Friday, August 18, 2006
Who won, who lost in Lebanon
Most American news outlets began the timeline with the abduction of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah. There is already ample indication that Israel planned their invasion well in advance of this incident. Also, Israel had probably 9,000 or so prisoners at the time, including women and children under the age of 14, according to reports (which of course you won't see in most domestic newspapers). Plans to devastate Lebanon and destroy its infrastructure were already in place, just waiting for some incident that could be used as a "trigger."
But did you know that those two soldiers were captured in Lebanese territory? Here is a collection of articles: http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/israeli_solders.html. I see that AFP reported this, which means that European papers had the info. Aside from the first citation, from Forbes, there isn't anything else that might have appeared in stateside papers.
Now, local papers use either AP wire stories or reprint articles that appear in the major national dailies. They choose what to print and therefore select the information that people will read. There are alternatives to AP biased coverage. For example, this is by Michael Slackman in The New York Times August 18:
The war in Lebanon, and the widespread conviction among Arabs that Hezbollah won that war by bloodying Israel, has fostered and validated those kinds of feelings throughout Egypt and the region. In interviews on streets and in newspaper commentaries circulated around the Middle East, the prevailing view is that where Arab nations failed to stand up to Israel and the United States, an Islamic movement succeeded.
The widespread view that Hezbollah won has both propelled and been propelled by a wave already washing over the region. Political Islam was widely seen as the antidote to the failures of Arab nationalism, communism, socialism and, most recently, what is seen as the false promise of American-style democracy. It was that wave that helped the banned but tolerated Muslim Brotherhood win 88 seats in the Egyptian Parliament last December despite the government's efforts to stop voters from getting to the polls. It was that wave that swept Hamas into power in the Palestinian government in January, shocking Hamas itself.
What has Israel therefore achieved? With the backing of the United States, not only has it committed war crimes resulting in possibly around 1,600 civilian deaths, the destruction of Lebanon's infrastructure and an oil spill that threatens the Mediterranean Sea, but it has strengthened its enemies. So maybe it is radical Islam that has won.
The United States supplied Israel with weapons for their deadly invasion, and opposed a cease fire that the rest of the world wanted. In doing this, it also destroyed any perception that bringing democracy to the region was an important objective. Here is a snippet from The Daily Star, a Lebanese newspaper:
The Lebanese educated middle class are asking Washington: "Why have you forsaken me?" as Lebanon's existence is bombed to smithereens. The current war is traumatizing Lebanon's Western-oriented middle class, as it witnesses the destruction of its hopes for a prosperous and independent Lebanon, as Israel, backed by the United States, systematically destroys Lebanon and places the destiny of 4 million Lebanese in serious jeopardy.
Members of the Lebanese middle class see themselves as open-minded believers in a Western-style secular democracy. They did not hesitate to make their views known that when Southern Lebanon was freed from Israeli occupation in 2000 it was time for Hizbullah to disarm. Many, including Shiites, have written articles critical of Hizbullah and its state-within-a-state in Lebanon.
In the 1960s and early 1970s, the United States waged wars in Cambodia and Vietnam that involved heavy bombing campaigns and large-scale offensives that badly hurt the civilian populations. Critics used to say: "The US was destroying Vietnamese villages in order to liberate them." The same approach was utilized again in Kosovo in 1998 and in Iraq in 2003. The sheer force employed by Israel against Lebanon in 2006 has led many commentators to compare these Israeli apocalyptic bombing campaigns on Beirut and the Southern provinces to US war making.
The Lebanese will not soon forget the US role in the destruction of their country.
Nor will Europe, if the oil slick which resulted from Israeli targeting of a power plant 30 miles south of Beirut reaches the shore of other countries. The spreading oil slick threatens the coastlines of Cyprus, Syria, Turkey and Greece. It also threatens the habitats of sea turtles, including the endangered green turtle, and tuna fisheries. Israel has made no friends in Europe by threatening the livilihoods of these countries and the health of their citizens. Worse, the longer the oil remains in the sea the more difficult cleanup will be, and Israel, through its land, sea and air blockade, is preventing officials from obtaining information about the spill. For example, Israel denied requests to use French helicopters to survey the polluted area.
Of course, the reader of an average US daily newspaper wouldn't know that Israel intentionally bombed a power plant located 100 meters from the sea and allowed it to burn and leak oil for three weeks. The Voice of America headline today asserts "Lebanese Oil Spill - Collateral Damage of the Bombings," but I suspect that few readers believe them. It certainly was not "collateral damage."
At this point, I don't believe what I read in the daily papers either. I'm sure that many readers who track world events on the Internet are aware of the sharp contrast between domestic coverage and European/alternative sources. Domestic newspapers should be concerned about their circulations, at least. Why pay to have one dropped at your doorstep each day that omits important world news? That's a major product defect. Some readers may decide to simply read their news on the web. It's happening anyway. Poor and biased reporting can only accelerate the trend.
Meanwhile, bodies continue to be pulled from the rubble of targeted apartments in Lebanon. It isn't over yet, even if you can't find much about it in your daily paper.