By Silvia Cattori*
6 November 2006
Courtesy Of VoltaireNet
In this interview recorded by Swiss journalist Silvia Cattori in November 2005 - more than six months before the war launched against Lebanon by Israeli army in summer 2006 – Youssef Aschkar was warning that the destabilization of Lebanon, Syria and Iran was under way, and that Lebanon was the country most threatened and most vulnerable to the Israeli menace. In the light of the recent developments in the region, the accuracy of his analysis appears impressive and almost prophetic.
What are the source and inspirations of the “war on terror” conducted by Washington? Did they begin in 2001 after the attacks of September 11, or was it already in the making earlier than that? For Lebanese political expert Youssef Aschkar , the policy being pursued by the United States in the Middle East is nothing but the application on a larger scale of what Israel has been practicing in Palestine since the 1990s: a war carried out against the people, dismantling societies in order to dominate or eliminate the people. Responding to questions from Silvia Cattori, Mr. Aschkar offers us his point of view on the development of this strategy, and its immediate threat to Lebanon, Syria, and Iran.
Silvia Cattori: We would like to hear your analysis of the regional geopolitical context and its implications for Lebanon, a country which suffered enormously during the fifteen years of its military occupation by Israel. Do you consider Israel, which is carrying out a policy of aggression towards its neighbours, the principal source of the wars in the region?
Youssef Aschkar: Since its creation, Israel has not only been the source of the wars in the Middle East, but it has always acted to turn the Middle East into a catalyst of war(s) for the whole world. War has always been its leitmotif. But by itself the phenomenon of war, both as policy and as act of aggression and violence, does not suffice to explain the distinctive features of the war that Israel is waging and is seeking to propagate, indeed to spread worldwide. The warmongering of Israel does not in itself explain all of Israel’s conduct and motivations. Israel is waging a particular type of war in the Middle East, a war which has its own doctrine and which is the principal source of the evils that we are witnessing. This doctrine consists, firstly, in making war not solely upon states but also upon societies, and, secondly, in turning “terrorism” and the war against it into Israel’s main weapon.
Silvia Cattori: Could you explain what you mean by “war against society”?
Youssef Aschkar: After the victory won against the Arab countries in 1967, Israel judged that these states – beaten, humiliated, and resigned – no longer presented a danger. It was their peoples alone who still constituted an obstacle to Israel’s plans for expansion. So it was necessary to wage a direct war against these peoples. Israel has never hidden its intentions. In a document entitled, “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties”, published in February 1982 by the “World Zionist Organization” in Jerusalem, there was a detailed plan for the operations to be carried out against each of the peoples of the region.
The internal struggles and wars that the Middle East has known in recent decades fall within the context of this doctrine of warmongering. The war waged by Israel against Lebanon showed this well, but the agony of the Palestinian people remains the clearest example of this policy of constant and methodical ethnic cleansing which Israel is carrying out against peoples. The war currently being waged in Iraq by the United States is unfolding according to this same doctrine of the destruction of peoples long advocated by Israel.
As for the terrorism of which this state is perpetually claiming to be a victim, it has always been nourished, manipulated, and put into practice by all of the Israeli administrations that have succeeded each other. Terrorism has always been its principal weapon, and became its strategic weapon once the “terrorist doctrine” had been made official in 1996.
Silvia Cattori: Was this doctrine inscribed into what was called, during those years, the “peace process”?
Youssef Aschkar: Exactly. At Madrid and Oslo, there had been discussion of a “peace which would ensure security.” But at the summit of Charm el-Sheikh in 1996, they spoke of a “security that would ensure peace.” It is there that the terrorist doctrine of the “war against terrorism” was born. Since then, it is this new strategy that has imposed itself and changed the whole psychological and geopolitical climate, in the region and in the whole world. This so-called war “against terrorism” has shown itself to be much worse than a simple war of occupation.
