[News] They simply can't stop lying, can they?

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jul 26 12:23:43 EDT 2006


http://www.counterpunch.org/blum07262006.html
July 26, 2006
They simply can't stop lying, can they?

Is There a Stronger Word Than "Hypocrisy"?

By WILLIAM BLUM

There are times when I think that this tired old world has gone on a 
few years too long. What's happening in the Middle East is so 
depressing. Most discussions of the eternal Israel-Palestine conflict 
are variations on the child's eternal defense for misbehavior -- "He 
started it!" Within a few minutes of discussing/arguing the latest 
manifestation of the conflict the participants are back to 1967, then 
1948, then biblical times. I don't wish to get entangled in who 
started the current mess. I would like instead to first express what 
I see as two essential underlying facts of life which remain from one 
conflict to the next:

1. Israel's existence is not at stake and hasn't been so for decades, 
if it ever was. If Israel would learn to deal with its neighbors in a 
non-expansionist, non-military, humane, and respectful manner, engage 
in full prisoner exchanges, and sincerely strive for a viable 
two-state solution, even those who are opposed to the idea of a state 
based on a particular religion could accept the state of Israel, and 
the question of its right to exist would scarcely arise in people's 
minds. But as it is, Israel still uses the issue as a justification 
for its behavior, as Jews all over the world use the Holocaust and 
conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

2. In a conflict between a thousand-pound gorilla and a mouse, it's 
the gorilla which has to make concessions in order for the two sides 
to progress to the next level. What can the Palestinians offer in the 
way of concession? Israel would reply to that question: "No violent 
attacks of any kind." But that would still leave the status quo ante 
bellum -- a life of unmitigated misery for the Palestinian people 
forced upon them by Israel. Peace without justice.

Israel's declarations about the absolute unacceptability of one of 
their soldiers being held captive by the Palestinians, or two 
soldiers being held by Hezbollah in Lebanon, cannot be taken too 
seriously when Israel is holding literally thousands of captured 
Palestinians, many for years, typically without any due process, many 
tortured; as well as holding a number of prominent Hezbollah members. 
A few years ago, if not still now, Israel wrote numbers on some of 
the Palestinian prisoners' arms and foreheads, using blue markers, a 
practice that is of course reminiscent of the Nazis' treatment of 
Jews in World War II.

Israel's real aim, and that of Washington, is the overthrow of the 
Hamas government in Palestine, the government that came to power in 
January through a clearly democratic process, the democracy that the 
Western "democracies" never tire of celebrating, except when the 
result doesn't please them. Is there a stronger word than 
"hypocrisy"? There is now "no Hamas government," declared a senior US 
official a week ago, "eight cabinet ministers or 30 percent of the 
government is in jail [kidnapped by Israel], another 30 percent is in 
hiding, and the other 30 percent is doing very little."  To make the 
government-disappearance act even more Orwellian, we have Secretary 
of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking in late June about Iraq: "This is 
the only legitimately elected government in the Middle East with a 
possible exception of Lebanon." What's next, gathering in front of 
the Big Telescreeen for the Two Minutes Hate?

In addition to doing away with the Hamas government, the current 
military blitzkrieg by Israel, with full US support, may well be 
designed to create "incidents" to justify attacks on Iran and Syria, 
the next steps of Washington's work in process, a controlling 
stranglehold on the Middle East and its oil.

It is a wanton act of collective punishment that is depriving the 
Palestinians of food, electricity, water, money, access to the 
outside world ... and sleep. Israel has been sending jets flying over 
Gaza at night triggering sonic booms, traumatizing children. "I want 
nobody to sleep at night in Gaza," declared Israeli Prime Minister 
Ehud Olmert; words suitable for Israel's tombstone.

