[Marxism] Tariq Ali on Lebanon

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jul 20 07:30:03 MDT 2006


http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,1824538,00.html

A protracted colonial war
With US support, Israel is hoping to isolate and topple Syria by holding 
sway over Lebanon

Tariq Ali
Thursday July 20, 2006
The Guardian

In his last interview - after the 1967 six-day war - the historian Isaac 
Deutscher, whose next-of-kin had died in the Nazi camps and whose surviving 
relations lived in Israel, said: "To justify or condone Israel's wars 
against the Arabs is to render Israel a very bad service indeed and harm 
its own long-term interest." Comparing Israel to Prussia, he issued a 
sombre warning: "The Germans have summed up their own experience in the 
bitter phrase 'Man kann sich totseigen!' 'You can triumph yourself to death'."

In Israel's actions today we can detect many of the elements of hubris: an 
imperial arrogance, a distortion of reality, an awareness of its military 
superiority, the self-righteousness with which it wrecks the social 
infrastructure of weaker states, and a belief in its racial superiority. 
The loss of many civilian lives in Gaza and Lebanon matters less than the 
capture or death of a single Israeli soldier. In this, Israeli actions are 
validated by the US.

The offensive against Gaza is designed to destroy Hamas for daring to win 
an election. The "international community" stood by as Gaza suffered 
collective punishment. Dozens of innocents continue to die. This meant 
nothing to the G8 leaders. Nothing was done.

Israeli recklessness is always green-lighted by Washington. In this case, 
their interests coincide. They want to isolate and topple the Syrian regime 
by securing Lebanon as an Israeli-American protectorate on the Jordanian 
model. They argue this was the original design of the country. Contemporary 
Lebanon, it is true, still remains in large measure the artificial creation 
of French colonialism it was at the outset - a coastal band of Greater 
Syria sliced off from its hinterland by Paris to form a regional client 
dominated by a Maronite minority.

The country's confessional chequerboard has never allowed an accurate 
census, for fear of revealing that a substantial Muslim - today perhaps 
even a Shia - majority is denied due representation in the political 
system. Sectarian tensions, over-determined by the plight of refugees from 
Palestine, exploded into civil war in the 1970s, providing for the entry of 
Syrian troops, with tacit US approval, and their establishment there - 
ostensibly as a buffer between the warring factions, and deterrent to an 
Israeli takeover, on the cards with the invasions of 1978 and 1982 (when 
Hizbullah did not exist).

The killing of Rafik Hariri provoked vast demonstrations by the middle 
class, demanding the expulsion of the Syrians, while western organisations 
arrived to assist the progress of a Cedar Revolution. Backed by threats 
from Washington and Paris, the momentum was sufficient to force a Syrian 
withdrawal and produce a weak government in Beirut.

But Lebanon's factions remained spread-eagled. Hizbullah had not disarmed, 
and Syria has not fallen. Washington had taken a pawn, but the castle had 
still to be captured. I was in Beirut in May, when the Israeli army entered 
and killed two "terrorists" from a Palestinian splinter group. The latter 
responded with rockets. Israeli warplanes punished Hizbullah by dropping 
over 50 bombs on its villages and headquarters near the border. The latest 
Israeli offensive is designed to take the castle. Will it succeed? A 
protracted colonial war lies ahead, since Hizbullah, like Hamas, has mass 
support. It cannot be written off as a "terrorist" organisation. The Arab 
world sees its forces as freedom fighters resisting colonial occupation.

There are 9,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli gulags. That is 
why Israeli soldiers are captured. Prisoner exchanges have occurred as a 
result. To blame Syria and Iran for Israel's latest offensive is frivolous. 
Until the question of Palestine is resolved and Iraq's occupation ended, 
there will be no peace in the region. A "UN" force to deter Hizbullah, but 
not Israel, is a nonsensical notion.

tariq.ali3 at btinternet.com

· A demonstration against the Middle East war has been called by the Stop 
the War Coalition and others on Saturday http://www.stopwar.org.uk/.

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