August 19, 2006 at 09:49:17
Fight Between Good and Evil: A Simplistic World Order
by Abeer Mishkhas
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.When President Bush spoke after the cease-fire in Lebanon, he made it clear which side he was on. Nobody had really been unsure about his feelings but in a public address at the end of a month-long savage and bloody war, one expected a more balanced view of events.Not to stray from the point, Bush of course talked about how Hezbollah was the trigger, how Israel had done nothing wrong and how Israeli civilians had died and their towns and homes had been destroyed.He referred briefly to the cycle of death and destruction in Lebanon as being the result of Hezbollah's actions; it was implied that many people who were killed had died because Hezbollah had used them as human shields. Not a word of sympathy was heard for all the innocent people who died, for the families of the children who were so tragically and pointlessly killed, for the UN staff who were targeted or for the Red Cross ambulance that was hit. According to Bush, everything was Hezbollah's fault.In my own moment of frustration, as someone who does not care where the Bushes and Blairs of the world get their "ideas" from, I could not accept the lack of sympathy for the innocent Lebanese people. Not only are the leaders of the "free world" - and the not so free world as well - guilty of killing thousands of Lebanese and making hundreds of thousands homeless but they do not utter even a word of condolence to them.In his speech, Bush put Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda and the Iraqi insurgents, along with Hamas, in one basket. A basket that he made sure, by the way, was enlarged to include the accused plotters of the UK plane bombings as well. He was generous enough to apply to them the label "Islamic fascists."How, I wonder, is Hamas linked to the Iraqi insurgents or the London plotters? In George Bush's mind, the answer is simple: They are all in the same basket because they are all Muslims.Of course with his usual logic - or lack of it - he said that those people hate "freedom" and "democracy" and "Western values." This is old stuff and is as false today as it was when he first said it a few years ago. What is being hated is inconsistency, double standards and failure to live up to one's professed ideals. Regardless of what Bush or anyone else says, there has to be a distinction between the elements in his political basket.For starters: Al-Qaeda hates American policies; the Iraqi insurgents hate the occupation of their country and have their own agendas that they are following. Hamas was legally elected in a democratic election and Hezbollah, even if you don't agree with it, made it their job to get the Israelis out of Lebanon. Now are we really to believe that all those people from different backgrounds, with different agendas, are all united by their hatred of America and its freedom?Interestingly, Bush referred to both Iraq and Lebanon as the two democratic countries in the Middle East. They are also two destroyed countries in the Middle East. Did democracy play any part in their destruction? And if so, what is there to rejoice about?In the Guardian newspaper, Max Hastings wrote that Bush's policy had "made a willful choice to amalgamate the grossly irrational, totalitarian and homicidal objectives of Al-Qaeda with the just claims of Palestinians and the grievances of Iraqis. His (Bush's) remarks ... invite Muslims who sympathize with Hamas or reject Iraq's occupation ... to make common cause with Bin Laden."In an article in the Independent, Andrew Gumbel wrote that the US media tells a completely one-sided story. He points out, "There are two sides to every conflict - unless you rely on the US media for information about the battle in Lebanon.Viewers have been fed a diet of partisan coverage which treats Israel as the good guys and their Hezbollah enemy as the incarnation of evil." Later in the article he refers to "the line touted by cable news hosts and their correspondents ... that Hezbollah is part of a giant anti-Israeli and anti-American terror network that also includes Hamas, Al-Qaeda, the governments of Syria and Iran, and the insurgents of Iraq. Little effort is made to distinguish between the groups or explain what their goals might be." According to that and Bush, the conflict is a "straight fight between good and evil."Something familiar there - the catchphrases and words, the simple child-like logic, the inability to think and reason. Just trot out the same old words - good, evil, freedom, democracy, war on terror. The list is not new, recycled over and over, whatever the circumstances, whatever the situation, whatever the tragedy.Copyright:Arab News © 2003 All rights reserved
Ms. Mishkhas is currently cultural editor at the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat. One of the world's leading Arabic-language papers, Before her recent appointment to her current position, Ms. Mishkhas worked as an editor and columnist with Arab News in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where she focused primarily on women's issues, Middle East relations with the U.S. and Europe, and Saudi Arabian social issues. She has served on a number of panels and roundtables on the changing roles of women in Saudi Arabia. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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