These crimes against humanity -- and I haven't mentioned the terrible 
special weapons reportedly used by Israel -- are what the people of 
Palestine get for voting for the "wrong" party. It is ironic, given 
the Israeli attacks against civilians in both Gaza and Lebanon, that 
Hamas and Hezbollah are routinely dismissed in the West as terrorist 
organizations. The generally accepted definition of terrorism, used 
by the FBI and the United Nations amongst others, is: The use of 
violence against a civilian population in order to intimidate or 
coerce a government in furtherance of a political objective.

Since 9/11 it has been a calculated US-Israeli tactic to label the 
fight against Israel's foes as an integral part of the war on terror. 
On July 19, a rally was held in Washington, featuring the governor of 
Maryland, several members of Israeli-occupied Congress, the Israeli 
ambassador, and evangelical leading light John Hagee. The Washington 
Post reported that "Speaker after prominent speaker characteriz[ed] 
current Israeli fighting as a small branch of the larger U.S.-led 
global war against Islamic terrorism" and "Israel's attacks against 
the Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah were blows against those who have 
killed civilians from Bali to Bombay to Moscow." Said the Israeli 
ambassador: "This is not just about [Israel]. It's about where our 
world is going to be and the fate and security of our world. Israel 
is on the forefront. We will amputate these little arms of Iran," 
referring to Hezbollah.

And if the war on terror isn't enough to put Israel on the side of 
the angels, John Hagee has argued that "the United States must join 
Israel in a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God's 
plan for both Israel and the West". He speaks of "a biblically 
prophesied end-time confrontation with Iran, which will lead to the 
Rapture, Tribulation, and Second Coming of Christ."

The beatification of Israel approaches being a movement. Here is 
David Horowitz, the eminent semi-hysterical ex-Marxist: "Israel is 
part of a global war, the war of radical Islam against civilization. 
Right now Israel is doing the work of the rest of the civilized world 
by taking on the terrorists. It is not only for Israel's sake that we 
must get the facts out -- it is for ourselves, America, for every 
free country in the world, and for civilization itself."

As for the two Israeli soldiers captured and held in Lebanon for 
prisoner exchange, we must keep a little history in mind. In the late 
1990s, before Israel was evicted from southern Lebanon by Hezbollah, 
it was a common practice for Israel to abduct entirely innocent 
Lebanese. As a 1998 Amnesty International paper declared: "By 
Israel's own admission, Lebanese detainees are being held as 
'bargaining chips'; they are not detained for their own actions but 
in exchange for Israeli soldiers missing in action or killed in 
Lebanon. Most have now spent 10 years in secret and isolated detention."

Israel has created its worst enemies -- they helped create Hamas as a 
counterweight to Fatah in Palestine, and their occupation of Lebanon 
created Hezbollah. The current terrible bombings can be expected to 
keep the process going. Since its very beginning, Israel has been 
almost continually occupied in fighting wars and taking other 
people's lands. Did not any better way ever occur to the idealistic 
Zionist pioneers?

But while you and I get depressed by the horror and suffering, the 
neo-conservatives revel in it. They devour the flesh and drink the 
blood of the people of Afghanistan, of Iraq, of Palestine, of 
Lebanon, yet remain ravenous, and now call for Iran and Syria to be 
placed upon the feasting table. More than one of them has used the 
expression oderint dum metuant, a favorite phrase of Roman emperor 
Caligula, also used by Cicero -- "let them hate so long as they 
fear". Here is William Kristol, editor of the bible of neo-cons, 
"Weekly Standard", on Fox News Sunday, July 16:

"Look, our coddling of Iran ... over the last six to nine months has 
emboldened them. I mean, is Iran behaving like a timid regime that's 
very worried about the U.S.? Or is Iran behaving recklessly and in a 
foolhardy way? ... Israel is fighting four of our five enemies in the 
Middle East, in a sense. Iran, Syria, sponsors of terror; Hezbollah 
and Hamas. ... This is an opportunity to begin to reverse the 
unfortunate direction of the last six to nine months and get the 
terrorists and the jihadists back on the defensive."

