Silvia Cattori: We would like to hear your analysis of the regional geopolitical context and its implications for Lebanon, a country which suffered enormously during the fifteen years of its military occupation by Israel. Do you consider Israel, which is carrying out a policy of aggression towards its neighbours, the principal source of the wars in the region?
Youssef Aschkar: Since its creation, Israel has not only been the source of the wars in the Middle East, but it has always acted to turn the Middle East into a catalyst of war(s) for the whole world. War has always been its leitmotif. But by itself the phenomenon of war, both as policy and as act of aggression and violence, does not suffice to explain the distinctive features of the war that Israel is waging and is seeking to propagate, indeed to spread worldwide. The warmongering of Israel does not in itself explain all of Israel’s conduct and motivations. Israel is waging a particular type of war in the Middle East, a war which has its own doctrine and which is the principal source of the evils that we are witnessing. This doctrine consists, firstly, in making war not solely upon states but also upon societies, and, secondly, in turning “terrorism” and the war against it into Israel’s main weapon.
Silvia Cattori: Could you explain what you mean by “war against society”?
Youssef Aschkar: After the victory won against the Arab countries in 1967, Israel judged that these states – beaten, humiliated, and resigned – no longer presented a danger. It was their peoples alone who still constituted an obstacle to Israel’s plans for expansion. So it was necessary to wage a direct war against these peoples. Israel has never hidden its intentions. In a document entitled, “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties”, published in February 1982 by the “World Zionist Organization” in Jerusalem, there was a detailed plan for the operations to be carried out against each of the peoples of the region.
The internal struggles and wars that the Middle East has known in recent decades fall within the context of this doctrine of warmongering. The war waged by Israel against Lebanon showed this well, but the agony of the Palestinian people remains the clearest example of this policy of constant and methodical ethnic cleansing which Israel is carrying out against peoples. The war currently being waged in Iraq by the United States is unfolding according to this same doctrine of the destruction of peoples long advocated by Israel.
As for the terrorism of which this state is perpetually claiming to be a victim, it has always been nourished, manipulated, and put into practice by all of the Israeli administrations that have succeeded each other. Terrorism has always been its principal weapon, and became its strategic weapon once the “terrorist doctrine” had been made official in 1996.
Silvia Cattori: Was this doctrine inscribed into what was called, during those years, the “peace process”?
Youssef Aschkar: Exactly. At Madrid and Oslo, there had been discussion of a “peace which would ensure security.” But at the summit of Charm el-Sheikh in 1996, they spoke of a “security that would ensure peace.” It is there that the terrorist doctrine of the “war against terrorism” was born. Since then, it is this new strategy that has imposed itself and changed the whole psychological and geopolitical climate, in the region and in the whole world. This so-called war “against terrorism” has shown itself to be much worse than a simple war of occupation.
The heads of the Arab states have found themselves forced to wage this war against liberation movements, which are labelled “terrorist organizations” in accordance with the formula adopted by Israel and the United States. What’s more, the Arab states themselves were labelled as “sources of terrorism”, and threatened with wars in the future.
Silvia Cattori: So the situation has been reversed? They are once more attacking the victims for Israel’s profit?
Youssef Aschkar: Yes, exactly. In basing itself on this doctrine of war against “terrorism”, Israel has taken up again its image as a victim of aggression. The Arab states remain on the defensive, charged with ensuring “the security of Israel” as a preliminary condition for any “peace negotiation.” It is a never-ending litany invented not just to deny them peace, but to favour terrorism in this so-called “war against terrorism.”
The gravest element in this radical change is the fact that the United States has also adopted this war doctrine of Israel’s. Once the Charm el-Sheikh summit was over, President Clinton and his advisors flew off to Israel. Israeli-American teams worked for three days to draw up plans that would put this new doctrine into practice.
A very significant sign is this: between 1996 and September 11, 2001, the culture of hate and fear was spread to the United States by the publication of thousands of books and articles on the subject of terrorism. From that time onward, “Islamic terrorism” became the new Evil Empire, the subject of all public discussion. The vision of a war against “terrorism”, which itself would inevitably spawn terrorism, had already invaded the world and raised itself to the level of a universal charter.
Silvia Cattori: So you believe that the starting point for the war against “terrorism” was not September 2001, but that it had already been built into the “peace process”, which in fact turned out to be a “war process”?
Youssef Aschkar: Precisely. The so-called “peace process”, which came out of the talks at Madrid and Oslo, was simply the putting into practice of the war doctrine formulated by Aba Eban in 1967-68 and adopted by Israel.
“Make Peace with States, Make War against the People”  is the title of an essay on this war doctrine that I presented at a colloquium at the University of Bordeaux. There I analyzed the principles of the foreign policy, or rather the global strategy that Aba Eban had spelt out in the 1970s. These principles were taken up again by Mr. Shimon Peres and Mr. Yitzhak Rabin in the 1990s and presented in the form of a “peace doctrine”, though the doctrine remained what it had always been, a “war doctrine” thought up to be applied against their Arab neighbours and, at the same time, to be exported. As for this alleged “terrorism”, Israel has always labelled the Palestinians as “terrorists”, even well before the doctrine of the “war against terrorism” was adopted officially in 1996. Therefore September 11, 2001, represented nothing but a success for this doctrine and a new point of departure.
Silvia Cattori: So we are not talking about a colonial war?
