Friday, July 21, 2006

Devastation in Beirut: This is what it looks like when they decide to go ahead and 'give war a chance'

Senseless violence has been begetting more senseless violence, civilians are being collectively punished for other people’s sins, and a great city is being destroyed -- once again.

This is what happens when people “Give war a chance.” That was the callous catch phrase Thomas Friedman coined in the spring of 1999 during the NATO bombing of Serbia. He took up the cry again in the fall of 2001. Friedman seems to have tired of the phrase, but Israel seems to have made it a matter of national policy, with the U.S. acting as cheerleader and enabler.

Beirut is being destroyed. Robert Fisk, the Middle East correspondent for The Independent, has written “A farewell to Beirut,” about the destruction of the city he loves and where he has lived for many years. (Thanks to Florida Democrat at Daily Kos for the link.) This is what it looks like when they give war a chance. Fisk is talking to some non-combat Lebanese soldiers who are trying to restore city services.
I knew one of them. "Hello Robert, be quick, because I think the Israelis will bomb again, but we'll show you everything we can." And they took me through the fires to show me what they could of the wreckage, standing around me to protect me.

A few hours later the Israelis did come back, as the men of the logistics unit were going to bed, and they bombed the barracks and killed 10 soldiers, including those three kind men who looked after me amid the fires of Kfar Chima.

And why? Be sure: the Israelis know what they are hitting. That's why they killed nine soldiers near Tripoli when they bombed the military radio antennas. But a logistics unit? Men whose sole job was to mend electricity lines?

And then it dawns on me. Beirut is to die. It is to be starved of electricity now that the power station in Jiyeh is on fire. No one is to be allowed to keep Beirut alive. So those poor men had to be liquidated.
This is just one short passage in Fisk's powerful indictment of the destruction of Beirut and the world's equally powerful indifference. The article as a whole is heartbreaking. Don't miss it.

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