Socialist Voice is a forum for discussion of today’s struggles of the workers and oppressed from the standpoint of revolutionary Marxism.
Number 89, July 28, 2006
The current Israel/U.S. assault on Lebanon and the Palestinian territories has provoked protest and outrage around the world, including in Israel itself. The author of the following article is a socialist from Argentina and member of the Partido Obrero there. He currently resides in Israel. This article is printed with permission and includes explanatory notes by the editors of Socialist Voice.
HAIFA, ISRAEL, JULY 24 — Even some bourgeois analysts are baffled by what they term the "overreaction" or "disproportionate response" of Israel, with the full backing of American imperialism, to the killing and
kidnapping of a few soldiers. After all, Israel kidnapped Mustafa Dirani on May 24, 1994 in Lebanese territory. And on March 14, 2006, it did the same with the general secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ahmed Saadat, until then held illegally in a Palestinian Authority prison due to Israel's pressure on Arafat.
But there's a clear logic in the sanguinary Zionist madness. Israel, with a colonialist Jewish population of little more than 5 million people, faces 300 million Arabs and many hundred million more Muslims in the region, e.g. in Iran. The Zionist apartheid regime can therefore survive only by imposing what is, in the full sense of the word, a regime of terror over the peoples of the Middle East.
That's why the militarily insignificant guerrilla operations of Hamas and Hizballah in the southern and northern border areas of Israel have a huge political significance. They threaten to demolish the myth of the
invincibility of the Israel Defense Forces, the main prop of imperialism in the region.
Hence the bestiality of the Israeli reaction to Hizballah's act of solidarity with the Palestinians. [The capture of two Israeli soldiers on July 12—SV editors]. Their capture took place against the background of a Zionist killing spree in the Gaza strip and the West Bank that left more than 130 Palestinians dead and that goes on unabated while the headlines are being occupied by the events in the North.
The potential implications go much further than the perspective of dismantling the Zionist segregation regime in Palestine and the downfall of client Arab governments in the Middle East. The oppression of the peoples of the Third World, amounting to more than 90% of humanity, by a handful of imperialist states is only possible because of, on the one hand, the collaborationist role of the local comprador bourgeoisies (which are particularly weak among the Palestinians and the Lebanese Shiites) and, on the other hand, their disunity and military intimidation.
In other words, the dominance of imperialism — above all, of course, of the United States — is in the last instance also based on imposing a regime of terror over the semi-colonial masses of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The limits of imperialism's ability to impose its will by military means has already been revealed by the Iraqi and Afghan
resistance to US occupation, and by the defiant stance of several
governments in places as widely apart as Iran, North Korea and Venezuela.
Taking the widest historical view, therefore, what is at stake is the survival of the present system of exploitation, of world capitalism.
That's why the G-8 rushed to the defense of Israel at the outset of this new war, and the US has gone beyond declarations of solidarity to speed up the delivery of aviation fuel and precision-guided bombs to Israel. That's also the reason why Israel, with full U.S. backing, rejected several cease-fire offers from Lebanon and Iran. Zionism and imperialism wanted war, and they are getting it with a vengeance.
The Plans of Zionism and Imperialism
Already once, in 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon, in an operation planned and carried out in full coordination with the U.S. The aim of the operation was to reach Beirut, wipe out the Palestinian guerrillas operating in the country, and install a quisling dictator.
The first Lebanese war of 1975-1990 left 120,000 dead and 300,000 wounded out of a total population of 3 million. It and paved the way for the rise of a non-secular force, Hizballah, as the dominant anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist force in the region.
The aim of Zionism and imperialism is, once again, to install a puppet regime in Lebanon. The code name for this operation is "the implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1559," which calls for the disarming of Hizballah and the deployment of the Lebanese Army throughout southern Lebanon.
The groundwork for this latest aggression was laid in 2004 by former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri when he worked with the US and France to pass Resolution 1559 in the Security Council. The plan had the full support of Israel and client Arab regimes of the U.S.: Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt.
But who will be able to disarm Hizballah and assure that it remains defenseless? Certainly not the Lebanese army, which didn't even try to defend the country from the Israeli attacks and in whose ranks are to be found many Shiites, the denomination which provides the social base for Hizballah. Before and immediately after the outbreak of the war, Israel repeatedly stated its opposition to the deployment of even an
"international" (i.e. imperialist) force in Lebanon and said that it will not agree to the presence of any troops in south Lebanon save for the Lebanese army. In other words, Israel wanted the resulting agreement to be the installation of a puppet regime under direct Zionist/American control, fearing that even an international force would make it more difficult for the IDF to terrorize the civilian population and implement the Zionist plans for the country.