Youssef Aschkar: No, this is not a colonial war. It is a war for the destruction of societies, a war which destroys the life of peoples. The occupation, as such, is the least of the evils. In a colonial war, it is in the interest of the colonizer that there continues to be a people to exploit. But for the Israeli occupier, the objective is to eliminate the people. It’s completely different from a colonial war! A colonial war normally means the occupation of the land and not — as we see in Palestine — the ethnic cleansing of a people. We have to stop seeing it as a simple occupation, because in Palestine the Israeli occupier is committing ethnic cleansing. It is urgent that this is exposed, and that the murderers perpetrating this crime are forced to stop.
Silvia Cattori: During the years when the so-called “peace” process was keeping all the diplomats and summits busy, did you have a feeling that Mr. Yasser Arafat was leading his people down a dead-end, and that Israel would profit from it in order to consolidate its gains?
Youssef Aschkar: Yes, that was clear. Mr. Yasser Arafat was a traditional leader who was called upon to face an exceptional situation. Faced with a strategy which effectively undermined the foundations of life in Palestinian society, he pursued the policy of a politician, a policy more concerned with laying the foundations of the Palestinian Authority than with defending the interests of his people.
At the very moment when Mr. Yasser Arafat was negotiating with Israel the setting up of the Palestinian Authority on a small portion of Palestinian territory, this same territory was being divided up: the colonies were multiplying, and the roads for exclusive Israeli use which crisscrossed the territory were designed to render any authority powerless to ensure the survival of the Palestinians.
Silvia Cattori: How can we explain, then, the submission of many Arab leaders to the wishes of the United States, whose objective is to weaken them in order to better strengthen the position of Israel and that of America?
Youssef Aschkar: The submission of the majority of Arab leaders is nothing new. They have always counted on an external power – or on the global balance of power – to consolidate their own power, and consequently they have always been insensitive to the expectations of their peoples. Lacking popular support, they have always sought to reconcile their own interests with the interests of the influential states, considering their submission to these states as a safeguard that these states would protect them and maintain them in power.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, almost all the Arab leaders submitted to the United States. And this for two reasons: for lack of an external alternative, and because of rising internal pressures. Sort of like fleeing forward. But this flight cannot last forever, since in the present context their submission does not truly protect them any longer. That is because the role of the United States in the world, and notably in our region, has changed. Firstly, the United States no longer limits itself to ensuring the security of Israel, but now considers itself responsible for carrying out Israel’s plans. Secondly, the conventional interests of the United States no longer serve as a criterion making U.S. policy understandable. That is because the power of the neoconservatives – who constitute a state within a state – follows interests that are fundamentally divergent, if not opposed.
Silvia Cattori: Has this essential change escaped the Arab leaders allied with the United States?
Youssef Aschkar: Yes, it has escaped them. They continue to present themselves as guarantors of stability, even while the plans of Israel backed by the United States have no other aim than to destabilize the region. They feel themselves more and more disoriented. But they will never come out of it until they realize that resistance is more profitable than submission, and also that submission is costlier than resistance, whatever the sacrifices that resistance might entail.
Silvia Cattori: For the Arab leaders, isn’t it an insane policy for them to act as though they didn’t know what the whole world knows – that is, that the United States and Israel want to weaken them and keep them from living in peace – and instead go on making up with them?
Youssef Aschkar: The Arab leaders are hypocrites. They pretend not to see certain signs; they refuse to recognize that it is useless, indeed dangerous, to make up with the United States and Israel. If they had any illusions before the Madrid and Oslo conferences, the experience of the last ten years should have opened their eyes. And the war against Iraq, which laid bare the nature of the threat, should have set the alarm bells ringing. That said, I do not think that everyone knows what is truly going on in Palestine or Iraq, or what is being prepared against Lebanon, Syria, and other countries of the Middle East. The doctrine of “Israeli war” – which, I repeat, consists in destroying societies and not simply dominating them – always escapes the understanding of political leaders and political experts in general.
How many leaders in the world know, or recognize, that what Israel is doing in Palestine – under the pretext of so-called “security” operations – is systematic ethnic cleansing? Or that the war that the United States is waging in Iraq is methodically destroying the life of the Iraqi people? Or that the Middle East is presently an experimental plot for “creative chaos”, a monstrous mechanism of planetary suicide?
Silvia Cattori: For Israel and the United States, doesn’t it become easier to destroy the Palestinian and Iraqi peoples when states such as Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia compromise with them?
Youssef Aschkar: In fact, the Arab states take part in this destruction, since they accept this state of affairs, in the meantime providing the illusion that one day there will be some kind of peace, or some kind of Palestinian state. No Arab leader has ever acknowledged that there is ethnic cleansing going on in Palestine since 1948.
Silvia Cattori: So, according to you, the expansion of the war that we are seeing now was planned well in advance, and might have been exposed or opposed by these states?
Youssef Aschkar: I worked on this question from 1996 to 2001. I reached the conclusion that the authorities in the United States were waiting for some big incident. They were doing nothing to stop it, but instead were getting everything ready in order to be able to exploit it afterwards. That is the subject of my book, which was at the printers when the attacks of September 11 took place.
Silvia Cattori: In 1990 – when Bush Senior, wishing to convince the world that his Gulf War was justified, let it be understood that the war would also, once Saddam Hussein had been overthrown, permit the setting up of a “new world order” and the concluding of a peace in Palestine – did you have a foreboding that these were simply hollow words, that once this logic of war had been endorsed no one would be able to stop it, and that the Arab countries participating in it would go forward toward disaster?
