MIDDLE EAST -- MY RESPONSE TO PAUL BRUCE

(See Communication Page in this issue)

By William Markiewicz

Paul Bruce -- I didn't understand your comment about Qadaffi.

There is an old Polish legend about a mythological King Popiel who was devoured by mice. People who think that "mice" will attack the U.S. to devour it suffer from "King Popiel Syndrome." Nobody would ever attack the U.S. without provocation. Do you really believe that people so easily sacrifice their lives just for the pleasure of harming a giant? The world is not anti-American; on the contrary, it's more or less Americanized, including the Arabs. The USA has provoked the Arab world by unconditionally supporting Likud policy. Saddam Hussein provoked the USA with his idiotic invasion of Kuwait. Those two completely unrelated factors culminated in the present American-Arab blowup. As they are unrelated, I'll treat them separately. But first of all let's put the religious contributions in their place; religious fervor overpowers masses only when those masses feel that they're being stamped on. The Communist countries are an example. Secular Iraq proves that nationalism has stronger appeal than religion may have. Religion and nationalism become just circumstantial allies.

The proverbial snowball that started the avalanche was the political murder of Rabin. The next heavy load was Arafat's error that broke the peace negotiations. The final big blow that triggered a major tragedy was the simultaneous support for Likud in Israel and the USA.

Israel's acceptance of Likud's policy cut away any chance of peace, of being integrated into the regional scheme. Its effect is to feed the hatred indefinitely. They lost, perhaps forever, the Arab acceptance of a Zionism unmarked by Likud's aggressivity. For any country it would be a real tragedy to depend for survival on a friendly far away giant. Any friendly giant may become less friendly in the future. The U.S. is at a crossroads; racial war for oil, defying almost the whole world, doesn't promise any good for democracy. Israel needs the U.S., the U.S. needs nobody. A change in power may mean changes in alliances. Once out of favour, Israel's situation may become gloomy -- the world is pitiless toward 'mighty mice.' Look what's happening to Iraq.

For the USA, unconditional support for Likud was just a buddy-buddy policy with consequences we now know. No giant can afford to take political decisions lightly; anger and despair engendered the Palestinian kamikaze that culminated with September 11th.

Americans reacted first in Afghanistan, then in Iraq. Afghanistan was the refuge of the notorious Osama bin Laden and the US contributed to his fame. US involvement against Russia generated the fundamentalists' power. Afghanistan didn't have an urban culture; therefore its resistance to Russia was religious. After this, the USA's blind support for Likud reinforced Osama's popularity. Otherwise, a man with his archaic views would never have gained support outside the tribes. Even his fortune and charisma wouldn't help him very much. The 'prehistoric' Pashtuns who didn't know better offered him hospitality and were smashed as 'collateral damage' by the USA with a deluge of modern weaponry they couldn't even have known existed. One of the bravest on earth, victors over Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, the British, the Russians, through the extent of the massacre the Pashtuns lost their soul and, for the first time in their history, they were subdued physically and psychologically. By destroying the Pashtun majority in Afghanistan's mountains, like the Serb majority in the Balkans, they turned both Afghanistan and the Balkans into ruined countries dominated by warlords and gangsters.

Next came the campaign against Iraq with oil in sight. Weapons of mass destruction in Iraq are pure conjecture and certainly no reason for an invasion. Why didn't they liquidate Saddam's regime after the Gulf war? For a very simple reason: the imperialist designs had not yet been developed. They didn't have a clear-cut policy and were afraid of an unknown Iraq without Saddam. They chose him, unpleasant as he was, as a balancing factor. They were afraid that fundamentalists would pull Iraq into their net and the U.S. didn't want to increase their number. Iraq was the only secular modern state in the region. It was like the Italy of Mussolini and that's what the U.S. preferred over the fundamentalists.

September 11th changed it all not because Saddam Hussein had anything to do with it but because, for the first time, a clear imperialistic design was born. The September 11th tragedy raised America's cold anger and at the same time opened American eyes to the fact that they are, in effect, masters of the planet. They can punish whole continents and -- why not -- grab their oil.

Of course the U.S. can continue its powerful steamrollering over the world. But are you sure it is in the US's best interests? Are you sure that the planet can take an infinity of bombs of every kind? Is it really in the U.S. interest that all those bombed countries become degenerate due to radiation and hunger? Are you sure that authoritarian power is better than democracy? Are you sure that Sparta was better than Athens? Are you sure that a thousand years of Dark Ages were better than the Renaissance and return to the Athenian principles of Democracy that followed? Show me authoritarian countries that developed philosophy, science and art -- in one word, civilization. I don't deny that dictators could be excellent managers of their countries and contribute to development including Saddam Hussein: zero illiteracy, zero unemployment, equality between men and women, and separation of church and state. What more do you want? Let me answer for you: democracy. If these dictators, after doing their good job, would disappear, they would go down in history as do-gooders. But no, like Saddam Hussein himself, as Hitler and Mussolini before him, those dictators have one thing in common: they are disastrous politicians destroying with megalomania whatever positive they've achieved. Only Franco was smart enough to keep his head above the turmoil of WW2 and left as his legacy, a chance for democratic Spain without revolution.

America builds its history through blood across the world and, on the interior front, advances toward an authoritarian mentality that will end who knows how. Relax, Paul. Nobody puts America in danger and I would like it if America forgot to sniff the oil and started to smell the roses. Don't forget that America has enough money to easily buy all the oil it needs and leave everybody happy.

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