The heads of the Arab states have found themselves forced to wage this war against liberation movements, which are labelled “terrorist organizations” in accordance with the formula adopted by Israel and the United States. What’s more, the Arab states themselves were labelled as “sources of terrorism”, and threatened with wars in the future.
Silvia Cattori: So the situation has been reversed? They are once more attacking the victims for Israel’s profit?
Youssef Aschkar: Yes, exactly. In basing itself on this doctrine of war against “terrorism”, Israel has taken up again its image as a victim of aggression. The Arab states remain on the defensive, charged with ensuring “the security of Israel” as a preliminary condition for any “peace negotiation.” It is a never-ending litany invented not just to deny them peace, but to favour terrorism in this so-called “war against terrorism.”
The gravest element in this radical change is the fact that the United States has also adopted this war doctrine of Israel’s. Once the Charm el-Sheikh summit was over, President Clinton and his advisors flew off to Israel. Israeli-American teams worked for three days to draw up plans that would put this new doctrine into practice.
A very significant sign is this: between 1996 and September 11, 2001, the culture of hate and fear was spread to the United States by the publication of thousands of books and articles on the subject of terrorism. From that time onward, “Islamic terrorism” became the new Evil Empire, the subject of all public discussion. The vision of a war against “terrorism”, which itself would inevitably spawn terrorism, had already invaded the world and raised itself to the level of a universal charter.
Silvia Cattori: So you believe that the starting point for the war against “terrorism” was not September 2001, but that it had already been built into the “peace process”, which in fact turned out to be a “war process”?
Youssef Aschkar: Precisely. The so-called “peace process”, which came out of the talks at Madrid and Oslo, was simply the putting into practice of the war doctrine formulated by Aba Eban in 1967-68 and adopted by Israel.
“Make Peace with States, Make War against the People”  is the title of an essay on this war doctrine that I presented at a colloquium at the University of Bordeaux. There I analyzed the principles of the foreign policy, or rather the global strategy that Aba Eban had spelt out in the 1970s. These principles were taken up again by Mr. Shimon Peres and Mr. Yitzhak Rabin in the 1990s and presented in the form of a “peace doctrine”, though the doctrine remained what it had always been, a “war doctrine” thought up to be applied against their Arab neighbours and, at the same time, to be exported. As for this alleged “terrorism”, Israel has always labelled the Palestinians as “terrorists”, even well before the doctrine of the “war against terrorism” was adopted officially in 1996. Therefore September 11, 2001, represented nothing but a success for this doctrine and a new point of departure.
Silvia Cattori: So we are not talking about a colonial war?
Youssef Aschkar: No, this is not a colonial war. It is a war for the destruction of societies, a war which destroys the life of peoples. The occupation, as such, is the least of the evils. In a colonial war, it is in the interest of the colonizer that there continues to be a people to exploit. But for the Israeli occupier, the objective is to eliminate the people. It’s completely different from a colonial war! A colonial war normally means the occupation of the land and not — as we see in Palestine — the ethnic cleansing of a people. We have to stop seeing it as a simple occupation, because in Palestine the Israeli occupier is committing ethnic cleansing. It is urgent that this is exposed, and that the murderers perpetrating this crime are forced to stop.
Silvia Cattori: During the years when the so-called “peace” process was keeping all the diplomats and summits busy, did you have a feeling that Mr. Yasser Arafat was leading his people down a dead-end, and that Israel would profit from it in order to consolidate its gains?
Youssef Aschkar: Yes, that was clear. Mr. Yasser Arafat was a traditional leader who was called upon to face an exceptional situation. Faced with a strategy which effectively undermined the foundations of life in Palestinian society, he pursued the policy of a politician, a policy more concerned with laying the foundations of the Palestinian Authority than with defending the interests of his people.
At the very moment when Mr. Yasser Arafat was negotiating with Israel the setting up of the Palestinian Authority on a small portion of Palestinian territory, this same territory was being divided up: the colonies were multiplying, and the roads for exclusive Israeli use which crisscrossed the territory were designed to render any authority powerless to ensure the survival of the Palestinians.