Youssef Aschkar: The Arab states were forced to follow that machination. Besides, at that time the United States had not yet shown all its cards. It had talked about a war that would force Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait. But the Americans had not spoken of sanctions. Now, this war was designed so that matters would not end there, but that the war would be followed by sanctions and new wars. By sanctions which, between 1990 and 2001, killed almost a million Iraqi children and caused physical and psychological after-effects in other four or five million children. An entire society was destroyed, and came out of it very badly.
Silvia Cattori: In that context, did the destabilization of Lebanon and Syria that was provoked by the assassination of Hariri serve the interests of those whose goal is to continue the war against other peoples?
Youssef Aschkar: What is taking place in Syria and Lebanon is closely linked to what is going on in Iraq. There are two strategies at work in Iraq. There is the official American strategy, which is perhaps an imperial strategy for the domination and control of natural resources. And there is another strategy, which is the strategy of the gang of monsters who are called “neoconservatives”, who dictate their plans to the Pentagon and to the State Department. This “gang” (Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and Douglas J. Feith, among others) have their own plan; they are the ones who have advocated destroying not only the state of Iraq, but the whole of Iraqi society. The entire network that the neocons control circumvents the generals of the Pentagon, and circumvents American military command. It has infiltrated itself into all the high offices of the United States, and has infiltrated itself also into society, into the American media, and into religious organizations. It is a state within a state.
This was shown clearly during the scandal of the torture at Abu Ghraib prison. The General who was in command of the prisons came out of her office one day and was stunned: “But who are these people going around in the hallways?” Her bodyguard replied to her, “These are the men who carry out the interrogations.” This General, in charge of the prisons, knew nothing about any of this.
Silvia Cattori: Does that mean that whenever the neo-conservatives consider themselves to have achieved an objective, this success of theirs might in fact represent a defeat for the troops of the American army?
Youssef Aschkar: Exactly. That’s because there are two plans at work. There is the official plan of an army of occupation that might withdraw, boost its forces, or find itself cornered. And then there is the plan of the neocons, who dictate their own strategy to the American army, who have 45,000 mercenaries at their disposal, and who have more clout than even the American army. These neocons, in fact, are satisfied, and see their mission in Iraq as accomplished, since they judge that they have attained all the goals for the war that they had assigned to their forces: dragging all of Iraqi society into an impasse from which it can never escape, and replacing a centralized dictatorship with a multitude of totalitarian religious communities that will be in permanent conflict among themselves. So they feel ready to move on to the destabilization of Lebanon, Syria, and Iran.
Silvia Cattori: Yet some analysts believe that America cannot wage two wars at the same time, that the U.S. is unable to venture elsewhere while its army is tied down in Iraq.
Youssef Aschkar: The neocons don’t care about any of that: their plan was to destroy Iraqi society and nothing was able to stop them. They will take hold of some other formula in order to find fault with Syria or Iran. What is going on is extremely serious. Perhaps someone will say to me, “But that’s a nightmare! You’re just imagining these things!” I say, let us carry out an investigation to see whether what I am saying about them is true or not.
Silvia Cattori: An investigation on what, exactly?
Youssef Aschkar: On the neocons who rule the Pentagon and are the cause of so many humanitarian disasters! On what really happened on September 11, 2001! On who is really running the war in Iraq! Is it Mr. Bush, or is it these monsters at the Pentagon who use mercenaries to carry out secret operations in the Middle East?
Silvia Cattori: Do you think that the prosecutors who are holding an inquiry on the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri, for instance, will be unable to establish the truth?
Youssef Aschkar: It is the resistance that should carry out this inquest. I call for the setting up of a “resistance inquiry”. Before September 2001, it was not possible to investigate and stop the neocons because their names were not known. Now, nothing can stop them because their machine is already in motion, but at least we can hold an inquiry on their crimes and indicate them by name.
Silvia Cattori: The French government was clearly opposed to the intervention of Bush and Blair in Iraq. Does its recent realignment surprise you?
Youssef Aschkar: France’s position on Iraq raised great hopes in the Middle East, when it opposed the folly of the American neocons. By dissociating itself from the U.S., France had everything to gain on the domestic level, the European level, and the world level.
Unfortunately, its position has changed since June 2004. In that month four decisive events took place: the transatlantic summit between Europe and the U.S., the NATO summit in Istanbul, the G8 at Evian, and the famous meeting at the United Nations. At these four meetings the U.S. succeeded in imposing its logic of war. Mr. Chirac and his team did not present any vision that would be suited to the interests of France, Europe, and the world. France stood aside to give way to the mere search for a “reconciliation” with the United States.
It is France that took it upon itself to prepare Resolution 1559. France gave the illusion of having become a “partner” in the plan for the region and a major actor on the Lebanese scene. But in reality, once the resolution had been submitted, France became nothing but a pawn on the chessboard of the neocons, whose plan is clear: to exploit in order to destabilize, and not just Syria and Iran, but first of all Lebanon.
The French leaders gave way to the vision of the neocons. They committed an error of judgment. If they hadn’t lapsed into opportunism, they would have been able to stand firm and obtain more. In 2003, France was the winner in London when Mr.Dominique de Villepin , in his historic address on the world situation, presented a vision based on true political will and which resisted the monsters of the Pentagon. Whereas, now, France is losing on all levels.
In situations that are exceptional, miserly conventional calculations do not pay. Clearly Mr. Chirac agreed, on the moral level, to damage the image of France, and, on the ethical and functional level, to entrust to France the dirty role of destabilizing the region, particularly Lebanon, and of tricking the Lebanese about their future.
I would like to pose, here, some questions for Mr. Chirac. What is his plan for this region? What control is he able to exercise over the American project that is already in place? Does he think that France and Europe come out winners by associating themselves with this project of destabilization, or rather of setting the region on fire?
