PHOTO: A destroyed residential building in one of Beirut's southern suburbs. Israel was amassing thousands more reservists on the Lebanese border to stage ground incursions aimed at destroying Hezbollah positions, warning it would not rule out a full-scale invasion despite mounting calls for a ceasefire. (AFP/Layal Najib)
My country has been "torn to shreds," said Fouad Siniora, the prime minister of Lebanon, as the death toll among his people passed 300 civilian dead, 1,000 wounded, with half a million homeless. Israel must pay for the "barbaric destruction," said Siniora. To the contrary, says columnist Lawrence Kudlow, "Israel is doing the Lord's work." On American TV, former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says the ruination of Lebanon is Hezbollah's doing. But is it Hezbollah that is using U.S.-built F-16s, with precision-guided bombs and 155-mm artillery pieces to wreak death and devastation on Lebanon? No, Israel is doing this, with the blessing and without a peep of protest from President Bush. And we wonder why they hate us. "Today, we are all Israelis!" brayed Ken Mehlman of the Republican National Committee to a gathering of Christians United for Israel. One wonders if these Christians care about what is happening to our Christian brethren in Lebanon and Gaza, who have had all power cut off by Israeli airstrikes, an outlawed form of collective punishment, that has left them with no sanitation, rotting food, impure water and days without light or electricity in the horrible heat of July.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, tell us what are the weapons being used? Did you also look at where the weapons that Hezbollah is using comes from?
FRIDA BERRIGAN: Sure. Almost all of the weapons used by Israel are from the United States. There might be a couple French fighter planes that they’re using, but its F-16s made in Fort Worth, Texas; its Apache helicopters; its Sparrow and Sidewinder missiles; it’s all from the United States. So you have this real disconnect between an overemphasis on the supply by Iran and Syria of Hezbollah's weapons and no discussion of the fact that all of the Israeli arsenal is from the United States, and that that is in contravention to U.S. law. to the Arms Export Control Act, which says that U.S.-origin weapons are only to be used for self-defense and for internal security.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And your report indicates that Israel has always been the largest recipient of military aid from the United States, but that that’s actually increased since 2001?
FRIDA BERRIGAN: We’re looking at incredible increases in U.S. military aid and weapons sales to Israel. Military aid stands at about $3 billion a year. That’s about $500 for every Israeli citizen that the United States provides on an annual basis. And then, weapons sales, most recently, since the Bush administration came into power, we’re looking at $6.3 billion worth of weaponry sold to Israel. Israel's relationship with the United States is unique in a number of ways. And one of those ways is that essentially the United States provides 20% of the Israeli military budget on an annual basis, and then about 70% of that money that is given from the United States, from U.S. taxpayers, to Israel is then spent on weapons from Lockheed Martin and Boeing and Raytheon. Most other countries don't have that sort of cash relationship, where they go straight to U.S. corporations with U.S. money to buy weapons that are then used in the Occupied Territories and against Lebanon.
An appeal from an email I received:
CALL, CALL AGAIN, CALL SOME MORE, AND KEEP CALLING
CALL YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS NOW AND DEMAND THEY CALL FOR AN IMMEDIATE CEASE-FIRE IN LEBANON
No student of history can escape the parallels between what is going on in Lebanon now and the start of World War I. The question is, do we have political will, and the sanity, to stop it. Those who are not interested in history are at the mercy of the present, so we might as well review. In 1914, a relatively obscure member of the Austro-Hungarian royal family was assassinated by a bunch of bumbling Serbian extremists when, after the plot had already failed, one of them was given by fate the opportunity of an easy, close up shot. Weapons had been provided to them by a secret society calling itself Black Hand, some of whose members were part of the Serbian government. In response the Austro-Hungarian government delivered to the Serbia government an ultimatum, described by british Foreign Minister Sir Edward Grey as "the most formidable document that was ever addressed from one state to another". The ultimatum was written to be unacceptable on its face, to serve merely as a pretext for war, threatening invasion and collective punishment on Serbia. And even though Serbia AGREED to 9 of the 10 demands, Austria-Hungary still declared war. Because of the various mutual defense commitments, Russia hurriedly mobilized in support of their ally Serbia, the Germans (backing Austria-Hungary) invaded Belgium to stage an attack on the French, who were Russian allies, and Great Britain declared war on Germany because of the violation of Belgian neutrality. Thus it was, within two weeks all of Europe was at war, though the United States did not enter the conflict until a German submarine sunk some of our ships in 1917.
Now let us examine for comparison what is going on in Lebanon today. It is pointless to bicker like five year old children about who "started" it, in a 50 year old conflict that has never stopped smouldering. As an immediate provocation, or excuse for one, members of Hezbollah attacked some Israeli soldiers and kidnapped two, taking them back to Lebanon. Other members of Hezbollah occupy positions in the Lebanese government, and the group has admittedly been supported by militants in Syria and Iran. There are strong parallels here with the Black Hand militants of pre-World War I and their tangential ties to the 1914 Serbian government. But in response, Israel did not just THREATEN to invade and impose collective punishment, they ARE invading and have been bombing Lebanon for a week already. Already over 300 people have been killed there, mostly innocent civilians. Even more devastating have been attacks on civilian infrastructure. Most people in this country have no comprehension of the scale of the destruction. They are well on the way to leveling South Beirut already. For its part Hezbollah has been firing wildly and mostly ineffective rockets at Israel, much like Saddam's willy-nilly anti-aircraft fire during the first Iraq war, though an Israeli ship was hit and damaged. While this military distraction has been going on, violence in Iraq itself has continued to escalate, with report of militants streaming into Baghdad as if to prepare for an even larger offensive.
