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Robert Fisk: There is a firestorm coming, and it is being provoked by Mr Bush - Independent, UK

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  • Zafar Khan
    Robert Fisk: There is a firestorm coming, and it is being provoked by Mr Bush More and more, President Bush s rhetoric sounds like the crazed videotapes of
    Message 1 of 1 , May 25 5:51 AM
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      Robert Fisk: There is a firestorm coming, and it is
      being provoked by Mr Bush
      More and more, President Bush's rhetoric sounds like
      the crazed videotapes of Osama bin Laden
      25 May 2002


      So now Osama bin Laden is Hitler. And Saddam Hussein
      is Hitler. And George Bush is fighting the Nazis. Not
      since Menachem Begin fantasised to President Reagan
      that he felt he was attacking Hitler in Berlin ? his
      Israeli army was actually besieging Beirut, killing
      thousands of civilians, "Hitler" being the pathetic
      Arafat ? have we had to listen to claptrap like this.
      But the fact that we Europeans had to do so in the
      Bundestag on Thursday ? and, for the most part, in
      respectful silence ? was extraordinary.

      I'm reminded of the Israeli columnist who, tired of
      the wearying invocation of the Second World War to
      justify yet more Israeli brutality, began an article
      with the words: "Mr Prime Minister, Hitler is dead."
      Must we, forever, live under the shadow of a war that
      was fought and won before most of us were born? Do we
      have to live forever with living, diminutive
      politicians playing Churchill (Thatcher and, of
      course, Blair) or Roosevelt? "He's a dictator who
      gassed his own people," Mr Bush reminded us for the
      two thousandth time, omitting as always to mention
      that the Kurds whom Saddam viciously gassed were
      fighting for Iran and that the United States, at the
      time, was on Saddam's side.

      But there is a much more serious side to this. Mr Bush
      is hoping to corner the Russian President, Vladimir
      Putin, into a new policy of threatening Iran. He wants
      the Russians to lean on the northern bit of the "axis
      of evil", the infantile phrase which he still trots
      out to the masses. More and more, indeed, Mr Bush's
      rhetoric sounds like the crazed videotapes of Mr bin
      Laden. And still he tries to lie about the motives for
      the crimes against humanity of 11 September. Yet
      again, in the Bundestag, he insisted that the West's
      enemies hated "justice and democracy", even though
      most of America's Muslim enemies wouldn't know what
      democracy was.

      In the United States, the Bush administration is busy
      terrorising Americans. There will be nuclear attacks,
      bombs in high-rise apartment blocks, on the Brooklyn
      bridge, men with exploding belts ? note how carefully
      the ruthless Palestinian war against Israeli
      colonisation of the West Bank is being strapped to
      America's ever weirder "war on terror" ? and yet more
      aircraft suiciders. If you read the words of President
      Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney and the ridiculous
      national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, over the
      past three days, you'll find they've issued more
      threats against Americans than Mr bin Laden.

      But let's get back to the point. The growing evidence
      that Israel's policies are America's policies in the
      Middle East ? or, more accurately, vice versa ? is now
      being played out for real in statements from Congress
      and on American television. First, we have the
      chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee
      announcing that Hizbollah ? the Lebanese guerrilla
      force that drove Israel's demoralised army out of
      Lebanon in the year 2000 ? is planning attacks in the
      US. After that, we had an American television network
      "revealing" that Hizbollah, Hamas and al- Qa'ida ? Mr
      bin Laden's organisation ? have held a secret meeting
      in Lebanon to plot attacks on the US.

      American journalists insist on quoting "sources" but
      there was, of course, no sourcing for this balderdash,
      which is now repeated ad nauseam in the American
      media. Then take the "Syrian Accountability Act" that
      was introduced into the US Senate by Israel's friends
      on18 April. This includes the falsity uttered earlier
      by Israel's Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, that
      Iranian Revolutionary Guards "operate freely" on the
      southern Lebanese border. Now there haven't been
      Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon ? let alone
      the south of the country ? for 18 years. So why is
      this lie repeated yet again?

      Iran is under threat. Lebanon is under threat. Syria
      is under threat ? its "terrorism" status has been
      heightened by the State Department ? and so is Iraq.
      But Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister held
      personally responsible by Israel's own enquiry for the
      Sabra and Shatila massacre of 1,700 Palestinians in
      Beirut in 1982, is ? according to Mr Bush ? "a man of
      peace". How much further can this go? A long way, I

      The anti-American feeling throughout the Middle East
      is palpable. Arab newspaper editorials don't come near
      to expressing public opinion. In Damascus, Majida
      Tabbaa has become famous as the lady who threw the US
      Consul Roberto Powers out of her husband's downtown
      restaurant on 7 April . "I went over to him," she
      said, "and told him, 'Mr Roberto, tell your George
      Bush that all of you are not welcome ? please get
      out'." Across the Arab world, boycotts of American
      goods have begun in earnest.

      How much longer can this go on? America praises
      Pakistani President Musharraf for his support in the
      "war on terror", but remains silent when he arranges a
      dictatorial "referendum" to keep him in power.
      America's enemies, remember, hate the US for its
      "democracy". So is General Musharraf going to feel the
      heat? Forget it. My guess is that Pakistan's
      importance in the famous "war on terror" ? or "war for
      civilisation" as, we should remember, it was
      originally called ? is far more important. If Pakistan
      and India go to war, I'll wager a lot that Washington
      will come down for undemocratic Pakistan against
      democratic India.

      Across the former Soviet southern Muslim republics,
      America is building air bases, helping to pursue the
      "war on terror" against any violent Muslim Islamist
      groups that dare to challenge the local dictators.
      Please do not believe that this is about oil. Do not
      for a moment think that these oil and gas-rich lands
      have any economic importance for the oil-fuelled Bush
      administration. Nor the pipelines that could run from
      northern Afghanistan to the Pakistani coast if only
      that pesky Afghan loya jirga could elect a government
      that would give concessions to Unocal, the oddly named
      concession whose former boss just happens to be a
      chief Bush "adviser" to Afghanistan.

      Now here's pause for thought. Abdelrahman al-Rashed
      writes in the international Arabic daily Asharq
      al-Awsat that if anyone had said prior to 11 September
      that Arabs were plotting a vast scheme to murder
      thousands of Americans in the US, no one would have
      believed them. "We would have charged that this was an
      attempt to incite the American people against Arabs
      and Muslims," he wrote. And rightly so.

      But Arabs did commit the crimes against humanity of 11
      September. And many Arabs greatly fear that we have
      yet to see the encore from the same organisation. In
      the meantime, Mr Bush goes on to do exactly what his
      enemies want; to provoke Muslims and Arabs, to praise
      their enemies and demonise their countries, to bomb
      and starve Iraq and give uncritical support to Israel
      and maintain his support for the dictators of the
      Middle East.

      Each morning now, I awake beside the Mediterranean in
      Beirut with a feeling of great foreboding. There is a
      firestorm coming. And we are blissfully ignoring its
      arrival; indeed, we are provoking it.

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