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Powell's peace mission-an exercise in deception
By Karamatullah K. Ghori
|Toronto. Colin Powell's sham 'peace mission' has failed, as it was destined to. He has returned to Washington after patting Israel's Hitlerian Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, on the back for doing an excellent job of butchering as many Palestinians as he could, and may still do more. Powell's conduct with a besieged Arafat, hanging by the skin of his teeth behind Sharon's menacing tanks and armoured carriers, was rude, provocative and arrogant. As a parting gift, he informed Arafat that the Bush administration, sworn to carrying on its war against the Muslim world on as many fronts as possible, would be curtailing its meagre 'assistance' to the Palestinians-already a pittance compared to 5 billion dollars annually in military aid to a belligerent and war-mongering Israel-if he didn't clamp down on suicide bombers.
Powell's belated and reluctant mission of 'peace-making' was fraudulent and a cruel hoax with the oppressed Palestinians from the word,go. Bush never had his heart in it. He had given the green light to Sharon early this year to do an encore of his 1982 savagery in Lebanon on a much larger scale in the West Bank by brandishing the Palestinian struggle for freedom from Israeli oppression as "terrorism." But Sharon, a pathological serial killer and mass murderer, took extra mileage from the Bush carte blanche and unleashed a butchery of such intensity as rarely seen since the Nazi era. So ruthless was he, that even America's western allies in Europe cried for cessation of Sharon's barbarity.
The popular backlash, on the streets of America's faithful Arab allies, was even more alarming. Loyalists like Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Abdullah of Jordan still gave a helping hand to U.S and Israel by staying away from the Beirut Arab summit at the end of March-to rob Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia's peace proposal of the rubric of unanimity-but Sharon was in no mood to honour the services of these Arab Quislings. With Bush four squares behind him, he sensed the chance of a lifetime to finish off the Palestinians, and particularly his old nemesis Yasser Arafat. The carnage in Palestine, however, set the Arab streets alight. Violent protests swept the Arab panorama, from Morocco in the west to Bahrain in the east. Even some mainstream American commentators feared that if Sharon was not checked in his relentless persecution of the Palestinians, and if Arafat was killed, many of America's favourite loyalists could be dragged from their palaces and lynched by frenzied mobs, just the way King Faisal of Iraq was back in 1958.
But most worrying for Bush was the spiking by Sharon, temporarily though, of his planned blitz against the bigger Arab prize of Iraq. The Iraq boat was rocked at its keel by Sharon's brutality of aggression against the Palestinians. This forced even the most die-hards amongst the Arab loyalists of Pax Americana on the defensive. Bush had to do something to arrest the sharding of his Iraqi plans. He conjured up a dissemblance of his own , a side-show of Powell being sent to the area of Sharon's crime against humanity to arrange a cease-fire. It was, at best, a red-herring, to assuage ruffled feelings all around.
From the beginning, Bush's aim was to trigger a diversionary move, set off an illusion that Colin Powell was seriously engaged. In reality, Powell had a one-item brief : enforce a cease-fire, that too on Sharon's terms, and bamboozle Arafat to surrender to U.S.- Israeli gang-up. His instructions , strictly, were to arrive at the scene as tardily as possible, so that Sharon will have all the time in the world to wrap things up, or do the " mopping up", as the obliging American press and tele-media is so fond of describing the Israeli onslaught. Powell, as such, took the slowest of boats to the ME, and reached there a week after departing from Washington.
Sharon, for sure, was never in awe of Powell or Bush because he was a party to the great dissembling show being enacted for world consumption. If anything, he was openly thumbing his nose at Bush's vacuous calls on him to pull back his death squads from the Palestinian area " immediately." Sharon knew that there was no conviction, no bite, behind Bush's rhetoric. His answer was more terror against innocent Palestinians, on the ground and from the air. His riposte was to appoint General Effi Eitam to his cabinet for 'special security affairs.' Eitam is a rabid rightist like Sharon and shares his vision of a Biblical Greater Israel extending from the Mediterranean coast to the Jordan River, with no place in it for the Arabs. Eitam, like Sharon, is sworn to destroying Arafat and the Palestinian Authority.
Sharon's confidence that he could ignore Bush's half-hearted calls to go a little soft on his Palestinian victims was not without reason. He is convinced that the neo-conservatives and the southern rightists surrounding Bush are fully at one with him in his campaign to exterminate the Palestinians. William Pfaff, the celebrated syndicated columnist of the Los Angeles Times, who is one of the handful of American journalists who can still see their right from their left, summed up the mood of the Bush conservatives and intellectuals succinctly in a column on April 12, on the eve of Powell's arrival in Jerusalem. According to him, those who now "dominate the Washington policy debate, have endorsed Sharon's campaign against Palestinian terrorism, and the methods he is using. There is no compromise solution, they say, because concessions by one side feed the ambition of the other, which takes them as evidence of weakness."
Pfaff went on to expand on the theme : " It is illusion, they say, to think that mutual advantage can be found in settlement. One side must prevail….the Palestinians will be defeated only by the killing or imprisoning of their leaders and activists, with devastating and exemplary collective punishment for the society that harbours and encourages terrorists."
