EXPRESS CHECKOUT

Spin doctor, spin

Posted in Editorials, Politics + Diplomacy by expresscheckout on 27 July, 2006

London Protests against War in Lebanon - 22 July 2006

There is a nonpartisan website called FactCheck.org serving the function of monitoring American political rhetoric to assess whether in fact the ‘facts’ divulged in statements abound are true. It is no secret that politicians’ words have always been spun left and right in order to convince the public to take a particular stance on an issue. Despite this being common knowledge, politicians very much succeed in their aims. And a good example of this amongst many in recent times is former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s ‘Smoking Gun‘ theory, whipping up the frenzy to invade Iraq only to later prove erroneous. George W. Bush’s June 28, 2005 address on Iraq and the ‘War on Terror’ is yet another case in point. One needs not look far from the now devastated nation of Iraq (or ‘beacon of democracy’, as the US Administration likes to illustrate) to understand what may come as a result of spin-doctoring over issues in the greater Middle East.

In his piece titled ‘This is not Dunkirk. This is Munich‘, Robert Fisk aptly puts it when writing ‘no one takes anything at face value these days’. Unfortunately, FactCheck’s scope is not broad enough to cover some of the latest statements given by not only high-ranking American officials, but also their allied counterparts. As any intuitive news enthusiast may know, few words can describe the demoralization felt in hearing such casual shuffling around of ‘diplomatic lingo’ between world leaders over the situation in Lebanon. And it is beyond insulting to the international community that the leaders whose power determines the outcome of this very conflict should believe that the blatant, constant hypocricy is to be expected to go unnoticed.

Press statement after press statement, and still no mention of the brothers that were kidnapped in Gaza. Though some may ask how this can be when internationally renowned academics have acknowledged this themselves, leaders and news correspondents instead solely make it understood that all of this came as a result of Hizbollah kidnapping two Israeli soldiers–that Hizbollah ‘provoked’ Israel into attacking and demolishing Lebanon. And yet, ‘more than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving PowerPoint presentations, on an off-the-record basis, to U.S. and other diplomats, journalists and think tanks, setting out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail’. Not only does there now appear to be evidence that this has been in the planning, but it is also illogical to think that the dis-proportionality of the IDF bombardment of Lebanese soil could in any way foreshadow peaceful long-term ambitions in the region.

To this day, Israel maintains that it is doing the Lebanese people a favour by fighting Hizbollah, and that this is a battle being fought on yet another front in the ‘War on Terror’. In its latest declaration, ‘Israel says Wednesday’s decision [in Rome] by key world powers not to call for a halt to its Lebanon offensive has given it the green light to continue‘. This all-sweeping statement is a shock, if not an intimidation tactic that serves to reflect the superficial reality formed by US-led dialogue. It takes no more than a quick glance at the BBC’s Have Your Say forum to see that public opinion demonstrates otherwise, regardless of what the alleged ‘world powers’ are (not) saying. And this point is noted for anyone that has any doubt over the fact that hundreds of innocent Lebanese civilians are dying, while thousands have now become refugees in their own homeland. What is disconcerting is that in this day and age, the opinion of the public is simply ignored, while nations that are opposed to those wielding the power are simply stifled or implicitly threatened so as to not damage the ‘campaign’. This is what is representative of ‘democracy’ today, and it is because of this ‘democracy’ that nations are now being targetted in the Middle East for the ‘New Middle East‘ initiative without their consent or opinion, in order to re-enact the same mistakes as can be found in the cases of Iraq and Afghanistan, while those who actually live in the region lose their own self-determination and freedom to develop at a safe and healthy pace suitable to their own cultures and sociological dynamics. And it is also because of this ‘democracy’ that radicalization and fundamentalism gains the support, power, and the leverage to corrupt and destroy.

Israel insists that it ‘in no way’ meant ‘to target or hit UN personnel’ in its ‘totally accidental’ murder of four UN observers. And yet, Israeli troops ‘ignored’ the UN’s plea despite being contacted ten times during aerial bombardment in the region. How much longer will the Lebanese people and foreign aid workers endure? When will the condemnation of the Israeli apartheid barrier be heard? When will the use of Palestinians as human shields by the IDF cease? How much longer can the world tolerate the twisting of words by world leaders to make it seem acceptable to kill and maim and imprison and torture and destroy, while the other side is expected to remain silent and not defend itself? And in knowing anything of what is now going on in the Middle East, how can the abovementioned be accepted without question by the international community? But taking into account the seeming lack of mobilization for justice on these issues, it is no wonder that Hizbollah is supported and seen as a resistance force countering Israeli occupation by those who are struggling to survive against all odds. Because aside from the protests being held worldwide and largely ignored by the ‘decision-makers’, the international community (including the UN) is still either unable or refusing to take charge and officially call for a ceasefire. Even Syrian officials wielding influence in the region (and denounced for doing so) have shown the willingness to help to reach some resolve, offering to hold talks with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. And yet it is in twisted irony that she has so outright refused.

As the days go by, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the war crimes will continue to be committed and ignored, and those who try to do anything genuinely positive for the sake of all will either suffer in harm’s way or be held culpable for ‘obstructing the peace through dissent’. It is most unfortunate that the innocent, suffering people of Lebanon, Israel, and Palestine are unlikely to get the justice that is rightfully owed to them, and it is equally unfortunate that the only winners of this horrid war will be the spin doctors and the hegemonic leaders of the New Imperialist World Order.

– EXC

For more, read Anatol Lieven’s article, ‘Israel and the Arabs: peace, not diktats‘, at openDemocracy. Informed Comment provides insightful commentary on the developing situation by the President of the Global Americana Institute, Juan Coal. A second letter from Beirut is also featured on his site.

London Protests against War in Lebanon - 22 July 2006

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