The U.S. and Israel


ith Israel engaged once again in a major
war of aggression in Lebanon, and protected once again from any
effective global response by U.S. power and veto, it becomes clearer
than ever that the central global problem of organized violence
and lawlessness in the early 21st century lies in the aims, collaboration,
and power of the U.S.Israeli axis. These partners in aggression
and state terrorism reinforce one another’s projections of
power—the outofcontrol superpower protecting its regional client’s
ethnic cleansing, while the Israeli lobby within the United States
supports the violent projection of power by the United States, which
provides further cover for Israel’s escalating regional violence.
What is most remarkable, however, is the feeble resistance to—and
sometimes positive support of—the axis of aggression, torture,
death, and deva station’s (ATDD) violence by the European countries
and “international community” more broadly. 

Free to Aggress 


onsider that the United States has carried
out three wars of aggression in violation of the UN Charter over
the last seven years (Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq) and that without
having digested its Iraq aggression—now universally recognized
as having been based on lies and a cynical abuse of UN processes,
as well as being the “supreme crime”—it has actually
begun a fourth aggression, against Iran, once again under the cynical
cover of the UN. Furthermore, the United States was the main driver
of the “sanctions of mass destruction” against Iraq throughout
the 1990s, which resulted in the deaths of perhaps a million Iraqi
civilians, possibly the greatest genocide of the postWorld War II
era (with only the Congo and Rwanda as serious rivals), a project
also carried out by the cynical misuse of the UN. 

Instead of resisting these aggressions and genocidal operations,
the G8 and international community have appeased the aggressor and
genocidist, never condemning its aggressions or imposing sanctions
in response to its major crimes, but collaborating with it, and,
in the case of Iraq, giving it expost approval and support for the
deadly occupation. 

The UN, created specifically to prevent “the scourge of war,”
has failed to pose any serious constraining force on the serial
aggressions by the United States or those of its Israeli client.
This failure, and the global crisis that it reflects, has hardly
been recognized in the Western media and intellectual circles, for
the same reasons that underlie the appeasement and collaboration:
the military power of the superpower, fear of the economic and political
consequences of opposition to the United States and its client’s
rampaging, some sense of solidarity and support for U.S. and Israeli
objectives and policies on the part of global elites and media,
and cowardice and lack of moral fortitude. 

Israel as well as the United States has been free over several decades
to aggress, ignore any UN resolutions or rulings, ignore international
law governing the behavior of an occupying power, and steadily “redeem
the land” of Palestine by ethnically cleansing the Palestinians.
Israel carried out a major invasion of Lebanon in 1982, with no
penalty for this aggression, or for a lengthy illegal occupation,
or for periodic bombing and ground attacks on Lebanon or for its
lengthy maintenance of a terrorist proxy army on Lebanese soil.
Its fresh major aggression in Lebanon in July and August 2006 is
also being carried out without any UN or other international penalty
or sanctions, again, as in 1982, with the protection of the U.S.
veto and U.S. power—and Israel is currently threatening Iran
and Syria without any apparent U.S. or international community constraint. 



n addition to preeminence in aggression,
the U.S.Israel axis has long been important in sponsoring and using
torture. The U.S. use of waterboarding goes back to the war against
Philippine “niggers” in 1900; its use of electronic methods
of torture was extensive during the Vietnam War, along with “Tiger
Cages”; and this country was the principal sponsor of regimes
of torture in the 1960s and 1970s as U.S. leaders struggled against
nationalistpopulist upheavals in the Third World. Many premier torturers
learned their lessons in the School of the Americas in those years.
Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and the rendition gulag are not a break from
the past or contrary to “American values,” they are built
on a solid tradition. (Chapter 2 of Chomsky and Herman,

The Washington

, 1979, was entitled “The PentagonCIA Archipeligo.”) 

