July 17, 2006

The Killing of Civilians as a Policy

by Rodrigue Tremblay

 

“When Israel’s interests are being considered, members of Congress act like trained poodles. They jump dutifully through hoops held by Israel’s lobby.”

George W. Ball (1909-1994), former U.S. Undersecretary of State

 

"The [Pro-Israel] Lobby has succeeded in redefining anti-Semitism to include any criticism of Israeli behavior, an inferred threat that prompts all major media to ignore or sanitize reports of Israeli violations."

Paul Findley, U.S. Republican Congressman, (1961-83)

 

"I've never seen a president—I don't care who he is—stand up to them [the Israelis]. It just boggles your mind. —They always get what they want. The Israelis know what's going on all the time. ... If the American people understood what grip those people have on our government, they would rise up in arms. Our citizens don't have any idea what goes on."

Admiral Thomas Moorer, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, July 1970-June 1974

 

Dead children lying on the ground—that's the barbarous legacy left by the Israeli bombings of Lebanon, in early July 2006. In less than one month, the Israeli government willfully delivered two collective punishments against civilians, in direct violation of international law according to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War; first, it was against Gaza's civilian Palestinian population; then, they extended this unquestionable policy to the civilian population of Beirut and other regions of Lebanon.

 

The government of Israel  has been lighting fires in the Middle East for more than half a century. Incredibly, this nation of only six million people has decided to be a law unto itself, with the voluminous aid and active support of various American administrations. When bombs kill hundreds of civilians, among them many women and children, it cannot be argued that these victims are accidental "collateral damage", the euphemistic term used in such circumstances, not when the supposed target of those attacks, the Lebanon-based Hezbollah organization, suffered only three deaths as a result of the bombings.

 

Is there not a larger agenda involved here? Could it be that the real aim of these atrocities is to provoke and bait Syria into supporting Lebanon, providing the justification to attack Syria? Then, if Iran were to come to the rescue of the Lebanese Shiites, an attack could also be launched against that country. And, as is often the case historically, [see how World War I started] such a conflict could easily escalate into a larger conflagration.

 

This is a scenario that rabid neocon ideologues in Israel and in the U. S. have referred to publicly over the years. The blueprint was even published ten years ago, in 1996, by a group of well-known members of the pro-Israel Lobby (Richard Perle, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks Jr., Douglas Feith, Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser). Their policy statement for then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, of the Likud Party, was entitled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm", and it called for a strategy of total war in the Middle East, using the military power of the United States.

 

Here is what they proposed in their grand neocon plan:

 

"An effective approach", [to break Israel's encirclement and isolation] "and one with which Americans can sympathize, would be if Israel seized the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hizballah, Syria, and Iran, as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon." ..."This effort can focus [first] on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria's regional ambitions."

 

The irresponsible haste with which George W. Bush approved of Israel's attack against Lebanon (on July 13, 2006), may be a clear indication that he has fully adopted the grandiose neocon plan for war in the Middle East. In fact, his March 20, 2003 illegal attack against Iraq was part of the overall plan.

 

In September 2000, a few weeks before the November elections, a similar plan for endless war in the Middle East was penned by Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Jeb Bush and Lewis Libby, under the auspices of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), and called "Rebuilding America's Defenses". It was a plan whose main elements were initially outlined in 1992, when Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz were in charge of the Defense Department.

 

The plan called for the U. S. to take military control of the oil-rich Middle East, taking advantage of the demise of the Soviet Union. It says:

"The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein." The plan called also for permanent military bases in the Middle East region "even should Saddam pass from the scene", because "Iran may well prove as large a threat to US interests as Iraq has."

 

Therefore, the escalation of conflicts in the Middle East should be a surprise to no one, unless one has been asleep for the last fifteen years.

 

A bit of history.

 

The creation of the state of Israel was initially accepted by British politicians, after World War I. They had been pressured for years by Zionists to use Great Britain’s hegemonic power in the Middle East in their favor. Indeed, it was thought after World War I, that the collapse of the Turkish Ottoman Empire and the transfer of many of its Middle East territories to the British Empire created a golden opportunity for establishing a Hebrew state in Palestine, the paramount goal of the Zionists. Lord Walter Baron de Rothchild, leader of the British Jewish community, persuaded the government of Prime Minister David Lloyd-George, to issue the famous Balfour Declaration, of November 2, 1917, offering European Jews a "national home" in Palestine, "with the condition that nothing should be done which might prejudice the rights of existing communities there." The Balfour letter, sent to Rothschild, was to be transmitted to the Zionist Federation, a private British Zionist organization.