Silvia Cattori: How can we explain, then, the submission of many Arab leaders to the wishes of the United States, whose objective is to weaken them in order to better strengthen the position of Israel and that of America?
Youssef Aschkar: The submission of the majority of Arab leaders is nothing new. They have always counted on an external power – or on the global balance of power – to consolidate their own power, and consequently they have always been insensitive to the expectations of their peoples. Lacking popular support, they have always sought to reconcile their own interests with the interests of the influential states, considering their submission to these states as a safeguard that these states would protect them and maintain them in power.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, almost all the Arab leaders submitted to the United States. And this for two reasons: for lack of an external alternative, and because of rising internal pressures. Sort of like fleeing forward. But this flight cannot last forever, since in the present context their submission does not truly protect them any longer. That is because the role of the United States in the world, and notably in our region, has changed. Firstly, the United States no longer limits itself to ensuring the security of Israel, but now considers itself responsible for carrying out Israel’s plans. Secondly, the conventional interests of the United States no longer serve as a criterion making U.S. policy understandable. That is because the power of the neoconservatives – who constitute a state within a state – follows interests that are fundamentally divergent, if not opposed.
Silvia Cattori: Has this essential change escaped the Arab leaders allied with the United States?
Youssef Aschkar: Yes, it has escaped them. They continue to present themselves as guarantors of stability, even while the plans of Israel backed by the United States have no other aim than to destabilize the region. They feel themselves more and more disoriented. But they will never come out of it until they realize that resistance is more profitable than submission, and also that submission is costlier than resistance, whatever the sacrifices that resistance might entail.
Silvia Cattori: For the Arab leaders, isn’t it an insane policy for them to act as though they didn’t know what the whole world knows – that is, that the United States and Israel want to weaken them and keep them from living in peace – and instead go on making up with them?
Youssef Aschkar: The Arab leaders are hypocrites. They pretend not to see certain signs; they refuse to recognize that it is useless, indeed dangerous, to make up with the United States and Israel. If they had any illusions before the Madrid and Oslo conferences, the experience of the last ten years should have opened their eyes. And the war against Iraq, which laid bare the nature of the threat, should have set the alarm bells ringing. That said, I do not think that everyone knows what is truly going on in Palestine or Iraq, or what is being prepared against Lebanon, Syria, and other countries of the Middle East. The doctrine of “Israeli war” – which, I repeat, consists in destroying societies and not simply dominating them – always escapes the understanding of political leaders and political experts in general.
How many leaders in the world know, or recognize, that what Israel is doing in Palestine – under the pretext of so-called “security” operations – is systematic ethnic cleansing? Or that the war that the United States is waging in Iraq is methodically destroying the life of the Iraqi people? Or that the Middle East is presently an experimental plot for “creative chaos”, a monstrous mechanism of planetary suicide?
Silvia Cattori: For Israel and the United States, doesn’t it become easier to destroy the Palestinian and Iraqi peoples when states such as Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia compromise with them?
Youssef Aschkar: In fact, the Arab states take part in this destruction, since they accept this state of affairs, in the meantime providing the illusion that one day there will be some kind of peace, or some kind of Palestinian state. No Arab leader has ever acknowledged that there is ethnic cleansing going on in Palestine since 1948.
Silvia Cattori: So, according to you, the expansion of the war that we are seeing now was planned well in advance, and might have been exposed or opposed by these states?
Youssef Aschkar: I worked on this question from 1996 to 2001. I reached the conclusion that the authorities in the United States were waiting for some big incident. They were doing nothing to stop it, but instead were getting everything ready in order to be able to exploit it afterwards. That is the subject of my book, which was at the printers when the attacks of September 11 took place.
