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2006-10-10,1:13 PM

Israeli War on Lebanon: A Foreplay for the Rape of Iran

By Dick Mazess

The Attack on Lebanon:

There is simply no question in the international press: the attacks on Lebanon by the Israeli armed forces constitute war crimes comparable or worse than those perpetrated by Nazi Germany on defenseless civilians (ex Belgium) in WWII. Amnesty International has documented the deliberate destruction of civilian infrastructure, as well as attacks on civilians, and called for a war crimes investigation. [For more information see the follow articles: the Guardian and the New York Times]

While Europeans are appalled, the Arab street is celebrating what they see as a successful military effort by Hizbullah against one of the world's best equipped and trained armies, essentially a division of the US armed forces but with far superior soldiers than ours. About 100-150 Hizbullah fighters were killed in the Israeli war on Lebanon, similar to the number of dead Israeli soldiers (officially 118 killed by enemy fire). The big difference is that 1200 Lebanese civilians were killed by Israeli shells and bombs, while only 30 or so Israeli civilians were killed by Hizbullah rockets. Hizbullah basically held Israel to a standoff despite the massive destruction of civilian infrastructure (bridges, hospitals, gas stations, factories, warehouses, apartment houses), the massacre of civilians, including those escaping from the south, and the creation of an ecological disaster.

Villages in southern Lebanon were carpeted with US-made cluster bombs, which are basically anti-civilian weapons, and this was done even days immediately before the cease-fire. The true magnitude of the atrocity has been covered in the Israeli press, which documented the use of over a million cluster bombs, and white phosphorus, (both banned by international law) ; the US press has been silent until recently when hundreds of Lebanese civilians were killed or maimed. Several thousand Lebanese also are expected to die from the short-term effects of the destroyed infrastructure.

Are there Winners and Losers?

The Bush administration and the parroting US media, are perhaps the only sources who view the attack as a victory for Israel; because of media spin the American public supports Israel more than Europeans, who view the Israeli attack as much like the US attack on Iraq i.e. an illegal "preemptive" war.

In contrast the Israeli public views the war as a defeat; the commanding general was replaced and the military leadership is under serious review. The Olmert government is likely to fall because, as the Jerusalem Post puts it, "There is a widespread perception that this war, by not producing a definitive outcome, has certainly not prevented the next war, and may have even laid the groundwork for it". A few days after a ceasefire was agreed to Israeli forces violated it by conducting an unsuccessful raid into Lebanon prompting a warning by Kofi Anan. One measure of the pro-Israel bias of the US media is its failure to note that last raid violated the agreed-upon UN ceasefire agreement!

The Israeli assault on the civilian population and infrastructure of Lebanon has set back Islamic moderates everywhere by 20 years; it has strengthened the fundamentalists and exacerbated jihadist sentiments in Iran and Syria. One major blowback has been the promotion of Hizbullah (and of Iran) as the leadership of the Arab world, and the uniting of Moslems everywhere against the US "crusade" which officially deems them as "Islamic fascists". [Also see the New York Times]. The debacle in Lebanon, coming on the heels of the US wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, has launched Iran as the overwhelmingly dominant power in the mid-east. A major UK report points out that Iran has rapidly moved into the power vacuum created by the removal of the Taliban and the toppling of the Hussein regime.

Hizbullah itself not only emerged the conflict more powerful than ever, but its rapid response to reconstruction and medical care of the injured has earned it widespread support from the previously uncommitted Shia population (according to Beirut resident Robert Fisk). A recent demonstration in Beirut brought out hundreds of thousands to celebrate the appearance of Hizbullah chief Shaikh Nasrallah. He claimed that Hizbullah now had more weaponry than before the conflict, despite attempts by Israel to prevent re-supply.

Was the US Involved in the Attack?

Seymour Hersh claimed that Washington did not directly order the Israeli attack on Lebanon but that the Bush administration had long sought a military solution to Hizbullah forces since missile attacks on Israel could be part of the retaliatory response in the event of long-planned US attacks on Iran.. Others believe not only that the attack was developed and approved by the US (certainly the Department of Defense, but not necessarily the Department of State) perhaps as long as a year or two in advance,

but that the US supplied both the armaments (precision bombs, cluster bombs, shells), intelligence intercepts, and satellite imaging of targets [see Information Clearing House]. Clearly the Israeli Defense Force is a major arm of the US military, with annual military financing of $3 to$4 billion and closely coordinates all activity with the US Department of Defense.

The Message of Lebanon was a Warning to Iran

Analysts and pundits have attempted to understand why there was such a disproportionate military response to the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers. Noam Chomsky discussed the attack in relation to a half-century of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The public rationale was response to the capture of two Israeli soldiers, but both sides have been capturing isolated individuals over the years and then arranging prisoner exchanges. The latest Hizbullah capture of soldiers was done to facilitate exchange for thousands of Lebanese captured and held long-term in Israeli "Guantánamos" without charge. The best possible explanation is that the massive retaliation was a warning to Iran of US intentions should it continue to disregard US concerns. Leaders in Israel, as well as US politicians, view Hizbullah as a branch of the Iran military just as leaders in the Moslem world view the Israeli forces as a branch of the US military.

Both the Republican and the Democratic Party Support Attacks on Iran

Both major parties have, for the last few decades, been the maidservants to AIPAC, the lobbying group of hawkish American Jews. There is obvious support for Israel, and against Iran, by Republicans but key Democrats also are hawkish. This is especially true for east coast politicians, and is obvious in the bellicose pronouncements of prominent senators, like Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton. However, even congressional opponents of the Iraq occupation, with rare exception, are unwilling to speak out against attacking Iran, and progressive lapdogs, like MoveOn are equally cowardly. The US House passed a bill in September 2006 supporting unilateral sanctions against Iran and those doing business with Iran even as the administration was seeking to refer the issue to the UN Security Council.

