July 30, 2006

To Destroy the World: En Route to Worldwide Slaughter

As the direct result of the ignorant, endlessly destructive, murderous policies of the United States (and of the West generally over the last century), we may rapidly be approaching the point where allegedly "serious" and "civilized" commentators argue for the wholesale slaughter of many millions of people. As Jacob Hornberger succinctly states the point (quoted in this recent post):
Innocently believing that federal overseas personnel, including the CIA and the military, had been helping foreigners for decades, Americans had no reason to doubt the official U.S. pronouncement immediately after 9/11: "We are innocent. The terrorists hate us for our freedom and values. That’s why they have attacked us."

What Americans didn’t realize is that federal officials were being disingenuous when they made that pronouncement. U.S. officials knew full-well that that their decades-old U.S. interventionist policies in the Middle East were at the bottom of the volcanic rage that people bore in that part of the world.


Today, there are Americans who cry, "It’s too late. They already hate us and will always hate us and so we’ve got to keep killing them before they kill us."

But unless the entire Middle East is nuked, it is impossible to kill "all of them" because there will always be brothers, sisters, cousins, parents, children, grandchildren, or just friends of the dead who will seek vengeance.
Today brings us this grim and inevitable news:
Israeli missiles hit several buildings in a southern Lebanon village as people slept Sunday, killing at least 56, most of them children, in the deadliest attack in 19 days of fighting.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed "great sorrow" for the airstrikes but blamed Hezbollah guerrillas for using the area to launch rockets at Israel, and said he would not halt the army's operation.

The Lebanese Red Cross said the airstrike in Qana, in which at least 34 children were killed, pushed the overall Lebanese death toll to more than 500. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice postponed a visit to Lebanon in a setback for diplomatic efforts to end hostilities. She was to return to the U.S. Monday morning, abruptly breaking off her diplomatic mission in the Mideast.

Before the airstrike, Olmert told Rice he needed 10-14 days to finish the offensive in Lebanon, according to a senior Israeli government official. The two said they would meet again Sunday evening.

"We will not stop this battle, despite the difficult incidents this morning," Olmert said said during Israel's weekly Cabinet meeting, according to a participant in the meeting. "We will continue the activity and if necessary it will be broadened without hesitation."
I say that this shocking news is inevitable because the Israeli Justice Minister had previously announced that, "All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah." In other words: all those children deserved to die.

There are so many lies being told about this latest conflict between Israel and Lebanon that it is difficult to know where to begin. But there is one central lie that is especially dangerous, and that serves as the pretext for the slaughter now taking place: the notion that Hezbollah hides among the civilian population, thereby allegedly making all of Lebanon a legitimate target. The line from the U.S. and British governments and from virtually the entire U.S. media is that everyone in Hezbollah is a terrorist, thus revealing once again the staggering ignorance and/or dishonesty of our governing and pundit class. The choice these propagandists present to us is an entirely repugnant one: either they truly are this ignorant, in which case they should retire from public life immediately -- or they know they are lying, in which case they are immoral beyond the point of forgiveness.

In an article published at Salon (and which is available without the preceding ad here), Mitch Prothero disposes of much of this mythology:
Throughout this now 16-day-old war, Israeli planes high above civilian areas make decisions on what to bomb. They send huge bombs capable of killing things for hundreds of meters around their targets, and then blame the inevitable civilian deaths -- the Lebanese government says 600 civilians have been killed so far -- on "terrorists" who callously use the civilian infrastructure for protection.

But this claim is almost always false. My own reporting and that of other journalists reveals that in fact Hezbollah fighters -- as opposed to the much more numerous Hezbollah political members, and the vastly more numerous Hezbollah sympathizers -- avoid civilians. Much smarter and better trained than the PLO and Hamas fighters, they know that if they mingle with civilians, they will sooner or later be betrayed by collaborators -- as so many Palestinian militants have been.

For their part, the Israelis seem to think that if they keep pounding civilians, they'll get some fighters, too. The almost nightly airstrikes on the southern suburbs of Beirut could be seen as making some sense, as the Israelis appear convinced there are command and control bunkers underneath the continually smoldering rubble. There were some civilian casualties the first few nights in places like Haret Hreik, but people quickly left the area to the Hezbollah fighters with their radios and motorbikes.

