“Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni made a round of phone calls to her European Union counterparts and Security Council members Monday, ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers today and Security Council discussions later this week. Livni told them that Israel should not be pressured into an immediate cease-fire, and the harsh pictures from Israel’s bombing of Qana on Sunday should not distract attention from the main goal -- implementation of Resolution 1559.”
-- Haaretz, Aug 1, 2006
This is not the first time Israel has attempted to redraw the map of Lebanon by force of arms. Since the days of Ben Gurion, Israel has had designs on its small northern border -- the Arab country judged most likely to implode along ethnic lines. With the 1982 invasion, Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon became the first Israeli leaders to put the plans into action.
When Al Haig gave Sharon a green light to invade Lebanon in 1982 -- it marked a major shift in American foreign policy. The Reagan administration had moved the United States from merely tolerating Israeli aggression to aiding and abetting Tel Aviv’s project to reconfigure the map of the Middle East in order to facilitate Israel’s expansionist dreams.
It is worth reviewing Al Haig’s support of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 because it demonstrates that Condi is not exactly an original thinker. What is remarkable about her collusion with Israel is that she bought into a Likudnik pipe dream that had failed not once -- but twice. The same pro-Israeli neo-con operatives that rallied around Al Haig have already recycled their 1982 blueprints to design the “cake-walk” in Iraq. Despite the abject failure of both ventures, these diehard Israel Firsters continue to have “new map” hallucinations.
George Ball, the undersecretary of state in the Kennedy and Johnson administration, gave an excellent play-by-play account of the 1982 invasion and its aftermath in an essay titled “Error and Betrayal in Lebanon.”
Given the events of the last few weeks, Ball’s account is instructive.
Let’s start with Israel’s excuse for the invasion in 1982 -- the attempted assassination of the Israeli ambassador to London by Abu Nidal’s hit men. “Although British Government investigators announced that the attack was not the work of the PLO but of a radical anti-Arafat group headed by Abu Nidal whose hit list included PLO leaders, that did not matter to Prime Minister Begin. The London shooting gave the Israelis their long-awaited “provocation.” For the Israelis D-Day had arrived. Within hours, waves of Israeli jets struck PLO villages and centers on the Lebanese coast, finally goading reluctant PLO leaders into responding with artillery fire along the frontier. On June 6, 1982, the IDF pushed north across the Lebanese border.”
And guess what. Al Haig then intervened to convince Reagan to exercise a veto of a Security Council Resolution calling for a cease-fire. As a result of the 1982 invasion, three hundred Marines and twenty thousand Lebanese were killed, the Lebanese civil war was re-ignited and a new force evolved to confront the Israelis -- Hezbollah. Eighteen years later, the Israelis had to withdraw after losing a costly war of attrition against the Lebanese resistance.
Redrawing the map of the Middle East was also the motivation behind the invasion of Iraq -- an adventure that was originally billed as an attempt to strip Saddam of imaginary weapons of mass destruction. Lest we forget, it was the Israeli operatives at the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans who took it upon themselves to manufacture the false intelligence used to justify the war. And it was the Likudnik faithful at the New York Times, CNN and FOX that marketed their lies to a gullible America. Judith Miller was certainly not alone in volunteering her services to the OSP.
After their failure to find illicit weapons in Iraq, the administration cooked up the pulp fiction about spreading democracy in the region. That bit of chicanery was for domestic consumption to cover up the abysmal failure of the original plot. As George Ball reminds us, two weeks before the 1982 Israeli invasion, Al Haig gave a speech that echoes the current White House pitch to market Tel Aviv’s delusions. “The time had come to take concerted action in support of both Lebanon’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders and a strong central government capable of promoting a free, open, democratic and traditionally pluralistic society.” Doesn’t that sound all too familiar?
A quarter of a century later, Condi Rice is making the preposterous proposition that by bombing South Lebanon into the stone ages, Israel is helping guarantee the territorial integrity of her northern neighbor. And she is delirious enough to believe that Israel is a midwife about to deliver a New Middle East. It often seems like the United States is prepared to remodel every country in the Middle East except Israel -- the state most likely to invade its neighbors.
Secretary Rice likes to boast that she is a student of history – obviously a very poor one. She constantly allows herself to be fleeced by the same Likudnik cabal that twisted the mind of Al Haig, another novice who didn’t have a clue about the Middle East. Yet another trait shared by Haig and Rice is a sadistic pleasure in goading Israel to waste Arab lives.