Silvia Cattori: So, in your view, France is now completely on board with the anti-Arab policy of Mr. Bush and Blair?
Youssef Aschkar: France abandoned its position of strength; it renounced its special role which consisted in opening up a new path with the Third World, both for France and for Europe. The Third World ought to be France’s natural partner, in the spirit of a mutually favourable and humane partnership. To be credible, that spirit would have to manifest itself not just in relations within Europe, but also with respect to the outside world, particularly the Third World. Unfortunately, France decided not simply to align itself with the United States, but also to sign on to the war doctrine of the neocons. This positioning won for France nothing but a background role and isolation. This isolation comes out on three levels: that of Jacques Chirac within France, that of France within Europe, and that of Europe in the world. A great hope has evaporated, leaving the world in the hands of the new order of fear and hatred.
Silvia Cattori: So are the people of the world in the hands of irresponsible leaders who no longer control anything?
Youssef Aschkar: It is not that simple with political leaders, even if usually they do show themselves guilty of irresponsibility, opportunism, and lying. The core of the problem lies elsewhere: finding out who holds true power. In the “new world order”, this power is in the process of shifting from the territorial authority of states to the uncontrolled authority of a line of new masters. I am not talking about the multinational corporations, the transnational financial institutions, and the process of economic privatization. The new masters are of a different kind: they are connected to the monstrous team of the neocons, who act in all four corners of the globe by means of their networks and their mercenaries. The economic sphere is in full submission to their project. Privatization is nothing more than a simple economic measure, mainly an ideology which consists in privatizing and monopolizing the public space – especially politics and security – in order to exploit the other sectors. It is nothing less than a monstrous planet-wide coup d’état.
The political leaders more and more end up overwhelmed and manipulated. They suffer less from personal incompetence and technical clumsiness than from a lack of vision or moral worth: they are as cowardly as they are ignorant, not seeing, or not wanting to see, the new reality.
Our authorities do not want to respond to this challenge, at least as long as they are not subject to public pressure which would force them to change tack. So our mission ought to be to provoke an awakening of the public which would force a change in policy. This public pressure would have to be stronger and more convincing than the pressure that our authorities currently receive from the United States.
Silvia Cattori: In Lebanon, does the public suspect that perhaps, since the assassination of Hariri, they are the target of manoeuvring not by Arabs but by Westerners?
Youssef Aschkar: The Lebanese are very troubled about their future. But the daily manipulation carried out by the networks of saboteurs acting in secret often prevents them from seeing clearly. I believe a large part of the Lebanese people is conscious of these criminal manoeuvres, but they are neither unified nor prepared to respond to these manipulations in an effective manner, whereas those doing the manoeuvring are able to exploit all the weaknesses of the partisan politics which are traditional in Lebanon, and take advantage of the confessional differences to divide the people. The fact that Lebanon is composed of different communities, which those doing the manoeuvring take advantage of, deprives the citizens of their common and rational landmarks, all the more so because the plans of those who would destabilize the society are meticulously prepared.
We have before us a great task of awareness-raising if we want to prevent the situation from worsening and becoming irreversible. Time is short.
Silvia Cattori: Is it possible that Western intelligence agencies may have financed those who carried out the assassination of Hariri? But to what end? To make Lebanese society explode?
Youssef Aschkar: Without a doubt: infiltration is not just a weapon but an entire strategy. It is the intelligence agencies’ stock in trade. These agencies have an unrivalled ability to create unlikely scenarios and exploit them to the full. Making Lebanese society explodes forms part of their principal plan. As for their timetable, that remains unclear. Our immediate task is to act in time in order to thwart their terrifying plan.
Silvia Cattori: So you are very anxious about the future?
Youssef Aschkar: If events continue along their present course, then it will be terribly serious. All the direct neighbours of Israel, and this entire region that is considered a “vital space” by Israel, are directly menaced by Israel, and are being subjected to destabilization.
In the strategic and geopolitical context of the “Greater Middle East and North Africa”, the stakes have been set by the Israelis and Americans. Pressure is being exerted on all fronts and in all directions. The pressure is being exerted very openly against Iran and Syria, but in a camouflaged fashion against Lebanon. And that leaves Lebanon hanging in suspense, divided between those who spin for themselves illusions regarding democracy, freedom, and prosperity – the poisoned bait offered by the Israelis and the Americans – and those who have no illusions about their intentions.
Lebanon is at one and the same time the country most threatened and the country most vulnerable. The Lebanese Christians, some of whom imagine themselves to represent a safeguard that shelters Lebanon from the Israeli menace, are in fact the prime target of Israel’s plans.
Silvia Cattori: Does it surprise you to see that in the West – under the influence of the propagandists of the “clash of civilizations”, who use the mainstream media as their soapbox – the public has for the most part accepted the idea that believers in Islam are “fanatics” and “terrorists”?
Youssef Aschkar: The propaganda agencies of the neocons succeed very well in manipulating the facts and the media, and by this means they are able, unfortunately, to trick most people and to disorient even progressives. They work to discredit Muslims on the one hand by manipulating and financing the mercenaries who carry out terrorist attacks, which subsequently get blamed on the resistance, and on the other hand by triggering a process of fanaticization. The latter method consists in creating situations of conflict by means of provocations of a religious character, conflicts which mix up the reference points, provoke demonstrations, and discredit Islam (This interview took place before the affair of the Danish cartoons broke out).
