‘The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine’ by Ilan Pappe

A groundbreaking research, into a well-kept Israeli secret of Palestinian ethnic cleansing, by one of Israel’s foremost historians

Author – Ilan Pappe

Genre – NonFiction / History

About the Author

Ilan Pappe, an expatriate Israeli historian and socialist activist, is a professor with the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter in the UK, director of the university’s European Centre for Palestine Studies, co-director of the Exeter Centre for Ethno-Political Studies, and political activist. He was formerly a senior lecturer in political science at the University of Haifa (1984–2007) and chair of the Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian and Israeli Studies in Haifa (2000–2008).

Pappe, born in Haifa, Israel, is one of Israel’s “New Historians” who, since the release of pertinent British and Israeli government documents in the early 1980s, have been rewriting the history of Israel’s creation in 1948, and the corresponding expulsion or flight of 700,000 Palestinians in the same year. He has written that the expulsions were not decided on an ad hoc basis, as other historians have argued, but constituted the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, in accordance with Plan Dalet, drawn up in 1947 by Israel’s future leaders. He blames the creation of Israel for the lack of peace in the Middle East, arguing that Zionism is more dangerous than Islamic militancy, and has called for an international boycott of Israeli academics.

His work has been both supported and criticized by other historians. Before he left Israel in 2008, he had been condemned in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament; a minister of education had called for him to be sacked; his photograph had appeared in a newspaper at the centre of a target; and he had received several death threats. Pappe supports the one-state solution, which envisages a binational state for Palestinians and Israelis.

Synopsis worded exactly as in the book


I am for the compulsory transfer. I do not see anything immoral in it David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding father, first PM to the Jewish Agency Executive, 1938.

In the Red House, an early Tel Aviv building, on 10 March 1948, a group of eleven men, veteran Zionist leaders together with young military Jewish officers put the final touches for the plan for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

The military orders dispatched that evening described the methods to be employed for the eviction as large scale intimidation, laying siege to and bombarding population centers, setting fire to homes, properties and goods, expulsions, demolition and planting mines among the rubble to prevent the expelled inhabitants from returning. The plan was codenamed Plan D or Plan Dalet. This was the fourth and final blue print. Simcha Flapan, one of the first historians to note the significance of this plan wrote in the book ‘ The Birth of Israel:Myths and Realities ‘, ‘ The military campaign against Arabs, including the conquest and destruction of rural areas was set forth in Hagana’s Plan Dalet ‘. (Hagana was the main underground Zionist militia). David Ben Gurion in his book Rebirth and Destiny of Israel ,, notes that until 1948, no Jewish settlements were seized by Arabs whereas the Hagana captured many Arab villages. The plan was a Zionist ideological impulse to have an exclusively Jewish presence in Palestine. The Palestinian attacks in 1947 served as the pretext for ethnic cleansing by Zionists. When it was over, in 6 months, more than half of Palestine native population, close to 800000 people had been uprooted, 531 villages destroyed and 11 urban neighborhoods emptied of their inhabitants. A clear cut case of ethnic cleansing regarded under international law as crime against humanity.

Sadly this crime has been erased almost totally from the public memory, still today not recognized as a historical fact let alone acknowledged as a crime. And Palestinian suffering has been thoroughly ignored. The tale that Israeli historiographers had concocted was that of a massive voluntary transfer of Palestinians who had temporarily decided to leave their homes and villages to make way for the Arab armies invading the Jewish state. The Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi in the 1970 s through his book Palestine Reborn has tried to explain the true history which Israel has tried to erase. But it was overshadowed by Dan Kurtzman s book Genesis 1948 which appeared in 1970 and again in 1992 with an introduction by one of the executors of ethnic cleansing, Yitzhak Rabin. Yet, books like The Palestinian Catastrophe published in 1987 by Michael Palumbo came out in support of the Palestinian endeavor. The revisionist Israeli historians from 1980 s using Israeli military archives debated and debunked the voluntary transfer narrative and they were able confirm many cases of massive expulsions and atrocities by Jewish forces including massacres.

One of the best known historians was Benny Morris. His book The Birth of Palestinian Refugee Problem 1947-49 was enough for the Israeli readers to understand the truth of the flawed and bankrupt ‘moral ‘ war of Israel. Even, his account was partial as he took the military records at face value and ignored the Acre poisoning of water supplies with typhoid, rapes massacres. He also kept insisting wrongly that before 15 May 1948, there were no forced evictions. Palestinian sources clearly show that months before entry of Arab forces into Palestine while the British was still responsible for law and order in the country the Jewish forces forcibly expelled a quarter of a million Palestinians. This is the fundamental root of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. From these Israeli and Palestinian historians, there has been a moral, historical and political effort to continue struggle against denial of a crime. A significant contribution to struggle against denial is Walid Khalidi s book All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948.

Through this book Ilan Pappe explores the mechanism of the 1948 ethnic cleansing and the cognitive system that allowed the world to forget and enabled the perpetrators to deny the crime the Zionist movement committed against the Palestinians in 1948. He replaces the paradigm of war with the paradigm of ethnic cleansing. The Catastrophe has been long denied due to this absence of the paradigm of ethnic cleansing. The expulsions of the indigenous population was not an accidental, tragic inevitability, but the main goal of the Zionists was ethnic cleansing. The term Nakba or Catastrophe was adopted to counter the moral weight of Jewish Holocaust or Shoa. The author says, in doing so, by leaving out the actor, it may have contributed to the denial by the world of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. He adds that adopting the prism of ethnic cleansing easily enables one to penetrate the cloak of complexity that Israeli diplomats trot out instinctively and Israeli academics routinely hide behind when fending off outside attempts to criticize Zionism or the Jewish state for its policies and behavior

Ethnic Cleansing

Most ethnic cleansing methods are grave breaches of 1949 Geneva Conventions. It is a crime against humanity punishable under international law. The Hutchinson encyclopedia defines ethnic cleansing as expulsions by force in order to homogenize an ethnically mixed population of region or territory. The essence of ethnic cleansing is the eradication of a region’s history by depopulating. The town of Peck in western Kosovo was depopulated within 24 hours with sporadic massacres in May 1999, which was an end result of meticulous planning. The making of greater Serbia is an example. Drazen Petrovic, of International Labor Organization in European Journal of International Law in a comprehensive study of ethnic cleansing associates it with nationalism, making of new nation states and national struggle. He exposes the connection of politicians and army in this and also the role of massacres. At at one point the political leadership ceases to take an active part but machine of ethnic cleansing rolls on. The expelled are then erased from country’s official and popular history and excised from collective memory. This is what happened Palestine in 1948.

The word ‘ alleged ‘ that appears before the Palestinian ethnic cleansing should be definitely removed since records suggest a planned execution of the act. The perpetrators are not obscure. The leader is the Zionist strongman David Ben Gurion and 11 members constituted the cabal which the author calls Consultancy. The archival documents also show a list of 40 Palestinian leaders targeted for assassination. The military strongmen in the cabal were Moshe Dayan, Yigael Yadin, Yigal Allon, and Yitzhak Sadeh. Moshe Kalman cleansed the Safad area, Moshe Carmel uprooted Galilee, Yitzhak Rabin cleansed Lydd , greater Jerusalem and Ramla. They were war heroes for the Israeli people, the crimes they committed against the indigenous Palestinians weigh more. The intelligence officers on the ground whose function was not just collection of data, but they committed the worst atrocities in dispossession and massacres. They decided whom to imprison, whom to kill and which villages to evacuate. This was supervised by Issar Harel, later the first person to head Mossad and Shabak, Israel’s secret services.

For peace to have a chance in Palestine, the refugees should be allowed to return to their homes. UN resolution 194, during December 1948 decided on an unconditional return, which the US supported for a very short while before reorienting to a pro Israeli stance disregarding the Palestinian point of view.

Reconstructing the ethnic cleansing

The background of the ethnic cleansing by Zionists is explained in many scholarly works. In Nur Masalha’sExpulsion of Palestinians ‘, he explains that the concept of transfer was deeply rooted in Zionist political thought. Cleansing the land was the valid option from the founder of the Zionist movement, Theodore Herzl to the main leaders. The movement ‘s liberal thinker, Leo Motzkin in 1917 rooted for a two step process of colonization and resettlement of Palestinians on another land. Authors Gershon Shafer and Baruch Kimmerling explores the connection between Zionism and Colonialism, a nexus that brings forth exploitation of Palestinian labour, land and then expulsions at the close of the British mandate. Authors Walid Khalidi and Samih Farsoun asks why the UN entrusted the fate of so many Palestinians to a Zionist movement that had clearly included transfer as its aim. It’s indeed hard to understand why a crime that had been committed in the modern times at the juncture in history has been eradicated totally from the collective global memory and erased from the world’s conscience. It is sad that the diplomatic effort to solve conflict has sidelined, if not ignored this catastrophic event. Half the indigenous population living in Palestine were driven out, half the villages and towns were destroyed and only a few among them managed to return. Such a sidelining is observed other ethnic cleansing like that of non Hungarians at the end of 19 th century, Armenian genocide, Nazi holocaust against Roma and Sinti.

Drive for an Exclusive Jewish State .

Zionism’s Ideological Motivations .

Zionism emerged in late 1880 a in central and eastern Europe as a national revival movement against the persecution of Jews. The colonialisation of Palestine was associated to in the early 20 th century. Eretz Israel as Palestine was known in Jewish religion was a destination of holy pilgrimage, not a future secular state. Many Ultra Orthodox Jews are either non or anti Zionist since Jewish tradition instruct Jews to wait for Messiah’s coming before they can return to Eretz Israel. Zionism secularized and nationalized Judaism. As the Zionists saw it, Palestine was occupied by strangers, meaning anyone non Jewish. For many it was empty land, when they first arrived there in 1882.. Until occupation of Palestine by Britain in 1918, Zionism was a nationalist ideology and a colonialist enterprise. Only 5% of the total population constituted the Zionists. They were vague with their plans, because of the threat of being thrown out by Ottomans. Until 1910,the Palestinian leaders considered Zionists as a part of European missionary, purchasing land and assets. They, sensing the danger, convinced the Ottomans who controlled Palestine until 1918 , to limit Jewish immigration.

A warning about the intention of Zionists came in a story published by Ishaq Musa al Husayn, in Jerusalem, The Memories of a Hen. But the Palestinians didn’t recognize the existential danger The Egyptian literati considered it as an attempt by Europe to transfer its stateless and poor into Palestine. They were more concerned about the efforts by European missionaries and church to take over Holy Land. But the Zionists were very clear with the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine in order to escape the persecutions and pogroms in the West, invoking the religious redemption of an ancient homeland as their means. This was the official narrative. But the reason Palestine was selected from among other possible places was interwoven with Christian Millenarianism and European colonization. Protestant missionary societies wished to see a Christian Palestine and return of Jews was linked to second coming of Christ. This made pious politicians like the British PM during first WW, Lloyd George to act in cahoots with the commitment of the Zionist project. He distrusted and disdained the Palestinian Arabs.

Israeli historiography claims the colonization as a positive endeavor to carry out socialism and Marxist revolution. But this is doubtful since the socialist Zionists substituted nationalism for universalism, their aim was a Jewish rather than a socialist state and it was the Labour Movement with in Zionism that instituted and implemented the ethnic cleansing. The moment British Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour gave the Zionists his promise in 1917 to establish a national home for Jews in Palestine, he opened the door to endless conflicts. The Balfour Declaration was a public statement issued by the British government in 1917 during the First World War announcing support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, then an Ottoman region with a small minority Jewish population. The declaration was contained in a letter dated 2 November 1917 from the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. By 1920 the violent core of the proposal started emerging. Until 1928, the British treated Palestine as a state with in its sphere of influence, not as a colony. They tried to put in place a political structure to represent both communities equally in the state parliament, but when the offer was made, it advantaged the Zionist colonies and discriminated against the Palestinians who were clearly the majority.

Palestinians made 80 to 90% of the total population in 1920 s. So they understandably refused the deal. In 1928, the Palestinian leadership, apprehensive of the increasing immigration and settlements, agreed to accept the formula. But the Zionist leadership now rejected it. The 1929 uprising was the result of Britain’s refusal to implement at least their promise of parity after Palestinians had been willing to set aside the democratic principle of majoritarian politics.

After 1929, the Zionist lobby considerably influenced the British government. This led to 1936 uprising. The British stationed more troops in Palestine and subdued the revolt with ruthless forces, Palestinian leadership was exiled, the paramilitary guerrillas were disbanded, villagers were arrested, killed or wounded and this gave the Jewish forces an opportunity in 1947 to ride into the Palestinian country side. Between the 1929 and 1936 uprisings, the Zionist movement hatc6a grand plan. In 1937, they accepted a modest portion of land from partition of Palestine recommended by British. In 1942, they demanded the whole Palestine for a Jewish state, pure socio culturally and ethnically.

Military Preparations

From the outset the British Mandatory officials had allowed the Zionist movement to carve an independent enclave for itself in Palestine. Zionists built an efficient military organization from the start, in the eventuality of taking the land by force. One particular British officer, Orde Charles Wingate, made the Zionist leadership realize the association of Jewish statehood with army and armed aggression as a deterrent against possible Palestinian resistance. He transformed the Jewish paramilitary organization Hagana, meaning defense in Hebrew. He taught the Jewish military forces retaliatory and punitive missions against Arab revolts. In June 1938, Hagana along with the British troops occupied a Palestinian village on the border between Israel and Lebanon. Some Hagana members learned techniques by participating in the Second WW with the British, while those that remained in Palestine continued to monitor and infiltrate the 1200 or so villages that had dotted the country side for hundreds of years.

The Village Files

The Jewish National Fund (JNF), founded in 1901 served as an agency that the Zionist movement used to buy Palestinian land, keep registry of Arab villages. Its head Youssef Weitz, head of settler department, a quintessential Zionist evicted Palestinian tenants from the land bought from absentee landlords, the Mandate system creating new borders where there were none. The impact of eviction remained limited due to scarce Zionist resources, Palestinian resistance and restrictive British policies until the mandate ended in 1948. At that time Jewish community owned 5.8% of the Palestinian land. Weitz turned Village Files to a national project . Yitzhak ben Zvi, later to become the second president of Israel wrote to Moshe Shertock to record the layout of the villages along with exposing their Hebraic origins.

The aerial photos of villages taken by professional photographers and developed in secret facilities hidden from the British and later to the Red House in 1947. By 1930 s the Jews had all the details of the villages, inhabitants, religious affiliations in Village Files. They also had information on who participated in 1936 revolt, who hated Zionists and who killed Jews during the revolt and these fuelled atrocities, execution and torture in these villages. There were Arab informants within the villages and the Arabists or Orientalists were trained to operate them. The position of the villages on hills and the way the locals were considered primitive and barbaric made the task difficult. The work of one man, Ezra Danin made the files a systematic one. He helped include meticulous details of the villages down to the cultivated land, number of trees, names of village heads, imams, their house hold members, to even the number of rooms in their homes. Post 1945, the details became military oriented like number of guards (most had none) and weapons (mostly antiquated or nonexistent ones).

All the people who later joined Danin helped orchestrate eviction and ethnic cleansing of tenants from the land they had been cultivating for years and now bought by JNF. The reconnaissance was carried out from a youth village called Shefeya where people were trained for this. The infiltrators made use of the hospitality of the Arabs for the mission. In 1948, impressed with the fertility of the land of Umm Al Zinat village, it was invaded and inhabitants expelled without provocation. The final update of the village files was done in 1947 to include wanted person list that consisted of national movement members, those known to have travelled to Lebanon or those arrested by the British for being a member of the national committee of any villages. The informants who were Palestinians identified them, and Jews shot them on the spot. Those involved in national movement included whole villages sometimes. Those affiliated with the mufti or his political party were also persecuted. Forming a party or being its member was a crime for the Zionists . The details provided the Zionists with data that Palestinians had nobody to organize themselves.

Facing the British

The British by suppressing the 1936 revolt had already destroyed the Palestinian leadership and its capabilities. This formed a crucial factor in allowing the Zionists to plan their next move. After a danger of Nazi invasion of Palestine was removed in 1942, the Zionists recognized the main obstacle that stood in their way of seizing Palestinian land was the British presence and not Palestine resistance . As the second WW drew to a close, the Zionists tried to push the British out of the country. They planned to evict the Palestinians who formed 75 percent of the country’s population. The plans were secretive. As David Ben Gurion wrote to his son in 1937, “The Arabs should go. But one needs an opportune moment to make this happen like a war “. That opportune moment came in 1948. Thus Ben Gurion is in many ways the founder of the state of Israel and was its first PM. He also masterminded the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

David Ben Gurion, the architect

He led the Zionist movement from 1920 to 1960. His fundamental notion was that future statehood meant absolute Jewish domination. When the British offered a Jewish state in Palestine in 1937, he accepted it even if it was a small portion. To achieve this he used two magic words, force and opportunity. Wait for the opportune moment to deal militarily with the demographic problem of non Jewish majority. He was singular in his view of militarily acquiring land at the time, others believed they could possess the land by buying it. But Gurion was right in that since the amount of land they were able to purchase at the end of the mandate was just 6 %. Gurion was a pragmatic colonialist and a state builder. He knew that the Biltmore Program that clamored for the whole of Mandatory Palestine was not realistic The post war British Labour government under Clement Atlee wanted a democratic solution based on the wishes and interests of people living in Palestine.

Following this the Jewish underground militia organized terrorist attacks by bombing bridges, British military bases, and the British headquarters in Jerusalem, The King David Hotel. Retaliation from the British was mild compared to how they retaliated against the Palestinians during 1937 revolt. The British made the paramilitary to disarm, whom they themselves had armed . The large number of British troops served as a deterrent. It was due to these reasons that Gurion agreed for a reduced Jewish state over 80%of Palestine. He assured the Zionist leaders whom he assembled in a Paris hotel that 80 to 90 %of Palestine was enough for a Jewish state provided they were able to ensure Jewish predominance. This 1947 map that Gurion proposed anticipated almost to the last drop pre 1967 Israel, excluding West Bank and Gaza strip.

The Palestinian leadership was under total collapse after Second WW and the Arab states were hesitant on Palestinian question. The British mandate who crushed the Palestinian liberation movement was now the only one remaining between the Zionists and Jewish state. Even though there was a power vacuum in Palestine, Gurion was clearly concerned about their demographic majority and the military help from Arab states in the event of an armed conflict. So security remained his priority right from the beginning. This remains until today the meta term used by Zionists and Israelis to justify their policies. The policy towards Palestinians is one of retaliation and provocation. Gurion had played a crucial role in shaping this security outlook of Israel. When he was entrusted with the defense portfolio in th22 and Zionist Congress in 1946, he held total control of the security issue of Jewish community. He became the top most leader in the Zionist movement. While he used democratic means to discuss the issues of Jewish community, taking the opinion of other political groups too, when it came to Palestinians, he ignored official structure and relied on clandestine formations.

The major topic on the Zionist agenda, the British mandate, solved itself when they decided to quit Palestine in Feb 1947 and transfer the Palestinian question to the UN. By the end of 1946 Gurion got wind of the British withdrawal and he prepared Plan C or Gimel to be implemented against the Palestinians the moment British were gone. Plan A or Elimelech Plan was made in 1937 at Gurion’s request for takeover of Palestine, Plan B was made in 1946. Both were fused into Plan C. This was an offensive military campaign against Palestine population killing, damaging infrastructure, sources of livelihoods, villages, entertainment sources and so forth. The details are available in the Village Files and Hagana archives. Within a few months, Plan D or Dalet Plan was drafted that sealed the fate of the Palestinians, a systematic and total expulsion of all Palestinians from their homeland irrespective of whether they collaborated with or opposed the Jewish state.

Partition, UN Resolution 181 and its impact .

Palestine’s Population .

At Dec 1947, when Zionists started the ethnic cleansing, there were 70%Arabs and 30%Jews, from 90%and 10% at the start of the mandate. Indigenous Palestinians were seeking right to self determination from long back, but the British mandate Plan for Palestine had the 1917 Balfour declaration along with it that promised to secure a homeland for Jews to the Zionist movement. In 1947, Palestinian was still a majority Arab nation, with 95% of the land cultivated by Arabs. The Jewish immigrants were interested in cities and towns and very few settled in the country side thus making the separation between settlements very large and with the Palestinian villages in between and surrounding them.

Two thirds of Palestine that formed the country sides were inhabited mostly by indigenous people and sparsely by Jews. Where as towns and cities were inhabited almost equally by both. This was an obstacle in creating two different homogeneous states. Logic tells that the three fourths that form the country side should remain Palestinian. The binational one state proposition by the British mandate was rejected by the Zionists. And the matter was transferred to the UN, but by then the interests of Palestinians were totally excised from the process.

UN partition Plan

UN was just 2 years old in 1947, inexperienced. The fate of Palestine partition was entrusted with the committee, UNSCOP, that had no prior experience or knowledge of Palestine’s history. The UN came up with a two state solution with the city of Jerusalem under an international regime administered by UN . This is UN Resolution 181. Demographically a two state solution should have provided the Jews with only 10% of the land. But the UN accepted the nationalist claims of the Zionists and sought to compensate for the Nazi holocaust. Thus the Zionist movement was given a state that stretched for more than half of Palestine. Palestinian leadership was opposed to partition since 1918.

The Arab League, the regional inter Arab Organization and The Arab Higher Committee (embryonic Palestinian government) did not take part in the UNSCOP meeting prior to the resolution and this vaccum was effectively used by Zionists for bilateral dialogue with UN. This pattern will be repeated in almost all future deliberations on Palestinian conflict especially after the Americans became involved after 1967. Upto the present day, bringing peace to Palestine is a concept worked out between US and Israel with out any serious consultation with Palestine.

The UNSCOP rejected the Zionist claim for 80%of the land and convinced them to be satisfied with 56%. Also the Catholic countries persuaded the UN to make Jerusalem an international city and so the Zionist claim for the city was also rejected. Partitioning into two equal halves was carried out against the will of indigenous population. Thus UN violated the basic rights of the Palestinians. The heightened tensions that the partition caused, turned the country into one of the most violent phase in history, followed by the first Arab Israeli war and beginning of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The partition Plan was a pro Zionist one that they devised by influencing the UN when both knew that Palestinians were not willing. The UN ignored the rules of international mediation by proclaiming and forcing resolution 181. They deemed it illegal and immoral, clearly an injustice by forcing a solution on a country to which majority of the population were vehemently opposed. Western news media did not care to report that. Based on the assumption of peaceful coexistence, UN did not pay much attention to the balance of geography and demographics, when the intention of the Zionists was clearly to de Arabize Palestine. Thus UN did not preclude the ensuing ethnic cleansing.

UN map of partition had Palestine divided into 3 parts. 42% of land for the state of Palestine where there were 818000 Palestinians and 10000 Jews. 56% of land for Jewish state where there were 499000 Jews and 438000 Palestinians. The small enclave around the city of Jerusalem to be governed internationally, where both the population were equal in number. The demographic imbalance in the proposed Jewish state must have been a political nightmare for Zionists. There was only one solution, ethnic cleansing. Thus UN by voting in favor of the resolution, contributed to the crime.

David Ben Gurion single handedly led the other leaders simultaneously to accept and ignore the resolution. He had planned and conveyed to others beforehand that they were not obliged to accept the Plan that was unsatisfactory. So irrespective of whether Palestinians accepted or rejected the plan, Gurion had made up his mind early on. What he had in his mind was 80 to 90 % of land for a Jewish state with very few Palestinians if any and with Jerusalem as capital, which he had conveyed in his speech in Mapai centre on 3 Dec 1947. He accepted the recognition for a Jewish state by the UN, while determining its borders by force and not by partition resolution giving Arab rejection of the plan as a reason. His decision to disregard the plan and execute Jewish exclusivity was aired to only a coterie of his confidants in the Consultancy. Gurion’s diary is a source of details of their meetings, in Gurion’s house and the Red House where the master plan was drafted.

Finalizing the Master Plan

The ethnic cleansing of Palestine began in Dec 1947, when Palestinians protested against the UN resolution. Though Palestinians didn’t use much force apart from vandalism Jews retaliated by attacking villages severe enough to cause an exodus of 75000 people. The British High commissioner in Palestine Allan Cunningham reported about the Palestinian protests as unorganized demonstrations of displeasure using stones and sticks to which the Zionists responded with disproportionate force using firearms. On Jan 1948, the all Arab volunteer army entered Palestine villages and fought with the Jewish forces. From Feb 1948, expulsions began. On March 1948, according to plan Dalet urban centers were occupied and evacuated, 250000 evacuated, along with perpetration of massacres, notable being the Deir Yassin massacre. The Arab League decided to intervene militarily after the British left in May1948. Prior to Mar 1948, the Jews were just acting in retaliation to Palestinians. After that, two months before the end of the mandate, the Zionists openly declared that it would take over the land by force and expel the indigenous population. That was Plan Dalet.

Gurion met with a war cabinet and planned to take over the whole country in October 1948. The Zionist leadership was committed in their collusion with King Abdullah of Jordan. As per the 1942 Biltmore plan, the Zionists anticipated the future state to stretch over 80% of Palestine, the additional 24 percentage over and above the 56 percentage offered by the UN,and the remaining 20 percent will be picked up by the Jordanian. This tacit agreement with the Jordanians helped the ethnic cleansing operation to go ahead unhindered. This kept away the Jordanian army, the strongest in the Arab world, except in skirmishes with Jewish forces in the very small part of Palestine.

