When the former Israeli prime minister Sharon, was taken to the hospital almost one year ago, and his successor Olmert invited Peretz to head the ministry of defence, political commentators made money once again with their articles in support of the powerful leaders. They foresaw an almost rosy future for Israel under the auspices of Peretz, “Peace Now” forerunner and notable Labour member who promised increases in social services and advances in negotiations with the Palestinians. None of the comments make the Israeli government less guilty of crimes against humanity and the commentators less accountable for their support of that government.
Rumsfeld yesterday left the ministry of defence of a government as genocidal as Israel’s, but as happened with Sharon, this change, or the wider ones brought by elections, is insufficient to achieve justice. A place on a bench in front of a tribunal for war crimes and crimes against humanity, should be the first stop in his way to a sentence in accord with his crimes, if someone is able to visualize one.
This very morning political commentators and editors, who are used to considering Bush’s crimes in the Middle East more or less serious political mistakes, and who refer to his victims as “alleged terrorists,” keep on earning money celebrating Rumsfeld’s departure and the Democratic Party’s electoral victory.
They never lose; they always side with the winner. If a Republican administration fails while sending armies to invade, destroy and occupy Third World nations, they still have the chance to criticise the failure and celebrate the arrival of a Democratic one, which will invade, destroy and occupy the same nations, but under a guise of humanitarian interventions and peace-keeping forces.
The best selling Spanish newspaper El Pais opens its editorial comment of November 9th about the last carnage in Gaza with this phrase: “The slaughter, presumably accidental…” It is crystal clear that numerous similar massacres during the 40 years of the bloody occupation of Palestine do not prevent pro-Israel commentators from attempting to sow doubt about these crimes, with the barely concealed aim of diminishing the international impact of the most recent crime.
One wonders if comments like this one about Israel’s crimes are written by a computer programmed to support the Zionist cause, namely, to expel the Palestinians from their land, dead or alive, in order to make room for Jewish people from abroad. It is hard to believe that the writer of an editorial piece about Gaza hides Israel’s genocidal record, fails to mention the numerous charges against it for its violations of international law, remains silent about the illegality of the occupation of Palestinian lands, avoids addressing its use of banned weaponry against civilians, does not mention that it terrorises a population on top of keeping it under siege, and does not bring to light the fact that army personnel are routinely acquitted of gross human rights violations against Palestinians, including children under 10 years old and pregnant women. The main difference in this case between a machine and a human being is that the first does not receive any money for its support of the Zionist cause.
No one should be fooled: US voters have not changed the country’s Middle East policy. They have simply changed the policy’s head. What is more important: they did not introduce the change because they realised that their policy in Iraq - and other places - is a criminal one, but because it is unprofitable. It is easy to shout “mission accomplished” in a battleship deck in front of the world TVs before the arrival of problems and massive spending, but it is quite difficult to repeat it after billions of dollars have literally been burnt and around three thousand soldiers have been killed in Iraq.
Because of their Middle East policies, US top leaders have become the laughing stock of the big powers, China and Russia. European countries - middle size powers - now shy away from their master, although they banked on nice war spoils when they sided with the US in the past. On the other hand, the hundreds of Arab and Muslim victims do not even appear in the picture, their numbers do not have a place in their executioners’ balance sheet.
US voters have not punished Bush because of his war crimes and crimes against humanity in Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan, they simply have reproached him for failing to achieve their imperial dream soon and cheaply. There were no complaints when Bush destroyed a whole country. On the contrary, he was acclaimed by standing men and women clapping their hands in the House of Representatives. No one spoke about taking him to a tribunal to face charges for those crimes. US voters only express their frustration for not bumping Iraqis off as their ancestors did so easily with the native population.
Before a war crimes tribunal Bush could always say that the majority of the US was with him from the beginning of the war and almost until the end, since his voters only deserted him when he revealed himself as unfit to carry out the US imperialist policy in the Middle East, not even massacring hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
Since it is almost sure that US war criminals will never face a war crimes tribunal, since it is a hundred per cent sure that political editors will find new words to show mass murders as political mistakes, since it is pretty sure that the now abashed voters of the Democratic Party will become enthusiastic voters of the Republican Party as soon as the wind changes again, some comfort can be found in the blow the resistance has inflicted to the imperial US plans and in the fact that the martyrs’ blood has not been shed in vain.
The recent Lebanese resistance success is also another reason for hope. It looks like the start of a wider movement that stretches out to Palestine, Iraq and other subjugated nations looking for a world free from oppressors and their apologetic editorial commentators.
Agustin Velloso is a lecturer at the Spanish Open University in Madrid. He teaches about educational issues in Palestine and Iraq.