Silvia Cattori: In 1990 – when Bush Senior, wishing to convince the world that his Gulf War was justified, let it be understood that the war would also, once Saddam Hussein had been overthrown, permit the setting up of a “new world order” and the concluding of a peace in Palestine – did you have a foreboding that these were simply hollow words, that once this logic of war had been endorsed no one would be able to stop it, and that the Arab countries participating in it would go forward toward disaster?
Youssef Aschkar: The Arab states were forced to follow that machination. Besides, at that time the United States had not yet shown all its cards. It had talked about a war that would force Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait. But the Americans had not spoken of sanctions. Now, this war was designed so that matters would not end there, but that the war would be followed by sanctions and new wars. By sanctions which, between 1990 and 2001, killed almost a million Iraqi children and caused physical and psychological after-effects in other four or five million children. An entire society was destroyed, and came out of it very badly.
Silvia Cattori: In that context, did the destabilization of Lebanon and Syria that was provoked by the assassination of Hariri serve the interests of those whose goal is to continue the war against other peoples
Youssef Aschkar: What is taking place in Syria and Lebanon is closely linked to what is going on in Iraq. There are two strategies at work in Iraq. There is the official American strategy, which is perhaps an imperial strategy for the domination and control of natural resources. And there is another strategy, which is the strategy of the gang of monsters who are called “neoconservatives”, who dictate their plans to the Pentagon and to the State Department. This “gang” (Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and Douglas J. Feith, among others) have their own plan; they are the ones who have advocated destroying not only the state of Iraq, but the whole of Iraqi society. The entire network that the neocons control circumvents the generals of the Pentagon, and circumvents American military command. It has infiltrated itself into all the high offices of the United States, and has infiltrated itself also into society, into the American media, and into religious organizations. It is a state within a state.
This was shown clearly during the scandal of the torture at Abu Ghraib prison. The General who was in command of the prisons came out of her office one day and was stunned: “But who are these people going around in the hallways?” Her bodyguard replied to her, “These are the men who carry out the interrogations.” This General, in charge of the prisons, knew nothing about any of this.
Silvia Cattori: Does that mean that whenever the neo-conservatives consider themselves to have achieved an objective, this success of theirs might in fact represent a defeat for the troops of the American army?
Youssef Aschkar: Exactly. That’s because there are two plans at work. There is the official plan of an army of occupation that might withdraw, boost its forces, or find itself cornered. And then there is the plan of the neocons, who dictate their own strategy to the American army, who have 45,000 mercenaries at their disposal, and who have more clout than even the American army. These neocons, in fact, are satisfied, and see their mission in Iraq as accomplished, since they judge that they have attained all the goals for the war that they had assigned to their forces: dragging all of Iraqi society into an impasse from which it can never escape, and replacing a centralized dictatorship with a multitude of totalitarian religious communities that will be in permanent conflict among themselves. So they feel ready to move on to the destabilization of Lebanon, Syria, and Iran.
Silvia Cattori: Yet some analysts believe that America cannot wage two wars at the same time, that the U.S. is unable to venture elsewhere while its army is tied down in Iraq.
Youssef Aschkar: The neocons don’t care about any of that: their plan was to destroy Iraqi society and nothing was able to stop them. They will take hold of some other formula in order to find fault with Syria or Iran. What is going on is extremely serious. Perhaps someone will say to me, “But that’s a nightmare! You’re just imagining these things!” I say, let us carry out an investigation to see whether what I am saying about them is true or not.
Silvia Cattori: An investigation on what, exactly?
Youssef Aschkar: On the neocons who rule the Pentagon and are the cause of so many humanitarian disasters! On what really happened on September 11, 2001! On who is really running the war in Iraq! Is it Mr. Bush, or is it these monsters at the Pentagon who use mercenaries to carry out secret operations in the Middle East?
Silvia Cattori: Do you think that the prosecutors who are holding an inquiry on the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri, for instance, will be unable to establish the truth?