Host Juan Williams replied: "Well, it just seems to me that you want 
... you just want war, war, war, and you want us in more war. You 
wanted us in Iraq. Now you want us in Iran. Now you want us to get 
into the Middle East ... you're saying, why doesn't the United States 
take this hard, unforgiving line? Well, the hard and unforgiving line 
has been [tried], we don't talk to anybody. We don't talk to Hamas. 
We don't talk to Hezbollah. We're not going to talk to Iran. Where 
has it gotten us, Bill?"

Kristol, looking somewhat taken aback, simply threw up his hands.

The Fox News audience does (very) occasionally get a hint of another 
way of looking at the world.

Iraq will follow Bush the rest of his life

Here comes now our Glorious Leader, speaking at a news conference at 
the recent G8 summit in St. Petersburg, referring to Russian 
president Vladimir Putin. "I talked about my desire to promote 
institutional change in parts of the world like Iraq where there's a 
free press and free religion, and I told him that a lot of people in 
our country would hope that Russia would do the same thing."

It's so very rare that Georgie W. makes one of his 
less-than-brilliant statements and has the nonsense immediately 
pointed out to him to his face -- "Putin, in a barbed reply, said: 
'We certainly would not want to have the same kind of democracy as 
they have in Iraq, I will tell you quite honestly.' Bush's face 
reddened as he tried to laugh off the remark. 'Just wait'," he said.

It's too bad that Putin didn't also point out that religion was a lot 
more free under Saddam Hussein than under the American occupation. 
Amongst many charming recent incidents, in May the coach of the 
national tennis team and two of his players were shot dead in Baghdad 
by men who reportedly were religious extremists angry that the coach 
and his players were wearing shorts.

As to a "free press", dare I mention Iraqi newspapers closed down by 
the American occupation, reporters shot by American troops, and phony 
stories planted in the Iraqi press by Pentagon employees?

The preceding is in the same vein as last month's edition of my 
report in which I listed the many ways in which the people of Iraq 
have a much worse life now than they did under Saddam Hussein. I 
concluded with recounting the discussions I've had with Americans 
who, in the face of this, say to me: "Just tell me one thing, are you 
glad that Saddam Hussein is out of power?"

Now we have a British poll that reports that "More than two thirds 
who offered an opinion said America is essentially an imperial power 
seeking world domination. And 81 per cent of those who took a view 
said President George W. Bush hypocritically championed democracy as 
a cover for the pursuit of American self-interests." The American 
embassy in London was quick to reply. Said a spokesperson: "We 
question the judgment of anyone who asserts the world would be a 
better place with Saddam still terrorizing his own nation and 
threatening people well beyond Iraq's borders."

They simply can't stop lying, can they? There was no evidence at all 
that Saddam was threatening any people outside of Iraq, whatever 
that's supposed to mean. It may mean arms sales. Following the Gulf 
War, the US sold around $100 billion of military hardware to Iraq's 
"threatened" neighbors: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Gulf States, and Turkey.

As to the world being a better or worse place ... only Iraq itself 
was and is the issue here, not the world; although if the world is a 
better place, why am I depressed?

The peculiar idea of tying people's health to private corporate profits

Steven Pearlstein is a financial writer with the Washington Post, 
with whom I've exchanged several emails in recent years. He does not 
ignore or gloss over the serious defects of the American economic 
system, but nonetheless remains a true believer in the market 
economy. In a recent review of a book by journalist Maggie Mahar, 
"Money-Driven Medicine", Pearlstein writes that the author tries to 
explain "why health care costs so much in the United States, with 
such poor results." She has focused on the right issues, he says, 
"the misguided financial incentives at every level, the unnecessary 
care that is not only wasteful but harmful, the bloated 
administrative costs." However, "in making the case that the 
health-care system suffers from too much free-market competition and 
too little cooperation, Mahar means to drum up support for a publicly 
funded national system. But in the end, she mostly makes a convincing 
case that no health-care system will work unless we figure out what 
really works and is cost effective and then get doctors, hospitals 
and patients to embrace it."

