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This article originally appeared at Upside Down World.
In the Texas border town of McAllen last month, a Border Patrol Agent—we’ll call him S.—recounted to me his experience during a recent excursion to a different stretch of the Texas-Mexico frontier near El Paso, northwest of McAllen.
According to S., he and other officials were visiting a particular section of the international boundary when an evacuation order was given and attack helicopters were called in. (“We don’t have that equipment in McAllen,” S. remarked.) It was eventually determined that there was in fact no emergency and that a goatherd on the Mexican side of the border was simply in possession of a stick that resembled a weapon.
As for other effective government responses to threats emanating from Mexico, S. acknowledged that the U.S.-Mexico border fence—construction of which began in 2006 and which reportedly cost up to $21 million per mile in California—has stanched neither drug trafficking nor illegal immigration. He did, however, optimistically reckon that the intermittent gaps in the fence encouraged traffickers and immigrants to concentrate their movements in these specific areas, where they could then theoretically be more easily apprehended.
I first learned of an intriguing excursion known as “The Ultimate Mission to Israel” in 2009 while perusing an article on the website of the Jerusalem Post.
The article, which outlined Israel’s sudden concern for the fate of UNIFIL despite its repeated targeting of UN personnel and institutions in Lebanon, cited Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak as warning that—in the event of a significant gain by Hezbollah in the upcoming Lebanese elections—Israel would no longer “feel the restraints it did in 2006 about attacking Lebanese infrastructure”.
Barak refrained from explaining how the 2006 destruction of much of Lebanon, including apartment complexes, milk factories, bridges, children in the backs of pickup trucks, and approximately 1200 other people qualified as infrastructural restraint. I was distracted from pondering the issue myself by a large advertisement featuring soaring warplanes in the bottom right-hand corner of my computer screen.
Clicking on the planes, I arrived at an invitation to “explore Israel’s struggle for survival” via the weeklong Ultimate Mission to Israel, which focused on closer-to-home infrastructural threats to the Jewish state. The itinerary included such activities as:
- briefings by Mossad officials.
- an inside tour of the IAF targeted killings unit.
- attendance at a military trial of “Hamas terrorists”.
- a “live exhibition of penetration raids in Arab territory”.
- a barbecue.
Five years ago, Israel waged a 34-day war on Lebanon that resulted in the elimination of approximately 1200 persons in the targeted country, most of them civilians, as well as 43 Israeli civilians.
In a July 2006 opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times, Harvard Law School’s resident piranha Alan Dershowitz placed the term “collective punishment” in quotation marks and announced the need for a “continuum of civilianality” to determine just how civilian Arab civilians were.
Two-year-olds, for example, are established as falling on the “more innocent” side of the continuum, while Dershowitz explains that “[t]here is also a difference between a civilian who merely favors or even votes for a terrorist group and one who provides financial or other material support for terrorism.”
Voting and other forms of support for “a terrorist group” are of course presumably facilitated when said group is an official political party represented in the Lebanese government. Dershowitz’s categorization of “civilian” as an “increasingly meaningless word” meanwhile does not prevent him from employing the words “terrorism” and “terrorists” no less than 12 times in his brief piece.
Why Dershowitz bothers making distinctions between various levels of civilianality becomes even less clear with his announcement that
Hezbollah and Hamas militants… are difficult to distinguish from those ‘civilians’ who recruit, finance, harbor and facilitate their terrorism. Nor can women and children always be counted as civilians, as some organizations do. Terrorists increasingly use women and teenagers to play important roles in their attacks.
The Israeli army has given well-publicized notice to civilians to leave those areas of southern Lebanon that have been turned into war zones. Those who voluntarily remain behind have become complicit. Some — those who cannot leave on their own — should be counted among the innocent victims.”
For those who may not be aware, Roger Noriega is the head of an Al Qaeda cell in Washington, D.C., and moonlights as the subcommander of the 17th front of the FARC. A member of Evo Morales’ network of secret boyfriends, Noriega orchestrated the 2004 school siege in Beslan and was once sighted at the helm of a Somali pirate ship. Obviously, he is also simultaneously the cousin and brother of former Panamanian dictator and drug trafficker extraordinaire Manuel Noriega.
Okay, none of the above is true. Roger Noriega is merely a former USAID satrap, former U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States, and former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs who has participated in diplomatic endeavors ranging from Iran-Contra to the 2004 coup against Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Currently a visiting fellow at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute and managing director of the Visión Américas lobbying firm, he regularly churns out fear-mongering Cold War-worthy dispatches on Latin America that contain approximately as much truth—and intrigue—as the previous paragraph.
Noriega’s latest alert regarding terroristic narco-communism, entitled “Honduran Leader’s Secret Pact with Hugo Chávez”, appears on FoxNews.com and a number of compatible venues. Amusingly, the Americas Forum has misidentified the secretive Honduran leader in its website reproduction of the article under the title “Honduras: Mel Zelaya’s Secret Pact with Hugo Chavez”.
During the course of yesterday’s U.S. State Department daily press briefing, Assistant Secretary Philip J. Crowley used the word “stability” 14 times and the word “instability” 4 times in his discussion of the collapse of the Lebanese government following the resignation of 11 ministers. The ministers resigned in opposition to the politicization of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon tasked with investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, which Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah has pointed out is more concerned with investigating some groups than others.
An excerpt from Crowley’s discourse:
We’re working with the Lebanese Government and other partners who share our interest in stability and justice for Lebanon, including France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Egypt, on next steps that will protect the work of the tribunal and help to achieve stability in the Lebanon. We encourage all Lebanese to work together to avoid threats and actions that could cause instability and to enable the governing coalition to serve the interest of the Lebanese people in justice, stability, and peace. Hezbollah is presenting a false choice for Lebanon of justice or stability. We think that Lebanon deserves both”.
In an August report for the global intelligence firm STRATFOR, analyst Scott Stewart writes:
When we [at STRATFOR] discuss threats along the U.S.-Mexico border with sources and customers, or when we write an analysis on topics such as violence and improvised explosive devices along the border, a certain topic inevitably pops up: Hezbollah.”
The hyperlink Stewart provides is to his report from the week before, in which Hezbollah does not pop up but Mexican government favoritism of certain drug cartels does. Hezbollah is also not generally a suspect when Mexican federal police shoot students peacefully protesting the militarization of Ciudad Juarez.
Stewart ultimately argues that Hezbollah is “radical but rational” and that it is currently choosing not to exercise its “transnational terrorism capabilities”. Instead, it limits its illicit operations to things like the sale of counterfeit Viagra in the U.S.
Traveling in south Lebanon in the wake of the July War of 2006, I often acquired water bottles with labels depicting the variety of unexploded cluster munitions that one should keep an eye out for when walking in certain areas, such as in one’s yard.
Thanks to the state of Israel, it was thus possible to engage in the fundamental life process of hydration while simultaneously contemplating the sudden termination of all such processes. As for other regional water-related Israeli operations, these have enabled affected populations to not hydrate themselves.
It is the recent visit to south Lebanon by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, however, that has been classified as intentionally provocative by the United States and Israel, despite the fact that the visit included the United Nations compound in the village of Qana where 106 Lebanese civilians were massacred by the Israeli military in 1996.