Annexation and "regime change"
5 August 2006
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The sharp escalation of the attacks against Lebanon Friday
have made it abundantly clear that the objective of this US-Israeli
war of aggression is to demolish Lebanon as an independent and
The war is aimed at transforming the country into an occupied
territory controlled by the US and Israel, perhaps through the
medium of a NATO "peacekeeping" force. The destruction
of Lebanon is being carried out quite deliberately, and with very
definite designs. For Israel, it is yet again a matter of annexation
of more territory. And for Washington, it is the preparation of
new and even bloodier wars, directed in the first instance against
Syria and Iran.
The pretense that this war is being waged to defend Israel
from terrorism or even to destroy the Shiite Hezbollah movement
is belied by the Israeli bombing campaign that is now striking
targets and claiming victims far from the Shiite centers of south
Lebanon and the southern suburbs of Beirut.
In one of the worst atrocities since the war began, an Israeli
air strike claimed the lives of over 33 farm workers, blown to
pieces as they loaded plums and peaches onto trucks at a farm
warehouse in the far north of the Bekaa Valley, near the Syrian
border. At least another 20 people were wounded in the attack.
Most of the victims were Syrian Kurds. They were taken across
the border to Syrian hospitals, because previous bombing raids
had demolished roads leading to hospitals in Lebanon itself.
This massacre of farm workers followed airstrikes that systematically
demolished bridges on the main coastal highway linking Beirut
and the Lebanese south to the northern half of the country. Marking
the first major attacks on the predominantly Christian North,
these attacks served to cut the country in two and to cut off
the sole remaining lifeline for relief supplies from abroad. At
least five people were killed in these bombings, which were conducted
during the morning rush hour, including motorists who were crushed
to death as the bridges were bombed from beneath them.
In the south of Lebanon, near the Israeli border, yet another
horror was reported Friday, after Israeli airstrikes demolished
two homes where civilians were apparently seeking refuge from
the military offensive. According to Lebanese officials some 57
people were trapped beneath the rubble of the buildings, and it
was unknown how many were dead and if there were survivors.
Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes have resumed their bombings of
the urban Shiite neighborhoods of southern Beirut, demolishing
apartment buildings, roadways and other structures. Planes have
dropped leaflets demanding that all residents of the crowded urban
districts flee for their lives.
After nearly four weeks of Israeli attacks, Lebanon’s
Prime Minister Fouad Siniora declared in a speech broadcast to
an emergency session of the Organization of the Islamic Conference
convened in Malaysia, that 900 civilians have been killed in Lebanon,
3,000 wounded, and more than one million, a quarter of the Lebanese
population, have been turned into internal refugees. A third of
the dead, he said, were children under the age of 12.
The Israeli campaign to cut Lebanon off from the outside world
while severing one part of the country from another is threatening
to create a humanitarian catastrophe that could cause even more
deaths than the bombs and shells being dropped on the country’s
Israel has been enforcing a total air and sea blockade of Lebanon
since mid-July. As a result, fuel supplies are running critically
low, threatening to plunge the country into darkness. Fuel tankers
have been turned away by Israeli warships. The most immediate
catastrophic impact is that major hospitals, including ones that
remained open during the civil war of the 1970s, are being forced
to close because of lack of fuel and medicine, as well as the
inability of staff to get to work. Medical personnel have warned
that critical patients will likely die as a result of the blockade.
Throughout Beirut and the rest of the country, power outages
are becoming commonplace, with some areas getting only two hours
of electricity a day. Meanwhile, stores are running out of essential
Lebanon’s President Emile Lahoud issued a statement accusing
Israel of waging a "war of starvation" against the Lebanese
people. "It is an aggression that has exceeded Israel’s
declared objectives. Israel has now decided to destroy Lebanon,"
The effect of Friday’s bombing of the key bridges linking
the north and south of the country is to accelerate this destruction
by cutting off the last route for aid entering the country.
The deliberate sabotaging of any attempts at relieving the
suffering of the Lebanese people threatens to have catastrophic
consequences. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned that
the contamination of drinking water due to the destruction of
infrastructure and the cutoff of fuel supplies threatened south
Lebanon and its displaced population in particular with the outbreak
of deadly epidemics.
Lahoud’s statement is not merely an emotional denunciation
of the savage Israeli attack on Lebanon, but rather an accurate
appraisal of the real objectives of this war.
The Bush administration in Washington and the government of
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Israel, have launched a war whose
aim it is to smash Lebanon as a country, using mass terror to
expel entire populations and to reduce the nation as a whole to
the status of a semi-colonial protectorate, wholly subordinated
to the interests of Washington and the Zionist regime.
The war aims are emerging out of the barbaric methods that
are being employed against the people of Lebanon. For Israel,
it appears increasingly likely that the objective is the annexation
of a significant portion of Lebanese territory, after it has been
emptied of its civilian population through the means of massacres
and terror. Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz has ordered the
military to prepare to drive all the way to the Litani River,
15 miles north of the border. The control of this river has been
a strategic objective of the Zionists since before the founding
of the Israeli state.
The experience of the last 40 years have demonstrated that
Israel is a state without fixed borders. The momentum of each
new war expands its control over new territory to meet its supposed
security needs. In Lebanon, the Israeli state is pursuing the
equivalent of what was referred to under Hitler’s Third Reich
as lebensraum—the killing or expulsion of populations
viewed as inferior in order to repopulate their land.
