FW: A Too Easy Victory - Uri Avneri
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Mon Dec 24 12:05:01 MST 2001
A Too Easy Victory
16.12.01-- Uri Avnery - [Gush Shalom Web Site]
For the fall of the Taliban I shall not weep. Like every regime of religious
fundamentalists - Muslims, Jews, Christians or any others, you name them -
it was based on cruelty, oppression and backwardness. It's enough to mention
its attitude to women.
But this victory of the United States frightens me. Frightens me terribly.
Because this victory was too easy. Much easier than many (myself included)
thought possible. A large country has been conquered virtually without
sacrificing the life of a single American soldier in battle. The tribal
chiefs were bought with money and changed sides. Opposition was shattered by
giant bombers, riding high in the sky, nearly out of eyesight, dropping
enormous bombs, more powerful than any of those used against the Nazis in
World War II.
At no time in history has any state had such untrammeled power. Even the
Roman Empire, at its zenith, did not come close to it. The Romans always had
a rival power to contend with - Persia. In order to achieve their victories,
they had to send the legions and sacrifice human lives on far-away
battlefields. From time to time they suffered terrible defeats. No victory
came easily, and certainly not cheaply.
By contrast, the United States is now the only great power on earth. No
other state comes close to it, no military or economic power can compete
with it. From the Afghan experience they can draw the conclusion that there
is no need anymore to send soldiers anywhere - the bombers can crush any
opposition with sophisticated bombs.
In the absence of enemies, America has to invent them. "Islam" or
"International Terrorism" (one and the same) fill this need. In a country
based on the myth of the Wild West, the Good Guys (America) need the Bad
Guys in order to function properly.
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely," said Lord
Acton, adding that "great men are always bad men." This applies even more to
great powers. When a state has unlimited might, it is quite unable to
exercise wisdom, moderation or modesty. Like a junkie who becomes more and
more dependent on his drug, so does a great power become more and more
inclined to use force for every purpose, against anyone who dares to
obstruct its will, be he right or wrong. The power will also be used
domestically, to curtail freedoms that were attained after centuries of
The last few weeks have already given us a foretaste of what is in store.
While preparing for the "war against terrorism", the United States exercised
considerable caution and self-restraint. It courted the governments in
Europe and throughout the world. It built a great coalition of Arab states.
But the moment President Bush concluded that he does not need help in order
to win, that he can do it alone with bombs and money, he turned his back on
everybody who had been courted as a partner only a moment before.
The European partners, who were so eager to offer their armies, were
suddenly given the cold shoulder. America did not ask them what to do and
did not consult with any of them throughout the war. Now it leaves them the
job of the village policeman, after the real soldiers (the Americans) go
home. The United Nations reverts to its usual function - dancing to the
The Arab "coalition" partners are even more humiliated. The United States
simply spits in their faces, treating them according to the old formula
"Ahmed, bring the coffee." The Americans discuss with themselves, freely and
openly, what the next target should be - to dismember Iraq, to bash the
Sudan or to use the opportunity to settle old accounts with Somalia. And the
Arabs? Who asks them?
This new reality is exemplified in the most blatant and dangerous way
vis-a-vis the Palestinian problem. Immediately after September 11, while
building the "coalition", American experts understood that Sharon's rampage
in the Palestinian territories has to be stopped, so as to enable the Arab
governments to still the growing anger of their masses. President Bush spoke
of the "vision" of a Palestinian state, Colin Powell worked on a new peace
initiative, a poor ex-Marines general was sent to Jerusalem. For a brief
spell, it seemed that America was about to use its power to end the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which created so much of the fury in the Arab
world on which Bin Laden & Co. were riding. After all, what is the sense in
killing one Bin Laden while producing ten new ones?
All these wise thoughts evaporated in the wind when the United States
attained its easy victory. Practically overnight, America returned to what
it has always been - the generous patron of the Israeli right-wing-military
establishment. The Israeli lobby again dictates policy in Washington DC.
President Bush has given a free hand to Sharon's efforts to liquidate the
Palestinian leadership, much as, in 1982, President Reagan gave a free hand
to Sharon's plan to invade Lebanon for the same purpose. See: Sabra and
And this is only the beginning.
An easy victory can be a disaster to the victor, even more so than a defeat.
The defeat in Vietnam had a sobering effect on America and created a mood of
reflection and stock-taking. Our easy victory in the Six-day war, by
contrast, brought us a disaster that continues to haunt us to this very day.
The maxim of the wise lord could be supplemented as follows: "Victory tends
to corrupt, and easy victory corrupts tenfold."
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