Revolution #57, August 20, 2006
US and Israeli Atrocities in Lebanon Continue:
War Crimes and Diplomatic Maneuvers in Pursuit of Empire
The essence of what exists in the U.S. is not democracy, but capitalism-imperialism and political structures to enforce that capitalism-imperialism.
As this article is being written there have been rapid developments in the U.S./Israeli war war on Lebanon. The United Nations Security Council has passed a ceasefire resolution (#1701). Despite the vote in the Security Council, the Israeli military launched a major escalation of the war. Forty thousand Israeli troops and tanks have crossed into Lebanon and are facing resistance from Hezbollah. Israel’s top general, Dan Halutz, told reporters that Israel “will continue to operate until we achieve our aims.”
Israeli combat jets attacked across all of Lebanon, bombing northern roads leading to Syria, destroying a power plant in the major southern city of Sidon, which will likely be without power for 10 days. Fifteen Lebanese civilians were killed or injured when fighter-bombers hit a village near the southern port city of Tyre.
Aljazeera reported that one person had been killed and 12 others injured in 10 Israeli air raids in Baalbek (in northern Lebanon near the Syrian border) and surrounding villages on Saturday, Oct. 12. The strikes targeted residential areas and had hit a building containing clinics, shops and houses.
“I think if you think of what’s happening in Lebanon and Israel right now, you see the face of the beginning of the 21st century.”
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
in a radio interview on August 2
“[W]e have been given an extraordinary opportunity by our enemies…It was never possible to ‘win in Iraq’ so long as we insisted on fighting in Iraq alone. You can not win a regional war by playing defense in one country. It was, and remains, a sucker’s game.”
Neoconservative strategist Michael Ledeen,
who has been described as
Karl Rove’s main foreign policy advisor
National Review, July 31, 2006
As the bloody U.S/Israeli war against the people of Lebanon enters its second month, the estimated death toll stands at over 1,000 Lebanese dead, the vast majority civilians; the exact number cannot be determined because many bodies cannot be retrieved due to Israeli bombardment in the south. In the deadliest single incident in the war so far, Israeli air strikes on August 1 took more than 40 lives, including many children, in the bombing of an apartment building in the Chiya district of Beirut.
All of the major highways into Lebanon have now been cut and there is a naval blockade off the coast. Gasoline and fuel for generating electricity are running short. A Lebanese government official estimated that supplies could run out by August 13. The World Health Organization warned that if fuel is not delivered soon, 60 percent of the hospitals in Lebanon, overcrowded with the injured from the war, will “simply cease to function.”
Many of the towns in southern Lebanon have been reduced to rubble. The situation for the estimated 100,000 people remaining in the southern region is extremely difficult. Khaled Mansour, the chief United Nations spokesman in Lebanon, said that U.N. aid convoys had been halted because Israel had destroyed the last bridge over the Litani River and has refused to let international aid workers repair it.
The group Doctors Without Borders is courageously continuing to help those in southern Lebanon despite the difficulties in reaching the area and Israeli warnings that all vehicular traffic south of the Litani could be fired upon. The group’s president, Rowan Gillies, said in Beirut: “To forbid all forms of movement, without distinction, will lead to even more civilian deaths and suffering.”
An estimated one million people, over a quarter of the entire population of Lebanon, have been forced to flee their towns and villages. The World Food Program warned of an impending food crisis because of population displacement and a disrupted harvest.
But now the U.S. and Israel have determined that all this is not enough, that more suffering is required to bring about U.S. and Israeli strategic objectives. The Israeli War Cabinet on Wednesday, Oct. 9, approved a major escalation of the war, a full invasion by Israeli troops into Lebanon.
In an indication of how integrally involved the U.S. is with every decision made about the war, Haaretz newspaper revealed that during a break in the cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert telephoned U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, talking to her for 30 minutes giving her the latest details on the cabinet’s deliberations.
Criminal Means and Criminal Ends
Israel is fighting with armaments and funds supplied by the U.S., with U.S. approval and in the service of U.S. political and strategic goals. The methods employed in this U.S./ Israeli war—wreaking the maximum destruction and death on the country’s infrastructure and civilian population—are a naked expression of its political aims.
The targets and methods of the war show that Israel is not focusing on engaging Hezbollah to protect itself as it claims but to serve the U.S./Israeli aim of transforming Lebanon into a state subservient to U.S. and Israeli interests. This not only entails destroying Hezbollah but, as an article from A World to Win News Service points out, the aim is “to decimate and demoralize Lebanon’s Shia while presenting the upper classes of other ethnic communities with a choice between cooperating with Israel or dying, either immediately under Israeli bombs or strangled by the lack of fuel and even food supplies.” (“UN Security Council brings Lebanon into its gun sights,” August 7, 2006)
Another article from AWTW News Service points out the big lie behind Israel claims of “self defense.” “Israeli blamed Hezbollah for the Qana massacre, supposedly for using the population as ‘human shields,’” writes AWTW News Service. “But afterwards, survivors invited visiting journalists to search the town and see if they could find any evidence that it was being used for military purposes. The American CNN news team, for instance, could not. Even if they had, the Israeli army has extensive bases and other military facilities in its cities, the kibbutzim and other settlements in northern Israel are military installations in themselves and every able Israeli adult is an active duty or reserve soldier.”(“Qana: targeted killing,” July 31, 2006)
Hezbollah does not represent a progressive force, but the Islamic fundamentalist trend, of which Hezbollah is a part, is an obstacle to unfettered U.S. regional hegemony over the Middle East.