Zionist military capability was adequate. On the eve of the 1948 war, they had 50000 troops with a small airforce, navy, tanks, armoured cars and heavy artillery. The Palestinian paramilitary outfits were only 7000 in number with some 3000 Arab volunteer forces. The Jewish Communist party made and purchased weapons from Czechoslovakia and Soviet republic. The Arab regular forces stopped receiving arms from British, which was its main source before. Apart from the main Jewish military power two more extreme paramilitary groups helped the attacks, the Irgun(Etzel) that had split from Hagana and headed by Menachem Begin and Stern Gang, an offshoot of Irgun. The special commando unit called the Palmach ,trained to prevent Nazi invasion of Palestine were highly active in the cleansing operations and building new Jewish settlements. It was dismantled in 1948. The Hagana, Irgun and Palmach forces occupied the villages and later transferred them to logistics arm called Field Guards who committed some worst atrocities and cleansing.

The expulsionist dreams and the idea of de Arabizing Palestine were part of the ideologies of Zionists starting from Theodore Herzl. To promote the demographic balance and Jewish exclusivity, Gurion offered two options. One, to the public in local People’s Assembly, to increase Jewish immigration from Europe. But he was sure that this would never make up a majority. So, another covert plan was devised among the limited corps to use force to expel Palestinians. In the territory of their planned Jewish state, there were one million Palestinians vis a vis 600000 Jews.

A 3 day public strike was organized by the Arab Higher Committee to protest the UN resolution of partition. Some of the protests got out of hand like the ambush of a Jewish bus that all Israeli books identify as the start of war. The people wanted to get back to normalcy. Gradually the Arab League Council dispatched arms to Palestinians and formed an Arab volunteer force called Arab Liberation Army. These fuelled a welcome pretext for Zionists to escalate the Hagana operation already under way. The intelligence briefings to Ben Gurion relayed that Palestinians were eager to continue a normal life despite the Arab army trickling. This craving for normality remained typical of Palestinians inside Palestine in the years to come, even in the worst crisis and nadir of their struggle and normalcy is what they have been denied ever since 1948. The wish of Palestinians to live a life of normalcy and not to become embroiled in a civil war posed a problem to ZIONISTS determined to reduce their number. They needed a pretext and fortunately that came when the Arab volunteer forces expanded their acts of hostility against Jewish convoys and settlements.

Two men, Ezra Danin and Yehoshua Palmon who gathered intelligence from Arab collaborators acted behind the scenes in expelling hundreds of villagers , imprisoning them and executing people. The Hagana used threat and intimidation. Villages were attacked at night and villagers expelled .The NYT correspondent reports a brutal attack on the village of Khisas on the bank of Lake Hula in Dec 1947 where 15 villagers including 5 children were killed. He demanded an explanation from Hagana and Gurion issued a dramatic public apology. Haifa,the urban center was chosen then. The Jewish settlers used many methods of intimidation and killed the people there with machine gun fire. Irgun and Stern Gang executed many terrorist attacks while the British turned its face the other way. They bombed a local national committee in Jaffa, Samiramis hotel in western Jerusalem killing many people. These acts became a daily occurrence in Haifa. Hagana’s policy changed from retaliation to offensive strikes. The last British High Commissioner Cunningham in a meeting with Gurion told that while the Palestinians were trying to keep calm, Hagana did all it could to escalate the situation. His protestations were ignored. Gurion took the lack of resistance from Palestinians as their acceptance of fait accompli . The national committee of Palestinians in Haifa appealed again and again to British assuming, wrongly, that since it was the last station of British evacuation, they would be able to rely on British protection at least until then.

When this failed to materialize, they desperately sought the help of Arab Higher Committee who sent a small group of volunteers. But by then the notables and leaders had realized that the moment UN decided on partition resolution, they were doomed to be dispossessed by their Jewish neighbors, the same people whom they themselves had first invited to come and stay with them back in the late Ottoman period, who had arrived wretched and penniless from Europe and with whom they had shared a cosmopolitan city.

Youssef Weitz was the real architect of transfer of Arabs, ethnic cleansing and the occupation of their land by Jewish settlers. His ideas were relayed in a most crucial meeting called Long Seminar. Retaliation was supplanted with offensive tactics. All concurred. One of those present there, Gad Machnes, later to become the director general of Israeli ministry of minorities in 1949 ironically, appeared to show remorse on his conduct in the 1960 a admitting candidly that “if it had not been for the open Zionist military preparation which had a provocative nature the drift into 1948 war could have been averted “. By the end of the meeting Gurion gave the green light to the lethal attacks to cause optimal damage and kill as many villagers as possible. He proposed attacks on south in addition to north, but in the south as a vindictive action in the village of Beershaba where the village mayor had previously refused to collaborate with Zionist settlement. Yigal Allon proposed offensive strikes , and pre emptive strikes as collective punishment and not to spare even children.

The Arab League Army failed to cooperate with the paramilitary groups led by Abd Al Qadr al Huseyni in Jerusalem and Hassan Salameh in Jaffa. The ALA commander Fawzi AL Qawji gave his loyalty to the government of Syria and Iraq who had sent the army to Palestine. The Iraqi government saw Al Huseyni as a rival to Jordan. While the Syrian government was apprehensive of its pan Arab ambitions.

In public speeches, Gurion was melodramatic and full of pathos. He told the audience that the war was aimed at destroying and eliminating the Jewish community never referring to the passivity of Palestinians or provocative nature of Zionist actions. Gurion even went so far as to describe the war effort as an attempt to protect the honor of UN and its charter. This discrepancy between a destructive and violent Zionist policy on one hand and an overt discourse of peace on other hand will recur at various junctures in the history of the conflict but the deceit of 1948 is particularly startling. The decision to make arms purchases, aircrafts, resulted in heavy bombardment of villages. Flame throwers were used to set fire to fields and homes. The oral history of Nakba is full of evidence of terrible effects this weapon had on people and properties. Ephraim Katzir, later president of Israel directed the biological warfare techniques. In the 1980 s by a slip of the tongue, he revealed to the world that Israel possessed nuclear weapons.

The Palestinians remained unaware of the deliberations behind closed doors in Red House. ALA began reaching the villages late and had no time to train the villagers or equipment to defend them. Starting from Feb 1948, villages where defense was nil were chosen, attacked, murdered and occupied. These occured under the British forces still stationed in nearby police stations who turned their faces away. The troops entered the villages at midnight ad planted TNT outside the huts killing the sleeping people including children. The 16 Apr 1948 NYTIMES reported this offensive. The offensive was codenamed Lamed Heh operations. Rural Palestine was defenseless and did not fight back. The Israeli documents released from the IDF archives in the late 1990 s show that contrary to claims of historians like Benny Morris, plan Dalet was handed down to brigade commanders of Hagana not vague guidelines, but as clear cut operational orders for action. The draft given to politicians and army were different. The methods, conditions of surrender of villagers,timing of attacks were different in both. The official draft stated that the plan would be activated at the end of the mandate, but the officers on the ground were instructed to start executing it immediately. This dichotomy is typical of the relationship that exists between army and the politicians upto the present day. The army mis informs the politicians as to its real intent. Moshe Dayan did so in 1956, Ariel Sharon in 1982 and Shaul Mofaz in 2000. Official Israeli historiography describes a threatened Jewish Population in the settlements which moved from defense to offence after its near defeat. But the author, with the help of documents, proves this wrong. Not only were the Jews in no danger but by the end of March 1948, the sporadic attacks and counterattacks on Palestinians now moved toward the systematic mega operation of ethnic cleansing.

Blueprint for Ethnic Cleansing:Plan Dalet

Ben Gurion’s diary offers a stark contrast to the fear he planted in the audiences during public gatherings and consequently the Israeli collective memory. The Zionist strategy of building isolated settlements in the midst of densely populated Arab areas, approved retroactively by the British mandate, was riddled with tension. The first operation under plan Dalet was Operation Nachshon , a forced evacuation of the villages on the western slopes of Jerusalem. While the official plan gave the villages the option to surrender, the operational orders did not exempt any villages. All the paramilitary brigades fought together in this operation, thus paving the way for future IDF. Many villages taken by the Zionists has monuments to the Hagana fighters. The plan D as well as the plaques commemorating the Hagana fighters, tend to dehumanize the Palestinians in Israeli historiography as well as the collective memory, by completely obscuring the fact that there stood a village there and planting the lie that they were enemy bastions and so legitimate targets of destruction and expulsion. With al Huseyni killed by the Jewish troops, his forces and the other Palestinian villages were demoralized and easily fell victim to the Jewish forces. Many massacres were committed, notorious one being the Deir Yassin massacre.

The village Deir Yassin had a non agression pact with Hagana. But it was doomed to be wiped out since it was within the area designated in Plan Dalet to be cleansed. So,instead Hagana sent Irgun and Stern Gang to do that job. The village on the west hill of Jerusalem was occupied on 9 Apr 1948,the inhabitants sprayed with machine gun fire their bodies abused, women were raped and killed. Children and babies were killed too. A total of 254 were killed. This massacre was used to sow the seeds of fear in the mind by announcing through loud speakers to flee or else get killed. Menachem Begin,the Irgun leader at the time described the effect of Irgun butchery on the mind of the people which forced them to flee, in his book The Revolt: Story of Irgun. In a letter published 4 Dec 1948 in NYT, Albert Einstein and 27 prominent Jews in New York condemned the act noting that terrorist bands attacked a peaceful village that was not a military objective and killed the people. Though the Jewish agency later apologized to King Abdullah of Jordan, Begin and his group was proud of their achievements and invited the foreign correspondents to view the heap of corpses and the general havoc in Deir Yassin.

All the adjacent villages were blown up and people expelled, their belongings plundered. Two villages were spared, Abu Ghawsh and Nabi Samuil, because their mukhtars had developed a cordial relationship with the local commanders of the more extreme Stern Gang, even though Hagana wanted to demolish them. After Apr 1948, urban areas were systematically attacked and wiped out while the British and UN stood by and watched indifferently. News about Deir Yassin and massacre in Khirbat Nasr villages reached the urban neighborhoods and they started to flee. This started with the city of Tiberias where 6000 Jews and 5000 Arabs and their forebears had coexisted peacefully . Due to British obstruction, ALA could supply the city with only 30 volunteers. The Jewish forces bombarded the area, rolled down explosive barrels from the surrounding hills, produced frightening sounds through loudspeakers to scare away people. The British after offering to help the people, urged them to evacuate the town thus collaborating with the Zionists. King Abdullah of Jordan was a co collaborator in the sense that , instead of sending troops he sent 30 trucks to help move women and children. The British collaboration will be much more obvious in urbicide of Haifa and Jaffa.

In Haifa, the urban elite fled their homes to Lebanon and Egypt, hoping to return when the situation calmed down. About 15000 to 20000 fled like this. The urban elite had collapsed and the Arab League was unwilling to intervene on behalf of the Palestinians.. The British forces were still stationed there, since Haifa was Palestine’s main port and the last station of British pullout,they were responsible for the safety of the locals. Haifa was included in the proposed Jewish state by the UN, another unfair deal to Palestinians since it was the only port city. Zionists wanted it all to Jews by expelling the 75000 Palestinians. The British troops who were supposed to be present there until Aug 1948, brought the date of departure 6May. At the time of the attack, the British troops were present in greater number and they had the legal and moral authority to impose law and order and protect the Palestinian people. In Feb 1950, Reese Williams, the British Under Secretary of State’s in the House of commons debate stated the British conduct as one of the most shameful chapters of British Empire in the Middle east. Major General Hugh Stockwell, the British commander in Haifa informed the Jews that the British troops would be removed from the buffer zones. The operation was termed Operation Scissors ,done on the eve of the Pass Over. The Palestinian men who trusted the British were told to evacuate, by the British officer. Loudspeakers announced for the people to gather at the famous Ottoman period market place and the people obeyed. They were then unexpectedly shelled from the nearby hill when the panic struck people ran to the gate of the port, a stampede ensued that killed many. Those who reached the boats crowded in them and many died from overturning of the boats. The British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin was furious at Stockwells behavior when he realized the enormity of disaster their inaction was creating in Palestine. The British did not even render aid to the wounded Palestinians.

In the city of Jerusalem too the Jewish offensive took place. The British did not intervene except m the city of Sheikh Jarrah, where the Jewish assault was halted before it was implemented. In the western Jerusalem however the British disarmed the Palestinians promising help but instantly reneged on that promise. Northern and Western Jerusalem were hammered by endless shelling. The Jordanian Arab Legion’s entry slowed the Jewish takeover though finally they did evict the people. The city of Acra ,that even Napoleon found hard to defeat , withstood the offensive despite overcrowding from refugees from Haifa, only to suffer a typhoid epidemic that was ostensibly caused by Hagana poisoning the Kabri spring. The people working on biological weaponry warfare set up by Gurion was called HEMED.

Many villages and towns were entirely obliterated and national parks and buildings like the Tel Aviv University were built later over the remains. Today one searches in vain for any Palestinian life that existed in the villages. There was a section process after conquering a village where by young men between 10 and 30 were separated and sent to prison camps. Some of the villages were visited by UN observers checking out on how the partition was implemented. They closed their eyes to the truth on the ground. Representatives of the western media including NYT were still filling stories about individual villages, but did not dare criticize the Jewish nation just 3 years after the holocaust. Thus the western readers were never given a full picture of the events. Whole villages were wiped off Palestinian maps under the watch of UN observers, British soldiers and foreign correspondents. Sources of the new Israeli historians like Benny Morris reveal condemnation of the atrocities by conscientious politicians and soldiers. They form part of Israeli ethos of shoot and cry, the collective expression of moral remorse by Israeli soldiers. Before the Red House was demolished, the Israeli writer Amoz Oz and his friends invited these concerned soldiers to perform a rite of exoneration. Crying aloud while shooting and killing innocent people was one tactic for dealing with the moral implications of plan Dalet. Villagers were massacred to terrorize the urban people to flee. Two such massacres are Nasr al din and Ayn al Zaytun massacres.

Ayn al Zaytun massacres is best known because it formed the basis of the only epic novel on Palestinian Catastrophe, Baby al Shams by Elias Khoury. The events were also chronicled in an Israeli semi fictional novel Between The Knots by Netiva Ben Yehuda. She was present at the village during the execution and tells the story in a fictionalized way. In some villages there were huge clans like the Zubis that had collaborated with the Jews before So intelligence officers were doubtful whether to evacuate them or keep them. It was decided to leave the villages with large number of Zubbiya clan intact. But years later they reinforced their Palestinian identity by opposing the Zionists. Certain minority groups like the Druze ,a religious sect which is a splinter group of Shia Islam, deserted ALA and the Palestinians to join the Jewish forces. The Jewish forces attacked and occupied the villages that the UN had proposed for the Palestinian state. The Druze forces became the main vehicle for Jews to carry out the ethnic cleansing of Galilee. The Circassians who had several villages in the north of the country also deserted Palestinians to join the Jewish forces. This mixture of Druze and Circassians would form the nucleus of the future Border Police of Israel, the main military unit policing first the Arab areas of pre 1967 Israel and then enforcing Israel’s occupation of West Bank and Gaza strip after 1967.

Galilee had a chance of stopping the attacks because of the presence of a 2000 men strong ALA force there under the command of Fawzi al Qawji. His strategy of dividing the force into small groups to be sent to different parts proved wrong in the presence of a stronger Jewish force with superior military capabilities. He sought a truce later with the Jews and with the blessing of King Abdullah. He could not offer a proper resistance or save the villages. Later Muslim Brotherhood volunteers entered from Egypt, but they were also defeated. The carnage was being reported by local dailies like Filastin and foreign ones like the NYT, even though the news reached the Arab governments, they never moved beyond talking about the need to salvage Palestinians. The Arab League’s General Secretary Azzam Pasha ,an Egyptian politician, at one point hoped the UN to intervene and absolve the Arab states from direct confrontation in Palestine. Jordan was negotiating with the Jews for possible takeover of Arab Palestine. They did gain control over the West bank. The other Arab leaders just kept up the rhetoric of salvaging what was left of Palestine. The Arab League leaders were aware of potential disaster awaiting the Palestinian people but procrastinated and postponed the inevitable military intervention and only were too happy to terminate sooner than later. They knew full well that their army stood no chance against the superior Jewish forces. Egypt and Iraq were embroiled in the war of liberation. Syria and Lebanon were young countries that had just won independence. Not to be sucked into a whirlwind of public opinion of their already shaky standing in their societies the Arab League Council made up of Arab states foreign ministers. The body was ineffective and it dragged out its discussion until the reality became too painful to be ignored and by the end of April when they decided to send troops, quarter of a million Palestinians were displaced, 200 villages destroyed, and scores of towns emptied. When the final decision to send their regular troops was made, all were asked by the council to send arms and volunteers, but not all complied. Only Syria was willing to engage in proper military Preparations also persuading its Iraqi neighbors to send volunteers and to train the Palestinians. The others like Saudis, Lebanon and Egypt promised arms and financial help only.

There were no lack of volunteers. Thousands of young men were willing to sacrifice their lives for Palestinians. The author tends to see this more as an national fervor of young Arabs for a fierce and bold anti colonialist struggle of Palestine like that in Algeria and less as panArabism. Jordan’s King Abdullah stood out in that he intensified his negotiations with the Jewish agency over a joint agreement in post mandatory Palestine. In effect while the 250000 Palestinians were driven out the Arab Legion stood idly by. Jordanians cemented an unwritten agreement with Jewish leaders to partition Palestine between both. Jordanians were to annex the UN designated parts of Palestine and in return promised not to join the Arab military operation. The British gave their blessing to the agreement. The Jordanian army was the best trained in whole Arab world and even superior to Jewish troops but it was confined by the King and the British to act only in those areas the Jordanians deemed theirs, East Jerusalem and West Bank. King Abdullah recognized the Jewish state but worried about them occupying the UN designated Palestinian land that Jordanians had in mind for annexation. The Jewish officer made it clear that as far as Zionists were concerned UN designated Arab state had shrunk to include only West Bank which the Israelis were willing to leave for the Jordanians. The ownership of Jerusalem was contested by both. Gurion was aware that Jordanians would fight fiercely for Jerusalem. When Golda Meir met King Abdullah in Amman he was tensed over the double game he was playing, promising member states of the league to head the military efforts of Arab countries on one hand and striving to reach an agreement with the Jewish state on other. King Abdullah was seen to do everything to take a serious part in Arab efforts against a Jewish state but in practice his main objective was to secure Israeli consent for Jordanian annexation of West Bank. The Jordanians occupied West Bank though Jews tried to wrest it back and Israel occupied WB in 1967. Palestinian leadership had fragmented, most of the leaders fled, and those who did stay were supposed to be coordinated by the Arab Higher committee, the unofficial Palestinian government since 1930 . But half of the committee’s members had now left. Those who remained stood along side the communities to the bitter end.

Israeli and in particular American public opinion succeeded in perpetuating the myth of potential destruction or a second holocaust awaiting the future Jewish state. By this myth and demonizing Arabs especially Palestinians in the eyes of general public in the US and Jewish communities around the world Israel was able to secure massive support for an Israeli state. The reality on the ground was completely opposite. Palestinians were facing massive expulsions. Rather than being preoccupied with the destruction of Jewish community, the Palestinians were simply attempting to be saved from fate .Washington, aware of the expulsions was trying to put forward a novel approach. It suggested to UN an international trusteeship over Palestine for 5 years instead of partition, while a solution could be negotiated between the two sides. This was the most sensible proposal ever made by the US, in Palestinian issue, the like of which has never been repeated. This would have changed the course of the Palestine conflict, had it not been for the highly effective pressure by the Zionist lobby on president Harry Truman. He never wished to antagonize a powerful and superior domestic lobby. Thus Zionists in US learned an important lesson of their power to influence American policy in Palestine and in Middle east. The Zionist lobby succeeded in sidelining State Departments experts on the Arab world and left American middle eastern policy in hand of Capitol Hill and White House., where the Zionists wielded considerable influence. The Arabists of the State Department who were upto date with the NYT news tried to convince Truman. Ben Gurion rejected the US offer. Three days after rejecting the US plan, the state of Israel was officially formed. White House went on to recognize the state and the State department was pushed again to back bench on US policy on Palestine.

British and UN roles in the Palestinian fiasco

Egypt sent its army after the failure of American initiative. The army had only 3 days to prepare and ended in fiasco. Britain remained the last hope for Palestinians but nowhere in the empire did the Albion demonstrate such perfidious behavior. The British knowledge about Plan Dalet is clear cut . After the plan was adopted the British forfeited their responsibility for law and order and withdrew from country sides and towns. The Palestinian people still put the blame on the British complicity despite 75000 troops that were stationed in Palestine. Infact the British helped the Zionists access the ownership deeds and other vital data which they had photocopied before the decolonization process. These were crucial details that Zionists needed for depopulation.

According to the Partition resolution, UN should have been present on the ground to supervise the implementation of its peace plan. UN had pledged to prevent attempts by either side to confiscate the land that belonged to other side. They took no action beyond watching and reporting when the ethnic cleansing started. The British forbade an organized UN outfit to be present on the ground thus ignoring that part of partition resolution. Thus Britain allowed the cleansing to take place in front of the eyes of its soldiers and officials during the mandate period which came to an end on 14 May 1948 .Britain hampered UN intervention that might have saved the lives of many Palestinians. But after 15 May, there was no excuse for the way UN abandoned the people whose land they had divided and whose welfare and life they had surrendered to Jews who since the late 19 th century wished to uproot them and take their place in the country they deemed as theirs.

May 1948 war

Prior to 1948, Jordanians made an agreement to annex West Bank. After the British withdrawal, they insisted that they should have at least half of Jerusalem including the Old City and Jewish quarter for which a fierce battle was fought in contrast to the complete inaction the Arab Legion displayed when they were stationed near Palestinian villages and towns that the Israeli army had begun occupying cleansing and destroying. Though the Jordanian army was the strongest and formidable of Arab forces, it was neutralized from the very first day of the Palestinian war by the tacit agreement that King Abdullah had made with the Zionists. The Arab Legion’s English Commander in Chief Glubb Pasha called the 1948 war a phony one due to this. There was only rhetoric and no action from the Arab League. Egypt sent 10000 Muslim Brotherhood volunteers just 2 days before the mandate ended.This group had vowed to restore Egypt and Arab world to Orthodox ways of Islam, regarded Palestine as a crucial battle field of struggle against imperialism but in the 1940 s they also regarded Egyptian government as a collaborator of imperialism. They were mostly imprisoned and without any proper military training. The Syrian and Lebanese villagers though better trained were less committed. The Iraqi troops were given orders to follow Jordanians and to help them defend West Bank. Some of these troops, were provoked into action due to their politician’s hypocrisy. Britain and France had declared arms embargo on Palestine, the Arab troops found the ammunition from their home countries drying out, there was no coordination between the national armies while the Jews got an unending supply from the Soviet union and Eastern bloc. As for the lack of coordination, that was due to the decision by the Arab league to appoint King Abdullah as the supreme commander of all Arab army with an Iraqi general as the acting commander.

Jordanians never looked back on their complicit role in Palestinian Nakba while , the Iraqi revolutionary leaders who came to power in 1958, brought the Iraqi generals to trial. The outer Jewish settlements subjected to Arab attacks and takeover were left to fend for itself by Gurion. The massacre in the village of Tantura on the Mediterranean coast on 22 May was carried out by the AAlexandroni brigade. The attacks and massacres happened after the villagers surrendered by waving white flags. Most who escaped became refugees in Yarmuk refugee camp Syria. People were buried in mass graves. The story of how the massacre came out in public is noteworthy. An Israeli research student Teddy Katz stumbled upon the massacre while doing his dissertation for Haifa university. He interviewed most of the survivors in 1999, but later his thesis was retroactively disqualified by the university and the Alexandroni veterans dragged him into court for libel. The Golani Brigade also carried out many massacres. The Harel Brigade of Yitzhak Rabin occupied villages in Jerusalem and blew up the houses. The belief that the brigades could seize the northern part of West Bank despite the agreement with King Abdullah and even conduct invasions in southern Lebanon while cleansing vast areas of Palestine reveals the cynicism behind the myth that Israel was fighting a war of survival. The brigade soldiers were infused with a zealous vindictiveness to revenge for the killing of the Jewish settlers and soldiers by the Arab armies. The aircrafts sent by the Egyptian government failed in their missions apart from the few raids in Tel Aviv. The Arab armies proved ineffective like the paramilitary volunteers

Articles 9,12 and 17 from Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted as UNGA Resolution 217 A on 10 Dec 1948 stated, that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention in exile, everyone has the right to leave and return to his country on his own and no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property . The same time as this, UN Resolution 194 declared unconditional right of Palestinians to return to their homes. The expulsions and destruction in the villages in Gaza shocked the nearby kibbutzim when they learned how these friendly villages have been savagely assaulted. The UN mediated truce came into force on June 11. But the Israeli forces continued to destroy the evicted villages . By June Israel received new aircrafts to supplement their primitive machine’s. By July aeroplanes were used for aerial bombings. Telegrams about the inefficiency and inadequacy of the paramilitary groups to their commanders were intercepted by the Israeli forces who were well aware of their shortcomings. UN was aware of the summary executions but did nothing. In villages where Druze, Christians and Muslims coex6,only Muslims were expelled. In 1950, after the Pope intervened the Christian families of Nazareth were allowed to move back but they refused to do so without their Muslim neighbors. Forests of pine trees were planted over the destroyed villages. The first truce had come to an end by 8 July. In 10 days, the UN mediator, Count Folke Bernadotte negotiated another one. He was different from the other UN observers in putting forward a proposal to redivide the country into half and demanding the unconditional return of all refugees. For the same reason the Jewish terrorists murdered him in September. The other UN observers just watched the barbarism and killings unwilling or unable to do anything.

