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Elite attacks elite
The 37th Letter of an Autonomous Thinker



Amsterdam, September 18 2003

Dear reader, 

Israeli leaders have introduced a new element in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They want to kill the leadership of Hamas, one of the important organisations of the enemy. Vice premier Ehud Olmert did even not exclude the murder of Jasser Arafat.

In the past members of a hostile elite have also been targeted but never on such a big scale, never so systematically.
France arrested Algerian resistance leader Ben Bella to pave the way for more obedient Algerians to rule in independent Algeria.
The USA supported the murder of Lumumba and the corrupt Mobutu allowed the West to buy cheap raw materials in the Congo.
Allende was murdered and succeeded by Pinochet who was more sympathetic to Western interests.
Pol Pot only died when he had lost power, Stalin or Castro were hardly attacked.

Neutralising a hostile elite can be successful with relatively small organisations that are not really anchored in their societies as proved by the arrest of Ocalan (leader of the Kurd PKK) or Guzman (leader of the Peruvian Shining Path). But in the case of the IRA or the ETA detaining leaders has contributed nothing to the peace process. In the case of Al Qaeda the killing of Bin Laden will give room for new people to pursue the political goals of the present leader.

It is striking that there have been very few attempts to kill enemy elites even in the case of gruesome leaders as Hitler or Idi Amin. The attacking elite is afraid that war may enter its safe eliteworld. Now all fighting is done on the massworld (and most victims are masspeople).

But the Israeli elite breaks this elitist golden rule. And the answer is as expected. You kill me, so I kill you. Hamas leaders who have up till now avoided a direct attack on the Israeli elite but only targeted people in the Israeli massworld take up the challenge and plan to attack the Israeli eliteworld.

Masspeople can be content with the Israeli decision. The struggle will be replaced to the eliteworld where all wars originate. The massworld may become more peaceful.

Yours truly, Joost van Steenis


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38. Stiglitz on globalisation
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