A Too Easy Victory
For the fall of the Taliban I shall not weep. Like
every regime of religious fundamentalists – Muslims, Jews, Christians or
any others, you name them – it was based on cruelty, oppression and
backwardness. It’s enough to mention its attitude to women.
But this victory of the United States frightens me. Frightens me
Because this victory was too easy. Much easier than many
(myself included) thought possible. A large country has been conquered
virtually without sacrificing the life of a single American soldier in
battle. The tribal chiefs were bought with money and changed sides.
Opposition was shattered by giant bombers, riding high in the sky,
nearly out of eyesight, dropping enormous bombs, more powerful than any
of those used against the Nazis in World War II.
At no time in history has any state
had such untrammeled power. Even the Roman Empire, at its zenith, did
not come close to it. The Romans always had a rival power to contend
with – Persia. In order to achieve their victories, they had to send the
legions and sacrifice human lives on far-away battlefields. From time to
time they suffered terrible defeats. No victory came easily, and
certainly not cheaply.
By contrast, the United States is now the only great
power on earth. No other state comes close to it, no military or
economic power can compete with it. From the Afghan experience they can
draw the conclusion that there is no need anymore to send soldiers
anywhere - the bombers can crush any opposition with sophisticated
In the absence of enemies, America has to invent them.
“Islam” or “International Terrorism” (one and the same) fill this need.
In a country based on the myth of the Wild West, the Good Guys (America)
need the Bad Guys in order to function properly.
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts
absolutely,” said Lord Acton, adding that “great men are always bad
men.” This applies even more to great powers. When a state has unlimited
might, it is quite unable to exercise wisdom, moderation or modesty.
Like a junkie who becomes more and more dependent on his drug, so does a
great power become more and more inclined to use force for every
purpose, against anyone who dares to obstruct its will, be he right or
wrong. The power will also be used domestically, to curtail freedoms
that were attained after centuries of struggle.
The last few weeks have already given us a foretaste of
what is in store. While preparing for the “war against terrorism”, the
United States exercised considerable caution and self-restraint. It
courted the governments in Europe and throughout the world. It built a
great coalition of Arab states. But the moment President Bush concluded
that he does not need help in order to win, that he can do it alone with
bombs and money, he turned his back on everybody who had been a courted
as a partner only a moment before.
The European partners, who were so eager to offer their
armies, were suddenly given the cold shoulder. America did not ask them
what to do and did not consult with any of them throughout the war. Now
it leaves them the job of the village policeman, after the real soldiers
(the American) go home. The United Nations reverts to its usual function
– dancing to the American tune.
The Arab “coalition” partners are even more humiliated.
The United States simply spits in their faces, treating them according
to the old formula “Ahmed, bring the coffee.” The Americans discuss with
themselves, freely and openly, what the next target should be – to
dismember Iraq, to bash the Sudan or to use the opportunity to settle
old accounts with Somalia. And the Arabs? Who asks them?
This new reality is exemplified in the most blatant and
dangerous way vis-a-vis the Palestinian problem. Immediately after
September 11, while building the “coalition”, American experts
understood that Sharon’s rampage in the Palestinian territories has to
be stopped, so as to enable the Arab governments to still the growing
anger of their masses. President Bush spoke of the “vision” of a
Palestinian state, Colin Powell worked on a new peace initiative, a poor
ex-Marines general was sent to Jerusalem. For a brief spell, it seemed
that America was about to use its power to end the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict, which created so much of the fury in the Arab world on which
Bin Laden & Co. were riding. After all, what is the sense in killing one
Bin Laden while producing ten new ones?
All these wise thoughts evaporated in the wind when the
United States attained its easy victory. Practically overnight, America
returned to what it has always been – the generous patron of the Israeli
right-wing-military establishment. The Israeli lobby again dictates
policy in Washington DC. President Bush has given a free hand to
Sharon’s efforts to liquidate the Palestinian leadership, much as, in
1982, President Reagan gave a free hand to Sharon’s plan to invade
Lebanon for the same purpose. See: Sabra and Shatila.
And this is only the beginning.
An easy victory can be a disaster to the victor, even
more so than a defeat. The defeat in Vietnam had a sobering effect on
America and created a mood of reflection and stock-taking. Our easy
victory in the Six-day war, by contrast, brought us a disaster that
continues to haunt us to this very day.
The maxim of the wise lord could be
supplemented as follows: “Victory tends to corrupt, and easy victory
Ein anderer Kampf gegen Terror:
Gusch Schalom ausgezeichnet
Uri Avnery und seine Frau Rachel haben Anfang des Monats
den alternativen Nobelpreis erhalten. Die Vergabe wurde mit dem Einsatz
der 1993 gegründeten Gruppe Gusch Schalom für Frieden zwischen Israelis
und Palästinensern begründet.
"Ändert sich die Siedlungspolitik Israels in den
palästinensischen Gebieten nicht von Grund auf, werden hier täglich neue
Bin Ladens geboren", begründete Jakob von Uexkull, der Stifter dieses
zum 21.Mal verliehenen Preises, die Entscheidung. Gusch Schalom - "
Repräsentant eines anderen Israels" (Uexküll) - setze sich für einen
vollständigen Rückzug Israels aus den besetzten Gebieten ein, sowie für
das Recht der Palästinenser, einen eigenen Staat mit der Hauptstadt
Ostjerusalem zu gründen. Forderungen, die, so Uexküll "die
Grundvoraussetzungen für die Schaffung friedlicher Verhältnisse" seien.
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haGalil onLine 20-11-2001