Thanks to Bernadette, an UN Resolution in Dec 1948, recommended an unqualified return of refugees Israel had expelled, one of a host of Un resolutions that Israel had ignored. Israel needed a PR campaign to stymie adverse international responses and so began to involve the diplomatic officials in the Foreign Ministry to work closely with the intelligence officers. Thus the diplomatic arm, previously not privy to the details of ethnic cleansing operations, now became involved. The brigades who conducted the campaigns were nothing short of terrorists. One of the villages, Ayn Hawd, was turned into a Jewish artist colony. Marcel Janko, the Jewish artist founder who renamed the village as Ein Hod, wanted it to become the center of Dadaism. But the art form and the Jewish artist community went into decline. Jankos own work fittingly represents the racism shown by contemporary Israeli left in its approach towards Arab culture and Palestinians, a covert, at times nuanced, but nonetheless pervasive racism in their writings, artistic work and political activity . Jankos paintings incorporate Arab figures fading into the background of occupied Ayn Hawd. They are the forerunners of paintings of the Apartheid wall that Israeli artists have decorated with scenes beyond the wall, but omitting the Palestinian villages there

The second truce was broken by Israel exactly one week later. In one of the villages attacked, Ayn Gazal, the holy burial place of a holy man called Shaykh Shehadeh was declared a holy Jewish site by the Israelis in an attempt to stop the journey of memory and worship. The people of this village were rejoiced after the second truce and the day of the annual Ramadan fast, many villagers had come out in the streets to break the fast in coffee houses, when a plane dropped a bomb on the crowd and ground forces occupied the village later. As was the routine, the men were ordered to gather in one place, the hooded informer and the intelligence officer soon appeared, men were selected for having taken part in the 1936 revolt, shot at spot and the remaining villagers were expelled.

Operation Dani was the innocent sounding codename for attacks two Palestinian towns, Lydd and Ramla located halfway between Jaffa and Jerusalem. Lydd once famous for its mosques, after the Jewish occupation became town of Lod ,one of the belt towns around Tel Aviv housing poor people. Lydd was bombarded from the air followed by ground attacks. The Jordanian Legion units were instructed by the British chief Glubb Pasha to withdraw. ALA also fled without much resistance. Both Lydd and Ramla were within the designated Arab state, so the residents expected the Legion to fight the Jews as they fought for East Jerusalem. Later, for his decision to retreat, Glebb Pasha lost his position and had to return to Britain. Deserted by the volunteers and the Legionaries, the men of Lydd armed with some old rifles took shelter in Dahamish mosque in the city centre only to be massacred inside the mosque by the Israeli forces. All over the village 426 people were killed including women and children. The massacre was conducted by Yigal Allon and Yitzhak Rabin. The remaining pe6, almost half of them refugees from nearby villages, were ordered to march to West Bank. The Israelis invited two foreign correspondents, embedded correspondents, Keith Wheeler of The Chicago Sun Times and Kenneth Bilby of The New York Herald Tribune who had written in detail on the Arab corpses shattered in the towns including those of children.

Reports from Lydd might seem strangely familiar for those who have been shocked by the callousness and inhumanity of US troops towards Arabs in operations Iraq. There was a reason why a newspaper report of a massacre of this scale did not provoke a reaction in US. The reports were one sided. Wheeler was astonished by the Israeli blitzkrieg (he ironically used this term) and the resoluteness of Jewish troops and Bilby called them ruthlessly brilliant. London Economist gave a less biased report on how the people were looted, dispossessed, expelled and murdered. Ramla was first targeted in February 1948 by the Irgun terrorist group when they planted a bomb in the market that killed many people. Again in July the town was attacked. Though the notables, after hearing about the fate of Lydd, reached an agreement with Israeli army, the people were expelled, houses looted, men sent to POW camps. The people were forced to march to West Bank with out food or water, many died from hunger and thirst. A question that immediately pops up in our minds is ,three years after the holocaust what went through the minds of these Jews who watched these wretched people pass by. The Arab Legion fought bitterly to safeguard the Latrun area and the defeat and fiasco remained in the collective memory of the Jews until they recaptured the area in June 1967 and expelled the people from their villages. The Jordanian Legion also fiercely defended East Jerusalem.

The city of Nazareth was not depopulated since its Christian population was more and Ben Gurion knew that the eyes of the Christian world was fixed on them. Thus Nazareth is the only Arab city I pre 1967 Israel. But the suspected people were expelled. Another village of Hittin, a scenic one, previously a Druze village , was captured Since the Druze had aligned with the Israelis, showing little solidarity or affinity with the fellow Palestinian Arabs and joined in the destruction of rural Palestine, the village was occupied very easily. Many villages like Hittin were occupied and people displaced when they were beginning to prosper. People were displaced many times over when the villages they had sought refuge were later attacked and occupied. By July the Israelis could make use of their embryonic air force to bomb the villages and expel the villagers before entry on the ground. The aircrafts even bombed the refugees on their way to nearby villages. The Negev Bedouin tribes were expelled and forced into reservations that Israel defined as closed military areas which meant they were allowed to leave only with a special permit. The expulsion of Negev Bedouins continued until 1959. The displaced tribes were again uprooted in 1967.

The second truce was violated the moment it came into effect. The Gaza strip was protected by the Egyptian forces and West Bank by the Jordanians. Had it not been for these two forces, the Jews would have entirely occupied Palestine. The lands they had occupied but legally with in the UN designated Arab state was referred to as by Gurion as administered areas, not part of the Jewish state but governed by a military judicial system. Though the Zionists were worried of UN reaction to their occupation of Arab designated Palestine, inexplicably this was never raised during the momentary interest that international community briefly displayed in the fate of post mandatory Palestine and its indigenous communities. When Israel was accepted as a full member of UN, the distinction of these areas as administered/occupied, dissapeared along with the villages fields and houses, dissolved into the Jewish state of Israel.

UN did succeed in averting an attack on Golan Heights, though it was later occupied in 1967. When it was returned to Syrians in 1974, it was totally destroyed into a ghost town. By September Arab armies had dwindled and Israel continued with its cleansing operations. Israel’s divide and rule policy proved effective in the case of Druze to whom they promised not only immunity but also arms as reward for their collaboration..The Christians were less cooperative. At first they were routinely deported along with the Muslims. Then they were transferred to transit camps in central coastal areas. Despite all Israeli efforts to judaize Galilee beginning from direct expulsion in 1940,military occupation in the 1960 s, massive confiscation of land in the 1970 s and a huge official Judaization settlement effort in 1980 s, it’s still the only area in Palestine that has retained its natural beauty, its Middle eastern flavor and Palestinian culture. Since half the population is Palestinians the demographic balance prevent many Jews from thinking of the region as their own even now.

Israel’s anti repatriation policy worked at two levels. The first one was national, to destroy all villages and transform them into Jewish settlements or natural forests. The second level was diplomatic to avert the growing international pressure on Israel to allow return of refugees. The major international endeavor to facilitate the return of refugees was led by the UN Palestine Conciliation Commission (PCC). It was a small committee with three members one each from France, Turkey and US. The PCC called for unconditional return of refugees to their homes as proposed by the murdered UN mediator Count Folke Bernadette. They turned their position to UNGA Resolution 194 supported by most of member states and adopted on 11 Dec 1948. It gave the refugees unconditional return to their homes or accepting compensation. But those Palestinians trying to return to their homes were brutally shot .Lebanon allowed free passage of refugees to their country. The Hashemite kingdom of Jordan later turned back refugees as their number increased. The UN observers became so desensitized towards the plight of the people, refugees passing in front of them. Their silent acquiescence is shocking. They did draw some conclusions in October 1948 writing to the Secretary General that Israeli policy was that of uprooting Arabs from their native villages by force or threat, but the Secretary General did not publish the report. Arab member states tried to bring the attention of the report to the UN Secretary General, but to no avail. For almost thirty years UN uncritically adopted the rhetorical obfuscation of ABBA Eban, Israel’s ambassador to UN, who referred to the refugees as constituting a human problem for which no one could be held accountable or responsible. UN observers were shocked by the ethnic cleansing and looting too. After overwhelmingly endorsing a partition resolution almost a year earlier, UN could have passed another resolution condemning the ethnic cleansing, but it never did and worse was to come.

Gurion coveted to occupy West Bank and Southern Lebanon. Southern Lebanon was invaded by Israel many times 1949, 78 and 82. Israel built Khiyam prison there which has become a byword of cruelty. The massacre in the village of Dawahmey between Beersheba and Hebron is mentioned by the UN report of 14 June 1949. By 1949 an agreement was signed by Israelis with Jordan and Lebanon and by 1950, Palestine was divided into a state of Israel, Jordanian West Bank and Egyptian Gaza Strip

Occupation and its ugly face.

The Palestinians under the military rule of Israel were harassed, their houses continued to looted, their fields confiscated, their holy places desecrated.

Inhuman imprisonment

Illegal imprisonment of suspicious Arabs was being carried out from the beginning itself. What constituted suspicious was as cloudy as anything. Not having the newly issued ID cards carried a prison term of 1 year. The interned Palestinians were subjected to horrific brutality. They introduced roadblocks to carry out surprise checks on those without ID, a practice continuing till today. Thus freedom of movement was limited. Most of the areas which were out of bounds needed a special permit. Summary executions took place in the POW camps. Most of the Israelis who had murdered the Palestinian citizens escaped justice and remained in their positions. Prisoners were also used for forced labor in labor camps. The Red cross team that visited the POW facilities reported how the prisoners were exploited to strengthen the Israeli economy. The report was a guarded one since the group was well aware of their failure to report on what went on in Nazi concentration camps on which it was well informed. The Israeli prisoners captured by the Arab Legion army was well treated compared to how the Palestinians were treated in POW CAMPS. Ben Gurion was angry when he learned that.

Abuses Under Occupation

The Red Cross sent back disturbing reports of collective abuses of basic rights of people. Worst cases were in Jaffa. The Red Cross official who found a pile of dead bodies after its occupation was told by the military Governor that they were shot for coming out of their homes during the curfew time. Under the cover of curfews and closures Israeli military committed many other crimes. The groceries and stationary items for the Arab people kept by the British government was looted under their watch, and as per the order of Ben Gurion and sent to Jewish settlements. Looting was done by private individuals also. The mosques and churches were profaned and their convents and schools vandalized. House robberies took place in broad daylight.

Ghettoizing the Palestinians of Haifa

After driving out 70000 of Haifa’s residents the 3000 to 5000 left behind were transferred to ghettos.


Source about the incidents of rape include the UN, Red Cross and the letters by Yitzhak Chizik. We know more about incidents of rape in places where these people were there. But that doesn’t mean rapes didn’t occur in the rest of the places. Another source is the Israeli archives that cover rapes where rapists were brought to trial. Gurion’s diary also mentions about the rapes. Jaffa was a hotbed of cruelty and war crimes for Israeli soldiers. Another source is the oral history from the victimizers and victims. In a shocking case of rape and murder of a twelve year old girl by soldiers in a military base, the trial was conducted in 2003, after the newspaper Haaretz published about the incident. The most punishment received was a 2 year jail term for the soldier who killed her.

Dividing the Spoils

The Israelis suggested that all Palestinian refugees should be resettled in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. US and Britain responded favorably to this policy and did not do anything to push forward the implementation of UN Resolution 194 which called for unconditional repatriation of Palestinian refugees. Apart from the resettlement issue, Israel had appropriated the money and property of 1.3 million Palestinians worth 100 million pounds. To avoid international investigations, they planned to sell the property to American Jews. The lands appropriated from the Palestinians were decided to be cultivated by the Jews or sold to private or public sector. Gurion decided to destroy the houses to prevent Palestinians from coming back. He intensified the settlement of Jewish immigrants on confiscated land and evicted houses. The Jewish National Fund and Custodian competed among themselves to divide the spoils. By placing the appropriated lands and houses under an Israel appointed Custodian, the Israelis could sell these properties to public and private Jewish groups and individuals later under the spurious pretext that no claimants came forward. Under government custodianship they became state lands which by law belonged to the Jewish nation, which in turn meant that none of it could be sold to Arabs. .

Land was divvied up between IDF, immigrants, Kibbutzim movements. Land and houses were bought by many of these. JNF bought large areas of land from Custodian until their finances dried up.Even the Palestinians still clinging on to their lands and houses were forcibly evicted and the property bought or sold. The ruling leftist party, Mapam, was so greedy and bought large areas. By 1950, half the dispossessed rural land was in the hands of JNF. The IDF built military bases on the lands. The Arab character of the villages and towns were effaced by construction of spacious park in Jaffa and community center in Jerusalem. Almost all the houses in Haifa, Jaffa and Jerusalem were demolished . Market places and mosques were destroyed.

Desecration of Holy Sites

Until 1948, all Muslim holy sites in Palestine belonged to Waqf the Islamic endowment authority recognized by Ottoman empire and the British mandate. Supreme Muslim Council supervised them. After 1948, Israel confiscated them and transferred first to Custodian, then to state and eventually sold them to Jewish public bodies and private citizens. Christian churches were also confiscated and sold. Israelis changed mosques to restaurants, bars and shops. The Palestinian people are denied entry into the remaining churches and mosques.

Entrenching the occupation

The 150000 Palestinians who remained in the newly formed Israel were put under a military regime based on British Mandatory emergency regulations, when issued in 1945, Menachem Begin compared to Germany’s 1935 Nuremberg laws.These regulations abolished people’s right of expression, movement, organization and equality. The right to vote and be elected in Israeli parliament came with severe restrictions. It lasted until 1966, though the regulations are still in place. Massive expulsions of Arabs continued until 1953. Bedouins were expelled from Negev upto 1962.

The Land Robbery, 1950 to 2000

The confiscated land was either converted to settlements or Zionist forests. For the public, creating new settlements were accompanied by slogans like “making the desert bloom”. JNF s forestation activities were marketed as an ecological mission to keep the country green. JNF became the sole proprietors of the new forests, it was responsible for safeguarding the Jewishness of even property not owned by them by prohibiting transactions with Palestinians. JNF was granted legal status of land owner on behalf of Jewish states by the JNF law passed in 1953. JNF had overall land share of 13%. But it implemented its policy of guarding the nation’s lands in areas beyond its control due to its role in directorship of Law of the Israeli Land Authority (ILA), which became the owner of 80%of state lands. The rest was owned by JNF, army and the government. Further laws by the Knesset prohibited even subletting of properties to Non Jews. 70% of Israeli land became private land. The primary objective was to prevent Palestinians from regaining ownership through purchase of their own land or of their people. This is why the Palestinian minority in Israel cannot build. The Palestinian Israelis, form 17 %of the total population after ethnic cleansing, they live in 3 percent of land. They are allowed to build on only 2%of land. Many confiscated villages were reinvented as purely Jewish or ancient Hebrew places.

The Memoricide of Nakba

The Re invention of Palestine

The confiscated land was Hebranized by re inventing Hebrew names and history by the archaeological agency and other land agencies like JNF. The naming committee was an ad hoc group in 1920s and Gurion in 1949, turned it into a sub division of JNF. Elad, the settlers NGO is devoted to Judaization of East Jerusalem. Many illegal home demolitions are occurring there. JNFs main challenge is the privatization of land by Netanyahu and Aerial Sharon, but it has a strong hold over Israel’s forests. Villages lay buried under these forests where Nakba denial is pervasive. Refugees are up against the JNF here.

Virtual Colonialism and the JNF

While creating the forests over Palestinian villages, Jews opted for pine trees and cypresses to completely efface the Palestinian flora and to make them look European. They were also meant to support the country’s aspiring wood industry. Olive trees definitely sprout in between the pines and cypresses in places where these conifers were planted to cover Palestinian olive groves. Inside and outside Israel, JNF is considered as an ecological agency whose b lies on making Israel green. It has built national parks, playgrounds, resorts etc. In many of these places clusters of olives, figs , almond and cactuses grows. Many think they’re wild ones, but they have sprouted from the orchards of Palestinians buried beneath. JNF websites guide to conceal the visible remnants of the Palestinian villages .The sites virtual and real displays the official Zionist story of Eretz Israel.

The bustans or the Palestinian fruit orchards are mentioned in JNF sites as a natures creation. The Palestinian history is transported back to a biblical and Talmudic past. The site fancifully meshes history and tourist tips totally wiping the remnants of Palestinian villages that the Jewish troops wiped out within a few hours from Israeli collective memory.

Two obstacles that perpetuate the refugee problem and stand in the way of an equitable peace process are, Israel’s denial of Nakba and a lack of international will.

Nakba Denial and the Peace Process

In a 1949 UN plan to peace, the International Refugee Organization was kept out and replaced by a special agency for Palestinian refugees. This was done by Israel and the Jewish Zionist organizations abroad. IRO helped Jews during Holocaust and Zionists did not want to compare Nakba with that And IRO always recommended repatriation as the first option.

This is how United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) came into being. It was not committed to the repatriation as stipulated by UNResolution 194. It was set up to provide employment and subsidies, building permanent camps, constructing schools and opening medical centers for one million Palestinian refugees who ended up in camps. Palestinian nationalism reemerged centered on right to return. PLO formed from refugees in 1968 was grounded in factual and moral redress of the evils inflicted by Israelis on Palestinians. The PLO faced two denials One, the sidelining of the Palestinian cause by the international community and two , the denial of Nakba and the ethnic cleansing by the Zionists. The Nakba and the refugee issues were consistently excluded from the peace agenda.

Genuine peace attempt by the UN and the international community was undertaken in 1949 in Switzerland according to Resolution 194, that is, Right of return, two state solution, and internationalization of Jerusalem. All parties accepted this, US, Europe, Arab states, Palestinians and Israeli foreign minister Moshe Sharett. This endeavor was deliberately torpedoed by Gurion and King Abdullah of Jordan who had wanted to partition whatever had left of Palestine between themselves. US was embroiled in an election and Europe in cold war, thus giving a winning chance to Gurion and King Abdullah, thereby foiling a true attempt at peace.

Only after 1967, there was another peace attempt. There was total Israeli control all over ex mandatory Palestine. By now Israel’s strength was beyond doubt So peace process gave weight to Israeli side. This completely eliminated Palestine point of view . Israel wanted to move with the year 1967 as the origin of Palestinian conflict, thus eliminating the refugee problem and right to return claims. To push out the Palestinians from the peace process and sought Jordanian Camaraderie with the help of Henry Kissinger. The letter read that Israel peace camp led by the Labour party regards Palestinians as non existent and prefer to divide the occupied 1967 territories with Jordan. Jordanians deemed the share insufficient, but the US supported this until 1987,when the First Intifada arose. The 1977 peace proposal by Anwar Sadat was also favorable for Israel in which it was allowed to keep the occupied territories. Jordanians were removed from the picture after the First Intifada. 1991 peace process in Madrid involved direct talks between Israel and Palestinian leadership of occupied territories with the mediation of US. Madrid Peace Plan was a gift from the US to Arab countries for backing Washington’s military invasion of Iraq in the First Gulf War. But Israel stalled the process.

Oslo Accords of 1993 ignored 1948 Nakba and right to return. The architects were Israeli intellectuals who belonged to Peace Now camp. Yasser Arafat fell into the trap of Oslo Accords. There was vicious cycle of violence. Desperate Palestinians reacted to Israeli oppression in the form of suicide bombings on civilians and military. The frustrated young joined guerrilla groups that promoted suicide attacks as the only means remaining for liberating occupied territories. The intimidated Israeli electorate elected the right wing Netanyahu to power in 1996. He failed miserably in all aspects of governance and Ehud Barak of Labour was in power in 1999.

The right to return

Bill Clinton invited Barak and Arafat to a summit meeting in Camp David in the summer of 2000 for what the Palestinians thought was genuine negotiations over conflicts end. The original Oslo documents of 1993 promised the Palestinian leadership that if they were willing to agree to a waiting period of 5 to 10 years, during which time Israel would partially withdraw from the occupied territories, the final phase of the new negotiations would be on the table. The Palestinian leadership thought that final phase had come to discuss the three essentials of the conflict: the right of return, Jerusalem and future of Israeli settlements.

But a fragmented PLO without the radical Islamist movements of 1980s had to come up with a counter peace plan. With the advice of Adam Smith Institute in London the naive Palestinian negotiators placed Nakba and Israeli responsibility for it as the top Palestinian agenda. The US plan was to allow only the Israelis to set the rules for the peace agenda. Israel’s only offer was to withdraw from parts of West Bank and Gaza, leaving 15% of Palestine to Palestinians in the form of cantons separated by highways, settlements, army camps and walls. Jerusalem was excluded. Refugee problem was eliminated. Arafat refused to sign. For nearly four decades Arafat’s movement had the main aim of seeking legal and moral recognition of the ethnic cleansing perpetrated by Israel. UN had already accepted that demand in Resolution 194. For the refusal to sign, Arafat was depicted as a war monger by US and Israel.

This humiliation was exacerbated when Aerial Sharon provocatively visited Haram Al Sharif in September 2000. This triggered the second intifada. Like the first one, it was a nonviolent popular protest. But Israel responded with lethal violence. The world looks on as the strongest military power in the region with its Apache helicopters, tanks and bull dozers attack an unarmed defenseless population of civilians and impoverished refugees. The Jenin refugee camp massacre committed by the Israeli troops in 2002, was to be investigated by the fact finding mission of UN, but Israel refused to cooperate and UNGS Kofi Annan decided to abandon the mission. Camp David fiasco helped bring the issue of Nakba and refugee return to the forefront not just in Israel, but in the US and Europe. Nakba denial was the official policy of the Zionists since they feared the troubling questions of moral legitimacy of the Zionist project over the treatment of Palestinians. That would call into question the very foundational myths of the State of Israel that the state was founded in an empty land and made the desert bloom. And also would trigger moral and existential repercussions for the Israeli Jews who would have to recognize that they have become the mirror image of their own worst nightmare.

In 2003, the Quartet comprised of the US, UN, Britain and Russia offered a blue print for peace that happily adopted the consensual Israeli position as embodied in policies of Aerial Sharon. He succeeded in fooling the West by turning the 2005 military withdrawal from Gaza into a media bonanza. But in reality the army still controls Gaza from outside. It continues its targeted assassinations and will control most of West Bank. Refugees of 1948 are not even mentioned in Quartets peace agenda.

The Geneva Accord is the best option the Israelis proved able to come up with in the beginning of the 21st century. Its validity is doubtful since the proposal was concocted by people no longer in power. It recognizes the right of return provided their return is confined to West Bank and Gaza. It doesn’t acknowledge the ethnic cleansing but provides compensation as an option. The practicality of this option is undercut by the fact that Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on earth..From iits partner Palestinians Geneva secured recognition of Israel as a Jewish state thus endorsing the ethnic cleansing and Fortress Israel, the most significant obstruction in the path to peace process.

Fortress Israel

Gaza disengagement plan froze the peace process. Deportation of Palestinian women married to Palestinian citizens of Israel were forcibly undertaken backed by government, courts and media. Knesset in 2003 passed a law prohibiting Palestinians from obtaining citizenship, permanent or temporary residency status when they marry Israeli citizens. Even those who had been married for years were separated. Arab members of the Knesset opposed appealed to Israeli Supreme Court against this racist law. It was turned down.

The demographic problem of Israel were at the center of all elections. Already in the late nineteenth century Zionists had identified population problem as the major problem in fulfilling its dreams. Herzl has written in his diary in 1895 that to shift the Jewish society in Palestine to a Jewish state “we shall endeavor to expel the population across the border unnoticed, procuring employment in transit states, but denying it any employment in our own country “.

Ben Gurion ensured that the number of Palestinians were reduced to less than 20 percent of the total. Israel has boosted its population by two massive immigrations each of one million people in 1949 and 1980s. Ehud Olmert, PM, knew that if the occupied territories are annexed the Palestinian in Israel would increase their number. He planned to annex parts with less number of Palestinians leaving parts with more numbers. This was the explanation for the 670 km serpentine concrete wall, barbed wire and manned watchtowers and the reason why it runs twice the length of 315 km long Green Line, the June 1967 border.

The Zionist enclave was constructed in 1922 by the Eastern European Jews with the help of the British. The colonialists dreamed of massive Jewish immigration to strengthen their hold, but Holocaust killed the number of white European Jews and those who survived preferred to emigrate to US or remain in Europe. So the Ashkenazi Jewish leadership reluctantly prompted one million Arab Jews, Mizrahim, from ME and North Africa. Another discriminatory nature of Israel is seen here against these Jews who were put through an invidious de Arabisation process

In June 1967, Israel conquered the rest of Palestine, along with parts of Syria, Egypt and Jordan. Sinai was ceded back to Egypt in 1979 in return for peace. In 1982, Israel added southern Lebanon. It withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza strip in 2005. The influx in the 1980s of Christians from former Soviet Countries, the increasing foreign guest workers has resulted in an inability to claim an overwhelming Jewish majority They have no issues with this, as their primary goal is to keep the population white, that is non Arab. The black Jews Israel brought from Ethiopia in 1980s were relegated to the poor areas of the periphery and are almost invisible, discrimination against them is high. Though Israeli proposals after 1993 were approved by some Arab countries like Jordan and Egypt, since both are in the sphere of influence of US, they never convinced the civil societies there. Apartheid is popular among the Mizrahi Jews, who are Israel’s most vociferous supporters today. They find themselves leading comfortable lives like their fellow Ashkenazi counterparts, though betraying their Arabic heritage and culture has not brought the reward of full acceptance.

