One Man Against the World
By Uri Avnery - Israel - 15.2.03
--- A great, civilized nation democratically elected a fanatic demagogue, who preached war. Actually, he did not really receive the majority of votes, but, somehow, his ascent to power was arranged nevertheless.
--- Soon after assuming power, he manipulated a dramatic incident in order to tighten his grip upon the country and prepare for attack on smaller nations. An immense propaganda machine turned "enemies" into devils, the incarnation of evil.
--- The call for war enabled him to unite the whole people behind him, to silence all opposition, gradually abridge human rights, overcome the economic crisis and embark upon a voyage towards world dominion.
--- He loved being photographed in uniform, walking along lines of soldiers, pretending to be a great military leader ---
I mean, of course, Adolf Hitler.
The German people, which gave him power and followed him with closed eyes even when he committed heinous crimes, paid a heavy price. It has learned the lesson. Now it abhors war, any war, from the depth of its soul. Hundreds of thousands - young people, children, grandchildren and grand-grandchildren of that generation - march these days through the streets of Germany to protest against Bush's war. Their leader, Schroeder, was reelected solely because he expressed this deep longing for peace. The most warlike people has turned into the most anti-warlike.
That's great, isn't it? Not at all! American and British leaders condemn Germany for its refusal to go to war. The Israeli government heap scorn on its head. Wet rugs, these Germans! Damn pacifists! Cowards! Pitiful people who refuse to fight!
All this less than 60 years since Hitler's suicide. Who would have believed.
And this is not the only miracle that is happening these days. Not by any means.
A personal memory (excuse me if you have read it before): when I was 8 years old, two years before my family fled Germany after Hitler's coming to power, I was a pupil in the third class of an elementary school in Prussia, a Social Democratic bulwark at the time.
Once the teacher told us about Hermann, the national hero, who had succeeded in 9 AD to lure the Roman army into a trap and annihilate it. The Roman commander, Varus, fell on his sword and Augustus Ceasar uttered his despairing cry: "Varus, give me back me legions!" On the spot where the historic battle was supposed to have taken place, there stands now a huge statue of Hermann.
"Hermann stands with his face towards the Erbfeind (hereditary enemy)!" our teacher proclaimed. "Children, who is the Erbfeind?" All the pupils in the class shouted in unison: "Frankreich! Frankreich (France)!"
Now Germany and France, the hereditary enemies, stand together, shoulder to shoulder, against Bush's war plans. The Americans curse and abuse them, but they stand firm: Enough of war. Enough of destruction and bloodshed. Other ways to solve problems must be found.
That is another miracle. But even this is a minor one compared to the third, historic miracle that is happening in front of our eyes:
President Putin appeared in Berlin and Paris, embraced Chirac and Schroeder and added his voice to theirs. One front from Cherbourg on the Atlantic to Vladivostok on the Pacific. That has never happened before.
From earliest times, European history is full of alliances of some states against others. Germany and Russia divided Poland between them. France and Russia allied themselves several times to contain Germany. Napoleon tried to unite Europe and did not succeed. The Texan cowboy is succeeding where the Corsican emperor has failed.
Bush has invented the childish term "Axis of Evil" to group together Iraq, Iran and North Korea. That's nonsense. But in the meantime a French-German-Russian axis has come into being and is facing the United States.
(The term "axis" to design a coalition of states was also invented at the time of Hitler. The original axis of evil included Germany, Italy and Japan. When using this term, Bush intended to recall that memory.)
It is too early to say if this new axis will hold on and if it will be strong enough to face the enormous might of the United States. But even if it will be broken this time, its very birth is a harbinger of things to come.
These three countries, contemptuously called by the American Secretary of Defense "Old Europe", are, on the contrary, united by considerations pertaining to the New Europe. This Europe worries the Americans. It is becoming an economic superpower, able to compete with, and perhaps overtake, the United States. A symbol of this is the fact that the euro has indeed overtaken the dollar.
As I remarked in a previous article, the war in Iraq is primarily a war against Europe and Japan. The American occupation of Iraq will ensure American control not only over the vast oil reserves of Iraq itself, but also of the Caspian Sea and the Gulf States. The hand on the oil tab of the world can choke Germany, France and Japan, because it can manipulate at will the price of oil throughout the world. Lower the price, and you choke Russia. Raise the price, and you choke Europe and Japan.
Therefore, preventing the war is an essential European interest, in addition to the profound longing for peace of the European peoples.
Washington does not even hide its desire to bring Europe to its knees. Lately, there is a crude American effort to create a coalition of peripheral countries in order to oust Germany and France from the leadership of the European Union. America is organizing a bloc of the former Communist nations, who are about to join the Union, together with the UK, Spain and Italy. The Paris-Berlin axis, aided by Moscow, is designed as a defense against this ploy, too.
This war, then, goes much beyond the Iraqi problem. It is not a war against Saddam's microbes. It is, quite simply, a war for world dominion, economic, political, military and cultural. Bush is ready to spill a lot of blood to achieve this (as long as it is not American blood).
Israel is involved in this game without quite knowing what it is doing there, a boy in a game of world-league bullies. It has nothing to gain, it can only lose.