Editorial: 'New World Order' in Lebanon
In its 13th attack on southern Lebanon this year, Israel began three consecutive days of bombing raids on villages and Palestinian camps on June 3, leaving dozens, including civilians, dead or wounded.
The first wave of bombs shattered the Palestinian refugee camp Mieh Mieh. The second, a two-hour raid conducted just after midnight on June 4, was apparently directed at a base of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine's General Command. Fifteen were reported to have been killed and 62 wounded. Three of the dead and nine of the wounded were said to be PFLP members. Another 10 PFLP members were reported missing, feared dead.
During the week, Lebanese radio reported sightings of three Israeli gunboats off the coast. Extensive fighter-plane "buzzing" of the port town of Sidon caused panic, as did overflights in the Tyre region 40 kilometres further south.
"There is nothing new", Israeli defence minister Moshe Arens told the Israeli parliament. The policy of "pre-emptive" attacks on Israel's northern neighbour was successful, he said, in light of the fact that "not a single Israeli civilian has been injured on the northern border since Israel's invasion of Lebanon nine years ago".
The low-key reporting of the bombings and the routine murmurs of concern from Washington and other Western capitals reveal the real character of US President George Bush's "new world order".
Is anyone expecting immediate sanctions? UN deadlines for compliance with international law, on pain of invasion of Israel by multinational forces?
Of course not. Just as it did in the old world order, the Israeli regime is reacting to Western criticism with an attitude of hurt puzzlement (after all there really is "nothing new" about Israeli aggression against its neighbours), and to Arab condemnation with hysteria and threats. Just as in the old world order, the US talks peace and continues to fund the state of Israel to the tune of billions.
US secretary of state James Baker has flown to the Middle East repeatedly since the end of the Gulf War with new plans for "settling" the regional conflicts successive US government policies have fostered. In turn, the "new" US-Israel relationship is painted by the Western media as a dovish Washington cajoling a recalcitrant Tel Aviv.
But the recent lavish aid package for the Israeli military arranged by US defense secretary Dick Cheney is a clear reminder that the settlement the US is seeking to broker will ensure that Israel continues to dominate its Arab neighbours.
Meanwhile, it is business as usual in the Israeli-occupied territories. In May, 18 Palestinians were killed, the youngest of whom was an 8-year-old child; there were 84 miscarriages by Palestinian women as a result of being shot, beaten or gassed by Israeli soldiers; and 968 were wounded, including 133 shot with live bullets, 47 affected by poison gas and 14 intentionally hit by military vehicles.