Representatives of the governments of the world, good morning to all of you. First of all, I would like to invite you, very respectfully, to those who have not read this book, to read it.
Noam Chomsky, one of the most prestigious American and world intellectuals, Noam Chomsky, and this is one of his most recent books, 'Hegemony or Survival: The Imperialist Strategy of the United States. [Holds up book, waves it in front of General Assembly.] "It's an excellent book to help us understand what has been happening in the world throughout the 20th century, and what's happening now, and the greatest threat looming over our planet.
The hegemonic pretensions of the American empire are placing at risk the very survival of the human species. We continue to warn you about this danger and we appeal to the people of the United States and the world to halt this threat, which is like a sword hanging over our heads. I had considered reading from this book, but, for the sake of time," [flips through the pages, which are numerous] "I will just leave it as a recommendation.
It reads easily, it is a very good book, I'm sure Madame [President] you are familiar with it. It appears in English, in Russian, in Arabic, in German. I think that the first people who should read this book are our brothers and sisters in the United States, because the threat is right in their own house.
The devil is right at home. The devil, the devil himself, is right in the house.
"And the devil came here yesterday. Yesterday the devil came here. Right here." [crosses himself, loud laughter from audience] "And it smells of sulfur still today."Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world. Truly. As the owner of the world.
I think we could call a psychiatrist to analyze yesterday's statement made by the president of the United States. As the spokesman of imperialism, he came to share his nostrums, to try to preserve the current pattern of domination, exploitation and pillage of the peoples of the world. An Alfred Hitchcock movie could use it as a scenario. I would even propose a title: "The Devil's Recipe."
As Chomsky says here, clearly and in depth, the American empire is doing all it can to consolidate its system of domination. And we cannot allow them to do that. We cannot allow world dictatorship to be consolidated.
The world parent's statement -- cynical, hypocritical, full of this imperial hypocrisy from the need they have to control everything.
They say they want to impose a democratic model. But that's their democratic model. It's the false democracy of elites, and, I would say, a very original democracy that's imposed by weapons and bombs and firing weapons.What a strange democracy. Aristotle might not recognize it or others who are at the root of democracy. What type of democracy do you impose with marines and bombs?
The president of the United States, yesterday, said to us, right here, in this room, and I'm quoting, "Anywhere you look, you hear extremists telling you can escape from poverty and recover your dignity through violence, terror and martyrdom." Wherever he looks, he sees extremists. And you, my brother -- he looks at your color, and he says, oh, there's an extremist. Evo Morales, the worthy president of Bolivia, looks like an extremist to him.
The imperialists see extremists everywhere. It's not that we are extremists. It's that the world is waking up. It's waking up all over. And people are standing up.
I have the feeling, dear world dictator, that you are going to live the rest of your days as a nightmare because the rest of us are standing up, all those who are rising up against American imperialism, who are shouting for equality, for respect, for the sovereignty of nations. Yes, you can call us extremists, but we are rising up against the empire, against the model of domination.
The president then -- and this he said himself, he said: "I have come to speak directly to the populations in the Middle East, to tell them that my country wants peace." That's true. If we walk in the streets of the Bronx, if we walk around New York, Washington, San Diego, in any city, San Antonio, San Francisco, and we ask individuals, the citizens of the United States, what does this country want? Does it want peace? They'll say yes. But the government doesn't want peace. The government of the United States doesn't want peace. It wants to exploit its system of exploitation, of pillage, of hegemony through war.
It wants peace. But what's happening in Iraq? What happened in Lebanon? In Palestine? What's happening? What's happened over the last 100 years in Latin America and in the world? And now threatening Venezuela -- new threats against Venezuela, against Iran?
He spoke to the people of Lebanon. Many of you, he said, have seen how your homes and communities were caught in the crossfire. How cynical can you get? What a capacity to lie shamefacedly. The bombs in Beirut with millimetric precision? This is crossfire? He's thinking of a western, when people would shoot from the hip and somebody would be caught in the crossfire.
This is imperialist, fascist, assassin, genocidal, the empire and Israel firing on the people of Palestine and Lebanon. That is what happened. And now we hear, "We're suffering because we see homes destroyed.'
The president of the United States came to talk to the peoples -- to the peoples of the world. He came to say -- I brought some documents with me, because this morning I was reading some statements, and I see that he talked to the people of Afghanistan, the people of Lebanon, the people of Iran. And he addressed all these peoples directly.
And you can wonder, just as the president of the United States addresses those peoples of the world, what would those peoples of the world tell him if they were given the floor? What would they have to say?
And I think I have some inkling of what the peoples of the south, the oppressed people think. They would say, "Yankee imperialist, go home." I think that is what those people would say if they were given the microphone and if they could speak with one voice to the American imperialists.
And that is why, Madam President, my colleagues, my friends, last year we came here to this same hall as we have been doing for the past eight years, and we said something that has now been confirmed -- fully, fully confirmed.
I don't think anybody in this room could defend the system. Let's accept -- let's be honest. The U.N. system, born after the Second World War, collapsed. It's worthless.
Oh, yes, it's good to bring us together once a year, see each other, make statements and prepare all kinds of long documents, and listen to good speeches, like Abel's (ph) yesterday, or President Mullah's (ph). Yes, it's good for that.
And there are a lot of speeches, and we've heard lots from the president of Sri Lanka, for instance, and the president of Chile.
But we, the assembly, have been turned into a merely deliberative organ. We have no power, no power to make any impact on the terrible situation in the world. And that is why Venezuela once again proposes, here, today, 20 September, that we re-establish the United Nations.
Last year, Madam, we made four modest proposals that we felt to be crucially important. We have to assume the responsibility our heads of state, our ambassadors, our representatives, and we have to discuss it.
The first is expansion, and Mullah (ph) talked about this yesterday right here. The Security Council, both as it has permanent and non-permanent categories, (inaudible) developing countries and LDCs must be given access as new permanent members. That's step one.
Second, effective methods to address and resolve world conflicts, transparent decisions.
Point three, the immediate suppression -- and that is something everyone's calling for -- of the anti-democratic mechanism known as the veto, the veto on decisions of the Security Council. Let me give you a recent example. The immoral veto of the United States allowed the Israelis, with impunity, to destroy Lebanon. Right in front of all of us as we stood there watching, a resolution in the council was prevented.
Fourthly, we have to strengthen, as we've always said, the role and the powers of the secretary general of the United Nations.
Yesterday, the secretary general practically gave us his speech of farewell. And he recognized that over the last 10 years, things have just gotten more complicated; hunger, poverty, violence, human rights violations have just worsened. That is the tremendous consequence of the collapse of the United Nations system and American hegemonistic pretensions.
Madam, Venezuela a few years ago decided to wage this battle within the United Nations by recognizing the United Nations, as members of it that we are, and lending it our voice, our thinking. Our voice is an independent voice to represent the dignity and the search for peace and the reformulation of the international system; to denounce persecution and aggression of hegemonistic forces on the planet.
This is how Venezuela has presented itself. Bolivar's home has sought a nonpermanent seat on the Security Council. Let's see. Well, there's been an open attack by the U.S. government, an immoral attack, to try and prevent Venezuela from being freely elected to a post in the Security Council.
The imperium is afraid of truth, is afraid of independent voices. It calls us extremists, but they are the extremists.
And I would like to thank all the countries that have kindly announced their support for Venezuela, even though the ballot is a secret one and there's no need to announce things. But since the imperium has attacked, openly, they strengthened the convictions of many countries. And their support strengthens us.
Mercosur, as a bloc, has expressed its support, our brothers in Mercosur. Venezuela, with Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, is a full member of Mercosur.
And many other Latin American countries, CARICOM, Bolivia have expressed their support for Venezuela. The Arab League, the full Arab League has voiced its support. And I am immensely grateful to the Arab world, to our Arab brothers, our Caribbean brothers, the African Union. Almost all of Africa has expressed its support for Venezuela and countries such as Russia or China and many others.
I thank you all warmly on behalf of Venezuela, on behalf of our people, and on behalf of the truth, because Venezuela, with a seat on the Security Council, will be expressing not only Venezuela's thoughts, but it will also be the voice of all the peoples of the world, and we will defend dignity and truth.
Over and above all of this, Madam President, I think there are reasons to be optimistic. A poet would have said "helplessly optimistic," because over and above the wars and the bombs and the aggressive and the preventive war and the destruction of entire peoples, one can see that a new era is dawning.
As Sylvia Rodriguez (ph) says, the era is giving birth to a heart. There are alternative ways of thinking. There are young people who think differently. And this has already been seen within the space of a mere decade. It was shown that the end of history was a totally false assumption, and the same was shown about Pax Americana and the establishment of the capitalist neo-liberal world. It has been shown, this system, to generate mere poverty. Who believes in it now?
What we now have to do is define the future of the world. Dawn is breaking out all over. You can see it in Africa and Europe and Latin America and Oceanea. I want to emphasize that optimistic vision.
We have to strengthen ourselves, our will to do battle, our awareness. We have to build a new and better world. Venezuela joins that struggle, and that's why we are threatened. The U.S. has already planned, financed and set in motion a coup in Venezuela, and it continues to support coup attempts in Venezuela and elsewhere.
President Michelle Bachelet reminded us just a moment ago of the horrendous assassination of the former foreign minister, Orlando Letelier. And I would just add one thing: Those who perpetrated this crime are free. And that other event where an American citizen also died were American themselves. They were CIA killers, terrorists.
And we must recall in this room that in just a few days there will be another anniversary. Thirty years will have passed from this other horrendous terrorist attack on the Cuban plane, where 73 innocents died, a Cubana de Aviacion airliner.
And where is the biggest terrorist of this continent who took the responsibility for blowing up the plane? He spent a few years in jail in Venezuela. Thanks to CIA and then government officials, he was allowed to escape, and he lives here in this country, protected by the government.
And he was convicted. He has confessed to his crime. But the U.S. government has double standards. It protects terrorism when it wants to.
And this is to say that Venezuela is fully committed to combating terrorism and violence. And we are one of the people who are fighting for peace.
Luis Posada Carriles is the name of that terrorist who is protected here. And other tremendously corrupt people who escaped from Venezuela are also living here under protection: a group that bombed various embassies, that assassinated people during the coup. They kidnapped me and they were going to kill me, but I think God reached down and our people came out into the streets and the army was too, and so I'm here today.
But these people who led that coup are here today in this country protected by the American government. And I accuse the American government of protecting terrorists and of having a completely cynical discourse.
We mentioned Cuba. Yes, we were just there a few days ago. We just came from there happily.
And there you see another era born. The Summit of the 15, the Summit of the Nonaligned, adopted a historic resolution. This is the outcome document. Don't worry, I'm not going to read it.
But you have a whole set of resolutions here that were adopted after open debate in a transparent matter -- more than 50 heads of state. Havana was the capital of the south for a few weeks, and we have now launched, once again, the group of the nonaligned with new momentum.
And if there is anything I could ask all of you here, my companions, my brothers and sisters, it is to please lend your good will to lend momentum to the Nonaligned Movement for the birth of the new era, to prevent hegemony and prevent further advances of imperialism.
And as you know, Fidel Castro is the president of the nonaligned for the next three years, and we can trust him to lead the charge very efficiently.
Unfortunately they thought, "Oh, Fidel was going to die." But they're going to be disappointed because he didn't. And he's not only alive, he's back in his green fatigues, and he's now presiding the nonaligned.
So, my dear colleagues, Madam President, a new, strong movement has been born, a movement of the south. We are men and women of the south.
With this document, with these ideas, with these criticisms, I'm now closing my file. I'm taking the book with me. And, don't forget, I'm recommending it very warmly and very humbly to all of you.
We want ideas to save our planet, to save the planet from the imperialist threat. And hopefully in this very century, in not too long a time, we will see this, we will see this new era, and for our children and our grandchildren a world of peace based on the fundamental principles of the United Nations, but a renewed United Nations.
And maybe we have to change location. Maybe we have to put the United Nations somewhere else; maybe a city of the south. We've proposed Venezuela.
You know that my personal doctor had to stay in the plane. The chief of security had to be left in a locked plane. Neither of these gentlemen was allowed to arrive and attend the U.N. meeting. This is another abuse and another abuse of power on the part of the Devil. It smells of sulfur here, but God is with us and I embrace you all.
May God bless us all. Good day to you.
By MARK MAZZETTISeptember 24, 2006WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 â€” A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.
The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.
The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled â€œTrends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,â€™â€™ it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.
An opening section of the report, â€œIndicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement,â€ cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology. The report â€œsays that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,â€ said one American intelligence official.
More than a dozen United States government officials and outside experts were interviewed for this article, and all spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were discussing a classified intelligence document. The officials included employees of several government agencies, and both supporters and critics of the Bush administration. All of those interviewed had either seen the final version of the document or participated in the creation of earlier drafts. These officials discussed some of the documentâ€™s general conclusions but not details, which remain highly classified.
Officials with knowledge of the intelligence estimate said it avoided specific judgments about the likelihood that terrorists would once again strike on United States soil. The relationship between the Iraq war and terrorism, and the question of whether the United States is safer, have been subjects of persistent debate since the war began in 2003.
Previous drafts described actions by the United States government that were determined to have stoked the jihad movement, like the indefinite detention of prisoners at GuantÃ¡namo Bay and the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, and some policy makers argued that the intelligence estimate should be more focused on specific steps to mitigate the terror threat. It is unclear whether the final draft of the intelligence estimate criticizes individual policies of the United States, but intelligence officials involved in preparing the document said its conclusions were not softened or massaged for political purposes.
Frederick Jones, a White House spokesman, said the White House â€œplayed no role in drafting or reviewing the judgments expressed in the National Intelligence Estimate on terrorism.â€ The estimateâ€™s judgments confirm some predictions of a National Intelligence Council report completed in January 2003, two months before the Iraq invasion. That report stated that the approaching war had the potential to increase support for political Islam worldwide and could increase support for some terrorist objectives.
Documents released by the White House timed to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks emphasized the successes that the United States had made in dismantling the top tier of Al Qaeda. â€œSince the Sept. 11 attacks, America and its allies are safer, but we are not yet safe,â€ concludes one, a report titled â€œ9/11 Five Years Later: Success and Challenges.â€ â€œWe have done much to degrade Al Qaeda and its affiliates and to undercut the perceived legitimacy of terrorism.â€
That document makes only passing mention of the impact the Iraq war has had on the global jihad movement. â€œThe ongoing fight for freedom in Iraq has been twisted by terrorist propaganda as a rallying cry,â€ it states. The report mentions the possibility that Islamic militants who fought in Iraq could return to their home countries, â€œexacerbating domestic conflicts or fomenting radical ideologies.â€ ....
Chris Matthews in his final column in the San Francisco Chronicle entitled 'Hail and farewell' on sunday, September 1, 2002:
So I'll say it: I hate this war that's coming in Iraq. I don't think we'll be proud of it. Oppose this war because it will create a millennium of hatred and the suicidal terrorism that comes with it. You talk about Bush trying to avenge his father. What about the tens of millions of Arab sons who will want to finish a fight we start next spring in Baghdad?
Chris Matthews on Hardball on the 1th of May 2003, right after the 'Mission Accomplished':
We're proud of our president. Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger, who's physical....Women like a guy who's president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president.
Chris Matthews on Hardball the 16th of December, 2005:
Well, it's probably the greatest gamble since Roosevelt backed Britain before World War II. The president deserves credit, if this gamble comes through -- and it's not clear yet. If his gamble that he can create a democracy in the middle of the Arab world and he does it, he belongs on Mount Rushmore.
By Paul Krugman
The New York Times
Monday 18 September 2006
We know that the world would see this action as a U.S. repudiation of the rules that bind civilized nations. We also know that an extraordinary lineup of former military and intelligence leaders, including Colin Powell, have spoken out against the Bush plan, warning that it would further damage America's faltering moral standing, and end up endangering U.S. troops.
But I haven't seen much discussion of the underlying question: why is Mr. Bush so determined to engage in torture?
Let's be clear what we're talking about here. According to an ABC News report from last fall, procedures used by C.I.A. interrogators have included forcing prisoners to "stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours"; the "cold cell," in which prisoners are forced "to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees," while being doused with cold water; and, of course, water boarding, in which "the prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet," then "cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him," inducing "a terrifying fear of drowning."
And bear in mind that the "few bad apples" excuse doesn't apply; these were officially approved tactics - and Mr. Bush wants at least some of these tactics to remain in use.
I'm ashamed that my government does this sort of thing. I'd be ashamed even if I were sure that only genuine terrorists were being tortured - and I'm not. Remember that the Bush administration has imprisoned a number of innocent men at Guantánamo, and in some cases continues to imprison them even though it knows they are innocent.
Is torture a necessary evil in a post-9/11 world? No. People with actual knowledge of intelligence work tell us that reality isn't like TV dramas, in which the good guys have to torture the bad guy to find out where he planted the ticking time bomb.
What torture produces in practice is misinformation, as its victims, desperate to end the pain, tell interrogators whatever they want to hear. Thus Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi - who ABC News says was subjected to both the cold cell and water boarding - told his questioners that Saddam Hussein's regime had trained members of Al Qaeda in the use of biochemical weapons. This "confession" became a key part of the Bush administration's case for invading Iraq - but it was pure invention.
So why is the Bush administration so determined to torture people?
To show that it can.
The central drive of the Bush administration - more fundamental than any particular policy - has been the effort to eliminate all limits on the president's power. Torture, I believe, appeals to the president and the vice president precisely because it's a violation of both law and tradition. By making an illegal and immoral practice a key element of U.S. policy, they're asserting their right to do whatever they claim is necessary
.And many of our politicians are willing to go along. The Republican majority in the House of Representatives is poised to vote in favor of the administration's plan to, in effect, declare torture legal. Most Republican senators are equally willing to go along, although a few, to their credit, have stood with the Democrats in opposing the administration.
Mr. Bush would have us believe that the difference between him and those opposing him on this issue is that he's willing to do what's necessary to protect America, and they aren't. But the record says otherwise.
The fact is that for all his talk of being a "war president," Mr. Bush has been conspicuously unwilling to ask Americans to make sacrifices on behalf of the cause - even when, in the days after 9/11, the nation longed to be called to a higher purpose. His admirers looked at him and thought they saw Winston Churchill. But instead of offering us blood, toil, tears and sweat, he told us to go shopping and promised tax cuts.
Only now, five years after 9/11, has Mr. Bush finally found some things he wants us to sacrifice. And those things turn out to be our principles and our self-respect.
By Desmond Tutu
The Independent UK
Wednesday 13 September 2006
No longer should the peace business be undermined by the arms business.
For many years, I've been involved in the peace business, doing what I can to help people overcome their differences. In doing so, I've also learnt a lot about the business of war: the arms trade. In my opinion it is the modern slave trade. It is an industry out of control: every day more than 1,000 people are killed by conventional weapons. The vast majority of those people are innocent men, women and children.
There have been international treaties to control the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons for decades. Yet, despite the mounting death toll, there is still no treaty governing sales of all conventional weapons from handguns to attack helicopters. As a result, weapons fall into the wrong hands all too easily, fuelling human rights abuses, prolonging wars and digging countries deeper into poverty.
This is allowed to continue because of the complicity of governments, especially rich countries' governments, which turn a blind eye to the appalling human suffering associated with the proliferation of weapons.
Every year, small arms alone kill more people than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki put together. Many more people are injured, terrorised or driven from their homes by armed violence. Even as you read this, one of these human tragedies is unfolding somewhere on the planet.
Take the Democratic Republic of Congo, where armed violence recently flared up again, and millions have died during almost a decade of conflict. Despite a UN arms embargo against armed groups in the country, weapons have continued to flood in from all over the world.
Arms found during weapons collections include those made in Germany, France, Israel, USA and Russia. The only common denominator is that nearly all these weapons were manufactured outside Africa. Five rich countries manufacture the vast majority of the world's weapons. In 2005, Russia, the United States, France, Germany and the UK accounted for an estimated 82 per cent of the global arms market. And it's big business: the amount rich countries spend on fighting HIV/Aids every year represents just 18 days' global spending on arms.
But while the profits flow back to the developed world, the effects of the arms trade are predominantly felt in developing countries. More than two-thirds of the value of all arms are sold to Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.
In addition to the deaths, injuries and rapes perpetrated with these weapons, the cost of conflict goes deeper still, destroying health and education systems.
For example, in northern Uganda, which has been devastated by 20 years of armed conflict, it has been estimated that 250,000 children do not attend school. The war in northern Uganda, which may be finally coming to an end, has been fuelled by supplies of foreign-made weapons. And, as with so many wars, the heaviest toll has been on the region's children. Children under five are always the most vulnerable to disease, and in a war zone adequate medical care is often not available.
The world could eradicate poverty in a few generations were only a fraction of the expenditure on the war business to be spent on peace. An average of $22bn is spent on arms by countries in Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa every year, according to estimates for the US Congress. This sum would have enabled those countries to put every child in school and to reduce child mortality by two-thirds by 2015, fulfilling two of the Millennium Development Goals.
This year, the world has the chance to finally say no to the continuing scandal of the unregulated weapons trade. In October, governments will vote on a resolution at the UN General Assembly to start working towards an Arms Trade Treaty. That Treaty would be based on a simple principle: no weapons for violations of international law. In other words, a ban on selling weapons if there is a clear risk they will be used to abuse human rights or fuel conflict. The UN resolution has been put forward by the governments of Australia, Argentina, Costa Rica, Finland, Japan, Kenya, and the UK. These governments believe the idea of an Arms Trade Treaty is one whose time has come.
I agree. We must end impunity for governments who authorise the supply of weapons when they know there's a great danger those weapons will be used for gross human rights abuses. Great strides are being made towards ending impunity for war criminals. It cannot be acceptable that their arms suppliers continue to escape punishment. No longer should the peace business be undermined by the arms business. I call on all governments to put the control of the international arms trade at the top of their agenda.
By George Soros
Israel's failure to subdue Hezbollah demonstrates the many weaknesses of the war-on-terror concept. One weakness is that even if the targets are terrorists, the victims are often innocent civilians, and their suffering reinforces the terrorist cause.
In response to Hezbollah's attacks, Israel was justified in wanting to destroy the movement and to protect itself against the threat of missiles on its border. However, Israel should have taken greater care to minimize collateral damage. The civilian casualties and material damage inflicted on Lebanon inflamed Muslims and world opinion against Israel, and converted Hezbollah from aggressors to heroes of resistance. Weakening Lebanon has also made it more difficult to rein in Hezbollah.
Another weakness of the war-on-terror concept is that it relies on military action and rules out political approaches. Israel withdrew from Lebanon and then from Gaza unilaterally, rather than negotiating political settlements with the Lebanese government and the Palestinian Authority. The strengthening of Hezbollah and Hamas was a direct consequence of that approach. The war-on-terror concept stands in the way of recognizing this fact because it separates "us" from "them," and denies the fact that our actions may shape their behavior.
A third weakness is that the war-on-terror concept lumps together different political movements that use terrorist tactics. It fails to distinguish between Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Qaida or the Sunni insurrection and the Mahdi militia in Iraq. Yet all these terrorist manifestations are different and require different responses. Neither Hamas nor Hezbollah can be treated merely as targets in the war on terror because they have deep roots in their societies, yet profound differences exist between them.
Looking back it is easy to see where Israeli policy went wrong. When Mahmoud Abbas was elected chairman of the PA, Israel should have gone out of its way to strengthen him and his reformist team.
When Israel withdrew from Gaza, the former head of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, negotiated a six-point plan for the Middle East on behalf of the Quartet (Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations). It included opening crossings between Gaza and the West Bank, an airport and seaport in Gaza, opening the border with Egypt, and transferring the greenhouses abandoned by Israeli settlers into Arab hands. None of the six points was implemented.
This contributed to Hamas' electoral victory. The Bush administration, having pushed Israel to hold elections, then backed Israel's refusal to deal with a Hamas government. The effect has been to impose further hardship on the Palestinians.
Nevertheless, Abbas was able to forge an agreement with the political arm of Hamas for the formation of a unity government. It was to foil this agreement that the military branch of Hamas, run from Damascus, engaged in the provocation that brought a heavy-handed response from Israel - which in turn incited Hezbollah to further provocation, opening a second front. That is how extremists play off against each other to destroy any chance of political progress.
Israel has been a participant in this game and President Bush bought into this flawed policy, uncritically supporting Israel. Events have shown that this policy leads to an escalation of violence. The process has advanced to the point where Israel's unquestioned military superiority is no longer sufficient to overcome the negative consequences of its policy. Israel is now more endangered existentially than it was at the time of the Oslo Accord. Similarly, the United States has become less safe since President Bush declared war on terror.
The time has come to realize that today's policies are counterproductive. There will be no end to the vicious circle of escalating violence without a political settlement of the Palestine question. In fact, the prospects for engaging in negotiations are better now than they were a few months ago. Israelis must realize that a military deterrent is not sufficient on its own. And Arabs, having redeemed themselves on the battlefield, may be more willing to entertain a compromise.
