[News] Blackmail by bombs

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jul 24 14:05:35 EDT 2006


July 20, 2006

Blackmail by bombs

By: Dr. Azmi Bishara*

Any comparison between Olmert's and Nasrallah's 
political rhetoric must conclude that the latter 
is the more rational. His speeches are more 
consistent with the facts and rely less than 
Olmert's on religious expressions and allusions. 
Nasrallah would never dare seal a parliamentary 
speech with a lengthy prayer, as Olmert did in 
his latest speech before the Knesset.

Israeli politicians have no cultural or moral 
edge over resistance leaders. The latter are far 
less attached to Iran than the former are to the 
US, and Hizbullah's constituency is less attached 
to Iran than the organised Jewish community abroad is to Israel.

The people who unleashed the brutal war against 
Lebanon are neither intelligent nor courageous. 
Quite the opposite; they are mediocrities, 
cowards and opportunists, but they happen to have 
military superiority. And they possess the keys 
to the machinery of a state, a real state, one 
that is secure in its identity, that has clear 
national security goals and channels of national 
mobilisation, as opposed to a long deferred 
project for statehood and a states built on the 
fragmentation of national identity. On the other 
side is a resistance movement operating in the 
context of a denominationally organised society, 
a Lebanese government neutralised to everything 
but sectarianism, and an Arab order parts of 
which are rooting for Israel to do what it is 
incapable, or too embarrassed, to do itself, 
which is to deal with the resistance as a militia 
because it foregrounds their own lack of national and popular legitimacy.

Israel has nothing to show for ten days of 
barbaric vandalism and the deliberate targeting 
of civilians. It cannot claim a single military 
victory against the Lebanese resistance. It can, 
though, point proudly to whole residential 
quarters that have been reduced to rubble, to the 
burned out hulks and ruins of countless wharfs, 
factories, bridges, roads, tunnels, electricity 
generators and civil defence buildings. In terms 
of explosive and destructive power Israel has 
thrown an atom bomb on Lebanon, it is the Israeli Hiroshima.

True, Israel suffers a paucity of intelligence on 
the whereabouts of Hizbullah members, which is 
why it has been targeting the homes of their 
families. But this does not justify the 
systematic bombardment of Lebanese society, and 
the attempts to destroy its economy. This is the 
epitome of terrorism: the incitement of terror in 
a civilian populace by unleashing massive 
violence and destruction against it in an attempt 
to compel the people's political leaders to act 
against the Lebanese resistance or to change their positions.

The current Israeli assault against Lebanon has 
nothing to do with freeing two captured soldiers. 
That is a purely tangential concern, and Israel 
will probably agree to a prisoner exchange when 
the time comes. Of prime concern, on the other 
hand, is an agenda that has bearings on Lebanese 
domestic, as well as American agenda for regional, politics.

The issue is not why the resistance chose this 
particular time for its operation. Timing, here, 
becomes another pretext for vilifying the 
resistance and justifying the aggression. The 
fact is that, over the past few months, the 
resistance made several attempts to capture 
Israeli soldiers. The difference is that its last 
attempt succeeded. Also, the Israeli soldiers 
that died in this operation were not killed in 
combat, but rather because their tank rolled over 
a landmine while pursuing the kidnappers. A more 
important question is why Israel choose this time 
to launch a full scale attack?

The timing is an Israeli-American one. And the 
answer resides with the Arabs and the US, and 
their inability to implement UN Security Council 
Resolution 1559 and dismantle the Lebanese 
resistance with Arab tools. So Israel stepped 
forward. The only difference between today and 
the earlier bombardments -- the "Day of 
Reckoning" and "Grapes of Wrath" between 1993 and 
1996 -- is that Syrian forces are no longer 
present in Lebanon. Instead there is an 
American-sponsored project for the country, 
involving the rest of the Arab world, which was 
to change the structure of government in Lebanon 
and transform it into an ally of the US, a good 
neighbour to Israel and a participant in US- oriented alliances in the region.

The project took off following the assassination 
of Al-Hariri, but in recent months it had run 
aground as it became increasingly clear that the 
Arabs had no practical means to keep it afloat. 
What kept discussions in Beirut from collapsing 
completely was the fact that the only alternative 
was internal violence and civil war. But while it 
was obvious that the talks were useful in keeping 
violence at bay and, hence, good for the tourist 
season, they were not helping to advance the 
American project in Lebanon. It was equally 
obvious, therefore, that those who wanted to push 
this project were expecting something to happen 
-- a US strike against Iran, for example, or an 
Israeli strike against Lebanon. Given the Iranian 
option remains currently out of bounds Israel 
knew it could count on a tacit green light from 
major Arab powers for its attack against Lebanon, 
and they did not disappoint it. It was the scope 
and vehemence of Israel's actions in Lebanon that came as the surprise.

This is neither an Iranian nor a Syrian war.The 
fist is just being involved in dialogue with the 
Americans and the second has been trying to avoid 
a war with Israel for decades.

