The Israeli and American Enemy Factories

There is no measure for the diversity of ignorance that has prescribed the American war in Iraq and the Israeli attack on Lebanon and Gaza. Surely these decisions rested upon numerous rotten and faulty tenets, many of which have been eloquently explicated across the media spectrum. The piece of shiny ignorant irony that catches my eye these last couple of days, though, everywhere I turn in the media, is somewhat more specific.

Maybe I’m a simple guy. But watching a short video clip on CNN (of all places) drove home a notion that had been free floating around in my consciousness. As reporter Nic Robertson literally runs through alleys of a besieged Beirut with a Hizbollah “operative,” making certain that the viewers know that any moment they may be killed, the clarity and simplicity of an ordinary Lebanese’s vision is demonstrated. The “operative’s” English, while laudable, was not quite enough for him to articulate nuance. But maybe it was so simple that it didn’t rise to the level of nuance. The man tours Robertson through ravaged apartment blocks, the cadavers of smashed cars peeking out of craters, bedrooms’ contents dangling like entrails from arching steel and rebar.

The phrases that the “operative” repeats over and over have to do with “innocent civilians,” “terrorism,” and “dignity.” “We will not surrender,” he tells the understandably skittish Robertson three times in quick succession, “we will stand with dignity and courage against terrorism.”


Someone should perhaps tell him that he’s got it all wrong—that’s what Israel is doing!

Maybe it was my mood, or the caffeine infusion I’d just had. Or maybe it was the young man my age riding through the background on a bicycle. But it walloped me then: if I were from Beirut instead of Seattle, I would be fighting alongside Hizbollah now, without a doubt. And if I made my home in Baghdad instead of Barcelona, I would be picking up a rifle or a blade to fight U.S. soldiers at the first possibility.

For me the implications of this are colossal, and identify a huge obfuscation the media uses to “explain” these conflicts: these people aren’t fighting us because of radical ideology or cultural differences. They’re not fighting us because they’ve been brainwashed by evildoers or because they think they will ultimately get ahead materially. At least not most of them. They are fighting because they don’t have any other choice—or any other dignified choice.

In the name of stopping war on Israel and America, we are destroying the only alternative to war—the ability to live a reasonably normal life.

I guess I’m only expressing the implosion, complete and final, of the notion that “force” (that sterilized catch-all) can ever, by any stretch of the imagination, bring security—despite complex military strategy, analysis, and mumbo jumbo. I heard a report from Beirut yesterday in which the journalist was explaining how literally thousands of young men who never wanted anything to do with Hizbollah—or Islamic fundamentalism—are literally roaming the ruins of Beirut to find where to sign up. It’s incontestable now that Iraq boasts more fighters—“terrorists,” or “freedom fighters” or “nationalists” or “insurgents” or “militants” or whatever you call them—that wish to slaughter Americans than ever before in the history of that nation (and it reflects the Muslim world).

Moderate, progressive people are being radicalized by our brutality at a speed that must dazzle and delight the mullahs and ayatollahs.

If this is true, where is there any substance left clinging to the bombed out frame of the case(s) for war(s)?


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  2. eli,

    i really do have great respect for you, and i don’t think i’m misreading your writing. i think your general assumption of why fighters fight is incredibly simplistic. i think there is a far distance between the emotional left and the intellectual left. i don’t think the intellectual left brooks these stereotypes.

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