Bush administration has given Israel a week to inflict
maximum carnage on Lebanon, "say diplomatic sources":
The Bush administration, backed by Britain, has blocked efforts for an immediate
halt to the fighting initiated at the UN security council, the G8 summit in
St Petersburg and the European foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels.
"It's clear the Americans have given the Israelis the green light. They
[the Israeli attacks] will be allowed to go on longer, perhaps for another
week," a senior European official said yesterday. Diplomatic sources
said there was a clear time limit, partly dictated by fears that a prolonged
conflict could spin out of control.
George Bush last night said that he suspected Syria was trying to reassert
its influence in Lebanon. Speaking in Washington, he said: "It's in our
interest for Syria to stay out of Lebanon and for this government in Lebanon
to succeed and survive. The root cause of the problem is Hizbullah and that
problem needs to be addressed."
Tony Blair yesterday swung behind the US position that Israel need not end
the bombing until Hizbullah hands over captured prisoners and ends its rocket
attacks. During a Commons statement, he resisted backbench demands that he
call for a ceasefire.
It is not at all clear that it will be over in a week: Israeli commanders
say that it
will be several weeks. If they're serious about breaking Hezbollah, rather
than simply terrorising Lebanese society and its fragile government, then they
would be likely to take months if not years. Blair, of course, could not be
more craven. UK imperialist strategy has been for some decades to ride on the
coat-tails of American power, but I would be willing to bet that this policy
is controversial even among Whitehall mandarins used to doing whatever the Americans
say. Regardless, the US-UK axis is directly culpable for the wave of atrocities
currently engulfing Lebanon. Let's look at some of those. According to the Lebanese
Daily Star, the
latest targets of the Israeli assault are milk and medicine. Reuters reports
that Israel has "killed 230 people, all but 26 of them civilians"
and "About 100,000 Lebanese have fled their homes to escape the violence".
has sent tanks into Palestinian refugee camps and killed nine people and wounding
45. An attack on Srifa kills tens
of civilians, but merits only a few measly sentences. According to the Palestinian
Health Ministry, Israel is using toxic
weapons on the civilian population. Socialist Worker carries eyewitness
reports from Lebanon: white phosphorous shells explode, sonic booms are
set off, poor neighbourhoods are levelled, people have to pay £500 if
they want a taxi ride to neighbouring Syria... but what for? Will Syria be safe
from attack? A doctor from the al-Awda hospital in Palestine says
Israeli tanks are destroying agricultural land - having starved the Palestinians
for months, having taken away their power supply, having razed the infrastructure,
they are making sure that the Palestinians have nothing left.
Everything is licensed because "Hezbollah started it n they're the bad
guys n they're gonna git their asses kicked." Everyone insists, certainly
American senators like McCain are making a hobby of it now, that no other state
would behave differently. Hillary Clinton said,
with the ruthless nullity of her class: "I want us here in New York to
imagine, if extremist terrorists were launching rocket attacks across the Mexican
or Canadian border, would we stand by or would we defend America against these
attacks from extremists?” This should give Mexico and Canada pause for
thought at the very least, and one doesn't expect her to imagine that Palestinians
might also like to defend themselves from attack, as might Lebanese people.
Their desire to survive is simply irrelevant.
Israel has been yearning
for war, and that too is eminently understable to any American senator.
Meanwhile, the crushing conformity of the media continues apace. Why even discuss
it? They tell us some people died once in a while. Then they allow Bush or someone
to remind us that Iran or Syria is to blame. Then they clamour
about the evacuation of Westerners. Then they tell us about the heatwave
and the difficulties in filling in forms. They even have a Labour MP sitting
in front of a camera ready to discuss this inanity. Protests happening across
the country (I know of several that happened only last night) are ignored. Eli
the dehumanising language: the obliteration of poor Shi'ite neighbourhoods
is described clinically as "Israeli warplanes pounded Hezbollah's stronghold
in south Beirut". My intention, for what it's worth, is to reduce my time
spent watching television news from a couple of hours a day to zero. It is demobilising,
it dulls the senses, it cripples one's thinking with sheer insanity. The mindless
subservience of a mannered reporter with rolled-up shirt sleeves standing in
the baking sun not more than a few hundred yards away from devastation while
simply uttering the Israeli line without hesitation or deviation is a compelling
spectacle, but I personally can't take any more of it.
Arab reports on the curious standards of Human Rights Watch in relation
to this brazen assault - summarised brutally, Hezbollah is condemned, while
Israel is asked some polite questions. HRW is the same
outfit that greasily evaded saying anything about the US-backed terror in
Haiti for months and eventually only did so reluctantly and with some glibly
dilute apologia. Groups like HRW aren't completely useless, any more than the
New York Times is completely useless, but it is worth bearing this sort of thing
in mind for the future.
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