Naked Tragedy

There is nothing new in Condoleezza Rice's new Middle East. It is, writes Azmi Bishara, the same old wolf dressed up
It was on 21 September 2004 that President Bush first used the term the Greater Middle East. He was speaking to the UN about America's campaign to spread freedom and democracy and, in the same breath, to fight terrorism, a campaign that, he believed, would transform Afghanistan and Iraq into models of democracy to be emulated by other countries in the region.
On 22 July 2006, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice refused to call for a ceasefire in Lebanon, thereby confirming that Israel is fighting an American war in Lebanon and will go on fighting it until the war accomplishes Washington's political aims. Washington has set the goals and will determine when it is time to stop, yet like a doctor comforting a patient Rice counsels the victim to endure the pains which are, she says, the birth pangs of a new Middle East; another admission that this is America's war. And as Israeli ground forces prepared to land in Lebanon even some Israeli ministers were beginning to ask whether Israel was actually fighting an American war.
But wait a moment. Before joining the flock of analysts and commentators who take every sentence uttered by an American official and tailor it to fit their own theories and justify their own garrulous existence, could it not just be that Rice just had to come up with some kind of excuse for her government's criminal refusal to insist on a ceasefire? Could she not have been seeking to suggest no more than that the Middle East will be a "better" place after this savage war? Had she not done so, she would have been left to defend an act of unmitigated sadism the purpose of which is death and destruction for death and destruction's sake.
There are no theories. No matter how we look at it, there is nothing new, nothing to supersede the old Israeli dream of the "New Middle East" authored long ago by Shimon Peres who, during the Oslo era, came to believe "moderate" Arabs would normalise their relations with Israel to the extent that they would have no compunction cooperating with it against other Arabs it labeled "extremist".
There is a new mood in the neo conservative administration in Washington. They have abandoned attempts to export democracy by gunboat, though only because such attempts could not withstand the Arab people's horror of the Iraqi model. As happened during the Cold War, Washington has reconciled itself to allying with non- democratic states they classify as "moderate" -- which is to say regimes that follow American dictates -- as long as the alliance serves US interests. And unlike previous administrations, they have shed any discomfort at openly and directly cooperating with Israel in targeting the Arabs, including toppling one Arab regime in order to bring in another.
It was not that long ago that Bush Senior asked Israel to hold its horses after Iraqi scud missiles struck and to leave things to the American-led coalition, because the addition of an Israeli cook would at the time have spoiled the broth. What a long way Bush Junior has come since then. After the US's plans for Lebanon fell through he had Israel start the war against the Syrian-Iranian axis, which is allied with the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance movements. Washington, meanwhile, has vowed to cover Israel internationally, not only by preventing the passage of a ceasefire resolution but also by billing Israel's brutal aggression as a drive to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1559.
Helping to make all of this possible is the fact that Arab regimes have been paralysed since the fall of Iraq. No longer can they say one thing and do another, spouting radical anti-Israeli and pro- resistance rhetoric while secretly begging the US to produce a settlement of any sort. They bargained away their official positions on Arab causes in exchange for Washington turning a blind eye to their domestic human rights abuses.
Between the Greater Middle East and the ignominious, blood-drenched return to the New Middle East, the cities of Iraq and Lebanon crumble, corpses are strewn along the sides of the roads and the groans of the wounded, screams of grieving mothers and wails of orphaned children rend the air. Such are the birth pangs of the New Middle East, as explained calmly and dispassionately by a nasty lady whose pathologically sedate, hysterically cool voice contains nothing of the ear-shattering reverberations of smart bombs and dumb bombs, the bewildered screams of the living who have had their hearts ripped out and the silence of the dead beneath the rubble. The doctor of bombardment and displacement, the minister of death and destruction, the envoy of desolation and grief speaks, without a flicker of emotion on her face and lips that barely move.
Of course, what's really going on behind all this talk about a new Middle East is a new joint US-Israeli adventure, the aim of which is to deliver a debilitating blow to the resistance, as both a domestic and a regional force and movement, and as an obstacle to the America's bid for complete hegemony over Lebanon. America and its allies were gritting their teeth as they saw a socio-political movement coalesce and stand in the way of Washington's desire to turn its embassy in Beirut into a latter-day High Commissioner's residence. Their frustration grew as the situation in Iraq reached a point where an incident is considered newsworthy only if more than 30 people are killed, and even then it merits only a brief mention, well after the other headlines.