For Washington, the Israeli offensive has a far broader significance.
The destruction of Lebanon is seen as a stepping stone to the
launching of new aggressive wars aimed at achieving "regime
change" in Syria and Iran. The unconditional US support for
Israel’s criminal war against the Lebanese people is driven
most fundamentally by US imperialism’s strategic goal of
establishing its undisputed domination of the Middle East and
its oil wealth.
This was undoubtedly the same goal that motivated US support
for last year’s so-called "Cedar Revolution." That
this event and the elections that followed only served to strengthen
Hezbollah’s political influence was seen by Washington as
an intolerable impediment to its aims, best remedied through the
use of murderous military force.
The naked aims of US imperialism found expression in a column
published Friday by Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post,
one of the most consistent proponents of the Bush administration’s
policy of militarism in the Middle East. "America’s
green light for Israel to defend itself is seen as a favor to
Israel," he wrote. "But that is a tendentious, misleadingly
partial analysis. The green light—indeed, the encouragement—is
also an act of clear self-interest. America wants, America needs,
a decisive Hezbollah defeat."
Krauthammer criticized Israel not for the murderous character
of its war against the Lebanese people, but rather for failing
to utilize even greater force. Washington, he wrote, had "counted
on Israel’s ability to do the job. It has been disappointed.
Prime Minister Olmert has provided unsteady and uncertain leadership.
Foolishly relying on air power alone, he denied his generals the
ground offensive they wanted, only to reverse himself later."
These are the real sentiments within the Bush administration.
It wants Israel to get on with the business of mass killing in
Lebanon, bringing the casualties into the tens if not hundreds
of thousands to achieve US objectives.
That the brutality of this strategy is provoking massive upheavals
throughout the Middle East is beyond dispute. Much of it is directed
against the abject hypocrisy and criminality of the American role
in planning and supporting this bloody enterprise. It should be
recalled that not too many years ago official Washington and the
American mass media was waging a massive campaign invoking "ethnic
cleansing" in Kosovo as a pretext for war in the Balkans.
Now it is rushing bombs and missiles to Israel in order to facilitate
the rapid cleansing of south Lebanon of its entire Shiite population
through the indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas.
Over 100,000 marched in the predominantly Shiite neighborhood
of Sadr City in Baghdad on Friday denouncing Israel and the US
for the war in Lebanon and vowing to fight the US occupation.
Right-wing Arab regimes such as in Jordan and Egypt have been
forced to distance themselves from Washington.
And the Beirut newspaper Daily Star warned in an editorial
on Friday that the war is exacerbating "the conspicuous disenchantment
of large segments—perhaps majorities—of Arab public
opinion with their own government policies." It added, "The
consequences are ominous in a region with so much of the world’s
energy reserves, and so many governments and ordinary citizens
willing to use the most awful kind of violence to achieve their
goals. The signs of radicalization that continue to manifest themselves
in various Arab countries, as a consequence of the war between
Lebanon and Israel, must not be ignored."
The Bush administration seems oblivious to this apparently
sound advice. Having led the country into the disastrous quagmire
of Iraq, it is welcoming the possibility of new wars and new terrorist
attacks as a means of reinvigorating its flagging "global
war on terrorism."
The growth of mass opposition to the policies of Israel and
Washington will be attributed to "terrorism," and the
pretexts will be found for new and even more terrible wars.
The ostensible opposition party in Washington, meanwhile, is
vying with the administration over which of them is the most enthusiastic
supporter of the Israeli war on Lebanon.
Representative of this party is Hillary Clinton, the Democratic
senator from New York and leading candidate for the party’s
presidential nomination in 2006.
Speaking in Buffalo, New York on Tuesday, just days after scores
of people, the majority of them children, were massacred in the
village of Qana, Clinton reiterated her unconditional backing
for the Israeli state. The US, she said, "needs to take the
lead in protecting Israel. It has to guarantee Israel’s security...whether
that means putting troops in or not, I don’t know."
Not a word of sympathy or concern for the bleeding Lebanese
population passed Clinton’s lips. This attitude is not the
exception, but the rule, for the entire American political establishment
as well as the mass media. Atrocities that recall nothing so much
as the crimes of German and Italian fascism in the 1930s—Ethiopia,
Guernica, the Blitzkrieg against Poland—are treated as perfectly
acceptable and understandable acts of Israeli "self-defense."
Underlying this utter lack of morality lie the class interests
of America’s ruling oligarchy, which has determined that
its global interests can best be furthered through the utilization
of unrestrained militarism.
In the end, American working people will be forced to pay the
price for this seemingly insane policy. The costs of US militarism
will be increasingly felt in the destruction of living standards
and what little remains of social services for working people
Moreover, the ever-widening war in the Middle East cannot be
sustained much longer without the imposition of the military draft.
It is highly probable that once the 2006 midterm elections are
over, a bipartisan effort will be mounted—no doubt spearheaded
by the Democrats—to resurrect the dragooning of American
youth into the expeditionary forces that are being prepared to
wage the so-called "long war" for US imperialist hegemony.
The struggle against war can be advanced only through the independent
political mobilization of working people based upon a socialist
program that seeks the international unification of workers in
every country in a common struggle against the global financial
and corporate interests that dominate the planet. The Socialist
Equality Party is intervening in the 2006 elections in order to
advance such an alternative.