HIROSHIMA — Two commanders from the Union Army in the U.S. Civil War who visited Germany expressed amazement that the Prussians, who besieged Paris until the city surrendered in 1871, didn’t harm the civilian population to force the war’s outcome. In the Civil War, for the first time in the history of warfare, the attacking army destroyed cities, along with their civilian populations.
Since the Americans’ burning of Atlanta to decide the war, they’ve upgraded their capacity to kill to such an extent that, even after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, anyone who takes an interest in the horror of American bombing (the destruction of North Korean cities, then North Vietnam including chemical weapons that spawned a generation of birth defects, then the destruction in Iraq) can understand what the Israeli army’s lawyers mean when say “the most moral army in the world.” They’re comparing it to the American ideal, which started what since World War I has been taken for granted: the destruction of countries and the mass killing of civilians.
It’s worth noting that, despite Hollywood, American ground forces have always been appalling, whether due to the development of their remote capacity for destruction and killing or as a result of American indulgence. They come to “defend freedom.” Then they try to occupy the country and kill masses of people. Then they flee and make a movie about their heroism.
That’s the context in which it’s better not to ridicule Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s unreal presentation last week about Iran’s nuclear program. Abroad they didn’t perceive that the prime minister was speaking in English to his own ancient nation. Israelis, in their passion for the Renaissance West or Western fighter bombers, took pleasure in the speech, at least those who were amazed at all the files of intelligence taken from the Iranians.
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Here we have a nation whose first leader, Moses, had trouble speaking, but now we have a smooth talker as prime minister. But the amusement over this revelation of the power of Israeli intelligence (a disclosure that was objected to by intelligence officials) and the ridicule because the findings dealt with the past and not the present shouldn’t obscure one point. Netanyahu isn’t trying to get us into a war with Iran.
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He’s afraid of sharing the fate of his predecessor Ehud Olmert – both when it comes to bribery allegations and war. It can be assumed he understands that the Israeli army too excels in destruction and mass killing from the air, but that it hasn’t been able to win on the ground since 1967.
Netanyahu’s predecessors didn’t think otherwise even if they spoke quietly, while he has been openly trying, along with his partners in Washington, to help the Trump administration jump-start the mass killing machine against Iran. At least one central figure in the Trump administration, National Security Advisor John Bolton, belongs to the criminal clique that invaded and destroyed Iraq on the false pretext that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Netanyahu himself helped spin that lie and delivered expert advice to Congress in 2002. He’s no fool, but he doesn’t tell it straight.
One way or another, the Americans need mega-wars. A large portion of their economy is a war economy or, put more euphemistically, a “West Coast economy.” Even Barack Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize, carried out cruel drone warfare against civilians in Pakistan, while Trump, who didn’t spare George W. Bush’s clique criticism over the 2003 Iraq war, has now brought Bolton and the new secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, on board to fan the flames.
Netanyahu is just the warm-up act. He’s not alone. Those who read Haaretz or other newspapers or watch television news won’t see or hear a word about the wars in which the United States is involved in the region via the Saudis and otherwise. The destruction of Mosul with its thousands of victims still rotting under the rubble of the Iraqi city or the destruction in Yemen simply don’t exist.
In Israel occasionally there’s moral panic over the slaughter in Syria, based on CNN, because after all, the Americans’ enemies aren’t nice, but the slaughter “for our benefit” doesn’t exist for the Israeli right or left. And as was the case just before the American invasion of Iraq, not one word is uttered in opposition. They’re sitting on the roof in Dimona screaming about the Iranian nuclear program.