[Marxism] Tariq Ali on Lebanon
lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jul 20 07:30:03 MDT 2006
A protracted colonial war
With US support, Israel is hoping to isolate and topple Syria by holding
sway over Lebanon
Thursday July 20, 2006
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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