Michael Warschawski: The Neo-Barbarians
- The Neo-Barbarians
Alternative Information Center (Jerusalem)
Tuesday, 24 October 2006
From an ethical point of view, history never stands in the same place:
if it doesn't move towards less oppression and more justice, it moves
towards less rights and more barbarism. Paraphrasing the German
revolutionary socialist Rosa Luxemburg, who predicted twenty years
before the rise of Nazism, "either socialism or barbarism," we can say
today that the 21st century will be "either the rule of Right or the
law of the jungle." It seems, however, that in the first decade of the
third millennium, the law of jungle is taking the lead.
In an article published one month ago in Haaretz, Israeli journalist
and analyst Tom Segev tried to challenge the common idea that the
global political context of our time is much worse than it used to be,
let's say, two decades ago. According to Segev, war, oppression and
destruction have characterized the political reality of our planet
during the last five decades, and nothing has changed either
qualitatively or even quantitatively in the recent past. Segev goes
further yet, claiming that the "clash of civilizations" is not a new
phenomenon, but has been characteristic of the previous decades,
though under different labels.
There can be no doubt that the four decades following WWII were not
peaceful, and during this period more than 76 million human beings
perished, in wars, revolutions and through mass-repression by
dictatorships.* It is also true that during the 1950s, '60s and '70s,
the "north" conducted a colonial war against the "South," and the
"West" a "civilization war" against the eastern communist bloc.
There is, nevertheless, a qualitative difference between the present
situation and the forty years that followed the victory over fascism.
Three main factors limited the hegemonic aspirations of the USA
* The existence of the Soviet superpower;
* The strength of an organized working class in the
* The effects of the memory of the horrors of fascism on
international public opinion, and the perceived illegitimacy of
unilateralism, military aggression, etc.
Due to these factors, the big powers were obliged to maneuver under
the pressure of huge political opposition (anti-colonial movements,
mass democratic oppositions) and constantly needed to invent pretexts
with which to provide legitimacy for their wars and acts of repression
throughout the world.
However, 50 years after the victory over fascism, these constraints no
longer bind the big imperialist powersthe US in particular.
Unilateralism, "preemptive" wars, colonial ventures, etc., are once
again legitimate, or, more precisely, no longer challenged in a way
that could seriously harm their perpetrators. With the absence of a
powerful opposition, the new neoconservative leadership of the Empire
has been able to create a new "global discourse," which, at least
partially, has been able to conquer the minds of substantial parts of
those who are the victims of the Empire. The four main elements of
this discourse are:
* The collapse of Soviet Union is the ultimate evidence that
capitalism is the only viable way;
* (Western) civilization is threatened by a new global enemy:
* A global-permanent-preemptive war is necessary to protect
civilization against the new Barbarians (terrorism/Islam) and their
* In this war for the survival of civilization, there cannot,
and should not, be any constraints: all the norms and conventions of
the past fifty years are caduc.
And, indeed, in their crusade for what they call "the New American
Century," i.e. the imposition by force of the total hegemony of their
empire under the shallow pretext of a "war against terrorism," the US
administration has declared a lack of relevance to every moral
constraint and international regulation. Already in 2003, George W.
Bush announced that the Geneva Conventions are obsolete in the war
against terrorism. Guantanamo was opened in violation not only of
international law, but also of the law of the United States of
America. In order to deprive suspected terrorists of any kind of
protection or rights, the same administration decided to invent a new
category of detainees: neither criminal nor prisoners of war, but
The similarity between the US and Israeli practices is astonishing:
already in the 1970s, the Israeli military authorities announced, in
the Israeli Supreme Court, as well as in international conferences,
that, in the case of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), the
Geneva Conventions do not apply. Moreover, since the late 1960s,
Palestinian political prisoners have been categorized as neither
criminal prisoners nor political detainees; and the "secret prison"
discovered by Attorney Lea Tsemel, near kibbutz Ma'anit, in 2003, is a
twin-brother of Guantanamo.
