Palestine – editorial

Editorial to ‘The US and the Arab World’, a special issue of Race & Class, 17/3, Winter 1976.


Unlike the Jewish and Black diasporas before it, the Palestinian diaspora – by the very nature of its history, locale and time — carries with it the contagion of revolution. In the Arab countries into which it has dispersed, the Palestinian resistance has become the spearhead of revolutionary Arab nationalism, portending socialist change. Its very existence is a constant threat to the ruling elites of the region who, once the dust of battle has settled and dignity regained, find a more natural identity of interests with their Israeli counterparts than with their own revolutionary rabble. All the urging they need is imperialism’s whisper: we are all capitalists under the skin.  Hence any accord between Israel and the Arab states pre-supposes the de-fusion of revolutionary Arab nationalism in general and the Palestinian resistance in particular. The Sinai accord is a reflection of that tendency. 

On a global level, however, the moves toward a ‘peaceful settlement in the Middle East — or, in the alternative, a military intervention – signify a shift in the centrality of imperialism’s focus from the Pacific and Atlantic to the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean regions — areas on whose resources of raw material is predicated the very fabric of industrial society. But to gain effective control over the production and distribution of these resources, America needs to prise the indigenous bourgeoisie from their allegiance to the other super-power, the Soviet Union, and help them defeat at the same time those liberation movements which spell danger to imperial hegemony. 

And it is in order to keep abreast of imperialism’s moves and shifts and changes in the subjugation of Third World peoples that Race & Class moves, in this issue, to the most significant theatre of struggle: the Middle East. 

In the first article ‘”A World Restored” revisited, Eqbal Ahmad analyses Kissinger’s peace moves in the Middle East, both in terms of its specifics and in the context of America’s global strategy. In another — with David Caploe – he deals more concretely with America’s alternative to ‘peaceful settlement: military intervention. In the course of both, he throws up and unifies the themes of oil and arms, diplomacy and threats of war, detente and hegemony, the suppression of Third World liberation movements and the resurgence of the right wing – and the emergence of accord. 

More importantly for European analysts, who have still not come out of the cold war, Ahmad shows quite clearly that the conflict between the super-powers is no longer one of ideology but of geo-politics. The world has moved on since the 1950s and both Russia and China, according to Kissinger, respect ‘the framework of the international order’ — and that calls not for the crude rattling of sabres but for ‘antagonistic collaboration’: ‘co-optation and selective cooperation in some areas, confrontation and containment in others’ (Ahmad). 

And it is in this context of a global political economy’ that Joe Stork investigates the issue of ‘Oil and Industrialisation’ in the Middle East – leaving it to Elaine Fuller, in a review article of his book on Middle East Oil and the Energy Crisis, to discuss the larger implications of the politics of oil. 

Michael Klare, author of War without End, outlines the scenarios for the imperial wars to come and details the American military build up in the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Gulf. 

To one or other of these questions of peace and power, Heikal, Razzaz, Yusuf and Al-Ashtal — themselves protagonists in the Arab struggle – bring their own vantage points to bear in ‘Reaction and Revolution in the Middle East’.