Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The July War Series, Part I - The US Involvement in the Israeli Aggression

The July War Series, Part I - The US Involvement in the Israeli Aggression

19/07/2009 By Yusuf Fernandez
July 19, 2009

One of the main losers of the 2006 July War was the United States and particularly the Bush Administration. The Bush government´s policies were framed by the pro-Israeli lobby and particularly the neocon gang -a group of extremist pro-Israeli individuals working in and out of the Administration. Neocons were the responsible for launching the Iraq war and those who persuaded an ignorant president to promote some crazy plans to “redraw” the Middle East and surrender it to Israeli hegemony. The first step in this process was the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
After the invasion, the Bush Administration set up its following goals: the destruction of the Palestinian and Lebanese Resistance and the weakening, or even invasion, of Syria and Iran. However, the things started to go wrong in Iraq, where the insurgency started a guerrillas war against the US troops and American casualties began growing. The insurgency frustrated all attempts of the US occupiers to establish security, rebuild infrastructure, or transport vital resources, such as the oil. When Hamas won the parliamentary election in Palestine on January 25, 2006, the Bush Administration got furious.

That summer, Lebanon then became the focal point. Presidente George W. Bush gave Israel green light to try to destroy Hezbollah as the first stage of a wider campaign against Syria and Iran. If this campaign were successful, the US and Israel could control the world´s most crucial natural resources and the growth of China, India, Germany and other potential rivals in the 21st century.

These plans were mentioned in a document “A Clean Break: New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” which was presented to Netanyahu when he became Israeli Prime Minister in 1996. Its authors included some notorious neocons such as Richard Perle, former Defense Department official Douglas Feith -who manipulated the US intelligence to try to justify the Iraq invasion from an Office in the Pentagon- and extremists such as David and Meyrav Wurmser. That document called Israel to “seize the initiative along its northern border” against Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran.

According to several sources, the Israelis had originally planned to launch a war against Lebanon in September or October with the support of the Bush Administration. There were also domestic political considerations for the US support. Bush believed that a war in the Middle East some weeks before November´s congress election would strengthen Republican candidates.

However, Israeli Primer Minister decided to attack Lebanon in July and used the pretext of a military operation of Hezbollah which killed three Israeli soldiers and led to the capture of other two to initiate the war on Lebanon.

The Bush Administration welcomed the Israeli attack on Lebanon and made no attempt to conceal their involvement in the conflict. US journalist Seymour Hersh wrote an article in the New Yorker, in which he claims that “President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney were convinced, current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials told me, that a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against Hezbollah´s heavily fortified underground-missile and command-and-control complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel’s security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American preemptive attack to destroy Iran´s nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground.”

The New York Times revealed on July 21, 2006 that the Bush administration had rushed a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel to help it in its fight against Hezbollah. Therefore, US fingerprints were found all over the war, including on the July 30 massacre of civilians at Qana. Israel bombed Qana with US-made F-16 fighter planes, while a bomb fragment found at the Qana bombing site read, “Guided Bomb BSU-37/B”- which is produced by the Boeing corporation. The US supplied Israel with fuel for its military aircraft to the value of 210 million dollars immediately after the Israeli air force destroyed Beirut International Airport. It then provided it with satellite-inteligence and high-explosive bombs to pound buildings, bridges, roads and infrastructure, including telephone and TV transmission stations.

The World Policy Institute added: “During the Bush administration, from 2001 to 2005, Israel actually received more in US military aid than it has in US arms deliveries. Over this time period Israel received 10.5 billion dollars in Foreign Military Financing -the Pentagon´s biggest military aid programme- and 6.3 billion dollars in US arms deliveries. The aid figure is larger than the arms transfer figure because it includes financing for major arms agreements for which the equipment has yet to be fully delivered. The most prominent of these deals is a 4.5 billion dollar sale of 102 Lockheed Martin F-16s to Israel.”

The statements by US officials were full of hypocrisy and cynicism. While Israeli killing machine was bombing Lebanese cities and villages, destroying infrastructures and killing hundreds of helpless civilians, Bush insisted that “Israel has a right to defend herself.” Bush also blamed Iran and Syria for their support for Hezbollah at the same time that the US was giving all kind of advanced weapons and financial aid to Israel. In addition, Bush repeated once and again his ridiculous statements which described Hezbollah as a “terrorist organization.” As one political analyst said: “The poor man just does not get it.”

On July 17, the US ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, stated that the civilian victims of Israelis airstrikes in Lebanon were not “morally equal” to those who die because of “terrorist attacks.” “It is a mistake to ascribe a moral equivalence to civilians who die as the direct resulte of malicious terrorist acts, the very purpose of which are to kill civilians, and the tragic and unfortunate consequence of civilian deaths as a result of military action taken in self-defense” of Israel, he said.

The US Senate passed unanimously a resolution unconditionally supporting the Israeli aggression. This is not surprising taking into account that almost the entire US political class is under the control of the pro-Israeli lobby and its main organization, the AIPAC. Israel is the only state in the world imposing collective punishments on civilian populations and kill women and children without any restraint, knowing that the US veto is guaranteed.

On NBC´s “Meet the Press” programme, former Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, far right wing extremist Newt Gingrich, not only defended Israel´s aggression and called for Hezbollah to be “cleared out” of southern Lebanon, but he also said that the events in Lebanon were part of a “new world war” against “terrorism” and “terrorist regimes” such as North Korea, Iran and Syria.

