The real significance of Lebanon
Lebanon is not business as usual. This is not just about Israel repressing its neighbors by expanding its boarders—this is not 1982. For that matter, nor is this Vietnam, or the countless other 'skirmishes' the U.S. has been involved in over the last century. The ante has been raised.
Starting with Afghanistan, the current war in Lebanon can be counted as the third aggressively-waged war led by the United States— since Israel can not act unilaterally over such a large issue, and American diplomacy has shown the world who is actually pulling the strings.
Aside from the fact that these new wars are full-scale invasions into sovereign nations, there are other characteristics that distinguish the aggressions from previous U.S. military action. In the 20th century, the defining feature of U.S. global policing was limited to 'the fight against communism', i.e. helping squash third-world independence movements. Most of these conflicts began either as offering assistance in controlling colonial rebellions (Vietnam), maintaining post WWII treaty-lines (Korean War), or helping long-time dictatorial allies in suppressing their populations (Latin America). Much of these actions were justified internationally either because of the 'victors spoils' perspective that began after WWII, or the long-held tradition of the Monroe Doctrine, allowing the U.S. to act however it pleased throughout Latin America without attracting international protest. The new middle-east wars are a sharp break from the status-quo, with the U.S. using its unchallenged global position to grab raw-materials and markets at the expense of its transatlantic rivals, creating global tensions that could quickly escalate and burst asunder.
Such an aggressive foreign policy has not been witnessed since the events leading up to World War II, where the League of Nations dissolved amid the imperialistic wars of Italy, Germany, and Japan. As it stands now, much of the Middle East is under U.S. control, occupation, or threat of military attack. Once Lebanon is completely destroyed as anything resembling an independent nation, there will be little barrier between the U.S., Syria and Iran. The ranting and provocations from our politicians and media make such events seem inevitable
Iran remains the conflict most capable of leading to World War III; the country serves as a major trade partner and energy supplier to Russia, China, and Europe, all of whom will not sit idly by as we attempt to stifle their independence. Vladimir Putin, while begrudgingly accepting the misinformation behind the Israeli offensive, noted that Israel "seems to be pursuing wider goals". The global competitors of the United States are not fooled by the latest flood of propaganda, nor are they naïve to the actual intent of the so-called 'war on terror'.
Europe's reaction to American aggression has been jumbled and vacillating, reflecting the continents current status as a region of politically-conflicting interests. Aside from a common currency, Europe has been unable to fully unify economically, politically, or militarily. As a result, its international clout is limited to the strength of its individual nations, all of whom seek shelter from powers greater than themselves.
Europe understands its wretched position in world politics, and keeps this in mind when responding to the intrusion of the U.S. into its backyard. If a European country publicly denounces the war and reveals its true purpose, the backlash would be severe and undermine its already unsteady position; Europe's reaction to the recent U.S. wars of aggression is proof of this. After Bush's infamous "either your with us or against us" speech, the world has been on high alert. Afghanistan was given away with hardly a murmur, 9/11 was fresh on everybody's mind, and the propaganda against Bin-Laden was accepted without question.
Iraq proved to be a harder sell. The French protested, saw their lead inspire nobody, and later swallowed their pride and rhetoric. Germany, also objecting nonchalantly, was clandestinely aiding the American military— adjusting itself to the changing landscape. Because it saw few options to act independently, Germany has chosen to attach itself to the coattails of U.S. imperialism, cementing the relationship only recently when it appeared in solidarity with the U.S. in justifying the brutal non-ceasefire policy towards Lebanon. It appears that Germany, along with Britain and Israel, has evolved into an axis of power with the U.S. and its hegemonic policies as leader.
France too has involved itself in the mess of Lebanon, co-authoring a UN resolution with the U.S. that destroys Lebanon's independence while simultaneously appeasing Bush— this after the initial French 'demand' for an immediate Israeli ceasefire. France has once again been unable to create an oppositional force to U.S. expansion, retreating instead towards the role of a scavenger, eager to gain access to the corpse of Lebanon.
Like the League of Nations before it, The United Nations is now threatened with extinction. The purpose of the U.N. is to make sure all the big powers are content; it's a place for them to work out deals and avoid stepping on each others toes. Much like in the real world of national politics, the UN is realizing that democracy becomes meaningless when one person— or country— has all the wealth. The U.S. has voiced open scorn for the U.N., enacting policies to hurry its downfall. Once this collapse occurs (perhaps after the next war) all the cards will be on the table; the nations opposing U.S. expansion will no longer have a venue, or a reason to handle things with discretion or tact. A fitting analogy comes to mind: when it was clear that Hitler could not be appeased or contained in his regional ambitions, the media organs of the opposing countries begun telling the truth about his conquests; we can expect such a reaction from the countries unbound to the U.S. for their survival, i.e. Russia, China, much of Latin America, and whoever else decides to jump ship.
Domestically speaking, the U.S. situation is bleak. Citizens see their leaders rejecting the possibility of a ceasefire by using Orwellian double-speak. They see the so-called opposition party continue to parrot the flimsy 'war on terror' propaganda to create more war abroad, while destroying civil liberties at home. Americans understand the mess their military has caused and the real possibilities of more war in the future; the energy and passion of the original Iraq War protests is still alive and gaining power as it ferments. Another explosion is only a matter of time. The countries aiding U.S. expansion also have unhappy populaces; this, in conjunction with an increasingly recessive world economy, creates conditions not seen since the first half of the century, i.e. the era of fascism, revolution, and war.
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