Historical Roots and Patterns of Conflict
By DAVID GREEN
"The destructive and lethal forces unleashed this past summer by the United States and Israel upon Lebanon are not surprising in light of their historical roots in at least four patterns of conflict:
First, the unwillingness of Israel and its American patrons to resolve the question of the Palestinian refugees and provide for a viable Palestinian state, but rather the exploitation of this conflict to intimidate other Arab states in the region, especially Lebanon.
Second, Israel's territorial ambitions in southern Lebanon, especially regarding water, as well as the economic challenge posed to Israel by a peaceful and thriving Lebanon as a center of finance and tourism.
Third, Israel's doctrine of massive and illegal retaliation against civilian populations in response to Arab terrorism and resistance, as a means of asserting unquestioned military superiority in the region and preventing the establishment of a deterrent force that would necessitate good faith negotiation.
Fourth, Israel's military alliance with the U.S., and its willingness to serve American interests in the latter's efforts to dominate the region's energy resources, as defined more recently by both neoconservative and neoliberal doctrines that have engendered the destruction of not only Lebanon but Afghanistan, Iraq, and Gaza; and have also justified the increased concentration of wealth and economic inequality in both Israel and the U.S.
Rhetoric and Reality in the "War on Terror"
As American and Israeli efforts to control events in the Middle East become increasingly problematic, there are increased efforts to re-cast the conflict in terms of a "clash of civilizations" between "Judeo-Christians" and "Islamo-fascists." Such propaganda is obviously intended to invoke both Nazi Germany and the Cold War, reframing power-driven conflicts over land and resources as an essentialized global conflict of culture and religion.
But the ironies inherent in this propaganda may portend changes in violent historical patterns. The Bush and Olmert administrations have proved to be corrupt and deceitful; the relation between their rhetoric and reality evokes none other than fascist propagandists and Pravda. Hezbollah and Hamas have proved to be incorruptible popular movements, unrelated to al-Qaeda, that rightly stand in opposition to the Palestinian Authority, the government of Lebanon, and Israel. Meanwhile, the religious subplot in the secular Jewish State evokes Jacob Talmon's 1965 assertion (quoted by Chomsky in Middle East Illusions) that "the Rabbinate (in Israel) is rapidly developing into a firmly institutionalized church imposing an exacting discipline on its members. The State . . . has given birth to an established Church." But the religious Jew stays at home or in the illegal settlements while the secular Jew is conscripted to fight in an American/Israeli war for oil and hegemony that targets civilians and infrastructure, and now invites serious retaliation against his community. One possibility to be hoped for is that the secular Jewish-Israeli conscript and impoverished American "volunteer" will come to see no future in all of this, and realize that their respective states are also (and just as fundamentally) at war against their own citizens."