Thursday, February 22, 2024

Has West lost the moral war?

by malinga
November 26, 2023 1:09 am 0 comment 1.5K views

“….But when they went in numbers into the lanes of the city, … they slew those whom they overtook, without mercy, and set fire to the houses…and burnt every soul in them, and laid waste a great many of the rest…” “…They ran every one through whom they met with, and obstructed the very lanes with their dead bodies, and made the whole city run down with blood, to such a degree indeed that the fire of many of the houses was quenched with these men’s blood.”

This is not a description of what is happening in Gaza, Palestine, right now. What is happening in Gaza today is far greater in scale of physical devastation and far more intense in human horror. Our TV news as web news shows bodies piled in the streets, under rubble of destroyed city blocks and, horrifyingly, piled in corridors and rooms of malfunctioning, partially destroyed hospitals. Worse, even as those corpses continue to pile up inside, the Israeli forces remain surrounding those very hospitals.

That quote was from ancient Jewish chronicler Flavius Josephus, in his renowned historical work The Jewish Wars (quoted from Book 6, chapter 8). Those successive Jewish revolts in 66-72 Common Era ended with not just the massacre of whole Judean cities and complete destruction of the Great Temple of Jerusalem but also the forced dispersal of much of the Jewish population in to neighbouring Syria (the main Roman province of the region), to Jordan and as slave labour in mineral mines of Egypt.


If the preceding description of the slaughter at least echoes the slaughter in that same region today, the description of the forced dispersal of the defeated indigenous population by the occupying Romans must remind us of exactly that same intention of ethnic cleansing pronounced by the Israeli Government.

Prime Minister Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu, just last week, brazenly declared that Israel will militarily occupy the Gaza enclave and will not allow the Palestinian Authority (PA) to continue to govern that enclave, as it should under the temporary, piece-meal political arrangement provided for in the Oslo Accords. The Israeli Defence Minister and other politicians now openly talk of displacing all Palestinians from Palestinian soil entirely.

US President Joe Biden has no answer to such openly violent pronouncements by Israel firstly, of more ethnic cleansing and secondly, deliberate violation of even that temporary, piece-meal ‘Oslo Accords’ sponsored by Washington. Instead, to misdirect the world public from the ongoing atrocities in Palestine, Biden tells the world that he has evidence that the Hamas launched the October 7 attack to block the Saudi Arabian recognition of the State of Israel. Such pronouncements by the US President no longer have the authority they once did some decades ago.

The US, in its mid-20th Century dominance over the globe, had the advantage of the military super power combined with the European colonial legacy of global techno-cultural leadership.

The European powers established their global dominance through colonialism based on the strength of large scale technology, scientific and philosophical innovation. Thus the European First World had the ‘knowledge’ and tools of ‘development’ – i.e. prosperity – and the newly decolonising Third (impoverished) World, had only to follow.

The USA, with its massive military strategic and economic capacities, was the welcome partner to Europe, in a post-World War II partnership enshrined in the NATO military alliance and the First World-controlled World Bank/IMF system that began governing an emerging global economy.

But globalisation was yet decades away and in the 1950s-80s era, the West held a sway over the rest of the world, including ushering in of Western-style liberal democracy among former colonies.

That was the fabric of America’s status as ‘Leader of the Free World’. That was also the then First World’s advantage as the principal economic investor and consumer market. It was both a kind of popularly established moral as well as geopolitical dominance that was barely matched by the emerging Socialist Bloc at the time.

Thus, the Vietnam War and many other wars and Western supported dictatorships were glossed over as ‘aberrations’ in the “civilised” discourse of the ‘developed’ world.

But there came a limit to such moral aberrations. By the 1990s, other regions outside capitalist economic control –essentially the Socialist bloc – had begun to show a social progress matching or even surpassing the ‘developed’ countries of the Western-led First World. And this Second World, led by Eastern Europe and China, was soon providing alternate development assistance to the Third World.

This plurality of perspectives on human progress became even more affirmed when the originally dominant West was increasingly exposed by its persistent resort to force and moral pretence in its effort to take back any advantages gained by the Second World War during the Cold War.

By the 1990s, as emerging oil-rich Arab powers flexed their economic muscle with the new petro-dollar, the West became pre-occupied with maintaining its dominance at all costs.

Even as one major colonial outpost in Apartheid South Africa had to be given up in the face of Third World geopolitical pressures, an even more important similar colonial outpost, Israel (set up by the UK, using its United Nations influence at the time), had to be protected and strengthened. So after decades of firm support for Boer Apartheid racism, the West had to retreat, its moral supremacy weakened.

