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2006-08-05,12:27 PM

It is a Vicious War

By Abbas J. Ali

Across the globe there is a growing understanding that the current war in the Middle East is vicious and defies reason. It has been catastrophic in terms of human suffering and the depth of destruction. In fact, there is strong evidence that the Israeli attack on Lebanon is intended to eclipse any possibility for peace in the region.

Supported by Washington, Israel thought it would use Hezbollah’s capturing of two of its soldiers as a pretext to mold Lebanon according to its image and ultimately make Lebanon a trusted satellite. Washington sought to silence Arab liberation movements and forcefully subdue the Arab masses.

The conflict has inflicted tragic damage to Lebanese people resulting in rising numbers of deaths and unimaginable ruin and destruction to villages and towns across Lebanon. The Israeli massacre in Qana demonstrates that the Israeli military is willing to commit any crime to achieve its goal. This orientation is also shared by some quarters in Washington. For example, Jed Babbin, former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, stated in his comment on Qana massacre (July 30), “I'm willing to kill as many people as it requires to take out Hezbollah. That's the fact.”

While President Bush resists calls for an immediate ceasefire, European leaders and the UN, fearful of a wider Middle East war, have engaged in tireless diplomatic efforts to contain or end the conflict. The President thought that an Israel victory in Lebanon would make it possible to docile the Arab and Muslim people and force them to accept Israeli domination.

Political analysts fear that the situation is out of control as Israel receives, from the U.S., daily shipments of the most sophisticated weapons to annihilate the Lebanese. It is in this war that even sick people in hospital, and children and women have no way to escape Israeli war machines. The Israeli Newspaper Haaretz (August 2) reported that a “private hospital in Baalbek, filled with patients and wounded people, was bombed by IAF [Israeli Air Force] helicopters late Tuesday. Plumes of burning smoke billowed from the hospital after it was directly hit.”

Over the past three weeks events demonstrate that Israel is determined to flatten Lebanon at any cost. Miri Eisin, Israeli government spokeswoman, asserted (July 28), “We’re determined to go the whole course here.... Israel is going to do it at our own pace, at our own time.” This determination is unprecedented and manifests a deeply held hatred among Israeli elites to the surrounding people and culture.

Writing in Haaretz, Israeli political commentator Gideon Levy, indicated that the “devastation we are sowing in Lebanon doesn’t touch anyone here.” Levy argues that chauvinistic attitude is deepening its roots in Israel and that “jingoism, ruthlessness and vengeance, and the voices of extremism that previously characterized the camp’s margins are now expressing its hearts.”

Israel is not apologetic and plainly expresses its policy. Israeli Justice Minister, Haim Ramon, enthusiastically justifies Israeli action against the Lebanese people stating that “in order to prevent casualties among Israeli soldiers . . . villages should be flattened by the Israeli air force before ground troops move in.”

Middle East experts and political analysts are left wondering how the UN and supposedly enlightened nations allow the catastrophe in Lebanon to take place without any punitive action against Israel. Robert Fisk asserted that one “must have a heart of stone not to feel the outrage” in watching Israel’s slaughtering of Lebanese and its destruction of their infrastructure.

Israelis, however, are under constant pressure from Washington to do more damage to Lebanon. Israeli Military analyst, Ze’ev Schiff (July 30), indicated that Secretary of State, Condi Rice, was frustrated with Israeli failure to give U.S. the military cards it needs. Similarly, the Washington Post (July 30) reported that the “administration is effectively back endorsing all-out force again, in defiance of allies, as part of its policy of trying to rid the Middle East” of radicals who call for an end to occupation and oppression.

Likewise, the Israeli Newspaper Haaretz (July 28) reported that an influential American Jew with close tie to President Bush called a senior Israeli military officer and yelled at him, “We sent our army to bleed 6,000 miles from home after September 11. What ‘s stopping you?” The report stated that this is a different time, a different war and now “it’s convenient for Washington to have its Israeli protégé whip the ward of the provocative power and even administer a thrashing.”

There is a strong consensus among Middle East experts that the Bush administration is frustrated with the Arab dictators’ failure to subdue their own people and it is increasingly look at the conflict in the region as a battle between good and evil. Accordingly, the Administration believes that any action taken by Israel is part of God's design.

This belief may appeal to religious extremists and to some quarters in the world but certainly it initiates a new era in world politics. It is an era where policy becomes an instrument of religion. The outcomes of this outlook will be a perpetual war and a gloomy future.

Abbas J. Ali is professor of management and director, School of International Management, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, USA.

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