Israel has used torture on a systematic basis against Palestinians
for decades, the

New York Times

noting matteroffactly in
1993 that Israel’s torture victims were running to 400-500 per
month, but that Israel was “rethinking” the merits of
its “interrogation” practices (Joel Greenberg, “Israel
Rethinks Interrogation of Arabs,” August 14, 1993). If this
were to be done to Jews on a systematic basis in some country, the
outcry would be deafening, but here also an Israeli practice condemned
everywhere as barbaric is treated in a very low key manner and brings
about no negative policy responses from the United States or international
community. This has permitted Israel to thrive, to command massive
international aid, and to be given regular accolades as a model
democracy, despite its long record of being “the only state
in the world to effectively legalize the use of methods that constitute
torture or illtreatment” (Amnesty International, “The
Israeli government should implement the High Court decision making
torture illegal,” September 6, 1999). 

The Killing Business is Good 


he United States and Israel are also major
dispensers of death to people who stand in their way. Both are highly
militarized, the United States now the dominant military power on
earth, Israel toweringly superior in military strength to any of
its neighbors. Both have increasingly displayed the arrogance of
power and a readiness to use their superior arms in lieu of peaceable
means of settling disputes. Both have gravitated to the use of high
tech weaponry that has devastating effects on civilians, but which
reduces aggressor casualties and the need for land troops. As noted,
their violent proclivities are now mutually reinforcing. 

The U.S. use of atomic weapons against civilian populations in Hiroshima
and Nagasaki, with hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties
in what was a demonstration and warning performance, stands alone
in the annals of violence. The U.S. has a longstanding tradition
of  threatening to use ever more lethal monstrosities. Israel
also has a sizable nuclear weapons arsenal and has long posed a
threat of first use, reinforced by the absence of any nuclear retaliatory
power by its nearby rivals. The Iran “threat” of acquiring
nuclear weapons is the threat of potential selfdefense, which would
rob Israel of one important element that allows it regularly to
use force against its neighbors. 

During the Vietnam War, in which the United States deployed its
ferocious weaponry lavishly against a resistant peasant society,
it killed several million people. To this we may add hundreds of
thousands killed in Cambodia and Laos. Many thousands have continued
to die in Indochina from the millions of unexploded bombs that litter
the soil and that the United States has made no effort to clean
up or even provide supportive map guidance or technical aid. As
one sign read over a U.S. military camp in Vietnam, “Killing
is our business, and business is good.” 

Much of U.S. deathdealing has been via sponsorship. It sponsored
and long had a special relationship with the Suharto dictatorship,
aiding its initial genocidal burst in 1965-66 with possibly a million
or more civilian deaths by massacre, and supporting its invasionoccupation
of East Timor and some 200,000 further deaths there. It sponsored
the rise of National Security States in Latin America, with death
squads flourishing and U.S. trained counterinsurgency cadres establishing
a state terrorism “infinitely worse than the terrorism they
were combating” (an Argentine postjunta truth commission).
The U.S.sponsored wars in Central America in the 1970s and 1980s
took a heavy civilian toll, with genocidal attacks on the Guatemalan
Mayan Indians, among other largescale state murder operations. The
U.S.sponsored killings in Latin America in those years ran into
the hundreds of thousands (the “disappeared” alone were
estimated to be 90,000 back in 1981). The U.S. “constructive
engagement” with apartheid South Africa and support of “freedom
fighter” Sav imbi in Angola also contributed many hundreds
of thousands of deaths in that area in the 1970s and 1980s.

