By Kaveh L AfrasiabiIsrael's path to total warWed Jul 19, 2006 02:52
Jul 18, 2006 COMMENT
Israel's path to total war
By Kaveh L Afrasiabi
One of the most malignant aspects of the new chapter in the Arab-Israeli conflict is the myth of Israel as the assaulted party, lavishly propagated by the White House and the infinite pro-Israel pundits in the US media, including the editors of the New York Times, who have labeled Israel's blatant aggression against the nation of Lebanon as "legally and morally justified".
Never mind that the rest of the world, including the European Union, does not share this perception of who is mainly at fault for the deadly cycle of violence that has gripped the Middle East again. The irony is that one can detect greater voices of dissent and opposition to Israel's massive, disproportionate response to the token kidnapping of a few of its soldiers than is the case im the "pluralistic" US media, nowadays sheepishly toeing the official line.
This line was expressed by President George W Bush in his press conference alongside President Vladimir Putin on Sunday when he stated firmly, "In my judgment, the best way to stop the violence is to understand why the violence occurred in the first place. And that's because Hezbollah has been launching rocket attacks out of Lebanon into Israel."
Sure, Hezbollah conducted a raid across the border and kidnapped two Israeli soldiers, and that as a show of solidarity with the much-repressed Palestinians, but the rocket attacks on Israel were in response to Israel's massive bombardment clearly pre-planned to attain the dual objective of defanging Hezbollah and creating a regime change in Lebanon, perhaps as a prelude to a wider war on Syria and Iran.
Gideon Levy in the liberal Israeli paper Haaretz has put it cogently: "In Gaza, a soldier is abducted from the army of a state that frequently abducts civilians from their homes and locks them up for years with or without a trial - but only we're allowed to do that. And only we're allowed to bomb civilian population centers."
The White House-led masterly mischaracterization of the chronology of events culminating in the widening war show how nicely adapted are the standards of public relations that serve the Israeli war machine, currently pressing hard to pave the road for a future attack on Iran, by either the US or Israel itself, without the fear of any retaliation through Lebanon, thus depriving Iran of one of its multiple lines of defense.
Little wonder, then, that the pro-Israeli pundits in Washington are wasting no time in pushing for an attack on Iran. "Why wait?" asks William Kristol of the Standard Weekly, rationalizing his warmongering bid in the form of "It is our war, too."
But of course, assuming that the script for war on Iran began with the one-ton bombs on Gaza residential neighborhoods a few weeks ago, propelling Hezbollah inevitably into action, and the specter of wider war getting more and more imminent as we witness the ever-expanding list of "targets" by Israel, now including government buildings in both Gaza and Lebanon.
Ze'ev Schiff, considered a top Israeli military analysts, penned an article titled "Invitation for escalation: Take note of what hasn't been hit" arguing that the Israeli air raids were deliberately selective, sparing the Lebanese government and army and focusing on Hezbollah strongholds. But wire reports of "colossal damage" to Beirut in retaliation for the Hezbollah rocket attacks on Haifa tell a distinctly different story, that is, a spiraling conflict that is fast turning the capital city of a sovereign nation to rubble.
Not to be outdone by the Israeli apologists, New York Times columnist David Brooks disingenuously penned an opinion article in the Sunday paper titled "As Israel withdraws, its enemies go berserk".
Putting the discourse of Israel as the aggrieved party to full throttle, Brooks and other like-minded pundits are busy cultivating an ill-informed American public, as there is no serious attempt by the US media to bring home the Palestinians' sufferings to Americans. There are not even half-decent reports on their plight after the recent barrage of lethal Israel attacks throwing Gaza into "semi-feudalism", other than a passing reference in the New York Times that there is no electricity or adequate running water, causing the beginning of a massive health epidemic. As Arnold Toynbee once wrote in A Study of History, "The absent are always in the wrong."
A war to create Pax Israelica?
A disconcerting truth, revealed recently by two prominent Jewish American political scientists, about the extraordinary control of United States' foreign policy by the pro-Israel forces, has now been fully confirmed by the empirical realities of this brutal war.
