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Uri Avnery: The Last Refuge

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    The Last Refuge: Uri Avnery on situation in Pakistan Uri Avnery - avnery @ actcom.co.il Nov 11, 2007 http://www.montrealmuslimnews.net/lastrefuge.htm ISRAEL
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 3, 2007
      The Last Refuge: Uri Avnery on situation in Pakistan
      Uri Avnery - avnery @ actcom.co.il
      Nov 11, 2007

      ISRAEL IS an island in the global sea. We live in a bubble. This week
      I was sharply reminded of this.

      I was returning home from Germany. On the eve of the flight, all TV
      networks, from CNN and BBC to the German channels, were reporting on
      the events in Pakistan. In the airplane, I opened Israel's largest
      circulation tabloid, Yedioth Aharonoth, in order to read about the
      Pakistani mess. I did not find any mention of it on page 1. Nor on
      page 2. I found a small item on page 27. The first pages were devoted
      to something much more important: the shouts of protest by right-wing
      football hooligans when they were requested to stand up in memory of
      Yitzhak Rabin.

      The next day, Yedioth found an Israeli angle that enabled it to put
      Pakistan on the front page after all: the fear that the Pakistani
      nuclear bomb would fall into the hands of Osama bin Laden, who would
      aim it at Israel. Hallelujah, there is again something to be afraid of.

      But the putsch by Pervez Musharaf is a serious matter. It could well
      have far-reaching effects for the world in general, and for Israel in

      THE MAIN victim - besides, of course, the hundreds of political
      activists who have been thrown into prison - is George W. Bush.

      Machiavelli said that it is preferable for the prince to be feared
      rather than loved. In the same vein, it can be said that it is
      preferable for a president to be hated rather than derided.

      And derision is what George W. is attracting. He has asserted in the
      past that his main task was to bring democracy to the Muslim world,
      and has assured us that the implementation of this aim was well under
      way. That is a laughable pretense.

      What is happening in fact?

      - In Iraq one tyrant has been overthrown, and dozens of small local
      tyrants have taken over. The country is bleeding and falling apart.
      The "democratic elections" have brought to power a government that
      hardly governs the Green Zone in Baghdad, which has to be secured by
      American soldiers.

      - In Afghanistan an "elected" president hardly rules the capital,
      Kabul. In the rest of the country, local chieftains are in control.
      And the Taliban are slowly and steadily re-conquering the country.

      - In Iran, democratic elections have brought to power an uninhibited
      politician with a big mouth and small achievements, whose favorite
      occupation is to curse the American Crusaders and the "Zionist entity".

      - In Syria there is a stable dictatorship, which can carry on mainly
      because the Syrians believe that any alternative would be worse.

      - Turkey is ruled by a religious Islamic government, with the wife of
      the president wearing a headscarf. More than 10 million Kurdish
      citizens are oppressed and discriminated against. Not a few of them
      are fighting a guerilla war. In the course of the campaign against the
      Kurds, the Turkish army is about to invade neighboring Iraq, happy to
      have an opportunity to destroy the practically independent Kurdish
      regime there.

      - Lebanon is as far from democracy as ever. Real democratic elections,
      in which every citizen can vote directly for parliament without
      sectarian divisions, are out of the question. A new president has to
      be elected, but that is well-nigh impossible, the gulf between the
      sects is so wide. This week, Hizbullah conducted large-scale maneuvers
      near the Israeli borders. Even the Israeli army was impressed.

      - In Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, the three "moderate" (read:
      dictatorial and pro-American) countries, there is a very original kind
      of democracy. Political opposition is languishing in prison.

      - In Palestine, impeccable elections were held under strict
      international supervision, the only really democratic elections in the
      Arab world. George Bush would have been proud of them, if - alas -
      they had not been won by the "wrong" crowd - Hamas. Now, Israeli army
      intelligence prophesies that President Mahmoud Abbas, Bush's favorite,
      may fall immediately after the Annapolis conference, if, as expected,
      it ends in failure.

      - And now, Pakistan. It seemed that there, at least, Bush was
      harvesting successes. He had brought back Benazir Bhutto, another Bush
      favorite, and everything looked fine: a democratic regime was about to
      be re- installed, the president was about to hang up his uniform and
      form a coalition with Bhutto. But then a bomb exploded next to her
      armored car, dozens were killed. The president-general, who was just
      waiting for such an opportunity, carried out a coup d'etat against
      himself, and, instead of his moderate dictatorship, has set up a much
      more harsh regime, like a Pakistani version of the late Saddam Hussein.

      As in a Hollywood comedy, George Bush is standing there with a custard
      pie splattered all over his face. He looks ridiculous.

      NO PRESIDENT likes being ridiculous. Scary - OK. Evil - OK. Dumb - OK.
      But ridiculous - never!

