Peace Porridge #25: A Dirty Little Irony of War
29 Jan, 2002
                 "One of the dirty little ironies of war is
                 that it matters less who wins the war than
                 where it was fought."

                 --Ron David, "Arabs & Israel For Beginners"

   I spent the first part of January in Nicaragua, and came back with a bad case of writers block; hence, the month long absence of Peace Porridge from the ether.

   Nicaragua has recently gained the dubious distinction of becoming the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, barely beating out Haiti, the former record holder.

   Here is a short lesson from recent history. 1979 was a bad year for U.S. supported dictators. The Somoza dynasty was thrown out of Nicaragua after 41 years of raping the country. President Roosevelt once said of Somoza, "He's a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch." Shah Rezi Khan, who, after a CIA inspired coup, brutally ruled Iran for the benefit of United States oil interests for 26 years, was also booted out in 1979. But that's a different story.

   After the Nicaraguan revolution, the Sandinista government mapped out some subversive goals for the country, like adequate housing and nutrition for everyone, universal education and health care, vaccination of all children for childhood diseases like measles, diphtheria, and polio, etc. - the so-called communist goals which we would never tolerate in our democratic society. The Sandinistas were doing a pretty good job of it too, until the United States started the Nicaraguan Contra War and the economic embargo.

   The Contra War was a dirty little war, a war the United States never intended to win. The purpose was to drain Nicaragua and divert it from its communist goals of universal education and health care. The Contra army was totally armed and financed by the United States. When congress cut off funds, the Reagan administration resorted to financing the war through methods like the illegal arms sales to Iran. (remember Ollie North and the Iran-Contra scandal?)

   To us it was a scandal. To Nicaragua it was a disaster. The United States even provided the Contra army with reconnaissance so they would be able to avoid the Nicaraguan army. Our brave freedom fighting allies much preferred to terrorize innocent civilians than to do battle with another army. (We really know how to pick them, don't we?) If the Sandinista Army got anywhere near the Contras, they would put their tails between their legs, and slink back to their protected bases in neighboring Honduras. What brave allies we had.

   The Nicaraguans, under the illusion that international law might prevail, sued the United States in the World Court and won a multi-billion dollar judgment against the United States. The Court also ordered the United States to cease and desist from supporting the Contras. The United States thumbed its nose at the World Court, refused to pay the judgment, and stepped up the Contra terror. Who says might doesn't make right.

   During the 1989 elections, Bush the elder magnanimously offered to disband the Contras and rebuild the country, if the Nicaraguans would only elect his candidate, Violeta Chamorro. (And we talk about free elections?) The United States kept half its promise, disbanding the Contras. (Not bad considering our record elsewhere in the world.) But rebuild Nicaragua? Forget it. For the past 12 years its been a steady downhill slope to becoming the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, while our good friends in Nicaragua rob the country blind, for the benefit of themselves and American corporations.

   But the Nicaraguans shouldn't feel alone. The U.S. has destroyed many a country since the end of World War II.

   In the middle of the past century, the Vietnamese fought bravely against first the Japanese, then the French, and finally the Americans, and beat the pants off of all three of them. But, "one of the dirty little ironies of war is that it matters less who wins the war than where it was fought." The result of beating up three invaders, was that millions of Vietnamese died; a large part of their environment was destroyed; the country was polluted with dioxin, a highly toxic ingredient of agent orange which the United States sprayed copiously over the Vietnamese jungles and rice paddies; the killing fields were littered with unexploded landmines and cluster bombs; and the economy was in shambles. After their victory, Vietnam received no help in rebuilding from the United States, and has never recovered from winning the war.

   More recently, we have destroyed Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yugoslavia. I feel like barfing every time I hear some sanctimonious pronouncement about rebuilding Afghanistan. I can't think of any country, the United States has rebuilt since the days of the Marshall Plan. Build a pipeline through Afghanistan for the benefit of UNOCAL and a few local entrepreneurs? Sure. Build schools and health care facilities for the people? Clean up the unexploded landmines and cluster bombs? Forget it.


   I began this letter with a quote from Ron David's, "Arabs & Israel for Beginners," which I have just finished reading for the third time. I rarely read anything more than once, with the exception of certain passages of scripture such as Isaiah 24 (the Apocalypse) and Matthew 5 (the Beatitudes,) and Lewis Carroll's, "Through the Looking Glass" (almost scripture.) In this last reading of Arabs & Israel, I highlighted what I felt were important passages. When I finished, I had highlighted almost the entire book.

   This 200 page book is brutally concise. Almost every word is important. It traces 14,000 years of Middle Eastern history, up to the time of writing, 1993. This is perhaps the most honest book I have ever read. In his irreverent and iconoclastic style, Ron David tells a story that few of us really want to hear, and in the process manages to poke fun at most of the important players in this drama, including God. (God must have great sense of humor to tolerate Ron David.)

                 "Violence upon violence,
                 deceit upon deceit:
                 The refuse to recognize me,
                 says the Lord."

                 --Jeremiah 9:5 (New American Bible)

   Arabs and Israel tells a very sad story. It details how Jews went from being victims of some of the greatest violence and terror the world has ever witnessed, to becoming the perpetrators of that same violence and terror. It is a book of lies and deceit. I story of how otherwise sensitive and caring people can be taken in by official lies. A story of how people who claim to be chosen of God can show total disregard for God's laws, his creation, and his children. It is an old story, that has played on every continent, and continues to play itself out today.

   The story details how from the beginning, contrary to official lies, the Zionists held the balance of power, and the balance of terror. From the "Arab revolt of 1936-39," it was ten Arabs killed for every Jew, and this ratio has continued almost to the present. "...after doing all this research I've realized that the ratio is usually about ten-to-one."

   This book also prefigures the current intifada and our "War on Terrorism." "Let's stop kidding ourselves." says David, "Terrorists aren't born, they're made. There's even a formula for making them."

   What is different about the world in this new millennium? For over 50 years, with a few minor exceptions, the guns pointed in one direction only: at Nicaragua, at Palestine, at Iraq, at Afghanistan. Now, all of a sudden the guns point both ways. Now they also point at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the streets and shopping malls of Israel and the United States. In America and Israel people are scared - and well they should be.

                 "One of the dirty little ironies of war is
                 that it matters less who wins the war than
                 where it was fought."

   In Palestine, the ratio of murdered Arabs to Israelis is now slightly over three to one; not ten to one. In America it is no longer forty to one as in the Vietnam War. We lost 3,000 in one day, for which we have taken the lives of 4,000 innocent Afghans in revenge, just for a start. Where will it end?

                 "For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will
                 make thee a terror to thyself, and to all
                 thy friends: and they shall fall by the
                 sword of their enemies, and thine own
                 eyes shall behold it."

                 --Jeremiah 20:4 (King James Bible)

   If you only read one book on the Middle East, read Arabs & Israel for Beginners. If I had the knowledge and talent, this is the kind of book I would want to write.

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