Israel is the last postcolonial European enclave in the Arab world today. The ideology that enabled the depopulation of half of Palestine’s native population in 1948 is still alive and continues to drive the inexorable, indiscernible cleansing of the Palestinians who live there today.

Synopsis-“Hegemony or Survival- America’s Quest for Global Dominance” by Noam Chomsky

A devastating history of US foreign policy since 1945 and a dissection of “war on terror” from the world’s foremost activist and a towering intellect.

Author– Noam Chomsky

Genre– Non Fiction

Subject– Politics/ US Foreign policy

About the author

Noam Chomsky is the author of numerous best selling political books including ‘9-11′, ‘Understanding Power’, ‘Middle East Illusions’, and ‘Pirates and Emperors- Old and New. He is the author of over 100 books. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to parents who were Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. A political activist, philosopher, linguist, author and lecturer, he is an Institute Professor and professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The creator or co-creator of the Chomsky hierarchy and the universal grammar theory, he had held radical leftist views and identified himself with anarchist and libertarian socialist movements. A staunch critic of foreign policies of US and other governments, beginning with the critique of Vietnam war in 1960’s, he rose to public attention when The New York Times published his anti-war essay, “The Responsibility of Intellectuals“(https://www.nybooks.com/articles/1967/02/23/a-special-supplement-the-responsibility-of-intelle/) . He was an outspoken opponet of US involvement in Vietnam war. He remains a leading critic of U.S. foreign policy, neoliberalism and contemporary state capitalism, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and mainstream news media. In collaboration with Edward S. Herman(American economist, media scholar and social critic), Chomsky later articulated the propaganda model of media criticism in ‘Manufacturing Consent:The Political Economy of the Mass Media and worked to critique the media coverage of the Indonesian occupation of East Timor. Chomsky and his ideas are highly influential in the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movements.

His defense of freedom of speech, including Holocaust denial, generated significant controversy in the Faurisson affair of the 1980s. The affair was an academic controversy in the wake of a book, Mémoire en défense (1980), by French professor Robert Faurisson, a Holocaust denier. The scandal largely dealt with the inclusion of an essay by Noam Chomsky, entitled “Some Elementary Comments on the Rights of Freedom of Expression“, as an introduction to Faurisson’s book, without Chomsky’s knowledge or explicit approval. Responding to a request for comment in a climate of attacks on Faurisson, Chomsky defended Faurisson’s right to express and publish his opinions on the grounds that freedom of speech must be extended to all viewpoints, no matter how unpopular or fallacious.

According to the Arts and Humanities Citation Index in 1992, Chomsky was cited as a source more often than any other living scholar during the 1980–1992 time period, and was the eighth-most cited scholar in any time period. In 1979, The New York Times called him “arguably the most important intellectual alive today.”Since retiring from MIT, he has continued his vocal political activism, including opposing the 2003 invasion of Iraq and supporting the Occupy movement. Chomsky began teaching at the University of Arizona in 2017.

Synopsis ( exactly as from the book, abridged)

In it’s pursuit of hegemony and total world domination, the US foreign policy was shaped, moulded, and tweaked, incorporating punitive and preemptive military occupations and wars and wielding cudgels like economic sanctions and trade wars, thus bringing about catastrophic humanitarian consequences and spawning of a long term threat of international terrorism and proliferation of WMD. The world was shocked to learn how possible terminal nuclear events, triggered by error, were barely avoided at the eleventh hour, the one during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 considered as a shocking example.

The war-mongering Bush administration, despite popular opposition, blocked UN efforts to ban militarization of space, and terminated international negotiations to prevent biological warfare. Warnings of humanitarian catastrophe, long -term emergence of terrorism and WMD proliferation were ignored and preemptive use of force was announced as National Security Strategy to eliminate any challenge to US hegemony. Saddam Hussein was incriminated in 9/11 attacks and in WMD proliferation,that drove public opinion in favor of use of force at will, through propagandas. Climate change and other environmental threats were ignored by the travesty of propositions by the Climate Change Science Programme(CCSP) favouring the narrow interests of the private power sectors and rebuffing multilateral engagement, thus alienating and creating resentment in Europe.

Despite the UN inspection’s failure to find WMD in Iraq, world wide protests against war and a dismally low percentage(scarcely 10%) of international public opinion in support of war, US made it’s intent to use force very clear. Human rights and democracy remained in talks and speeches, not in practice.

To ensure submission of the “great beast” or the masses according to Alexander Hamilton, to not let them stray from the confines, the men in power devised many methods. Coercion or force was the initial method. In the US, Wilsonian idealism(1918) set out international goals to ensure a government in the hands of a few good abroad and a system of elite decision-making followed by public ratification (polyarchy) at home. In the free societies that emerged later, where freedom and rights predominated, coercion lost it’s utility and new devices like control of opinion and attitudes through propaganda were deviced. Thus the beast was tamed by the art of manufacture of consent by institutions of the governement, in essence a Leninist ideal. Wilson’s Committee of Public Information was formed to whip up wartime propaganda. “The resposible men” differed from the masses/ beasts by their decision making capacity. The beasts were spectators and not participants, they do not have a function, but to trample in support of leadership class. Thus the decision making was kept within the confines of institutions with a top down authoritative control. The public areana was limited by neoliberal initiatives to unaccountable private tyrannies. Thus democracy would survive in a reduced form.

Whenever faced with a crisis of democracy, i.e, the public escaping it’s marginalization and passivity, new tools like indoctrination of the young through schools, universities and chiurches, self- censorship or government control of media worked their way to regain control. These methods were devised and propogated with the help of public intellectuals. James Madison held the view that power must be in the hands of a wealthy few, the most capable men, and the role of governement was to protect this opulent minority against the majority( pre- Capitalist). He foresaw that the majority would rebel under hardhsips, for equality and on who will make the decisions.

Control of opinion as the foundation of government

This is true in the most free and most despotic governments. The modern institution of thought control, propaganda originated in free countries where control by force was not possible. In Britain, which pioneered, it was under the name Ministry of Information. US followed with Committee of Public Information.(CPI). Both controlled the thoughts of the world. Participants like Edward Bernays called “the engineering of consent the very essence of democratic process”.The method was imitated by the Nazi Germany, South Africa, Soviet Union and Pentagon. PR industry later dwarfed the propoganda. To carry out policies opposed by the general population, leaders often followed the Office of Public Diplomacy established by the Reagan administration for carrying out it’s murderous policies in Central America. A huge psychological propaganda programme conducted by the military include the Operation Truth (a non-profit veterans’ organization that seeks to “amplify the soldiers’ voice in the American public dialogue” in order to “educate the American public about the truth of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from the perspective of the soldiers who have experienced them first-hand) .

Enemy territories

In Central America, Reagan administration faced challenges to the traditional violence and repression, from the Church and locals. Soon US responded with the propaganda of ‘war on terror'(1981)/ terrorist war by slaughter, torture and barbarism. In Nicaraugua, the US backed Somoza dictatorship was overthrown by the Sandinista rebels who dismantled the repressive military that had subdued the region’s locals. US then subjected the country to a campaign of state sponsored terrorism and the country was left in ruins. In other Central American countries subjected to the Reaganite war on terror, the military/terrorists trained by the US, controlled, terrorized, tortured, maimed and killed the people and the US citizens remained unaware of these atrocities. During the 1980’s the US backed state terrorist campaigns created societies affected by panic, terror, collective intimidation and ‘internalized acceptance’ of frequent appearance of tortured bodies. The psychological impact on the population from the culture of terror include domesticating their expectations and destroying hope after attaining which democracy is allowed/ preferred. This has been the US methodology not just in Central America, but in the rest of the world too.

Imperial Grand Strategy

By 2002, the most powerful state in history vowed to maintain hegemony through military force and threats. This was the explicit official rhetoric of the National Security Strategy, to dissuade military bulid up by potential adversaries . It sought to maintain a unipolar world without competitors and challenges. The fact is that this declaration renders the Article 51 of UN charter ( international norms of self defense) meaningless,thus spurning international law and istitutions. The problem with this strategy is that, the other states will find ways to work around, undermine, contain or retaliate against US, thus making the world more divided and dangerous and the US less secure.

Enforcing hegemony

The grand strategy gives the US the right to preventive war (not preemptive)(The difference is that a preventive war is launched to destroy the potential threat of the targeted party, when an attack by that party is not imminent or known to be planned. A preemptive war is launched in anticipation of immediate aggression by another party). While preemptive war might fall within the framework of international law, preventive war do not. The Central American countries had every right to strike back on the US attacking them, on the grounds of premptive strike, but rights are reserved for the powerful and not the weak. So, preventive war is absolutely unjustifiable since the strike is made on the grounds of an imagined or invented threat, making it a war crime.

The historian and Kennedy advisor, Arthur Schlesinger compared the purported anticipatory self defence claims of US in Iraq invasion to the Pearl Harbor attack by the imperial Japan. He added that the post 9/11 sympathy for US from the world gave way to hatred of American arrogance and militarism. UN Security Council was ignored, UN Charter rules on use of force were rebuffed. When WMD was undetectable, US changed the rule and stance to justify the invasion in terms of discovery of potential equipment to produce the weapons. The bar to use force was lowered as a consequence of Iraq invasion to invading any country that has the ability or intent to produce WMD. Thus the goal of Imperial Grand Strategy was set to prevent any challenge to the power, position and prestige of the US without any legal issue arising from this(statement by the liberal statesman Dean Acheson following Cuban missile crisis).

Similarly, Reagan administration invoked Acheson’s doctrine while rejecting the World Court jurisdisction over it’s attack on Nicaragua, reserving to themselves the power to determine it’s own matters. It reserved it’s right to unilateral use of military power and ensured uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies and strategic resources. Though the contempt of international law and instituitions were flagrant during the Reagan- Bush years, even before the WW II ended, planners and strategists began plotting to hold unquestioned power, limiting the sovereignity of others by complete rearmament. The Western Hemisphere, former British empire, far East and later much of Eurasia were included under their wing. A world system open to US economic penetration and political control was constructed, and moves towards independent development by others blocked under the pretext of Cold War.

Basic missions of global management included

  1. Containing other global power centres
  2. Control of world’s energy supplies
  3. Barring independent nationalism
  4. Overcoming crises of democracy

Forms in which these were done

  1. International economic order change from 1970 s
  2. Restoring super power enemy to quasi colonial status from 1990 s
  3. Threat of international terrorism aimed at US from 1990 s

While Acheson and Sofaer only described policy guidelines in the line of Thucydides maximlarge nations do what they wish, while small nations accept what they must”, Dick Cheney- Donald Rumsfield- Colin Powell officially declared en even more extreme policy, one aimed at permanent global hegemony using force whenever necessary. The first two merely described while these three took action, that’s the difference.

New Norms of International Law

The Grand Strategy declaration went on to establish a new norm of internatonal law by actions. First public war fever was whipped up by propaganda, and that was during the same time as mid-term election campaign. The target of the attack should be defenseless, the attack must be worth the trouble and it should be portrayed as evil who was an imminent threat to US survival. Iraq ticked off all these boxes. The propaganda was whipped up by Bush, Blair and colleagues characterizing Iraq as evil, possessing WMD, destroying the people there. The State of the Union address by Bush in January 2003- ” Iraq is assembling the world’s most dangerous weapons to dominate, itimidate or attack and has already used them on whole villeges, leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind or transfigured…..If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning“. The speaker and his colleagues had long supported Saddam in full awareness of his crimes, crimes which US didn’t care at that time.

Punishment after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 was sanctions on Iraq. The 1991 war on Iraq was on the basis of a huge Iraqi military build up on Saudi border( of which US still refuses to provide evidence), that was undermined by a journal that investigated them. In Sep 2002, the National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, warned of nuclear threat from Iraq on the US, an outright lie for the propaganda whip up to garner public support , disclaimed by Iraq’s neighbours as well as Israel intelligence and later undermined by UN inspectors( Washingtom opposed the inspections). Saddam was declared as a dire threat, with links to international terrorists and responsible for 9/11 attacks by the government media propaganda assaults. 60 % supported attack on Iraq in self-defence, strongly believing the WMD, and nuclear threats and in Iraqi involvement in Sep 11 attacks. As political analyst Anatol Lieven states, “the systematic mendacity of the propaganda programme has few parallels in peacetime democracies”. A bare majority in midterm elections for Bush was the effect of these propaganda campaigns. In Oct 2002, Congress granted the president authority to go to war ” to defend the national security of US against the continuing threat posed by Iraq”. The same script used by Reagan to declare national emergency in 1985, invoking the threat posed by Nicaragua.

After the 6 week war Bush declared victory, by removing an ally of Al Qaeda. The fact: No alleged link was there between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden, who was his bitter enemy. The consequence: The Iraq invasion actually increased the threat of terror on US , as predicted by analysts and intellectuals, by increasing Al Qaeda recruitment. The long term effects: The public even after many years still believed that US forces had found WMD (A THIRD OF POPULATION), 20% believed that Iraq had used them during the war, the effects of many years of intense propaganda inducing fear to tame the great beast, the public. Propaganda continued as the staged ‘Reaganesque’ announcement after the victory aboard USS Abraham Lincoln, clearly aimed at 2004 reelection campaign on the grounds of national security themes. Victors do not investigate their own war crimes, so whatever humanitarian crises or loss that followed was on Saddam, the same principles of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Nuremberg trials, that qualified for trial and punishment only if done by enemies.

Thus, Iraq happened to be the first test case for the Imperial Grand Strategy and the new international norms, with tempting possibilities in Iran, Syria, Libya, Andean region and a lot of others. The intimidation strategy worked and the people and regimes were supposed to change their views from one based on international law and UN to consider their national interests in favour of reflecting American goals. 1990 s also became the decade of the new norm of humanitarian intervention in other countries by the US on the grounds of their courage and altruism. Intervention in Kosovo and East Timor were on this basis. Kosovo bombing established the norm of resort to force without Security Council authorization. Though India’s invasion of East Pakistan in 1971 and Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia( against PolPot) in 1978 are also examples of resort to force that put an end to terrible crimes and though the Western interventions in the 1990 ‘s were not even remotely comparable to those, the new norm was not recognized in the 1970’s. The reasons are clear, the 1970’ s interventions were by the wrong people, US was opposed to those ( Vietnam was punished for this by an US backed China invasion on Vietnam and harsher sanctions while US and UK lent direct support to Khmer Rouge).

The International Court of Justice in a 1949 ruling reserves intervention by force to the most powerful states. There are exceptions to this. Israel, a client is permitted to establish norms like ‘targetted killings’ of suspects. Another example is Israel’s bombing of Ozirak reactor in Iraq in 1981. US criticized it at the time as a violation of international law, but as Saddam transformed into a foe, the minor crime became a honored norm that impeded Saddam’s nuclear weapons programme. Though inspections did not reveal any plutonium production at the site in Iraq, all the while the Dimona reactor of Israel was churning out hundreds of nuclear weapons. Later, as a result of the bombing, Iraq went ahead with the decision to nuclearize and supported other Arab states too in the process, a consequence far from closing the nucleariization of Iraq. The norm that Israel established was imitated by Iraq in it’s Kuwait invasion.

The Rule of Law

How the Grand strategy extends to US domestic law?

9/11 was used to discipline the US citizens by the Bush administration. The administration claimed and excercised the right to declare people, including US citizens as “enemy combatants” or ” suspected terrrorists” without any evidence and imprison them without charge or access to lawyers or family indefinitely. Example could be found in Guantanamo prison camp. Suspected people were gagged, hooded, electrocuted, waterboarded, bound and locked , treatments questionable under international law. The humanitarian and medical organisations were prevented from accessing the prisoners in violation of Geneva Convention.

A leaked, confidential plan by the Justice Department, “Domestic Security Enhancement Act ” of 2003 expands state power by assaulting civil liberties, undermining constitutional rights by granting state authority to rescind citizenship on charges of material support to a blacklisted organization, even if the person was unaware of the status of the blacklisted organisation. It also mentions the surveillance without court authorization, secret arrests, protecting the state from scrutiny of people.

International Law and Instituitions

International law and UN charter is not even mentioned in the strategy. The primacy of law over force that has been followed since the end of WW II disappears. Force reigned as US sees it fit. The analysts predicted that the resentment towards US actions would provide the motivation for enemies to find ways to attack at US vulnerabilties. Even since WW II US has been resorting to force to secure it’s national interests, expediently and in line with the interests of domestic sectors influencing the policies. Like Adam Smith condemned the merchants and manufacturers of England as policy architects. Francis Fukuyama, who had served in the Reagan- Bush State Department, observed in 1992 than the UN served as perfect instrument for US unilateralism. UN virtually became an instrument of US power, though the elite disliked UN. On issues of elite concern, if UN fails to support, it is duly dismissed. Vetoes are the most significant examples of US power in the UN, by far the country that has issued the most number of vetoes( Britain follows), which weakens important resolutions taking them off the table (Eg- Washington’s wars in Indo China). For the same kind of SC resolutions, while Saddam was condemned, US rejected those. UN resolution conditions were changed unilaterally by Bush, Clinton and Blair in Iraq, bombing the country in 1998(Clinton) in defiance of UN. UN inspectors( UNSCOM)) were used by Washington to spy on Iraq, and it was clear that diarmament of Iraq was not the goal of US and UK. Vetoes and defiance of UN resolutions by other powers like France were characterized as scandals and failure of diplomacies eroding UN’ s credibility and legitimacy while those from the US were hailed as principled stands.

UN can meet and discuss, but we dont need their permission” – Chief of Staff Andrew Card and Secratary of State Colin Powell. They were clear that they did not need a UN approval to declare and go to war or use force. The rest of the world was placed in notice, either to join the US or the ‘terrorists’ and suffer the consequences. The UN and the rest of the world were given an ultimatum by the US and UK to either capitulate in 24 hours or that they would invade Iraq and install the regime of their choice irrespective of whether Saddam remained or fled the country. They clearly stated that UN was irrelevant, the rest of the world has no option but to capitulate to their decisions and US had the sovereign authority to use force in assuring it’s national security interests. Bush made it clear that even if Iraq disarmed completely and unconditionally and Saddam disappeared, they would still invade Iraq and install a regime of their choice. The aim was clearly not disarmament or dethroning Saddam, but regime change, not one the Iraqis would prefer, but one that the conqueror would decide calling it “democratic”. The aims shifted back and forth from disarmament to regime change according to the time and audiences, as US saw fit. UN resolutions, inspections, Iraq’s refusal to permit inspections …. all were farces played unilaterally by the US. The message was loud and clear- ‘either be with us and enjoy the fruits or oppose us and suffer the harm’. Mexico and France tried to oppose by telling Washington that people were overwhelmingly against the war, but their pleas were ridiculed. The UN support of resolution 1441( Iraq war) tabled by the US was in reality a submission by the members, a coerced acquiescence invalid in law, but hailed as diplomacy in international law.

Rewards for following US orders included financial handouts and support. Putin was close to Bush and he was given the diplomatic nod in crushing the Chechen separatists. A head of a muslim charity was sentenced in US for funding ambulances in Bosnia and aiding the Chechen separatists, while Clinton was flying AlQaeda and Hezbollah operatives to Bosnia. Turkey was offered incentives to invade Kurdish Northern Iraq, but it did not at first, thus inviting the ire of US announcing punishment for the misdeed.

After the Iraq war, UN was once again deemed irrelevent because the complicated trade system in Iraq( imposed as a part of sanctions by the UN with full support of the US previously) was causing problems for the US companies granted contract under the military rule. Thus US demanded a freehand in the oil trade, and in deploying a government of it’s choice under a democratic facade, even though the rest of the world(except UK), majority of US citizens and a large majority of Iraqis(85%) preferred UN oversight to US control. Thus never in recent history has there been anything remotely resembling the monopoly of use of large scale violence by a free state in pursuit of it’s imperial ambitions.

Elite Concerns

Elite concern over the imperial ambitions of US reached new levels after Bush declared it as a “revisionist state” . Samuel Huntington, the political analyst, noted that US was becoming a rogue superpower. Many anticipated coalitions to arise to counterbalance the rogue state. The American political scientist, Kenneth Waltz warned of a proliferation of WMD by other states to counter or deter the actions of US, something accelerated by the dismantling of mechanisms to control violence. Examples are the impetus to Iranian nuclear weapon proliferation and nuclear deterrence by North Korea. North Korea proved to be a lesson for the world that witnessed American inability to tame it unlike the defensless and shattered Iraq, the only reason being it’s possession of WMD aimed at Seoul and US military at DMZ.

Coming to the second superpower, “public opinion”, protest was non existent in 1962( when Kennedy announced bombing of South Vietnam), and it increased only years later when the devastation and aggression became significant. There was a steady increase in unwillingness to tolerate agression and atrocities over the four decades and in 2002, protests were large scale even before the Iraq war was officially launched. Reagan administration backed down in Central America following the Kennedy model of South Vietnam in the face of public reaction and resorted to a clandestine model concealed from general public. The strengthened activity movements in the decades since 1960’s made it impossible for the US to use force without vindicating it with propaganda offensives like imminent threat by a genocidal regime and so on. The world public opinion turned against the US. Like the rest of the world, Iraq’s neighbours were also perplexed as to why US was fearing Iraq, already weakened by sanctions with a comparatively lower economy and military expenditures than the neighbours. Powell had referred to the threat posed by Iraq’s WMD on it’s neighbours at the World Economic Forum in Davos. The neighbours, also like CIA and the US Department of Defense knew well that Iraq did not pose any threat to them, let alone the US. The neighbours were actually mending fences with Saddam over US opposition. Most of the formal and informal polls around the world showed Bush as a greater threat to world compared to Saddam.

Intentional Ignorance

The fundamental principle behind the imperial grand strategy was Wilsonian Idealismthe noble men , with righteous intent and elevated ideals, as the historical vanguard, for the common good, transforming the global order, perpetuating its own dominance guided by military supremacy projected globally. US foreign policy has been guided by these ideals regardless of party. But for anyone to be assured of the actions as motivated by elevated ideals and altruism( humanitarian inteventions) in the quest of stability and righteousness, they have to adopt a stance called ‘intentional ignorance‘. So the past , as well as the present actions could be justified on this basis and the flaws that were tidied up as inevitable. Wilson himself put the words into deeds by conquest of Philippines and interventions in Haiti and Dominican Republic that left both the countries in ruins.

Europeans failed to understand this idealism and thought of it as mere truism. The Russian- American author and military historian, Max Boot attributed this to the history of European avarice and cynicism. The historian and political commentator, Robert Kagan points to the paranoid, conspiratorial anti- Americanism. Both of them lent their words from John Stuart Mill‘s essay on humanitarian intervention objective of Britain’s conquest of India. It is hard not to think of his essay as a disgraceful example of apologetics for the terrible crimes of Britain. Kagan’s anti- Americanism concept, to defame state policy critics who do not identify society and people with state power, is directly from the totalitarian lexicon.

The language of tyrants and conquerors remain the same throughout. Saddam warned Kuwait of retribution for undermining it’s economy by ‘assuring a world without fighting and with peace and a dignified life‘. The Munich agreement with the Nazis was hailed to bring a world order based on justice and law, but soon later Hitler occupied Czechoslovakia explaining his ‘earnest desire to serve the interests and welfare of the people‘ there. Mussolini’s concern for the liberated populations of Ethiopia, Japans aims to create a paradise for the suffering people in Manchuria and North China defending them from communist bandits, Japan’s New Order to create permanent stability in East Asia are all rhetorical flourishes sugarcoating the militant abuses of the the occupied.

Interventions are justified as humanitarian or in self defense after the war, thus making in in accordance with the UN charter.Thomas Jefferson observed on the world situation of his day- ” we believe no more in Bonaparte’s fighting merely for liberties of the seas, than in Great Britain’s fighting for the liberties of mankind. The object is the same, to draw to themselves the power, wealth and resources of other nations“.

The founder of modern international relations theory, Hans Morgenthau condemns the “conformist subservience to those in power” by having a selective faith in the domestic political leadership, a regular stance of most intellectuals throughout history. The occasional departures were seen in two countries with US aided repressive regimes- Turkey and Columbia. Activists , writers, priests and academics face the constant assassination threats for protesting the atrocities and draconian laws of their regimes. While their Western counterparts veil themselves in intentional ignorance thus contributing to the ongoing crimes.

The New Era of Enlightenment

The final years of the 20 th century marked the idealistic world view of the US on ending inhumanity, using principles and values, an era of enlightenment, benevolence, acting out of altruism and moral fervor. The record of terror and atrocities with the help of reigning super powers and allies was supressed.

The year 1997 was significant for the human rights movement. In that single year the flow of military aid to Turkey surpassed the whole aid for the entire cold war period, for the counterinsurgency programme against the miserably repressed Kurds. Tens of thousands were killed, millions of people were driven from the devastated countrysides. Turkey was the leading recipient of US arms at the time (80% from US) besides Israel and Egypt. In the same year military aid to Colombia began to skyrocket and it replaced Turkey by 1999. The internal conflicts were militarized, people tortured and displaced, guerilla forces strengthened by terrorizing peasants and urban population, political killings rised. Internal displacement of the population due to atrocities of the governments in these countries was augmented by US aid. In Iraq, this was a grave problem that the displaced people saw the Iraq war as a route back to their homes.