Led into error by these repeated provocations, the progressives end up disoriented: as humanists they cannot defend acts of violence, but as secularists they cannot tolerate fanaticism. So those progressives who are not conscious of the manipulation carried out by the neocons find themselves caught up in pointless disputes.
In fact, the attacks that generate numerous civilian victims are remote-controlled by this gang in the Pentagon, who, by means of their networks, create and finance phantom organizations that terrorize each side in the name of the other side.
I should point out here that the ideology of the neocons, such as we see it played out on the ground, is the first and only ideology in history that seeks to produce opponents rather than adherents, leaving to its opponents the job of supplying it with its adherents.
Let me explain. This ideology works to produce opponents by pushing them towards fanaticism in such a way as to stir up and nourish every fanaticism on earth, including Muslim and Arab fanaticism, and this enables Muslims to be given a very negative image, so that in the end – and this is the goal – hostile reactions are produced towards Muslims. Even staunchly secular people, on both sides, will imperceptibly find themselves led to question their own secularity, and to see in “the Other” someone who cannot be lived with. That is what is going on now, and what is in the process of destabilizing Europe, of causing a cleavage between the two shores of the Mediterranean basin, and of sabotaging and wrecking the Barcelona projects for a Mediterranean partnership.
If this cleavage worsens, voices will be heard – even in Europe – calling for people to sign on to the neocons’ doctrines of “war against terrorism” and “Muslim fanaticism”. Only at that point will the neocon ideology have accomplished its mission: having helped to provoke the growth of fanaticism among Muslims, it will also have stirred up in the West, in return, adherents to its thesis of a “clash of civilizations”. And Europe, stubborn up to that point, will finally align itself with the ideology of the neocons. Progressives and politicians in general are unaware of these manoeuvres.
Silvia Cattori: What can be done in time in order to change this tragic course of events?
Youssef Aschkar: Any effort must begin by creating an awareness of the realities carefully camouflaged by this web of lies which is working to twist the critical faculties of the entire human race. Only a “global inquiry” can respond to this global threat and lay bare the manoeuvrings that sustain it. The awareness must come about on two levels: on the level of states and on the level of individual citizens. This “global inquiry” must be started with all urgency; it ought to become both the highest priority action of the resistance and also the unifying factor of the resistance. All the resisters and militants in the world must unite, and must oppose, in advance of everything else, this global war, whatever may be the particular causes that they are defending or the particular misfortunes they are suffering from and fighting against. That is because this war aggravates all of their particular misfortunes, and renders the struggle of peoples under occupation that much more difficult. “Axis for Peace” came together with that idea in November 2005 for a conference in Brussels. The participants, who are fighting for different causes, realized how the theme of this conference unified them. We must make it our very first priority to do battle against this war that attacks societies, because that will aid the cause common to all of us and serve equally to alert governments as to the significance of this war that will certainly affect them sooner or later. To the extent that this threat is not grasped and considered the highest priority by popular forces, governments will persist in going in directions that are inappropriate for facing this exceptional threat.
Silvia Cattori: Isn’t that a profoundly depressing picture that you are painting for the peoples of the Middle East, indeed for all of us?
Youssef Aschkar: Certainly. If things do not change radically, I would be extremely pessimistic. We are talking about, in the Middle East, an existential threat of which public opinion is not fully aware, but also of a global threat about which the peoples and states of the world – especially the major powers – are not adequately alarmed. But optimism or pessimism will depend on our future action. Everything will depend on whether something gets done in time, and on whether the resistance can unite and focus its efforts on the right target. United forces, of people engaged in action, are humanly superior to the forces of the monsters of the Pentagon, no matter how huge their material and logistical means may be.
 Formerly president of the PSNS, Lebanon’s secular social political party, Youssef Aschkar is a Lebanese historian and anthropologist. http://www.aschkar.org
 Faire la paix avec les États, faire la guerre contre les peuples. By Youssef Aschkar, Voltaire, June 19, 2003. http://www.voltairenet.org/article9882.html
FLASHBACK: A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties
by Oded Yinon (with a foreword by, and translated by Israel Shahak)
The following essay represents, in my opinion, the accurate and detailed plan of the present Zionist regime (of Sharon and Eitan) for the Middle East which is based on the division of the whole area into small states, and the dissolution of all the existing Arab states. I will comment on the military aspect of this plan in a concluding note.
Multiple criminal proceedings should be initiated against the neoconservatives by their victims: those of 11th September and those of the so-called war against terror – an open-ended war that the neoconservatives are waging through lies and crime. These proceedings should lead to a multiple inquest on their lies and their criminal aim of dragging mankind back into barbarism.
The inquest would be both starting-point and process of resistance to this threat.
This site [ http://www.aschkar.org/ ] is available as a centre for advancing this option of resistance and a call for resisters to unite before the onset into the abyss becomes irreversible.
The secret organization that takes the pseudonym of “neoconservatives” poses an existential threat to the United States and the rest of the world. For its very survival, all mankind must resist this threat.
What is the nature of this threat, how is it manifested, and what means does it use? How can it be effectively resisted in order to escape the mesh of suicidal violence that the organization is inciting on all sides?
The fundamental motive forces of this organization are not economic but ideological. Its aim is not to dominate or exploit in the traditional sense, but to gain absolute and exclusive power by substituting itself for institutions and eliminating the Other, especially in the US. Its initial project is not conventionally imperialist, but apocalyptic – a predetermined and peculiar apocalypse in which it assumes the right to play the role of Supreme Judge. Its grim Judgement began on the eve of 11th September, the perfect crime that is to be proliferated through the world in future.