      That may have a direct bearing on a question that is worrying the
      whole world, myself included: Will he attack Iran?

      The temptation is almost overwhelming. In another year, his term in
      office will come to an end. After eight years, he has nothing to show
      for it - except a continuous series of failures. But a man who (he
      says) holds daily talks with God cannot leave the stage of history
      like that.

      He is longing for some sort of success in Annapolis. At the most,
      there will be an empty declaration signed by the leaders of Israel and
      the Palestinian Authority. There will be some good photo
      opportunities, but that will not satisfy the lions. Something much
      bigger is needed, something that will leave its mark in the annals of

      What better than saving humanity from the Iranian nuclear bomb?

      The German language has the expression "Flucht nach vorne" - an escape
      forwards. If you don't know what to do any more, attack your nearest
      enemy. Thus Napoleon invaded Russia, followed years later by Hitler.
      Bush may attack Iran for similar reasons.

      I suspect that the decision has already been made and that the
      preparations are already rolling. There is no proof of that, but Bush
      behaves as if he has decided on war.

      Washington's huge propaganda machine is working full-time to prepare
      the ground. Anyone who opposes is run over. According to the polls,
      the American public's support for the war is rising from day to day.
      The majority is already in favor. The new French president, behaving
      like a hyperactive schoolboy, has already jumped on the bandwagon and
      has supplanted Tony Blair as Bush's poodle.

      ISRAEL IS SUPPOSED to play a central role in this piece.

      Here, too, a huge brain-washing machine is already at work. The
      Foreign Office has joined the effort and has started a world-wide
      campaign to besmirch Mohammed al-Baradei, the highly respected chief
      of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Every day, the obedient
      media publish reports by correspondents and commentators, who are but
      thinly disguised spokesmen for the army and the government. They tell
      us that within a year and a half Iran will already have a nuclear
      bomb, and that this will be the end of Israel and the world. As the
      Hebrew expression goes, the remedy must come before the disease.
      Therefore: Bomb! Bomb! Bomb!

      One of the possible scenarios: Israel will bomb first. The Iranians
      will respond by launching missiles at Israel. The US will enter the
      action "to save Israel". Which American politician will dare to
      object? Who? Hillary Clinton??

      Bush is dreaming again about a war without American casualties. A
      "surgical" air strike. A hail of "smart" bombs pours down on thousands
      of Iranian targets - nuclear, governmental, military and civil. What a
      sweet dream: Iran soon surrenders. The regime of the Ayatollahs
      collapses. The son of the late Shah takes his place on the throne of
      his father, who himself was once restored to power by American bayonets.

      As I have said in the past, I am not convinced by this scenario. What
      will actually happen is that Iran will close the strait of Hormuz.
      Through this strait, named after an ancient Persian deity, flows 20%
      of the world's oil supplies. It is 270 km long and, at its narrowest,
      only 35 km wide. A few missiles and mines are enough to close it. That
      would be tolerable if the war lasted a few days. But if it goes on for
      weeks and months, it will cause a profound world-wide crisis.

      And the war will indeed go on. There will be no escape for the US from
      committing very large ground forces to conquer first the region
      bordering on the straits, and then the entire big country. The US has
      no available ground forces left - even before the American forces in
      Iraq are exposed to missile attacks from Iran and to guerilla actions
      from the Shiites, who make up the majority in Iraq.

      This will not be a quick and easy war. Iran is different from Iraq.
      Unlike Iraq, with its various peoples and sects, Iran is comparatively
      homogenous. This war will be an Iraq war multiplied by 10, perhaps by 100.

      AND WE? How shall we get through this war?

      Since the government of Israel and its American allies are pushing
      with all their political might for the attack, Israel will not be able
      to avoid contributing to the fighting, if the Americans request it.
      First our Air Force will be deployed, later land forces may be required.

      But Israel itself will also become a battlefield. The pathetic
      missiles of Saddam Hussein caused, in their time, panic in Tel-Aviv.
      What will the Iranian missiles do?

      The Arab governments will be compelled to support the US, at least
      with their tongues. But the hearts and souls of the Arab peoples, from
      Morocco to Iraq, will be with the Iranians defending themselves
      against the Americans and Israelis. Especially if the Annapolis
      meeting does end, as expected, without bringing redemption to the
      Palestinian people.

      There is only one way to come out of this in one piece - not to get
      into it in the first place. But, after all the dismal failures he has
      suffered in Iraq, in Afghanistan and now in Pakistan - what can
      persuade Bush to resist the temptation? And how to persuade Ehud
      Olmert, who longs for a way out of the quagmire he is stuck in?

      It has been said that "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel".
      For a failed politician, the last refuge is war.



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