East Timor and Kosovo

Indonesia’s genocide of East Timor population, they had occupied reached new heights in 1999, when the ruling generals and paramilitary threatened the people to vote for continuing occupation in the referendum for independence. Indonesia had been receiving aid from US and UK for the past 25 years. Activists and humanitarian agencies widely publicized this in the US. Clinton reiterated the position that his administration did not want to take away the responsibility from Indonesia. After strong international and domestic pressure Clinton stopped the 25 year old support, Indonesia withdrew from East Timor allowing Australian peacekeeping forces to enter. Just a withdrawal from abetting and aiding the crimes would have sufficed which could have been easily done before, but the new achievement was hailed as a new norm of humanitarian intervention.

Kosova was next in line for humanitarian intervention, reportedly based on altruism and moral fervor. Media, journals and scholarships reported the NATO bombing of Kosovo( without UN approval) to be in response to the ethnic cleansing by Serbia in 1999, that drove more than half the Kosovars into exile. The truth was that the bombing preceded the ethnic cleansing and atrocities, that happened as a consequence. The Western documentary evidence provides no significant increase in the killings of Kosovars, numbered at around 2000 before the NATO bombings. UN began registering refugees only 1 week after the bombing and the Milosevic indictment of May 1999, details a series of terrible crimes after the bombing.

The British Defense Minister, George Robertson testified that until the NATO bombing, the CIA- backed Kosovo Liberation Army(Albanian guerillas) was responsible for more deaths than the Serbian authorities had been. The guerillas had frankly told that their goal was to kill Serbs to elicit a public response for NATO intervention in Kosovo. Even befor this the Foreign Secretaary, Robin Cook had told the House that the KLA had committed more ceasefires and more deaths. It is notable that the Racak massacre by Serbian authorities (45 people killed) did not concern US and Uk at the time . In his memoir, ‘Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo. and thr Future of Conflict ‘ by Wesley K Clark, the NATO commander during the Serbia bombing, he mentions that Milosevic’s human rights violations had nothing to do with the bombing nor did the eviction of Kosovars start before the bombing. He had warned the Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that if NATO proceeded with the bombing the evictions and killings by Serbians would increase. The only plausible explanation for the bombing was the imposition of NATO’s will on a defiant leader who was undermining the credibility of Western diplomacy and NATO’ s will power. The same interpretation is given by Andrew Bacevich, the American historian in his book, ‘American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of US Diplomacy ‘. The plight of Kosovars was of no concern, and the bombing was to preempt the threats to the cohesion of NATO. It’s purpose was to warn Europeans fancying to slip away from the American orbit, affirm US primacy in Europe.

Present day consequences after years of bombing include Kosovars living in abject poverty, radical Islamists taking control of the people’s life giving rise to Taliban phenomenon of Europe. The norm of humanitarian interventions made the UN charters obsolete, giving the US the sovereign right to take military action at will without UN authorization, thus redefining the role of UN.

The Need for Colonization

Columbia, the largest recepient of US military aid in 1999, had the worst human rights record too in the Western hemisphere. Under the guise of a drug war by the US, purportedly to curb the domestic drug use, the poppy fields of poor peasants in Southern Columbia were destroyed through a chemical warfare called fumigation causing deaths, displacement, sickness and injury. Even after they failed to achieve the their goals, they were not discontinued. The rich biodiversity was destroyed, the peasants, indigenous and other people were displaced and live in slums in abject poverty and with people gone , multinationals stripped the mountains of their natural resources. Thus this helped the foreign investors and the Columbian elites in their businesses.

Columbia is an oil-producing region like Chechnya,Western China, Central Asia, and other places where the state terror by military and private paramilitary increased after 9/11 under the pretext of ‘war on terror ‘ expecting a nod from US. In Columbia, as in Turkey, Indonesia and Serbia, the state terror had been carried out by private paramilitary as crimes were also privatized in accordance with the neoliberal practice. In Columbia, fumigation was carried out by private companies, consisting of US military officers under Pentagon contract to evade accountability.

The conscience shocking atrocities in countries were overlooked until they defied US. Turkey’s atrocities against the Kurds by US provided military aid were similarly overlooked even after the extensive reporting by human rights watch organisations, but became significant after it denied the US, permission to attack Iraq from its borders as per the Turkish public opinion. Suddenly Turkey became the villain torturing , killing and disappearing the Kurds and destroying their villages.

Blairs foreign policy advisor, Robert Cooper, put forward a statement for the need for colonisation by the post modern enlightened states in the 20 th century to promote order, freedom and justice. Cooper alludes to the most important change in the world order since WW II, a striking discontinuity in history, that Europe is at peace, a post modern system of law, justice and cilvility. But, while dealing with the uncivilized, Europe and West would revert back to the laws of the jungle- of deception, preemptive attacks and force.

Protecting Naughty Children from Infection

The enlightened states of the late nineteenth century took pride in liberating the savages by violence, destruction and plunder. The Czar and Metternich(Austrian empire) worried of the pernicious contagion of republicanism and popular self rule. Worst was the Monroe Doctrine by the apostles of sedition, “a species of arrogance, peculiarly American and inexcusable” as Bismarck put it. The 1904 Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine asserted the U.S. role as policeman of the Western Hemisphere and its right to involve itself in the affairs of Latin American countries. Although justified under the auspices of limiting European interference in the Americas, the Roosevelt Corollary did more to lay the groundwork for the U.S. in its own interventionist practices in the decades to come. WIlson secured US domination of Carribeans. Britain was forced out of the oil rich Venezuela, trade with British banned, US supported the dictator Juan Vincente Gomez who opened the country to US companies. This was at the same time of the US continuing to demand and secure US oil rights in the Middle East where the British and French had monopoly. Venezuela continues still as an eyesore, remaining poor despite sitting on vast oil resources, yielding wealth to foreign investors and a few of the countries elites.

Wilson compared Latin Americas as naughty children excercising all the privileges and rights of the grown ups and so need a stiff, authoritative hand. He regarded the Filippinos as children who must obey orders. And Italians too were considered so. The Italian people’s hunger for strong leadership and dramatic leadership through democracy, was crushed by supporting Mussolini’s Fascism through the interwar years. In 1948, the democracy was subverted and US withheld food from starving people, restoring the Fascist police. Roosevelt rewrote Haitian constitution to permit US corporations to take over the land and resources after occupation. Similarly Eisenhower sought to overthrow the newly elected Castro government in Cuba.

Iran‘s conservative parliamentary government was toppled by an US aided military coup, when they sought to gain control of their resources. An obedient regime was installed that ruled with terror for 25 years. US feared the economic nationalism, a new sort of nationalism and aspirations for industrialization that would benefit the Latin Americans more and leave out the US investors as the first beneficiaries. Thus the Economic Charter for Americas was imposed to prevent and eliminate this. It should be mentioned here that economic nationalism had always been a key feature of US economy. Communism sought to promote the new nationalism, thus reducing the willingness of Communist countries to serve and support the industrialization of the West. That was the main aim of the analytical framework of policymakers of supporting the right wing dictatorship of European fascists during interwar years, to control the threat of Communism, not the military threat but the threat of economic nationalism . Thus some of the most powerful states were shaped with the private instituitions as their tools.

The rise of fascism during the interwar years that elicited concern was viewed favorably by the US, British, businesses and elites.. The reason was that the fascist version of extreme nationalism permitted Western economic penetration, and destroyed the democracy and labor movements. Mussolini was described as “that admirable Italian gentleman” by Roosevelt. Hilter was also applauded until he launched agressions that infringed on US and UK interests. By 1937, the State Department regarded fascism as a moderate force that must triumph over the Left. The US ambassador to Italy lauded Mussolini as a great human. In 1938, FDR and Sumner Welles approved Hitler’s Munich agreement which dismembered Czeckoslovakia. The business world and elites were also enthusistic of European fascism. Businesses boomed in Italy and Germany because of the stable climate and supressed threats of the masses. In 1939, Britain was more supportive of Germany, due to the Anglo- German industrial, commercial and financial relations. The support for fascism remained even after 1943, after US and UK entered the war. They tried to supress antifascist resistance in many places, to restore the traditional order by supporting some of the worst dictators and war criminals. Even througout the cold war and till the present, the ideological basis of American foreign policy supporting dictators remained much the same , though only the tactics changed.

Reconciling the need to do terrible things with the commitment to democracy and freedom was agonizingly done to create economic policies that would enable US businesses to operate as freely and as monopolistically to create an US dominated capitalist world economy. Secretary of State Lansing warned Roosevelt that the Bolshevik disease might spread. FDR feared that the American blacks returning from war might contract the disease. Anti-capitalism was present among the working class in England too as feared by Lloyd George. The revolutions worldwide were casting a shadow of fear on the west. In US, social unrest was supressed by Wilson’s “Red Scare“. The power of masses was feared by industrialists. Soviet economic development was also a concern until 1960 when it began to stagnate due to the arms race. Russia, Europe’s third- world before WW II, after defeating Germany achieved military might and superpower status. Russian- US conflict in 1917 was justified by John Lewis Gaddis, military historian as self-defense to the virus of revolution, which challenged the survival of capitalist world order. Attack as defense, a “logical illogicality“. The basic policies of intervention and war were the same during pre-war, inter-war and post-war years , all based upon self- defense or preventive attacks, the same policy of the 2002 radical nationalists.

The post war discontinuity in international politics is indicated by US becoming the global actor and Europe attaining democratic peace. While Europe had devoted to slaughtering one another and conquering the world before 1945, a happy combination of liberal norms, representative democracy and market economies changed the picture. The West could still resort to violence against the weak, but not against one another and Cold war equations were also based on this.

Dangerous Times

The Cuban missile crisis was the most dangerous moment in human history. It was revealed in a Havana conference in 2002, that in 1962, October the world was one step away from nuclear disaster and war, prevented by a Soviet submarine officer, Vasili Arkhipov, who blocked an order to fire nuclear armed torpedoes. The people at the conference, including the historian, Arthur Schlesinger, couldn’t miss the fact that Kennedy chose quarantine as an alternative to military action in 1962, while Bush committed to military action in 2002. Though Kennedy was approbated universally for the decision, he refused publically to withdraw the Jupiter nuclear missiles placed at Turkey on the border with Russia, and refused to not invade Cuba, conducting an active policy to undermine and displace the Castro regime including covert operations against Cuba. Secretly, the Jupiter missiles were replaced with Polar nuclear submarines.

The Soviet deception was unveiled by the UN ambassador, Adlai Stevenson when he exposed a photo of a missile site in Cuba taken by US spy planes. This excercise called “Stevenson’s moment” entered the historical memory.The starkness in that was, the Cuban missiles generated widespread fear in US that the Turkish missiles ostensibly failed to produce in Russia. The moment seemed to upset the balance of terror to less extreme on US side. For an impartial outside observer, the missile placemets would be fair trade by Kennedy and Krushchev. Yet Chomsky calls it an act of criminal lunacy that the missiles were placed in Cuba by Krushchev, fully aware of the posible consequences. He finds it a moral imbecility that those who warned Krushchev of the dangers were condemned and ridiculed when the worst did not come to pass.

Now let us note the asymmetry here. Cuban missiles stealthily placed by the Soviets were dramatically exposed in the UN, while the Jupiter missiles were out in the open, publically placed by the US in Turkey enveloping Russia, a country posing no threat to Turkey and attacked and devastated in the past by Germany, Britain and US (1918). US posed a grave threat to Cuba and the missiles were placed there by Russia for the self-defense of Cuba. Despite this US became the good one, moments like Stevenson’s dramatized and publicized and Russia became the evil. This is the power dynamics, ideological systems subordinated to power that makes sure that any action by the US be deemed as for self-defence, of benevolence or dispatched to oblivion, be it the international terrorism in Cuba, participation in the mass slaughter of the mass-based political party, National Liberation Front in South Vietnam, or the peasant based PKI party in Indonesia (1965)and many others.

The significance of owning a crafted moment in history, like the ‘Stevensons’ was revealed again when Colin Powell addressed the UNSC, with photographs of a truck emptying WMD from an Iraqi site and proclaimed that US would go to war without UN authorization. It was presented as proof that Iraq had deceived the UN inspectors by removing them before they had arrived and that Iraqis had penetrated the inspector team and led to the removal of weapons. Thus he tried to prove that the inspection team was unreliable in providing true data for US proved by the photos. Later the photos were proved unreliable due to the timelapse betwen them and the unreliable site. This is one of a series of stevenson- like crafted moments.

Though Kennedy officials refuse that he ordered an invasion of Cuba, the Secretary of Defense, Robert Mc Namara states the opposite. Cuban crisis became one of the reasons of wariness of European leadership at the liberal multinational end of the political spectrum to the US political leadership. Europe was kept in the dark despite the obvious threat of a nuclear disaster to Western Europe as well. The European Allies were expected to come along, they were accused of making discordant clamor if they knew. Cuban crisis, like the Iraq war was the end result of international terrorism, forceful regime change and quashing of Cuban revolution by violence and economic warfare.

International Terrorism and Regime Change in Cuba

Th 1959, the Batista dictatorship was overthrown by Cuban guerillas and the US tried a regime change by arming the guerillas and CIA- supervised bombing and incendiary raids piloted by exiled Cubans. Instead of a violent response, Cuba appealed the UN to resolve the issue through diplomatic means. Though the US ambassador assured no aggressive purposes in Cuba, plans to overthrow Castro government and preparations for Bay of Pigs invasion were well advanced. Fearing that Cubans might defend themselves, the CIA chief Allen Dulles urged Britain not to provide arms to Cuba. As the British ambassador later revealed, this was done to push the Cubans to seek Soviet help and thus to portray Cuba as a security threat in the region. This was exactly the script used in Guatemala, where a 10 year democracy with popular support and economic and social benefits for a large majority greatly upsetted the US. After US cut off sources of help and threatened an attack, Guatemala appealed to Soviets for arms and this led to a half-century horror in the country evoking it as a security threat.

Arthur Schlesinger, put forth a scheme to trap Cuba warning Kennedy of the political fallouts of a direct invasion. He conceived a black operation in Haiti, which might lure Castro into sending his army there which in turn could be portrayed as an effort to overthrow US supported Haitian regime of “Papa Doc” Duvalier. In 1960, Eisenhower put forward a plan to overthrow Castro in favor of a regime devoted to Cubans( despite the intelligence report that popular support for Castro was high) and acceptable to the US interests including military operation in the island, in a manner as to avoid the appearance of US involvement( to avoid the anticipated reaction in Latin America and home). The debacle of Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba was followed by a crushing embargo by Kennedy, a terrorist campaign, Operation Mongoose overseen by his brother Robert Kennedy (paramlitary operations, economic warfare and sabotage). Operation Mongoose was the centrepiece of American policy towards Cuba until the missile crisis of 1962. Kennedy brothers devoted all the resources to topple Castro. A final military intervention was planned in 1962, when the missile crisis erupted. A sinister covert operation was planned to lure Castro into a hostile reaction to US and developing an image of Cuba as a threat to US and Western hemisphere that would be used as a pretext to attack Cuba, but before it’s involvement with the Soviets, to avoid a direct entanglement with Soviet Union.

Operation Northwoods was a proposed false flag operation against the Cuban government that originated within the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) of the United States government in 1962. The proposals called for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or other U.S. government operatives to both stage and actually commit acts of terrorism against American military and civilian targets, blaming them on the Cuban government, and using it to justify a war against Cuba. The possibilities detailed in the document included the possible assassination of Cuban immigrants, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas,  hijacking planes to be shot down or given the appearance of being shot down, blowing up a U.S. ship, and orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities and publishing these in US newspapers to create a helpful wave of indignation. The proposals were rejected by PresidentJohn F. Kennedy.

A plan to engineer internal revolt and terrorism by Kennedy, to be followed with US military intervention, involved speedboat strafing attacks on a Cuban seaside hotel, attacks on British and Cuban cargo ships, contamination of sugar shipments, all carrried out by Cuban exiles permitted to operate freely from Florida. Even after a formal agreement between Kennedy and Krushchev and end of the crisis, terrorist operations continued. A covert action sabotage team from US blew up a Cuban industrial facility killing 400 workers. Ten days before Kennedy’s assassination he approved some US proxy terrorist operations to sabotage Cuban oil refineries, storage facilities, electric plants, sugar refineries, railroads, harbors, docks and ships. On the day of Kennedy assassination, a plot to kill Castro was initiated, and the next president Nixon intensified these acts , peaking in mid 1970’s, after taking office. Attacks on fishing boats, embassies, overseas Cuban offices, bombing of a Cuban airliner killing all 73 passengers on board and other grisly actions by Nixon were carried out directly from the US territory, regarded as criminal acts by FBI. In addition to all these Castro was condemned by NYT editorials for maintaining an armed camp despite US promises of protection .

The machine gun attack against a Spanish- Cuban tourist hotel in 1992 and bombings in 1997 were traced to Miami financed Salvadoran criminals operatng under the international terrorist, Lous Possada Carriles. He was responsible for the Cuban airliner bombing, and was recruied by CIA and financed by Miami business man. He was granted presidential pardon by BUSH I after lobbying by Jebb Bush and Cuban American leaders. iN 1998, US officially declared that Cuba no longer posed a threat. The Russian missiles in Cuba did prevent an US invasion of Venezuela. The economic embargo was harsher under Bush 1 and Clinton, which affected US exporters too, invited criticism from close allies and domestic public and shattered Cuba with severe health effects( managed by the excellent Cuban health care system preventing a humanitarian catastrophe).

Embargo barred food and medicine entirely. Cuba was not eased from sanctions in 1999, while Clinton eased sanctions on all other terrorist states on the list. In 1980, the West Indian Islands were punished by Carter who refused to allow aid after a hurricane, unless Grenada was excluded. The stricken countries refused the clause. Similarly Nicaragua was refused aid in 1988 when struck by a hurricane, causing many deaths from starvation and causing ecological damage. Cuban economic warfare was condemned in all international forums like EU, WTO, OAS and so forth

Successful defiance

The reasons for the international terrorism and economic embargo on Cuba is not just a concern over Russian threat.The plans were devised and implemented before the Russian threat that developed as a consequence than cause for the US terrorism. Castro’s Cuba provided a model for the rest of Latin America to oppose ruling authority , encourage radical change and take matters into ones own hands. Land and property privileges of the upperclass was subverted by the demand of decent living by the poor. Russian aid for develpment was also a threat, of Soviets getting an upper hand in Latin America. The real reason of the embargo and terrorism attempts for regime change was Castro’s successful defiance of US hegemony, an impact that could have significant effects on leftist movements of other Latin American countries. This outrage over defiance could be traced back 200 years to Thomas Jefferson who condemned France in holding his coveted New Orleans, inspite of France’s help in liberating British colonies.

Guiding Principles

The international and domestic law became irrelevant many times in US hegemonic ambitions even before the 9/11. The achievements of international terrorism includes the US aided defeat of the ‘liberation theology’. A conservative Salvadoran Archbishop and Jesuit intellectuals were murdered with US aided security forces. Liberation theology, a religious movement arising in late 20th-century Roman Catholicism and centred in Latin America. It sought to apply religious faith by aiding the poor and oppressed through involvement in political and civic affairs. It stressed both heightened awareness of the “sinful” socioeconomic structures that caused social inequities and active participation in changing those structures.

The achievements of international terrorism were sanitized from history. Defiance was overcome by destroying the structure of socioeconomic privilege by eliminating the political participation of the majority like in Brazil, the US assisted military coup which overthrew parliamentary democracy. Kennedy’s ambassador Lincoln Gordon called it a democratic rebellion, restraining left wing forces to create an improved climate for private investment. The generals left Brazil transfering the wreckage to civilians by 1980 s as in Chile, leaving a country with dismal social welfare indices and inequality and a grand success for foreign investors and the privileged classes.

Fear of democracy and independence from the Western orbit of the small states were driving factors for US to commit international terrorism, subversion and violence. In Indonesia( 1965) the mass based PKI party was slaughtered and Suharto dictatorship installed fearing that the party would unite the nation, free itself from Western influence, stand on its own feet and prove an example to the developing nations and also turn out as a credit to communism.

Cuba’s defiance became immense when it reached to Angola as a Soviet instrument in 1975. It reached new heights when the US backed South African invasion of Angola was defeated by black Cuban soldiers, the most important contribution of Cuba in liberation of Africa . It is interesting to note that the international terrorism campaigns by US and regime changes are scarcely mentioned in literature in it’s naked form, but dismissed with comfortng euphemisms. Cuba is represented as a terrorist state, not a victim. In effect, others perform misdeeds, US correct it. While much of the US population opposed wars on principled ground, the educated elites were concerned with the costs and failure. My Lai massacre is condemned as the blame is pinned on half-educated GI’ s surviving the conditions of the field unlike Operation Wheeler Wallawa, in which the Tiger Forces killed scores of innocent civilians, including two blind brothers, a Buddhist monk, women, children, elderly civilians, and three farmers trying to plant rice. All were reported as enemies killed in action.

Cuba was added to the terrorist list in 1982, replacing Iraq, to make Saddam eligible for US aids.

International Terrorism and Regime Change in Nicaragua

The defiance of Nicaragua and the terror campaign for regime change unleashed on it by US is significant in its scale, and the way it was cast and reshaped in retrospect. It was uncontroversial among the highest international authorities. Nicaragua became the focus of war on state terror of Reagan in 1981 as it was armed by Soviets. The Nicaraguan communists were blamed to carry their revolution into US, and Soviet bases were feared to be established there. It was deemed a national security and foreign policy threat to US. Libya was bombed in 1986 for the arms aid Qaddafi was providing the communsts to bring the war home to US. The Sandinista leader, Tomas Borge‘s speech to become a revolutionary model for others was taken out of the context and transmuted to a design for world conquest by the Reagan diplomats. The State Department document of his speech was interpreted and recast as aggression and terror, while the real threat that US saw was the experiment of successful development that might infect others, like the democratic experiment of Guatemala and defiance of Cuba.

While the Secretary of State, George Schultz warned of the terrorism as war against ordinary people, US was bombing Libya and killing the civilians which was aired through all prime time TV channels for the first time. Negotiation of peace as tried by the Central American governments through multilateral organisations were duly rebuffed and blocked as euphemisms for capitulation. Nicaragua went to economic and social decline after the progress they had acheived following the overthrow of US backed Somoza dictatorship and slid into the poorest country in Western Hemisphere.. Nicaragua’s economic progress, once lauded by the World Bank and improvement in child survival lauded by UNICEF were the real cancer in the eyes of US to be cut off. Since these viruses of revolution would spread to others it should be rooted out.

Like Cuba, Nicaragua did not retribute, it approached the World Court which ruled in Nicaragua’s favor, condemning Washington. The aid to contras were deemed military and illegal, only humanitarian aid was allowed.. US condemned World Court as irrelevant, hostile and close to Soviets. Aid to contras was branded as humanitarian, aid of 100 million dollars was immedietly approved to escalate violence. The court ordered reparation to Nicaragua was dismissed and they were pressured to abandon the claim. In contrast Iraq paid 17 billion dollars to Kuwait, though only a fraction of those were killed there compared to Nicaragua. Vietnamese were denied reparations by telling that the destruction was mutual. Invaders became victims and Vietnam had to pay back the debt incurred by Saigon government that the US had installed as local agent in the Indo China wars. The precedents are China paying it’s foreign masters as reparation for rebelling agianst them( Boxer Rebellion), Haiti paying the French in 1825 for liberating them and the indigenous Iroquois civilization forced to compensate George Washington for resisting their invaders..

Nicaraguans still did not resort to violence against the US, and took the matter to UNSC, that endorsed the court judgement, the US vetoed. Then Nicaragua approached the General Assembly with US and Israel votoing twice. US escalated the war going after soft targets. Nicaragua succumbed under pressure in 1990 and voted to turn the country over to an US puppet. The strategy of soft target attacks were based on US control of Nicaraguan skies and the sophisticated communiications equipment given to US aided terrorists operating from US bases in Honduras. The same strategy in Guatemeala and Cuba was repeated. The allies were told not to aid Nicaragua to force the country to take Soviet aid. But this did not happen. So the Raeganite propaganda fabricated lurid tales of Soviet MiG’s threatening US from Nicaraguan bases, and this was used to call for bombing of the country. The same “logical illogicality“, Nicaraguans are not allowed to defend against their invaders freely operating from their skies since the invader’s action is defense and the victim’s action is aggression.

The country sank more deeply, socially, economically, politically, people left the place. Already battered by the US sponsored terrorism, it was further battered by the globalization, and massive corruption of the US backed govts. Nicaragua was warned by US in 2002 elections against voting for FSLN, an organisation that resisted US crmes in the past. They did not need warnings as history was a good guide. They had elected the wrong government, not supported by US but could not control the election, in 1984 and penalties followed. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western hemisphere after Haiti, enjoying a world record for concentration of wealth.

Almost all the hawks who coordinated the state terrorism in Latin America were appointed in significant posts by Bush for the war on terror in the Middle East after 9/11. Nicaraguans were lucky initially as they had an army to defend them against the state terrorism. In neighbouring states like El Salvador, the terrorists were US aided military. When aid could not be provided directly to the state military, US resorted to their international terrorist network including Argentinian neo Nazis, Israel and Taiwan in the name of counterterrorism. The Panama invasion and bombing in 1989 by Bush killed thousands to flush out Manuel Noriega, a former CIA informant in the course of Operation Just Cause, for the crimes like drug trafficking committed while he was on CIA payroll. The invasion was condemned as illegal by the UN and other instituitions, duly rebuffed by the US as usual.