Evolving scenario

This evolving scenario of gradual displacement from dominance became the context of equally gradual emergence other centres of power and even moral leadership.

If Asia had its Mao and Gandhi, Africa could soon count several such leaders from Julius Nyerere (Tanzania) to Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana), and most recently, Nelson Mandela (South Africa).

This growing multi-polarity of civilisation is still fighting a battle against the hegemony that the West refuses to give up.

The more its geopolitical sway became restricted, the greater the resort to force by a West that concomitantly had also to resort to moral duplicity.

Hence, the Western invasions of the Persian Gulf region, Afghanistan and the failed intervention in Somalia. Actually, to the degree that Somalia remains the current ‘failed state’ it is today, that Western military intervention had served its purpose. Iraq’s devastation and destabilisation also continues to serve that same purpose which motivated two successive Gulf invasions by the West.

The ‘WMD’ hoax was the biggest such exposé of the West’s moral duplicity. The consequent continuing devastation and instability in the Gulf became a kind of moral cancer affecting “Western Civilisation”. Today, in the face of the horrors in Palestine, that Western civilisation ‘model’ has a moral malignancy that is becoming unbearable both inside and without.

Those billions in the Global South yet nurturing some respect for their former colonial masters, now recoil in disgust at the crude contrast between their old, colonially imposed moral compasses and the pseudo moral justifications of the continuing horror of Palestine by those same colonial masters.

Today, with the increasing cementing of a geopolitically multipolar world, the more overtly cynical has been the West’s continued efforts to sustain any modicum of dominance. Just as much as the old colonial powers have sustained certain European colonies at geostrategic locations – South Africa and Israel – even as the decolonisation process quickened in the late 20th century, today, new major powers have also begun their own spheres of influence beyond their borders but not with crudity and violence of the colonial empires.

China, Russia, the oil-rich Arab states, Iran and even India have spread their geopolitical linkages that are fully independent of the West. Their leverage is not coercion but political friendship and economic investment.

Thus, if the WMD double-speak became traumatising to a world watching Western cruelty in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, a quarter century later, the double-speak ‘self-defence’ and ‘terrorism’ by Washington, London and Brussels (and Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam and so on) is as, if not more, traumatising.

If Washington hoped for ‘shock and awe’ by the rest of the world when it launched its illegal invasions of Iraq, what it got was shock and utter disgust from much of the rest of the world. Today, much of humanity continues to be shocked by the cynical, coldblooded nature of Western maintenance of Israel’s military superiority. There is ‘awe’ no more. It is now a repugnance of what previously stood for Western civilisation.

The West’s colonial protégé that is Israel with its increasingly similar racist regime as that of Apartheid South Africa, has actually a far worse genocidal record than the Boer Republic. The Apartheid regime did not carry out warfare for decades against the Bantustan territories it had imposed on the indigenous Black population. But Israel has done precisely that against the tiny remnant territories it has imposed on the Palestinians in the form of the ‘occupied’ West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem (and the Golan Heights).

The Bantustans of South Africa – despicable as that very concept was – were not subject to aerial bombing, total blockade of water, food, power, medical supplies (leave aside all the facilities of normal civil life).

Now, even as Israel grudgingly agrees to a few days of ceasefire, the politically desperate regime in Occupied Jerusalem is insisting that the war will continue and the Hamas movement dislodged from Gaza. The Likud coalition Government faces elections with its leaders facing corruption charges.

Critical importance

For Netanyahu, the carnage in Gaza is of critical importance to delay electoral defeat and legal prosecution. The West’s blind persistence in sustaining a colonial outpost of an Euro-centric Israel in place of a multi-ethnic, secular Palestine, has produced a bastardised regime similar to the Boer regime.

That regime is now openly scrapping any semblance of democracy and justice for the colonised Palestinians.

The calculus of competitive liberal-style democracy can produce monsters – as it did with Adolf Hitler, the Boer Republic, and unintelligent impresarios like Donald Trump and, now Netanyahu.

For Biden and also Trump, the diverse mix of the anti-Muslim, pro-Israeli, terrorism-paranoid and imperialist (America First, Free World) vote banks are equally critical for the Presidential Elections next year.

Fortunately for the world’s future, there are billions of people who are neither American or British nor continental European leaders.

Indeed, even if the West sticks with Israel at a sub-national level there is, clearly, a persistence with some moral integrity. Port labour unions in Poland, Canada, Australia and India are mobilising to boycott loading military supplies to Israel.

The global civic movement for boycotts of consumer products and services of companies either owned by or with major ties with Israel is gathering momentum as well.

Hopefully this global clash of morality will transcend ethnic civilisations and hegemonic power blocs for greater peace and goodwill for all humanity.

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