FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Devil’s Dictionary

by URI AVNERY

Yet some more thoughts about the war.

The Coalition.

No name could be more appropriate to the cooperation between the United States and the United Kingdom against Iraq.

In “The Devil’s Dictionary” of the American humorist Ambrose Bierce, published some 100 years ago, “coalition” is defined as (I quote from memory) the cooperation between two thieves who have their hands so deep in each others pockets that they cannot rob a third person separately.

Reconstructionists.

The problem of the Brits and the Americans is that they are possessed by an unquenchable thirst for reconstructing.

They dream about it day and night. They cannot think and speak about anything else.

Trouble is, in order to rebuild something one has to demolish it first. No destruction, no reconstruction.

Therefore the British, together with the Americans, are occupied with destroying Iraq systematically. Missile and bombs, tanks and artillery, ships and infantry–everything is employed in order to facilitate the reconstruction of the country.

The main objective of the urge for reconstruction is, of course, Baghdad. A city of five million people, miles upon miles of buildings and streets, which can be reconstructed after their demolition. If Baghdad becomes indeed the site of Stalingrad-style street fighting, house after house, street after street, there will be indeed a lot to reconstruct. The New Mongols.

The appetite for rebuilding separates the new conquerors from their predecessors, the Mongols, who conquered Baghdad in 1258, killed the Caliph (who had already surrendered) and destroyed the city completely, after butchering all the inhabitants, men, women and babies.

They did not bring with them reconstruction crews, but laid waste to Iraq. The irrigation canals that had been built throughout thousands of years of civilization were devastated. The event has gone down in history as one of the biggest disasters ever to befall the Arab world.

By the way, two years later the Muslims annihilated the Mongol army in the battle of Ein-Jalud (today’s kibbutz Ein-Harod), a major chapter in Palestininian history. That was the end of the Mongols in the Middle East, but the region never recovered from the Mongol devastation to this very day.

Demolish and profit.

Apart from the idealist aim of helping the Iraqi people, there is also a more material side to reconstruction. It will be huge business. The big American corporations–some of which are connected with the paladins of the Bush administration–are already quarreling about the spoils. They will, of course, allow no foreigners to come into this. To quote an American saying: “To the victors belong the spoils”.

A rather obnoxious sight: even before the Iraqi towns are destroyed, corporate giants are dividing among themselves the profits of their rebuilding.

Humanitarians.

The unquenchable idealism of the Anglo-Americans finds its expression also in the drive for humanitarian aid. This is becoming quite an obsession. Humanitarian aid must be brought to the Iraqi people, whether they want it or not.

The inhabitants of Basra do not want the promised aid? Ha, we’ll see about that. We shall bomb them, starve them–until they open their gates and allow the humanitarian aid in. After all, one cannot aid people as long as the city is controlled by the evil Saddam, cursed be his name, whose only aim is to prevent humanitarian aid from reaching his people.

The coalition could, of course, drop food and water – instead of bombs – from the air. One could also arrange for a short cease-fire, so as to bring the humanitarian aid into the besieged city. But that has been forbidden by Donald Rumsfeld, another great humanitarian. So there is really no alternative but to bomb them until they are ripe for aid.

Masters and natives.

As a preview of the humanitarian aid to come after the occupation of Basra, the British have distributed a film about the arrival of aid to a village on the way. They were so satisfied with this piece of reporting, that they ran it dozens of times on TV.

It looks like this: a British truck brings food and water. The villagers, mainly desperate women and children, besiege the truck. They beg for water. The soldiers distribute mineral water to the maddened crowd–one bottle to every child and woman. After days of thirst, one (one!) liter per family.

The whole scene is nauseating. The hunger and thirst of the population, caught in the middle of the fighting, are exploited for crude propaganda. The British look again as they have always looked in Iraq: overbearing colonial masters, doing a favor to the natives. For every Arab beholder, this is the ultimate humiliation.

Robbing for the robbed. In order to finance everything–the destruction, the reconstruction, the humanitarian aid and what not–money is needed. Where will it come from? From the Iraqi oil, of course.