A few days of fighting with the Hizballah guerrillas have been enough to make Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert change his mind. Currently, the Israeli government fantasizes about a European-Arab (more concretely, French-Egyptian) force that will somehow be able to do what Israel has been unable to do itself — defeat and disarm Hizballah — with the backing, we are told, of the formidable Lebanese army and the tremendously popular Hariri-Siniora team. [Faoud Siniora is the current prime minister of Lebanon. His predecessor, Rafik Hariri, was killed in February 2005. The latter's son, Saad, leads the majority bloc of seats in the Lebanese Parliament—SV editors.]
The Failure of the "Yugoslav Model"
At the beginning of the second Lebanese war, the military analysts in Israel wanted to believe that it would be "a second Kosovo war," that is, a war that would be won quickly through mass bombings by aerial forces alone. Without going into the moral perversity of people who take as a model the low-intensity nuclear warfare waged by NATO against Yugoslavia, littered with corpses and depleted uranium, it is clear that this
"successful" precedent is irrelevant for the current war, even though the ratio of explosives dropped by Israel is anything from 1,000:1 to 800:1 compared to Hizballah's bullets and missiles.
The failure of the "Yugoslav model" has led Israel to employ its
traditional strategy of ethnic cleansing. According to UN data, half a million Lebanese have already been turned into refugees. In the territory of Syria alone there are already 150,000 Lebanese refugees. In addition, Israeli airplanes have been dropping leaflets calling for the residents of Southern Lebanon (a region with a population of 400,000 people) to leave their villages. If this happens en masse, the number of refugees may increase by several hundred of thousands more.
Yet even after killing more than 380 civilians, completely destroying the Lebanese economic infrastructure, and turning 20% of the Lebanese
population into refugees, Zionism has achieved literally nothing. The combat ability of the Hizballah fighters remains intact and they are even able to launch coordinated missile attacks against all the Northern cities of Israel, encompassing one million inhabitants. The economic activity of the North is completely paralyzed and 25% of its inhabitants have already fled to Southern cities, creating a potentially serious refugee problem within Israel itself. The economic cost of the war in Israel was estimated at between 20 and 50 million shekels daily (roughly 4.5 to 12 million dollars) by the Zionist daily Haaretz.
The failure of the original Zionist strategy has led the Israeli
government to call up thousands of soldiers of the reserve and attempt a full-scale invasion of the country by ground troops. The implications of such a move are clear: Northern Command Chief Maj.-Gen. Udi Adam stated explicitly that Israelis should "stop counting the dead," adding for good measure that "civilians will be killed too."
But for all the bombast and macho-talk, the unusually high military casualties incurred by Israel in the ground warfare with Hizballah (the ratio is almost 1:1, whereas in the territories there are usually dozens of Palestinian fighters killed for every Israeli soldier) is a serious worry for the Israeli military and government, not at all sure that the Israeli population will be willing to back such bloodletting for long.
Anti-war vigils and rallies have already taken place in Haifa and Tel Aviv (the latter drawing several thousand demonstrators) and ministers and Members of the Knesset from the government parties (such as Meir Sheetrit of Kadima and Ophir Pines-Paz and Danny Yatom of the Labor Party), have begun to express reservations in recent days over an expanded ground operation in Lebanon, fearing that the Israeli army will get bogged down into a prolonged guerrilla warfare.
What the Zionists didn't count upon — used as they were to kill basically defenseless Palestinian guerrillas — is that this time they were facing an organization which was armed during the last decade by Iran, and which therefore was able to retaliate to the Israeli attacks, however
disproportionate the military forces.
Lebanon: The Zionist Vietnam?
Military correspondents on the three Israeli television channels report that the Israeli forces, "like the Americans in Vietnam," are facing a tough guerrilla resistance hiding in bunkers and caves. They don't see any moral problem with the analogy, since they all feel that nothing
imperialist is alien to them. Let us recall that between two and three million Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians, and 56,000 to 60,000
Americans, were killed as a result of the Vietnam War during the years 1963-1975. (An additional 500,000 Vietnamese and 75,000 French had been killed in 1945-1954). The tonnage of bombs dropped by the US on North Vietnam exceeded that in all the theatres during World War II.
Perhaps the most grotesque character was the military analyst who
explained why the fighting was so hard: "We mustn't forget that we are facing a terrorist organization with a yearly budget of 100 million dollars" — which is quite embarrassing considering that Israel gets 30 times that sum yearly from the US, not counting the huge local military budget, estimated at $9.45 billion by the CIA in 2005.
In sum, several thousand determined guerrilla fighters, with a small military budget and a modest supply of weapons from a Third World country (Iran, and perhaps Syria as well), are inflicting serious blows upon a monstrous military apparatus built up by imperialism for decades.
Potentially, it's Vietnam all over again — terrible suffering for the Lebanese people and, to a much lesser degree, for the Israeli civilians — but good news for the anti-imperialist fighters all over the world.