“He [the Hezbollah leader] knows that every dead Lebanese baby, the fruit of Hezbollah’s cynicism and death cult, will be laid in righteous anger at Israel’s door by Europe’s political and media classes . . . .”
— Douglas Davis, The Spectator (London)
The Spectator is a good magazine (and full marks for ditching the little creep Mark Steyn), but it appeals to a lot of Frog-bashing Brits who admire George Bush, think Israel’s a plucky little country, and enjoy the vulgar fruits of bonus-land. (It has a tacky section called ‘You’ve Earned It’.) Its readers, however, do include some members of the ‘political and media classes’ who Mr Davis imagines are particularly keen to give Israel a bad name by revealing that US-supplied Israeli weapons have been killing Lebanese and Palestinian children. But distaste for bombing babies is not limited to this select few, as a report of July 31 in Haaretz, an Israeli daily newspaper, makes clear :
“The Israeli Defense Forces [IDF] have killed 97 people in the Gaza Strip since the fighting began in Lebanon. Most of them were armed, and the rest were civilians : children, women, men, the elderly. The large number of fatalities suggests the IDF is engaged in indiscriminate killings in the north under the cover of the war in the south.”
“Indiscriminate killings” says an Israeli newspaper. Haaretz appears to be guilty of the righteous anger against killing kids that Mr Davis finds so peculiar when exhibited by Europeans. And it has to be said that righteous anger is something that Mr Davis seems to know a bit about. In one of his earlier pieces he displayed outrage that anyone should dare to criticize Israel : “Those who knock Israel are motivated by hate and malice” wrote Mr Davis in a fit of righteous anger.
There is no reason why Mr Davis should not support Israel or vent his spleen on anything he dislikes, but the Spectator is reticent about his background. It is the usual practice of the journal to place a bit of information about writers at the end of their pieces, especially controversial ones. You know the sort of thing : “Perunu Grendel is Reader in Coprology at the University of Holawaka”. This informs us that the writer is an expert in his or her field, and from this we can draw our own conclusions as to any display of partiality. But the Spectator omitted to inform us that Mr Davis writes for the Jerusalem Post and is author of ‘Israel in the World’ (with Helen Davis, foreword by Rupert Murdoch ; who else?) and a lot of other pro-Israeli material. Perish the thought that the magazine sought to disguise the writer’s leanings, but impressions are important, as Mr Davis knows.
I have bought The Spectator for over forty years and continue my subscription because it has many excellent writers. But in its choice and presentation of some articles it echoes, albeit in a minor fashion, the asinine tactics of Donald Rumsfeld.
Dead babies in Iraq, as Rumsfeld would have it, are the fabrication of an awe-inspiring propaganda monster. Like Mr Davis, he is full of righteous anger, but not about dead babies. They don’t register with Rumsfeld because, as he declared to the American Legion last week :
“Our enemies . . . frequently invoke the names of Beirut or Somalia — places they see as examples of American retreat and American weakness. And as we’ve seen — even this month — in Lebanon, they design attacks and manipulate the media to try to demoralize public opinion. They doctor photographs of casualties. They use civilians as human shields. And then they try to provoke an outcry when civilians are killed in their midst, which of course was their intent.”
I’m not sure how one can “demoralize public opinion”, which is particularly stupid phrase, and his pronouncement about civilian casualties is contemptible. But he cannot be dismissed as a mere oaf whose ignorance, spite and malevolence plumb new depths in the US polity. He remains a dangerous man who still has much influence in spite of encouraging an illegal war that has killed almost 3000 US troops and fifty times that number of Iraqi civilians.
Washington’s fundamentalists are guilty of many crimes, and one of the worst of these is sending young Americans to their deaths in Iraq for a fabricated Cause. And another is spreading hate propaganda. This was a specialty of the National Socialists, the Nazis, in Germany in 1933-1945, to whom Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush compare those who realize that their policies have created international chaos and unprecedented hatred of America.
Rumsfeld declared that the US faces “challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism” and Bush told the Legion that “This nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation.” (Fascism was Italian nationalist doctrine, in fact : Mussolini’s gift to the world ; but let’s accept the Washington linkage with Nazism.) The ever-biddable Rice announced to the Legion that “the root cause of September 11th was the violent expression of a global extremist ideology” and Cheney managed to use the word ‘appeasement’ and get in a quotation by Franklin Roosevelt about Nazis when he spoke to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. There must be a central pool of speechwriters who has been told to string together all the references they can think of about fascism, Nazism and extremist ideology. (‘Appeaser’ is now standard White House Newspeak for its opponents.)
It seems that White House propaganda spinners think the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars are important, which is why Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice gave speeches to them. And why not? — Well, no good reason apart from the fact that any red-blooded self-respecting member of the VFW or the Legion should on principle leave the room when the draft-dodging Cheney enters it.
How a member or former member of any US armed service can respect Cheney is beyond comprehension. It is bizarre that the Legion and the VFW so energetically support a president and a vice president who could have fought for their country but declined to do so. Their president wangled his way out of overseas service and went absent without leave from a cushy Reserve billet, and their vice-president managed to obtain deferment after deferment until the draft went away. No foreign wars for them, thanks very much. They are, not to put too fine a point on it, cowards. They’re great on trail bikes and bird-shoots, but not so good on stepping up to serve their country in a war in which they could have been shot at.
But the Legion isn’t always so devoted to its Commander-in-Chief. It depends on who he is. Here’s part of a letter from the Legion to President Clinton (also a draft-dodger) :
Mr. President, the United States Armed Forces should never be committed to wartime operations unless the following conditions are fulfilled:
1. That there be a clear statement by the President of why it is in our vital national interests to be engaged in hostilities;
2. Guidelines be established for the mission, including a clear exit strategy;
3. That there be support of the mission by the U.S. Congress and the American people; and
4. That it be made clear that U.S. Forces will be commanded only by U.S. officers which we acknowledge are superior military leaders.
It is the position of The American Legion, which I am sure is shared by the majority of Americans, that three of the above listed conditions have not been met in the current joint operation with NATO (“Operation Allied Force”).
In no case should America commit its Armed Forces in the absence of clearly defined objectives agreed upon by the U.S. Congress in accordance with Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution of the United States.
Sincerely, Harold L. “Butch” Miller
Why hasn’t the Legion’s National Commander written a Dear President letter to Bush on similar lines? Where is the exit strategy from the debacles in Afghanistan and Iraq that was demanded (quite rightly) by the Legion concerning US operations in the Balkans? Can the Legion claim there is “support of the mission by the US Congress and the American people” concerning the bloodbath in Iraq and the shambles in Afghanistan?
What a bunch of humbugs.
Talking with a close friend, an American general whose service in Vietnam coincided with mine (in the Australian army), I asked him how on earth he could support the draft-dodger Clinton. He looked at me, shrugged, then sketched a salute with his right hand while holding his nose with the left.
Is that how the Legion and the VFW support Bush? It appears not, because Bush and Cheney were greeted with enthusiastic applause by former warriors who now endorse the deaths of American soldiers who were sent to war by two cowards.
So the Legion’s applause for Rumsfeld and Rice is not surprising. The first is an Olympic-size humbug because he had cordial discussions with Saddam Hussain on behalf of President Reagan and now tries to say that he encouraged war on Iraq because Saddam was a bloody-handed dictator. The fact that Rumsfeld shook Saddam’s bloody hand is ignored. And Rice is out of her depth. As I quoted a year ago :
In an exclusive interview with Israel’s daily Yediot Aharonot . . . Dr Condoleezza Rice said that ‘the security of Israel is the key to security of the world.’ Rice added that she feels ‘a deep bond to Israel.’ Asked if her feelings toward Israel stem from her religious convictions, Dr. Rice said ‘That is a very deep question. I first visited Israel in 2000. I already then felt that I am returning home despite the fact that this was a place I never visited. I have a deep affinity with Israel. I have always admired the history of the State of Israel and the hardness and determination of the people that founded it’ . . .
After such an exhibition of sloppy adulation for the Jewish State there is not the slightest chance that Rice could be regarded as an honest broker by any Arab, or, indeed, by any other intelligent person.
Mr Davis and many others denounce critics of Israel, and Ms Rice rhapsodizes over “returning home” to the country that has destroyed all chances of peace in the Middle East for decades to come. Bush and Cheney encouraged Israel in its vindictive destruction of Lebanese oil stores, generators, roads and bridges, and Rumsfeld welcomes “challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism”, apparently presented by Muslim nations. Washington is determined to continue its bellicose policies in Iraq and Afghanistan. These people are unconcerned about the hideous consequences of their impassioned and unequivocal support for war as the solution to all that disturbs them. Dead babies are irrelevant, and their righteous anger is reserved for those who criticize Israel and for the “appeasers” who object to slaughter of Lebanese, Iraqi and Afghan civilians.
The US propaganda machine grinds on over the dead babies and the unexploded US-Israeli cluster bombs that will continue to maim children. Apologists for the brutal follies of Israel and America will carry on broadcasting their conviction that the world is a better place because of the wars that have devastated so much of Iraq and Lebanon. Many people, like the American Legion, will believe them. Truth-destruction, as practiced by the Nazis, seems to pay dividends. But the Nazis lost, in the end.
BRIAN CLOUGHLEY lives in France.
from CounterPunch Books!
The Case Against Israel
By Michael Neumann