Therefore, it is the humanitarian duty of the Americans to take hold of the oil fields as quickly as possible. Not for their own good, perish the thought, but for the Iraqis. In order to help them and do good.

Every child knows by now that this war is about oil. The US intends to take possession of the Iraqi reserves, the second largest in the world (after the Saudi reserves), and control the neighboring reserves of the Caspian Sea, Iran and the Gulf. Now it appears that it is all for the benefit of the Iraqi people themselves. So that they shall have something to eat and medicines for the children.

All this after the UN sanctions, imposed as demanded by the Americans, that have for many years caused general malnutrition, the death of hundred of thousands of children from hunger and disease and the destruction of the Iraqi infrastructure – all in the name of “oil for food”.

Oh, Orwell, Orwell.

What would he have said about this war?

In his book “1984”, he had the Ministry of Truth coin phrases like “War is Peace”, Freedom is Slavery” and “Ignorance is Power”. He would be right at home in this war.

Occupation is Liberation, War is a Humane Duty, Toppling a foreign government is Regime Change, Starvation is Humanitarian Aid, Struggle against a foreign invader is Serving a Tyrant, Bombing a city is Service to the People.

Truth is always the first victim of any war. But it seems that in this particular war it suffers even more than usual. Mendacity, hypocrisy, dis-information and plain brainwashing are having a ball. Four-star generals parrot manifestly mendacious slogans, star-journalist from all over the world accept them eagerly, world TV networks repeat them diligently and the Israeli media lap it all up.

Bon appetite.

URI AVNERY has closely followed the career of Sharon for four decades. Over the years, he has written three extensive biographical essays about him, two (1973, 1981) with his cooperation. Avnery is featured in the new book, The Other Israel: Voices of Refusal and Dissent.

 

URI AVNERY is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch’s book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

May 04, 2016
Kshama Sawant
It’s Not About Bernie: Why We Can’t Let Our Revolution Die in Philadelphia
Conn Hallinan
Baiting the Bear: Russia and NATO
Joshua Frank
Hanford’s Leaky Nuke Tanks and Sick Workers, A Never-Ending Saga
Paul Craig Roberts
TIPP: Advancing American Imperialism
Ted Rall
Hillary to Bernie Supporters: Don’t Vote for Me!
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton and Wall Street’s Neoliberal War on Latin America
Leslie Scott
The Story of Jill Stein: Putting People, Peace and the Planet Before Profits
Ann Garrison
Building the Greens Into a Mass Party: Interview with Bruce Dixon
Tom Clifford
Crying Rape: Trump’s China-Bashing
Lawrence Davidson
Getting Rid of Bad Examples: Andrew Jackson & Woodrow Wilson
Ellen Brown
Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?
Nelson Valdes
Is Fidel Castro Outside or Part of Mainstream Thinking? A Selection of Quotes
Jesse Jackson
Don’t Send Flint Down the Drain: Fix It!
Nathan Riley
Help Bernie Keep His Halo
Rivera Sun
Remembering Nonviolent History: Freedom Rides
Clancy Sigal
Rachel and the Isolationists: How Maddow Blew It
Laura Finley
Changing the Conversation About “The Woman Card”
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
Dean Baker
Time for an Accountable Federal Reserve
Ted Rall
Working for US Gov Means Never Saying Sorry
Dave Welsh
Hunger Strikers at Mission Police Station: “Stop the execution of our people”
John Eskow
The Death of Prince and the Death of Lonnie Mack
May 02, 2016
Michael Hudson – Gordon Long
Wall Street Has Taken Over the Economy and is Draining It
Paul Street
The Bernie Fade Begins
Ron Jacobs
On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
Louis Yako
Dubai Transit
Bill Quigley
Teacher, Union Leader, Labor Lawyer: Profile of Chris Williams Social Justice Advocate
Patrick Cockburn
Into the Green Zone: Iraq’s Disintegrating Political System
Lawrence Ware
Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve
Ron Forthofer
Just Say No to Corporate Rule
Ralph Nader
The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders
Ken Butigan
Remembering Daniel Berrigan, with Gratitude
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail