By Ralph Nader
Aug. 14, 2006
Open letter to President George W. Bush:
The widespread destruction of a defenseless Lebanon—its civilians, its life-sustaining public services, its environment—is a grim and indelible testament to your consummate cruelty and ignorance. Nearly two weeks ago when your tardy Secretary of State met with the Israeli Prime Minister, the message she carried was summarized in a large headline across page one of an Israeli newspaper, “TAKE YOUR TIME.”
Yes, take your time, says George W. Bush, pulverizing fleeing refugees in cars full of families, bombing apartment buildings, hospitals and the poor huddled in large south Beirut slums.
Take your time, says George W. Bush, in destroying bridges, roads, gasoline stations, airports, seaports, wheat silos, vehicles with medical supplies, clearly marked ambulances taking the wounded to clinics, even a milk factory .
Take your time, says George W. Bush, while shelters are demolished with bodies of little children together with their mothers and fathers buried in the rubble.
Take your time, says George W. Bush, while the number of fleeing refugees nears one million Lebanese, many exposed to hunger, disease, lack of potable water and medicines. All this in a country friendly to the United States, which played by your rules, protested the Syrian army back into Syria and was trying democratically to put itself together.
Take your time, says George W. Bush, while he speeds more supplies of precision missiles containing deadly anti-personnel cluster bombs which will claim the lives of innocent children for years into the future. The phosphorous bombs laying waste to fields growing crops and horribly burning innocents come from the U.S.A. under your direction.
Do you think the taxpayers of America would approve of such shipped weapons were they ever asked?
Are there words in the English language suitable for the impeachable serial war crimes you are intimately involved in committing not only in Iraq but also now through your encouragement and supplying of the once again invading Israeli government?
Are there words to describe your strategic stupidity which will further increase opposition and peril to the United States around the world and especially in the Middle East? Your own Generals and former CIA Director, Porter Goss, among others in your Administration, have declared that your occupation of Iraq is a magnet attracting the recruiting and training of more and more “terrorists” from Iraq and other countries. And so now this will be the case in Lebanon. All this is a growing “blowback,” to use the CIA word for a boomeranging foreign policy, that is endangering the security of the United States.
The calibrated Israeli terror bombing of Lebanon comes in three stages. With its electronic pinpoint precision bombing and artillery, the Israeli government goes after civilians, their homes, cities, towns and villages. Then after telling some to abandon their neighborhoods, it cuts population centers off from each other by destroying transportation facilities into and inside Lebanon, making both refugee flight and delivery of emergency relief efforts either impossible or very difficult. Then its planes, tanks and artillery endanger or destroy what food, water and relief efforts manage to get through to the injured and dying. Warehouse food supplies are incinerated. About four hundred small fishing boats north of Beirut on the oil-polluted coastline were demolished as well.
All the above mayhem and much more have been reported in the U.S., European, Lebanese and Israeli media. The bulk of the fatalities in Lebanon have been civilians. The bulk of the fatalities on the Israeli side have been soldiers. Very fortunately for the Israelis, the Hezbollah rockets are very inaccurate, the vast majority falling harmlessly.
Unfortunately for the Lebanese, the precision American armaments of the Israelis are very accurate, which serves to account for why the total casualties and physical destruction are 100 times greater in Lebanon than in Israel.
Most of these accurate munitions come from your decision to send them. Knowing they will be used for offensive purposes, including the lethal demolition of a long-established UN compound, in violation of the Arms Export Control Act which you have sworn to uphold, places the responsibility of being a domestic law breaker squarely on your shoulders.
There is another law that is not being enforced—the Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act of 1996 sponsored by then Republican Senator Robert Dole. Foreign aid is supposed to be cut off to any nation that obstructs the provision of humanitarian aid to another country. As one example, press reports that two tankers, each with 30,000 tons of diesel fuel critical for operating Lebanese hospitals and water pumping stations, are idling in Cyprus from fear of the totally dominant Israeli navy and air force.
There are only a few days left of fuel in Lebanon, which is heading for a larger wave of secondary casualties. They and other critical suppliers need safe passage which the U.S. Navy in the area can readily provide, should it receive orders from the Commander in Chief.
You heard high Israeli officials accurately say on the day the massive bombing of Lebanon began, followed not preceded by Hezbollah rockets, that “nothing in Lebanon is safe.” That huge over-reaction to the recent Hezbollah border raid, in addition to many more previous air, sea and land border violations by the Israeli government, certainly put you on public notice.
Since you view yourself as a reborn Christian, and since you have the power to stop the Israeli state terror assaults on Lebanon, you may wish to reflect on Leviticus 19:16 “Neither shalt thou stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor.” Lebanon was a friendly country to you and you have stood by not just idly, but willfully aiding and abetting its devastation.