Who’s War Palestine?
By Mike Nuess
July 23, 2014
Nation States are not moral agents but centers of power capable of complete ruthlessness in the accumulation and consolidation of power. They are limited only by their own capabilities and their population’s ability to constrain them. The U.S. is certainly no exception.
In 1884, U.S. Army Major William Shepherd observed that, "On the frontier a good Indian means a dead Indian," reflecting a commonly held attitude of the times. It was so broadly held that U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt could reflect upon it in an 1886 speech, "I don't go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of every ten are..." (1)
Today, many U.S. citizens have learned enough to deplore the brutal savagery visited upon the indigenous peoples of the Americas over the past 500 years in order to seize their land and its treasures, regardless of the genocidal impact on their peoples. But many have not. Recently a cocky, self-styled ‘cowboy’ told me they deserved it. His simple explanation, as if it were unquestionably the natural and normal thing that had to be: “They had it coming. We were smarter and stronger.” American exceptionalism is a deeply rooted disease, which like racism, seeks to justify what the heart in its deepest recesses knows to be the ruthless and unjust seizure of coveted resources, regardless of the impacts on others.
So, in 1899 President McKinley could authorize the slaughter of at least 200,000 and perhaps a million Filipinos, in order to seize their homeland for economic and strategic reasons (U.S. Naval coaling station), justified by our superior capability to “uplift and civilize and Christianize” them. Some U.S. soldiers in the Philippines found shooting the “lil’ niggers” more fun than shooting rabbits, as Commanding General Smith ordered them to destroy anything over ten years of age. (2)
The very same propaganda system that effectively prevailed then remains successfully at work today, not only for bigots like the ‘cowboy’, but also for millions of U.S. citizens who would tolerate neither racism nor economic/military aggression by their government, should they finally recognize it. But the majority of U.S. citizens are either too preoccupied with the struggle to learn a living, or deliberately derailed into entertainment and consumerism by the propaganda system. They remain trapped within the matrix of mainstream media and cannot see it.
Take Nicaragua in the mid 1980’s for example, New Republic editor Michael Kinsley wrote that the U.S. State Department’s defense of bloody contra attacks on government-sponsored farm cooperatives in Nicaragua [a deliberate slaughter of civilians] has merit, because “In a Marxist society geared up for war, there are no clear lines separating officials, soldiers and civilians.” And Anthony Lewis wrote in the New York Times that it is quite proper to kill “innocent civilians, or murderous states would never fear retribution.” (3) While such statements should have generated popular outrage, there was and has been virtually no negative reaction in either the elite-owned U.S. mainstream media or the general public.
Examples abound. In December 1970, frustrated by the limited progress of his secret, criminally illegal bombing inside Cambodia, U.S. President Nixon ordered an all-out, massive bombing campaign. “Hit everything there,” he said to Henry Kissinger, who transmitted the order to his military assistant Alexander Haig, “It's an order, to be done,” Kissinger said, “Anything that flies on anything that moves,” a clear statement of complete disregard for non-combatants, if not one of genocidal intent. (4) The statement was later published in the New York Times on 27 May 2004, but there was no outrage in the mainstream media, not even a reaction. Over a million people were killed by Operation Menu, the gruesome name for Nixon’s B-52 carpet-bombing campaign.
Native Americans, Filipinos, Nicaraguans, Haitians, Vietnamese, Serbians, Ukrainians, Palestinians and so many others have not been agents of murderous states but victims of U.S. aggression who, after assaulted by violence, sought to defend themselves. But the jingoist U.S. slogan, “Don’t Tread on Me,” can apply only to our allies and us. We are the exceptionally superior, dutifully bearing the burden of manifest destiny, our noble intentions only occasionally handicapped by “mistakes.” Others who defend themselves are deemed supporters of “murderous states” where it is “quite proper” to indiscriminately, even deliberately, kill innocent civilians.
So, in keeping to the demands of the propaganda system, U.S. President Obama could only say in response to the 16 July Israeli killing of four Palestinian children who were simply playing soccer on the beach, “Heartbreaking…. [but] Israel has a right to defend itself from rocket attacks that terrorize the Israeli people. There is no country on earth that can be expected to live under a daily barrage of rockets,” a technically true statement, but one that so deliberately ignores both the historical roots and the current context that it becomes a tragic and criminal lie. The U.S. State Department quickly followed suit, blaming Hamas for Israel’s murder of the four children, because Hamas rejected the unilaterally imposed “cease fire”—about which Hamas was never consulted. (5)
The propaganda system is indeed working quite well today, as it blames the victims of aggression for feebly attempting to strike back with ineffective rockets.
The manufactured image of Israel defending itself must be maintained. (6) The pretext that Hamas kidnapped and murdered the three Israeli youth whose buried bodies were discovered on 30 June must be maintained as the causus belli (even though there is currently no evidence Hamas did it, and the police had temporarily suppressed evidence that they had two suspects known to be rogue). (7)
The real causus belli is that Palestine once again chose the wrong way when Hamas and Fatah recently managed to form a unity government with the potential to unite the West Bank and Gaza, hold elections, form a vibrant, democratic Palestinian state that could, among other things, exercise sovereign authority over the immense natural gas reserves in the Levant Basin along its coastline, reserves estimated to be worth billions, a resource that could make Palestine (or Israel) as rich as Kuwait. (8)
It is not easy for most U.S. citizens to see that Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, the current slaughter of mostly civilians in Palestine, is but the latest of several joint U.S. - Israeli aggressions, but it is there to see for those who choose to look beyond the mainstream media. War is ultimately about the control of resources. Israel’s gas reserves are dwindling fast and it is increasingly desperate for energy. A weaker and more subservient Palestine increases Israel’s ability to negotiate deals with British Gas, and perhaps other players like Germany, Russia and China.
