Those that know the “real” history of the Middle East are not shocked with the recent tragic deaths of so many innocent people. They know that this episode, along with so many other atrocities will soon be forgotten. It is the nature of things that it is always the winners and the powerful that write the history. The weak and the conquered are always the ones that are blamed for all the misfortune that has befallen them.
Looking back, we see that these atrocities have been happening for a long time and with some regularity. Those involved then are indirectly involved now. They cheer, the slaughter of the innocent and the defenceless, now as they did then. Iraq in 1920s (as she is today) was occupied by a western power, namely Britain. T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) a colonel in the British army seeing the atrocities committed by British army questioned the morality of what the British government was doing in Iraq. In an article that was published on 8 August 1920, he wrote the following:
“These risings take a regular course. There is a preliminary Arab success, then British reinforcements go out as a punitive force. They fight their way (our losses are slight, the Arab losses heavy) to their objective, which is meanwhile bombarded by artillery, aeroplanes, or gunboats. Finally, perhaps, a village is burnt and the district pacified. It is odd that we do not use poison gas on these occasions. Bombing the houses is a patchy way of getting the women and children, and our infantry always incur losses in shooting down the Arab men. By gas attacks the whole population of offending districts could be wiped out neatly; and as a method of government it would be no more immoral than the present system.”[]
As you see, things haven’t changed much. The Arabs are still being killed and the leading Western leaders still cheer on the slaughter.
Today, as the people of Lebanon and the Muslim world mourn the death of so many of their children, the Israeli offensive is continuing, albeit with reduced air activity. So far the Israeli Army despite its tremendous superiority has not been able to break the Hezbollah’s defensive lines in any serious or meaningful way. Everyone hopes that the senseless killing of so many innocent women and children by Israel, will at least on moral grounds, force Bush and Blair to stop the Israeli atrocities.
But alas morality has never played a major role in any war, and it certainly will not play any role in this one. The Israeli strategy of systematically bombing civilians, using Depleted Uranium on civilians [], using cluster bombs [] on villages, towns, and cities, firing on ambulances and refugees fleeing their homes [] and destroying infrastructure is considered by many to be war crimes. Unfortunately, as long as these atrocities are tacitly approved and indeed cheered by Mr. Bush and Blair, these war crimes will be considered as normal acts of war.
But let us be honest, who really cares if 10, 20 or even 100 kids are blown to pieces? How many Iraqi children were killed during the invasion of Iraq or for that matter how many died as the result of US sanctions? Do you know? When Madeline Allbright was asked in 60 Minutes of CBS in 1996 whether it was worth to kill over 500,000 children in Iraq, she said that it was worth it. But it is unfair to blame you in Belgium or Sweden for not caring. After all, if the governments of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt keep silent and indeed help Israel, why should you care?
If Saudi Arabia was to reduce its oil export by one million barrels a day, even for a short time, the whole world would put an end to these atrocities in no time at all. But the “Holy Custodian” of the two mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud and friends are too busy paying tribute to their master in Washington, than actually doing anything constructive.
As for us, well, as long as we don’t see these children’s faces or their mangled bodies on the TV, everything is fine. We must thank the “embedded” journalists for keeping these horrors out of our living rooms. They did a good job in Iraq, but unfortunately since US and British troops are not present in Lebanon, Journalists are allowed to film and take pictures. Although in all fairness, I have to mention that a lot of really horrible stuff is kindly censured, ooops sorry, sanitised before being published.
So, since US and Britain are actually for the war in Lebanon, it is perhaps time for UN to intervene and pass a resolution against Israel. But, again the US and Britain have the power of veto. The events leading to the invasion of Iraq has shown that UN is not capable of stopping US or its allies. UN is often used as a rubber stamp of convenience for the major powers. They don’t need its approval to invade other nations, and they certainly don’t care about its disapproval. United Nation today, is not even capable of passing a resolution “condemning” the killing of its own unarmed observers, let alone trying to stop Israel. It seems appealing to UN has become like shouting to the deaf, pointless.
But again who cares? Well, to start with, if you are a citizen of a NATO country you should be alarmed, because the powers to be are planning to get the NATO into major wars in the East. It would not be surprising to see that US, Britain, or Israel demand the stationing of NATO troops in Lebanon as the price for agreeing to a ceasefire. They have already got NATO involved in Afghanistan, so Lebanon should not be that difficult.
Today, on July 31st, NATO forces officially took over the Southern Afghan campaign. According to Forbes “about 8,000 mostly British, Canadian and Dutch troops have deployed in southern Afghanistan as NATO’s International Security Assistance Force expands its presence from the more stable north and west of the country. The mission is considered the most dangerous and challenging in the Western alliance’s 57-year history. It coincides with the deadliest upsurge in fighting in Afghanistan since late 2001 that has killed hundreds of people - mostly militants - since May” [].
