FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Coming Firestorm

by Robert Fisk The Independent

So now Osama bin Laden is Hitler. And Saddam Hussein is Hitler. And George Bush is fighting the Nazis. Not since Menachem Begin fantasized to President Reagan that he felt he was attacking Hitler in Berlin – his Israeli army was actually besieging Beirut, killing thousands of civilians, “Hitler” being the pathetic Arafat – have we had to listen to claptrap like this. But the fact that we Europeans had to do so in the Bundestag on Thursday – and, for the most part, in respectful silence – was extraordinary.

I’m reminded of the Israeli columnist who, tired of the wearying invocation of the Second World War to justify yet more Israeli brutality, began an article with the words: “Mr Prime Minister, Hitler is dead.” Must we, forever, live under the shadow of a war that was fought and won before most of us were born? Do we have to live forever with living, diminutive politicians playing Churchill (Thatcher and, of course, Blair) or Roosevelt? “He’s a dictator who gassed his own people,” Mr Bush reminded us for the two thousandth time, omitting as always to mention that the Kurds whom Saddam viciously gassed were fighting for Iran and that the United States, at the time, was on Saddam’s side.

But there is a much more serious side to this. Mr Bush is hoping to corner the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, into a new policy of threatening Iran. He wants the Russians to lean on the northern bit of the “axis of evil”, the infantile phrase which he still trots out to the masses. More and more, indeed, Mr Bush’s rhetoric sounds like the crazed videotapes of Mr bin Laden. And still he tries to lie about the motives for the crimes against humanity of 11 September. Yet again, in the Bundestag, he insisted that the West’s enemies hated “justice and democracy”, even though most of America’s Muslim enemies wouldn’t know what democracy was.

In the United States, the Bush administration is busy terrorizing Americans. There will be nuclear attacks, bombs in high-rise apartment blocks, on the Brooklyn bridge, men with exploding belts – note how carefully the ruthless Palestinian war against Israeli colonization of the West Bank is being strapped to America’s ever weirder “war on terror” – and yet more aircraft suiciders. If you read the words of President Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney and the ridiculous national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, over the past three days, you’ll find they’ve issued more threats against Americans than Mr bin Laden.

But let’s get back to the point. The growing evidence that Israel’s policies are America’s policies in the Middle East – or, more accurately, vice versa – is now being played out for real in statements from Congress and on American television. First, we have the chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee announcing that Hizbollah – the Lebanese guerrilla force that drove Israel’s demoralized army out of Lebanon in the year 2000 – is planning attacks in the US. After that, we had an American television network “revealing” that Hizbollah, Hamas and al- Qa’ida – Mr bin Laden’s organization- have held a secret meeting in Lebanon to plot attacks on the US.

American journalists insist on quoting “sources” but there was, of course, no sourcing for this balderdash, which is now repeated ad nauseam in the American media. Then take the “Syrian Accountability Act” that was introduced into the US Senate by Israel’s friends on 18 April. This includes the falsity uttered earlier by Israel’s Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, that Iranian Revolutionary Guards “operate freely” on the southern Lebanese border. Now there haven’t been Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon – let alone the south of the country – for 18 years. So why is this lie repeated yet again?

Iran is under threat. Lebanon is under threat. Syria is under threat – its “terrorism” status has been heightened by the State Department – and so is Iraq. But Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister held personally responsible by Israel’s own inquiry for the Sabra and Shatila massacre of 1,700 Palestinians in Beirut in 1982, is – according to Mr Bush – “a man of peace”. How much further can this go? A long way, I fear.

The anti-American feeling throughout the Middle East is palpable. Arab newspaper editorials don’t come near to expressing public opinion. In Damascus, Majida Tabbaa has become famous as the lady who threw the US Consul Roberto Powers out of her husband’s downtown restaurant on 7 April . “I went over to him,” she said, “and told him, ‘Mr Roberto, tell your George Bush that all of you are not welcome – please get out’.” Across the Arab world, boycotts of American goods have begun in earnest.

How much longer can this go on? America praises Pakistani President Musharraf for his support in the “war on terror”, but remains silent when he arranges a dictatorial “referendum” to keep him in power. America’s enemies, remember, hate the US for its “democracy”. So is General Musharraf going to feel the heat? Forget it. My guess is that Pakistan’s importance in the famous “war on terror” – or “war for civilization” as, we should remember, it was originally called – is far more important. If Pakistan and India go to war, I’ll wager a lot that Washington will come down for undemocratic Pakistan against democratic India.

Across the former Soviet southern Muslim republics, America is building air bases, helping to pursue the “war on terror” against any violent Muslim Islamist groups that dare to challenge the local dictators. Please do not believe that this is about oil. Do not for a moment think that these oil and gas-rich lands have any economic importance for the oil-fueled Bush administration. Nor the pipelines that could run from northern Afghanistan to the Pakistani coast if only that pesky Afghan loya jirga could elect a government that would give concessions to Unocal, the oddly named concession whose former boss just happens to be a chief Bush “adviser” to Afghanistan.

Now here’s pause for thought. Abdelrahman al-Rashed writes in the international Arabic daily Asharq al-Awsat that if anyone had said prior to 11 September that Arabs were plotting a vast scheme to murder thousands of Americans in the US, no one would have believed them. “We would have charged that this was an attempt to incite the American people against Arabs and Muslims,” he wrote. And rightly so.

But Arabs did commit the crimes against humanity of 11 September. And many Arabs greatly fear that we have yet to see the encore from the same organization In the meantime, Mr Bush goes on to do exactly what his enemies want; to provoke Muslims and Arabs, to praise their enemies and demonize their countries, to bomb and starve Iraq and give uncritical support to Israel and maintain his support for the dictators of the Middle East.

Each morning now, I awake beside the Mediterranean in Beirut with a feeling of great foreboding. There is a firestorm coming. And we are blissfully ignoring its arrival; indeed, we are provoking it.

(C) 2002 lndependent Digital (UK) Ltd

Robert Fisk writes for the Independent, where this column originally appeared. 

More articles by:
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
Stephanie Van Hook
The Time for Silence is Over
Ajamu Nangwaya
Toronto’s Bathhouse Raids: Racialized, Queer Solidarity and Police Violence
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
Binoy Kampmark
Headaches of Empire: Brexit’s Effect on the United States
Dave Lindorff
Honest Election System Needed to Defeat Ruling Elite
Louisa Willcox
Delisting Grizzly Bears to Save the Endangered Species Act?
Jason Holland
The Tragedy of Nothing
Jeffrey St. Clair
Revolution Reconsidered: a Fragment (Guest Starring Bernard Sanders in the Role of Robespierre)
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail