If you would like
to be removed
from this mailing list, please indicate so by return mail.
Pour se désinscrire de cette liste, renvoyez svp ce mèle avec votre demande.
Bulletin N° 257
The Independent asked a group of Labour MPs what they though of British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's outburst :
Some years ago Noam Chomsky and I found it useful to distinguish between three categories of terrorism--constructive, benign and nefarious--the classification based strictly on the utility of the terrorism to U.S. interests as perceived by the ruling political elite 
when terrorism is seen by U.S. officials as highly advantageous to U.S.
interests, it is treated by those officials, and hence by the media, as
a positive development and hence "constructive." This was the case with
the vast massacres by Suharto and colleagues in Indonesia in 1965-1966,
that wiped out the base of a communist party and cleared the ground for
an open door to foreign investment and a realignment of Indonesian
foreign policy in favor of the West. In this instance not only
there no moral indignation expressed at the mass murder of many
hundreds of thousands of civilians, it was treated as a "dividend" from
our policy of military aid to the Indonesian army (Robert McNamara),
and a "a gleam of light" in Asia (James Reston). 
When the terrorism is not especially helpful to U.S. interests but is carried out by an ally or client that U.S. officials want to placate or protect, the killing of large numbers of civilians is treated as of little interest and no evident moral concern-it is "benign"--as in the case of Indonesia's invasion-occupation of East Timor in 1975 and after, which resulted in the death of a third of the East Timorese population, but which was aided and diplomatically protected by the U. S. government, based on the perceived merits of the Suharto dictatorship and kleptocracy. 
On the other hand, a terrorism carried out by a communist or any other designated enemy state is given great attention, arouses great moral fervor, and is treated as "nefarious." This was the case with the killings by Pol Pot in Cambodia, the NLF in Vietnam, and Saddam Hussein in Iraq--except during the period in the 1980s when Saddam was serving U.S. interests by killing Iranians. This classification system was and remains useful, and is notable in its successful tracking not only official designations but media treatment as well. For the first two kinds of terrorism, the media are reliably very quiet, with little coverage, antiseptic and sometimes apologetic treatment of murderous behavior where it is mentioned at all,  and with no indignation. With nefarious terror, on the other hand, coverage is intense, detailed, includes many personal stories of suffering, and elicits great indignation. 
Over the past two decades, during which ethnic cleansing has frequently been featured by Western officials, pundits and human rights activists, a closely parallel system of official treatment and media follow-on is also evident. As with terrorism, in the official view ethnic cleansing can be constructive, benign, or nefarious, and the media recognize this and adjust with almost clockwork precision to the demands of state policy in treating its different manifestations.
Constructive Ethnic Cleansing: Croatia and the Krajina Serbs
As a model instance of constructive ethnic cleansing, we may take the case of the Croat ethnic cleansing of Serbs from the Krajina region of Croatia in August 1995. Long before that date the Clinton administration had aligned itself with the Croats and Bosnian Muslims in the externally stoked civil war that engulfed the region from 1991 onward: it had supported sanctions on the Serbs alone, sponsored and used the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) as an anti-Serb political-PR-judicial instrument,  encouraged the Bosnian Muslims to withdraw from the Lisbon agreement in March 1992--an agreement that would have settled the conflict and prevented the further large-scale blood-letting--helped organize an alliance between the Muslims and Croats to help them better fight the Serbs, and supported the import of arms and mujahadeen to help the Muslims fight and kill more effectively, among other matters.
further weaken the bargaining position of the Serbs, the Clinton
administration actively supported the Croatian army's attacks on the
Serb communities in Croatia in Operation Flash in May 1995 and then in
the massive ethnic cleansing of Krajina Serbs in Operation Storm in
August 1995. Richard Holbrooke visited Zagreb two days before the
beginning of Operation Storm, and clearly did not exercise any
restraining influence on the imminent cleansing operation. Active U.S.
support came in the form of military aid, the provision of
"advisers" closely affiliated with the U.S. armed forces, direct
participation in the military operations via intelligence provision and
even selective bombing missions, and a refusal to cooperate with the
ICTY in providing information on possible war crimes committed by the
Croatian armed forces. 
Another form of U.S. support was an intense and indignant focus on the Srebrenica massacre,  which took place during the month before Operation Storm and helped justify and distract attention from the Croatian ethnic cleansing and massacre. Operation Storm involved the removal of some 200,000 to 250,000 Krajina Serbs, in contrast with perhaps one-tenth that number of Bosnian Muslims removed from Srebrenica.  Operation Storm may also have involved the killing of more Serb civilians than Bosnian Muslim civilians killed in the Srebrenica area in July: virtually all of the Bosnian Muslim victims were fighters, not civilians, as the Bosnian Serbs bused the Srebrenica women and children to safety. The Croats made no such provision and hundreds of women, children and old people were slaughtered in Krajina.  The ruthlessness of the Croats was impressive: Tim Ripley notes that "UN troops watched horrified as Croat soldiers dragged the bodies of dead Serbs along the road outside the UN compound and then pumped them full of rounds from the AK-47s. They then crushed the bullet-ridden bodies under the tracks of a tank." 
Media treatment of the Srebrenica and Krajina cases followed the familiar pattern of fixing victim worthiness and unworthiness in accord with a political agenda. With the Serbs their government's target, and their government actively aiding the massive Croat ethnic cleansing program in Krajina, the media gave huge and indignant treatment to the first, with invidious language, calls for action, and little context. On the other hand, with Krajina, attention was slight and passing, detailed reporting on the condition of the victims was minimal, descriptive language was neutral, indignation was absent, and the slight context offered made the cleansing and killings acceptable.
The contrast in language is notable: the attack on Srebrenica "chilling," "murderous," "savagery," "cold-blooded killing," "genocidal," "aggression," and of course "ethnic cleansing." With Krajina, the media used no such strong language-even ethnic cleansing was too much for them, even though this was an obvious, carefully planned, and major case. The Croat assault was merely a big "upheaval" that is "softening up the enemy," "a lightning offensive," explained away as a "response to Srebrenica" and a result of Serb leaders "overplaying their hand." The Washington Post even cited U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith saying the "the Serb exodus was not 'ethnic cleansing'."  The paper did not allow a challenge to that judgment. In fact, however, the Croat operations in Krajina left Croatia the most ethnically purified of all the former components of the former Yugoslavia, although the NATO occupation of Kosovo allowed an Albanian ethnic cleansing of Serbs, Roma and others that rivalled that of Croatia in ethnic purification. 
Although in recent years there has been a trickle of expelled Serbs returning to Croatian Krajina, in neither the Krajina nor Kosovo cases has there been any effort by the NATO powers to organize the return of the ethnically-cleansed Serbs to their homes from which they were removed by force. Civilian victims associated with a Western target are unworthy. Based on no substantive differences whatever, their killers and ethnic cleansers are allowed to be retaliating and taking revenge, rather than pursuing ethnic cleansing for more sinister motives (racial hatred, land hunger), and these unworthy victims have no right of return.
the case of Kosovo, the UN is actually planning for 40,000 additional
Serb refugees in case of an expected granting of full independence to
Kosovo and Kosovo Albanian control.  Thus, not only are unworthy
victims not treated with sympathy or allowed any right of return, the
international community will even plan to collaborate in a further
round of ethnic cleansing by a Western ally or client, and the media
won't complain or even notice.
Benign Ethnic Cleansing: Israel's Removal of the Palestinians to "Redeem the Land"
As an illustration of benign ethnic cleansing, the case of Israel's long-term expropriation and removal of Palestinians in Israel proper, on the West Bank, in East Jerusalem, and Gaza is clear and very important, morally and politically. It is "benign," because the United States does not benefit from this process, which has a negative feedback effect on Arab and many other peoples' view of the United States; this is a case of the tail wagging the dog, with the dog injuring itself as it spins around in service to its tail.
Its importance rests on several other considerations: This has been a very obvious--even model--case of ethnic cleansing, in which one ethnic group has used its military power and aid from the West (mainly the United States) to evict another ethnic group that stands in its way. This fundamental fact has been acknowledged by a long line of Israeli officials and intellectual defenders of Israel, who have admitted, sometimes regretfully, that to "redeem the land" occupied by Palestinians in favor of the "chosen people" would require systematic expropriation and associated killing and forced transfer.
Back in 1948, David Ben-Gurion was clear that "We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population." Fifty years later, in 1998, Ariel Sharon made the same point about the centrality of ethnic cleansing in Israeli policy: "It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonization or Jewish state without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands." On May 24, 2006, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told a joint session of congress that "I believed and to this day still believe, in our people's eternal and historic right to this entire land."
Despite these and numerous other statements along the same line,  the Western elites pretend that Israel's expropriations and ethnic cleansing are not the basic (and profoundly immoral) causal force in the struggle over Palestine, and in a Kafkaesque mode it is the Palestinian resistance to their ethnic cleansing that is to be condemned.
It should be noted that Israel's "eternal and historic right" to Olmert's "entire land" may well underlie the current and renewed Israeli aggression in Lebanon and huge ethnic cleansing and refugee generation in southern Lebanon. Officially, Israel's ground invasion of Lebanon is an act of self-defense against Hezbollah's threat, aimed at creating a security buffer zone until the arrival of a "multinational force with an enforcement capability." But increasingly, as the initial goal of a narrow strip of only a few kilometers has now been extended up to the Litani River deep in Lebanon, the real motives behind Israel's invasion are becoming crystal clear.
Back in the 1940s Ben Gurion declared that Israel's "natural borders" extended to the Litani in the north and the Jordan to the east--coincidentally the two sources of snow fed water in the region. Even in their current announced plan to evacuate the West Bank the Israelis intend to hold the Jordan "for security reasons." The Litani is next. The Golan is also valued for its water. Thus, while officially, Israel's ground invasion of Lebanon is claimed to be an act of self-defense against Hezbollah's threat, aimed at creating a security buffer zone until the arrival of a "multinational force with an enforcement capability," the initial goal of a narrow strip of southern Lebanon "has now been extended up to the Litani River deep in Lebanon, [and] the real motives behind Israel's invasion are becoming crystal-clear…. This is a war to annex a major chunk of Lebanese territory without necessarily saying so, under the pretext of security buffer and deterrence against future attacks on Israel." 
This drive to "redeem the land," requiring the takeover of land in the possession of others by force, also constitutes a model case of a quest for a "Greater" entity--here a Greater Israel-a drive which in the case of Milosevic's and the Serbs' alleged drive for a "Greater Serbia" was presented as a prime element of illegal activity in the ICTY indictment of Milosevic (see below under Nefarious). In no case has this drive for a Greater Israel been pointed to by U.S. officials or the U.S. mainstream media as an immoral and illegal program that should call for international intervention and prosecution in the mode of the Serb prosecution, although the Israeli program has been explicitly designed to ethnically cleanse a sizable civilian population.
This model case of ethnic cleansing also represents a clear instance of applied racism, in which the militarily stronger and ethnic cleansing state--its leaders, armed forces, and a major part of its media, intellectuals and citizenry, who would be called "willing executioners" if residing in a Western targeted state--in both words and actions treat the population in process of removal as inferiors (untermenschen in the Nazi mode). These inferiors are not merely discriminated against but freely abused with beatings, harsh treatment at checkpoints, home demolitions and expropriations in accord with Israeli desires, theft of land and water, and killings without penalty. As the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem states, "Israel has established in the occupied Territories a separation cum discrimination regime, in which it maintains two systems of laws, and a person's rights are based on his or her national origin. This regime is the only of its kind in the world, and brings to mind dark regimes of the past, such as the Apartheid regime in South Africa."
Israeli officials have for years described the Palestinians as
"cockroaches," "lice," "grasshoppers," "animals," "two-legged
a "cancer," along with other epithets of dehumanization, and they have
repeatedly devalued Palestinian life as compared with that of Jews
(most recently, Olmert's statement that "the lives and well-being of
Sderot's residents are more important than those of Gaza residents";
more dramatically, Rabbi Yaacov Perin's "One million Arabs are not
worth a Jewish fingernail"). Palestinian numbers represent what in
Israel is called a "demographic threat," and Israeli academic and human
rights activist Jeff Halper states that "schemes of 'transfer' have
become an acceptable part of Israeli political discourse...[as Israel]
actively pursues policies of displacement: exile and deportation, the
revoking of residency rights, economic impoverishment, land
expropriations, house demolitions, and other means of making life so
unbearable as to induce 'voluntary' Palestinian emigration." 
Hundreds of checkpoints make Palestinian movement difficult and insecure, even between local neighborhoods, and they are closed on Jewish holidays, paralyzing Palestinian economic and social life. As of two years ago 79 Palestinians had died as a result of delays at checkpoints and dozens of women had given childbirth (along with many still-borns) at or near obstructed checkpoints.  There have been over 11,000 Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes since 1967, fewer than 600 belonging to people accused of terrorist activities or their families (the latter a form of collective punishment that is a war crime). One Israeli cabinet minister, Yosef Lapid, a holocaust survivor, caused an uproar at one weekly cabinet meeting, at which the demolition of homes in the Rafah refugee camp was being discussed, when he said that a picture of an old Palestinian women on the rubble of her home reminded him "of my grandmother in the Holocaust," adding that there "is no forgiveness for people who treat an old woman this way."  His remarks, unreported in the New York Times, had no influence on Israeli policy.
The demolitions are almost all to clear the ground for homes or roads or "security zones" for the ubermenschen, with minimal notice and zero indignation from the Western establishment. In Jerusalem, "Jewish-Israeli homes are never demolished, although 80% of the building violations take place on the Western side of the city."  When the settlers were removed from Gaza, they had long notice and received between $140,000 and $400,000 per family for this dislocation. Palestinians whose houses are demolished rarely receive even token compensation and, as Amnesty International notes, "the family may only have 15 minutes to take out what belongings they have before the furniture is thrown into the street and their home bulldozed"  This racist double standard, as well as the associated racist language and perspectives, has been normalized and has caused no negative reaction toward the racist state in the West.
Israel's Western-approved ethnic cleansing program has been massive, proceeding both in spurts of larger-scale cleansing and in continual lower-intensity expropriations and removal for almost 60 years (1947-2006). Some 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed in 1947-48, several hundred thousand were removed during and immediately after the 1967 war, and an exodus, partially "voluntary," based on Israeli violence, threats, fear, and impoverishment has been continuous at other times up to the present day. The apartheid wall under construction within the boundaries of the West Bank has involved the removal of thousands, with larger numbers in prospect, plus damage to a great many whose lands have been partly expropriated or divided by the wall (which carefully avoids disturbing Jewish settlements, but not Palestinian settlements or property). Large numbers of Palestinians have simply moved out of their homeland, adding a 2.4 million non-refugee diaspora to a refugee diaspora of 2.5 million (the total Palestinian population worldwide is estimated to be 9.7 million).
It is an important fact that this durable and massive ethnic cleansing process has taken place in daily violation of international law, from which the ethnic cleansing state is exempt by virtue of long-standing primary U.S. support, a lesser but real support by the other great powers, and the weakness and compromised character of the Arab and other members of the international community. Israel has simply ignored dozens of Security Council and other UN rulings, the Geneva Conventions applicable to an occupying power, and decisions of the International Court. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention stipulates that "the occupying power shall not transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies," a clear ban on settlements, ignored along with numerous other provisions of international law (which illegalize the theft of water, the checkpoints and abusive treatment, and the numerous other restrictions on movement).
huge wall, built almost entirely within Palestinian territory,
inflicting serious damage on several hundred thousand Palestinians and
blatantly in violation of the Geneva Conventions, was found illegal by
the International Court on July 9, 2004, the court requesting the
international community "not to render any aid or assistance to the
wall and associated regime." But Israel has simply ignored this legal
ruling, with the crucial support of the United States and de facto
support of the international community, the latter (including the World
Bank), continuing to do normal business with the outlaw and thus
colluding in its law violations and ethnic cleansing program. 
Israel has been able to violate international law and continue its ethnic cleansing project without obstruction or any sort of penalty to this day. The United States vetoed a demand for international monitors during the second intifada in 2002, and has also prevented any international intervention in the serial and brutal Israeli armed attacks on Palestinian refugee camps and cities (e.g., Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah in 2002) and currently Gaza and Lebanon once again. Obviously, no tribunals have been established to deal with these blatant and large-scale war crimes and massive ethnic cleansing. This is benign ethnic cleansing.
The rationalizations for this systematic ethnic cleansing have been extremely crude and question-begging, but effective in the West. Israel is always allowed to be "retaliating" to terror, although there is invariably a sequence of tit-for-tat violence that the Western establishment regularly cuts off at the point of a Palestinian action, ignoring the prior Israeli provocations.  That the Israelis keep seizing large and small blocs of Palestinian-occupied land in response to "terror" and for Israeli "security" is laughable, and of course flies in the face of the long-standing Israeli admission of plans for "redeeming the land," but the Israelis have been allowed to get away with this laughable basis for land theft and expulsions. Palestinian resistance to their removal is allowed to be "terrorism" and not retaliation for Israeli violence, which is never terrorism or causal.
The Palestinians are in a lose-lose situation: if they don't resist removal they will be removed and the West will not help them; if they resist without violence, as in the first intifada, the West will not help them and they will continue to be removed; and if they resist with their puny force, they will be "terrorists" and the West will condemn their "violence" as it collaborates further in their ethnic cleansing!
Arabs and Third World peoples more generally can see that despite the preachings of the West on the enlightenment values of equality, the value of each individual, tolerance, and the importance of the rule of law, all of these values have been suspended in the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, with the West providing unstinting and hypocritical support to Israel's brutal ethnic cleansing and applied racism. This has fed the anger of the Islamic world and beyond by providing an ongoing and exceedingly clear illustrative case of Western racism and discrimination, a case where the West is engaged in a wholly unprovoked war of aggression and colonial aggrandizement against a non-Western people. .
Nefarious Ethnic Cleansing: The Case of the Serbs in Kosovo
The best known case in which the West has denounced and fought against ethnic cleansing has been that of the Serbs fighting in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo. In fact the term really came into its own in application to this case. The Serbs were also accused of genocide in Bosnia and Kosovo, although there was the difficulty that after the Kosovo bombing war was over in June 1999 and intensive forensic searches yielded only some 4,000 bodies from all sides, the hysterical claims of U.S. officials (which at a peak hit 500,000 Kosovo Albanian victims) were shown to be wild propaganda exaggerations. Thus, to establish a charge of genocide against Milosevic the ICTY had to extend his villainy to Bosnia and, accordingly, he was belatedly made part of a "joint criminal conspiracy" along with Bosnian Serb officials. 
There is no question but that there was ethnic cleansing in Bosnia in the years 1991-1995, and that the Bosnian Serbs were implicated in the ethnic cleansing operations of those years. But they were not alone-the Croats and Bosnian Muslims were very active participants, with substantial armed forces, imported mujahadeen fighters, and growing aid from the United States and other external allies (including Turkey, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia) that produced an eventual military stalemate and threatened defeat for the Bosnian Serbs.  And as noted earlier, the largest single ethnic cleansing of the Yugoslavia wars was in Operation Storm, carried out by the Croats against the Krajina Serbs, with active U.S. assistance. In Bosnia the ethnic cleansing resulted from a struggle for land control by three ethnic groups or "nations" in a civil conflict unleashed by the unmediated breakup of Yugoslavia. None of the three was powerless, and all suffered casualties, the Bosnian Muslims the most, the Croats the least. 
One important difference from the case of Israel in Palestine is that all three ethnic groups in Bosnia were seeking to improve their strategic position, whereas in the Israel-Palestine case, only one side has been seeking to take land from the other contestant. A second difference is that in Bosnia and Croatia all three parties in the struggle were well armed, and in the end the Bosnian Serbs were even overbalanced by their military opponents,  whereas in the Israel-Palestine case the contestants are one of the world's strongest military powers (Israel), backed by a superpower, versus a virtually defenseless population that doesn't even have the support of several of its important local Arab neighbors. A third difference, following plausibly from the second, is that whereas the ratio of Muslim to Serb civilian deaths in Bosnia was perhaps two to one, the ratio of Palestinian to Israeli civilian deaths was for many years something like 25 to1, dropping in the second intifada to 3 or 4 to 1 (with a higher injury ratio). 
In Kosovo, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) became very active in 1998 and the Yugoslav army responded with a crackdown that produced a large number of internal refugees. NATO threats and an accord in October 1998 forced the Serbs to accept a large body of OSCE monitors and to withdraw Yugoslav army forces from Kosovo. The KLA was not subject to any restraints by NATO and took advantage of the new arrangements to occupy more Kosovo space, and they engaged in numerous provocations to entice the Yugoslav police to crackdowns that would help precipitate NATO intervention. The Racak "massacre" of January 15, 1999, almost surely not a genuine massacre but an incident in which KLA battle deaths were converted into a civilian massacre by KLA-OSCE-ICTY and media cooperation,  helped precipitate a NATO war on behalf of the Kosovo Albanians. The war produced a flood of refugees fleeing the Yugoslav army, the KLA, and the NATO bombs.
Was any of this "ethnic cleansing"? Before the NATO bombing war began there had been many refugees created by Yugoslav army actions in pursuit of the KLA and treating Albanian villagers sometimes very harshly. There were, however, no cases reported of slaughters by the Serbs comparable to the U.S. massacre at Haditha, nothing remotely like the U.S. destruction of Falluja, and pre-bombing war civilian casualties in Kosovo were only a very small fraction of those produced by the U.S. forces in Iraq.  The Kosovo Albanians who became refugees in that period were victims of a civil war within a part of Serbia, whereas West Bank victims were in occupied territory outside of Israel. Most relevant to the issue of ethnic cleansing, Kosovo Albanians were not being pushed out to make way for Serb settlers, as Palestinians were displaced by Jewish settlers in the true case of ethnic cleansing on the West Bank. The German Foreign office stated explicitly that the turmoil and refugee generation in Kosovo before the bombing war was not a case of ethnic cleansing,  and British officials even acknowledged that in the runup to the bombing war the KLA killed more people in Kosovo, including Albanian "traitors" as well as Serb police and civilians, than did the Yugoslav army and police. 
Albanians who fled during the bombing war were war refugees, not victims of ethnic cleansing, and Serbs in Kosovo fled with even greater frequency than the Albanians. Nevertheless, in a remarkable propaganda coup, the war propagandists made and actually got away with the claim that the war was necessary to allow the return of Albanians whose exit was a result of the war itself.
A number of consequences followed from the fact that the Serbs were the targets of the United States and its allies. Flowing strictly from this political alignment, Serb treatment of their antagonists in the wars in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo was nefarious, and from 1991 onward the Serbs were the focus of attention and vilification and subject to inflated claims, sanctions and legal (ICTY) attacks from which others doing much the same thing were free. As regards ethnic cleansing, the term was applied to them freely, not only in Bosnia but in Kosovo, where it was not applicable. As noted earlier, ethnic cleansing was extremely applicable to the removal of Serbs from Croatian Krajina, but as this was done under U.S. auspices the term was not applied there, nor was it applied to Israel on the West Bank where ethnic cleansing was crystal clear.
the three year period 1998 through 2000, the New York Times, Washington
Post, Los Angeles Times, Time and Newsweek used the phrase "ethnic
cleansing" some 1,200 times in discussing Kosovo, in about four-fifths
of the cases in reference to Serb policy, whereas during the entire
decade of the 1990s they used the phrase only 14 times in discussing
Israel, and only five times referring to Israeli policy. This reflects
massive internalized bias.
Another consequence of the Serbs being U.S. targets was that they were allegedly guilty of striving for a "Greater Serbia," an important feature of the ICTY case against Milosevic. But this accusation was silly and effectively fell apart during the Milosevic trial when the prosecutor Geoffrey Nice admitted to the court that Milosevic wasn't striving to enlarge Serb claims but merely to keep all Serbs under one flag as Yugoslavia disintegrated-and there was a great deal of evidence that Milosevic wasn't trying very hard even to keep Serbs in one state.  The contrast here with Israel in Palestine is dramatic-Israel has been openly trying to enlarge Israeli territory at the expense of another people. But as noted earlier, this is not something the U.S.-dominated international community interferes with, and this model case of ethnic cleansing isn't even worth discussing in the West. This is benign, not nefarious ethnic cleansing.
In the case of Kosovo, the West was so upset at the effects of the struggle there and victimization of the Kosovo Albanians that the Serbs were warned that force might be employed against them if they didn't restrain themselves, and the Serbs were compelled to accept a large number of OSCE monitors, although as noted earlier no restrictions were place by the OSCE on the KLA. Again the contrast with the West Bank case is dramatic: there, where there was real ethnic cleansing by Israel on behalf of settlers taking over Palestinian property, and with massive Israeli operations in violation of the Third and Fourth Geneva Convention, no monitors were allowed, because the United States wouldn't support this, so ethnic cleansing could proceed unhindered.
Then, with the excuse of Racak, the United States could go to war and devastate Serbia and Kosovo, to protect those victims of Serbia in Kosovo in a great moral crusade against "ethnic cleansing"! Racak was not a massacre of civilians, the Serbs were not ethnically cleansing in Kosovo, and the Serbs were not violating international law in their civil war struggle in Kosovo as the Israelis were doing on the West Bank, but the United States has been able to get away with the active support of ethnic cleansing in the one case and illegal war against a non-existent ethnic cleansing on the other hand, with the support of the international community.
In the age of Kafka, ethnic cleansing is clearly acceptable when it is serviceable to the United States or carried out by one of its allies or clients, but it is assailed with great energy and indignation and opposed by force when engaged in (or asserted to be engaged in) by a U.S. target. In the former cases, the United States and its allies may actively aid the ethnic cleansing state, and, except for occasional nominal actions that the international community does not attempt to enforce, and its occasional whimpers calling for restraint, ethnic cleansing can proceed for decades in violation of both international law and the moral rules supposedly guiding the enlightened West. This of course requires great discipline by the intellectual class and media, who must keep the bulk of relevant facts out of sight and allow the ethnic cleansing state to expropriate and remove its unwanted ethnic target population under cover of a combination of silence and its alleged necessary response to "terror" and inability to locate a "negotiating partner."
On the other hand, ethnic cleansing and claims of ethnic cleansing by a target country like the former Yugoslavia is treated with an intense focus of attention, great moral indignation, and aggressive "humanitarian intervention," in keeping with Western enlightenment values. In this case, sanctions may be imposed and international monitors may be forced upon the delinquent country to constrain its misbehavior, and an incident such as the killing of 40 Kosovo Albanians by Yugoslav police can bring about a bombing war and occupation of part of the villain's national territory. In this case also an international tribunal can be organized to bring the ethnic cleansing state's leaders and military commanders to justice. Nefarious ethnic cleansing can be treated harshly.
In 1996 Israel could kill 104 Lebanese civilians, 86 of them children, in a bombing raid on a UN refugee facility, and in July 2006 kill another 36 children in a UN facility along with killing 4 UN observers in July 2006, and lie about their knowledge of the nature of the targets in all three cases, and receive no reprimand from its U.S. sponsor and hence no serious response from the "international community." In fact, Boutros-Boutros Ghali's taking the 1996 killings a bit too seriously for Clinton administration tastes may have hastened his replacement as UN leader.  This was the same Clinton administration that found the 40 killed at Racak (none children, one woman, all but the woman almost surely KLA fighters) a really terrible event worthy of a violent international response!
The hypocrisy involved in this applied double standard is breath-taking. As noted earlier, whereas both the Croat leadership in cleansing Serbs from Krajina and the Israeli leadership in removing Palestinians were very clearly doing this to get rid of an unwanted population to replace it with a competing ethnic group, the Yugoslav actions in Kosovo were features of a civil war. Whereas the Israeli leadership was and still is quite explicitly seeking a "Greater Israel" by land theft and people expulsion, Milosevic was trying to keep the Serbs of the former Yugoslavia within a single remnant political entity and not trying to enlarge Serb territory at the expense of some other ethnic group (as Prosecutor Geoffrey Nice acknowledged during the Milosevic trial). Whereas the Israeli leadership has for years described the Palestinians in extremely derogatory and racist language, no such derogation of Kosovo Albanians (or other nationalities) has ever been attributed to Milosevic, and Albanians in Belgrade have never been subjected to discrimination such as Arabs undergo in Israel (not to speak of the occupied territories). In sum, the differential treatment of Milosevic and Sharon, the one prosecuted--after a failed assassination attempt- and the other honored as a Free World leader and "man of peace," was not only not based on the realities of ethnic cleansing or any honest application of the law, it reflects pure power and structured injustice in the age of Kafka.
1. Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman, The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism (Boston; South End Press, 1979).
2. Ibid., chapter 4, sec. 4.1.
3. Ibid., chapter 3, section 3.4.4.
4. In a classic case, when Indonesian violence in East Timor reached its peak in 1977-1978, New York Times coverage fell to zero; see ibid.; see also Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent (New York: Pantheon, 1988, 2002), chapter 2, "Worthy and Unworthy Victims.".
5. See Washington Connection, chap. 5, sec. 5.2; Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman, After the Cataclysm (Boston: South End Press, 1979), esp. chap. 6.
6. See Michael Mandel, How America Gets Away With Murder (London: Pluto, 2005), chaps. 4-6.
7. Raymond Bonner, "War Crimes Panel Finds Croat Troops 'Cleansed' the Serbs," New York Times, March 21, 1999.
8. See Edward Herman, "<http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=74&ItemID=8244> The Politics of the Srebrenica Massacre," ZNet, July 7, 2005..
9. On August 10, 1995, Madeleine Albright cried out to the Security Council that "as many as 13,000 men, women and children were driven from their homes" in Srebrenica.. (<The">http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/PRO/N95/858/
Situation in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (<S/PV.3564">http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/
PRO/N95/858/26/PDF/N9585826.pdf?OpenElement>S/PV.3564), UN Security Council, August 10, 1995, 5.30 p.m., pp. 6-7). Needless to say, Albright did not cry out about the 200,000+ Karajina Serbs being driven out of their homes in the same time frame as she wept for the 13,000.
10. The Krajina Serb human rights organization Veritas estimated that 1,205 civilians were killed in Operation Storm, including 358 women and 10 children. See "Croatian Serb Exodus Commemorated," Agence France Press, Aug. 4, 2004; also, Veritas at www.veritas.org.yu'">http://www.veritas.org.yu/>www.veritas.org.yu'. In the graves around Srebrenica exhumed through 2000, only one of the 1,883 bodies was identified as female.
11. Tim Ripley, Operation Deliberate Force (Lancaster, UK: CDISS, 1999), p. 192.
12. "U.N. Report: Bosnian Serbs Massacred Srebrenica Muslims," Washington Post, Aug. 12, 1995. For illustrative language, see also John Pomfret, "Investigators Begin Exhuming Group of Mass Graves in Bosnia," Washington Post, July 8, 1996. "Upheaval" is in "Softening Up The Enemy," Newsweek, Aug. 21, 1995.
13. Jan Oberg, "Misleading UN Report on Kosovo (Part A)," TFF PressInfo 77, Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, Lund, Sweden, October 3, 1999, <http://www.transnational.org/pressinf/pf77.html
14. "Europe Prepares to Evacuate 40,000 Kosovo Serbs," Focus News Agency (Bulgaria), April 18, 2006.
For several dozen Israeli leaders' statements of racist
and indication that ethnic cleansing is a necessary and proper course,
The">The">http://www.monabaker.com/quotes.htm> The Middle
East Conflict (Personal Website of Mona Baker); "<Israel's">http://www.just-international.org/article.cfm?newsid=20001494>Israel's
Barbaric and Primitive Action: Examples of Hate Speech," International
Movement for a Just World, 2005. Olmert's speech can be found at http://www.pmo.gov.il/PMOEng/Communication/
16. Kaveh L Afrasiabi , "It's about annexation, stupid!": <">http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HH05Ak01.html>
; see also. Paul Larudee, "The Clearing of South Lebanon: The Lebanese Nakba and Israeli Ambitiions": http://www.counterpunch.org/larudee08082006.html
Jeff Halper, Obstacles to Peace: A Re-Framing of the
Palestinian-Israeli Conflict (Carrboro, NC: The Israeli Committee
Against House Demolitions, 2004), p. 17.
18. Ibid, p. 18.
19. A.P., "Official Compares Israeli Action to Nazi's," Guardian, May 21, 2004.
20. Halper, Obstacles to Peace, p. 34.
21. AI, "Israel: Home Demolitions," Dec. 8, 1999.
22. See "Free Markets: Imprisoned People," in "Against 'Sustainable' Apartheid & Occupation," www.stopthewall.org'">http://www.stopthewall.org/>www.stopthewall.org'
The resolution adopted by the UN Security Council on August 11, 2006 fully satisfies neither Israel nor Washington nor Hezbollah. This does not mean that it is "fair and balanced": it only means that it is a temporary expression of a military stalemate. Hezbollah could not inflict a major military defeat on Israel, a possibility that was always excluded by the utterly disproportionate balance of forces in the same way that it was impossible for the Vietnamese resistance to inflict a major military defeat on the U.S.; but neither could Israel inflict a major military defeat -- or actually any defeat whatsoever -- on Hezbollah. In this sense, Hezbollah is undoubtedly the real political victor and Israel the real loser in the 33-day war that erupted on July 12, and no speech by Ehud Olmert or George W. Bush can alter this obvious truth. 
In order to understand what is at stake, it is necessary to summarize the U.S.-backed goals that Israel was pursuing in its offensive. The central goal of the Israeli onslaught was, of course, to destroy Hezbollah. Israel sought to achieve this goal through the combination of three major means.
The first one consisted in dealing Hezbollah a fatal blow through an intensive "post-heroic," i.e. cowardly, bombing campaign exploiting Israel's "overwhelming and asymmetric advantage" in firepower. The campaign aimed at cutting Hezbollah's road of supplies, destroying much of its military infrastructure (stocks of rockets, rocket launchers, etc.), eliminating a major number of its fighters and decapitating it by assassinating Hassan Nasrallah and other key party leaders.
The second means pursued consisted in turning Hezbollah's mass base among Lebanese Shiites against the party, which Israel would designate as responsible for their tragedy through a frenzied PSYOP campaign. This required, of course, that Israel inflict a massive disaster on Lebanese Shiites by an extensive criminal bombing campaign that deliberately flattened whole villages and neighborhoods and killed hundreds and hundreds of civilians. This was not the first time that Israel had resorted to this kind of stratagem -- a standard war crime. When the PLO was active in southern Lebanon, in what was called "Fatahland" before the first Israeli invasion in 1978, Israel used to heavily pound the inhabited area all around the point from which a rocket was launched at its territory, even though rockets were fired from wastelands. The stratagem succeeded at that time in alienating from the PLO a significant part of the population of southern Lebanon, aided by the fact that reactionary leaders were still a major force down there and that the Palestinian guerillas could easily be repudiated as alien since their behavior was generally disastrous. This time, given the incomparably better status of Hezbollah among Lebanese Shiites, Israel thought that it could achieve the same effect simply by dramatically increasing the scope and brutality of the collective punishment.
The third means consisted in massively and gravely disrupting the life of the Lebanese population as a whole and holding it hostage through an air, sea and land blockade so as to incite this population, especially the communities other than Shiite, against Hezbollah, and thus create a political climate conducive to military action by the Lebanese army against the Shiite organization. This is why, at the onset of the offensive, Israeli officials stated that they did not want any force but the Lebanese army to deploy in southern Lebanon, rejecting specifically an international force and spitting on the existing UNIFIL. This project has actually been the goal of Washington and Paris ever since they worked together on producing UN Security Council resolution 1559 in September 2004 that called for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon and "the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias," i.e. Hezbollah and the organizations of the Palestinians in their refugee camps.
Washington had believed that, once Syrian forces were removed from Lebanon, the Lebanese army, which has been equipped and trained chiefly by the Pentagon, would be able to "disband and disarm" Hezbollah. The Syrian army effectively withdrew from Lebanon in April 2005, not because of the pressure from Washington and Paris, but due to the political turmoil and mass mobilization that resulted from the assassination, in February of that year, of Lebanese former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a very close friend of the Saudi ruling class. The balance of forces in the country, in light of the mass demonstrations and counter-demonstrations that occurred, did not make it possible for the U.S.-allied coalition to envisage a settlement of the Hezbollah issue by force. They were even obliged to wage the ensuing parliamentary elections in May in a broad coalition with Hezbollah, and rule the country thereafter through a coalition government including two Hezbollah ministers. This disappointing outcome prompted Washington to give Israel a green light for its military intervention. It needed only a suitable pretext, which the Hezbollah's cross-border operation on July 12 provided.
Measured against the central goal and the three means described above, the Israeli offensive was a total and blatant failure. Most obviously, Hezbollah was not destroyed -- far from it. It has retained the bulk of both its political structure and its military force, indulging in the luxury of shelling northern Israel up to the very last moment before the ceasefire on the morning of August 14. It has not been cut off from its mass base; if anything, this mass base has been considerably extended, not only among Lebanese Shiites, but among all other Lebanese religious communities as well, not to mention the huge prestige that this war brought to Hezbollah, especially in the Arab region and the rest of the Muslim world. Last but not least, all this has led to a shift in the overall balance of forces in Lebanon in a direction that is the exact opposite of what Washington and Israel expected: Hezbollah emerged much stronger and more feared by its declared or undeclared opponents, the friends of the U.S. and the Saudi kingdom. The Lebanese government essentially sided with Hezbollah, making the protest against the Israeli aggression its priority. 
There is no need to dwell any further on Israel's most blatant failure: reading the avalanche of critical comments from Israeli sources is more than sufficient and most revealing. One of the sharpest comments was the one expressed by three-time "Defense" minister Moshe Arens, indisputably an expert. He wrote a short article in Haaretz that speaks volumes:
"They [Ehud Olmert, Amir Peretz and Tzipi Livni] had a few days of glory when they still believed that the IAF's [Israeli Air Force's] bombing of Lebanon would make short shrift of Hezbollah and bring us victory without pain. But as the war they so grossly mismanaged wore on... gradually the air went out of them. Here and there, they still let off some bellicose declarations, but they started looking for an exit -- how to extricate themselves from the turn of events they were obviously incapable of managing. They grasped for straws, and what better straw than the United Nations Security Council. No need to score a military victory over Hezbollah. Let the UN declare a cease-fire, and Olmert, Peretz, and Livni can simply declare victory, whether you believe it or not.... The war, which according to our leaders was supposed to restore Israel's deterrent posture, has within one month succeeded in destroying it." 
Arens speaks the truth: as Israel proved increasingly unable to score any of the goals that it had set for itself at the onset of its new war, it started looking for an exit. While it compensated for its failure by an escalation in the destructive and revengeful fury that it unleashed over Lebanon, its U.S. sponsors switched their attitude at the UN. After having bought time for Israel for more than three weeks by blocking any attempt at discussing a Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire -- one of the most dramatic cases of paralysis in the history of the 61-year old intergovernmental institution -- Washington decided to take over and continue Israel's war by diplomatic means.
By switching its attitude, Washington converged again with Paris on the issue of Lebanon. Sharing with the U.S. a common, albeit rival, dedication to taking the most out of Saudi riches, especially by selling the Saudi rulers military hardware , Paris regularly and opportunistically stays on the right side of the Saudis every time some strains arise between Washington's agenda and the concerns of its oldest Middle Eastern clients and protégés. Israel's new Lebanon war was such an opportunity: as soon as Israel's murderous aggression proved counterproductive from the standpoint of the Saudi ruling family, who are terrified by an increasing destabilization of the Middle East that could prove fatal for their interests, they requested a cessation of the war and a switch to alternative means.
Paris immediately came out in favor of this attitude, and Washington ended up following suit, but only after giving the Israeli aggression a few more days to try to score some face-saving military achievement. The first draft resolution crafted by the two capitals circulated at the UN on August 5. It was a blatant attempt at achieving diplomatically what Israel had not been able to achieve militarily. The draft, while stating "strong support" for Lebanon's sovereignty, nevertheless called for the reopening of its airports and harbors only "for verifiably and purely civilian purposes" and provided for the establishment of an "international embargo on the sale or supply of arms and related material to Lebanon except as authorized by its government," in other words an embargo on Hezbollah.
It reasserted resolution 1559, calling for a further resolution that would authorize "under Chapter VII of the Charter the deployment of a UN-mandated international force to support the Lebanese armed forces and government in providing a secure environment and contribute to the implementation of a permanent cease-fire and a long-term solution." This formulation is so vague that it could only mean, actually, an international force authorized to wage military operations (Chapter VII of the UN Charter) in order to implement resolution 1559 by force, in alliance with the Lebanese army. Moreover, no provision restricted this force to the area south of the Litani River, the area which under the draft resolution was to be free of Hezbollah's armament, and the limit of the zone that Israel has requested to be secured after having failed to get rid of Hezbollah in the rest of Lebanon. This meant that the UN force could have been called upon to act against Hezbollah in the rest of Lebanon.
This project was totally unwarranted by what Israel had achieved on the ground, however, and the draft was therefore defeated. Hezbollah came out strongly against it, making it clear that it would not accept any international force but the existing UNIFIL, the UN force deployed along Lebanon's border with Israel (the "Blue Line") since 1978. The Lebanese government conveyed Hezbollah's opposition and request for changes, backed by the chorus of Arab states including all U.S. clients. Washington had no choice then, but to revise the draft as it would not have passed a vote at the Security Council anyway. Moreover, Washington's ally, French President Jacques Chirac -- whose country is expected to provide the major component of the international force and lead it -- had himself declared publicly two weeks into the fighting that no deployment was possible without prior agreement with Hezbollah. 
The draft was therefore revised and renegotiated, while Washington asked Israel to brandish the threat of a major ground offensive and to actually start implementing it as a means of pressure in order to enable Washington to get the best possible deal from its standpoint. In order to facilitate an agreement leading to a ceasefire that became more and more urgent for humanitarian reasons, Hezbollah accepted the deployment of 15,000 Lebanese troops south of the Litani River and softened its general position. Resolution 1701 could thus be pushed through at the Security Council on August 11.
Washington and Paris's main concession was to abandon the project of creating an ad-hoc multinational force under Chapter VII. Instead, the resolution authorizes "an increase in the force strength of UNIFIL to a maximum of 15,000 troops," thus revamping and considerably swelling the existing UN force. The main trick, however, was to redefine the mandate of this force so that it could now "assist the Lebanese armed forces in taking steps" towards "the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL." UNIFIL can now as well "take all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind."
Combined, the two precedent formulations come quite close to a Chapter VII mandate, or could easily be interpreted in this way, at any rate. Moreover, the mandate of UNIFIL is actually extended by Resolution 1701 beyond its "areas of deployement," as it can now "assist the government of Lebanon at its request" in its effort to "secure its borders and other entry points to prevent the entry in Lebanon without its consent of arms or related materiel" -- a sentence that definitely does not refer to Lebanon's border with Israel but to its border with Syria, which runs the length of the country, from north to south. These are the major traps in Resolution 1701, and not the wording about the withdrawal of the Israeli occupation army that many comments have focused on, as Israel's withdrawal is actually propelled by the deterrent force of Hezbollah, not by any UN resolution.
Hezbollah decided to give its green light for the approval by the Lebanese government of Resolution 1701. Hassan Nasrallah gave a speech on August 12, explaining the decision of the party to agree to the UN-mandated deployment. It included a much more sober assessment of the situation than in some of his previous speeches and a good deal of political wisdom. "Today, Nasrallah said, we face the reasonable and possible natural results of the great steadfastness that the Lebanese expressed from their various positions." This soberness was necessary, as any boastful claim of victory -- like those that where cheaply expressed by Hezbollah's backers in Tehran and Damascus -- would have required Nasrallah to add, like king Pyrrhus of Ancient Greece, "One more such victory and I shall be lost!" Hezbollah's leader wisely and explicitly rejected entering into a polemic about the assessment of the war's results, stressing that "our real priority" is to stop the aggression, recover the occupied territory and "achieve security and stability in our country and the return of the refugees and displaced persons."
Nasrallah defined the practical position of his movement as such: to abide by the ceasefire; to fully cooperate with "all that can facilitate the return of our displaced and refugee people to their homes, to their houses, and all that can facilitate humanitarian and rescue operations." He did so while expressing the readiness of his movement to continue the legitimate fight against the Israeli army as long as it remains in Lebanese territory, though he offered to respect the 1996 agreement whereby operations of both sides would be restricted to military targets and spare civilians. In this regard, Nasrallah stressed that his movement started shelling northern Israel only as a reaction to Israel's bombing of Lebanon after the July 12 operation, and that Israel was to be blamed for extending the war to the civilians in the first place.
Nasrallah then stated a position toward Resolution 1701 that could best be described as approval with many reservations, pending verification in practical implementation. He expressed his protest against the unfairness of the resolution, which refrained in its preambles from any condemnation of Israel's aggression and war crimes, adding however that it could have been much worse and expressing his appreciation for the diplomatic efforts that prevented that from happening. His key point was to stress the fact that Hezbollah considers some of the issues that the resolution dealt with to be Lebanese internal affairs that ought to be discussed and settled by the Lebanese themselves -- to which he added an emphasis on preserving Lebanese national unity and solidarity.
Nasrallah's position was the most correct possible given the circumstances. Hezbollah had to make concessions to facilitate the ending of the war. As the whole population of Lebanon was held hostage by Israel, any intransigent attitude would have had terrible humanitarian consequences over and above the already appalling results of Israel's destructive and murderous fury. Hezbollah knows perfectly well that the real issue is less the wording of a UN Security Council resolution than its actual interpretation and implementation, and in that respect what is determinant is the situation and balance of forces on the ground. To George W. Bush's and Ehud Olmert's vain boasting about their victory as embodied supposedly in Resolution 1701, one needs only to quote Moshe Arens pre-emptive reply in the already quoted article:
"The appropriate rhetoric has already started flying. So what if the whole world sees this diplomatic arrangement -- which Israel agreed to while it was still receiving a daily dose of Hezbollah rockets -- as a defeat suffered by Israel at the hands of a few thousand Hezbollah fighters? So what if nobody believes that an 'emboldened' UNIFIL force will disarm Hezbollah, and that Hezbollah with thousands of rockets still in its arsenal and truly emboldened by this month's success against the mighty Israel Defense Forces, will now become a partner for peace?"
The real "continuation of the war by other means" has already started in full in Lebanon. At stake are four main issues, here reviewed in reverse order of priority. The first issue, on the domestic Lebanese level, is the fate of the cabinet. The existing parliamentary majority in Lebanon resulted from elections flawed by a defective and distorting electoral law that the Syrian-dominated regime had enforced. One of its major consequences was the distortion of the representation of the Christian constituencies, with great under-representation of the movement led by former General Michel Aoun who entered into an alliance with Hezbollah after the election. Moreover, the recent war affected deeply the political mood of the Lebanese population, and the legitimacy of the present parliamentary majority is thus highly disputable. Of course, any change in the government in favor of Hezbollah and its allies would radically alter the meaning of resolution 1701 as its interpretation depends very much on the Lebanese government's attitude. One major concern in this regard, however, is to avoid any slide toward a renewed civil war in Lebanon: That's what Hassan Nasrallah had in mind when he emphasized the importance of "national unity."
The second issue, also on the domestic Lebanese level, is the reconstruction effort. Hariri and his Saudi backers had built up their political influence in Lebanon by dominating the reconstruction efforts after Lebanon's 15-year war ended in 1990. This time they will be faced by an intensive competition from Hezbollah, with Iran standing behind it and with the advantage of its intimate link with the Lebanese Shiite population that was the principal target of the Israeli war of revenge. As senior Israeli military analyst Ze'ev Schiff put it in Haaretz: "A lot also depends on who will aid in the reconstruction of southern Lebanon; if it is done by Hezbollah, the Shiite population of the south will be indebted to Tehran. This should be prevented."  This message has been received loud and clear in Washington, Riyadh and Beirut. Prominent articles in today's mainstream press in the U.S. are sounding the alarm on this score.
The third issue, naturally, is the "disarmament" of Hezbollah in the zone delimited in southern Lebanon for the joint deployment of the Lebanese army and the revamped UNIFIL. The most that Hezbollah is ready to concede in this respect is to "hide" its weapons south of the Litani River, i.e. to refrain from displaying them and to keep them in covert storage. Any step beyond that, not to mention a Lebanon-wide disarmament of Hezbollah, is linked by the organization to a set of conditions that start from Lebanon's recovery of the 1967-occupied Shebaa farms and end with the emergence of a government and army able and determined to defend the country's sovereignty against Israel. This issue is the first major problem against which the implementation of Resolution 1701 could stumble, as no country on earth is readily in a position to try to disarm Hezbollah by force, a task that the most formidable modern army in the whole Middle East and one of the world's major military powers has blatantly failed to achieve. This means that any deployment south of the Litani River, whether Lebanese or UN-mandated, will have to accept Hezbollah's offer, with or without camouflage.
The fourth issue, of course, is the composition and intent of the new UNIFIL contingents. The original plan of Washington and Paris was to repeat in Lebanon what is taking place in Afghanistan where a NATO auxiliary force with a UN fig leaf is waging Washington's war. Hezbollah's resilience on the military as well as on the political level thwarted this plan. Washington and Paris believed they could implement it nevertheless under a disguised form and gradually, until political conditions were met in Lebanon for a showdown pitting NATO and its local allies against Hezbollah. Indeed, the countries expected to send the principal contingents are all NATO members: along with France, Italy and Turkey are on standby, while Germany and Spain are being urged to follow suit. Hezbollah is no fool however. It is already engaged in dissuading France from executing its plan of sending elite combat troops backed by the stationing of the single French air-carrier close to Lebanon's shores in the Mediterranean.
On the last issue, the antiwar movement in NATO countries could greatly help the struggle of the Lebanese national resistance and the cause of peace in Lebanon by mobilizing against the dispatch of any NATO troops to Lebanon, thus contributing to deterring their governments from trying to do Washington's and Israel's dirty work. What Lebanon needs is the presence of truly neutral peacekeeping forces at its southern borders and, above all, that its people be permitted to settle Lebanon's internal problems through peaceful political means. All other roads lead to a renewal of Lebanon's civil war, at a time when the Middle East, and the whole world for that matter, is already having a hard time coping with the consequences of the civil war that Washington has ignited and is fueling in Iraq.
August 16, 2006
1. On the global and regional implications of these events, see my article "The Sinking Ship of U.S. Imperial Designs," posted on ZNet, August 7, 2006.
2. As an Israeli observer put it in an article with a quite revealing title: "It was a mistake to believe that military pressure could generate a process whereby the Lebanese government would disarm Hizbullah." Efraim Inbar, "Prepare for the next round," Jerusalem Post, August 15, 2006.
3. Moshe Arens, "Let the devil take tomorrow," Haaretz, August 13, 2006.
4. Both the U.S. and France concluded major arms deals with the Saudis in July.
5. Interview with Le Monde, July 27, 2006.
6. Ze'ev Schiff, "Delayed ground offensive clashes with diplomatic timetable," Haaretz, August 13, 2006.
Gilbert Achcar grew up in Lebanon and teaches political science at the University of Paris-VIII. His best-selling book The Clash of Barbarisms just came out in a second expanded edition and a book of his dialogues with Noam Chomsky on the Middle East, Perilous Power, is forthcoming, both from Paradigm Publishers. Stephen R. Shalom, the editor of Perilous Power, has kindly edited this article.
Thirty three days of war. The longest of our wars since 1949. On the Israeli side: 154 dead--117 of them soldiers. 3970 rockets launched against us, 37 civilians dead, more than 422 civilians wounded.
On the Lebanese side: about a thousand dead civilians, thousands wounded. An unknown number of Hizbullah fighters dead and wounded.
More than a million refugees on both sides.
So what has been achieved for this terrible price?
"GLOOMY, HUMBLE, despondent," was how the journalist Yossef Werter described Ehud Olmert, a few hours after the cease-fire had come into effect.
Olmert? Humble? Is this the same Olmert we know? The same Olmert who thumped the table and shouted: "No more!" Who said: "After the war, the situation will be completely different than before!" Who promised a "New Middle East" as a result of the war?
THE RESULTS of the war are obvious:
* The prisoners, who served as casus belli (or pretext) for the war, have not been released. They will come back only as a result of an exchange of prisoners, exactly as Hassan Nasrallah proposed before the war.
* Hizbullah has remained as it was. It has not been destroyed, nor disarmed, nor even removed from where it was. Its fighters have proved themselves in battle and have even garnered compliments from Israeli soldiers. Its command and communication stucture has continued to function to the end. Its TV station is still broadcasting.
* Hassan Nasrallah is alive and kicking. Persistent attempts to kill him failed. His prestige is sky-high. Everywhere in the Arab world, from Morocco to Iraq, songs are being composed in his honor and his picture adorns the walls.
* The Lebanese army will be deployed along the border, side by side with a large international force. That is the only material change that has been achieved.
This will not replace Hizbullah. Hizbullah will remain in the area, in every village and town. The Israeli army has not succeeded in removing it from one single village. That was simply impossible without permanently removing the population to which it belongs.
The Lebanese army and the international force cannot and will not confront Hizbullah. Their very presence there depends on Hizbullah's consent. In practice, a kind of co-existence of the three forces will come into being, each one knowing that it has to come to terms with the other two.
Perhaps the international force will be able to prevent incursions by Hizbullah, such as the one that preceded this war. But it will also have to prevent Israeli actions, such as the reconnaissance flights of our Air Force over Lebanon. That's why the Israeli army objected, at the beginning, so strenuously to the introduction of this force.
IN ISRAEL, there is now a general atmosphere of disappointment and despondency. From mania to depression. It's not only that the politicians and the generals are firing accusations at each other, as we foresaw, but the general public is also voicing criticism from every possible angle. The soldiers criticize the conduct of the war, the reserve soldiers gripe about the chaos and the failure of supplies.
In all parties, there are new opposition groupings and threats of splits. In Kadima. In Labor. It seems that in Meretz, too, there is a lot of ferment, because most of its leaders supported the war dragon almost until the last moment, when they caught its tail and pierced it with their little lance.
At the head of the critics are marching--surprise, surprise--the media. The entire horde of interviewers and commentators, correspondents and presstitutes, who (with very few exceptions) enthused about the war, who deceived, misled, falsified, ignored, duped and lied for the fatherland, who stifled all criticism and branded as traitors all who opposed the war--they are now running ahead of the lynch mob. How predictable, how ugly. Suddenly they remember what we have been saying right from the beginning of the war.
This phase is symbolized by Dan Halutz, the Chief-of-Staff. Only yesterday he was the hero of the masses, it was forbidden to utter a word against him. Now he is being described as a war profiteer. A moment before sending his soldiers into battle, he found the time to sell his shares, in expectation of a decline of the stock market. (Let us hope that a moment before the end he found the time to buy them back again.)
Victory, as is well known, has many fathers, and failure in war is an orphan.
FROM THE deluge of accusations and gripes, one slogan stands out , a slogan that must send a cold shiver down the spine of anyone with a good memory: "the politicians did not let the army win."
Exactly as I wrote two weeks ago, we see before our very eyes the resurrection of the old cry "they stabbed the army in the back!"
This is how it goes: At long last, two days before the end, the land offensive started to roll. Thanks to our heroic soldiers, the men of the reserves, it was a dazzling success. And then, when we were on the verge of a great victory, the cease-fire came into effect.
There is not a single word of truth in this. This operation, which was planned and which the army spent years training for, was not carried out earlier, because it was clear that it would not bring any meaningful gains but would be costly in lives. The army would, indeed, have occupied wide areas, but without being able to dislodge the Hizbullah fighters from them.
The town of Bint Jbeil, for example, right next to the border, was taken by the army three times, and the Hizbullah fighters remained there to the end. If we had occupied 20 towns and villages like this one, the soldiers and the tanks would have been exposed in twenty places to the mortal attacks of the guerillas with their highly effective anti-tank weapons.
If so, why was it decided, at the last moment, to carry out this operation after all--well after the UN had already called for an end to hostilities? The horrific answer: it was a cynical--not to say vile--exercise of the failed trio. Olmert, Peretz and Halutz wanted to create "a picture of victory", as was openly stated in the media. On this altar the lives of 33 soldiers (including a young woman) were sacrificed.
The aim was to photograph the victorious soldiers on the bank of the Litani. The operation could only last 48 hours, when the cease-fire would come into force. In spite of the fact that the army used helicopters to land the troops, the aim was not attained. At no point did the army reach the Litani.
For comparison: in the first Lebanon war, that of Sharon in 1982, the army crossed the Litani in the first few hours. (The Litani, by the way, is not a real river anymore, but just a shallow creek. Most of its waters are drawn off far from there, in the north. Its last stretch is about 25 km distant from the border, near Metulla the distance is only 4 km.)
This time, when the cease-fire took effect, all the units taking part had reached villages on the way to the river. There they became sitting ducks, surrounded by Hizbullah fighters, without secure supply lines. From that moment on, the army had only one aim: to get them out of there as quickly as possible, regardless of who might take their place.
If a commission of inquiry is set up--as it must be--and investigates all the moves of this war, starting from the way the decision to start it was made, it will also have to investigate the decision to start this last operation. The death of 33 soldiers (including the son of the writer David Grossman, who had supported the war) and the pain this caused their families demand that!
BUT THESE facts are not yet clear to the general public. The brain-washing by the military commentators and the ex-generals, who dominated the media at the time, has turned the foolish--I would almost say "criminal"--operation into a rousing victory parade. The decision of the political leadership to stop it is now being seen by many as an act of defeatist, spineless, corrupt and even treasonous politicians.
And that is exactly the new slogan of the fascist Right that is now raising its ugly head.
After World War I, in similar circumstances, the legend of the "knife in the back of the victorious army" grew up. Adolf Hitler used it to carry him to power--and on to World War II.
Now, even before the last fallen soldier has been buried, the incompetent generals are starting to talk shamelessly about "another round", the next war that will surely come "in a month or in a year", God willing. After all, we cannot end the matter like this, in failure. Where is our pride?
THE ISRAELI public is now in a state of shock and disorientation. Accusations--justified and unjustified--are flung around in all directions, and it cannot be foreseen how things will develop.
Perhaps, in the end, it is logic that will win. Logic says: what has thoroughly been demonstrated is that there is no military solution. That is true in the North. That is also true in the South, where we are confronting a whole people that has nothing to lose anymore. The success of the Lebanese guerilla will encourage the Palestinian guerilla.
For logic to win, we must be honest with ourselves: pinpoint the failures, investigate their deeper causes, draw the proper conclusions.
Some people want to prevent that at any price. President Bush declares vociferously that we have won the war. A glorious victory over the Evil Ones. Like his own victory in Iraq.
When a football team is able to choose
the referee, it is no surprise if it is declared the winner.
Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom.
from ICH :
20 August 2006
The coverage of the Lebanon fiasco in the Israeli media is alternately narcissistic and hysterical. The details of the massive destruction to Lebanon’s civil
infrastructure and environment are brushed aside as inconsequential; the 1,300 civilian deaths, irrelevant.
|“To confront this accursed plan, to thwart the goals of
this war, to fight the battle to liberate, what remains of our land and
our prisoners, I state categorically under no circumstances will we
accept any term that is insulting to our country, our people, or our
resistance. We will not accept any formula at the expense of the
national interest, national sovereignty and national independence,
especially after all these sacrifices, no matter how long the
confrontation lasts and no matter how numerous the sacrifices may be.
Our main and true slogan is “Honor First”. Sheik Hassan Nasrallah
“The resistance is a weapon at the service of the entire nation. It has never acted against anyone but the Israeli occupation.” Talal Salman “A Guarantee Of Victory”
08/19/06 "Information Clearing House" -- -- One picture tells the whole story. The photograph shows a long column of Israeli soldiers, grimy and bedraggled, limping southwards towards the Israeli border. The lead soldier looks vacuously at the camera with an expression of pure gloom and fatigue. In the background a soldier is seen comforting another who is crying inconsolably.
This is what defeat looks like.
Back in Israel, the headlines are splattered with every detail of the ongoing withdrawal from Lebanon. The op-ed pages and talk shows lash out at anyone even remotely involved with the month-long debacle. Prime Minister Olmert has become the favorite target of the media’s scathing criticism and the brunt of every joke. His public approval has dipped from a pre-war high of 80% to a meager 40%. Meanwhile, political rival Benjamin Netanyahu’s popularity has soared to a hearty
57% making him the likely successor if Olmert is forced to step down.
Israel is drowning in collective angst and self-pity. The defeat has shattered the national sense of self confidence and well being. A joke that is circulating in Tel Aviv opines that Ariel Sharon’s condition suddenly worsened “when he found out what was happening in Lebanon.”
The punch-line epitomizes the general state of malaise in Israel.
The coverage of the Lebanon fiasco in the Israeli media is alternately narcissistic and hysterical. The details of the massive destruction to Lebanon’s civil infrastructure and environment are brushed aside as inconsequential; the 1,300 civilian deaths, irrelevant. The only thing that matters is Israeli suffering; everything else is trivial. While Lebanon is busy digging out another 300 or so corpses from the rubble of their destroyed homes, Israel is preoccupied with its loss of “deterrents” or its battered sense of “invincibility”.
It is an interesting study in the prevailing megalomania of Israeli society, a culture as pathologically self-absorbed as its American ally. It’s no wonder security is so hard to come by when people are so lacking in empathy.
In Lebanon, the extent of the damage is just beginning to be grasped. Whole cities in the south have been laid to waste and most of the vital infrastructure has been ruined. Barucha Peller summed it up this way in a Counterpunch article “This Pain has no Ceasefire”:
“The walls of homes that once protected families and cradled their lives are now in pieces, shreds, fine dust. Sift through the rubble. Kick the rubble. Stand still, silent, alone with the absoluteness of destruction and accompanied by the millions of shattered pieces of everything that was here before. Leave the rubble. Try to forget. Walk away from the terrible sight. But your mind is in pieces, lives in pieces, people who never again will stand in the doorway with greetings. You can walk away. There is a ceasefire. But missiles fall, they fall, not from the skies, but behind Lebanese eyes, they fall forever in memory, they are still crashing into what once was.”
“The absoluteness of destruction”; the faces that will never reappear “in the doorway”; this nagging, life-long suffering goes unrecorded in the Israeli media where the national obsession has turned to finger-pointing and empty recriminations. The lives and the civilization that’s been decimated are a mere footnote to Israel’s violated sense of security and the humiliation of losing to an Arab adversary. Looking at the papers, it’s easy to believe that the entire population is completely unaware of the misery they’ve caused. Instead, one gets the uneasy feeling that the anger is just beginning to mount and could wash across Lebanon in a second wave of hostilities.
Lebanon has been an embarrassing defeat for Israel, but this is probably just Round One. As public rage grows, it will be more and more tempting for Olmert to disregard the ceasefire and go on the offensive. He needs some way to acquit himself in the eyes of his people and revenge is an unfailing cure-all. He also needs to prove that he can be a reliable ally to the Bush team who gave him carte blanche to pulverize Hezbollah while they stalled the ceasefire at the UN. Israel needs to show that they can hold up their end of the bargain by cleaning up matters in their own back yard. Olmert’s failure will not go down well with the Washington neocons who’ve worked tirelessly to provide him with all the weaponry and support he needed.
According to Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, Israel originally planned an attack on Lebanon for September or October. This would have added an element of surprise to the war which could have been disastrous for Lebanon. It also may have affected the results of the 2006 congressional elections in the US.
The Bush administration has made no effort to conceal their involvement in the conflict. They provided logistical and material support in the form of satellite-intelligence and precision-guided missiles, and they blocked all efforts at the UN for an immediate ceasefire. Bush has stubbornly portrayed the war as “part of a broader struggle between freedom and terror”, but his platitudes have had less impact on public perceptions than the photos of bombed-out airports, bridges and factories which appear daily in the media.
The biggest champion of the war has been Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who characterized the vast and premeditated devastation as “birth pangs”. There now hangs a banner in downtown Beirut with a ghoulish picture of Rice with fangs dripping with blood which says, “The massacre of children at Qana is a gift from Rice”. The Farragamo-draped princess has quickly become the most reviled diplomat in US history. Move over Henry Kissinger.
It’s no surprise that she was rebuffed by President Siniora and told she wasn’t welcome in Lebanon until the terms of a ceasefire were in place.
Rice’s most revealing statement appeared in a USA Today article when she admitted that the Bush administration saw the conflict as an “opportunity to create a fundamentally different situation” in the Middle East.
“Opportunity”? Is that how the Washington mandarins see the utter destruction of an American-friendly ally?
Condi’s bromides only confirm Nasrallah’s claims that the plan to invade Lebanon is actually part of a broader strategy for establishing US/Israeli hegemony throughout the region so that they can “exclusively manage its affairs and resources”. The main obstacles to this “New Middle East” are the resistance organizations Hamas and Hezbollah as well as Syria and Iran. Bush and Olmert conspired to disarm Hezbollah by pushing Syria out of Lebanon and creating a political climate where (they believed) Hezbollah would be forced to give up their weapons.
Their plan failed. Hezbollah joined the government but maintained its guerilla network at the same time; accumulating the Katyushas and sophisticated anti-tank rockets it needed to take on Israel’s advancing army. It should be noted that Hezbollah was the only entity in Lebanon that wasn’t swept up in the heady revival of Beirut and vigilantly awaited Israel’s next rampage.
Their success in battling Israel is due in large part to the Russian-made Kornet anti-tank rockets they obtained from Syria. As reported in the UK Telegraph the rockets are “some of the best in the world” and “require serious training to operate which could be beyond the capabilities of some supposedly regular armies in the Middle East….It is laser-guided, has a range of three miles and carries a double-warhead capable of penetrating reactive amour on Israeli Merkava Tanks.”
Hezbollah used their anti-tank missiles with lethal efficiency during the campaign taking out an estimated 20 tanks, armored vehicles and buildings where troops were located. It was a critical part of the conflict and had a profound effect on the outcome.
Still, there’s little chance that Hezbollah’s victory will stop Israel from restarting the war. America and Israel are ideologically committed to establishing their mutual hegemony throughout the Middle East and they won’t be deterred by a bloody nose in south Lebanon. Israel will retool and return with greater determination to crush the resistance and set up a proxy government in Beirut. So far, they’ve enlisted the support of Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, France and Denmark to patrol the southern border while Germany has offered “a rather substantive maritime component which could patrol and secure the whole of the Lebanese coast.” The German ambassador said, “We could also offer a substantial border patrol along the Syrian border.” (Al Jazeera) Germany certainly understands that their actions will establish a de-facto blockade which serves US/Israeli interests alone. This illustrates how Olmert and Bush have manipulated the UN to compromise Lebanon’s sovereignty and create a permanent state of siege. If Israel is able to cut Hezbollah’s supply-lines they can easily move in and crush them at a later date.
So, the US and Israel have found accomplices they need to help them achieve their goals of reshaping the Middle East and extending America’s dominance throughout the oil-rich region. If they succeed, they will have a stranglehold on the world’s most crucial natural resources and will be able to control the growth of China, India, Japan, and other potential rivals in the 21st century. Israel will also play a central role as regional leader in the oil trade; opening pipeline routes from Ceyhan to the Far East and from Kirkuk to Haifa. (check “Triple Alliance”: The US, Turkey, Israel and the war on Lebanon” Michel Chossudovsky)
But we shouldn’t underestimate the growing strength of non state actors and guerilla forces. In Iraq, the resistance has brought the world’s only superpower to a grinding standstill; frustrating all attempts to establish security, rebuild infrastructure, or transport vital resources.
Similarly, Hezbollah has won a stunning victory against a high-tech and well-disciplined Israeli army. They have shown the world that they are resourceful and ferocious fighters capable of forcing a fully-armed modern army of 30,000 men to withdrawal. That’s no small feat.
They have shattered the illusion of Israeli invincibility and emboldened a new generation of Arab youths to see beyond their present subjugation and despair and aspire to reclaim their countries from the corrupt US-backed regimes.
The imperial juggernaut will continue lurching recklessly through the Middle East until it is worn-down piecemeal by the bold actions of the resistance. Iraq and Lebanon foreshadow an even wider war extending from the Caspian to the Red Sea; destabilizing oil supplies and overturning the teetering Arab monarchies.
Bush and Olmert have thrown open Pandora’s Box thinking they can contain the chaos within, but have failed to achieve any of their objectives. They continue to misread the lessons of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon. High-altitude bombing and trigger-happy soldiers only swell the ranks of the resistance and feed their determination. If Bush and Olmert choose to fight a generation-long 4-G (4th Generation) war, they should at least consider the modest goals set out by their adversary, Hassan Nasrallah, in a recent public statement:
“We are not a classic army. We are waging guerilla warfare Therefore what is important is the number of losses we inflict on the Israeli enemy. No matter how deep the incursion the Israeli enemy might accomplish, and the enemy has great capabilities in this area, it will not accomplish the goal of this incursion, preventing the shelling of the settlements in north of occupied Palestine, This shelling will continue no matter how deep the ground incursion and the reoccupation the Zionist enemy is trying to accomplish. The occupation of any inch of our Lebanese land will further motivate us to continue and escalate the resistance…In the ground war we will have the upper hand. In the ground war , the criterion is the attrition of the enemy rather than what territory does or does not remain in our hands because we are not fighting with the methods of a regular army we will definitely regain any land occupied by the enemy after inflicting great losses on it”.
Bush would be wise to pay attention to Nasrallah’s warnings. The conflict that the US and Israel are facing has no central battlefield and no timeline. It is war against men who know every street and every alleyway, and every cave in every mountain. It is “death by a thousand lashes”; engaging and killing the enemy and then disappearing into the shadows. The conflict only ends when every American and Israeli soldier has left Arab soil. This is a “no win” situation. Our leaders should recognize this and withdrawal.
As the resistance continues to mushroom in Iraq and Lebanon, we’re bound to see more devastation, more retreating armies, and more hand-wringing in Washington and Tel Aviv.
It could all be so easily avoided.
from Sara Olson :
18 August 2006
Sarah Olson reports on Judge Anna Diggs Taylor's decision yesterday that the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional. The
ruling is the first federal challenge to the wiretapping program allowing the NSA to secretly listen to phone calls placed from the US to foreign countries.
Washington - The estimated costs for the development of major weapons systems for the US military have doubled since September 11, 2001, with a trillion-dollar price tag for new planes, ships, and missiles that would have little direct role in the fight against insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The soaring cost estimates -- disclosed in a report for the Republican-led Senate Budget Committee -- have led to concerns that supporters of multibillion-dollar weapons programs in Congress, the Pentagon , and the defense industry are using the conflicts and the war on terrorism to fulfill a wish-list of defense expenditures, whether they are needed or not for the war on terrorism.
The report, based on Defense Department data, concluded that the best way to keep defense spending in check in the coming years lies in "controlling the cost of weaponry," especially those programs that the Pentagon might not necessarily need.
The projections of what it will cost to acquire "major weapons programs" currently in production or on the drawing board soared from $790 billion in September 2001 to $1.61 trillion in June 2006, according to the congressional analysis of Pentagon data.
Costs for some of the most expensive new weapon systems -- such as satellite-linked combat vehicles for ground troops; a next-generation fighter plane ; and a cutting-edge, stealth-technology destroyer for the Navy -- are predicted to cost even more by the time they are delivered, because many of them are still in their early phases. In a quarterly report to Congress on weapons costs earlier this month, the Pentagon reported that of the $1.61 trillion it thinks it will need for big-ticket weapons, it has spent more than half so far -- about $909 billion.
But the huge increase in weapons costs is already placing enormous strain on the federal budget, according to government budget specialists, who predict major increases in defense spending for years to come so that the Pentagon can afford all the weapons it has on the books. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, for example, estimates that between 2012 and 2024 the Pentagon budget will have to grow between 18 percent and 34 percent over what was appropriated this year.
Overall, annual defense spending has increased by about 11 percent per year since 2001, to about $400 billion this year, not including hundreds of billions of dollars that Congress has set aside to pay for military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Military operations and maintenance costs, as well as salaries and health benefits for people in uniform, have all gone up by about 40 percent.
But the price tag for major weapons has garnered new attention from watchdog groups and government auditors, who contend that many of the arms already on the drawing board don't have much to do with ongoing combat or the war on terrorism.
In fact, most of the weapon systems being designed, tested , or built had been in the Pentagon's pipeline long before the Sept. 11 attacks. Despite the steep price jump, there has been a relatively modest increase in the number of new weapons projects over the past five years, according to Pentagon figures.
Still, "only a portion of these increased costs are a result of the war on terror," said Winslow Wheeler , a former congressional budget specialist now at the nonprofit Center for Defense Information in Washington and the author of " The Wastrels of Defense ."
The weapons projects designated as "major acquisition programs" require at least $365 million in research funding and $2.1 billion is acquisition costs. They include new armored vehicles; two new fighter jets; an advanced Navy destroyer; a package of land, air , and space-based missile defense systems; and sophisticated electronic and intelligence systems such as a new satellite communications network.
Defense specialists attribute the spiral ing costs to a variety of factors. Some projects have increased in scope, while other weapons systems have taken longer to acquire, adding to the cost. Other projects turned out to be far more expensive than project managers and contractors predicted.
For example, the Future Combat System, a high-tech fleet of armored combat vehicles being developed by the Army , was forecast to cost $92 billion when its development began in 2003, according to the GOP committee's report. As of December 2005, however, the price tag had skyrocketed to $165 billion, about an 80 percent increase in just two years.
The Government Accountability Office, the government's nonpartisan audit bureau, warned of "the risks of conducting business as usual," and concluded in a report in November that the major weapons programs are at "high risk" for fraud, waste, abuse , and mismanagement.
The Department of Defense "has experienced cost overruns, missed deadlines, performance shortfalls, and persistent management problems," the report said. "In light of the serious budget pressures facing the nation, such problems are especially troubling."
The GOP committee report was blunt about the impact of rising weapons costs on the federal budget, and expressed little confidence that Congress has the political will to reign in spending on weapons that are not critical to the war effort. Noting that "every project has local employment implications," the report said "weapon system politics" will make it extremely difficult to make cuts.
the long-term costs of the Pentagon's arsenal are very nearly as
complex as restraining the cost of government entitlements like Social
Security and Medicare," the analysis said.