Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 11:23 pm 
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A 'pretext war' bolstered by absurd claims

Robert Parry in a Consortium piece of August 9, 2006 reveals findings that Lebanon is a "pretext war" that was planned by Bush and Olmert in advance. In addition there is a misinformation campaign that is tweaked or modulated according to the various audiences it's presented to -- the US, Israel, Europe -- but is aimed by the two forces, Israel and the US, to hide what's actually going on and make the destruction of Lebanon seem fully justified in the face of contrary evidence for anyone who examines dates and events carefully. The Israeli attacks are self-justifying, because when they hit Lebanon they provoke rocket fire in return from Hezbollah at Israeli targets. The aim isn't as good, the firepower is relatively small, and Israel isn't being systematically dismantled as Lebanon's is, nor are there hundreds of thousands of Israeli refugees (though there are evacuees out of Haifa), but each time Hezbollah is provoked into firing on Israel, Israel can put out more claims that it is in mortal danger. That it has created this danger is not meant to be noticed and in pro-Israel circles it isn't. There's an old rule that the more outrageous the claim the easier it is to get it believed, and the US leaders and media are now even going so far as to put out the ignorant fiction that Hezbollah is a threat to the USA, as a recent Workers World editorial by Greg Butterfield says ("Scare campaign against Hezbollah echoes buildup to Iraq invasion," Aug. 3, 2006).

Ethnic cleansing parallel to Palestine

"The Shame of Being an American" by Old Right writer and Hoover Institution Senior Research Fellow (and former Reagan cabinet member) Paul Craig Roberts was a piece on that begins with the following stunning description:

"Gentle reader, do you know that Israel is engaged in ethnic cleansing in southern Lebanon? Israel has ordered all the villagers to clear out. Israel then destroys their homes and murders the fleeing villagers. That way there is no one to come back and nothing to which to return, making it easier for Israel to grab the territory, just as Israel has been stealing Palestine from the Palestinians."

Indeed, the parallel is increasingly clear. The Lebanon war has to be seen in the context of the war on Gaza and the other occupied territories; given high level planning with Bush, it must be seen in the context of the Iraq invasion too. Bush and the neocons would like it to be seen as part of a war for control of the region with Syria and Iran; but on this the Israelis, knowing the limits of their military power and their credibility, are unwilling to collaborate.

It was all planned -- on one side

Other reports now increasingly indicate that Israel had its invasion and destruction of Lebanon carefully planned long in advance of the events that supposedly touched it off. A "pretext war" indeed. Clearly Israel thinks that with appropriate spin its war on Lebanon can be seen as defensive -- even though its attacks have aroused attacks Hezbollah didn't want to carry out, since their primary aim was prisoner exchange. How could Hezbollah have planned on a war on Israel, since such a war is so asymmetrical? Hezbollah only hoped that, if attacked, they could give Israel a hard time, and in that they have succeeded, whereas Israel's image in the world has taken a beating, as has America's, as a result of the unprecedented brutality of the Lebanese assault. It doesn't help that this brutality is softpedaled in US media coverage. It's vividly clear in other countries, nowhere more than in the Arab world, where Al Jazeera is so widely seen.

Systematic yet indiscriminate

The destruction of Lebanon is terrible and there is a large oil slick a tenth as big as Exxon Valdez resulting from air raids on the Jiyye oil refinery. Juan Cole has shown (July 8, 2006) in sometimes blistering, sometimes ironic detail how far Israel's attacks are from being restricted to the "jihadists" or "Islamic radicals" Bush referred to in his vacation appearance. The destruction has ravaged Christian communities and the ecological damage threatens Cyprus and Turkey. At the same time the attacks are systematic and indiscriminate. They progress systematically to ravage the country and cut it off. But they aren't hitting Hezbollah locations and they keep coming back to destroy the lives of civilians whose very numbers belie any claim that these are "terrorists." They have destroyed places where refugees had gone after they lost their homes. Are the refugees "terrorists"? No. They're innocent victims.

Bush announces that he wants the "violence to end." But this is a lie: he is doing all that needs to be done to insure that it continues. And information shows that he agreed on this war with Olmert. The only difference is that Israeli leaders would have none of the idea of attacking Syria. To do so would appear crazy and too obviously unprovoked. The attack on Lebanon is unprovoked in reality, but it's possible to make it look provoked. Not so with Syria.

Failure and Cowardice

The attack on Lebanon is quietly acknowledged in Israel to be less than a great success. Israel has had spectacular military successes in the past. This time it has inflicted limited wounds on a small party which, having a paramilitary wing, it describes as "terrorists," but which had a democratic role in the Lebanese parliament (29 representatives) that belies that claim. Israel reacts by going in deeper and deeper in blood. When the bombing ends and Lebanon is left well and truly devastated, Hezbollah will clearly remain, in Tim Llewellyn's words, "the single biggest and best-armed construct in the fragile consensus of warlords and fiefdoms that holds Lebanon together at the best of times." The result is devastating for Israel's image and support in the rest of the world. As it's obvious the US is responsible for the attacks' continuing, and this comes as the Iraq adventure reaches ultra-violence and meltdown, American imperial visions of a "new Middle East" suddenly come to appear more and more unconvincing and feeble, as well as reprehensible. The US dominates the world economically and has military bases everywhere, but it's squandered its post 9/11 sympathy and failed utterly at winning heart and minds. The most selfish possible aims, controlling regions and devouring resources, emerge behind American mask of spreading "freedom" and "democracy." Israel similarly has spectacularly squandered its store of world sympathy by virtue of this exceptionally violent assault on its tiny neighbor.

Unfortunately the worldwide response to the current violence between Lebanon and Israel has been feeble. The Arab nations seethe and develop resentments that will live on for generations, and their governments can no longer look down on Hezbollah fighters now that they're widely regarded as heroes by the Arab public, but Arab governments are only beginning to speak out, and appear incapable of wielding their influence where it might count. The western powers have done nothing to bring about a ceasefire and negotiations and have remained passive in the face of US attacks on their already clumsy efforts.

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