The Iraq Connection: International Script

By 2000 the more reactionary people of Reagan- Bush 1 administration regained political power. Their common goal was to eliminate the statebacked international terrorism and the script was already there.. The lines separating terrorism from aggression and resistance was blurred by them. In 1980 s, Central America and the Middle East were the two main foci. The retail terror of these regions were inflated by the propaganda machines and spread through media.

South Affrica received US assistance, support and trade relations by evading the sanctions on the country. South Africa‘s devastation of the newly independent Angola and Mozambique included millions of deaths of adults as well as children. Inside it’s borders, it was defending the people against the ‘terrorist organisation’ ANC, headed by Mandela, which was named one of the most notorious terrorist groups according to the 1988 Pentagon report.

CIA was successfull in 1980 s in recruiting radical islamists and organizing them to military and terrorist force. The goal , as told by Carter and his NSA, was to lure Soviets to attack Afghanistan by secret operations. In the war that ensued the Soviet objectives were defensive ones, while US took to pillorying and bleeding Soviets. After Soviets withdrew, Reagan’s jihadis took over Afghanistan and decades of civil war ensued.

After Russian withdrawal, the terror oganisations including Al Qaeda were recruited, armed and trained by the CIA. They inflammed India- Pakistan conflict with a terrorrist offensive in 1993, planned to blow up WTC from the formulas taught by CIA, the planning of which was traced to Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, who was helped and protected by CIA in US. Saddam was supported and aided by Bush, even after Iran- Iraq war came to an end and after he gassed and killed Kurds, justifying how it would improve human rights, stability and peace. So many other dictators who were protected include Ferdinand Marcos, Duvalier, Suharto and so forth. The Romanian dictator, Ceausescu, who was overthrown after a revolt, was long supported y US. After his deposition, the Washington Post took a dramatic U-turn condemning him and Bush 2 after 12 years spoke dramatically in the Liberation Square in Bucharest, condemning the dictator and praising the revolutionaries who had deposed him.

Domestic Script

Reagan- Bush years were marked by stagnant/ declining wages, benefits for rich, widening inequality, and free reign of employers. To maintain political power, fear was inspired on people. The people were frightened into obedience, into voting for a president who bravely fought the enemies. Devils were conjured up one after another. The Libyan hit men out on the streets to kill the president who fought Qaddafi courageouly(1981) was conjured after attacks on Libya killing the people there, hoping Libya would attack back and which could be used to frighten the Americans. Qaddafi was demonised again by framing his plan to attack Sudan to make ground for an attack on him. The subsequent US show of force was to demonstrate that Reagan acted quickly to prevent Qaddafi’s terror. Thus he was lionized by the media that gave him a superhero image making the people worship him. The leader came to the people’s rescue in many other cases like invading Grenada to quell the threat of the Russian airbase, attacks on Nicaraguan threat, bombing of Libya on the basis of preventive war etc…

War on drugs campaign(1989) was another tactic, for which media was used to whip up fear of Hispanic narcotraffickers as menace to society despite evidence to the contrary. Increase in arrest of superfluous people, and Operation Just Cause in Panama to arrest Noreiga due to his involvement with drug trafficking were done to boost up the electoral gains. At the same time, Thailand was being threatened with sanctions if it placed barriers on import of US tobacco. The Panama invasion was justified by invoking Article 51 of UN Charter, that provides the use of armed force to defend own country, interests and people and prevent another territory from being used to traffic drugs to US.

The Bush administration or the Republican administrations in general, followed tax cuts benefiting the rich, increased military spending, and the government fiscal deficits were managed by cutbacks on social welfare programmes. A fiscal train wreck was predicted that seemed like one Republicans asked for, that would offer cuts on social welfare programmes. Tax increase on the rich was an option out of the cards anytime. Beyond concentrations of wealth and power, eliminating social programmes had other goals. Social welfare was supposedly based on evil doctrines which inturn was based on sympathy, which should be driven out. Other benefits of privatization was explained thus. If the working people depended on stock markets for their wages and benefits, it becomes their responsibility to prevent situations that undermine their interests by opposing events that might cut into the profit flow of employers like wage increase, health and safety regulations etc.

The popularity of Bush after 9/11 dropped after some time due too the discontent with their social and economic policies. The mass discontent should be diverted to nationalism somehow to manintain political power as per Anatol Lieven, British author, journalist and policy analyst. National security issue was a good choice. Thus the imminent threat of Iraq was conjured up in 2002(midterm electoral campaign), just in time of the campaigns for the 2004 election. Recognising the vulnerability on domestic issues, the administration campaigned on a policy of international adventurism, new radical preemptive military strategies, and a politically convenient and perfectly timed confrontation with Iraq. Republicans though concerned with large corporations than ordinary Americans were deemed trustworthy on national security issues. Thus a manufactured fear produced enough basis for Iraq invasion. A new norm of aggressive war at will followed, that gave the administration hold on political power that was used to proceed with their harsh and punitive domestic agendas.

Insignificant Risks

There was widespread acknowledgement among US intelligence and military agencies that a war initiated by US on Iraq would lead to proliferation of WMD and Islamic terror, risks considered insignificant and there was little likelihood that Iraq would initiate an attack from it’s side. The real security threats were ignored by US who abandoned a Biological Weapon Convention against germ wars, and vetoed a UN resolution to prevent militarization of space and prohibit the use of poisonous gases and bacteriological methods of warfare. The press coverage of Havana reveleations in 2002 about the Cuban missile crisis, US international terrorism and forced regime change had meagre press coverage. International relations scholars pointed out that the consequences of American adventurism, policies and globalization would be a vertical proliferation of WMD, and terrorist attacks. The study titled”America’s Achiles Heel” concluded a 90% chance of success in smuggling WMD to US by terrorists, made more grave by an attempted, unsuccessful 1993 attack on WTC.

Though a tyrant, Saddam was a rational one, his WMD was under strict chain of command. But an attack on Iraq could collapse this, opening the weapons cache to terrorists and unconventional actors. The risks of a war with Iraq in the name of preventive strike, the possible consequences and the posturing of the “rogue state”as the single most grave threat to world peace and security were unanimously echoed by US and world intelligence agencies and a number of other sources through out the world like the wizards of Davos. This was an unprecedented opposition in history to a war that had not begun. Though the critiques originated in the establishment, the administration ignored it. From a propaganda point of view, US did not need the burden of proof, a declaration of noble intent was enough. The risk of WMD proliferation and terrorism were in turn considered good even, since those could be used to induce fear in US and the world, thus maintain credibility and bolster president’s popularity for short term gains, and make others obey US. Clearly the twin most important goals were maintaining hold on political power and enhancing US control of the world’s energy sources. Roling back the progressive reforms, instituitionalizing a radical restructuring of domestic society and the imperial grand strategy for world domination were the other goals.

The Wild Men in the Wings

The main focus in White House was Iraq’s WMD and terrorism. Democratization/ liberation of Iraq, effect of war on Iraqis were not raised as concerns inside the White House except among the “the wild men in the wings” as Mc George Bundy referred to those who felt more was involved. Warning from other countries, international aid and medical agencies about the humanitarian consequences in Iraq with people already on the edge of survival from punitive sanctions, were ignored. A huge refugee flow and public health crisis was predicted by former asst. secretary of defense, Kenneth Bacon. Altogether the planned relief efforts were not detailed, short of money and hugely controlled by military and there was a studied lack of interest for the warning calls in Washington.

The Saddam Hussein Reader: Selections from Leading Writers on Iraq” gives a complex pictire of the tyrant Saddam, who turned violence into a state instrument, with a hideous human rights record, but one who hoisted half of Iraq’s population into middle-class, developed it’s instituitions by directing the oil money into development. Arabs world over came to study in Iraqi universities. The infrastructure was purposefully destroyed during 1991 war, US and UK imposed sanctions under the aegis of UN destroyed civilians, food and humanitarian aid was limited, child mortality shot up(from 50 to 133 per 1000 live births), epidemics ensued, with more death under sanctions than from warfare. At a time of drought as well as child mortality from lack of access to clean drinking water, US purposefully blocked water tankers. Vaccination of children was blocked which was strongly protested by UNICEF,and WHO. Dennis Halliday and Haris von Sponek, the respected UN diplomats who knew Iraq well resigned protesting the genocidal character of US-UK regime, by withholding food and medicines . They were prevented from briefing in the UN. Their successor Tun Myat backed US describing the Iraqi food distribution as the best among the World Food Programme. There was general lack of coverage about the murderous sanctions except in a few news papers, discussions were minimal and whatever came to UN notice was kept from public scrutiny. The sanctions devastated the Iraqis, strengthened Saddam, and increased dependency of Iraqi people on Saddam. The International Red Cross concluded that a decade of sanctions tattered the economy, the “oil for food” programme by UN did not halt the collapse of health system and water supply, the two main reasons for the civilian catastrophe.

Coming to some bizzare defense of sanctions by the US. One, that Saddam was being punished for building palaces and monuments by illegal means, defying UN resolutions by crushing the civilians, his victims actually. Two, to bomb and occupy Iraq so as to stop the torture of sanctions. The conventional “studied lack of interest” of likely consequences is not new in case of US. Five days after 9/11, US demanded that Pakistan stop the food and aid supply to Afghanistan’s civilians. aid workers were withdrawn, and millions of Afghans were at the brink of starvation.,a “silent genocide” by US. The aid organization protests recieved no attention in Washington. The policy evaluation must be based on likely consequences, a truism applied for enemy nations , but not for US.

Democracy and Human Rights

The establishment critics restricted their comments on Iraq to disarmament, deterrence and terrorism without any serious references to democratization and liberation. They were aware of the previous administration’s support for Saddam, help given to Saddan to develop WMD when he was a danger, help given to him to crush rebellions that might have unseated him. During this time, Labor Party was in opposition and so they were free to oppose Saddam’s crimes and British support for him. They were absent in protest against the crimes including Tony Blair, Jack Straw, Geoff Hoon and others of New Labor. Things changed and in 2002, Jack Straw, then foreign minister released a dossier of Saddam’s crimes( the timing is significant), from a period of US- UK support, something overlooked before. He failed to give a reason for his conversion from one of support to skepticism of Saddam. Actually, in 2001, as Home Secretary, he had refused to give asylum to an Iraqi fleeing torture and detention in Iraq, justifying the fair trial in Iraq under an independent judiciary of Saddam. Straw’s conversion has shadows in Clinton’s when he suddenly discovered in 1999 that Indonesia had done some grisly thing in East TImor in the past 25 years.

The ovewhelming popular opposition in US was controlled by propaganda campaigns. In Britain public opinion was split 50/50, but it took the position of junior partner, kept reluctantly after WW 2. Germany and France opposed in accordance to majority of their public who opposed war. US condemned them, Donald RUMSFIELD dismissed them as “Old Europe”. New Europe was led by Italy’s Sylvio Berlusconi who stood with US against the majority of its public opposingthe war. The interpretation was that the New Europe( 8 former Russian satellite states, Italy, Spain) stood behind Washington even if Germany and France opposed. Majority of the public in all New Europe opposed war. The public support in the former Communist countries were also low with or without UN support for the war, the leaders’ support was ambiguous, fearing US. Thus the democratic public opinion of the New Europe was jettisoned by the leaders for supporting US. Germany and France were condemned for anti- Americanism, paranoid, drive by avarice and unable to comprehend the strain of idealism that make America tick. Turkey, though depised Saddam, respected the will of 90% of their people to stay out of war. All the countries that opposed the war, were condemned that they followed the pople’s will and not US and lacked democratic credentials. Turkey was coerced by threats of economic sanctions and Erdogan complied with US’s will against overwhelming opposition by his people in a secretly held parliamentary session closed to public. But it did teach a lesson in democracy to West. Parliament in accordance with popular opposition to the war refused US troops to be stationed there. US branded the government too weak in the face of popular opposition. The clear presuppositions are strong governments disregard the public will and obey the ruler, while weak ones succumb to the will of their people. Shocking statement was by the Pentagon planner, leading visionary in democratizing the ME, Paul Wolfowitz, who condemned the Turkish military who failed to play the leadership role by allowing an elected leader to follow the public opinion.

The American political commentator and author, a liberal, Thomas Friedman suggested in NYT, that France should be driven off from UNSC and replaced by India, who was much more serious than the kindergarten France. In essence the French govt. acted in accordance with the popular opinion. India was now a serious player as it was governed by an ultranationalist proto fascist NDA alliance implicated in massacre of Muslims in Gujarat, but handing the resources to MNC’s. So the enthuiasm for Indias wonderful software industry though millions live in abject poverty, women under duress. Remember, the Taliban was also of no concern to US as long as they were cooperative.

These are instructive of the prevailing attitudes of US political and intellectual elites to democracy and freedom. Though dislike to democracy is a traditional stance of those in power with privilege, a stark demonstration of this by a democratic country is beyond real. That is the reason why the establishment critics ignores the democratization rhetoric of the elites. Commentators pointed to the uncomfortable dualism of Bush seeking to democratize the ME, at the same time seeking closer ties with autocrats exactly following Reagan. Reagans model of democracy was a top down form without upsetting the balance of the autocratic regime. A democracy where the people’s involvement was out of question and consequently Latin Americans lost their faith in democracy. The Argentine political scientist, Atilio Boron., in his book, ‘State, Capitalism, And Democracy In Latin America‘ explains  the obstacles Latin American countries face in their efforts at democratic reform, including political institutions, a strong authoritarian tradition, the influence of neoliberal economic policies, the shortsightedness of the ruling classes and hopelessness among the poor.

Neoliberalization in 1970 s reduced democratic options by strenghthening investors, with the government facing conundrums against funders’ and voters’ choices. Free movement of the capital, a key feature of globalization turned out to be the greatest obstacle to democratic government as John Maynard Keynes had warned.Harmful consequences of foreign investment was mentioned by Adam Smith in his Wealth of Nations. Same is true of privatization, another feature of neolibaralization.

Disllusionment with democracy was evident in US in the “stolen election” of 2000. The general public regarded it as a game between large contributors, party leaders and PR industry. Issues were not on agenda, voters were directed to the personal qualities of the candidate.

Liberation from Tyranny: Constructive Solutions

In Iraq, the constructive solution to democracy would have been to end the economic sanctions that strengthened Saddam and made the people more dependent on him than an outright violence against a tyranny long supported by the US. The people of Iraq were denied the democratic choices all along, like in the 1991 uprising when US supported Saddam in crushing it maintaining that the country needs an iron fisted military junta who offered better stability than representatives of people who suffered repression who might have ruled the country independent of US. . Exposure of mass graves of Saddam’s victims of revolution oppressed with US aid, was used as a smokescreen for the 2002 attack evoking his brutal genocide, something ignored in 1991. A popular uprising unlike US instigated coup by groups it controlled would have left US out of it’s influence in Iraq, like the revolts against tyrants supported by US. Sanctions were the best way to prevent a popular revolt and it succeeded. US hegemony over Iraq was strongly opposed in post war Iraq. A Shite Islamic Republic was decided to be objected by US on the grounds that they would mend fences with Iran.

Condolezza Rice stressed that Iraq is not East Timor, Kosovo or Afghanistan. The distinction is clear by the fact that Iraq is a major prize not to be given to UN or Iraqis. So the post war Iraq administration chart topped US personnels with a few Iraqis as advisors at the bottom end of the list. Thus by disturbing the world order Iraq became the “petri dish” for the US experimentation of world order and hegemony and establishing new norms as NYT reported

Dilemmas of Dominance

US support of Eastern Europe was based on the fact that it can drive the modern capitalism by cheap labour and blow apart the welfare state culture. After fall of Berlin wall, rising unemployment and pauperization of working class meant people were willing to work for pittance, for longer hours. Thus Europe could hammer away at high wages, short working hours, corporate taxes, and luxurious labor programmes.Thus the advantages could be brought to the west as well. The market reforms of East Europe were welcomed by US elites since the Western Europes social welfare systems and tax funded health care was very popular in US. Western Europe’s social market system could be a virus that infect others just like the independent social and economic development of the third world thus constituting successful defiance. The demographic consequences of modern capitalism were stark.

European unification received ambiguous support based on the doubt that Europe might go its own way independent of US..Eastern Europe, apart from undermining the social market system of West Europe, acted as a trojan horse for US market interests. In 1973 the share of US in world economy shrunk from its post WW2 peak and a tripolar order came into existence- North America, Europe and Japan based Asia. Later East Asia and China too joined. Before WW2, US was an economic powerhouse only, but after the war it became the leader in global management too as the other powers weakened or were devastated. Industrial production quadrupled and US controlled the whole western hemisphere, oceans and territory bordering it.

Marshall Plan fuelled growth of American MNC’s in Europe. SE Asia was to provide resources and raw materials to their former imperial masters. George Kennan, head of State Departments policy planning, adviced Africa to be split among Europeans to exploit the resources and the prized possession, the Middle East rich in oil was to be under US.

Cauldron of Animosities

Michael Krepon, a co-founder of the Stimson Center and a leading specialist on nuclear threats, raised concerns about the unstable nuclear proliferation belt from Pyonyang to Baghdad. But Israel, a far more nuclear threat is rarely featured in public discussions. Bush and Blair called for Resolution 687 to eliminate WMD from Iraq as a basis for invasion . But they ignored Article 14 of UN, specifying “a goal of establishing a Middle East zone free of WMD” that included Israel too.

Israel’s military capacities are dangerous, it is an off shore US military technology base and the core of economy is a military linked high tech industrial system with ties to US economy. It is now rated second in the western world after US, in terms of social gaps in income , property, capital, education and spending. It’s former social welfare system has eroded. It has close alliance with the other major regional military power, Turkey. 12% of Israeli offensive aircrafts are permanently stationed in Turkey, spying Iran, the main purposes being to partition Iran, separating the northern region, weakening it geopolitically, bar its access to Caspian sea and to expedite a pipeline from Caspian to Mediterranean cutting out Iran.

US-Israel- Turkey alliance extend to Central Asia and India (1998). The nationalist govt of India in 1998 shifted it’s international stance to Israel. The political analyst, Praful Bidwai wrote of the fascination of the Hindu nationalists with Zionism that is rooted in Islamophobia and hypernationalism and jingoism. The alliance of India and Israel , two nuclear powers contributed to proliferation of WMD, terror and disorder.

US- Israeli relations

After WW1, economy shifted from industrial to oil- based and petroleum sources were discovered in the ME. Now, the US policy shifted to controllig ME. British empire had delegated control to Arab ruler clients, a veil of constitutional fiction and cost effective than direct rule. The population did not submit, but airpower was becoming available to bomb civilians , and some like Winston Churchil gassed the recalcitrant Kurds and Afghans. Britain undermined the efforts to prevent the use of airpower against civilians after the war. The statesman, Lloyd George praised the British Govt. for reserving the right to bomb niggers.

US followed the British empire policy and the non- Arab states like Turkey, Shah’s Iran too joined. For US, it was more about control than access. After WW2, North America was the world’s largest oil producer. Later a major exporter to US, was Venezuela. And the US was expected to rely on the Atlantic Basin resources in future and not ME oil. So control over ME, was on the basis of the profits to US-UK energy corporations. The oil wealth recycles to US and UK in many ways like construction projects, military hardwares etc. Thus a global system of military bases were planned in Gulf. Base sites include, in Eastern Europe, Turkey,Afghanistan, Central Asia, British held island of Diego Garcia( inhabitants were expelled). One of the main reasons for invasion of Iraq was to establish a military base at the heart of ME. The 1948 Israeli Arab war showed the Israeli military military prowess that offered Israel as a means to gain military advantage over the Gulf region.

In 1958, the Eisenhower administration identified three major crisis of radical nationalism which could lead to democracy. In North Africa, the Algerian sttruggle for independence, in Indonesia, a peasant based party revolting against Suharto and in ME, Nasser, the new-Hitler of Egypt overthrowing imperial forces leading to independence. A coup in Iraq overthrew British backed government and it was feared that Kuwait and Saudi would follow the same path. Israel helped in supressing the nationalist movement in Jordan and US recognised it’s importance as an ally to thwart Arab nationalism and to hold Persian Gulf oil by force. The threat of independent Arab nationalism was destroyed for ever by thwarting Nasser in 1967 war. Israel also aided by deterring Syrian intervention to protect Palestinians who were being massacred in Jordan. Thus US aid to Israel quadrupled. The tacit alliance of Israel- Iran- Saudi helped US root its power in the ME. In 1979, when Shah fell, Israel-Turkey alliance invited Saddam to join them.

In 1971, Anwar Sadat of Egypt offered peace treaty with Israel in return for complete withdrawal of Israel from its occupied territories. Israel chose confrontation with US aid, not on the grounds of security but on the basis of further expansion. Inhabitants were brutally expelled from Sinai for an all- Jewish city of Yamit. Egypt waged a war in 1973, a near disaster for Israel. Kissinger launched his shuttle diplomacy In Camp David settlement of 1978-79. US and Israel accepted his 1971 offer, but by then Sadat included Palestinian rights too in the peace offer.

Now, Israel moved on to occupt Lebanon by a 1978 and 1982 war, that left many thousands dead. Many pretexts for the planned attack on 1982 failed, and finally the attempted assassination of Israel ambassador in London by Abu Nidal was used as a pretext. The Sabra- Shatila refugee camp was attacked in Beirut killing 200 people. US vetoed attempts to end the war in UN. The war continued for 18 years. The aim of Israel was to weaken PLO and set back its struggle for a Palestinian state. US supported the reason too, by the PR machinery announcing the continous rocket attacks killing innocent Israelis as the reason. An exception, an article by NYT correspondent, James Bennet, who clearly wrote the aim as to destroy Arafat and install a friendly regime in PLO, that would help persuade Palestinians to live under occupation. It is also a textbook description of massive international terrorism tracing back to Washington which provides the economic, military and diplomatic support for Israel’s atrocities. US has continously been vetoing the the two state solution in UN.

Camp David 2 follwed in 2000. US- israeli rejectionism runs through this too. Conventional belief is that Clinton- Barak Yehuda team offered a magnanimous deal rejected by the Palestinians. The map of the deal shows a vrtually divided West Bank into three cantons separated with two Jewish settlements in between, limited access to East Jerusalem, the heart of Palestininan life and an all separated Gaza. The Israeli negotiator, Shlomo Ben- Ami, a dove, outlined the goal of Oslo Peace Process( Yasser Arafat- Rabin, Perez- Clinton in 1993/ The wordings made it clear that there should be a mandate for continuing Israeli settlement process)- to establish a neocolonial dependency for the Palestinians. The same was done in Camp David too. The South African model of Bantustans is being followed until now. Camp David 2 failure led to negotiations at Taba, Egypt in 2001 which also failed due to territorial problems. A territorial divide on 1967 borders with one to one land swap would have solved the problem, something blocked by US and Israel since the beginning. Bush 2- Sharon years were notable for absence of diplomatic solutions and continued settlement expansion with US back up. 42% of West Bank is now under Israeli occupation. Two expanded settlements separate the northern and southern WB from each other and from East Jerusalem and Gaza completely. The humanitarian effect on Palestinians are obstacles, patrols, barricades, prohibitions, isolation, compromising their ability to lead normal lives and impoverishing an entire national community. While there is forceful enforcement of the conditions of peace process on Palestinians, there is nothing like that on the Israelis. US is not stringent on the Israel responbilites on the roadmap, it specifies clauses and conditions on Israel on US subsidy like slashing public sector jobs, wages and lower taxes, favoring businesses and thus enforcing the neoliberal conditions on Israel.

By constructing a wall separating West Bank, ostensibly for security of Israelis, it has annexed agricultural lands(10%) and aquifers from Palestinian side to Israel. The winding path of the wall is designed to encircle parts of Palestinian lands(42% or less) and incorporate it to Israel. In December 2000, Bush administration vetoed an UN resolution advanced by EU, to reduce violence in Palestine by dispatching international monitors, something Israel strongly objects. 10 days before that US boycotted a Geneva conference to revive the situation in occupied territories according to which the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Conventions would constitute US- Israeli actions as war crimes under US law. The conference condemned US-Israeli settlements and the wilful killing, torture, deportation, depriving fair trial and destruction and appropriation of property. By not attending, US succesfully issued a double veto- blocked decisions and the barely reported events being erased from history. The Fourth Geneva Convention, instituted to criminalize Nazi crimes in occupied Europe is the core principle of international humanitarian law. It is clearly applicable to Israeli occupation. Resolutions from UN has adopted the US- backed occupations as flagrant violations of the convention. US and Europe as High Contracting Parties should make sure that other countries and themselves are obligated by solemn treaty to prosecute those responsible for the crimes, but by rejecting their duties US is perpetuationg terror by abstaining from UN during the Clinton years and undermining the resolutions during the Bush 2 years.

The Bush administration endorsed the violent repression by permitting Sharon to continue his offensive during 2002, levelling the Jenin refugee camps, smashing the old city of Nablus, destroying the infrastructure of Ramallah. For the first time, Bush 2 administration opposed the UN resolution opposing annexation of Jerusalem. He also voted against a UN resolution calling for pause in the deteriorating relation between Israel and Palestine, thus continuing to sustain violence and repression. He declared the archterrorist Sharon, “a man of peace” and demanded that Arafat be replaced by a pliable Palestinian leader without popular following. So much for his vision of “democracy”. In a 2003 speech to a far Right American Institute he obliquely remarked that the settlement might end once peace is achieved( unilaterally as per US decisions and terms), an implicit remark to continue settlement, and a reversal of official US policy that settlement is illegal. All these endorsements escaped mentions by the press.