This organization is fighting a war of ideas, especially the idea of creative destruction, by which the Supreme Judge demolishes the world and recreates it in its own monstrous image.
Such demolition means nothing less than the annihilation of civilization’s achievements: laws and legality, human reason and the critical spirit, the rights of man, freedom, sovereignty, human dignity, justice, civic and human responsibility, compassion, hope, and so on. For the neoconservatives, these values, ideas, and institutions are not simply to be ignored: they must be destroyed, not just out of circumstances, but as a matter of principle. The last three years have seen the application of this destructive principle in the flouting of international conventions, treaties, organizations, and all areas of sovereignty.
For this organization, all the achievements of mankind must be replaced by a new charter to be dictated by the new Supreme Judges. This charter, the New World Order, goes far beyond dominating international relations. It is totalitarian: as we can now see, it is a new order of man, society, faith, thought, and human activity in all its diversity. In short, it is a new order of life. The rise of extremism, aggressive fundamentalism, xenophobia, instinctive behaviour, fear, and hate are the heralding signs of this order and its fundamental principle of creative destruction.
Deprived of civilization’s achievements, man will be defenceless. Loaded with the ideological baggage of the totalitarian new order and furnished with an arsenal of new weapons, man will unleash self-destruction, threatening his own physical safety, putting his very survival at risk. The “creative destruction” of the new order is suicidal.
Undertaking criminal proceedings against these monsters and their organization is an urgent obligation. Multiple proceedings should be undertaken by the victims of 11th September and by other real and potential victims of this crime, which has been proliferating since that fateful date under the cover of the so-called “war against terror”. This war has only just begun and it threatens every citizen in the world. Mankind, therefore, rejecting the “end of history”, has the right and duty to undertake the trial of the century against the criminal organization of the century.
Multiple proceedings should lead to a triple inquest.
The first part of the inquest should aim to uncover the origin and history of the neoconservative organization, the extent of its network, and the secret activities it has undertaken for decades in the US and abroad.
The second part should focus on the nature of the neoconservative project and its apocalyptic ends.
The third part should reveal the disastrous consequences of this project for the US and the world – consequences realized in the last three years and consequences still unrealized, but immeasurable if ever the project reaches completion.
This inquest would be both the starting-point and the process of resistance. It would be the inquest of the century to follow on the trial of the century.
Why should we resort to an inquest as a form of resistance?
We should do so both for practical reasons and for reasons of principle.
Practically, only an inquest on this scale could make headway against the edifice of lies that has now been built up. Only such an inquest could bring the facts to light and spread universal awareness of the existential threat, thereby arousing deep concern and bringing about a worldwide coalition to oppose it.
The neoconservatives’ power springs from two sources: US strength, over which they have gained a hold, and the web of lies that they have carefully woven to deceive the American people in particular. But a comprehensive inquest would strike the neoconservatives’ Achilles heel by revealing their lies, criminal acts, and nefarious aims to their first victims, the American people. American public opinion, the determining factor in this ordeal, would then swing over to support the resistance, whereas it now presents the main obstacle to it.
The reasons of principle are even more important, and not least because their practical application is just as great. The neoconservative culture of lies, violence, extremism, and totalitarianism must be resisted by an opposed culture. If not, the resistance will be caught in the infernal mesh, aggravating the evil that it intends to destroy. Without knowing or willing it, the resistance will become part of the neoconservative project. The rise of violence and terrorism in reaction to the so-called “war against terror” is evidence of this. The neoconservatives plan their actions with an eye to the reactions that they foresee or, indeed, themselves perpetrate through their network. In doing so, they aim to radicalize states and societies, raising them against “evil”, aligning them behind “good”, and so habituating them to a state of perpetual war.
Effective resistance cannot come through violent reaction; it cannot advance in darkness, nor can it stay on the defensive. A global, comprehensive, and properly conducted inquest seems the best way to remedy the situation.
The symbolic value of the inquest as a means of resistance adds to its practical value. By appealing to the achievements of civilization as factors of security that ultimately guarantee our survival, the inquest would demonstrate its moral and practical responsibility. In this manner, it would appeal not only to all that made man human, but even more to all that will allow man to survive in our time.
This choice of security can protect the resistance from the mesh of violence.
Moreover, the inquest would directly challenge the destroyers of civilization’s security-guarantees. It would demonstrate the practice of civilizational resistance in contrast with the practice of the neoconservatives – revealing the true face of each side to the advantage of the resistance.
The contrast will become evident.
Recourse to the inquest as a form of resistance places trust in a transparent, essentially democratic process undertaken by citizens worldwide, as opposed to the clandestine and arbitrary manoeuvres of a secret organization not validated by any election.
It appeals to the critical spirit against its sworn enemies. These, aware that the critical spirit threatens them, are doing all they can to kill it in the US, the very country that takes pride in advancing it.
It seeks facts and reality, as opposed to prejudice, lies, and media manipulation.
It appeals to the law and justice, as opposed to those who consider themselves above the law and regard only might as right.
Finally, it is an expression of responsibility against those who are planning global genocide in their mad will to power.
The contrast will reveal the widespread prejudices that are dominating and dangerously reshaping the global scene. It will restore the critical spirit by reforming our criteria and reference-points. It will overturn the false image of the irresponsible, dangerous resistance and the superpower as sole guarantor of security. In this manner, the resistance will engage in free, constructive activity, avoiding and opposing the destructive mesh of violent reaction; and it will throw light upon the darkness, putting the neoconservatives on the defensive and forcing them to answer for their actions. All the conditions for a salutary outcome of the struggle will then be fulfilled.