No wonder Sharon, whose appetite for Palestinian and Arab blood is limitless, took heart from such tacit, and often overt, blessing for his blood-lust. The result of his barbarity is Jenin, which becomes another 'feather' in Sharon's cap, after the 1982 massacre of Sabra and Shatila in Beirut, in which at least 3,000 Palestinians were slaughtered in cold blood.
The full, ghastly, saga of the mayhem and senseless carnage in Jenin will still take some time to unravel. But early indications already suggest a massive and colossal scale of massacre , destruction and wholesale plunder of human values by Sharon's vandals in that Palestinian refugee camp. The story will only slowly divulge its gory details from the gungeons of destruction. Terje-Roed Larsen, the top UN Envoy to the ME, who himself and his aid agencies were kept on hold from Jenin for two weeks by the inebriated Israeli invaders of the camp, has blasted Israel for its criminal conduct in these words. " What we are seeing here is horrifying-horrifying scenes of human suffering. Israel has lost all moral ground in this conflict." Larsen described the horror as worse than an " earth-quake."
Even America's own Assistant Secretary of State William Burns, who belatedly toured Jenin on April 20, described its savage destruction as " a terrible human tragedy". But Burns, like his failed boss Powell, has no way with Sharon to convince him to withdraw his tanks still choking Jenin, or allow humanitarian aid and rescue teams to enter the devastated camp. A criminal Sharon is determined to keep his crime covered up for as long as he can.
And yet the Bush administration wouldn't allow the UN Security Council, on April 19, from sending an 'investigating team' to the area of destruction because that would have opened Israel to examination. Under the threat of a U.S. veto, all that the Council has been allowed to send to Palestine is a ' fact-finding mission.' This is the kind of U.S. complicity, shameless and brazen as it is, which has insulated Sharon from feeling himself accountable for his crimes against humanity. Sharon is still being hailed by Bush as " a man of peace" while the rest of the world is faulting him for reviving the memory of the Holocaust by his senseless orgy of murder and mayhem in Palestine.
So pathetic and purblind is the American neo-conservative cabal's endorsement of Sharon that on cue from it, the ultra-right American press is still egging Sharon on to wreak greater vengeance on the hapless Palestinians. While Sharon was raining down destruction in spades on his victims, an American columnist was thus advising him: " Israeli tanks should mow down Arab youths as they throw stones. Kill them. Keep going until the Arabs decide whether they hate Jews more than they love their children. I don't think the Israelis would have to dispose off too many Arab children before the white flag would go up."
Not to mention such mad and morally bankrupt rantings of the Jewish-fed rightist press, the mainstream U.S. media's pro-Israeli bias is hardly less disgusting. It is shamelessly brazen in its perverse advocacy of a war-mongering Israel.
Robert Fisk of Britain's Independent news paper is a doyen of ME specialists in the western press elite. He wrote an eye-opening, exhaustive, column in the paper's April 17 issue on the criminal involvement of the American press in acting as a tribune of Israeli and zionist interests in the world. Fisk took up cudgels with a daring new lingo being coined by the American press to disguise Israel's crimes against the Palestinians.
In this new book of phrases that an unconscionable American press is desperately trying to float, Israel's barbaric aggression against the Palestinians is referred to as only " military incursions." Palestinian civilians being ruthlessly mowed down by Israeli tanks and bulldozers are only " dying" because they are caught "in the cross-fire." Israel is fighting in only " self-defence" and the Palestinian 'Occupied Lands' are only " Disputed Lands." Similarly, the provocative Jewish settlements at the core of the dispute are, to American reporters and commentators, no longer ' Jewish Settlements' but merely " Jewish Neighborhoods." Palestinian militants are, invariably, "terrorists" but the Israeli ones are only " fanatics" or " extremists." And the New York Times still honours the world's most notorious war criminal and mass murderer, Ariel Sharon, as " a warrior". It is a sacrilege to his fawning American fans to think that he can do any wrong.
So Sharon remains secure in the company of his influential and powerful mentors and supporters. He has convincingly proven, in the weeks since he invaded the West bank, that he can get away with white murder, with a lot of covert and overt help from Washington. He can poke fun at Bush, ignore his 'deadlines' with impunity and the so-called leader of the western world quietly stomachs such insults and still honours Sharon as a ' man of peace.' One wonders , seeing the tail wagging the dog in scorn, if it is Pax Americana the world is living in, or Pax Israeliana ruling the roost.
As for the ruling Arab elite, the world will have to think of what will it take to shake these impotent potentates out of their infuriating slumber. Saddam Hussain's decision to freeze Iraqi oil sales for a month in protest against the Israeli barbarity has not been reciprocated by any of his Arab 'brothers.' It is this kind of apathy and non-chalance that has encouraged the western world to largely write them off as non-entities.
The American neo-conservatives hogging the policy debate in Washington have particularly drawn great satisfaction, and temerity, from these timorous, craven Arab rulers and their cowardly non-policies. William Pfaff summed up their disdain of the Arab pusillanimity in these words : " As for other Islamic governments and the "Arab street," they can be ignored. The Arabs will submit; they simply have to be convinced that the United States, as well as Israel, is determined to have its way. If one or another authoritarian or dictatorial Arab government is overturned by rioters, it is of no real consequence to Americans or Israelis...they are irrelevant." q