But other attacks seem gratuitous, fishing expeditions, or simply intended to punish anything and anyone even vaguely connected to Hezbollah. Lighthouses, grain elevators, milk factories, bridges in the north used by refugees, apartment buildings partially occupied by members of Hezbollah's political wing -- all have been reduced to rubble.

In the south, where Shiites dominate, just about everyone supports Hezbollah. Does mere support for Hezbollah, or even participation in Hezbollah activities, mean your house and family are fair game? Do you need to fire rockets from your front yard? Or is it enough to be a political activist?

The Israelis are consistent: They bomb everyone and everything remotely associated with Hezbollah, including noncombatants. In effect, that means punishing Lebanon. The nation is 40 percent Shiite, and of that 40 percent, tens of thousands are employed by Hezbollah's social services, political operations, schools, and other nonmilitary functions. The "terrorist" organization Hezbollah is Lebanon's second-biggest employer.


Dr. Ahmed Tahir recognizes me from a funeral in the nearby village of Dweir. An Israeli bomb dropped on their house killed a Hezbollah cleric and 11 members of his immediate family, mostly children. People in Lebanon are calling it a war crime. Tahir looks exhausted, and our talk is even more tense than the last time.

"Maybe it would be best if the Israelis bombed your car on the road here," he said, with a sharp edge. "If you were killed, maybe the public outcry would be so bad in America that the Jews would be forced to stop these attacks."

When I volunteered that the Bush administration cared little for journalists, let alone ones who reported from Hezbollah territory, he shrugged. "Maybe if it was an American bomb used by the Israelis that killed an American journalist, they would stop this horror," he said.


Although Israel targets apartments and offices because they are considered "Hezbollah" installations, the group has a clear policy of keeping its fighters away from civilians as much as possible. This is not for humanitarian reasons -- they did, after all, take over an apartment building against the protests of the landlord, knowing full well it would be bombed -- but for military ones.

"You can be a member of Hezbollah your entire life and never see a military wing fighter with a weapon," a Lebanese military intelligence official, now retired, once told me. "They do not come out with their masks off and never operate around people if they can avoid it. They're completely afraid of collaborators. They know this is what breaks the Palestinians -- no discipline and too much showing off."


Hezbollah's political members say they have little or no access to the workings of the fighters. This seems to be largely true: While they obviously hear and know more than the outside world, the firewall is strong.

Israel, however, has chosen to treat the political members of Hezbollah as if they were fighters. And by targeting the civilian wing of the group, which supplies much of the humanitarian aid and social protection for the poorest people in the south, they are targeting civilians.


So the analysts talking on cable news about Hezbollah "hiding within the civilian population" clearly have spent little time if any in the south Lebanon war zone and don't know what they're talking about. Hezbollah doesn't trust the civilian population and has worked very hard to evacuate as much of it as possible from the battlefield. And this is why they fight so well -- with no one to spy on them, they have lots of chances to take the Israel Defense Forces by surprise, as they have by continuing to fire rockets and punish every Israeli ground incursion.

And the civilians? They see themselves as targeted regardless of their affiliation. They are enraged at Israel and at the United States, the only two countries on earth not calling for an immediate cease-fire. Lebanese of all persuasions think the United States and Israel believe that Lebanese lives are cheaper than Israeli ones. And many are now saying that they want to fight.
This last point of Prothero's brings us to some fundamental truths which anyone would know from even a brief study of history. When a foreign power is slaughtering your family, friends and neighbors, everyone will hate the foreign power, regardless of the other complexities that may be involved in the overall situation. In this case, a constantly increasing number of Lebanese -- many of whom probably had no previous sympathy whatsoever for genuine terrorists -- deeply loathe the United States and Israel.

Moreover, the white-hot rage that many Muslims and Arabs feel towards the United States is now continuing to spread and intensify across the entire world. Does anyone believe for one moment that these latest slaughters will not lead to retaliation against the United States at some point? If you do, you had better try to wake up from your self-induced coma. The slaughter in Iraq has been and continues to be more than bad enough: the events in Lebanon bring the hatred to the boiling point, and beyond.

It is time people realized the full truth about what is now unfolding. Out of a certain kind of innocence, combined with a lack of understanding of certain psychological dynamics, many people cannot bring themselves to believe that there are those who actually desire the deaths of millions of people, people who are entirely unknown to them, people who have never harmed them and never will, people who are entirely innocent, if that word has any meaning at all.