Israel's aim is to change the rules of the game 
between Israel and Lebanon and, therefore, within 
Lebanon itself. This is the only point of 
similarity between the current campaign and the 
war of 1982. The major differences are that, on 
the negative side, international and regional 
circumstances favour Israel, while on the 
positive side the resistance, which is not 
Palestinian but Lebanese this time, is much 
stronger and better organised. To these two we 
can add another, which is that the Lebanese are 
not heading towards another 17 May; that 
experience they have put firmly behind them and 
no one wants to rake it up again. Even after the 
Syrian withdrawal the Lebanese society has much 
more positive attitude towards the Lebanese 
resistance than it had towards the Palestinian 
resistance, in those days of 1982 a part of the 
Lebanese people fought on the side of the 
Israelis. The initiative now lies in the hands of 
the Lebanese people and the resistance. They, 
alone, have the ability to thwart the conspiracy.

International delegations will soon appear in 
Lebanon to reap the fruits of the aggression. 
They will promise the Lebanese a ceasefire if 
they implement 1559, saying that there is no 
longer any excuse for delaying implementation now 
that the Israeli army has demonstrated the 
consequences of non- implementation.

Roed-Larsen's visit was not a fact-finding 
mission. Sending Roed-Larsen was in itself a 
political statement. He is not only the Israeli 
Labour Party's man on the conflict with the 
Palestinians, he is also the spokesman of the 
Israeli position with respect to the Lebanese 
resistance. He is the one who is after 
blood-money to compensate for Barak's loss of 
honour after withdrawing from Lebanon and the one 
who was called in to supervise the implementation 
of Resolution 1559. Larsen has not only drawn a 
red line at crossing the blue line, he regards 
the Lebanese resistance as a local militia. He is 
also a foremost exponent of that now old term, 
"the New Middle East", by which is meant, at 
best, the normalisation of Arab relations, ie 
according inter-Arab relations no more priority 
than bilateral relations between individual Arab 
states and Israel. Larsen was the sworn enemy of 
Yasser Arafat, who spoiled the Oslo recipe and 
refused to behave as he was supposed to. He is 
filled with a mixture of hatred and bitterness 
against "Arab extremists" and harbours low 
expectations of, and disappointment with, "Arab 
moderates" who should always demonstrate that 
they are up to the Israeli establishment's expectations.

That's what it's all about; the rest is décor. 
We'll see Larsen in the garb of mediator, which 
hardly suits him since he is not an arbitrator 
and nowhere near the middle. And, we'll be 
inundated with details about ceasefires, truces, 
and preparations for implementing 1559.

The resistance isn't playing the role of victim. 
It didn't ask for international sympathy with the 
victims but for solidarity among freedom-seeking 
peoples. These are the rules of another game, a 
language that Arab regimes have forgotten, if 
they ever really knew it, though they owe their 
own existence to such a discourse. I am speaking 
of the language of liberation movements that 
exact a payment for colonisation from the 
coloniser. Resistance movements attempt to exact 
a price that their adversaries cannot afford and 
that the societies of their adversaries do not 
wish to pay, and they try to encumber their 
adversaries in a manner that inhibits the full 
use of force. This is how resistance movements 
try to neutralise military superiority.

The resistance was not being unduly reckless; it 
did not even select the timing. It was Israel 
that chose to open a broad battlefront against 
the resistance. It feared that putting off an 
inevitable battle with the Lebanese resistance 
would only give the resistance time to grow 
stronger and increase its arsenal. One reason why 
Israel chose this time in particular was that it 
already knew how key Arab regimes would react. 
The situation, therefore, is the opposite of what 
is being portrayed: the charge that the 
resistance has courted disaster betrays the 
existence of an Arab camp that regards robust 
resistance in Lebanon and Palestine as an adventure.

The US, meanwhile, is futilely trying to regulate 
Israel's cowardly assault against civilians and 
its destruction of civilian infrastructure. It 
wants Israel to target the resistance and the 
society that supports it without jeopardising the 
American project in Lebanon. It wants Israel to 
bully and blackmail America's allies without 
crushing them, alienating them completely or 
driving their supporters into the arms of the 
resistance. The difference between the Israel and 
the US, here, maybe tactical, but it is 
important. It is one of degree, of pushing or not 
pushing people over the edge.

Whereas the US wants Israel to promote the 
American project in Lebanon rather than throw out 
the baby with the bathwater, Israel wants the US, 
Washington's allies and all the international 
agencies at their disposal, to negotiate with the 
Lebanese government a ceasefire that fulfils 
several conditions. The first is to disarm 
Hizbullah, the second to deploy the official 
Lebanese army in the south and substitute the 
international force with a proper NATO force, the 
third to release the Israeli captives. But it is 
the first condition that is the one that counts; 
meeting this will be sufficient for Israel to 
agree to a ceasefire. The political order that 
emerges from the rubble of Israel's destruction 
in will see to the rest. Israel, in other words, 
has decided to settle internal Lebanese dialogue by Israeli force of arms.

A Nato force accepted by the government without 
the consent of the people will be considered an 
occupation force and will be the next target of 
the resistance thus creating a new Iraq, a 
fragmented Lebanon. If the Lebanese government 
agrees to the proposed settlement that includes 
dismantling Hizbullah a process of attrition will 
start also from the inside aimed at getting 
Lebanese society to pressure the resistance into 
conceding. This is how internal strife is ignited and it is part of the plan.

Israel decided that this would not only be a good 
time to go on the offensive but that the battle 
would be decisive. If the Israeli terrorist 
project and military adventure is not to prevail, 
it is not just the resilience of the resistance 
that matters but also the unity of the Lebanese 
against Israeli aggression and its political aims.

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