The new resistance has a mission to unite the various forms of resistance that now exist. The purpose is twofold: to serve the common cause by combining efforts against a common evil, and to serve the cause of each particular resistance by opposing an evil that aggravates all other evils. For the barbaric war being waged by the neoconservatives is not only an evil in itself, but also a catalyst for other evils. This war is deepening the world’s problems and increasing the difficulties of treating them. Indeed, the neoconservative project may eventually lead to an irreversible situation at global, regional, and local level that will sweep away all counter-efforts.
For example, those who actively support secularism in their own countries, or those who are opposed to extremism, religious fanaticism, racism, and xenophobia, will soon discover that their efforts risk being nullified by the ubiquitous influence of culture and the operations of the “war against terror”, no matter how neutral or far removed their countries may be from the active theatre of war. The same is true for those active in other causes such as impoverishment, poor-country indebtedness, new forms of inequality, rising violence, and the globalization of aggressions against the environment.
Opposition to this war is therefore an absolute priority for every activist in the world, whatever his grievance, cause, or aspirations. Only thus can the separate elements of resistance unite and draw strength from their diversity. The inquest will make activists aware of the facts and encourage them to verify these facts through their own particular investigations.
The multifarious effects of this war upon human societies and mankind will only be revealed in their monstrousness by a multidisciplinary inquest undertaken by activists from all walks of life across the world.
The union of resistance within the framework of the multiple inquest is thus a necessary stage.
The inquest of resistance should be undertaken mainly by individuals and groups within society, though it may also mobilize national governments. It would be undertaken by all individuals, associations, movements, institutions, and sectors affected by the existential threat or aware of it.
However, the enterprise should have no dealings with the NGOs now multiplying globally: most of them are financed and controlled by promoters of the very evils they are supposed to be fighting.
In the United States, the inquest of resistance should have nothing to do with the shadowy inquests undertaken by Congress and the White House, or with other supposedly independent instances. It should be a substitute for all of them. The people of the United States have the right to know who is really governing them and how, the material and moral cost that its new masters are inflicting upon them, and the course towards the abyss that their country is bent upon.
Abroad, the inquest should not be left to the discretion of state-governments. It is true that governments, especially those of the major powers, know much about the subject of the inquest, but certain considerations block both their freedom and their will to act. Their freedom to act is limited by their respect for the reality of power-relations: they may not rashly put themselves at the head of opposition to the superpower for fear of incurring its vengeance. Their will to act depends on a generalized awareness of the existential threat, which will produce the collective political will before which governments will be unable to hesitate. The inquest of resistance, undertaken mainly by individuals and social groups, can bring about such a generalized awareness.
The time-factor is crucial. Until now, it has been crucial to the success of the neoconservatives, but it will be even more important to the future success of the resistance.
In order to exploit the time-factor, the resistance must understand the time-frame fixed by the neoconservative agenda. This agenda is precipitate: it creates a series of anticipated events through which the neoconservatives can advance, rendering ineffective all potential opposition. The underlying principle, as illustrated by the events of the last few years, is to overtake the opposition by events. Immediately after 11th September, the United States and the rest of the world knew little about the aims and manoeuvres of the neoconservatives, although they were capable of restraining them. Today, they know more, but they have become less capable of taking action. This initiative with regard to the time-factor permits the neoconservatives to advance their project, legitimate their war, and remodel the world according to their vision. Tomorrow, we shall know much more about the neoconservative organization and its crimes, and we shall suffer their growing consequences more. However, we shall also risk being placed before a fait accompli, unable to stop the advance of chaos by attending to its causes, but forced instead to face its consequences. The time-factor would then remain on their side, and if it continues to do so, the neoconservatives could bring the world into an irreversible state of affairs.
The first duty of the resistance must be to reverse this equation: to make the world aware in time, so that it can act in time. The inquest proposes to do this within the context of multiple legal proceedings. The inquest would challenge the official version of 11th September and subsequent events. It would mobilize the victims, whose number is multiplying exponentially in this state of perpetual and unlimited war. It would unify the resistance in urgent opposition to the war. All efforts must be concentrated upon the inquest as a just and effective means of resistance in the face of an unjust and fatal war.
The dynamic of the inquest would offer the wider public a wealth of information, overtaking the neoconservative agenda and producing the political will necessary for the success of any initiative.
The resistance would thereby make the world aware in time, in order to act effectively in time before the situation becomes irreversible. The determining time-factor would then be on the side of the resistance.
XII - THE FUTURE (1) -The existential threat
The future abandoned to the neoconservatives.
“At most, we have come to the end of the beginning”, says one of the neoconservatives. “Until now, you have witnessed skirmishes, small battles. The real war has not yet begun”, assures another.
The neoconservatives are preparing a future that is infinitely more somber than the last three years. Why are they telling us that so solemnly, when they know that the United States is deeply divided on the war they are waging, that most people in the world oppose it, that the edifice of their lies is toppling, that serious doubts about their organization and its maneouvres are growing and, above all, that the balance-sheet of the war they promise to intensify and perpetuate is negative, even disastrously so?
Primarily, the neoconservatives want to demonstrate their political will to a world that lacks it. They are trying to affirm their resolution before an opposition that does not possess resolution or not sufficiently so. They want to declare that they alone know and can plan the future. Finally, they want to insinuate a mood of fatality among other parties in order to assure their passive resignation.
The neoconservatives are correct to think in this manner, given their encouraging experience in the past and the concrete preparations they have made to ensure success in the future.
