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Talk about chutzpah!
President Bush has told Hamas, which just managed a stunning upset of Fatah in the Palestinian elections, that the movement must "renounce violence" if it is to be bestowed the blessing of having the U.S. recognize it as the government of the Palestinian people.
Of course, the Israeli government doesn’t have to renounce violence in order to have U.S. recognition.
One can argue about the tactics Hamas has employed, which involve blowing up Israeli civilians, but then, that’s exactly what the Israeli government has its military forces do–blow up and gun down Palestinian civilians–only Israel has bigger weapons.
I’m no advocate of violence by anybody, but the idea of this president, who thumbed his nose at the Nuremburg Charter and committed the number one international crime–a "Crime Against Peace," as the charter puts it–and who has been leading a war against Iraq that a new report in the British medical journal Lancet claims has killed between 150-250,000 Iraqis, to lecture Hamas on the need to renounce violence is simply beyond the pale.
Bush, remember, is now pushing for major violence against Iran, and maybe Syria too. the truth is that violence is the only real policy this administration has when it comes to international affairs. "Do it our way or we’ll blow you up" is the Bush foreign policy credo.
Bush is also into retail terror, as demonstrated by the recent bombing of a house inside Pakistan, in which 17 innocent people including women and little children were killed, all in an effort (failed) to hit one alleged Al Qaeda leader who wasn’t even there. It used to be that there was a law of war called "proportionality." That is, you didn’t blow up a bunch of civilians to get a few soldiers. As a tactic that is not proportional. You can kill a few civilians in a war if they happen to be around a major military target, but you can’t kill a lot of civilians if a few soldiers are near them. This is a rule that the U.S. military, with Bush’s blessing, has completely thrown out the window in Iraq and Afghanistan. The logic is pure terrorism: If you blow up families when they have a fighter in their house, the hope is that other families will not offer refuge to fighters.
That is a strategy of deliberate terror. And it’s a war crime.
Renounce violence? It’s a great idea, but Bush would have a lot more credibility he applied it here at home first.
It would also be a lot easier to condemn the terrorist acts of Hamas if Israel weren’t killing little girls and boys in Palestine, or if the U.S. would at least equally condemn the terrorism of the Israeli side.
DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can’t be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org