Israeli attacks threaten to engulf entire Middle East in war


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

World Socialist Web Site

WSWS : News & Analysis : Middle East

Israeli attack on Lebanon threatens to engulf entire Middle East in war

Statement of the Editorial Board
15 July 2006

The Israeli onslaught on Lebanon, with bombings and missile strikes and the 
imposition of an air and sea blockade, has brought the Middle East to the brink 
of all-out war. The attack on Lebanon, fully endorsed by the Bush 
administration, coincides with Israel¹s ongoing assault on the Palestinian 
population of Gaza, 1.5 million people who are enduring the fourth week of a 
siege, with electricity cut off and food supplies running low.

The Olmert government in Israel has seized on two incidents involving the 
kidnapping of Israeli soldiers, first in Gaza on June 25, and then on Wednesday 
on the Lebanese border, as pretexts for an enormous military operation that was 
clearly prepared long in advance. It remains to be seen how far the Israeli 
offensive will go‹to Beirut, or even to Damascus‹but it is clearly aimed at 
accomplishing strategic objectives that have no relationship to the incidents 
that supposedly provoked it.

No one can seriously suggest that bombing Lebanese towns and villages, imposing 
a naval blockade and attempting to assassinate Sheik Nasrallah, the leader of 
Hezbollah, are methods likely to win the freedom of the captured Israeli 
soldiers. The two soldiers taken by Hezbollah are far more likely to die as a 
result, killed either by their captors or by Israeli bombs.

Likewise in Gaza, the indiscriminate killing of dozens of Palestinians with 
bombs, shells and air-to-ground missiles will do nothing to win the release of 
Galid Shalit, the private seized by Islamic militants in their raid across the 
Gaza border into southern Israel.

There is a long history of Israel using such events as the excuse for carrying 
out military actions that have a far broader strategic purpose‹going back to 
1978, when a full-scale invasion of Lebanon was launched using the shooting of 
the Israeli ambassador to Britain by Palestinian militants as a pretext. Only 
much later did it emerge that the invasion had been long planned, awaiting only 
the proper incident to provide a suitable official justification.

The same pattern is repeated in Gaza and Lebanon today. The Israeli regime has 
made no secret of its desire to smash up the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority. 
The economic blockade imposed in January, after Hamas won the Palestinian 
legislative elections, has been escalated into a full-scale military blockade of
Gaza, where Hamas has its main political support.

In Lebanon, the goal of Israel is, at a minimum, the physical destruction of 
Hezbollah, the Shiite Islamic movement which dominates the southern third of the
country. A full-scale invasion of southern Lebanon by Israeli ground forces is 
more than likely. Israeli Defense Minister Peretz said, ³If the government of 
Lebanon fails to deploy its forces, as is expected of a sovereign government, we
shall not allow Hezbollah forces to remain any further on the borders of the 
state of Israel.² In other words, if the Lebanese army does not suppress 
Hezbollah‹and no one expects it too‹then the Israeli army will do so.

US military intervention in Lebanon is also likely. US media reports Friday 
suggested that the initial planning for such an intervention was well advanced, 
with 2,200 Marines to be deployed as a helicopter-borne force that would land 
near Beirut on the pretext of protecting the 25,000 American citizens now 
trapped in Lebanon by the Israeli blockade.

Separate or joint US and Israeli air strikes against Syria and Iran, and even a 
ground invasion of Syria, are also possible. Certainly the main focus of the 
Bush administration, the congressional Democrats and Republicans, and the 
American media has been to blame Syria and Iran for the crisis, claiming that 
those regimes were pulling the strings in Hezbollah.

The US media has suggested that Hezbollah¹s kidnapping of the two Israeli 
soldiers was specifically ordered by Tehran in retaliation for the referral of 
Iran to the UN Security Council earlier this week, in the ongoing dispute over 
its nuclear research program. The Bush administration has likewise blamed Syria 
for the ongoing insurgency in Iraq¹s Anbar province, since supplies and recruits
have come across the Syrian border.

The US invasion and occupation of Iraq have produced a holocaust for the Iraqi 
people: a mounting slaughter in which tens of thousands have been killed, by 
sectarian gangs and militia, by car bombs and other terrorist acts, and by 
bombs, shells, missile attacks, indiscriminate shooting or outright murder on 
the part of the American occupiers.

Last week it was reported that 1,595 bodies had been brought to the Baghdad 
morgue during June, the largest monthly death toll yet in the escalating civil 
strife. The US military death toll is well over 2,500. Combined with the death 
toll for US soldiers in Afghanistan, Bush will soon be responsible for the 
destruction of more American lives than the terrorists who attacked New York and
Washington on September 11, 2001.

