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PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 11:34 am 
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Haste and waste: a 'victory' questioned

Now that the bombing has died down after over a month of horrendous fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, let's look at the results. We have considered that this was a "pretext war": Seymour Hersh in his latest New Yorker article gives further evidence provided by his insider contacts that the assaults were planned by Israel well in advance with US knowledge, and that the US pushed for the bombing to start sooner rather than later. A Haaretz writer sides with the optimists in his country and claims some kind of "victory" for Israel, but only to conclude this "victory" was "not enough" -- that the IDF suffered "humiliation." Israelis are "traumatized," another Haaretz piece indicates. And Ehud Olmert's status as prime minister may be very shaky.

Gains for Hezbollah

After all the losses inflicted on Lebanon, the substantial destruction of its infrastructure, the many deaths in Lebanon and many more casualties and still more made homeless, not to mention the civilian deaths in Israel, the terrorization of the city populations there and the IDF losses, it really can't be very convincingly argued that this attempt to disable Hezbollah actually did anybody a whole lot of good. Robert Fisk convincingly argues that the two "supposedly pariah states" of Iran and Syria "have been left untouched." Undoubtedly Hezbollah (like Israel) expended munitions; it also saw damage done to its military emplacements. However, Israel's intelligence about their locations turned out to be faulty in many cases. Hezbollah was not an easy opponent for Israel. It was known by experts to be the best trained and strongest insurgent force in the region ("the A team of terrorists," Hersh quotes Richard Armitage as calling it in 2002). Now Hezbollah's motivation and readiness are universal knowledge. While supplied by Syria and Iran, Hezbollah appears quite capable of fighting on its own initiative, without outside directives. The Israeli aim of turning the Lebanese against Hezbollah hasn't been achieved. Hassan Nasrallah has become a pan-Arab hero and support for Hezbollah has grown both in Lebanon and throughout the Mideast (unity and determination may have grown in Israel too but that is debated).

As we have been forced to ask after the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq we must again ask of the Israeli assault on Lebanon: are we any safer now? Is Israel any safer?

Haste on another front

And, on another front of what right wing propagandists consider the same universal, endless "war on terror," do noisy, flashy police roundups of "terrorism" suspects such as happened in London last week make us safer, or just more nervous? Much doubt surrounds the recent revelations of an alleged English plot to bomb passenger planes from within using liquid explosives while they were airborne en route from England to America. The US rushed the Brits to arrest their bomb terror suspects sooner than they wanted to, NBC reported-- as with the Israeli assault on Lebanon, the neo-cons were in a hurry. But none of the suspects had yet purchased an airline ticket. Christopher Reed in a Counterpunch essay casts further doubts on the plot: the timing of arrests is one of many ways that authorities have tended to erode confidence and feed conspiracy theorists in such situations. At least it seems very possible that the arrests were partly timed to restore eroded confidence in both Blair and Bush and lessen the doubts about their support for the brutal Israeli assaults on Lebanon. Joe Lieberman's loss in the Connecticut primary may even be a precipitating factor; it's obvious that the neo-cons were furious about this open show of anti-war sentiment, which could be a harbinger of losses to come for republican candidates. Police errors may make it hard for the suspects to be convicted, even if they are guilty. The arrests seem to be based on a single informant. There is no hard evidence, a WSWS commentary points out.

Hundreds of thousands of passengers have been and will be inconvenienced in a false gesture of preparedness. Whether or not the alleged plot was a serious one, there is no indication that it was about to be carried out, or that after the roundup of suspects it still would be a possibility now. In all the measures taken in British and US airports the purpose seems futile, except for creating fear and strengthening authority. But this effect serves the increasingly unpopular leaders of both countries well. Fear will be important to maintain if Blair, Bush, and their parties are to retain power in the immediate future. There's nothing like making every passenger give up his or her carry-on luggage to make millions of people aware of the possibility of terrorism.

Dubious uses of the 'war on terror'

Nonetheless, however questionable the timing or uncertain the current plot, police intelligence-gathering is still indeed the proper way to detect and stop terrorism plans -- not hot war, killing civilians, massive assaults of one country on another. Afghanistan, Iraq, the Israeli assault on the Palestinian people in the occupied territories and particularly Gaza, and the recent destruction of Lebanon are all examples of hot warfare that have not only created chaos and enormous suffering, but have fomented or will foment new plans for insurgency. In a word, such imperial, colonialist assaults conducted behind the mask of fighting a "war on terror" have only inspired an ever-increasing determination of indigenous people to fight back, till the last man, woman, and child. George Soros has just explained with his usual lucidity in a new Wall Street Journal essay how fallacious and meaningless the whole concept of "war on terror" is, concluding that, "With American influence at low ebb, the world is in danger of sliding into a vicious circle of escalating violence. We can escape it only if we Americans repudiate the war on terror as a false metaphor." This is what we have been saying since September 2001.

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