International envoys are now scrambling to come to Lebanon. European visits, which of course preceded Arab ones, are intended to suggest that the Europeans are doing something other than America's bidding. Of course some European politicians, with electoral campaigns in mind, took advantage of the opportunity to have their pictures taken while helping to get their fellow citizens out of the country. Others came to commiserate with the Lebanese, firstly, against the resistance and, secondly, against the Israeli bombardment -- the former being the cause and the latter the effect, in their opinion.
European behaviour towards the Arabs is so depressing that it now reminds me of the observations made by left- wing political theorists at the end of World War II that Hiroshima, the Holocaust, Stalin's Gulags and the annihilation of the American Indians are no more than the flip side of enlightenment civilisation. That flipside is being acted out in Lebanon through delicate diplomatic proprieties, performed so as to avoid saying anything meaningful. The racism that underlies preconceptions about Muslims gives further cause for depression. If Israel says that Hizbullah targets civilians and threatens Israeli cities, the Europeans nod and agree that this is sufficient ground for war, regardless of the fact that, throughout its recent history, Hizbullah has refrained from targeting civilians even in retaliation for Israel's targeting of civilians in Lebanon. It makes no difference that Hamas had refrained from suicide attacks against civilians over the past year. Nor does it do Hizbullah or Hamas any good that they are as different as night and day from an organisation like Al-Qaeda. At the end of the day they will be thrown into the same terrorist basket, bracketed together in the statement of a European diplomat issued with consummate calm and self- possession. Then the camera will cut to a reporter, live from Beirut, reiterating Israeli lies and fabrications against the backdrop of bombed out buildings, seemingly unaware that he is justifying Israeli crimes, reduced, in his terminology, to the phrase disproportionate force. But contrary to the myth Israel does target civilians. It has set its sights on the murder and displacement of an entire denominational segment of Lebanese society because it believes that this segment forms Hizbullah's base. It targeted other segments of Lebanese society in order to scare them away from Hizbullah. It unleashes terror against civilians in order to achieve specific political ends.
But racist Western culture refuses to see this, which is why its diplomatic and media corps are of one mind, which is that Israel has to destroy Hizbullah, the only worry being that the "surgery" needed to remove that "cancer" might kill the patient, Lebanon.
All the scuttling back and forth of diplomats and envoys aims to create an international and Arab consensus against the resistance and so ensure that it is removed from Lebanon. While they're at it, Western diplomats will help organise a regional blockade of Syria, if it refuses to cooperate, and of Iran. Not surprisingly, Damascus and Tehran have not been invited to attend the international conference in Rome to discuss the situation in Lebanon. This is not because these two countries don't have interests at stake in Lebanon, but because the conference is another front in the US-Israeli offensive. The fruits of war, after all, are gathered politically. One of the fruits Washington wants is for Syria to end its alliance with Iran, although why Syria should believe any promises the US may make in this regard is anyone's guess. Washington has made it abundantly clear what it has in store for the regime in Damascus.
The many visits are also intended to demonstrate America's embrace of the Lebanese government -- an embrace that is really a bear hug. The aim of this embrace is to propel the Lebanese government towards an agreement with the US over a ceasefire, in accordance with which it will have to prove that it is mature enough to take matters back into its own hands. Instead of a Palestinian Authority being transformed into a sovereign state, a sovereign state is being transformed into an American-run Lebanese authority.
I believe we will soon be seeing a redrawing of boundaries in the neighbourhood of the Shebaa Farms, the purpose of which is to pull the carpet from beneath Hizbullah. Ideas are being floated to bring in an international force, preferably a NATO one, even though everyone knows that the resistance will regard it as an occupying force and behave accordingly. But the US has no problem with Lebanon erupting into civil strife -- "creative chaos" in the words of the very woman whose mention of a new Middle East precipitated the prolific scratchings of so many pens.
In the midst of this, the release of the two Israeli soldiers has been all but forgotten, as we knew it would because that was never the purpose of this assault. That is only a sideshow, a tangential incident, in the pursuit of the Israeli version of a comprehensive solution. So comprehensive is this solution that it does not address the problems of Lebanon, nor the Palestinian cause nor the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, but only the elimination of the resistance by striking sovereign states and overturning existing governments. After that, let the flood come, or creative chaos, or a new Middle East -- call it what you like, it's all the same to the pragmatists who are currently preoccupied with executing and rationalising a campaign of death and destruction.