On the other hand traditional power brokers are less enthusiastic about military meddling. The fact that the Middle East has become even more unstable than in the past has led the world elite (Trilateral Commission, Bilderberg Group, Council on Foreign Relations) to repudiate the neo-con preference for military solutions to political problems. The former president of Morgan Stanley called Israel's war on Lebanon a "catastrophe", and he asserts the Democrats made a "huge mistake" in backing the Republican administration's Israel policy. In his view "democracy" has become a codeword--and not a good codeword--in the Middle East.

Leading Democratic politicians supported the Israeli attack on Lebanon, just as they back the most odious of administration positions including: the continued occupation of Iraq, the "Patriot Act", torture of prisoners, repeal of habeas corpus, and military confrontation with Iran. A House resolution supporting the Israeli attack and condemning Hizbullah was approved with 410 for, 8 against (7 Democrats and Ron Paul), 4 present (including Kucinich), and 10 not-voting. Only 11 House Democrats voted against the invasion of Iraq in 2002. The leaders of the Democratic Party attempt to obscure their positions by claiming that the Bush administration is inept, and/or corrupt, and by calling for the resignation of its demonic leaders (Don Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales, Dennis Hastert et al) but they do not repudiate the policies.

The Coming Attack on Iran

There has been much concern that the joint US-Israeli attack on Lebanon is the first step to a wider war that would involve Iran and Syria, with one justification being Iran's refusal to terminate its program for nuclear power generation. The Iran story has been developing over the past six months and briefly became a prominent cause when it was leaked to the press that the administration was considering nuclear bombs to destroy underground installations in Iran. Noted expert James Bamford produced a detailed story on the possible attack on Iran. Only a few analysts believe more pragmatic voices will prevail.

The Bush administration has been spreading the story that Iran is close to having nuclear weapons, a story reminiscent of the supposed WMD of Iraq, as a justification for a "preemptive" attack. Again, as in the case of Iraq, the misinformation stems from the Pentagon and the Vice-President’s office. The “story” is being amplified by the same propaganda machine. the administration used to create frenzy for the invasion of Iraq. There has been vocal opposition to the administration exaggerations about Iran, by both intelligence experts and UN inspectors. The International Atomic Energy Agency said a House report on Iran’s nuclear program was not only erroneous and misleading but “outrageous and dishonest” as well. As a consequence of the propaganda tirade against Iran two-thirds of the American public believes it is a threat not only to Israel but to the US. Even young adults, who generally view the Iraq occupation more adversely than older adults, also view the use of military force against Iran or North Korea as justified.

As in the case of Iraq, the US public is being prepped for an attack based on Iranian intransigence. Time magazine actually ran a cover story on the potential US "preemptive attack". Retired air force colonel Sam Gardiner indicates that the first phase of the war would be intensive air raids lasting about five nights, but would be followed by a second wave of more extensive air raids as well as attempts at eliminating political and military leadership. Gardiner also outlines potential Iranian responses, and notes that US attacks could result in a fundamentalist overthrow in Pakistan.

Former US Senator Gary Hart believes an attack on Iran will come as the October surprise that Karl Rove promised GOP insiders. Some evidence for a near-term war on Iran is the recent call up of "inactive" forces who have already served their maximum service-time. On October 1 Michel Chossudovsky produced a detailed summary of the military actions recently undertaken by US naval forces. The timetable well may be late October as two naval strike groups have been ordered to the Persian Gulf., and one is already there. Strike Force 8 (including the aircraft carrier Eisenhower with a full load of Cruise missiles) left from Norfolk, VA for arrival at Iran on Oct 21 Strike Group 5 group is sailing out of San Diego and the west coast; a Canadian ship is joining them.

An October attack would rally the US public around the currently unpopular Republican Congress and undercut the hapless Democratic Party whose virtually only appeal is "anti-Bush". It would also undermine the attempt of Iran to establish its oil bourse, a move that would bring Iran an additional $10 billion in revenues, and that some think would help undermine the US dollar as the world reserve currency. The US invasion of Iraq took place in 2003 just as an Iraqi oil bourse based on the euro was being established.

Will the Attack use Nuclear Weapons?

The only question remaining is whether and to what extent nuclear bombs will be used. The excuse will be to destroy underground installations. Paul Craig Roberts opines that the nuclear option is required because the armed forces have in essence "lost the wars" (failed in establishing a stable occupation) in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The true rational will be to demonstrate to our adversaries that America will do whatever it takes to assert hegemony. Roberts states:

"Neo-cons believe that a nuclear attack on Iran would have intimidating force throughout the Middle East and beyond. Iran would not dare retaliate, neo-cons believe, against US ships, US troops in Iraq, or use their missiles against oil facilities in the Middle East. Neo-cons have also concluded that a US nuclear strike on Iran would show the entire Muslim world that it is useless to resist America's will. Neo-cons say that even the most fanatical terrorists would realize the hopelessness of resisting US hegemony. The vast multitude of Muslims would realize that they have no recourse but to accept their fate".

The use of atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima is considered by scholars to have been militarily unnecessary, but rather served as a warning to the Soviet Union. The paradoxical effect, however, was that it hastened the acquisition of nuclear weaponry by the Soviet Union and other nations. A nuclear attack on Iran would not only alienate European allies and make the US a pariah state but likely would stimulate nuclear proliferation worldwide.

There are several groups that are organizing against US intervention, including:

Stop War on Iraq, Campaign Iran, and Action Iran.

This article was originally published on http://www.democracyrising.us/ as part of their efforts to prevent a U.S. military attack on Iran.

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