The Bush administration will not retreat from Iraq and cannot maintain the 
status quo, as the country slides deeper into civil war and popular opposition 
to the war mounts among the American people. A sizeable section of the US ruling
elite, frustrated by the quagmire in Iraq, believes that the only hope of 
military success lies in ³expanding the problem,² as Defense Secretary Donald 
Rumsfeld has put it. They believe that Iran is using its growing influence on 
the Iraqi Shiite parties and militias to undermine US control of the puppet 
regime established in Baghdad, and that a military confrontation with Tehran is 

The Wall Street Journal is the semi-official voice of these layers, and it 
published an editorial Friday, entitled ³States of Terror,² which openly 
advocated military action against both Syria and Iran. The editorial declared, 
³There will be no resolution in Lebanon and Gaza until the regimes in Syria and 
Iran believe they will pay a price...²

Criticizing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for her pro forma appeal that 
³all sides must act with restraint,² the Journal said, ³The White House has 
cited Syria and Iran as the culprits behind this week¹s events, but more 
forceful words and action are called for.²

The mushrooming crisis in the Middle East is a predictable consequence of the 
massive military intervention by the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 
the increasingly aggressive and reckless policy of American imperialism 
throughout the region. This includes the carte blanche given by the Bush 
administration to Israel to use its US-financed and US-built war machine against
its neighbors and against the persecuted and oppressed Palestinian people.

The policy of United States and Israel is based on a never-ending cycle of war. 
The Bush administration rests its entire foreign policy on the belief that 
American military power and high-tech weaponry can solve every problem. The 
Zionist project is similarly predicated on unrestrained use of force against the
Palestinians and other targets, such as Hezbollah. Both policies have proven to 
be disastrous for the people of the region, including the Jewish population of 

As a US client state, Israel has long been dependent on a vast flow of economic 
and military aid from Washington. For the last decade, it has sought to exploit 
the unchallenged international supremacy of the United States, in the wake of 
the collapse of the Soviet Union, to reject any negotiations for a territorial 
settlement with the Palestinians and instead impose its dictates unilaterally on
the Palestinian Authority.

This was the content of the Sharon government¹s withdrawal last year from Gaza, 
closing down a handful of unviable settlements in order to draw an international
border with 1.5 million Palestinians on the other side, insuring a Jewish 
majority in Israel and the remaining occupied territories for at least another 

Similar concerns are driving the Olmert government¹s policy of wall-building and
resettlement on the West Bank. While planning to abandon a handful of Zionist 
settlements, Olmert¹s government is drawing the new border unilaterally to give 
the best land to the Israelis, including all of Jerusalem, while the 
Palestinians are relegated to a rump state on barely 60 percent of the occupied 

In the last few days, the American media has been filled with denunciations of 
Hamas and Hezbollah, portraying them as terrorist organizations and fitting 
targets for a massive escalation of military force. But in the final analysis, 
the real target of the United States and Israel is not this or that 
organization, but the oppressed masses throughout the Middle East. They aim to 
destroy the will to struggle of the tens of millions of people who have never 
accepted the Zionist dispossession of the Palestinian people, and who will never
accept the US conquest of Iraq and the establishment of a neo-colonial stooge 
regime in Baghdad.

There is a profound sense in which the policies of the United States and Israel 
appear counterproductive and self-defeating. The Bush administration played a 
major role in creating the current Lebanese government, and the forced 
withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon has been touted as one of its few 
foreign policy successes in the Middle East. Yet the Israeli attacks threaten to
undermine and discredit the regime in Beirut, which is compelled to stand by 
impotently while Lebanese citizens are slaughtered, now in the dozens, soon 
perhaps in the hundreds and thousands.

Similarly, it might appear irrational that an administration which has been 
unable to subjugate Iraq (population 26 million), would attack Syria (population
18 million) and even Iran (population 75 million). But such attacks are the 
logical outcome of the imperialist perspective that it is possible for American 
imperialism to impose its will on the Middle East, and obtain control of the 
region¹s vast oil resources, through sheer force of arms.

In reality, the Bush administration¹s invasion of Iraq has proven a strategic 
disaster for American imperialism. It has aroused the population of the entire 
region, and literally billions of people throughout the world, dispelling 
illusions that the United States could be identified with democracy, freedom or 
opposition to colonialism.

It is now 58 years since the state of Israel was established, and 39 years since
the Six-Day War which expanded Zionist control of Palestinian territory to 
include the West Bank and Gaza. These six decades have been an unending chain of
violence‹war, repression, terrorism, assassination, the expulsion of 
populations. Now a new and even more terrible war threatens.

The first premise of any solution to the crisis of the Middle East is the 
removal of American imperialism from the region. The World Socialist Web Site 
and the Socialist Equality Party demand the immediate withdrawal of all US 
troops from Iraq and the Persian Gulf, and an end to Washington¹s military and 
financial sponsorship of Israeli domination over the Palestinian people.

Copyright 1998-2006
World Socialist Web Site
All rights reserved

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