Youssef Aschkar: It is the resistance that should carry out this inquest. I call for the setting up of a “resistance inquiry”. Before September 2001, it was not possible to investigate and stop the neocons because their names were not known. Now, nothing can stop them because their machine is already in motion, but at least we can hold an inquiry on their crimes and indicate them by name.
Silvia Cattori: The French government was clearly opposed to the intervention of Bush and Blair in Iraq. Does its recent realignment surprise you?
Youssef Aschkar: France’s position on Iraq raised great hopes in the Middle East, when it opposed the folly of the American neocons. By dissociating itself from the U.S., France had everything to gain on the domestic level, the European level, and the world level.
Unfortunately, its position has changed since June 2004. In that month four decisive events took place: the transatlantic summit between Europe and the U.S., the NATO summit in Istanbul, the G8 at Evian, and the famous meeting at the United Nations. At these four meetings the U.S. succeeded in imposing its logic of war. Mr. Chirac and his team did not present any vision that would be suited to the interests of France, Europe, and the world. France stood aside to give way to the mere search for a “reconciliation” with the United States.
It is France that took it upon itself to prepare Resolution 1559. France gave the illusion of having become a “partner” in the plan for the region and a major actor on the Lebanese scene. But in reality, once the resolution had been submitted, France became nothing but a pawn on the chessboard of the neocons, whose plan is clear: to exploit in order to destabilize, and not just Syria and Iran, but first of all Lebanon.
The French leaders gave way to the vision of the neocons. They committed an error of judgment. If they hadn’t lapsed into opportunism, they would have been able to stand firm and obtain more. In 2003, France was the winner in London when Mr.Dominique de Villepin , in his historic address on the world situation, presented a vision based on true political will and which resisted the monsters of the Pentagon. Whereas, now, France is losing on all levels.
In situations that are exceptional, miserly conventional calculations do not pay. Clearly Mr. Chirac agreed, on the moral level, to damage the image of France, and, on the ethical and functional level, to entrust to France the dirty role of destabilizing the region, particularly Lebanon, and of tricking the Lebanese about their future.
I would like to pose, here, some questions for Mr. Chirac. What is his plan for this region? What control is he able to exercise over the American project that is already in place? Does he think that France and Europe come out winners by associating themselves with this project of destabilization, or rather of setting the region on fire?
Silvia Cattori: So, in your view, France is now completely on board with the anti-Arab policy of Mr. Bush and Blair?
Youssef Aschkar: France abandoned its position of strength; it renounced its special role which consisted in opening up a new path with the Third World, both for France and for Europe. The Third World ought to be France’s natural partner, in the spirit of a mutually favourable and humane partnership. To be credible, that spirit would have to manifest itself not just in relations within Europe, but also with respect to the outside world, particularly the Third World. Unfortunately, France decided not simply to align itself with the United States, but also to sign on to the war doctrine of the neocons. This positioning won for France nothing but a background role and isolation. This isolation comes out on three levels: that of Jacques Chirac within France, that of France within Europe, and that of Europe in the world. A great hope has evaporated, leaving the world in the hands of the new order of fear and hatred.
Silvia Cattori: So are the people of the world in the hands of irresponsible leaders who no longer control anything?
Youssef Aschkar: It is not that simple with political leaders, even if usually they do show themselves guilty of irresponsibility, opportunism, and lying. The core of the problem lies elsewhere: finding out who holds true power. In the “new world order”, this power is in the process of shifting from the territorial authority of states to the uncontrolled authority of a line of new masters. I am not talking about the multinational corporations, the transnational financial institutions, and the process of economic privatization. The new masters are of a different kind: they are connected to the monstrous team of the neocons, who act in all four corners of the globe by means of their networks and their mercenaries. The economic sphere is in full submission to their project. Privatization is nothing more than a simple economic measure, mainly an ideology which consists in privatizing and monopolizing the public space – especially politics and security – in order to exploit the other sectors. It is nothing less than a monstrous planet-wide coup d’état.