Strong voices argue that Israel must never negotiate from a position of weakness. They are wrong. Israel's position is liable to become weaker the longer it persists on its present course. Similarly, Hezbollah, having tasted the sense but not the reality of victory (and egged on by Syria and Iran), may prove recalcitrant.
But that is where the difference between Hezbollah and Hamas comes into play. The people of Palestine yearn for peace and relief from suffering. The political - as distinct from the military - wing of Hamas must be responsive to their desires. It is not too late for Israel to encourage and to deal with an Abbas-led Palestinian unity government as the first step toward a better balanced approach. What is missing is a U.S. government that is not blinded by the war-on-terror concept.
Financier and philanthropist George Soros is author of "The Age of Fallibility: Consequences of the War on Terror" (Public Affairs, 2006?).Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2006. www.project-syndicate.org
By Howard Zinn
Saturday 09 September 2006
The USA's massive military campaigns are both strategically ineffective and morally indefensible.
There is something important to be learned from the recent experience of the United States and Israel in the Middle East: that massive military attacks, inevitably indiscriminate, are not only morally reprehensible, but useless in achieving the stated aims of those who carry them out.
The United States, in three years of war, which began with shock-and- awe bombardment and goes on with day-to-day violence and chaos, has been an utter failure in its claimed objective of bringing democracy and stability to Iraq. The Israeli invasion and bombing of Lebanon has not brought security to Israel; indeed it has increased the number of its enemies, whether in Hezbollah or Hamas or among Arabs who belong to neither of those groups.
I remember John Hersey's novel, "The War Lover," in which a macho American pilot, who loves to drop bombs on people and also to boast about his sexual conquests, turns out to be impotent. President Bush, strutting in his flight jacket on an aircraft carrier and announcing victory in Iraq, has turned out to be much like the Hersey character, his words equally boastful, his military machine impotent.
The history of wars fought since the end of World War II reveals the futility of large-scale violence. The United States and the Soviet Union, despite their enormous firepower, were unable to defeat resistance movements in small, weak nations - the United States in Vietnam, the Soviet Union in Afghanistan - and were forced to withdraw.
Even the "victories" of great military powers turn out to be elusive. Presumably, after attacking and invading Afghanistan, the president was able to declare that the Taliban were defeated. But more than four years later, Afghanistan is rife with violence, and the Taliban are active in much of the country.
The two most powerful nations after World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union, with all their military might, have not been able to control events in countries that they considered to be in their sphere of influence - the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe and the United States in Latin America.
Beyond the futility of armed force, and ultimately more important, is the fact that war in our time inevitably results in the indiscriminate killing of large numbers of people. To put it more bluntly, war is terrorism. That is why a "war on terrorism" is a contradiction in terms. Wars waged by nations, whether by the United States or Israel, are a hundred times more deadly for innocent people than the attacks by terrorists, vicious as they are.
The repeated excuse, given by both Pentagon spokespersons and Israeli officials, for dropping bombs where ordinary people live is that terrorists hide among civilians. Therefore the killing of innocent people (in Iraq, in Lebanon) is called accidental, whereas the deaths caused by terrorists (on 9/11, by Hezbollah rockets) are deliberate.
This is a false distinction, quickly refuted with a bit of thought. If a bomb is deliberately dropped on a house or a vehicle on the grounds that a "suspected terrorist" is inside (note the frequent use of the word suspected as evidence of the uncertainty surrounding targets), the resulting deaths of women and children may not be intentional. But neither are they accidental. The proper description is "inevitable."
So if an action will inevitably kill innocent people, it is as immoral as a deliberate attack on civilians. And when you consider that the number of innocent people dying inevitably in "accidental" events has been far, far greater than all the deaths deliberately caused by terrorists, one must reject war as a solution for terrorism.For instance, more than a million civilians in Vietnam were killed by US bombs, presumably by "accident." Add up all the terrorist attacks throughout the world in the 20th century and they do not equal that awful toll.
If reacting to terrorist attacks by war is inevitably immoral, then we must look for ways other than war to end terrorism, including the terrorism of war. And if military retaliation for terrorism is not only immoral but futile, then political leaders, however cold-blooded their calculations, may have to reconsider their policies.
Howard Zinn is a professor emeritus at Boston University and the author of the forthcoming book, A Power Governments Cannot Suppress (City Lights Books, Winter 2007).