Actually, Bush and his neoconservative advisers saw the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah as an opportunity to expand the conflict into Syria and achieve the long-sought “regime change” in Damascus. On 30 April, the Jerusalem Post hinted at the Israeli rejection of Bush’s suggestion of a wider war in Syria. “Defense officials told the Post last week that they were receiving indications from the US that America would be interested in seeing Israel attack Syria,” the newspaper reported. However, Israel´s leadership rejected this US suggestion, according to Israeli sources. One Israeli source said Bush´s interest in spreading the war to Syria was considered “a stupidity” by some senior Israeli officials, especially at a time when Israel was seeing that it was incapable to defeat Hezbollah.

For her part, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Rice made a visit to Beirut while US bombs were falling on the Lebanese capital and other cities across the country. In Beirut, Rice reiterated the US support for the Lebanese government, which she considered to be anti-Syrian, at the same time that she was backing Israeli air strikes against Lebanon. Rice said that the criminal Israeli attack on Lebanon was the birth of a “new Middle East”.

She was right. The July War was the birth of a new Middle East but not that of the US and Israel were waiting for but a new Middle East, free from US and Israeli subjugation. The first surprised was that Hezbollah defeated Israeli troops killing more than 150 Israeli soldiers and destroying or damaging dozens of Merkava tanks. Also, the Resistance continued launching hundreds of rockets and missiles on Israeli targets until the last day of the war. The Israeli economic activity was disrupted in a large part of the occupied territories and hundreds of thousands of Israelies were forced to live in underground shelters. The Haifa port was also attacked. The image of a “victorious Israeli army” vanished in only some few days.

US analysts soon saw that Hezbollah, Lebanon and Syria would not permit the United States or Israel to dictate their terms and conditions to them. In fact, the Israeli military defeat in Lebanon was strengthening Hezbollah in Lebanon and the whole Arab world, where the leader of Hezbollah, Sayyed Nasrallah, was becoming the most popular personality. For its part, Syria, which had left Lebanon in 2005, was also seen as enhancing again its influence over its neighbour. Many Lebanese then understood that Syria was a necessary ally and the Arab strategic profoundness that they country needed.

At the same time, the American support for the Israeli aggression made the image of the United States in the world suffer massively. The US was seen as the force behind the criminal Israeli agression and responsible for repeated Israeli war crimes. In this sense, the Lebanon war destroyed any credibility of the US government in the Middle East and the Muslim world. Warren Christopher, former US secretary of state criticized what he said it was “a recipe for frustration and failure.” “Every day America gives the green light to further Israeli violence, our already tattered reputation sinks even lower,” he warned.

US support for Israel outraged the Lebanese population. A third of the Lebanese dead in the war were children under the age of 12. “We did not use to be against the Americans, but now we are. They are against us,” said Fatima Haider, a Lebanese who lived in the district of Ein el-Mreiseh in Beirut, to the Reuters reporter Tom Perry. She remembered that when a bomb destroyed the US Embassy in Beirut in April 1983, her family rushed to help American survivors. However, in the July war her home was destroyed by US-made bombs.

Many Lebanese understood that all US support for the so-called the “Cedar Revolution” only sought to eliminate Syrian influence over Lebanon, force Syrian troops to leave the country and destroy Lebanon as an independent and sovereign state and turn the country into a US-Israeli protectorate. In contrast, many of the naïve Lebanese that believed for a moment that the US Administration could have a sincere interest in promoting the democracy in its country, became outraged at American support for the Israeli aggression.

“America is being held responsible for Israel´s behavior,” Shibley Telhami of the Brookings Institution, told Reuters. “Arabs view her “new Middle East” talk with disdain.” “It is clear America´s support for Israel during the 34 days of bombing will not be forgotten.” said Fawaz Gerges, a professor at Sarah Lawrence College in New York, to ABC News.

Other Arab experts warned that Bush´s policies had created a new generation of Arab youth perceiving the US as an enemy and had left the US more isolated than at any time since the Iraq invasion three years ago. Even in Kuwait, the same people who had taken to the streets in 1991 to celebrate the exit of the Iraqi troops and waved US flags and pictures of George Bush father, were burning American flags and chanting “Death to Israel and America.”

All these factors meant a disaster for the US position, which was becoming weaker and weaker each day. This forced the Bush Administration to change its mind about a ceasefire, especially after some senior Republicans, including chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate, Richard Lugar, and several members of the inner circle of the former president Bush father, such as Brent Scowcroft, who served under the first Bush administration as national security advisor, openly advocated for an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon.

This new position was a fruit of the disappointment of the Bush Administration with the Israeli defeat in Lebanon. As the New York Times reported: “A senior administration official in Crawford, Texas, where Mr. Bush is on vacation, said that it increasingly seemed that Israel would not be able to achieve a military victory, a realization that led the Americans to get behind a cease-fire.”

Finally, the US plans were proven to be a complete failure. London-based newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi said what the US Administration did not expect was that Hezbollah did not only survive but it also dealt a severe blow to Israel. “The past weeks of hostilities,” the paper insisted, showed that Hezbollah had managed to minimize its losses and that (political and military) situation was starting to favour the organization.” Therefore, “the longer the Israeli aggression, the more advantages for the resistance.” In this sense, “Israel´s failure in Lebanon was also the US´s failure”.

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