The political leaders more and more end up overwhelmed and manipulated. They suffer less from personal incompetence and technical clumsiness than from a lack of vision or moral worth: they are as cowardly as they are ignorant, not seeing, or not wanting to see, the new reality.
Our authorities do not want to respond to this challenge, at least as long as they are not subject to public pressure which would force them to change tack. So our mission ought to be to provoke an awakening of the public which would force a change in policy. This public pressure would have to be stronger and more convincing than the pressure that our authorities currently receive from the United States.
Silvia Cattori: In Lebanon, does the public suspect that perhaps, since the assassination of Hariri, they are the target of manoeuvring not by Arabs but by Westerners?
Youssef Aschkar: The Lebanese are very troubled about their future. But the daily manipulation carried out by the networks of saboteurs acting in secret often prevents them from seeing clearly. I believe a large part of the Lebanese people is conscious of these criminal manoeuvres, but they are neither unified nor prepared to respond to these manipulations in an effective manner, whereas those doing the manoeuvring are able to exploit all the weaknesses of the partisan politics which are traditional in Lebanon, and take advantage of the confessional differences to divide the people. The fact that Lebanon is composed of different communities, which those doing the manoeuvring take advantage of, deprives the citizens of their common and rational landmarks, all the more so because the plans of those who would destabilize the society are meticulously prepared.
We have before us a great task of awareness-raising if we want to prevent the situation from worsening and becoming irreversible. Time is short.
Silvia Cattori: Is it possible that Western intelligence agencies may have financed those who carried out the assassination of Hariri? But to what end? To make Lebanese society explode?
Youssef Aschkar: Without a doubt: infiltration is not just a weapon but an entire strategy. It is the intelligence agencies’ stock in trade. These agencies have an unrivalled ability to create unlikely scenarios and exploit them to the full. Making Lebanese society explodes forms part of their principal plan. As for their timetable, that remains unclear. Our immediate task is to act in time in order to thwart their terrifying plan.
Silvia Cattori: So you are very anxious about the future?
Youssef Aschkar: If events continue along their present course, then it will be terribly serious. All the direct neighbours of Israel, and this entire region that is considered a “vital space” by Israel, are directly menaced by Israel, and are being subjected to destabilization.
In the strategic and geopolitical context of the “Greater Middle East and North Africa”, the stakes have been set by the Israelis and Americans. Pressure is being exerted on all fronts and in all directions. The pressure is being exerted very openly against Iran and Syria, but in a camouflaged fashion against Lebanon. And that leaves Lebanon hanging in suspense, divided between those who spin for themselves illusions regarding democracy, freedom, and prosperity – the poisoned bait offered by the Israelis and the Americans – and those who have no illusions about their intentions.
Lebanon is at one and the same time the country most threatened and the country most vulnerable. The Lebanese Christians, some of whom imagine themselves to represent a safeguard that shelters Lebanon from the Israeli menace, are in fact the prime target of Israel’s plans.
Silvia Cattori: Does it surprise you to see that in the West – under the influence of the propagandists of the “clash of civilizations”, who use the mainstream media as their soapbox – the public has for the most part accepted the idea that believers in Islam are “fanatics” and “terrorists”?
Youssef Aschkar: The propaganda agencies of the neocons succeed very well in manipulating the facts and the media, and by this means they are able, unfortunately, to trick most people and to disorient even progressives. They work to discredit Muslims on the one hand by manipulating and financing the mercenaries who carry out terrorist attacks, which subsequently get blamed on the resistance, and on the other hand by triggering a process of fanaticization. The latter method consists in creating situations of conflict by means of provocations of a religious character, conflicts which mix up the reference points, provoke demonstrations, and discredit Islam (This interview took place before the affair of the Danish cartoons broke out).
