A Voice of Sanity From Israel
hatchet.job at virgin.net
Sun Feb 9 06:44:55 MST 2003
Here's an intelligent piece from Uri Avnery in Israel.
The smell of war
By Uri Avnery*
8 February 2003
This is not a war about terrorism. This is not a war about weapons of mass
destruction. This is not a war about democracy in Iraq. This is a war
about something else.
As for terrorism: Saddam Hussein is a cruel dictator, but the idea that he
might be connected with Osama bin Laden is ridiculous. Saddam heads the
Iraqi section of al-Baath, a very secular party. Bin Laden is an Islamic
fundamentalist, and al-Qaida aims at the destruction of all secular
regimes in our region. The official who invented this particular lie is
either an ignoramus or a cynic who believes that one can fool all the
people at least some of the time.
As for weapons of mass destruction: the USA supported Saddam when he used
deadly poison gas against the Iranians (and their Kurdish allies in Iraq).
At the time, America was interested in stopping the Iranians. Today there
are chemical and biological weapons in most of the countries of this
region, including Egypt, Syria and Israel, and one of them has nuclear
As for democracy: Americans don't give a damn. Some of their best friends
in the Islamic world are dictators, some more, some less cruel then
Saddam. As the old American adage goes: "He is a son-of-a-bitch, but he is
If so, what is the war about? In one word: oil.
There is a strong smell of oil in the air. Without smelling it, one cannot
understand what is going on. But once one grasps what it is all about, the
actions of Bush & Co., while cynical and hypocritical, are utterly logical.
These, then, are the American war aims:
* To take over the immense oil reserves of Iraq, among the world's biggest.
* To ensure American control of the nearby huge Caspian Sea oil reserves
* To reinforce indirect American control of the oil in all the Gulf
states, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran.
Control of most of the worlds oil reserves will free the Americans, at
long last, from the whims of the oil market. Their hand, and theirs alone,
will be on the tap. They, and they alone, will fix the prices of oil all
over the world. If they will want prices to rise, they will rise. If they
will want them to go down, they will go down. With one single movement of
the hand, they will be able to deal a crushing blow to the economies of
Germany, France and Japan. No country in the world will be able to stand
up to them in any matter. No wonder that Germany and France oppose the
war. It is directed against them.
It follows that the Americans do not intend to enter Iraq, establish
democracy and leave. The very idea is ridiculous.
The US enters Iraq in order to stay there, for years and decades. Its
physical presence in the Arab and Muslim world will create a new
Of course, this is not the first time that a great empire uses its
military power to promote its economic dominance. History is full of
examples. Indeed, one could say that all of history is an example. But
there has never been a superpower like the US, with no rival left, using
its immense military might in order to ensure its domination of the world
economy for generations to come.
>From this point of view, the coming war on Iraq - a "small" war,
militarily - will have historic significance.
For sure, Bush will try to set up some native Iraqi government, in order
to disguise and lend some legitimacy to the American occupation. There are
any number of volunteers, ready to serve as Quislings. Then again, Bush
may prefer some new Saddam Hussein, a dictator appointed by them.
But war is war. War usually starts with a well-prepared plan, but even the
"best" plan, backed by the mightiest military power, can go awry. The Arab
masses may rise against their American-supported, corrupt, lackadaisical
governments. The Turks may perpetrate a massacre in the north of Iraq in
order to break the Kurds once and for all, and no one can know how this
will end. The holy places of the Shi'ites in the south of Iraq, next to
Iran, may cause trouble.
How will this affect Israel? Or, to use the old phrase: "Is it good for
The relations between Bush and Sharon are almost symbiotic. In Sharon's
view, the massive presence of the US in our region strengthens Israel and
will enable him to implement his hidden agenda.
But, as one says in Hebrew, "the fat tail of the sheep has a thorn in it".
The permanent occupation of Iraq turns the US into a kind of "Arab" power,
with a vital interest in the stability and tranquility of the region. It
will want to prevent by all means chaos in the Arab countries - before,
during and after the war.
Sharon and his generals are, on the contrary, interested in as much chaos
as possible, in order to use it to "transfer" millions of Palestinians to
the other side of the Jordan. There is a definite conflict of interest
between Bush as Sharon.
Sharon, an extremist but prudent person, knows that he must not under any
circumstances infuriate Bush. He will act cautiously. He has lots and lots
of patience and lots and lots of stubbornness. He will try to obtain from
Bush permission to transfer (at least some) Palestinians, to murder Arafat
("If Saddam, why not Arafat?) and to break the Palestinian people.
Bush, on the other hand, will want Israel to stay quiet, very quiet. At
this time, he may use the Israel threat in order to ensure that the Arabs,
too, will stay quiet, very quiet. He will threaten the Arab rulers, who
are mortally afraid of an uprising of their peoples, that if they do not
behave, he will let Sharon off the leash.
Is all this good for Israel? From the economic, social and security points
of view, the answer is negative. We are entering an era of adventurism,
with adventurer No. 1 at the helm of our state. The earth will shake in
our region, and nobody can foresee the dangers approaching us. Only one
thing is certain: this will not bring peace.
I do not belong to those who can speak about war with equanimity. I have
seen war, I know its face. I see the thousands who will be killed, the
tens of thousands that will be wounded and maimed, the hundreds of
thousands that will become refugees, the ruined families, the sea of tears
and human suffering.
I join the millions all over the world who say NO.
*Uri Avnery is an Israeli journalist, writer and peace activist.
© Uri Avnery
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