An earlier U.S. – Israeli assault on Gaza took place in 2008. Operation Cast Lead killed over 1400 Palestinians but failed to destroy Hamas. It, too, was justified by the “defense” pretext but more likely was largely about weakening Palestine in order to strengthen Israel’s negotiating position with regard to appropriating the Leviathan reserves. (9)
For about four decades there has been an international consensus calling for a two-state settlement along the pre-1967 borders. Every year over 150 nations vote for it in a U.N. General Assembly resolution. Hamas has accepted this consensus, stating for example in 2008 that Hamas was "willing to accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders." (10) Yet every year Israel, the U.S. and a couple of island client states vote against it. With U.S. backing, Israel has formerly participated in “peace processes,” while covertly sabotaging every serious initiative, because “Israel doesn’t want Gaza to develop, and Israel doesn’t want to resolve diplomatically the conflict,” even though the ongoing blockade of Gaza constitutes “a destruction of a civilization,” according to a former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. (11)
Very recently Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu broke with the formal pretensions about “the peace process’ and made Israel’s real intentions nakedly clear. On the fourth day of Operation Protective Edge he candidly stated, “That he could never, ever, countenance a fully sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank.” (12)
Each year the U.S. provides Israel over $3 billion of critical economic and military assistance, and could easily stop the slaughter if it wished. However it won’t. It is increasingly desperate to hold onto its little remora in the Middle East, as other allies, like Turkey, become less and less manageable. And for it, too, the strategic energy stakes are very high. 122 trillion cubic feet of gas and at least 1.7 billion barrels of oil in the Levant Basin also help better explain the recent U.S. – Israeli aggression in Syria, as Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus and Palestine all border the basin and have legal oil and gas rights to it. (13)
Perceived energy, water and land scarcity drive the utterly ruthless behaviors of today’s nation states, states run by tenacious affiliations of financial elite who remain ignorantly driven by a deep-seated, scientifically groundless, fear-based vision of resource scarcity. Preoccupied with their struggle for strategic domination, they fling nation states about, violently displacing or destroying those in their way, leading all of us relentlessly toward either environmental or nuclear destruction.
But there is hope. Strategic dominance is only necessary when there is a shortage of critical resources, and that is not the case. Renewable energy is scientifically proven to be humanity’s only abundant energy resource and an extremely clean, available, affordable and egalitarian one to boot—certainly available to Israel. The world already produces enough food for all, and it can be adequately distributed and produced sustainably. Population will stabilize and land issues resolve as this abundance is swiftly realized.
The peoples of the world are more scientifically literate than the financial elite, who think they should own and run it. The peoples of the world consciously and intuitively recognize the immediate availability of resource abundance, hence a world that works for everyone, so well articulated in the previous century by R Buckminster Fuller:
Think of it. We are blessed with technology that would be indescribable to our forefathers. We have the wherewithal, the know-it-all, to feed everybody, clothe everybody, give every human on Earth a chance. We know now what we could never have known before, that we now have an option for all humanity to make it successfully on this planet in this lifetime. Whether it is to be Utopia or Oblivion will be a touch-and-go relay race right up to the final moment…. This is not an opinion or a hope—it is an engineeringly demonstrable fact…. an inherently sustainable physical success for all humanity and all its generations to come…. with the phasing out forever of all use of fossil fuels and atomic energy. (14)
Palestine is everyone’s war. We are all responsible, and in the balance, here as elsewhere, lies the fate of humanity. So, while Obama, Kerry, the U.S. Senate and David Cameron blame the victims and France outlaws pro-Palestine demonstrations, the real leaders emerge to speak for the victims. Venezuela, Bolivia and Turkey were the first nations to condemn Operation Protective Edge. Thousands of French protestors defied their government’s protest ban in Paris and marched anyway. An estimated 15,000 world citizens filled the streets of London in protest (see photo). Protests grow in the U.S., Istanbul, Kashmir, Berlin, etc. Six Nobel peace laureates, with others like Noam Chomsky, have signed a letter calling for the UN and governments to impose a military embargo on Israel. Jews across the U.S. have signed an open letter with over 65,000 signatures to be published in the Jewish Daily Forward and Haaretz calling for an end to the assault on Gaza. (15)
Perhaps World Citizenry is gaining strength and beginning to flex its wings. I sure hope so. The events we’re witnessing are filled with pain and sorrow horrible enough, but the scale of the ones that may yet come could extend to all.
(1) See Wolfgang Mieder, The Only Good Indian Is a Dead Indian, http://www.dickshovel.com/ind.html
(4) Thomas Blanton and Dr. William Burr, The Kissinger Telcons, National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 123, The National Security Archive.
(5) Rania Khalek, US State Department blames Hamas for Israel’s murder of Gaza children. The Electronic Intifada.
(6) Ghada Ageel, Look Carefully at Who Started the Current Israel-Hamas Conflict, New York Times.
(7) Max Blumenthal, Netanyahu government knew teens were dead as it whipped up racist frenzy, The Electronic Intifada, 8 July 2014.
Shlomi Eldar, Accused kidnappers are rogue Hamas branch, Al-Monitor’s Israel Pulse.
(8) Tascha Shahriari-Parsa, Is Israel’s Operation Protective Edge Really About Natural Gas?, Counterpunch.org.
siege intensified after collapse of natural gas deal, The
(10) Amira Hass, Haniyeh: Hamas willing to accept Palestinian state with 1967 borders. Haaretz, 9 Nov 2008.
(11) Norman Finkelstein, The Facts About Hamas and the War on Gaza, counterpunch.org.
(12) David Horovitz, Netanyahu finally speaks his mind, The Times of Israel.
Nuess is the author of General Plenty —
Always and Only the Path to Peace.