During the first anniversary of 9/11 Bush approved 200 million dollars of aid to the rich Israel, rejecting the 130 million dollar aid to Afghanistan. The UK Foreign Secretary at the time was worried about the ME issues, Saddam and insecurity of Israel. The insecurity of Palestine was not even worthy of mention. The undermining of diplomatic peace porcess is justified on the basis of Palestinian terror against Israeli civilian, which did increase after they had been continually battered by the US and Israel. Israel has always had a culture of using power over peace, despite it’s sacrosanct ethos of aspiring to peace. The instituitionalization of power guided by a military culture intervening by threat or force in politics, using fear mongerng tactics to create anxiety of public and distracting them from domestic issues is a formula enacted by the founding father David Ben Gurion, something familiar in many fascist, proto fascist governments. The IDF is notorious for extreme violence, sometimes disregarding the elected civilian government as was clear during the months of Intifada. The ratio of Palestinians killed is almost 20 times to those of Israelis. US provided bulldozers raze the buildings, houses, fields and olive groves with utter abandon. The resistance from Palestine mostly boil down to stone throwing and rocket firing while the IDF uses US provided highly advanced weapons against them. US provided military helecopters fired at civilians unrestricted, again something that went unreported in US press. Bulldoing and using earthmowers fitted on tanks were used by US in 1991 Gulf war, while they bulldozed live Iraqi soldiers into trenches and killed them. Most were hapless victims of Saddam, the Shiites and Kurds hiding in sand holes or fleeing for their lives. This also was not reported by the press.

These slaughters, an overwhelming show of disparity of force, borders on perversive. Another one is the much lauded object lesson in airpower( recorded in US Airforce study) to all Communists especially to North Korean Communists during the Korean war of 1953. No targets left in a flattened country, the AirForce bombed and destroyed the irrigation dams providing water to 75% of the rice cultivation. The westerners would never understand this means starvation and slow death of people where rice is a staple diet. Such crimes constituted the ones receiving death sentences in Nuremberg trial. Examples of powerful states inflicting wrath upon the powerless and subjugated are many. British atrocities on Indians, and Britain’s repression of Kenyan colonial revolt are two examples. The ferocity and cruelty of the settler forces and IDF ordering collective punishment in Intifada 2 in 2000 forced the Palestinians to strike back. During Intifada 1 the population was terrorized, crushed, beaten, tortured, but they did not strike back. Many have pointed out the dangers to Israeli society by the IDF’s actions, when two thirds of the men in the army internalize the principle of Moshe Dayan that the task of the army is not just to defend the state, but to demolish the rights of innocent people just because they are like dogs, or they are Araboushim(A highly offensive and inflammatory Hebrew term of ethnic bigotry and hatred for Palestinians and other Arabs which is widely used by Israeli Zionists.) living in terrotories promised to the Jews by God. After the second Intifada, the ratio of palestinians to Israelis killed shifted from 20:1 to 3:1. The US was naturally concerned now at the outrageous attacks on their innocent clients, not shown when innocent Palestinians were being mowed, a selective vision with deep roots in the history and culture of conquerors.

Terrorism and Justice:Truisms

The two truisms, actions should be evaluated based on consequences and the same standards must apply for all parties(principle of universality) remain just that, truisms, when it comes to US actions. The defenition of terrorism in US is obscure in the sense that it is the same definition of counterterrorism in the name of war on terror. The revised definitions did nothing to differentiate the two, one of crucial problems. US is not alone in this, all states call their own terrorism as counterterror. Even the Nazi counterterrorism in occupied Europe was claimed to defend the legitimate population and governments from London- funded partisans. The US military modelled its counterterrorism from Nazi manuals analyzed sympathetically with the help of Wehrmacht officers.

By definition US becomes a terrorist state. It’s disregard for the international instituitions and actions in other countries prove this. Defenitions of terrorism get even more complicated when distinguishing between international terrorism and agression and terrorism and resistance. Charter of UN, legitimize actions if resistance is being used for right to self determination, freedom and independence of people deprived of these esp. people under colonial, racist regimes or foreign occupation. US and Israel vetoed, Honduras ( since the phrase colonial, racist regimes would imply their ally South Africa) abstained from the 1987 resolution. US and Israel would definitely not condone the resistance of ANC under Mandela (designated a terrorist group by US ). The term foreign occupation was implying Israel. so that was another reason. US and Israel were the only countries that called this terrorism and not resistance at the time. US designated the term terrorist to Hezbollah because it resisted the Israel occupation of Lebanon and to South Vietnam and Iraq because they resisted US agression.

The sharp disparities of what constitue terrorism for US and Israel and the rest of the world is apparent in historical and documentary records and marginalized critical literature. Latin America was a victim of US counterterrorism from the 1960 s. The LA military was trained to shift from Hemispheric defense to internal security during the Kennedy administration in 1962 by tolerating their military atrocities, complicity and support. Rather than external defense, regular armies were made death squads against perceived and assumed communist revolutionaries who practically included anyone who resisted the regime and military. In 1962, Kennedy sent Special Force Mission to Columbia for this purpose. The National Security aim of army reached Central America, El SALVADOR during the 1980 s. Whenever direct military aid to the army was hampered by human rights isssues as in Guatemala, surrogates took the charge.

The first war on terror declared by Reagan in 1980 s is described by academic specialists as counterterrorism efforts of resistance of US against state sponsored terrorists like Libya, Central America and Iran. US merely responed with a proactive stance to terrorism. The villainy of Vietcong, Nicaraguans, Iranians, Libyans against the US, presents a picture of US as victim. US supported Israeli invasions of Lebanon in 1982, 1993 and 1996. The car bomb outside a mosque in Beirut that killed 80 people was traced back to CIA and British intelligence. Shimon Perez’s bombing of Tunis killing 75 people was US supported. The calculated brutality and arbitrary murder of Lebanese villagers by Perez was US supported. All these fall within the category of state supported international terrorism. But none of this entered the canon of terrorism or press because of wrong- agent fallacy.

The year 1985 is considered peak year of ME terrorism not because of the above atrocities, but two terrorist attacks where two Americans were killed. The Sharon offensive of 2002 on Palestinians when many were killed, buildings buldozed, cultural centres and educational institutions crushed, people maimed, were not terrorism but defense according to US press and administration. The careful disappearance of facts by the press which presented the US version of events made it hard for the public to pursue the truth in these cases. Similar to Israel, Turkish repression of Kurds was praised by US as efforts to counter terrorism , while Turkey had been receiving the means for opression from US the one sponsoring state terrorism. For US and it’s client states the definition of terrorim differs considerably than for other states.

The bombing of Afghanistan was hailed as a ‘just-cause war’ for regime change. An international gallup poll before the bombing showed diplomatic/ judicial methods as preferrable to military action. There was considerable opposition to military action, but the poll was never reported in the US media. At that time US did not know the people behind 9/11 as it made clear 8 months after the war. Eight months after the war US announced who it thought was behind 9/11- Al Qaeda operating from Afghanistan, planned and financed in Germany and UAE. There was no definite proof still. The Bush administration bombed Afghanistan based on mere suspicions. Thus it should come under warcrimes as the bombing was not based on any actual proof, the majority of the world did not support, those who supported did so based on presupposition that US and UK knew the perpetrators well. It was a clearcut example of international terrorism by a powerful state, exactly a kind of jihad by US. The bombing, supposedly against the Taliban regime, ended up destroying the country and killed many innocents and was condemned by all Afghani leaders, religious scholars, tribal elders and also by Abdul Haq, the Afghan opposition leader highly regarded in US and AFGHANISTAN. Even in countries like India and Israel who supported military action ( for parochial reasons), a considerable majority had opposed the bombing. The hawks in US reported that the war had considerable support from a majority except some isolationist, pacifist, lunatic fringe.

The reason given by the US for bombing Afghanistan was that the Taliban reluctance to extradite the 9/11 suspects. But the US did not give any evidence to the Taliban. Contrarily, Haitian requests to extradite Emmanuel Constant , the paramilitary leader responsible for murder of thousands of civilians in the 1990 s with the support of Clinton and Bush were not even given notice in the US. The fact was that US was afraid that he would testify of the connections of US and the state terrorists. The question arises if Haiti was entitled to bomb US based on just- cause war principle. Washingtons( Bush’s) doctrine that if a country, harbours, abets , or aids terrorists, they would be terrorist too and hence bombed to earth could be applied reciprocally to US as a justified and properly calibrated response . Massive bombing of a country in which a suspected terrorist/ terrorists are being hidden cannot form a just- cause war by any means of moral/ ethical or political standards. The hollow legal claims of US commentators justifying the war as the right to self defense against those who attack or threaten one’s country could be applied by Nicaragua, Cuba, Haiti or any other country who had been victims of US interventions. Another legal support from an international law expert goes like this- “a state is responsible for the consequences of permitting its territories to be used to injure another state”. This law definitely holds good for Cuba, Nicaragua and many others to justify bombing US in retaliation.

In 1998, Clinton dispatched missile attacks on al Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Sudan believed to produce chemical weapons. Many people died, there were many further deaths from starvation due to the postponement of crucial relief efforts for 2.4 million people. A mere suspicion of a pharmacy resulted in massive and dire consequences to the people of Sudan, which the US justified as unintended and absolved themselves of culpability. With such appalling consequences, Sudan is also entitled to a retaliatory strike. The callousness by Clinton and his administration despite knowing that they were destroying a major source of pharmaceuticals and veterinary medicines in Sudan could be viewed under the Hegelian doctrine, Africans being considered mere things with no value of life. One commentator described the 9/11 as by agressors with moral orthodoxy divergent from the West. If so, what sort of moral orthodoxy should be ascribed to the West?

Confronting Terror

The 9/11 attacks were not entirely unexpected. It is doubtful that the attacks sharply changed the course of history. Even from the 80’s the war on terror was slated to continue and prospects of major terrorist attacks were publicly dscussed . In 1993, a near WTC attack almost happened that was thwarted on time. Even after 9/11 the risk assessments of future attacks did not change substantially. And US definitely had ideas of the radical Islamic terrorism at least from the 1980 s when elements that formed the later Al Qaeda assassinated Sadat of Egypt or a loosely related group that drove US forces out of Beirut, killing troops and civilians. These groups were well understood by the US as they had long been trained, recruited and armed by the CIA for their own purposes(from 1980 s) and continued to work with them even while they were attacking US. A Dutch enquiry into Srebrenica massacre revealed that while the CIA -trained terrorist networks, Mujahidins, were being flown from Afghanistan to Bosnia along with the Iranian Hezbollah fighters and arms by the US, to support the US side of Balkan wars, radical Islamists were planning to attack WTC in1993. Israel, Ukraine and Greece supplied Serbs with US provided arms. The 9/11 just served to topple the assumption that only the rich and powerful had monopoly to international terrorism.

The tendencies in global affairs that have been expected to enhance terrorist threats include neoliberal globalization causing financial volatility, deepening economic stagnation harming the poor more, political instability, and cultural alienation fostering ethnic, ideological and religious extremism. Most of the hatred will be towards US and its policies. To reduce the threat of terror, the terrorist networks should be distinguished from the reservoir from which they draw members, i.e, the poor and oppressed. The poor receives the double whammy from the rich and powerful as well as from the terrorists. Unless the sociopolitical and economic conditions that spawned Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups are addressed, US and its western allies will be targeted. Only way is to reduce the pathology of hatred, moderating conditions that breed violence and to wean away the support base by eliminating policies that are a huge recruiting device to terrorists. Might can destroy the terrorists, but the support base could be eroded only by just policies. Even destruction of terrorists will do little unless the underlying conditions that facilitated the groups emergence like political oppression and economic marginalisation are addressed. US support for tyranical regimes has to end as it supports Muslim oppression .

Violence begets more violence. As wars like the one in Iraq, continues, new terrorist jihadis will spawn. As predicted by many observers, the Iraq war catalyzed the recruitment in Al Qaeda and new terrorist groups, there was rise in radical fundamentalism all over the world. This is the greatest setback of war on terror, a terrorist safe haven has been created in Iraq itself. The goals of the terrorists are to drive the infidels out of Muslim lands, overthrow corrupt and brutal governments imposed and sustained by the infidels and to institute an extremist version of Islam. America has been singled out by the groups, according to Laden in 1998, “when it sent its troops to the land of the two Holy Mosques, and its support for oppressive, corrupt, tyrranical regimes”. Delicate social and political problems can’t be bombed and missiled out of existence, but should be addressed.

Two specific issues that inspired hatred against US policies among Muslims were the Israeli Palestinian conflict and US sancions on Iraq along with their support for corrupt governments and autocrats thus denying democracy in the Arab land. The non wealthy Muslims also resent that the wealth from the resources of their countries are being divvied up by the West and the moneyed Arabs, instead of using for their domestic purposes. Islamic fundamentalism is on the rise not just among the poor but among the educated and privileged classes too.

A Passing Nightmare

Before the dust had settled from WTC during 9/11, Republicans professed their aim to use terrorism as an excuse to pursue radical right wing agenda. Staring into the abyss of future was the public, those at the centre of power and privilige were pursuing agendas that ultimately benefited them, using the fear and anxiety of the moment to deepen the abyss. Many others joned the US in the war on terror, Russia eager to oppress the Chechnyans, China the Uighurs and Israel the Palestinians. The threat of terrorism is not the only abyss into which we peer, another one is the nuclear threat which the US and other nuclear states make sure to grow. Clinton’s Strategic Command described nuclear weapons as the most useful in the arsenal. It is the same vision as Nixon’s famous madman theory which he and Kissinger applied during the 1969 nuclear alert that could have gone wrong. The STRATCOM further manintained the right to first use of nuclear power even against those without nuclear weapons, those who have signed the Non Proliferation Treaty. They also adviced to continue to maintain the launch on warning posture for nuclear missiles on hair trigger alert. These were proposals adopted by Clinton. This document is available for the public, but they never knew that, despite the fact that US is unique in allowing the public access to high level planning documents.

Another major nuclear threat was the poorly stored and maintained nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union, almost 40,000 of them. They might end up in the hands of wrong people as loose nukes or might be deployed carelessly. The Bush administration cut off a programme to safeguard these nukes and provide alternate employment to the nuclear scientists there. US nuclear proliferation has ripple effects on other nuclear weapon holding countries. Bizarre policies include, Bush administration maintaining that it has no objection in China continuing the nuclear missile proliferation, to gain its acquiescence in dismantling the arms control agreements. Clinton encouraged Russia to adopt a launch on warning strategy, something that might go wrong as the alert systems in Russia has many holes. The grave proliferation risks and threats of accidental or unauthorized strikes are growing . Thousands of nuclear scientists in Russia are mainly unemployed increasing the risk of them accepting lucrative offers for the secret weapon programmes from other countries.

Thus the post 9/11 strategies ignored measures to alleviate the threat of military confrontation and inturn increased proliferation in US thus inviting the adversaries to breed their own proliferation. Bush called for programmes for offensive use of nuclear warheads than as a deterrent. He lowered the nuclear threshold and broke down the firewall separating nuclear weapons from other conventional weapons. Militarization of space was monoplolized . During the Cold War, opportunities to reduce the nuclear proliferation was squandered by the US consistently. ICBM, a potential threat then, was possessed by the US and not by Russia. So Russia could have signed a treaty banning them, but US took no interest. Russian archives show that it’s proposal to unify east and west Germany to reduce East- West tensions and improve economy of Russia, were flatly ignored by US in 1952. Krushchev called for mutual reduction in offensive military forces, Eisenhover ignored this, but Krushchev implemented the reductions unilaterally still, against his military command to concentrate on economic growth. Instead US went on with massive nuclear and military build up thus driving the last nail on the coffin of Krushchev’s agenda for controlling the Soviet military. Soviet Union began seriously building up nuclear weapons after this. Had the US not ignored their request for treaty, Krushchev’s revisionism could have improved the economy of Russia and expedited Gorbachev’s social and economic reforms.

The controversial weapon programmes have been called defense against possible attacks. Missile defense is a moniker for comprehensive space monopolization for offensive military programmes. Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative programmes was an effort to disarm BMD opponents,an antinuclear popular movement by stealing their language of peace and disarmament while advancing offensive military system. It was in clear violation of Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty signed in 1972. BMD is actually not about defense, but for offense. Absolute ownership of space allows US to launch nuclear or non nuclear hypersonic missiles on a perceived threat without warning and before the victim country could even activate its defense. This gives the US hegemony on an unprecedented scale. US remains the only country refusing to sign the treaty on banning militarization of space. Biological and chemical weapons development also has proceeded unimpeded, the US refusing to sign treaties or participate in international conferences. The protection of commercial interests of drug and chemical companies is a reason too here. Just like many industrial establishments develop and prosper in defense and military programmes. Many like Kyoto protocol were undermined as it would harm US economy.

One positive development is the evolution of human rights cuture accelerated in the 1960 s. Solidarity movement development in the 1980 s like the one concerning Central America are notable and unprecedented. The solidarity movements have been exposed to the wrath of repressive states , putting their lives at risk even. Rachel Aliene Corrie was an American activist and diarist. A member of the pro-Palestinian group International Solidarity Movement, she was crushed to death by an Israel Defense Forces armored bulldozer ..The killing of an US citizen by US clients using US provided weapons was not considered worthy of inquiry. Global Justice Movements are also large in scale and entirely new. Thus the planet’s “second superpower”, the masses could no longer be ignored. The gains in human rights were not gifts of enlightened leaders but imposed on states by popular protests. The harmful effects of corporate globalization have led to mass popular protests and activism in the South which slowly reached the rich industrialized countries thus linking and unifying them., making concrete alliances at grassroots level. Effects are in the form of restrain in state terrorism, policy and rhetorical changes. The momentum should be sustained to deepen the global bonds of sympathy and solidarity.

So there are two trajectories in current history- one aiming towards hegemony, acting rationally within a lunatic doctrinal framework which threatens survival and the other challenging the reigning ideological system and seeking alternatives of thought , action and institutions.

Bertrand Russel once expressed somber thoughts on peace:

After ages during which the earth produced harmless trilobites and butterflies, evolution progressed to the point at which it has generated Neros, Genghis Khans and Hitlers. This however, I believe, is a passing nightmare; in time the earth will become again incapable of supporting life, and peacce will return


Discontent with US policies intensified after 2002. The war increased the threat of terror and revived the appeal of global Islamist Jihad. Iraq became a terrorist haven. Suicide attacks increased globally. WMD proliferation increased considerably and worrisomely. In 2003, Madrid train bombings killed 200 people, in Europe’s worst terrorist crime. Spanish electorate voted out the government who had gone to war despite popular opposition.

Al Qaeda, a loose array of radical Islamists, for whom Bin Laden was hardly more than a symbol was able to recruit feverishly . It was not well known before 1998, when Clinton bombed Sudan and Afghanistan. This created closer ties between Laden, who was a symbol and Taliban and led to a sharp increase in support, financing and recruitment. Bush’s bombing of Afghanistan in 2002 led to futher growth of Al Qarda and the prominence of Laden. His message spread around the world and recruited many angry young people in a battle between good and eveil, a vision shared by Bush. Every use of force is a victory for Laden, whether dead or alive.

Russia carried out its largest military exercise exhibiting advance WMD in 2004, in response to the development of “bunker busters” by US clearly designed to target the Russian high level nuclear command bunkers that control its nuclear arsenal. Russia was also starting to duplicate hypersonic cruise missiles that would attack from space without warning, something designed by the US to reduce reliance on overseas bases and negotiated access to air routes. Russian military expenditures tripled during Bush- Putin time. Russia adopted the preemptive strike doctrine and warned that it would use the military if the access to places considered vital for its survival is limited.

Flaws might happen in automated response systems leading to nuclear launch. Pentagon had found flaws in it’s computer systems that could allow terrorist hackers to seize control and simulate a launch. Moreover US presidents have been systematically misinformed, just like the one with Iraq, about effects of nuclear war due to lack of oversight by insulated beureaucracies resulting in institutional myopia that can be catastrophic. Though the missile defense systems by the US is thought to be for deterrence, both US planners and potential targets are aware that its main purpose is offensive .

In 2003 US moved to terminate a ban in biowarfare and militarization of space. In 2003, at UN general assembly US along with India voted against steps towards elimnation of nuclear weapons. It voted along with Israel and Micronesia against steps to prevent nuclear proliferation in ME, a pretext for Iraq invasion. Colin Powell explained the NSS(National Security Strategy) in WEF like this- “Washington has the right to use force to defend ourselves from nations that possess WMD and cooperate with terrorists”. Later Bush lowered the bar further, removed the ‘cooperate with terrorists ‘ part and appraised the intent to use force if countries have the intent and ability to possess WMD, that is all the rest of the nations. Powell justified Iraq attack after it was known that the WMD story was cooked up, by explaining that Iraq had the intent and ability to make WMD and had used this against Iran and his own people, actually something done with US help. All these contrived pretexts collapsed on the face of the original reason for Iraq invasion, to secure a military base at the heart of the world’s major energy resources. And this aim has been the only reason and the plan to attack has been much before 9/11 from 1981 at least.

US moved to undermine the democratic government in Haiti by Jean Bertrand Aristide elected in 1990 democratically by the Haitian people against the US backed candidate. He was overthrown a few months later by a military coup by Bush 1. Bush 1 and Clinton supported the military junta and its wealthy patrons. Clinton allowed the president to return but on a crucial condition that he adopt the neoliberal policy of his opponent. Economy was taken over by foreign banks and businesses. Economic sovereignity was undermined, development restricted, political democracy became a shadow, country went to chaos and violence while Bush had already banned international aid before. What the US call “restoring democracy”. It was these kind of enforced economic programmes that created the third world, the imperial powers resorting to the state to protect the rich from market disciplines . The same principle is being followed still.In an election in El SALVADOR, Bush warned that if the democratic process did not come out the right way (by choosing the US supported candidate), the country’s lifeline, remittances from the US would be cut among other consequences.

Iraqis knew this kind of enforced rules better, Iraq was created by the British, the boundaries drawn by them, to ensure that Britain and not Turkey will get control of its resources of the north and Iraq was barred from sea by the US colony of Kuwait. Everything is there in classified British documents, of how an Arab facade was created to rule behind constitutional fictions. The large military and diplomatic presence in Iraq even after US handed over the power to Iraqis is proof enough that the aim was not democratization. The economy was opened for foreign take over.

Book Review “A Rainbow In The Night” by Dominique Lapierre

Author– Dominique Lapierre

Genre/ Category – Nonfiction/ History , Science and current affairs

About the author

Lapierre was born in France and at the age of thirteen he travelled to the US with his father who was a diplomat. He studied in a Jesuit school and later developed an interest in writing.

I am not sure if he is basically a historian or whether his books be categorized as exclusive history works. He is one of the nonfiction authors I love to read, one among the few whose works are as enjoyable as touching. The plus in his books is that you never feel like you are reading about wars or conquests or scanning through years and periods as in the usual history books. You get the feel and curiosity of ‘what next’ as in some fiction. You never get bored reading history from his books.

He was awarded Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian award in 2008.


The post- apartheid South Africa after 1994 was called “The Rainbow Nation” by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. ‘A Rainbow in The Night’ tells the apartheid history of South Africa. The book reminded me of ‘Heart Of Darkness by Joseph Conrad ( My review- https://deepanairsmusings.home.blog/2020/02/27/book-review-and-analysis-heart-of-darkness-by-joseph-conrad/)

During 1652, The Dutch East India Company sent a small group of farmers to the southern tip of Africa. The purpose was to establish an encampment to collect fruits and vegetables so as to prevent scurvy, a disease that literally stopped their long sea journeys to the East in search of gold, silk and spices. Their leader was an ardent Calvinist, Van Jan Riebeek. The soil was unbelievably fertile and Riebeek believed that they were the chosen ones, god-sent to the chosen land to Christianize Africa, just like Canaan was gifted to Jacob’s sons by annihilating the races there.

The future generations of Riebeek waged all out wars with the African tribes, whose war tactics and traditional weapons like spears and arrows became ineffectual. The land of the ancient tribes was conquered and the inhabitants transformed to slaves to their ‘white guests’. Ships, Victoria’s armies, merchants from the East and the West in search of gold and diamond mines, and their slaves started reaching the Cape of Hope and in the bloodshed that followed the black soil slowly began to change it’s color.

The Dutch migrants who believed themselves to be the chosen people started to feel these invasions unbearable. These parochial religious people who spoke the ‘Afrikaans‘ language called ‘Africaners’ started migrating to the interiors of Africa in search of the promised land. By the 1830’s this trek made by the future generations of the Dutch by encountering and annihilating the local tribes came to be known as ‘ The Great Trek‘.

Many years passed, many wars were waged with the other inhabitants and during the beginning of 1900’s Boer War was fought with Great Britain followed by a truce. By the time the demarcation and chasm between black and white had widened beyond the unthinkable. The minority whites owned majority of land and wealth and the majority blacks lived in suffocation amidst penury, destitution and diseases.

While the end of world war and Hitler in 1948 saw the new birth of humanity and rules of law around the whole world, South Africa lived up to the name ‘Dark Continent’ and was busy molding a barbaric system. In May 28, 1948, the National Party came to power voted in by the white people. Inspired by Hitler’s pure Aryan concept, the National Party leader and Church minister, Daniel Francois Malan, exhorted in parliament, ” At last God has bestowed South Africa to us“. That was the beginning of the system of apartheid as we know today, robbing the natives of their freedom and basic rights in their birth country forcing them to be prisoners.