In the space of three years, they have undertaken to change the world and have not yet confronted a coordinated opposition resolute enough to stop them. The world is set on a course that may lead mankind back into barbarism, but the great majority of saner spirits are not sufficiently alarmed. In order to deal with an exceptional situation, they have retreated into traditional thought-patterns. As a result, the neoconservatives feel, they are the only ones aware that the present situation is not simply the aftermath of 11th September but the harbinger of their new world order. Assured of this, they regard themselves as alone capable of shaping the future. Only they can assume the prerogative of Supreme Judges of the apocalypse; consequently, they need take no consideration of traditional resistance encountered by them. This self-confidence explains, for the most part, the arrogance of their discourse on the future.
Their concrete preparations for the future give them even more reassurance. They count on the process of radicalization they have unleashed in international and human relations, and within societies, in order to spread a culture of separation, opposition, and conflict. They are fully content to see the world heading towards a state of conflict that may become irreversible, even though international life today is interdependent and the survival of mankind depends more than ever on solidarity. At a time when human communion is obligatory, they are content to see pluralistic societies threatened by the incompatibility of their component parts. In sum, the neoconservatives are reassured, whereas the whole world is anxious.
A world transformed by the process of radicalization would be increasingly less resistant to war, given the new realities in global and regional relations and within societies. Governments that show themselves to be hesitant or refractory to the requirements of the warmongers would eventually submit to the demands of the new reality. Recalcitrant Europe, for example, would be brought into line. France, especially critical of the neoconservative war-logic, would become increasingly less so as its social and religious components, victims of radicalization, come to seem mutually incompatible. The secular values of the French Republic would be threatened by the rise of new communal movements moulded in hate and fear. French leaders, faithful to such values, would be bypassed by events and become subject to internal pressures added to already-existing external constraints. The example of Europe and France can be applied to all continents and countries, taking into account the particular conditions of each.
The future abandoned to the neoconservatives is a course into the abyss that could be covered in stages of months or weeks. The new century’s first three years, full of apocalyptic consequences, have already sounded the note.
XIII - THE FUTURE (2) - The will to survive
The will to power of a caste versus the power of the public will.
The future depends on man. This premise is a key idea because it can free the resistance from the sense of fatality that the neoconservatives are trying to instill in order to assure their irrevocable “mission” to determine man’s destiny.
Determinism is not only false but also harmful. It is false because it does not exist as a historical law, and it is harmful when it exists as a false faith in the minds of men. However, the falseness of determinism must not lead us into an overconfident state of inertia as we wait to see it refuted. For determinism is only refuted by the action of men.
The call to resistance is a call to action. However, this action must be effective and free from abuse. To ensure freedom from abuse, action must avoid the mesh of violence, which is the neoconservatives’ favourite tactic. Therefore, it must be opposed not only to determinism but also to blind reaction. And to ensure effectiveness, action must be realized through the basic and determining factor of public will. The political will to power of the neoconservatives must be opposed by a collective political will. The will of a caste organization must be opposed by the public will.
Resistance is not one option among many. It is the only way forward, through which mankind must decide its destiny. The resistance must regard its saving mission in this spirit and with this awareness. Lacking public will in the face of an existential threat means lacking the will to live. Given the evidence of the danger and its rapid progress, it means lacking the basic instinct of survival.
Overturning the new regime in the United States and the new world order
The neoconservatives are establishing a new US regime and a new world order that constitute an existential threat. The survival of mankind requires the overturning of this regime and this order as a matter of utmost priority. This is the fundamental task of the resistance.
However, this mission contains a paradox and may seem impossible to realize.
The paradox consists in the fact that the mission calls for the overthrow of the new regime in the US when it is attempting to change other regimes around the world. In fact, the formidable new regime in the US should be overturned before any other. First, its global reach is so wide as to potentially victimize all the world’s citizens, who therefore have the right, and indeed the duty, to change it. Next, the overturning of this regime would restore basic norms in the US and the world, thus responding to anxiety and restoring hope – whereas the overthrow by the neoconservatives of regimes in other countries will lead directly to worse regimes or to chaos, i.e., to destruction and self-destruction. Exemplary here is the case of Iraq, which may be generalized throughout the region, even the entire continent. The sudden upheaval in the world must alarm us and incite us to action. For these reasons, overturning the new US regime and its derivative new world order is a priority.
The mission may also seem impossible to realize, because the resistance, deprived of tangible means, would be faced with the formidable war-machine and almost unlimited power wielded by the superpower’s new masters.
However, the collective political will mentioned above can change the whole equation. The potential power of this will is considerable, and the resistance would be the expression of it. Moreover, the resistance should be in a position of strength, given the fact that the war being waged by the neoconservatives is principally a war of ideas. In such a war, the resisters would hold an advantage. The resisters are more numerous, faster-growing, and devoted than the manipulators of the neoconservative network. They would need less effort and more modest means to affirm the truth that the inquest would attempt to establish. In contrast, the neoconservatives would constantly have to mount increasingly exhausting and risky projects in order to hide their lies, crimes, and the dead end of their war-logic. Nevertheless, whatever efforts and sacrifices must be made by the resistance, freely and fully aware of its responsibility, they pale before the consequences that man would be forced to accept under the totalitarian authority of the new Supreme Judges.
The resistance therefore has no choice but to achieve a tour de force by successfully overthrowing the neoconservatives – that is, by removing the new regime in the US and the new world order that it has established. This success is necessary in order to overcome the direct threat of the neoconservatives; however, it is not sufficient for achieving safety. The future depends on a wider global struggle against the culture of the neoconservatives, which is capable of surviving their political downfall.
Youssef Aschkar (repost)