I should perhaps remind you that Afghan war was America’s war that later was forced on UN, and now it is turned into a NATO war. Similarly, for quite some time, the US tried to turn the Iraq war into a NATO war. As soon as the Iraq was invaded, the Neocons started asking NATO to join in the fighting. In 2003 William Kristol and others of the “Project for the New American Century” issued their second invitation to NATO to enter Iraq. In their second statement they wrote:
“We write in strong support of efforts by Prime Minister Tony Blair to "get America and Europe working again together as partners and not as rivals….
The most important transatlantic institution is NATO, and the Alliance should assume a prominent role in post-war Iraq. Given NATO’s capabilities and expertise, it should become integrally involved as soon as possible in the post-war effort. In particular, NATO should actively support efforts to secure and destroy all of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction stockpiles and production facilities (a task that should unite the United States, Canada and all European allies committed to peace and non-proliferation), ensure peace and stability are maintained in postwar Iraq, and assist in the rebuilding of Iraq’s infrastructure and the delivery of humanitarian relief” []
And to cap it all, the US and friends are trying very hard to bring Israel into NATO, thereby ensuring the NATO’s involvement in all future wars.
“The 42nd Annual Conference about the security policy was held in Munich between February 4-5, 2006. The 300 participants discussed about expanding NATO and the Iranian crisis. Angela Merkel, Donald Rumsfeld, John McCain, Michèle Alliot-Marie and Mijail Sakachvili succeeded each other at the platform.
NATO expansion project to include the US allies had been explicitly requested in a report submitted by the former Spanish Prime Minister José-Mar?a Aznar, L’OTAN, une alliance pour la liberté in which he talked about the possibility of including not only Ukraine and Georgia, but also Japan and Australia, and why not Israel. The Alliance would become then a permanent coalition for the service of Good as defined by the White House” [].
But since the decision to bring Israel into NATO is still controversial and requires more PR, at the end of June 2006, they decided to include Israel in the joint NATO exercises that took place in the Black Sea. . Israelis were naturally very happy with the development. They were getting closer to their dream of having not only US army on their side, but all of the Europeans too.
“Lt.-Col. Ilan Lavi told the Jerusalem Post," The excitement is great. We feel like we are making history by becoming the first Israeli ship to participate in a NATO exercise." Lavi explained that it was important that Israel learns different operating systems, especially NATO’s. "The idea is to create a better dialogue between us and NATO," explained Lavi” [].
Recently José-Mar?a Aznar the ex-prime minister of Spain, in an interview (Hard Talk, BBC) gave the impression that not only he wanted Israel in NATO, but that it was NATO’s job to take care of Lebanon.
So now we run the risk of seeing NATO, the defensive organisation that was created to defend its members against USSR, embarking on the war of conquest orchestrated by US or Israel. The funny part about this is that people do not seem to realise that it is they, through their blood and taxes, that have to pay for the coming wars. US would love nothing more to see others pay for the cost of war in Iraq. Similarly, Israel would love nothing more to see German, Italian, French, or Spanish soldiers getting killed in Lebanon, not to mention paying for the war as well.
Today, the US and Israel will try their best to get NATO troops involved in Lebanon. Tomorrow, it will be Gaza, and the day after it will be Iran and later Syria.
Today, the same UN that could not pass a resolution to condemn Israel for killing its unarmed observers passed a resolution, threatening Iran with sanctions. Who will enforce these sanctions? And when the sanctions don’t work, who is going to start bombing Iran? US and… NATO. And before you know it Europeans are knee-deep in blood, fighting in far away places, wondering how on earth they got into this mess in the first place.
I have already warned that we are in the middle of a cold war (read Cold War II). If the Europeans are not careful, they will be dragged into the WWIII. The current US administration and its backers have, by their own admission, made many mistakes. Those mistakes have cost the American people thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars, not to mention the unbelievable suffering of the Iraqis. We are well advised to keep clear of the US-Israeli actions in the Middle East, lest we also become partners in war crimes.
Dr. Abbas Bakhtiar lives in Norway. He is a consultant and a contributing writer for many online journals. He’s a former associate professor of Northland University, Norway. [email protected]
 T. E. Lawrence, ’France, Britain, and the Arabs’ by Col. T. E. Lawrence, The Observer, 8 August 1920
No. 6,742, 8 August 1920, contains ’France, Britain and the Arabs: the beam in our own eye: the road to peace in Mesopotamia’, by T. E. Lawrence (p. 10 col. 4).