At Sunday, July 30, 2006 7:16:00 PM, Blogger Johannjs said...

A solution to end the war in Lebanon

The Lebanese could take their fate into their own hands, and not wait for the US to tell Israel to stop (actually, we know the US has rushed and is rushing more bombs to the Israelis for the continuation of the "war", which is clearly no more than the coldblood onslaugh by the Israelis of Lebanese civilians using US precision laser-guided bombs)

My solution to immediately end this continuing massacre is this:

All the refugees who had fled must now rise from their shelters and, with their children, march back south, unarmed, and drive the Israelis army out of South Lebanon.

If you agree with me, then please suggest this solution by posting on all forum boards which you know.

Thank You.

At Sunday, July 30, 2006 8:07:00 PM, Blogger Lebanese_Angel said...

johannjs you are right that is what we should do if we were facing an enemy that has feeling but isreali are not human after doing that massacre in KANA that proves to you clearly that isreal is barbaric and a savage for killing 30 innocent children please visit this website and post it to see the savagery of isreal on Lebanon i mean come on it is not the CHILDRENS FAULT!!!!!! http://www.al-jabr.net/

At Sunday, July 30, 2006 8:14:00 PM, Blogger KSM said...

Olmert expressed deep regret for the harm inflicted on the civilians in Qana Sunday morning when at least 57 civilians - 37 of whom were children - were killed as the IAF fired missiles at a building in the southern Lebanese town.
"I express deep regret, along with all of Israel and the IDF, for the civilian deaths in Qana," said Olmert. "Nothing could be further from our intentions and our interests than harming civilians - everyone understands that. When we do harm civilians, the whole world recognizes that it is an exceptional case that does not characterize us."

"In contrast," Olmert said, "Hizbullah has launched rockets with the aim of murdering innocent civilians in northern Israel." ...

Olmert said that the area was a focal point for the firing of Katyusha rockets on Kiryat Shmona and Afula. He said that from the outset of the conflict, "hundreds of rockets have been fired from the Qana area."

Defense Minister Amir Peretz was also profoundly repentant for the fatal strike, saying, "this is a tragic incident that is a result of war. Hizbullah operates in the heart of populated centers with the full knowledge of endangering the lives of innocent civilians."

Some people have argued over the last two weeks that Hezbollah's reputation for hiding among civilians is either false or overblown. However, Australia's Herald-Sun newspaper published photographs that show Hezbollah firing positions within residential areas of Lebanon, confirming the terrorists' use of civilians as human shields (via AJ Strata):

THIS is the picture that damns Hezbollah. It is one of several, smuggled from behind Lebanon's battle lines, showing that Hezbollah is waging war amid suburbia.
The images, obtained exclusively by the Sunday Herald Sun, show Hezbollah using high-density residential areas as launch pads for rockets and heavy-calibre weapons.

Dressed in civilian clothing so they can quickly disappear, the militants carrying automatic assault rifles and ride in on trucks mounted with cannon.

The photographs, from the Christian area of Wadi Chahrour in the east of Beirut, were taken by a visiting journalist and smuggled out by a friend.

The Herald-Sun site clearly shows anti-aircraft guns in a suburban residential neighborhood. The crew comprises two middle-aged men and at least two who look no older than teenagers. In the background, viewers can clearly see well-maintained apartment buildings.

According to the text, the paper has another picture of a Katyusha rocket lying in a devastated residential area, hit by Israeli bombers. The Australian who took the pictures said that the neighborhood had not been targeted by the Israelis until Hezbollah set up the rocket launchers there -- and then the IDF returned fire and destroyed the residential buildings around the launcher.

When people complain about the civilian death toll in Lebanon, we need to remember why it has been as high as it has been. Lebanon and the UN allowed Hezbollah to use civilians as human shields for their rocket launchers and anti-aircraft batteries. The Israelis have little choice but to target Hezbollah's offensive assets, and that makes the collateral civilian damage the responsibility of the terrorists and their enablers.

At Sunday, July 30, 2006 10:18:00 PM, Blogger SomeMuslimMan said...

Dear Lebaneese - I'm not surpprised with this new massacre in Qana. This really suites the mentality that role the state of Israeil since 1948 untill now.

They don't believe in Human Rights, they don't care about anything and twist the truth.

Finally, as I wrote in my own blog: they are the one who really loose on the long run.

At Sunday, July 30, 2006 11:54:00 PM, Blogger n1x said...

In war there are casualties, get over it.

At Monday, July 31, 2006 12:19:00 AM, Blogger n1x said...

I think the problem many people on here have is understanding why the rest of the world has such a hard time standing behind them. It's probably because most people see little arabs as terrorists in training, especially when you have 8 year olds on CNN talking about their support to HA and how they hope to be part of it. All the pictures in the world won't change that, just proves israel killed some terrorists in training.

At Monday, July 31, 2006 7:38:00 AM, Blogger n1x said...

Too bad there were not more Jewish casualties during WWII, the world would be a much better place with less Jews in it.

At Monday, July 31, 2006 12:48:00 PM, Blogger n1x said...

Way to create a username and agree with yourself, I must really be pissing you off HAHA.

I feel bad for arabs sometimes. For 60 years even before Israel had any sort of power, they've been getting their asses kicked time and time again trying to start with Israel. Now Israel is stronger than ever, with more support from the US than ever, and you guys think you have a chance. LOL


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