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Foreign Policy US & Global Policy

Collateral Damage and Cocker Spaniels

“On June 26, 1993, twenty-three Tomahawk guided missiles each loaded with a thousand pounds of high explosives, were fired from American Navy warships in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea at the headquarters complex of the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi intelligence services, in downtown Baghdad. The attack was in response to an American determination that Iraqi intelligence, under the command of President Saddam Hussein, had plotted to assassinate former President George Bush during Bush’s ceremonial visit to Kuwait in mid-April. It was President Clinton’s first act of war.”

Thus writes Seymour M. Hersh in an article on that event. More significant is the sequel: “Three of the million dollar missiles missed their target and landed on nearby homes, killing eight civilians, including Layla al-Attar, one of Iraq’s most gifted artists. The death toll was considered acceptable by the White House; after all, scores of civilians had been killed in the Reagan Administration’s F-111 bombing attack on Muammar Qadaffi’s housing-and-office complex in Tripoli, Libya, in 1986.”

Now, Hersh’s article aside, it would be misleading to call these civilian deaths “collateral damage,” for neither Iraq nor Libya was at war with the United States. The case is quite otherwise when the present Bush Administration condemns Israel for the “collateral damage” that occurs when the Israel Defense Forces attack Arab terrorists dispatched by the Palestinian Authority (PA), whose goal, after all, is to conquer the Jewish state. And even here the term “collateral damage” is misleading, if only because the Arab civilians killed as a result of IDF attacks on Arab terrorists are not so “innocent.” Most support homicide bombers.

Collateral damage is done to Israel when the Bush Administration collaborates with Palestinian terrorists like Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). But this collaboration is largely the consequence of Israeli weakness—really the weakness of Israeli prime ministers, today Ariel Sharon. One thing Israeli prime ministers do not understand. Analysis of U.S. foreign policy vis-a-vis Arab-Islamic regimes reveals that Washington’s general tendency is to grovel before those whose leaders are firm and resolute. This is why President Bush treated Mahmoud Abbas with respect at the Aqaba Summit, while treating Arial Sharon—but therefore the Jewish State of Israel—with disdain.

In contrast to Arab leaders who invariably display Arab cultural pride, Israeli prime ministers like Ariel Sharon relate to the United States like sycophants. Not only are they devoid of Jewish national pride, but they would regard any display of Jewish national pride as “racist”! They desperately want to appear as “normal,” as no different than any gentile. But as a consequence of their lack of Jewish pride they behave like toadies, and are treated accordingly by the Americans.

American politicians, like human beings in general, respect strength. They expect the leader of a country to evince national pride and self-confidence. Israeli politicians pose like schnorrers; they portray Israel as weak and needy, as constantly under siege and threatened by politicide. Thus, when foreign officials visit Israel for the first time, they are invariably taken to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial. The idea is to evoke sympathy for the Jewish people, or for Israel’s plight in a hostile Arab sea. I wonder. Perhaps such visits to Yad Vashem, by revealing the utter degradation of the Jewish people, damage Israel’s image.

Indeed, whereas the Nazi Holocaust does not deter the U.S. from providing financial support to the PA, but therefore to Arab terrorists who murder Jews, it may very well deter Jews from exacting swift and sweeping vengeance against these terrorists. Prime Minister Sharon ignores the fact that these terrorists could not possible operate without the support of Arab civilians. What is more, by making a radical distinction between Arab terrorists and Arab civilians, Mr. Sharon (like President Bush) obscures the true nature of the conflict¸ which is nothing less than a clash of civilizations.

The Arabs recognize this clash and act accordingly: with pride and determination. Because Jews like Sharon deny this clash, they display neither pride nor determination. This is why Washington treats Israeli prime ministers like cocker spaniels.

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