Sunday, 20 April 2003

The Night After

by Uri Avnery

The next war. It is now fashionable to talk about "the day after".

Let's talk about the night after.

After the end of hostilities in Iraq, the world will be faced with two decisive facts:

First, the immense superiority of American arms can beat any people in the world, valiant as it may be.

Second, the small group that initiated this war - an alliance of Christian fundamentalists and Jewish neo-conservatives - has won big, and from now on it will control Washington almost without limits.
The combination of these two facts constitutes a danger to the world, and especially to the Middle East, the Arab peoples and the future of Israel. Because this alliance is the enemy of peaceful solutions, the enemy of the Arab governments, the enemy of the Palestinian people and especially the enemy of the Israeli peace camp.

It does not dream only about an American empire, in the style of the Roman one, but also of an Israeli mini-empire, under the control of the extreme right and the settlers. It wants to change the regimes in all Arab countries. It will cause permanent chaos in the region, the consequences of which it is impossible to foresee.

Its mental world consists of a mixture of ideological fervor and crass material interests, an exaggerated American patriotism and right-wing ionism.

That is a dangerous mixture. There is in it something of the spirit of Ariel Sharon, a man who has always had grandiose plans for changing the region, consisting of a mixture of creative imagination, unbridled chauvinism and a primitive faith in brute force.

WHO are the winners? They are the so-called neo-cons, or neo-conservatives. A compact group, almost all of whose members are Jewish. They hold the key positions in the Bush administration, as well as in the think-tanks that play an important role in formulating American policy and the ed-op pages of the influential newspapers.

For many years, this was a marginal group that fostered a right-wing agenda in all fields. They fought against abortion, homosexuality, pornography and drugs. When Binyamin Netanyahu assumed power in Israel, they offered him advise on how to fight the Arabs.

Their big moment arrived with the collapse of the Twin Towers. The American public and politicians were in a state of shock, completely disoriented, unable to understand a world that had changed overnight. The neo-cons were the only group with a ready explanation and a solution. Only nine days after the outrage, William Kristol (the son of the group's founder, Irving Kristol) published an Open Letter to President Bush, asserting that it was not enough to annihilate the network of Osama bin Laden, but that it was also imperative to "remove Saddam Hussein from power" and to "retaliate" against Syria and Iran for supporting Hizbullah.

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