All of this has nothing to do with Hezbollah, kidnapping, Israel, rocket attacks, self defense, terrorism or anything else. The Bush administration, who is green lighting Israel's every action, is manipulating public opinion at home to escalate this into a nuclear first strike on Iran, to try to regain the dominance lost in Iraq. Until you understand this nothing else will make sense. And in this they have the willing cooperation of Hezbollah and their supporters, who believe they will win the whole game if we do so, and they have our misadventure in Iraq to give them confidence. They are both wrong. Such a conflagration in the Middle East will end human civilization as we have previously known it. BOTH sides will exchange nuclear weapons strikes. The restraint which has kept the nuclear monster in check since 1945 will be vaporized. Perhaps the other side will only be able to muster dirty bombs, or perhaps a revolution in Pakistan will put fully operational warheads in the hands of Islamic militants at once, and this is assuming they have not already acquired some of the many loose nukes out there, or maybe it will take them a while longer to acquire them. But it will happen. That is all unless we find a way to break the cycle of revenge and insanity.
So what will the United States do? Bush apparently believes that all he has to do is smirk his way through the next couple weeks and he'll be back on top as something even bigger and better than a war president. Now he wants to be a "nuclear war president". He will not willingly save us. But if we can get Congress to act there is still hope. There are two resolutions before Congress. The first, H. Res. 921, introduced by John Boehner (R) sides with Israel completely, condemns Hezbollah only, and excuses Israel from any fault or blame in their response to the provocation. The only thing it doesn't do is demand Hezbollah surrender in pink dresses. It is in essence a declaration that the U.S. will support Israel in ANY war of THEIR choosing, much like the kind of pacts that precipitated the cascading declarations of war in World War I. The second, H. Con. Res. 450, introduced by Dennis Kucinich (D) calls on both sides to immediately end hostile actions, and to engage international cooperation to mediate the crisis. The prime minister of Lebanon, a democracy, is pleading for a cease-fire. The U.N. Secretary General is demanding a cease-fire. And only the passage of this second resolution, and a cease-fire, can disrupt the spin of the wheel at the hand of George Bush. The testosterone-fed macho types on Fox news, along with too many of their bar fight mentality supporters, are all gung ho to unleash the nukes. But let us address their primary contemptuous argument, that you can't have a cease-fire because the "terrorists" won't respect it.
At an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo this last Saturday, moderate Arab governments, some publicly and some privately, were prepared to condemn Hezbollah for the provocation. They might be in a position to pressure Hezbollah in various ways, but they are being undermined by the graphic images of wanton killing and devastation coming out of Lebanon. Though not to minimize the 30 or so Israelis who have been killed so far, most of the actual destruction raining down is by Israel's hand. If this continues much longer there won't be a Muslim population in the Middle East not screaming for Israeli blood. Only a cease-fire can save Israel from itself. They have demonstrated they can launch a military strike any time they choose, and could presumably with impunity resume hostilities any time they would wish. But if moderate Arab governments start falling like dominos to militants in their own populations, any opportunity for diplomacy will be lost forever.
CALL YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS NOW AND DEMAND THEY CALL FOR AN IMMEDIATE CEASE-FIRE IN LEBANON
TOLL-FREE NUMBERS: 888-355-3588 and 800-828-0498
ACTION PAGE: http://www.peaceteam.net/cease-fire.php
Please call your members of Congress in support of the Kucinich resolution, H. Con. Res. 450. We lose nothing by taking a step back from the brink. Otherwise, George Bush will have his World War III. But he still may not go down in history as the nuclear war president, because there may not be any more history when the nuclear fallout clears. Please take action NOW, so we can win all victories that are supposed to be ours, and forward this message to everyone else you know. If you would like to get alerts like these, you can do so at http://www.usalone.com/in.htm
Dancewater: Yes, I called today…. I called the White House on the way to Ontario Science Center, and then (after seeing an exhibit on the Nuremberg Trials) I called the White House again. I pointed out that the war in Iraq is an illegal war of aggression, and therefore a violation of the Nuremberg Principles, and therefore a violation of the US constitution.
I really do feel that we are in danger of starting off WW3 in the Middle East, but even if an outcome such as this were guaranteed not to start, I would still call. There is a wildfire burning in Israel/Lebanon now, and no matter who is at fault and who started it, the sane thing to do is call for a cease-fire (which Lebanon’s government has done). However, Bush is sending Rice over there and she is calling for an international force to squash Hezballah, which means ruin Lebanon. And many right-wing idiots on our airways are calling for WW3. I may not be effective in my calling, but I will not go to my grave and say “I did nothing to stop it”. I will not be like the “good Germans” of the 1930’s. I hope you will not be like them either.