THE SPIRIT OF WAR
by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- At the start of the Iraq war, the British columnist George Monbiot wrote, "They [the American and British governments] have unlocked the spirit of war, and it could be unwilling to return to its casket until it has traversed the world."
Can anyone doubt his words?
For the past week Israel has been engaged in a rage-filled war against the citizens of Lebanon. Intending to strike at its enemy, Hezbollah, it has killed hundreds of civilians and destroyed Beirut, only recently restored to its former elegance as "The Paris of the Middle East" after a devastating civil war.
No one denies that Israel has enemies, real enemies, demented clerics who talk about pushing Israel back into the sea. These leaders have filled the hearts of frustrated young people with hatred and a love of death. They created suicide bombing. They are madmen and worse.
But Israel is also to blame, both for its treatment of Palestinians and for its lack of restraint. A country with an air force and nuclear weapons should not resort to all-out war because two of its soldiers were kidnapped.
Journalist Chris Hedges calls it "mutually assured destruction in the Middle East." Each side, he says, has a vested interest in violence.
"The indiscriminate violence of one justifies the indiscriminate violence of the other," Hedges said. "The violence stokes the fear that is the driving force behind all messianic, violent movements... And since these groups have nothing to offer other than violence, they need fear to keep those around them compliant... It is difficult to argue with those holding up bloodied corpses. Each side finds it useful to keep the supply coming."
There are too many sides here. The Israelis have a side, of course, and the Lebanese, and Hezbollah has its own side, and then there's Hamas, Syria, Iran is in the picture, and don't forget the United States and Great Britain. Trying to see all the sides makes me dizzy.
I throw my lot in with the civilians, the ones who want to study and work and cook and love and be with their families and maybe watch a little television in the evening. The people my government dismisses as "collateral damage." The people in the crossfires. The people who would, if this was happening in America, be my loved ones. The people who would be me.
British journalist Robert Fisk, who lives in Lebanon, heard the first bombs fall. "They came first to the little village of Dweir near Nabatiya in southern Lebanon where an Israeli plane dropped a bomb onto the home of a Shia Muslim cleric," he said. "He was killed. So was his wife. So were eight of his children. One was decapitated. All they could find of a baby was its head and torso which a young villager brandished in fury in front of the cameras. Then the planes visited another home in Dweir and disposed of a family of seven."
In Iraq last month, an average of 100 civilians were killed every day. This week, in the Shiite shrine city of Kufa, for example, a van pulled up to a place where young men gather to look for work. The driver offered them work and they filled up his car. Then he blew it up. About 59 people died, and another 105 were sent to the hospital.
In northern Israel this week, residents hurried into a bomb shelter as Hezbollah rockets fell. One man didn't make it in time. When the bomb shelter opened, his bloody body was lying a short distance away. A frantic woman left the bomb shelter screaming that she couldn't find her husband. She dialed his number on her cell phone, and after a pause, it rang in the pocket of the dead man. An NBC News camera crew filmed the scene and fled.
This is Atrocities 'R' Us, this is what President George W. Bush has wrought and this is what America will pay for.
We must be against this war, if only because we don't want to be on the same side as the people who are creeping out from under rocks to gleefully support it.
Like the right-wing Christians who believe in, want and pray for the Rapture: Before the Rapture you must have Armageggdon, so these believers in death and destruction cheer the new war. They constitute Mr. Bush's most passionate political base, and they can't wait for Israel to use nukes.
Then there are the neoconservatives, who brought us the disastrous Iraqi war in the first place. If you thought they had slunk back to their caves in shame, guess again. They are out again, they are cheering and celebrating this new war, and their only argument is whether to call it World War III or World War IV. (It depends on how you count the Cold War.)
Then there are the anti-Semites. Usually, they're far right Aryan Nation skinhead types, but now the American far left is also disseminating proto-Nazi propaganda. Instead of Protocols of the Elders of Zion nonsense about Jews cooking with the blood of babies, the Left's propaganda comes in the form of a supposed after-dinner chat Benjamin Franklin had during the writing of the Constitution, in which he warned against letting Jews into America because they would take it over. This "prophecy" was proved to be a hoax 60 years ago, but still it appeared in my mailbox yesterday.
It's easy to hate when there are so few rational voices to be heard. Please, be on the side of reason, righteousness, human dignity and humanity, and demand an end to this bloodshed now.
Joyce Marcel is a free-lance journalist. A collection of her columns, "A Thousand Words or Less," is available through joycemarcel.com. Write her at email@example.com.