What explains the indifference of the Bush administration to the slaughter of civilians in Iraq, Lebanon, and Gaza?
As of the morning of July 19, Israeli bombardments of Lebanese civilian residential districts and public infrastructure have murdered 300 Lebanese, wounded 1,000, and displaced 500,000. The Lebanese prime minister said that Israel's attack has caused "unimaginable losses" and that his government will seek compensation from Israel.
In Gaza Israel has murdered scores of Palestinian civilians in the past few days.
In Iraq the civilian daily death toll has risen above 100.
These dead are not Hezbollah militia. They are not Hamas militia. They are not al Qaeda or Sunni insurgents. They are civilians.
Frustrated by Hezbollah, Israel is lashing out at hapless civilians, knowing that the US will protect Israel from UN Security Council condemnation.
Frustrated by Sunni insurgents, the US has instigated sectarian strife.
Bush has stonewalled the UN, our European allies, and the Lebanese prime minister, all of whom are calling and pleading for Bush to pressure the Israelis to stop their cowardly slaughter from the air of Lebanese civilians.
The Guardian (July 19) reports that Bush gave Israel the green light to attack Lebanon and has given Olmert another week to pound Lebanon.
US Secretary of State Condi Rice has announced that she will go to the Middle East to resolve "the crisis" when it is appropriate.
Apparently, the appropriate time is not when people are dying and a country, which had only just recovered from the last Israeli invasion, is again being bombed into rubble.
How many more war crimes must Israel commit before Bush and Condi Rice put aside their indifference?
On July 19 the Israelis turned their air attack on the Christian area of Beirut. The Lebanese Christians can thank the American evangelical Rev. John. Hagee, who has thrown his 18,000 member Texas church behind Israeli aggression.
Bush cannot claim public support for his indifference.
As of noon July 19, 800,000 people had participated in CNN's Quick Vote, with the result that 55% oppose Israel's attack on Lebanon. This result is despite the fact that US television reporting explains the news from the Israeli perspective.
Similarly, in Israel a survey published by Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth showed 53 per cent of Israelis polled said Israel should hold negotiations to secure the release of the Israeli soldier captured in Gaza, while 43 per cent backed a military operation.
A poll taken by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that 28 per cent of Israelis believe Israel should immediately stop bombing Lebanon, compared to 7 per cent who believe that the bombing should continue until the captured soldiers are freed, and 14 per cent who believe bombing should continue until Lebanon agrees to disarm Hezbollah—a task that Israel's invasion has made more impossible than ever.
If these polls are reliable, one can conclude that the US and Israeli populations are more moral, and more concerned with human life, than are the leaders of the two countries.
Neither can Bush claim that he is supporting Israel because he is Israel's friend. If Bush were Israel's friend, he would not have given a green light to Israel's aggression, which will create more hatred of Israel.
As a number of Israeli writers have pointed out, Israel has shown tooth and claw to its Arab neighbors for decades to no avail.
Writing in Haaretz (July 19) Yitzhak Laor notes that Israel's problems are not the result of insufficient bombing and destruction of Arab populations. Yet, once again Israeli militants are "enlarging the circle of hostilities, including harming civilians. What Israel's 'strategists' have to offer is the destruction of yet another country."
Laor says the Americans can do this in Iraq with less consequence for themselves, because "the Americans do not intend to live in this region." Israelis cannot afford to show only tooth and claw to its neighbors, because "we do live here."
It sometimes seems Bush goes beyond indifference to contentment with the slaughter of Muslim civilians. Bush has even come across as gleeful as if he is on a dove hunt in a baited Texas field where joy resides in the killing of countless birds.
Many Muslims believe that Bush and Israel see them as animals to be slain. On July 17, neocon John Bolton, Bush's unconfirmed ambassador to the UN, gave credence to this Muslim belief when he announced that Israelis killed by terrorists were more important than the Lebanese civilians killed by Israel. Bolton said that there is no "moral equivalence" between Lebanese civilians killed by Israel and Israeli civilians killed by Muslim terrorists:
"It's simply not the same thing to say that it's the same act to deliberately target innocent civilians, to desire their deaths, to fire rockets and use explosive devices or kidnapping versus the sad and highly unfortunate consequences of self-defense."
In Bolton's sick mind, Lebanese civilians are not experiencing terrorism when Israel deliberately targets them and drops high explosives on their apartment buildings, streets, bridges, power plants, and bombs the Beirut International Airport.
This, says Bolton, is Israel acting in self-defense.
If Israel grabs Palestinian or Lebanese land and murders civilians, that is "self-defense," but if someone responds to Israeli aggression with a rocket, that is "Muslim terrorism."
The world is sick of this double-standard. Unfortunately, not enough Americans and Israelis are.
Consequently, conflict will continue and escalate. Laor writes that "the director of the American Jewish Committee's Israel/Middle East Office, Eran Lerman, is already recommending going to war against Syria."
And so are the American neoconservatives who control the Bush administration, Washington think tanks, and media positions once held by true American conservatives.
Isolated in their evil, the neoconservatives are frantically and shrilly demanding that Bush join Israel in military attacks on Syria and Iran in order to "build democracy" and to clear the Middle East of any opposition to Israel's unbridled self-interest. The crazed David Horowitz writes that "Israel is doing the work of the rest of the civilized world."
Neoconservatives believe that the US and Israel can extirpate Islam with fire and sword and that the present opportunity to escalate the current conflict into generalized war in the Middle East must not be missed.
Neocon warmongers have stolen the conservative name, the Republican Party, and a portion of the evangelical movement.
Are Americans too inattentive and too brainwashed to prevent their moronic president and his neocon government from initiating a dangerous war?
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Paul Craig Roberts [email him] was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider's Account of Policymaking in Washington; Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter Brimelow's Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.