Thursday, July 13, 2006
israel moves on lebanon
Israel said it was seeking to end once and for all Hezbollah's presence on Lebanon's southern border, while the guerrillas insisted they would only release the soldiers in exchange for Israel freeing Arab prisoners.
In a stark warning, the Israeli army chief said Thursday that Israel's air force is prepared to strike anywhere in Lebanon, including the capital of Beirut, if the Lebanese government fails to rein in Hezbollah guerrillas.
"We are not at war, but we are in a very high volume crisis, and we have an intention to put an end to the situation here along the northern border," Brig. Gen. Dan Halutz said in Jerusalem.
this is a fool's errand, of course. neither the lebanese government nor the syrian has the ability to effectively rein in hezbollah, whose popularity transcends both of theirs -- indeed, the lebanese government has been forced to maintain its own credibility by giving hezbollah a seat at the table. neither can israel root out hezbollah, which is a popular grassroots movement which has broad sympathy throughout much of lebanon and syria. if it could not root out hezbollah in 1982, and if it can not restrain hamas in lands they militarily occupy -- indeed, have watched on only to see their amoral brutality rewarded by the elevation of hamas to the status of most popular political group in palestine -- why they should think they can rein in hezbollah in this fashion begs questions regarding the sanity of the israeli political elite, as do the grossly defective and lasciviously violent comments of many of its representatives.
"The Lebanese government is responsible. Lebanon will pay the price," [Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert warned. "This morning's events are not a terror attack but the action of a sovereign state which attacked Israel without any reason."
"We will take Lebanon 20 years back," Israel's army chief Dan Halutz was quoted as saying by the private Channel 10 television.
"We must stop the restraint and the diplomatic dialogue and move to a serious military move against anyone who is linked and sends these people," said Avigdor Yitzhaki, the leader of Israel's coalition bloc in parliament.
it should be noted that general halutz's savage reference is to the israeli military occupation of lebanon in 1982. juan cole well notes the "despicable" nature of israeli political emotionalism in this affair, and the possibility of politically-fragile lebanon, in the absence of syrian forces recently withdrawn, accelerating toward a collapse again into disarray. this has been a concern since before the assassination of rafiq hariri and the subsequent sabre-rattling of the united states against syria which ultimately forced syrian withdrawal. in this context, the current debacle begins to look like either israeli exploitation of that withdrawal or, more conspiratorially, the continuation of a plan for israeli militarist expansion according to previously drawn plans to consolidate the "greater israel" that has long been an ideological objective of the militant-nationalist israeli right.
this sort of explosive, murderous and totally unwarranted response to the loss of a few soldiers -- compounded by the slow strangulation of one and a half million palestinians in gaza, whose situation is growing dire -- makes the abduction itself out quite clearly to be merely a trigger to unleash other currents welling up in israeli politics. this is deeply troubling. beyond the designs of the advocates of an israeli empire in the middle east, it seems clearer and clearer that the kadima government of former likudnik ehud olmert, insecure and nervous in the aftermath of the demise of ariel sharon, is lashing out at the expense of morality and decency in an effort to quell its own fears of its own political weakness. the israeli left has been neutered by the open militarization of israeli political and cultural life, and so kadima sees the only threat to its power on its right in the form of neofascist beni netanyahu as leader of likud. in an effort to affirm before a paranoid and bloodthirsty political base -- see the poll on this page at haaretz.com that has 61% of respondents agreeing that the abduction of soldiers justifies invading lebanon, while just 13% believe that the government should talk to hezbollah, a path that has been successful in the past and that hezbollah is publicly requesting -- that he is not weak, olmert is demonstrating his willingness, nay, eagerness to use force of arms.
in so doing, olmert is laying bare the wanton and indulgent evil that lies close to the heart of the western populist political right in a manner very similar to that of the american invasion of iraq -- interestingly, also part and parcel to the plan for a greater israel -- conjured by the bush administration. indeed, some measure of white house complicity with these events is unquestionable and demonstrates the ideological confluence that makes the bush administration close philosophical allies with olmert, kadima and likud.