In addition, according to both the US neoconservative leadership and
the Israeli government, the aim of wars is no longer to win a battle,
to conquer a territory or to change a regime, but to destroy states
and to dismantle whole societies.
The state of Israelbut also the great majority within Israeli
societyhave fully internalized this neoconservative analysis and the
strategy which logically follows. In fact, in the last decade,
Israel-Palestine has been the laboratory for such a strategy, and the
Palestinians its guinea pigs. This is the case, even on the level of
armament, as the leftwing Italian newspaper El Manifesto has recently
confirmed, unmasking the utilization of one of the new and most
barbarian type of bombs manufactured in the US and used in the last
offensive against the civilian population of Gaza.
The Israeli war against the Palestinians is clearly aimed at
destroying Palestinian society and transforming the Palestinians from
a nation into scattered tribes, as the Americans are trying to do in
Afghanistan and in Iraq.
Indeed, all wars are barbaric, but the Israeli war in the OPT (and its
broader context, the endless preemptive war against terrorism)
represents a new stage in modern barbarism. Though the definition of
"genocide" is wrong, one can adopt Bir Zeit University Professor Salah
Abdel Jawad's from definition of "sociocide," or Israeli sociologists'
concept of "politicide."
The land on which the Palestinian nation is rooted is being stolen by
"legal settlements" and "illegal outposts," provoking more and more
"self-transfer"; the Wall is atomizing Palestinian society into
isolated cantons; new laws and regulations are aimed at limiting the
entry of Palestinians into the Palestinian territory, as well as their
capacity to move within their own territory; the democratically
elected representatives of the Jerusalem population have been
expelled from their city, and dozens of ministers and legislative
council members kidnapped and jailed, as hostages for an eventual
exchange of prisoners.
On top of all these evils are the horrors of Hebron, where the local
population is subjected to daily harassment by the settlers and the
Israeli military, and denied normal access to a substantial part of
their city, and the martyrdom of Gaza, which has been the target of an
economic blockade and systematic Israeli bombardments, destroying the
basic infrastructure and slaughtering hundreds.
Needless to say that all these crimes, some of which have been
described as crimes against humanity by Human Rights Watch, are not
provoking any sanctions, or even protest by the so-called
international community. Impunity to the barbarians is the new norm,
from Iraq to Gaza. As for the Israeli "peace camp," it entered into a
deep coma the day Ehud Barak returned from Camp David, swallowing the
big lie about the "existential danger" threatening Israel with a
certain amount of emotional release.
The similarity between the strategy and methods of Israel and those of
the US, raises the question of who is the dog and who is the tail, or,
in other words, who is moving whom: is the Israeli lobby pushing the
US administration according to the needs of the Zionist State, or the
US administration pushing Israel to implement its global war policy in
the Middle East?
In reality, this is a wrong question: there is neither a dog nor a
tail, but one global war of re-colonization, and one aggressive
monster with two ugly heads. Neoconservative strategies were
elaborated jointly by US and Israeli politicians and thinkers, and
implemented simultaneously, though one cannot deny that Israel had the
opportunity to test this strategy and these methods before the USA,
Israeli neocons having won the elections four years before their
The US and Israelbut also Blair's Great Britain, Italy of Berlusconi
and even Romano Prodi, and increasingly other western countriesare
conducting a world-war against the peoples of the planet, with an
unhidden agenda: to impose, by violence and/or threat, the rule of the
Neoliberal Empire. This global war is a crusade of the Neo-Barbarians
against human civilization.
The role of Israel in this partnership is to eradicate all forms of
resistance to the Empire in the Middle East, and first of all the
emblematic Palestinian resistance, which, at this moment in history,
is a line of defense not only for the Palestinian people, but for all
the peoples and nations of the Middle East, from Lebanon to Iran. This
is why support for the Palestinian resistance needs to be understood
as a strategic priority for all the enemies of Barbarism, in the
Middle East as well as in the rest of the world.
* "Democide Since World War II" By R.J. Rummel (numbers for 1945 1987).
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