Led into error by these repeated provocations, the progressives end up disoriented: as humanists they cannot defend acts of violence, but as secularists they cannot tolerate fanaticism. So those progressives who are not conscious of the manipulation carried out by the neocons find themselves caught up in pointless disputes.
In fact, the attacks that generate numerous civilian victims are remote-controlled by this gang in the Pentagon, who, by means of their networks, create and finance phantom organizations that terrorize each side in the name of the other side.
I should point out here that the ideology of the neocons, such as we see it played out on the ground, is the first and only ideology in history that seeks to produce opponents rather than adherents, leaving to its opponents the job of supplying it with its adherents.
Let me explain. This ideology works to produce opponents by pushing them towards fanaticism in such a way as to stir up and nourish every fanaticism on earth, including Muslim and Arab fanaticism, and this enables Muslims to be given a very negative image, so that in the end – and this is the goal – hostile reactions are produced towards Muslims. Even staunchly secular people, on both sides, will imperceptibly find themselves led to question their own secularity, and to see in “the Other” someone who cannot be lived with. That is what is going on now, and what is in the process of destabilizing Europe, of causing a cleavage between the two shores of the Mediterranean basin, and of sabotaging and wrecking the Barcelona projects for a Mediterranean partnership.
If this cleavage worsens, voices will be heard – even in Europe – calling for people to sign on to the neocons’ doctrines of “war against terrorism” and “Muslim fanaticism”. Only at that point will the neocon ideology have accomplished its mission: having helped to provoke the growth of fanaticism among Muslims, it will also have stirred up in the West, in return, adherents to its thesis of a “clash of civilizations”. And Europe, stubborn up to that point, will finally align itself with the ideology of the neocons. Progressives and politicians in general are unaware of these manoeuvres.
Silvia Cattori: What can be done in time in order to change this tragic course of events?
Youssef Aschkar: Any effort must begin by creating an awareness of the realities carefully camouflaged by this web of lies which is working to twist the critical faculties of the entire human race. Only a “global inquiry” can respond to this global threat and lay bare the manoeuvrings that sustain it. The awareness must come about on two levels: on the level of states and on the level of individual citizens. This “global inquiry” must be started with all urgency; it ought to become both the highest priority action of the resistance and also the unifying factor of the resistance. All the resisters and militants in the world must unite, and must oppose, in advance of everything else, this global war, whatever may be the particular causes that they are defending or the particular misfortunes they are suffering from and fighting against. That is because this war aggravates all of their particular misfortunes, and renders the struggle of peoples under occupation that much more difficult. “Axis for Peace” came together with that idea in November 2005 for a conference in Brussels. The participants, who are fighting for different causes, realized how the theme of this conference unified them. We must make it our very first priority to do battle against this war that attacks societies, because that will aid the cause common to all of us and serve equally to alert governments as to the significance of this war that will certainly affect them sooner or later. To the extent that this threat is not grasped and considered the highest priority by popular forces, governments will persist in going in directions that are inappropriate for facing this exceptional threat.
Silvia Cattori: Isn’t that a profoundly depressing picture that you are painting for the peoples of the Middle East, indeed for all of us?
Youssef Aschkar: Certainly. If things do not change radically, I would be extremely pessimistic. We are talking about, in the Middle East, an existential threat of which public opinion is not fully aware, but also of a global threat about which the peoples and states of the world – especially the major powers – are not adequately alarmed. But optimism or pessimism will depend on our future action. Everything will depend on whether something gets done in time, and on whether the resistance can unite and focus its efforts on the right target. United forces, of people engaged in action, are humanly superior to the forces of the monsters of the Pentagon, no matter how huge their material and logistical means may be.
* Silvia Cattori
 Formerly president of the PSNS, Lebanon’s secular social political party, Youssef Aschkar is a Lebanese historian and anthropologist. http://www.aschkar.org/
 Faire la paix avec les États, faire la guerre contre les peuples. By Youssef Aschkar, Voltaire, June 19, 2003. http://www.voltairenet.org/article9882.html