Real Aim Is Regime Change
By Uri Avnery
17 July, 2006
REAL aim is to change the regime in Lebanon and to install a puppet
That was the aim of Ariel
Sharon's invasion of Lebanon in 1982. It failed. But Sharon and his
pupils in the military and political leadership have never really given
up on it.
As in 1982, the present operation,
too, was planned and is being carried out in full coordination with
As then, there is no doubt
that it is coordinated with a part of the Lebanese elite.
That's the main thing. Everything
else is noise and propaganda.
ON THE eve of the 1982 invasion,
Secretary of State Alexander Haig told Ariel Sharon that, before starting
it, it was necessary to have a "clear provocation", which
would be accepted by the world.
The provocation indeed took
place - exactly at the appropriate time - when Abu-Nidal's terror gang
tried to assassinate the Israeli ambassador in London. This had no connection
with Lebanon, and even less with the PLO (the enemy of Abu-Nidal), but
it served its purpose.
This time, the necessary
provocation has been provided by the capture of the two Israeli soldiers
by Hizbullah. Everyone knows that they cannot be freed except through
an exchange of prisoners. But the huge military campaign that has been
ready to go for months was sold to the Israeli and international public
as a rescue operation.
(Strangely enough, the very
same thing happened two weeks earlier in the Gaza Strip. Hamas and its
partners captured a soldier, which provided the excuse for a massive
operation that had been prepared for a long time and whose aim is to
destroy the Palestinian government.)
THE DECLARED aim of the Lebanon
operation is to push Hizbullah away from the border, so as to make it
impossible for them to capture more soldiers and to launch rockets at
Israeli towns. The invasion of the Gaza strip is also officially aimed
at getting Ashkelon and Sderot out of the range of the Qassams.
That resembles the 1982 "Operation
Peace for Gallilee". Then, the public and the Knesset were told
that the aim of the war was to "push the Katyushas 40 km away from
That was a deliberate lie.
For 11 months before the war, not a single Katyusha rocket (nor a single
shot) had been fired over the border. From the beginning, the aim of
the operation was to reach Beirut and install a Quisling dictator. As
I have recounted more than once, Sharon himself told me so nine months
before the war, and I duly published it at the time, with his consent
Of course, the present operation
also has several secondary aims, which do not include the freeing of
the prisoners. Everybody understands that that cannot be achieved by
military means. But it is probably possible to destroy some of the thousands
of missiles that Hizbullah has accumulated over the years. For this
end, the army chiefs are ready to endanger the inhabitants of the Israeli
towns that are exposed to the rockets. They believe that that is worthwhile,
like an exchange of chess figures.
Another secondary aim is
to rehabilitate the "deterrent power" of the army. That is
a codeword for the restoration of the army's injured pride that has
suffered a severe blow from the daring military actions of Hamas in
the south and Hizbullah in the north.
OFFICIALLY, THE Israeli government
demands that the Government of Lebanon disarm Hizbullah and remove it
from the border region.
That is clearly impossible
under the present Lebanese regime, a delicate fabric of ethno-religious
communities. The slightest shock can bring the whole structure crashing
down and throw the state into total anarchy - especially after the Americans
succeeded in driving out the Syrian army, the only element that has
for years provided some stability.
The idea of installing a
Quisling in Lebanon is nothing new. In 1955, David Ben-Gurion proposed
taking a "Christian officer" and installing him as dictator.
Moshe Sharet showed that this idea was based on complete ignorance of
Lebanese affairs and torpedoed it. But 27 years later, Ariel Sharon
tried to put it into effect nevertheless. Bashir Gemayel was indeed
installed as president, only to be murdered soon afterwards. His brother,
Amin, succeeded him and signed a peace agreement with Israel, but was
driven out of office. (The same brother is now publicly supporting the
The calculation now is that
if the Israeli Air Force rains heavy enough blows on the Lebanese population
- paralysing the sea- and airports, destroying the infrastructure, bombarding
residential neighborhoods, cutting the Beirut-Damascus highroad etc.
- the public will get furious with Hizbullah and pressure the Lebanese
government into fulfilling Israel's demands. Since the present government
cannot even dream of doing so, a dictatorship will be set up with Israel's
That is the military logic.
I have my doubts. It can be assumed that most Lebanese will react as
any other people on earth would: with fury and hatred towards the invader.
That happened in 1982, when the Shiites in the south of Lebanon, until
then as docile as a doormat, stood up against the Israeli occupiers
and created the Hizbullah, which has become the strongest force in the
country. If the Lebanese elite now becomes tainted as collaborators
with Israel, it will be swept off the map. (By the way, have the Qassams
and Katyushas caused the Israeli population to exert pressure on our
government to give up? Quite the contrary.)
The American policy is full
of contradictions. President Bush wants "regime change" in
the Middle East, but the present Lebanese regime has only recently been
set up by under American pressure. In the meantime, Bush has succeeded
only in breaking up Iraq and causing a civil war (as foretold here).
He may get the same in Lebanon, if he does not stop the Israeli army
in time. Moreover, a devastating blow against Hizbullah may arouse fury
not only in Iran, but also among the Shiites in Iraq, on whose support
all of Bush's plans for a pro-American regime are built.
So what's the answer? Not
by accident, Hizbullah has carried out its soldier-snatching raid at
a time when the Palestinians are crying out for succor. The Palestinian
cause is popular all over the Arab word. By showing that they are a
friend in need, when all other Arabs are failing dismally, Hizbullah
hopes to increase its popularity. If an Israeli-Palestinian agreement
had been achieved by now, Hizbullah would be no more than a local Lebanese
phenomenon, irrelevant to our situation.
LESS THAN three months after
its formation, the Olmert-Peretz government has succeeded in plunging
Israel into a two-front war, whose aims are unrealistic and whose results
cannot be foreseen.
If Olmert hopes to be seen
as Mister Macho-Macho, a Sharon # 2, he will be disappointed. The same
goes for the desperate attempts of Peretz to be taken seriously as an
imposing Mister Security. Everybody understands that this campaign -
both in Gaza and in Lebanon - has been planned by the army and dictated
by the army. The man who makes the decisions in Israel now is Dan Halutz.
It is no accident that the job in Lebanon has been turned over to the
The public is not enthusiastic
about the war. It is resigned to it, in stoic fatalism, because it is
being told that there is no alternative. And indeed, who can be against
it? Who does not want to liberate the "kidnapped soldiers"?
Who does not want to remove the Katyushas and rehabilitate deterrence?
No politician dares to criticize the operation (except the Arab MKs,
who are ignored by the Jewish public). In the media, the generals reign
supreme, and not only those in uniform. There is almost no former general
who is not being invited by the media to comment, explain and justify,
all speaking in one voice.
(As an illustration: Israel's
most popular TV channel invited me to an interview about the war, after
hearing that I had taken part in an anti-war demonstration. I was quite
surprised. But not for long - an hour before the broadcast, an apologetic
talk-show host called and said that there had been a terrible mistake
- they really meant to invite Professor Shlomo Avineri, a former Director
General of the Foreign Office who can be counted on to justify any act
of the government, whatever it may be, in lofty academic language.)
"Inter arma silent Musae"
- when the weapons speak, the muses fall silent. Or, rather: when the
guns roar, the brain ceases to function.
AND JUST a small thought:
when the State of Israel was founded in the middle of a cruel war, a
poster was plastered on the walls: "All the country - a front!
All the people - an army!"
58 Years have passed, and
the same slogan is still as valid as it was then. What does that say
about generations of statesmen and generals?