“Expanding and strengthening” the onslaught against the people of Lebanon. That was Israel’s response to the international outcry over the slaughter of 56 civilians, most of them children, in Qana.
And with the world’s eyes turned to the increasingly savage offensive in southern Lebanon, Israel has tightened the noose of collective punishment around the Palestinians in Gaza.
Accompanying all this are the barely concealed calls in Washington for an assault on Iran and Syria.
No one should be in any doubt which way the chain of cause and effect runs. George Bush, with Tony Blair at his heel, is backing Israel to the hilt because the US wants Hizbollah’s resistance in Lebanon smashed as a prelude to an attack on Iran. In Washington, Blair alluded to such a war.
It is their perverse reaction to the catastrophe engulfing the occupation in Iraq, where the number of US forces is now increasing rather than being “drawn down” as was promised to military families earlier this year.
To the Iraq disaster we can add Afghanistan, where Britain lost three more soldiers on Monday.
Where two wars have failed, perhaps a wider one might succeed. Such is the logic that is tearing hundreds of Lebanese civilians to shreds and is bringing us to the brink of a gigantic conflagration.
That is also the reasoning behind US, British and Israeli talk of imposing a foreign force in southern Lebanon. This is not a plan for peace – it is a step to further war.
The belligerent forces – Israel, armed by the US, with Blair using British airports to act as quartermaster – are talking of sending troops as an alternative to a ceasefire.
They want the war to continue until Israel wins, and they want to deploy forces in southern Lebanon to help Israel win. They are becoming more anxious to get other countries to send those troops precisely because Israel is not winning.
Its generals have been shocked by the effectiveness of Hizbollah’s military resistance. Politically, the invasion of Lebanon – for that is what it is – is already a disaster for Israel and the US.
It has strengthened the national resistance in Lebanon, with Hizbollah at its centre. Lebanon’s pro-Western Government speaks of Hizbollah as resistance fighters.
Far from reopening sectarian and confessional divisions, which the US and Israel hoped would embroil Hizbollah in civil war, the assault on Lebanon has rallied huge numbers of Christians, Druze and Sunni Muslims behind the banner of Hizbollah.
Across the Middle East anger is boiling at Israel and the US certainly, but also at the corrupt kings and puppet presidents who are allowing the
massacre of Lebanon to take place. Millions are taking inspiration from the Lebanese resistance. It is that resistance that could halt the wider war drive and bring some relief to the besieged Palestinians.
Make no mistake, if that resistance is broken, the result will be no kind of peace, but an even wider war.
If Israel, the US and Britain win in southern Lebanon, I warn you not to be Iranian; I warn you not to be Syrian; I warn you not to be an infant in Gaza; I warn you not to be old in Bint Jbeil; I warn you not to thirst for freedom in Egypt; I warn you not to cry out for justice in Jordan; I warn you not to demand democracy in Saudi Arabia – for if the imperialist forces win in Lebanon, more Middle Eastern countries will be dragged into the maw of war, and the hand of reaction will be strengthened everywhere.
But if they are defeated, if the resistance led by Hizbollah halts the invasion of Lebanon, if it refuses to kneel before imperial might, then a fire will be lit under every throne and in every corrupt chancellery from the Atlantic coast of North Africa to the banks of the Euphrates.
It will speed the day when the impoverished masses across the region take control of their destiny. It will give new hope to the Palestinians.
It will inspire those Israelis, currently few in number, who know the next six decades cannot be like the last and that there must be justice for Palestine. It will bring us closer to a durable peace.
And, in humbling the masters of global military and economic power, it will embolden everyone who is fighting for a better world.
Emergency national demonstration
Saturday 5 August l 12 noon l Speakers Corner, Hyde Park, London (near Marble Arch tube)
Called by Stop the War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, CND, the British Muslim Initiative and Lebanese community organisations
Agency workers would be paid more
A racist Tory bill
Many people are already missing bill payments