so lebanese and palestinian civilians pay the price. such is the worthlessness of the corrupted, petulant, wildly paranoid and lawless political leadership of western civilization in its decadence. is it any wonder that the west is hated so deeply by so many, both without and indeed within? indeed, as this page has said:
at some point, these [western] parties in deep ideological delusion and denial will have to ... come to grips with the reality of an elected hamas in palestine [and, by extension, the real power of disenfranchised populist and sometimes militant groups on many fronts] -- and with their unintentional role in assuring its place there by their own belligerence and indifference. issuing self-righteous proclamations about moral clarity regarding terrorism is decidedly unconvincing coming from states whose utter amorality is both obvious and widely known. beyond the plain fact that hamas [and hezbollah and others] is more than a terrorist organization -- for it also feeds the hungry and provides succor in a chaotic occupied land, more than either the israeli or american governments ever tried to do -- there is the fact that terrorism is and will continue to be as effective a path to political power as any, all being equally debased in their avarice of temporal power. what the united states hopes to achieve by dropping laser-guided bombs into city blocks or israel hopes to achieve by firing helicopter missiles into west bank towns, hamas hopes to achieve by suicide bombers. one can certainly understand the logic of not wishing to legitimize violence by rewarding it -- in either direction -- but the more complex counterpoint to that ideological simplification of the actual world must be also to understand when it has been legitimized despite whatever one thought to be best and the time has come to get on with the aftermath, regardless of how your ideology might comport with the empirical truth of events.
clearly, this is a basic truth of power politics which israel remains in a full-blown ideologically-based denial of now -- despite the key role which terrorism played in the concession of a state of israel. many in israel have never been able to accept that the land they cherish as theirs was not theirs except in a zionist interpretation of scripture -- and to manifest scripture as zionism read it, they took the land in 1948 under the auspices of western imperial power and summarily exiled hundreds of thousands of palestinians from lands they had lived on for generations in a fit of ethnic cleansing.
the deep denial of the abdication of morality which accompanied the formation of the state of israel -- in combination with the horrifying experience of the holocaust, which touched many an israeli family -- has left israeli society with a deeply disturbed pathology, characterized by a profound insecurity which finds expression in aggressive militancy and fanatical nationalism. the opposition of arab peoples and governments in place in palestine prior to israel's formation aggravates this insecurity, and the wars of israel against its arab neighbors dating back to 1947 are frequently recast in israel's preferred history to ennoble a national struggle for existence that often overlooks the periodic existence and insidious nature of israeli overreaction and indeed open aggression and despotism. even now, most israelis seem sincerely enough to believe, though delusionally, that invading lebanon is somehow a justifiable defensive move despite the lack of any material threat along its northern border. and yet more believe that the wall now being built through -- not around, but through -- palestine is a vehicle to their well-being and not yet another step of mismanagement which is sure to perpetuate their problems.
meanwhile, palestinians ask for a real and negotiated resolution of their statehood and an end to the amoral inhumanity of their persecution.
to be sure, not all israelis agree with what israel is doing. some see the overreaction. some understand that war is no avenue to peace when the disagreement is not between rival governing elites but between a government and an external popular movement.
but it beggars this writer to try to find a way to have these more sensible voices the ones that lead israel away from the brink of spartan militarist suicide. it seems that, for the time being and with american imperial encouragement, israel will walk further down this dark path to a place where they have been before -- but as the victim of evil, not its embodiment.
UPDATE: for what it's worth, bush apparently believes that syria can control this situation. syria can, but israel and the united states can't. the delusion of this view makes clear just how horrifying the potential path the world is on here really is, the implication being that syria is at fault. this incident -- encouraged by hezbollah, but entirely provoked and prosecuted by israel alone, will become a building block in a case for war against syria.