For nearly six years now, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld have frightened the hell out of me. W's kind of scary in his own right, but he's scary in the way that a 4-year-old with a pair of hedge clippers is scary. Cheney and Rumsfeld, on the other hand, are scary in the way that Rutger Hauer's character in Bladerunner was scary. On more than one occasion, I have woken up from a dream in which I am being dragged down the hallway of a bunker compound and hurled into a room where Cheney and Rumsfeld stand waiting, holding a pair of jumper cables and a cattle prod. They have questions. I'm afraid I don't have the answers.
But lately I have realized that on the fright meter, our American-styled harbingers of doom score rather pitifully. By comparison with the Israelis, Cheney and Rumsfeld are less like Rutger Hauer and more like Daryl Hannah. I'm not kidding-the Israelis are some scary dudes.
I used to think Ariel Sharon was scary. But now that he's taking a protracted nap, I realize that Sharon was nothing. The remaining Zionist lunatics behind the latest war of full-scale Middle East provocation are the most frightening men on earth, at least since the Inquisition, maybe ever. Consider this cast of characters:
Ehud Olmert-The 61-year-old prime minister and former mayor of Jerusalem who urged the Knesset to support a full-scale assault against Hezbollah in Lebanon, pulled an about-face on the issue of Palestinian statehood while serving as Sharon's deputy prime minister. Under Sharon, he supported relinquishing land captured in the Gaza Strip during the Six-Days War, whereas for years he openly opposed any such conciliatory action, even voting against the Camp David Peace Accords in 1978. He seems right on the brink of re-about-facing on the whole "let's-play-nice" thing. Olmert is a brilliant man who can talk about war with a grin on his face. That's scary.
Shimon Peres-A bit of living history, the 82-year-old deputy prime minister and former prime minister is a protégé of David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Dayan (two of the scariest men ever born). Peres is a steadfast supporter of the use of military action in counter-terrorism operations, particularly preemptive strikes, and he is the champion of the Israel West Bank barrier, a series of anti-vehicle trenches and concrete walls that severs the West Bank from the rest of Israel and effectively walls in sizeable occupied territories seized from Jordan in 1967.
Benjamin Netanyahu-Holy cow! If guys like Olmert and Peres are scary, this guy is terrifying. Netanyahu served as prime minister from 1996 to 1999. He was elected to that post when his predecessor, Peres, was unable to stem the tide in a wave of terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. Netanyahu was the "let's kick their asses" candidate whose hawkish message (crafted in part by Arthur Finkelstein and James Carville) won him an election in which he trailed badly in early polls. In office, he did everything in his power to stall any real progress in talks with the Palestinian Authority. Following his stint at the helm, he served as finance minister until resigning abruptly in 2005 in protest over the Gaza Disengagement Plan. Netanyahu is so scary he makes Vladimir Putin sweat. I'm more afraid of Netanyahu than I am of my big sister, and that's a bunch.
I could go on, but trust me-there's a whole big heap of hawkish scary Jews in Zion. If I lived next door to Israel, I would seek a restraining order. And before any of you think I'm missing something, yes, Hezbollah and Hamas are just as scary. Now that they've heard W on an open microphone telling Tony Blair they need to "stop doing this shit" with his mouth full of salad, they're no doubt persuaded of U.S. complicity in Israel's overal plan. Thus they're probably even scarier than ever before. But don't let the slanted American coverage of what none other than Newt Gingrich recently opined was perhaps the first stages of World War III convince you that Israel is not a hell-bent, terror-reigning aggressor in its corner of the world.
You might have missed the news story from June 27. On that date, in anticipation of a full-scale invasion of Lebanon, Israeli warplanes buzzed the summer palace of Syrian President Bashar Assad near the port city of Latakia in northwestern Syria. The second such flyover mission since 2003 resulted in a few busted windows and sent a clear signal to Syria that whatever Israel does in Lebanon it can do with complete impunity and the Syrians had best stay put or they'll get bombed to hell and gone. Wow! Couldn't they just send a card?
I don't know which side most Americans come down on with respect to the Israeli historical pattern of bombing first and sorting out the parts later, but one thing I am convinced of is that while smart weaponry will crush entrenched military positions, it won't do much to stifle the human will, and it will do even less to win hearts and minds. The current crisis in the Middle East is as frightening a thing as the world has faced since the Cuban Missile Crisis and that's no exaggeration. It might be too late for the U.S. to make many friends on the Arab street, but we don't need to add fuel to the fire. If we persist in lining up openly behind Israeli military policy, we make ourselves a target for hatred, the kind of hatred that doesn't mind dying as long as it inflicts some damage on its enemy.
I suppose I should take comfort in the fact that two vast oceans somewhat protect me from the violence that consumes so much of the world. I probably have little more to fear than fear itself. But if that's the case, I'm very, very afraid.
Tony Phillips blogs at www.fifthavenuegazette.com. Write to fifthavenuegazette[at]yahoo[dot]com and editor[at]SDcitybeat[dot]com.