Hell is coming. Hell is near. Thousands upon thousands of troops are massing for the ground invasion of a small patch of land crammed full with human beings trapped without any defense against the steel that will destroy them. Several children have already died in the preliminaries. Many, many more will die when the real feast of death begins. As Arthur Silber says:
[From CBS News:] "At least half of the Palestinians killed in the conflict so far have been civilians, including at least eight children and a pregnant woman." Dead children are now a commonplace of the ceaseless death campaigns conducted by the United States and Israel. That alone reveals a great deal, more than anyone decent cares to know, about the nature of the "civilization" involved. But ... a pregnant woman. That's a new and creative touch. Does someone in Israel get extra points for that? A special medal for extraordinary heroism? I suspect so.
This reminded me of something I wrote years ago, during the American crucifixion of the Iraqi city of Fallujah:
One of the first moves in this magnificent feat was the destruction and capture of medical centers. Twenty doctors – and their patients, including women and children – were killed in an airstrike on one major clinic, the UN Information Service reports, while the city's main hospital was seized in the early hours of the ground assault. Why? Because these places of healing could be used as "propaganda centers," the Pentagon's "information warfare" specialists told the NY Times. ...
So while Americans saw stories of rugged "Marlboro Men" winning the day against Satan, they were spared shots of engineers cutting off water and electricity to the city – a flagrant war crime under the Geneva Conventions, as CounterPunch notes, but standard practice throughout the occupation. Nor did pictures of attack helicopters gunning down civilians trying to escape across the Euphrates River – including a family of five – make the TV news, despite the eyewitness account of an AP journalist. Nor were tender American sensibilities subjected to the sight of phosphorous shells bathing enemy fighters – and nearby civilians – with unquenchable chemical fire, literally melting their skin, as the Washington Post reports. Nor did they see the fetus being blown out of the body of Artica Salim when her home was bombed during the "softening-up attacks" that raged relentlessly – and unnoticed – in the closing days of George W. Bush's presidential campaign, the Scotland Sunday Herald reports.
Like Silber, I wonder if the American soldiers who killed the pregnant Artica Salim got a medal for their defense of civilization?
Concerning civilization, what does Israel's Interior Minister say is the goal of the current operation? It's quite simple. From Haaretz:
Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Israel's operation in Gaza: "The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages. Only then will Israel be calm for forty years."
This too reminds me of something? Oh yes, a piece by the multiple Pulitzer Prize-winning voice of the American Establishment's most hidebound conventional wisdom, Thomas Friedman:
In fact, who can forget Tom's giddy cheerleading for the Clinton-Blair air war against the civilian population of Serbia? Who can forget his bone-chilling warning to the unruly Slavs in his classic 1999 column, "Give War a Chance," when he wrote: "Let's at least have a real war. It should be lights out in Belgrade: every power grid, water pipe, bridge, road and war-related factory has to be targeted...Every week you ravage Kosovo is another decade we will set your country back by pulverizing you. You want 1950? We can do 1950. You want 1389? We can do 1389 too."
As Silber notes, these nightmare tropes will continue to play out, over and over again:
Gaza sets the pattern; expect to see it repeated in the years and decades to come. And most people still refuse to see what is happening.
More and more areas of the world will be turned into a charnel house. It happened twice in the twentieth century on an ungraspable scale, and it occurred many additional times in a more limited manner, which was no less horrifying for the victims. It seems the only lessons we learned from all these catastrophes are how to do it more efficiently and effectively, and with less resistance from the world at large. The victims change; the pattern does not. So for us at this moment in history, the slogan is not, "Never again!" The slogan is: "Always again!"
And again. And again. And again. Until time runs out.
Be clear about this: what we are witnessing -- and are about to witness -- in Gaza, as in Afghanistan, and in the drone-pocked regions of Pakistan, and in Yemen, Somalia, Mali and in other areas around the world: all of this, in every instance, represents a vast, irreparable, unspeakably tragic defeat for humankind -- and incredible, unspeakable pain for real human beings. It is a defeat, in every instance, a failure -- of nerve, of spirit, of intellect, of empathy; it is a show of weakness -- no matter how many of the "enemy" you kill; it is a display of ignorance, fear and barbarity. Again, just be clear: if you support it -- or support those who support it -- this is what you are supporting.