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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Les cracheurs de feu

by Patrick Apel-Muller

The Fire Eaters

Translated Friday 17 August 2012, by Isabelle Métral and reviewed by Bill Scoble

The threat is looming larger and larger. In Tel-Aviv, Netanyahu and Barak are preaching war on Iran and are trying to condition and pressurize the Israeli people into accepting it. Domestic considerations – social and political issues that have reached a deadlock – largely account for the plan and meet the US dream of breaking the power of Teheran - accused of building up a nuclear armament and allied to the Damascus régime and to Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

The Syrian tragedy carries no less risk for the whole of the Near and Middle East. Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, home to radical Islamism – are pushing for escalation, once more with the Pentagon’s full blessing. The first shock waves have reached neighbouring countries like Lebanon or Jordan who depend on a precarious balance of forces, and are close to the Palestinian epicentre. The aggravation and extension of the conflicts would not be circumscribed to that region, as experience has shown. Nothing is more to be feared than those fire-eaters who on the squares of Saint Germain in Paris demand new interventions, furious bombing and military expeditions, irrespective of international law. Within the Right’s ranks, warlike declarations are aimed at recouping its losses. « To maintain right now that war is the only solution, when it would not even be a solution, » JeanJaurès wrote, « is to allow yourself to get carried away by your belligerant paradox and lose your balance in the vehemence of your open combat. » These fierce rhetorical warriors are no doubt too comfortably seated to be afraid of being blasted by the time bomb themselves.

And yet there is every reason not to step up the use of weapons : the 20,000 Syrian dead, the Damascus and Alep neighbourhoods put to fire and the sword, the endless suffering of the refugees, the dark forces that thrive on chaos... The precedents themselves impose caution : the intervention in Libya, in defiance of the US resolutions, has destabilized the Saharan and Sahel countries. The outcome of the war on Iraq is disastrous ; an international investigation rates Baghdad, the pearl of the Abbassid empire, as the town having the lowest quality of living in the world. Iraqis are torn between factions and conflicting communities. Life is now merely a negligible quantity; fear is rampant. Degree by degree, from war crimes to crimes against humanity, Assad’s régime, and as is now clear, part of the opposition are escalating the terror and horror. To add war to the war would boost the bloody logics.

A political solution is therefore obstinately to be sought despite all the failures. It is no use brooding over an alleged powerlessness. How can Russia’s and China’s fears in the face of the rise of Islamism and US manœuvres to dominate the region be assuaged ? How can the democratic opposition be supported ? What guarantees can be built up for the post-Assad era ? How can Israel’s rulers be brought back to their senses and Palestine’s emancipation be furthered ? And beyond this, what rôle should be given to UNO and a collective system of security that puts diplomacy first ? What new global order can meet human aspirations for justice and liberty ? France can play a major rôle to help surmount these crises.

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