But they should believe it: there is a growing number of people who do actively desire all those deaths. When they consciously choose to engage in or support policies that only increase the hatred directed at us, which in turn provides the "excuse" to kill more and more alleged enemies, supposedly in the name of "self-defense," that conclusion can no longer be avoided. The supporters of our foreign policy -- and of Israel's -- make a worldwide conflagration more and more unavoidable. Here is one piece of confirming anecdotal evidence, and you can probably provide similar examples of your own. I was exchanging thoughts about our foreign policy, and about our Middle Eastern policy in particular, with an acquaintance over a year ago. He was attempting to distinguish his views from those of another individual, who had been advocating the nuking of most of the Middle East ever since the day after 9/11. To show that his views were much more rational and humane, my acquaintance wrote to me: "Oh, I think he's crazy to say that. I'm not at all in favor of nuking the whole Middle East...at least, not yet." And he then went on to advocate the policies that make such an outcome all but inevitable.

Such people are would-be killers on a horrifying scale. It's time we recognized this near-psychotic, genocidal syndrome for what it is. Israel's destruction of Lebanon, and the U.S. support for that destruction, bring worldwide slaughter still closer to us, as William Lind explains (and see this earlier Lind column for an historical overview of the origins and nature of fourth generation war):
Welcome to my parlor, says the Hezbollah spider to the Israeli fly. The Israeli high command continues to express its faith in the foxfire of air power to destroy Hezbollah, but, as always, it's not working. Lebanon is taking a pounding, to be sure, but Lebanon is not Hezbollah. Slowly, reluctantly, Israel is edging toward a ground invasion of Lebanon, for which Hezbollah devoutly prays. When air power fails, what other choice will Israel have?


Operationally, Hezbollah's rocket attacks on Israel are the matador's cape. That too is working. What of the strategic level? The Arab street is cheering for Hezbollah, often across the Sunni-Shi'ite divide, while the governments of states such as Egypt hide under the bed. The goal of Islamic fourth generation forces is the destruction of most, if not all, Arab state governments, so Hezbollah is winning strategically as well. One can almost watch the legitimacy drain away from the region's decrepit states, with incalculable consequences for American interests.

Not that Washington is doing anything to protect those interests. On the contrary, it has rushed more bombs and aviation fuel to Israel, lest there be any unwelcome letup in the destruction of Lebanon. In no previous Israeli-Arab war has the United States revealed itself so nakedly as a de facto political satellite of Israel. Perhaps the neocons have convinced President Bush that Israeli olive oil can substitute for Arab petroleum as fuel for America's SUVs.

An interesting theoretical speculation is whether, if Hezbollah's 4GW success continues, some Middle Eastern governments might try adopting fourth generation techniques themselves. Lebanon's fictional government has suggested the Lebanese army may join Hezbollah in defending southern Lebanon from an Israeli invasion. Militarily, such an action would be meaningless, and it probably reflects a desperate desire to keep the Lebanese Army (which is 40 percent Shi'ite) from fracturing, along with Lebanon itself. But what if instead the government called for a million marchers, mostly women and children, to head toward the Lebanese-Israeli frontier, waving palm branches and singing songs? That's how Morocco took the Spanish Sahara, and it would present Israel with a sticky wicket indeed.


A Hezbollah success against the hated Israelis will give governments throughout the Islamic world a stark choice. They can either snuggle up as close to Hezbollah and other Islamic 4GW entities as they can get, hoping to catch some reflected legitimacy, or they can become Vichy to their own peoples. Since the first rule of politics is to survive, I think we can look forward to a great deal of the former.

From that perspective, the Tea Lady, AKA U.S. Secretary of State Condi Rice, may just have uttered the most significant words of her remarkably empty career. Departing on her meaningless "shuttle diplomacy," meaningless because we will only talk to one side, she said current events mark "the birth pangs of a new Middle East, and whatever we do, we have to be certain that we are pushing forward to the new Middle East, not going back to the old one." Don't worry; we are, we are.
What is the ultimate source of this drive to all-encompassing death and destruction, and to genocide on a global scale? Once more, I return to Alice Miller, who wrote the following after the Gulf War of 1991 in her book, Breaking Down the Wall of Silence:
This year, another war has come to an end. Once again, it is clear that even the most efficient weapons cannot eliminate hatred. Even the most sophisticated weapons are powerless against the will of one single individual who would not hesitate to destroy the world so long as he could achieve his goal--to revenge himself for his repressed injuries, to amass power, govern, and take possession of the world around him, all to avoid his feelings of pain.

