Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Robert Fisk on Perpetuating the Lie

Are we dealing with just a few bad actors in the Middle East - or is the whole situation in Iraq the grandchild of the Israeli / Palestinian conflict? Robert Fisk offers some surprising thoughts, framed in a manner that rarely sees the print of publication on the U.S. side of the pond.

Here's a snippet to whet your appetite:

My own calculations--probably conservative, because there are many violent acts that we are never told about -suggest that in the past 12 months, at least 190 suicide bombers have blown themselves up, sometimes at the rate of two a day. How does this happen? Is there a suicide-bomber supermarket, an off-the-shelf store? What have we done to create this extraordinary industry? Time was, in Lebanon, when a suicide bombing was a once-a-month event. Or in Palestine/Israel a once-a-week event. Now, in Iraq, it is daily or twice daily.

You can almost read between the lines of the piece that Fisk feels the entire Iraq debacle is little more than an escalation of the Israeli / Palestinian conflict, with the U.S. acting as a proxy for Israel in the war.

One of cornerstones of Fisk's hypothesis is that Saddam was a strong supporter of the Palestinian quest for a homeland (sidebar: see how that word should really be used?). I don't know how much more evidence anyone would need to draw the same conclusion if they went back and reviewed tapes of Scud missiles falling in Tel Aviv during Gulf War I. Even though the Middle East is comprised of many individual nation-states, in effect (from a cultural perspective), those nations are a single pan-Arabic nation, and they react as such to the pan-Arabic news that they see or read. And if there's a single cause that unites most people in these individual nation-states in solidarity, it's the Palestinian question.

Though the Bush administration and Iraqi puppet dictator Iyad Allawi continue to marginalize the message of bin-Laden and his ilk to the Western world, the message plays louder in the Arabic community every day, and comes back to that single, unifying cause. Most Americans will never read Fisk's column. They'll never see this piece from Dahr Jamail on the sacking of Fallujah (but you can bet that folks in Baghdad, Cairo, Riyadh, and Tehran have).

And they'll never realize, much as T.E. Lawrence did almost 100 years ago in British colonial Iraq:

Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient that the public knows... We are today not far from a disaster.

Still, it took another 25 years from the time that Lawrence wrote those prophetic words for them to sink into the British post-colonial consciousness.

Update, 12:50PM: Here's a link to a great column on CounterPunch wondering how photos and filmage from Iraq can be "sanitized for your tender sensibilities", but tsunami coverage is not.