Chest-Beating — While Losing the War

Mother Jones Website
News: Daily Dispatches from the War-Torn Lebanese Capital
By Dahr Jamail

I’d been wondering why there have been fewer war planes buzzing over Beirut the last several days. Even Dahaya, the utterly devastated southern area of the capital, has been bombed less–while still receiving a good pounding most afternoons, there have clearly been fewer bombs echoing across the capital.

Israel, after claiming to have control of the small southern city of Bint Jbail, merely a few kilometers inside Lebanon, lost at least 13 soldiers there recently. The official count of nine deaths is widely believed here to be false.

The fog of war, of course, is thick.

Bush claims he is “troubled” by the widespread destruction caused by Israeli air strikes across Lebanon. “Troubled” while green-lighting Israel to continue to do what it wishes. But not “troubled” enough to have his UN crony John Bolton veto a U.N. resolution condemning the slaughter of four U.N. observers in the south. While so many Americans choose to continue their sleep-walk through history, the rest of the world gets what is going on. Already the U.S. is paying a heavy political price for its unbridled support of the Israeli assault against the people of Lebanon.

The chest-beating Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had his justice minister, Haim Ramon, tell people yesterday that everyone in southern Lebanon will be regarded as a terrorist, as their military prepared to employ “huge firepower” against Hezbollah.

“What we should do in southern Lebanon is employ huge firepower before a ground force goes in,” quizzled Ramon at a security cabinet meeting headed by Olmert, “Everyone in southern Lebanon is a terrorist and is connected to Hezbollah. Our great advantage vis-a-vis Hezbollah is our firepower, not in face-to-face combat.”

Yes–Bint Jbail has shown them this. That they will hold off on the larger scale invasion, as it would be a disaster for Israel to face one Bint Jbail after another. A gross analogy for Bint Jbail would be Fallujah, April 2004. There is now a short grace period for the women, children and elderly “terrorists” there who can’t leave. Lebanese Red Crescent workers have told me that they can’t get there to evacuate people, because they are too afraid more of their ambulances will be bombed by war planes.

So it will be another “shock and awe” before rolling in the ground troops. Read-Fallujah, November 2004.

And like Fallujah, which the U.S. military has failed to have control of at any time following the leveling of that city, Israel will find the same in southern Lebanon. Despite the fact that they are acting as a Middle Eastern arm for the American Empire, and obediently labeling anyone who resists them as a “terrorist.”

Israel’s Vietnam–their failed 18 year occupation of southern Lebanon which ended in 2000, is fresh in their minds. Elias Hanna, a researcher of military affairs said recently, “Israelis are traumatized by their negative experience during the invasion of Lebanon in 1982. They are afraid of suffering more losses in every village they try to conquer.”

And suffer those losses they will, even after dropping ton after ton of U.S. made bombs from their U.S. supplied F-16’s on, among others, the women and children of southern Lebanon who are unable to escape.

Clearly, the Israeli short-term memory of their Vietnam experience is even shorter than that of the American military planners, who recently decided to extend the tours of over 3,000 troops in Iraq.

In a televised address this Tuesday, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, said the Israeli attack on Lebanon is an attempt by the U.S. and Israel to “impose a new Middle East” in which Lebanon would be under US hegemony.

And he’s right. The following day Al-Jazeera released a story titled, “Israeli invasion of Lebanon planned by neocons in June (2006).”

The story reads: “It was done at a June 17 and 18 meeting at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) conference in Beaver Creek, Colorado at which former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Likud Knesset member Natan Sharansky met with US Vice President Dick Cheney [the true president of this “administration”.] The purpose was to discuss the planned and impending Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) invasions of Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon. Cheney was thoroughly briefed and approved the coming assaults – before Hamas’ capture of an IDF soldier on June 25 or Hezbollah’s capturing of two others in an exchange first reported as occurring in Israel and now believed to have happened inside Lebanon after IDF forces illegally entered the country.”

Most people I have discussed this with here in Lebanon get it. They understand U.S. hegemony, after being betrayed by the Americans over and over again. Betrayed only because it was their mistake to trust the empire in the first place. And Lebanese understand that the Israeli attack is an extension of that empire.

This is reflected in a poll recently released by the Beirut Center for Research and Information. 87% of Lebanese support Hezbullah’s fight with Israel. It isn’t suprising to me, after interviewing Christians and Sunni Mulsims here, who in the past tended not to support Hezbollah in any way, that most of them now thought that the Hezbollah resistance of Israeli aggression was completely legitimate.

The poll reflected this as well, stating that 80 percent of Christians supported Hezbollah, alog with 80 percent of the Druze and 89 percent of the Sunnis.

The same poll found that a whopping 8 percent of Lebanese feel that the U.S. supports them.

Originally posted on Mother Jones website