Friday, August 11, 2006

Tomgram: Mark LeVine, Chaos Theory and the Middle East

[Note for Tomdispatch readers: For the rest of the month, this site will be on a somewhat more relaxed posting schedule. The next Tomgram will probably not be posted until August 16th or 17th.]

Yesterday, the Israeli security cabinet authorized an expansion of the ground war in Lebanon (while its military suffered 15 dead and 25 wounded, the highest battlefield casualty rate thus far); Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened to "transform our land in the south [of Lebanon] to a graveyard for Zionist invaders" and called on Haifa's Arab residents to evacuate that city; Israeli planes bombed bridges and dropped leaflets warning that "any vehicle on the roads south of the Litani River" might be destroyed, while Hezbollah rained 100 or more Katyusha rockets on northern Israel.

In Iraq, the Baghdad morgue released a staggering death toll for the month of July -- 1,815 bodies received (as many as 90% having died violently). As "a new high," this was an ominous sign of the spiraling civil war in the Iraqi capital, while in al-Anbar Province, heart of the Sunni insurgency, three more U.S. soldiers died and two Black Hawk helicopter crewmen were missing and possibly dead.

In Afghanistan, the capital, Kabul, is now experiencing an energy crisis which has left its electricity levels at lows equal to that of occupied, embattled Baghdad; while, to the south, the country is experiencing an ever more intense guerrilla war, replete with Iraqi-style suicide bombers and roadside IEDs, led by a resurgent Taliban.

These are but signs (along with rising energy prices) of the spreading chaos at the heart of what was once to be a Bush-administration-led American imperium in the Middle East (and energy-rich Central Asia). But this administration's top officials remain remarkably cloistered and undaunted. Only yesterday, according to the New York Times, Vice President Cheney "went so far as to suggest that the ouster of" Senator Joseph Lieberman by Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary in Connecticut, "might encourage ‘al Qaeda types.'"

Recently, Craig Crawford wrote in a Congressional Quarterly column:

"The rest of the world might see the Middle East crisis as a cataclysmic event of potentially biblical proportions, but in his July 29 radio address the president echoed a persistent White House vision of hope rising from destruction. While taking care to note that the killing is ‘painful and tragic,' Bush sought to portray the tragedy as an opportunity for ‘broader change' that will lead to ‘peace,' ‘liberty,' ‘democracy' and a ‘more secure' America.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

1 comment(s):

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