Avnery compares Olmert to Bush

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 12:46 AM

Below is an excerpt from the latest column by German-Jewish peace activist and sage, Uri Avnery, writing from Tel Aviv. As usual, he makes some very good points. Olmert and Bush are in a similar predicament. Due to an elective war, the popularity of both is in the basement. With Bush, it was Iraq. With Olmert, it was Lebanon. With respect to the next target on the horizon, Iran, this predicament could cut both ways. Do they go over the top, all in, as they say in poker, or do they back off and learn from their recklessness? At this juncture, it is anybody's guess.

It may all come down to what prescribed medication Dick Cheney and George Bush are on. No joking. Their personalities and actions are distorted. Cheney has had triple or quadruple heart bypass surgery, which is known to change a person's personality, usually for the worse. As for Bush, he is what some call a "dry drunk"--an alcoholic who has stopped drinking but who never attended Alcoholics Anonymous. Surely, G.W. is now on something to substitute for the booze. His judgment and intellect were never much to begin with. The question is, how has his present medication effected him? As for Olmert, Avnery dismisses this Frankenstein monster as a cynical nobody. That, too, is dangerous. So we have more than enough toxic ingredients, it seems to me, for yet another self-destructive misadventure.

Avnery makes another good point. The upcoming conflict with Iran, if it happens, will be exclusively an air war, similar to that conducted by Bill Clinton in Serbia and by Cheney/Bush in Afghanistan. Remember that in Serbia Clinton did not intervene with any ground troops whatsoever. He asked for no authorization from the U.S. Congress to launch an aerial bombardment of Serbia--"Operation Allied Force"--which lasted from March 24th til June 10th, 1999, non-stop. Likewise in Afghanistan, no U.S. troops (except CIA special ops) were engaged until after B-52's from Diego Garcia and B-2 stealth bombers from the state of Missouri, U.S.A. had decimated the Taliban, who were racing around in the back of pick-up trucks. The B-2's were doing 40 hour, non-stop bombing runs, back and forth across the Atlantic.

Today, somewhere in the Arabian Sea or in the Persian Gulf, Cheney and Bush have at their disposal two or three U.S. aircraft carriers, packed with jet fighters, and an unknown number of U.S. nuclear powered submarines in the Indian Ocean, armed with various atomic weapons. Then there is the kicker: the four or five German-gifted high-tech U-boats in the hands of the "cynical" and "entrapped" Olmert, which vessels have been specially outfitted to launch cruise missiles with nuclear warheads. These, too, must be waiting off the coast of Saudi Arabia. So the pulverization of Iran is doable, all right. Under such circumstances, what is there to hold the warmongers back? The Democrats on Capitol Hill? The EU? The UN? Ha!


"You and I and the Next War"

Uri Avnery / February 24th, 2007 / Gush Shalom, Tel Aviv

.... He [Prime Minister Ehud Olmert] has no agenda. He said so himself. He is the chief of an amorphous party, without members or institutions and without real roots in the community. Public opinion polls show that his ratings are nearing the bottom (only the Minister of Defense has sunk even lower.) Olmert remains in power only because many believe that all the available alternatives would be even worse.

A cynical Prime Minister, entrapped in such a situation, could easily be tempted to start another military adventure, in the hope that it would give him back his lost popularity and divert attention from his private and political troubles. If this is the aim, it really does not matter much against whom: Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians or Iranians. The main thing is that it should happen as soon as possibly, preferably this summer at the latest. What remains is to convince the public of the presence of an existential danger, but in our country that is not too difficult.


 ALL THIS reminds one, of course, of another outstanding leader--George W. Bush. Amazing how these two find themselves in almost the same situation.

The American political system is admired by many in Israel, and from time to time the cry goes up that it should be adopted by us, too. A strong leader, elected fairly directly by the people, who appoints competent ministers--what could be better?

But it seems that the American system has created a terrifying situation: President Bush has two more years in office--and in this time he can start any war at will, even though now the American public has clearly shown in the congressional elections that it loathes the Iraq war. As Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful military forces in the world, he can widen and deepen the war in Iraq, and at the same time start a new war against Iran or Syria.

The two houses of Congress can, in theory, stop him by cutting the allocations for the armed forces, but most of the members of these two august bodies are windbags who are terrified out of their wits (if they have any) by the very thought. Any marine in Baghdad has more guts than the whole bunch of Senators and Congressmen together. They would not even dream of impeaching the President.

Thus, one single person can cause a world-wide catastrophe. He has no brakes, but has a strong drive towards war: to fulfill his "vision" (dictated to him by God Himself in private conversation) and to retouch his image in history.

Is this practical? Well, the American army is too small to conduct another major war on the ground. But Bush and his advisors believe that there is no need for that. They are the successors to the American general who in his time talked about "bombing Vietnam back to the stone age". After all, it worked in Serbia and Afghanistan.

The neo-cons, who still reign supreme in Washington, are convinced that a rain of many hundreds of smart bombs on all the nuclear, military, governmental and public installations in Iran could "do the job". Their friends in Israel will applaud, since that would relieve Israel of the need to do something similar, if on a smaller scale.

But an American and/or Israeli adventure would be a disaster. Bombs can devastate a country, but not a people like the Iranians. Only the wildest imagination can foresee how the more than a billion Muslims in scores of countries--including all our neighbors--would react to the destruction of a Muslim country (even a Shiite one). This is playing with fire, which may start a world-wide conflagration.

Bush and Olmert and the Next War: HELP!