 

It is well to remember that the British government of the time was not disinterested in this endeavor. In fact, the Lloyd-George government was anxious to persuade the American government, through American Jewish interests, to join the war in Europe against the Germans.

 

It is also of highly historical significance that the state of Israel, since its unilateral creation in 1948, has violated international law countless times, and with impunity, thanks mainly to the military and diplomatic protection it has enjoyed for decades from the United States.

 

Ever since its creation, the state of Israel has behaved in a provocative way. A recent example among thousands is the arrest, on June 29, 2006, by Israeli soldiers of most of the elected Hamas leadership in Palestine, including eight cabinet ministers, 25 members of parliament, and other Palestinian officials, claiming they were responsible for an assault against an Israeli military post. As with the above mentioned incidents in Gaza and Lebanon, such actions represent collective punishment reprisals and  are unlawful under the 1949 Geneva Convention. On other occasions, the government of Israel has repeatedly issued threats to extra-judicially assassinate political leaders in different countries, and there are clues that it has carried out such threats.

 

On an even larger scale, the government of Israel could be accused of  implementing a policy of genocide against the nearly 4 million Palestinians in the occupied territories of Palestine.

 

By refusing to seriously negotiate the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, as requested by the United Nations and most of the international community, and by continuing to encroach on Palestinian lands with new and expanded settlements as well as erecting its "separation" wall, it is clear that Israel's real intent is to choke the Palestinian people by leaving them with only some isolated uneconomical and bantustan-like lands. So far, the Israeli leadership has never been held accountable for the sufferings it has imposed upon the Palestinian people.

 

Contrary to more even-handed American administrations, the Bush-Cheney administration has weighed in unconditionally in favor of Israel. Even though most American administrations since Harry Truman have often sided with Israel against its Muslim neighbors, and have empowered it with financial and military aid, they have been cautious enough to take a balanced diplomatic posture regarding the sempiternal Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nevertheless, people all over the world are puzzled to see a relatively small country dictate its policies to the United States and to the world. Such a situation has a lot to do with the working of American domestic politics. Most Americans do not clearly realize how the arrival of George W. Bush in the White House, on January 20, 2001, represented a genuine victory for the powerful pro-Israel lobby. As Israel's fifth column in America, it has the means to successfully "spin" the news coming from the Middle East in favor of Israel.Bush II has gone as far as declaring Israel his only true ally in the Middle East. On March 20, 2006, for example, his message was unequivocal: "I made it clear, and I'll make it clear again, that we will use military might to protect our ally Israel."

 

That may be the most compelling reason why the government of Israel has steadfastly refused international mediation to resolve its conflict with the Palestinians, from whom it has taken lands, properties and thousands of lives. Supported covertly or openly by the United States, Israel has preferred a permanent state of war with its Palestinian 'citizens' to a negotiated settlement, and it has relied on a sophisticated brand of state terrorism to fulfill its political goals. Without this tacit complicity of the U.S. government, and sometimes, with the support of some European countries, the Israeli government could not do anything close to what it is doing in the Middle East.

 

It is a fact that Israel has used preemptive military aggression and systematic retaliation rather than mediation in the world court to solve its conflicts. This could be an indication that Israel realizes that its legal case is not very strong and that a military approach seems to be, in its view, less problematic and more rewarding than a court-imposed compromise. —It is a shame. And the United States government, through its one-sided military and diplomatic support, is an accomplice to the mess that prevails in that part of the globe and must accept much of the blame for the negative fall-out that this unresolved conflict creates in the entire Muslim world and even worldwide. The U. S. has imposed its veto dozens of times to prevent the United Nations from reigning in the illegal acts of Israel. This is truly the consequence of an Israel-United States Axis.

 

Rodrigue Tremblay is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Montreal and can be reached at rodrigue.tremblay@yahoo.com

He is the author of the book 'The New American Empire'.

Visit his blog site at www.thenewamericanempire.com/blog.

Author's Website: www.thenewamericanempire.com

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Posted, July 17, 2006, at 9:00 am

 

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