be crying foul when that ship refused to go to port and be searched – they knew what they were risking when they made that decision. That leads me to believe they were trying to make a scene, and it seems they are getting precisely the result they wanted.

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