Despite dire warnings by certain US politicians, such as Senator John Warner, the Bush administration has failed to call on Israel to halt its offensive, opting instead to focus on Syria and Iran - reminding one of the Vietnam War when Moscow or Peking (Beijing) were often blamed for the efforts of the North Vietnamese.
History unfortunately repeats itself more often on the tragic side, for otherwise we would not be witnessing such concerted scapegoating of Syria and Iran for the two-pronged warfare Israel has deliberately ignited. On the one hand, this is to dismantle the Palestinian Authority and return the Palestinians to the status quo ante, somewhat similar to the millet system in the old Ottoman Empire (in the best-case scenario). And on the other hand, seeking the "implementation of the UN resolution" calling for the disarming of Lebanese militias.
Of course, from an observer's point of view, it is ironic that Israel has no qualms about disregarding other relevant United Nations resolutions, above all 242 and 338, which call for the restoration of rights of Palestinians, focusing selectively on a resolution pertaining to a sovereign nation.
As the tide of war intensifies, it is increasingly obvious that Israel's hidden objective is to inflict such mortal wounds on the weak nation of Lebanon as to bring it to its knees and thus take a giant step toward its grandiose objective of a Pax Israelica.
A big regional superpower, bounded in a small physical space and bloody, ill-defined borders, Israel's warmongering is not a result of its absence of policy, as claimed by The Nation's recent editorial. Rather, it is the result of a sedimented power dynamism better understood from the prism of the (Michel) Foucaultian theoretical framework, which shows how the operation of (sacred) knowledge/power of Zionist ideology has now manifested itself in the deadly form of military regression that Israel has opted for in Lebanon and the occupied territories.
Indeed, Gideon Levy and other Israeli liberals currently bemoaning Israel's "war of choice" miss this crucial point that long ago was articulated by the likes of Maxime Rodinson in his writings on Israel as a post-colonialist, expansionist state, for the very motif of this state militates against anything short of a "Greater Israel".
The key question is, of course, if the present architects of this state will ever settle for the less-than-grandiose notion of a tiny Jewish state in a sea of Arabs.
Looking back, at Israel's masterly use of preemptive warfare, most vividly demonstrated in the course of the 1967 war, and its clever maneuvers of taking half-steps toward the fulfillment of a "two-state" solution, such as the Oslo Agreements, only somehow to nullify those measures under one excuse or another, then their breach of peace with Lebanon and the Palestinian people is anything but surprising.
Rather, Israel's actions today fully conform with its prior history, and its cyclical pattern of warfare with its Arab subjects and neighbors. Israel's strategy of provoking the "hostile other", eg, by assassination of a Hamas chief on June 8 and its "mistaken" shelling of Gaza, killing scores of civilians, without venturing a word of apology to the innocent victims, is indeed quite familiar in the annals of Arab-Israeli conflict, as is its strategy of massive, overwhelming response to a token breach from Lebanon.
A more penetrating vision may, no doubt, discern some underlying, disconcerting realities, about the nature of world politics, role of power and the premature post-Cold War predictions of the world's passage beyond the old paradigm known as "realism". The military logic of action by Israel, discarding all peaceful options with the Palestinian people, is indicative of a Leviathan running rampant, in a world supposedly led by the US "unipolar moment".
Yet that moment is increasingly turning a different color, that is, as the appendage of a much smaller state, whose supporters "wield political power disproportionate to their number", to paraphrase Toynbee. To add to Toynbee's insight, as the biased interpretations of the present conflict cited above clearly show, wielding media power is a key as to how this political power has come to such heights that bedevil and mesmerizes those who study it today.
Kaveh L Afrasiabi, PhD, is the author of After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran's Foreign Policy (Westview Press) and co-author of "Negotiating Iran's Nuclear Populism", Brown Journal of World Affairs, Volume XII, Issue 2, Summer 2005, with Mustafa Kibaroglu. He also wrote "Keeping Iran's nuclear potential latent", Harvard International Review. He is author of Iran's Nuclear Program: Debating Facts Versus Fiction.
(Copyright 2006 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved.
10 comments on the current crisis in the Middle East
TPMCafe, NY - 12 hours ago
... is the absence of a comprehensive peace”, it distinguishes ... is both in contravention of UNSCR 1559 and untenable ... is in the region as is the UN Under-Secretary ...
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