Apartheid means ‘the state of being apart‘ in Afrikaans language. The term was translated by it’s prophets to the outside world as an opportunity for the black race to live according to their tribal culture and for others to live with their beliefs without chances of intermingling. But, South Africa was divided in all means and respects into black and white. Public places, religious and educational institutions became unreachable for anyone other than the whites. Blacks were forced out from urban areas and segregated into ghettoes. For those above 18 years of age to walk around, they had to carry a document called passbook. They were not given the citizenship rights or considered as citizens of the country.

Voices of dissent started to rise as the people suffocated under poverty, diseases and police atrocities. African National Congress was born under Nelson Mandela. Gandhism and nonviolence were incorporated, but was pointless. Armed revolution called ‘ spear of the nation’ began. Mandela was jailed for 27 years. Riots, dissents and bans by the world nations and organizations brought the Africaner supremacy to it’s tipping point. Mandela was freed in 1990 and ANC rose to power in 1994 under him led to the official end of apartheid n SA.

Lapierre includes glimpses of humanity, white and black, touching anecdotes of some humans who spread their light when SA had gone dark among the world nations. World’s first heart transplant surgeon Dr Christian Bernard, the white lady, Helen Lieberman who had spread hope in black alleys, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Winnie Mandela, who had suffered torture and led ANC during Mandela’s absence and a few others many of whom we have seen and heard during our own generation.

Lapierre writes about a wagon rally conducted a few years before apartheid officially began in SA to spread Africaner nativeness and greatness reminding the Great Trek of their forefathers. South Africa was able to slowly transform from a white only view to a rainbow of colors. But there are countries now, like India for instance, regurgitating history and excavating a buried past turning the wheels of time to the graveyard of past instead of into a bright future, a trend that we need to worry about.

Book Review- “The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture, and Identity” by Amartya Sen


Author–                         Amartya Sen

Category/ Genre–      Nonfiction/ Essays/ Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity

Awards/ Recognitions–   Nobel Prize in Economics(1998)

First published–             2005


Author Biography

Amartya Kumar Sen, the Indian Economist, 1998 Nobel Prize winner in Economics, was born in Santiniketan on the campus of Rabindranath Tagore‘s Viswa Bharati(both a school and college). Originally his family is from Dhaka( now the capital of Bangladesh). His father was a Chemistry professor at Dhaka University, his maternal grandfather taught Sanskrit and ancient and medieval Indian culture in Viswa Bharati University, where his mother was a student.

Before choosing to study and research in Economics, he flirted with Sanskrit, Mathematics, and Physics for a while. Much of his childhood years were spent in Dhaka and later his educational attitudes were formed in Santiniketan. The schooling in Shantiniketan, according to Sen, was progressive, co-ed, and emphasized in fostering curiosity and thinking over competitive excellence and grades. The school curriculum included India’s cultural, analytical, and scientific heritage along with Wester, Eastern, South East Asian, West Asian, and African cultures. Later he would write to his friend that it was this kind of diverse exposure that helped him identify himself with the cultural diversities of the world.

Tagore’s “idea of India” was against the culturally separatist view “against the intense consciousness of the separateness of one’s own people from others.” He resisted the Hindu- Muslim communal identity from the very beginning. Sen saw his teenage years marking a great divide in diversity, a belligerent and divisive communal hatred sweeping through India. The communal violence that engulfed the 40′ s India left a deep mark on young Sen’s mind. He gives an example of a Muslim laborer knifed to death by Hindu mobs, only for the reason of the religion he followed. The unfreedom of poverty that forced the man to seek work in a hostile area, thereby endangering all his other freedoms thus having had to pay with his life devastated young Sen.

Another event that influenced his thinking greatly was The Bengal Famine of 1943. He was struck by its class-dependent nature. Only those at the lowest rung of the ladder were affected. The political convictions that he had subscribed to as a student in Calcutta college and his ideas of constructive political opposition happened to be in tandem with the political liberal ideas of the post-Enlightenment Europe and the tolerance and diversity in Indian culture.   As KingAshoka had put it in the third century B.C.: “For he who does reverence to his own sect while disparaging the sects of others wholly from attachment to his own, with intent to enhance the splendor of his own sect, in reality by such conduct inflicts the severest injury on his own sect.” According to Sen, it was a serious mistake to see tolerance just as a Western liberal idea.

Sen’s research encompassed welfare economics, economic inequality, and poverty, famines as the manifestation of poverty, democratic social choice, cited by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in awarding him the Nobel. Kenneth Arrow‘s path-breaking study of social choices in his work ‘Social Choice and Individual Values‘ influenced him and his friend. Later, in Cambridge Trinity College, the political-economic debates about Keynesian theory among the neo-Classical Keynes skeptics supporting capital theory and neo-Keynesians against the capital proved to be a victorious battleground for Sen in developing his research.  The genial co-existence and tolerance of the supporters of different theorists were notable in Cambridge.

He did PhD in research and studied  Philosophy in Calcutta later and went to work as a professor of Economics in the Delhi School of Economics until 1971. His ideas of the social choice theory were developed here in-depth. In his 1970 book,’ Collective Choice and Social Welfare, he has tried to explain the social choice theory. He moved to London in 1971, while he had been suffering from serious health problems as a result of earlier radiation treatment to his oral cancer. He developed bone necrosis of hard palate for which plastic surgery was required.

In Oxford, he expanded his research from the theoretical social choice to applied and practical sides of inequality, unemployment, personal liberty, basic rights, and poverty. He worked on gender inequality, causation and prevention of famines, hunger and deprivation, and development. Notable was his studies on the nature of individual advantage in terms of the substantive freedoms that different persons respectively enjoy, in the form of the capability to achieve valuable things.

He moved with his two children to Harvard in the late 1980s after the death of his second wife from cancer. Up to 1991, he was much involved in analyzing the overall implications of the perspective on welfare economics and political philosophy. He is currently the Thomas W. Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University. He is also a senior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows and a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, where he previously served as Master from the years 1998 to 2004. He is the first Asian and the first Indian academic to head an Oxbridge college.

Sen heralded the area of Qualitative Economics as opposed to the for-profit Quantitative Economics based on mathematical calculations and taking their cue from Wall Street. He introduced the humane element in Political Economics thus spearheading the branch of Welfare Economics. “The Human Development Index” used to rank countries based on human development was his contribution along with the Pakistani Economist Mahbub ul Haq. Amartya Sen’s books have been translated into more than thirty languages. He is a trustee of Economists for Peace and Security. In 2006, Time magazine listed him under “60 years of Asian Heroes” and in 2010 included him in their “100 most influential people in the world “



The work is a collection of 16 essays on identity, culture, and Indian history. The first four essays explain the principle theme of the book- India’s long argumentative tradition. The focus is on the long history of argumentative tradition in India, its contemporary relevance, and the neglect in cultural discussions. Sen drives home the point that Indian heterodoxy and dialogue give rise to many convictions and viewpoints.

In the preface, the author contrasts the politically charged ‘ Hindutva’ movement,  – a narrow Hindu view of Indian civilization that separates it into pre and post-Muslim conquest periods invoking holy Vedas and the Hindu epic Ramayana in justifying their actions like mosque demolition, with the integrationists who view these as unwelcome intrusions into secular society and question the partisan, factional nature of invoking Hindu Classics time and again.

The author in addition to stressing the import of the epics on Indian literary and philosophical texts, folk traditions, and dialectics, points to their role in Indian culture. He gives examples of the fourteenth-century Bengali translations of the Hindu epics, Mahabharata and Ramayana by the Muslim Pathan rulers of Bengal out of pure love of Indian culture. Similarly, he contends, The Upanishads, the philosophical part of the Vedas was first translated into Persian by the Moghul prince, Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of the Emperor Shahjahan and Mumtaz Mahal, in the seventeenth century.

The epistemological nature of the Vedas paving way for the argumentative and dialectical tradition in Indian culture is stressed. The author writes that such a tradition is in full view in Ramayana itself, where Rama is considered a fallible human and an epic war hero and not divine by the pundit Javali who explains in detail that ” there is no afterworld nor any religious practices for attaining that and the injunctions about the worship of gods, sacrifice, gifts, and penance have been laid out in the Shastras( scriptures) by clever people to rule over other people”. According to Tagore, the epics should be taken for what it is- a marvelous parable and cultural heritage than a document of supernatural veracity.

Sen contends that skepticism, dialectics, debates, violence, and wars had been a part of Indian history since the beginning and it would be counterproductive to signify the latter over the former in social and political discourse. Similarly, the long tradition of heterodoxy in Indian thoughts and beliefs, and the co-existence of different religions which were debated are writ large on annals of history not to be ignored into a single orthodox legacy of Hinduism, which is a much later term according to the author. There were Buddhists, Jains, Agnostics, and Atheists in the mainstream that debated with each other and with Hinduism followers. He observes that the dominant religion in India was Buddhism for almost a thousand years, and the Chinese in the First Millenium CE referred to India as a Buddhist kingdom.

He provides two examples, that of the Buddist emperor of India, Ashoka, who in third century BC outlined the principles of tolerance, rich heterodoxy, and rules of debates, dialectics, and disputes. Similarly, the principles of tolerance and separating religion from the state were cemented by a Muslim Indian emperor, Akbar, in 1590 s, at a time when The Inquisition was in full swing in Europe.

The essays assert the contemporary relevance of dialectics and heterodoxy in a democracy, public reasoning, secularism, resisting inequities, removing poverty, and in the pursuit of justice. He disagrees with the notion of elitism in arguments, that it is a realm accessible to the literate and affluent in contrast to the common men and points to the way this leads to cynicism and impassivity. He reminds us that the critical voice has always been the right of the repressed and oppressed and an opportunity to be utilized and not a necessary skill. Even though, the documentation of arguments tends to be biased in the route of articulations of the powerful and well educated, many interesting accounts of debates in the past involve disadvantaged groups.

He contends that the nature and strength of the argumentative tradition in India are greatly ignored on the premise that the country is a land of religions, uncritical faith, and unquestioned practices. The practice by some theorists in suppressing India’s intellectual heritage by highlighting the faith-based unreasoning culture of the East does injustice to the argumentative tradition of India in the past by simply contrasting the East-West culture in a fixed and preconceived manner through the prism of religion. A great deal of our past and present is intentionally or unintentionally getting effaced by this practice. The names of the great Aryabhatta, the Mathematician, and Kautilya, the political economist are evoked by Sen during the discussion.

There are four parts, each consisting of 4 essays. The first two essays deal with pluralism and dialogic tradition in the support of democracy, secularism, the pursuit of art and science, and social dialectics in seeking social justice. Essay 3 is about the significance of understanding heterodoxy as against the parochial religionistic approach through the lens of Hinduism. Essay 4 is about the ways to understand Indian identity.

Part 2 is about the role of communication in understanding and development of cultures. Essays 5 and 6 deals with the insights on communication from the works of Tagore and the Indian film director Satyajit Ray. The 7th essay is about the impact of imagined India in Western perceptions on the Indian mind during the colonial and post-colonial periods.  Essay 8 is about the intellectual, religious, and trade relations that China and India had for a thousand years from the early part of the first millennium.

Part 3 has four essays that deal with deprivation and security after the development of nuclear weapons. The last four essays are about the import of reasoning in identity, secularism, multiculturalism, and the calendrical variations that allowed to fix the principal meridian for India at Ujjain(the basis for Indian Standard Time five and a half hours ahead of GMT).


As one of the most influential public thinkers and intellectuals of our times, a Nobel laureate, the very first quality that is seen mentioned about him, anywhere his name or the critical reviews of his works appear, is his humility and humaneness. He is still an Indian citizen, he has not given up the Indian passport despite having been living and teaching abroad since the 1950s. He is a man whom Cambridge and Harvard are said to have fought to offer an appointment. He returns to Santiniketan every year working for a trust he had set up there with the Nobel prize money. A true patriot, he is unassuming and has an unparalleled knowledge in Indian History, Philosophy, Economics, and Culture.

In the book, the author tries to upend the stereotype of India from its exotic, mythical place to a rightful one. He is careful not to overemphasize the past triumphs at the same time criticizing the Western oversimplification of the realities like James Mill‘s History of British India. Sen warns not to oversimplify the notion of democratic India as a Western gift to a country suited to democracy by virtue of its rich history and culture. He disputes the ideas of Hindutva propagated by the Hindu nationalists and refutes the Western idea of India as a Hindu nation.

With the help of a vast array of references, he invokes rulers and emperors like Ashoka and Akbar, dissects the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata to delineate the facts of inclusivity and accommodation to dissent and skepticism in the broad and magnanimous Hinduism and criticizes the notion of bellicosity, divisiveness, and exclusionist sentiments and agendas of the Hindutva movement.

The part where the only Indian literature Nobel laureate in India is being discussed, he is unambiguous in criticizing and vindicating the poet, novelist, short story writer, essayist, and playwright. Though versatile, Tagore was mainly known for his poetry in the West. The Western judgementalism and revisionism of Eastern writers are being thrown to light through his own prism. Tagore was the recipient of both these while alive. Ezra Pound and WB Yeats were champions of his works earlier, but they pilloried him later on thus making his works oblivious to the world outside India. Sen adds his own vindication for this while he mentions the untranslatability of Tagore’s works. At the same moment, he criticizes the Western literary world in trying to categorize the great author into an Eastern, mystical, exotic, sage-like niche while they missed noticing a liberal, rational, humane thinker.

Invoking the filmmaker Satyajit Rai, Sen draws the conclusion that his triumph in the midst of world movies is drawn from a heterogenic approach, not remaining inside the bounds of what one normally expects as an overdose of Orientalism from an Asian filmmaker, and eclectic experimentation by learning and blending from other cultures.

The relevance of the book in contemporary India cannot be overstated. A well of knowledge and wisdom, the author has, with meticulous research, driven home the basic understanding of ideas like pluralism, heterogeneity, heterodoxy, secularism, and inclusivity by digging into history, identity, religious identity, and culture, while underpinning the significance of dialectics and debates in sustaining these and defenestrating preconceived and prejudiced Western notions of all these with respect to India- ancient and modern.






Book Review and analysis-“Notes Of A Native Son” by James Baldwin


Author–                         James Baldwin

Category/ Genre–      Nonfiction/ Essays/ LiteraryCriticism/ Personal Essay

People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead, turns himself into a monster.”

James Baldwin


Speaking of James Baldwin, a few things that immediately cross my mind are his novel ‘Giovanni’s Room‘,  the 1941 oil on canvas painting ‘Dark Rapture‘ by the American Modernist painter Beauford Delaney of Baldwin seated as nude, his trenchant quotes and the incisive anatomization of race and identity through his spell-binding essays.

I had read ‘Giovanni’s Room‘ years back, as a young reader, and had been fixed since of the impression that I had gleaned of him as an author confessional of his sexual identity, candid and forthrightly in exploring homosexuality at a time when the very term made for moral bankruptcy and anti-Christian bearing. Then, amidst the passing years, I happened to read his quotes, essays, and most notably the critical reviews of authors about his works, Giovanni’s Room one among them. I realized its dimensions and shades that I had missed as a young reader. The reviews reminded me of the depth of his observation and experiences of the social dynamics, something crucial for a novelist and essayist, that I had failed to take note of all those years back.

Likewise, my interest in paintings and the painters and my love of painting brought me to read the articles about American modernist painter Beauford Delaney and his works. I was literally stunned to learn about his oil painting ‘Dark Rapture‘ of a seated male nude. Stunned, since, one- I had never known him painting nudes, two- that the painting was of his protege James Baldwin, three- the regality of the figure emanating confidence, and four- the dynamics of colors, red, blue, green, pink and yellow that swirl in such a manner that we are able to distinguish the figure in an entity, still inseparable from the surroundings that flow and merge with the figure. (((A slight detour…..For those interested in paintings and art, a fair and perfect foil could be found in John Singer Sargent‘s male nude study of his African- American muse Thomas E McKeller, a bellhop and elevator-attender and believed to have had intimately associated with Sargent. Sargents muse seems stressed, evidently posing as an object/ subject for the painter, while Delaney’s protege seems to confidently pose gleaming in the rainbow colors. Sargent is said to have had never openly admitted his relationship with his muse and he was casually racist as evidenced by his letters. Their intimacy could well be just a matter of conjecture, we don’t know for sure. His black male nudes are still a subject of racial tension owing to the manner in which he had represented them. Delaney was a mentor and father figure to Baldwin and the creative point where their artistic and intellectual talents intersected in mutually beneficial ways. It seems their relationship was platonic, from the available records))))

Personally, I love Baldwin’s essays. He was a playwright, poet, social critic, and activist too. His works dissect the complex racial, class, and sexual identities and questions the entrenched inequalities in society and the psychological trauma of the bleakness of societal acceptance that an individual has to bear by dint of these. He was an active participant in the Civil Rights Movement and the Gay Liberation Movement (1950’s and 60’s), an outspoken proponent of gay and lesbian rights. Born in Harlem, NewYork, he was the son of a minister and became a preacher at the age of 14 ( References to the Black Church are scattered in his writings). He moved to Southern France in 1948, where he wrote ‘Giovanni’s Room‘, the protagonist, an American white homosexual who struggles with his sexual identity and other characters predominantly white as opposed to his other works featuring blacks. He had to contend with the ire of the Black Community due to the exploration of gay themes in his works. He died from stomach cancer in 1987 in France and was buried in Hartsdale, near NewYork.


The book is a collection of ten essays that had appeared previously in different periodicals.

Through them, he searches his identity as a homosexual American black and a writer, explores his experiences, criticizes the works such as protest novels and movies, discusses the socio-cultural milieu of Harlem, the strained relationship with his father, his own contradictory views that clashed with himself, the origins of racial prejudice through the mirror of his self, the definition of being a ‘native son’, and his experiences living in Europe.

The ten essays belong to different genres of literary criticism, social analysis, and personal memoir. His works are ever relevant notably at present when we read daily in the news about the institutional racism and atrocities that the black Americans encounter, movements like Black Lives Matter at the forefront of fighting these ills, putting forward the uneasy question, why after all these decades of the postbellum era the racial prejudice is hard to be wiped off completely.

In the first part of the book are three critical essays. Baldwin stresses the point that artists should better represent their work through their own personal experiences than trying to champion a social cause generally, such that the subject could be dealt with honestly and with integrity. Here, he is not telling all artists to produce autobiographical works or memoirs solely, but exhorting to mint the work through the machine of personal experience, so that the final result would be more beautiful, candid and genuine. He criticizes ‘Native Son‘(1940) a novel written by the American author Richard Wright in which Wright attributes the crimes of the youth Bigger Thomas, a black man in poor southern Chicago to the systemic degradation and ills of the society. Similarly,  the anti-slavery novel by the American author Harriet Beecher StoweUncle Tom’s Cabinhas also been criticized. The author was a white American abolitionist. But, I, for one, think that though personal experience counts, even authors without much of that in a specific area or subject could make a whole world of difference through their works highlighting social ills.  ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabinis famed to have laid the groundwork of the Civil War and helped to change the attitudes of at least some of the whites towards the blacks. Though white, she was ardently abolitionist.

Baldwin is incisive about the characterization and plot of the 1954 American musical film, Carmen Jonesproduced and directed by the Austrian -born theater and film director Otto Preminger. The screenplay was based on the stage musical by the same name. The plot compares and seeks the parallels of an amoral gypsy and an amoral black woman. The fact that there are no white characters, the seemingly parodic speech of the black characters, and the absurd set designs are criticized by Baldwin as nothing but condescending. He brushes off the notion in the film that the opera has something to do with the present-day life of African Americans, As per him, the translation is false, the film lacks artistic credibility and concerns much less with African Americans than the other Americans. ( The film is available in YouTube, but I am not interested in musical operatic films and so it was difficult for me to get to his ideas and criticisms about the film)

The second part has three essays about Harlem ghetto, sociopolitical issues, and African American musicians. The last part is personal and concerns with identity, the fraught relationship with his authoritarian father, his experience living in Europe, and the race issues in Europe and America. Here, I am only expounding on the personal essay that deals with Baldwin and his relationship to father.

Worth mentioning is the manner of unflinching honesty with which he writes about his relationship with his father. Though he does not explicitly relate his father’s cruelty, anger, and alienation to the oppression and inner turmoil that haunted the black Americans, it is clear that such a relationship does exist. Baldwin lives under the constant shadow of paranoia about the inheritance of paranoid delusions from his father. Thus he makes a point that even though different disposition-wise and experience-wise, trauma is transferred through generations.

The paranoia is significant in that it creates a self-destructive cycle spoiling the relationship to the society, slashing even the altruistic and munificent arms of help from the outer world. Baldwin’s creativity was recognized first by his white teacher who encouraged him to write, but the act ironically distancing him from her and snatching the opportunity to get ahead due to the ingrained mistrust that his father had towards all the whites. We cannot blame his father here.

Another important point that he projects is about how racist societies force people to suppress their emotions. As an example, he writes about the white waiter, who though sympathetic to him could not express it due to the perceived embarrassment of serving a black diner. Similarly, so as to survive the blacks would need to suppress their rage. It is not just the alienation from society that is worrisome, but that from oneself which creates a conflict within the individual. At the same time, he feels the emotional turmoil and murderous rage that overwhelms his and other’s safety, conflicting with the guilt that he feels towards a white friend.

In his beautiful statement,’ Harlem is waiting‘, he conveys many meanings like waiting for a climactic event, for the war to end, or for racial equality since the moment of their abduction from the heart of Africa. Baldwin is brutally honest in his interpretation of hatred towards his father. As a wise sage, he understands that hatred is self-destructive, though as a common man he nurtures it since he could avoid the pain of losing his father thus preventing the establishment of a genial relationship with him.

He refuses to see his father’s body after he passed away, he could not find suitable clothes and interprets the preacher as dishonest, all alienating him from the process of mourning. Still, he experiences a sudden connection when he hears the song and identifies it as the only moment of connection that he had with his father. He realizes the freedom to be enjoyed by his father’s newborn baby, something he was denied and sees a ray of hope through a part of his father that is still alive.

He empathizes with the Harlem rioters, all the while denouncing it as only an exit of rage and a self-destructive process by attacking businesses thereby wounding the blacks and not the white oppressors. Overall, he characterizes hatred and anger as negative forces, that would only be helpful if it motivates one to oppose injustice.

Though the essay could be generally interpreted as bleak by some who are not big fans of essays, it has so many eye-opening moments of truth that stir the reader to think about the implications that the racial and other inequalities and prejudices impart to the minds of the victims.

Incidentally, while I was reading this book, I happened to watch a video of a black man gunned down by two white men, a father and a son, with a shotgun. As I read the news report from the NYT, I was shocked to learn about how the men were set free first, the institutional inertia and apathy when black lives were concerned, favoritism and cronyism in law enforcement, the manipulation of the storyline making the black man seem a menacing burglar to vindicate a criminal act carried out in broad daylight, policies promoting ingrained xenophobia and nativism and the uttermost abyss into which humans could fall while placing human life and dignity in a hierarchical system. All these, while a two minute video played the act beyond the wildest of doubts possible.

We live in the 21-st century,  we are far more ahead from the old eugenic theories and practices, we exhort that we are an educated lot, that we are at the zenith of the evolutionary process,  wonder when will we evolve into human beings!

Book review ‘ Jerusalem The Biography’ by Simon Sebag Montefiore.


“Like a snowy mountain glittering in the sun”

–  Flavius Josephus, the Romano-Jewish scholar, and historian.

                            A casual observer could be forgiven for being drawn into the dragnet of bias when it comes to broaching and expounding on the subject matter of Israeli- Palestinian quagmire. Responsible journalism and authorship, though ostensibly non-partisan and unprejudiced is by no means so as the evidence suggests. That leaves us with very few options for digging deeper into the marshlands of history and collating the layers beneath to prepare the ground of conceivability in our conscience.

                            The beliefs of historical determinism and fatalism, more often than not, rear their ugly head in almost every causal analysis of the conflict in spite of the contrarian disposition of the rational mind. Not even a page of this book could be flipped by without contemplating retrospectively of a more lucid outcome, had the powers that be shown a speck of farsightedness or a morsel of horse sense about a region that in itself had been tangled in the cobweb of politics, religion, ethnicity and pincered between the grasp of bloodthirsty warlords and religiously evangelical zealots. The infamous Sykes-Picot agreement which unabashedly apportioned the Middle East map among British and French stemmed from the ‘ divide and rule’ dogma followed by the empire, the repercussions of which echoes to the present day, albeit in the form of protracted quasi-occupation in Afghanistan or Iraq before, by the West. Lessons will never be learned it seems, after imbibing Jerusalem’s travails.

                      Though the book offers a prolonged read and is steeped in history, titles and chronology Montefiore has done justice to his subject by dissecting Jerusalem right from the roots, eruditely, not in the least exhibiting any sort of pedantry or pomposity. Palpability of the spirit of Jerusalem and perspicuity of the ghosts of the past sauntering through the narrow alleys of Old Jerusalem is a haunting experience that lingers on. From the Maccabees to the present day rulers, the list of conquerors and occupiers seem never-ending, yet the provenance of the three monotheistic Abrahamic religions, the seat of religious secularism, the cynosure of the world presents herself as a desolate sweetheart whom the lovers have forsaken.

                       The weightiness of the issue and the two-state solution on the cards endows a special significance to the book now than ever before. Montefiore’s pedigree and his ancestor’s role in carving up a Jewish state and propounding Zionism have been distinctly documented. I just loved the myriad footnotes which by themselves could be collated into a compendium of sorts. The sheer magnitude of research that has been put through by the author is unbelievable.

                     A magnificent tour de force, scholarly penned, bluntly chronicled, holistically viewed and meticulously researched. An absolutely enlightening tome.

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