Israel’s killings have been on a smaller scale, but still notable
in light of their claims of being victims of terrorism and merely
retaliating to the actions of their weaker neighbors and the Palestinian
resistance to their occupation and ethnic cleansing. Israel’s
supposed “retaliation” to Palestinian “terrorism”
featured a ratio of Palestinian to Israeli deaths of 20 or 25 to
1 until the second Intifada, when the ratio fell to 3 or 4 to 1,
though with a higher injury ratio (the figure of 25-1 is given by
James Bennett in the

New York Times

, March 12, 2002). The
killings at Sabra and Shatila, mainly of women, children, and older
people, has been estimated at between 1,500 and 3,000, which is
far greater than the Israeli police estimate of PLO killings of
Israelis for the entire period 1968-81. The total of Israeli killings
in Palestine are hard to estimate, but run to tens of thousands.
The Israeli killings of Lebanese in the 1982 invasion has been estimated
at 17,000-20,000, and the numbers killed in Lebanon before and after
that date surely run into many thousands. 



he United States has used its advanced weapons
technology and wealth not only to kill large numbers in countries
that stand in its way, but also to destroy their infrastructure
and means of livelihood, thereby teaching them and others a lesson
in the costs of opposition, setting back their capacity for development
and taking vengeance. Vietnam’s forests were bulldozed and
destroyed by chemical warfare, its lands were widely ruined by chemicals
and millions of bomb craters, a large fraction of its most competent
and productive males were killed, mainly in bomb strikes, vast numbers
were wound ed and traumatized, and hundreds of thousands of children
suffered birth deformities by chemical poisoning. Vietnam no longer
posed a threat of a working alternative model. Neither did Nicaragua
pose a “threat of a good example” after a decade of U.S.sponsored
terrorist and economic warfare that reduced incomes by half and
played a key role in ousting the reformist Sandinista government.
El Salvador, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Afghanistan,
the Congo, and Angola are other states that have not recovered from
U.S. direct or sponsored attacks. 

Iraq was devastated in the Persian Gulf War of 1990-1991 and was
then not permitted to recover, even to restore its badly damaged
water and sanitary facilities, let alone to feed its people. The
2003-2006 invasion/occupation took a further heavy toll of Iraq’s
already devastated infrastructure and was notable for the invader’s
severe damage to Iraq’s libraries, museums, and other important
historical monuments. Iraq is a shattered society, with serial blows
administered by mainly the United States and Britain, with UN connivance. 

Israel ravaged Lebanon time and again from 1978 onward, with exceptionally
heavy destruction of infrastructure in 1982 and now in 2006. In
2002 Israel began a systematic destruction of the infrastructure
of Palestine, destroying public buildings, records, medical facilities,
libraries, among other facilities. In its recent 2006 assault on
Gaza, nominally to help free a single captive Israeli soldier, its
first target was the electric power station that serves 700,000
Palestinian civilians. Further targets included rooftop water tanks
and mains, bridges, roads, and medical facilities. At no time has
Israel been penalized or punished by the EU, let alone its patron
superpower, for these multiple open, blatant, and illegal attacks
on civilian facilities. 



his is an age of escalating violence, led
by a militarized superpower with an enormous capacity to kill, closely
linked with an expansionist and militarized client that sees benefits
to its “Greater Israel” and ethnic cleansing program in
chaos and warfare. This is a continuation of longstanding policies
of this axis of ATDD, but rendered more dangerous by the death of
the Soviet Union (and the end of real “containment”) and
the coming to power in the United States of an exceptionally irresponsible,
stupid, and weak Administration. The weak, stupid, and amoral frequently
do stupid and horrendous things to compensate for their mistakes
and once again in the Middle East they have unleashed large scale
violence and the threat of an even wider war. 

The axis of ATDD is setting the tone across the globe. It preaches
that those resisting it only understand force, but the world recognizes
that in truth it is the axis duo that only responds to force or
its threat. Thus the axis leadership provokes a responsive militari
zation and violence across the globe and the huge problems facing
the peoples of the world (poverty, disease, environmental threats,
inequality, racism, democratic deficits) are unaddressed and become
steadily more serious. 

These problems are not going to be dealt with until the world’s
public becomes sufficiently aroused to throw out the leadership
of the axis and/or force the nonaxis powers to resist axis violence
with actions that bite and cannot be ignored.

S. Herman is an economist, media critic, and author and coauthor
of numerous books,

Triumph of the Market


Beyond Hypocrisy

(both South End Press).