"Unless we figure out what really works and is cost effective" ... 
hmmm ... like there haven't been repeated studies showing that 
national health plans in Western Europe, Australia, Canada, and 
elsewhere cover virtually everyone and every ailment and cost society 
and individuals much less than in the United States. Isn't that 
"working"? I spent five years in the UK with my wife and small child 
and all three of us can swear by the National Health Service; at 
those times when neither my wife nor I was employed we didn't have to 
pay anything into the system; doctors even made house calls; and this 
was under Margaret Thatcher, who was doing her best to cripple the 
system, a goal she and her fellow Tories, later joined by "New 
Labor", have continued to pursue.

And then there's Cuba -- poor, little, third-world Cuba. Countless 
non-rich ill Americans would think they were in heaven to have the 
Cuban health system reproduced here, with higher salaries for doctors 
et al., which we could easily afford.

It should be noted that an extensive review of previous studies 
recently concluded that the care provided at for-profit nursing homes 
and hospitals, on average, is inferior to that at nonprofits. The 
analysis indicates that a facility's ownership status makes a 
difference in cost, quality, and accessibility of care.

Sale! Western Civilization! New, Improved! $99.99, marked down from 
$129.99. Sale!

There's currently a call in the United States to get rid of the 
one-cent coin because it costs 1.2 cents to make the coin and put it 
into circulation and because many people find the coins a nuisance. I 
have another reason to get rid of the coin -- hopefully, doing so 
would put an end to the ridiculous and ubiquitous practice of pricing 
almost everything at amounts like $9.99, $99.99, or $999.99. Or $3.29 
or $17.98. What is the reason for this tedious and insulting 
absurdity? It began as, and continues to be, a con game -- trying to 
induce the purchaser to think that he's getting some kind of bargain 
price: Less than $10! Less than $100! In my local thrift shop, 
catering almost exclusively to poor blacks and Hispanics, virtually 
all prices end in .97 or .98 or .99. Every once in a while, when the 
nonsense has piled up to my nose level, I ask a shop manager or 
corporate representative why they use such a pricing system. They 
scarcely have any idea what I'm talking about. Sometimes in a shop 
when I'm discussing with a clerk the various price options of 
something I'm thinking of buying, and I say, "Okay, let's see, this 
model is $60 and ..." S/he'll interrupt me with: "No, it's $59.99."

And let's not forget gasoline. Priced at $2.60.9 per gallon. Or 
$3.24.9 per gallon. That's 9/10. It's been suggested that it was the 
oil companies that began this whole silliness.

Is this any way for people to relate to each other? Comes the 
revolution, and we write a new constitution, Paragraph 99 will ban 
this practice.

You can't make this stuff up

"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the 
poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal 
bread." Anatole France, 1844-1924

On April 14 a federal appeals court ruled that the Los Angeles Police 
Department cannot arrest people for sitting, lying or sleeping on 
public sidewalks on Skid Row, saying such enforcement amounts to 
cruel and unusual punishment because there are not enough shelter 
beds for the city's huge homeless population. Judge Pamela A. Rymer 
issued a strong dissent against the majority opinion. The Los Angeles 
code "does not punish people simply because they are homeless," wrote 
Rymer. "It targets conduct -- sitting, lying or sleeping on city 
sidewalks -- that can be committed by those with homes as well as 
those without."



William  Blum is the author  of 
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1567512526/counterpunchmaga>Killing 
Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 
II, 
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1567511945/counterpunchmaga>Rogue 
State: a guide to the World's Only Super Power. and 
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1887128727/counterpunchmaga>West-Bloc 
Dissident: a Cold War Political 
Memoir<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1567511945/counterpunchmaga>.

He can be reached at: <mailto:BBlum6 at aol.com>BBlum6 at aol.com


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