One might expect that the millions of people who, thanks to television, watched the events of the Gulf War unfold would be eager to understand the causes of this urge to destroy. Sadly, the opposite seems to be true, at least in the public domain. Neither politicians, experts of various sorts, nor even the majority of journalists asked the essential question: What makes a person wish to destroy the world? ...

We must acknowledge what can already be acknowledged, in order to prevent the destruction and self-destruction of humankind. The oils wells burning in Kuwait confront us inescapably with the sad truth that technology alone is not sufficient to protect us from the consequences of denied, and thus uncontrolled, emotions. Without facing up to their origins--the production of hatred in childhood--we will be unable to resolve such hatred and put an end to the work of devastation.

It is in no way an exaggeration to say that every tyrant, without exception, prefers to see thousands and even millions of people killed and tortured rather than undo the repression of his childhood mistreatment and humiliation, to feel his rage and helplessness in the face of his parents, to call them to account and condemn their actions. Not without reason, that is what he fears the most and what he is constantly seeking to avoid by all available means. Once we have understood the mechanisms by which repressed feelings are acted out, we will find a way to protect ourselves from their consequences--not by producing more weapons, but by fighting for more truthfulness and awareness.


To suppress the feelings, perceptions, and impulses of a child is to commit psychic murder. The experiences [Rudolf] Hoess went through in his youth gave him a thorough grounding in the grammar of death. He simply had to wait thirty years, whereupon Hitler's regime presented him with the opportunity to practice the skills he had learned.

Thousands of his contemporaries functioned in just the same way. Instead of exposing and condemning the criminal behavior of their parents, they uniformly praised and defended it. Had a consciousness of the absurdity and dangerousness of brutal childrearing already existed, monsters like Hoess could never have been possible. The susceptibility to blind obedience and the demand for a man like Hitler simply would not have existed in Germany. ...

The young people demonstrating [in Central and Eastern Europe] in 1989 were capable of exposing the emptiness, terror, mendacity, and destructiveness of Stalinism--all the things with which their parents and grandparents came to terms--because as children they were allowed more freedom than the older generation. To be conscious of unfreedom one must have a concept of what freedom and respect for life are.

A person who has never experienced this as a child, who has only known and been exposed to extreme violence, brutality, and hypocrisy, without ever having come across a single helping witness, does not demonstrate for freedom. Such a person demands order and uses violence to achieve it, just as he or she learned as a child: order and cleanliness at any price is the motto, even if it is at the price of life. The victims of such an upbringing ache to do to others what was once done to them. If they don't have children, or their children refuse to make themselves available for their revenge, they line up to support new forms of fascism. Ultimately, fascism always has the same goal: the annihilation of truth and freedom. People who have been mistreated as children, but totally deny their suffering, use the mottoes and labels of the day. They thereby meet the approval of others like them because they have are also helping to conceal their truth. They are consumed by the perverse pleasure in the destruction of life that they observed in their parents when young. They long to at last be on the other side of the fence, to hold power themselves, passing it off, as Stalin, Hitler, or Ceausescu have done, as "redemption" for others. This old childhood longing determines their political "opinions" and speeches, which are therefore impervious to counter arguments. As long as they continue to ignore or distort the roots of the problem, which lie in the very real threats experienced in their childhood, reason must remain impotent against this kind of persecution complex. The unconscious compulsion to revenge repressed injuries is more powerful than all reason. That is the lesson that all tyrants teach us. One should not expect judiciousness from a mad person motivated by compulsive panic. One should, however, protect oneself from such a person.
Today, we see this "unconscious compulsion to revenge repressed injuries" playing out on a wider and wider scale -- and now it threatens to engulf all of us, and the world itself. These ideas are explained further in another earlier post: To Destroy the World, II: The Case of Fallujah, and Ralph Peters. And I will have still more to say on this subject very soon. (These issues and many related ones are explained in much more detail in my series of essays based on Miller's work.)

To the extent we can, we must all warn against and protect ourselves from the consequences of the policies enacted and supported by all such people. Without exception, they are all murderers -- in spirit, if not yet in fact. But the day may soon be upon us when their revenge fantasies are finally realized on a scale that the world has never before witnessed, and that will leave all of us speechless with horror.