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From Palestine to Iraq...
Massacred for empire

May 28, 2004 | Page 1

GEORGE W. BUSH talks about "democracy" in Iraq. But Washington and its ally Israel are out to dominate the Middle East through death, destruction and overwhelming military force.

As Bush was declaring that the U.S. would "hold this hard-won ground for the realm of liberty" in a nationally broadcast speech on Iraq, video footage surfaced of the latest results of "liberation"--the musical instruments and children's toys left behind by the victims of the U.S. bombing of a wedding party in Western Iraq.

The Pentagon's response to this slaughter of 40 people? "Bad things happen in wars," scoffed Major Gen. James Mattis, commander of the U.S. 1st Marine Division. "I don't have to apologize for the conduct of my men."

Meanwhile, in the city of Karbala, there were scenes of widespread destruction just yards away from the tomb of Ali, the most sacred site to Shiites. U.S. forces killed dozens of Iraqis in Karbala and other cities--areas filled with people on religious pilgrimages--in battles with supporters of Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr. But no one knows for sure how many died--as usual, the Pentagon didn't even bother to count the Iraqi dead.

At the same time, Israeli forces pulled back from the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza after a rampage that killed at least 42 Palestinians, injured scores more and flattened entire sections of the camp. Within days, Israel's six-day campaign of death in Rafah was crowded off the front pages of U.S. newspapers by the latest horrific revelations of the U.S. torture of Iraqi prisoners.

In fact, U.S. tactics in Iraq--the "preventive detention" and torture, the midnight raids, the use of tanks, artillery and aerial bombardment on residential areas--are all methods used by Israel to maintain its occupation of Palestinian land. And the two occupations have a common aim--the consolidation and expansion of U.S. imperial power in the Middle East.

Bush and his fellow war makers are clear on this. "By defending the freedom and prosperity and security of Israel, you're also serving the cause of America," Bush said in a speech at a conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee--even as Israeli forces blasted their way into Rafah.

Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon are both attempting to camouflage their occupations through diplomatic maneuvers--an Israeli pullout from Gaza, and a U.S. "handover" of power to an Iraqi puppet regime on June 30. But Israel plans to extend its domination of the West Bank by annexing--with U.S. approval--even more Palestinian land and reserves the right to launch military attacks on Gaza at will. And the resolution on Iraq that Washington has proposed to the United Nations calls for a multinational force with "the authority to take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability"--with the Pentagon calling the shots.

That's the real face of Bush's plan to "remake" the Middle East--military conquest, massacres, torture, rape and the daily humiliation of Palestinians and Iraqis denied the right to determine their own future by armed occupiers. There won't be peace, democracy or justice in the Middle East until both these occupations are ended.

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