Even Condi must have noticed that things have already gone wrong -- again. Far from turning on each other as envisioned by the Likudnik architects, the Lebanese have shown surprising resilience and solidarity. The pro-American regimes in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt are now paying the price for giving tacit endorsement to the Israeli-American plot to incinerate Lebanon. The steady erosion of the legitimacy of all three governments might very well create a new map of the Middle East -- one that will likely hold a few surprises for our unimaginative “Russian” scholar.
In Iraq and across the Arab world, Nasrallah has become a folk hero. That could easily translate into a Shia insurgency against Anglo-American occupation forces in Iraq. Someone in this belligerent administration of neo-con zombies should sober up and pay attention to the largest anti-American demonstrations in support of Lebanon -- currently being staged in Baghdad. Having put American forces in harm’s way for reasons that remain a state secret -- you would think these neo-con degenerates would give a second thought to how their Lebanese adventure might further endanger the troops trying to survive the quagmire in Iraq. But these Israel Firsters have a nasty tendency to think of Israel first and last.
Aside from Olmert, there is nobody quite as despised in the Middle East as the American president and the simpleton he hired to run the State Department. It took quite a bit of talent to induce the pro-western government in Beirut to give Rice the boot -- a day before giving a warm reception to the foreign ministers of France and Iran. And it didn’t help matters that Bush rushed precision bombs to Israel. Why exactly does Tel Aviv need smart bombs to conduct a scorched earth campaign?
Like Iraq, Bush has gotten himself stuck in a situation without an exit plan. He can back down only at the risk of losing his few remaining constituencies -- the Armageddon worshipping end of timers in the Judeo-Christian identity movement and Israel’s public relations brigades in the mass media boiler rooms. No chance of doing that before mid-term elections -- regardless of the damage to American national interests in the region.
The same Likudnik fantasists who dominated the public debate in 1982 are back in business. At the time of Israel’s invasion in 1982, the Likudnik operatives who pollute the mass media landscape sold the venture as an integral part of the cold war struggle against the Soviet Union. Even as Beirut was being bombed to rubble, Haig was having birth pangs about forming an anti-Soviet “strategic consensus.” This time around, the very same neo-con cheerleaders are marketing the slaughter in Lebanon as part of the “global war on terror.”
When this is all over, America and Lebanon will be left alone to pick up the tab. Israel’s losses will be paid by the Congress -- which will grant Tel Aviv a supplemental aid package to compensate Tel Aviv for all its troubles. It’s a matter of honoring long standing congressional traditions. In reward for its 1982 debacle, our illustrious Senate increased the annual tribute to Israel by $500 million.
The very last paragraph of George Ball’s essay is a prophecy of things to come. His final comments criticized the Israeli Lobby’s media operatives who shamelessly rewrite history after their pipe dreams go down the drain.
There will be no deterring the indefatigable Norman Podhoretz, the editor of Commentary, from continuing to castigate President Reagan because “Far from cheering the Israelis on when the went to war against Soviet-backed armies in Lebanon, Mr. Reagan kept pressing for a cease-fire. Then, having sent in a contingent of United States Marines, not to fight but to keep the peace, he withdrew them as soon as they came under serious attack. And having promised to retaliate against Syria for the attack, he no more did so than Mr. Carter before him retaliated against Iran.” Thus is history shamelessly rewritten.
Expect the revisionists in the Israeli lobby to turn on Bush the minute they see the making of another disaster.
For the record, while all eyes are focused on Lebanon, Israel has continued to launch vicious and indiscriminate daily assaults on Gaza where nearly two hundred Palestinians have already been killed. Condi’s fingerprints are all over the crime scene in Gaza and the West Bank. It was this secretary of state who negotiated a secret and final Israeli-Palestinian “solution” -- without bothering to consult the Palestinians. In 2004, she took it upon herself to iron out the terms of a resolution of the conflict in the secret “Rice-Weisglass” accords -- which will allow Israel to annex Jerusalem and an unhealthy slice of the West Bank. The reason for the brutal Israeli campaign in Gaza is to force the Palestinians to agree to the terms of an agreement they have yet to hear about.
Like Al Haig, Condi is playing out of her league. It will take another generation of Lebanese and Palestinians to forget her murderous duplicity and betrayal.
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