While the prospect of wider war in the Middle East is a horrible outrage, the forces at the core of the U.S. ruling class see this as an opportunity. They see the need not only to defend the current imperialist dominated set-up in the Middle East, but to transform it, in order to deepen the U.S.’s grip on the region and its strategic oil reserves as part of a broader agenda to create an imperialist empire that is both unchallenged and unchallengeable across the entire globe for decades to come.
Neoconservative strategist Michael Ledeen, who has been described as Karl Rove’s main foreign policy advisor, wrote: “We have been given an extraordinary opportunity by our enemies… It was never possible to ‘win in Iraq’ so long as we insisted on fighting in Iraq alone. You can not win a regional war by playing defense in one country. It was, and remains, a sucker’s game.” Ledeen also aruges that “Any logical person has to conclude that you cannot win this war without defeating Syran [Ledeen’s term for Syria and Iran].” (National Review, July 31, 2006)
|In his July 29 radio address, Bush said, “We have launched a forward strategy for freedom in the broader Middle East, and that strategy has set in motion a transformation that is changing millions of lives for the better.”|
The Christian Science Monitor reported that “The White House, and in particular White House advisors who belong to the neoconservative movement, allegedly encouraged Israel to attack Syria as an expansion of its action against Hezbollah, in Lebanon.” (CSM, August 9, 2006). In a July 30 article in the Jerusalem Post, cited by the Monitor, Israeli Defense officials said they were receiving messages from the U.S. encouraging Israel to attack Syria.
In his July 29 radio address, Bush said, “We have launched a forward strategy for freedom in the broader Middle East, and that strategy has set in motion a transformation that is changing millions of lives for the better.”
What is being shown in Lebanon is, instead, the blood-spattered basis on which the U.S. plans to build its new Middle East. What we are witnessing is a continuation of over a century of crimes of imperialist domination over the region, especially its oil resources and the strategic advantage that affords. But beyond this, the U.S. is now unleashing Israel in a qualitatively greater way in order to more thoroughly open up the region to U.S. capital and more completely integrate it into the U.S. empire.
It appears that so far the war has not gone as Israel and the U.S. expected. As A World To Win News Service wrote: “The invasion has not gone as Israel expected. Instead of fighting to the death to defend territory, as Israel hoped, the Hezbollah fighters have sought to inflict as much damage as possible on the invaders, using tunnels and other means to neutralize some of the impact of Israeli air power, while avoiding decisive engagements… They say their aim is to draw Israel deeper into Lebanese territory, so that its supply lines are stretched thin and its soldiers have to fight on exterior lines. Israel, for its part, seems to fear nothing more. Its army has hugged the border, so that its armored columns can get the constant replenishment on which they depend. Its main attempts to strike deeper into Lebanon through helicopter-transported commando raids, in Tyre and especially Baalbek, have resulted in heavy civilian casualties but no notable military successes.”
When Israel began the war it announced that its objectives were to destroy Hezbollah, and change the “rules of the game” in the Middle East. It now appears that despite all the terror and destruction Israel has inflicted it may have to settle for more limited goals.
This has sparked fighting within Israel’s ruling elite. A front-page editorial in the liberal Zionist newspaper Haaretz called on Prime Minister Olmert to resign, saying, “You cannot lead an entire nation to war promising victory, produce humiliating defeat and remain in power.” Another editorial was titled: “Failure to defeat Hezbollah diminishes Israel’s value to U.S.”
Further escalation of the war carries big risks for Israel and the U.S. There is a likelihood of much more extensive casualties to the Israeli military. It was reported that shouting broke out over this at the Israeli Cabinet meeting that approved the escalation.
Israeli-U.S. atrocities are fueling an outpouring of anger in the Arab world, destabilizing the region and making it more difficult for reactionary Arab rulers to side with the U.S. However, despite the difficulties and dangers, the U.S. and Israel may feel compelled to stay on the offensive to realize their full objectives.
Despite the Security Council resolution, there is the possibility that events in the region could spin wildly out of control in unpredictable ways. “A chain reaction could spread quickly almost anywhere between Cairo and Bombay,” Richard Holbrooke, former Ambassador to the United Nations and Assistant Secretary of State, warned that the situation “poses the greatest threat to global stability since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, history’s only nuclear superpower confrontation.”
All those who see the horror of what is going on in Lebanon, and who do not want to see this become “the face of the 21st century,” have a responsibility to act. As we wrote in last week’s editorial:
“There has to be a serious effort to mobilize massive political resistance to STOP this. To STOP this whole invasion and to reverse the whole course that this is part of. To take a leap out of the confines of “protest as usual”—which does not seriously challenge the way things are and the way they are heading—and to bring in a whole different political dynamic.”
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