The atrocities being committed in Lebanon provide us in the Arab world with another superfluous reminder of the fact that our blood is cheap. As if Iraq wasn't enough to prove our irrelevance in the global picture, further insults are being heaped upon our mounting sense of humiliation.
The duplicity and flagrant disregard for the destruction of an entire nation by the Israeli government; and an American president, his neocon cronies and "Yo Blair," have demonstrated beyond doubt that the return of two Israeli soldiers (even though thousands of their Arab counterparts rot in Israeli prisons) equate with the deaths of hundreds of innocent Lebanese civilians. While the rest of the world desperately awaited the announcement of a cease-fire that only America has the clout to negotiate, Auntie Condi arrived to play the fiddle to Israel's tune, as Lebanon burned to a crisp in the background.
I watch the pictures that flood our television screens with sheer awe-struck horror. Children, Lebanese, Palestinian and Iraqi, screaming in agony and covered in blood thinking, "My God! That could have been my child." I constantly reassess what our intrinsic value is on the worldwide marketplace of humanity.
What is even more pathetic is that every time I think we have sunk to a new low in terms of our worth, Uncle George reminds me that we haven't quite got to the bottom of his global cesspit. Our lives, the lives of our children, our dreams, our aspirations, are tantamount to a little less than nothing in his disgusting estimation.
As civilians in Lebanon and Palestine are murdered daily by U.S.-made and U.S. taxpayer-funded weapons, President Bush has characteristically shown more interest in the abstract phenomenon of protecting frozen embryos. One would be forced to wonder (given his total disinterest in the sanctity of Arab and Muslim life), that if these embryos were conceived in the Middle East, whether Bush would be as enthusiastic about the question of their preservation.
And what lesson is it exactly that Bush has set out to teach us? Ah yes! But of course. He wants to show us "Ayrabs" how to behave. How repugnant and downright disrespectful that we speak a queer language that he doesn't understand! And what's even worse is that we camel-herding desert-dwelling Bedouins have a whole crazy bunch of oil that would be far better suited to the gluttonous gas-guzzling consumption of his citizens than to our modest campfires.
We should be grateful to Bush. He is, after all, our self-appointed savior and wants to instill within us the etiquette of democracy. No. Not hypocrisy, democracy. Even though they the two words sound remarkably similar when he pronounces them. (The "Ayrab" definition of hypocrisy would be the United States providing humanitarian aid to Lebanon while rushing precision-guided missiles to Israel, in so doing helping to obliterate those it seeks to "help."). However, not democracy in the broad definition of the word, since when we did follow his advice and elect Hamas by a sweeping majority, we were punished for bringing in the people's choice!
No, no, no! In the Middle East, democracy, according to the new definition in the U.S. State Department Dictionary is, "a government that is not necessarily elected by the people but who we think should be elected." It's sort of a color-coded, new and improved imposable version of the American dream, which has become so fashionable in the higher echelons of the U.S. government, that choosing one is the political version of selecting the latest Prada handbag. Popular opinion is so definitely last season! But if you think about it, it all makes perfect sense. After all, why on earth should we be allowed to select what we want, if it doesn't happen to coincide with what Rice's new look for the Middle East is?
Isn't it a great affront to her designing talents that we infringe on her lovely color scheme by opting for something that might upset her fragile sensibilities? Are we really so tasteless and so stupid, to believe we are capable of deciding things for ourselves, when we have Bush and his wardrobe specialist so willing and able to give us freedom by confiscating our right to choose?
Let's not forget that this is the same team of Uncle George and Aunt Condi that brought the world a free, prosperous and secure Iraq! And so what if in the process of this renewal, hundreds of people have to be massacred? Come on guys. Don't be such spoilsports! Haven't you heard of "collateral damage"? It's a jazzy neocon term that translates to "the deliberate annihilation of Arab civilians."
I wonder what the catchphrase used for the displacement of three-quarters of a million people from their homes in Lebanon is going to be? "Furniture removal?" I suppose that the rather conspicuously copious amount of plastic sheeting (2,000 rolls) so generously donated by the U.S. government to the Lebanese has been eagerly dispatched to wrap up the bodies of dead women and children. Or perhaps it could be used as a protective shield when the Israelis conduct one of their U.S.-sponsored "surgical strikes?" (the modern medical equivalent of the amputation of a limb to get rid of a wart). And so what if such death and destruction is completely avoidable? At least it keeps the American public entertained. Without us in the Middle East. all the American news networks would be forced to run stories inspired by Miami Vice and Starsky and Hutch.
As for the Israelis who regularly and shameless run amok with impunity thanks to the indulgence and protection of Uncle George, it boggles the mind to think that a people who suffered one of the greatest atrocities in recent times can inflict a similar if not worse torment on helpless innocents. They have proved their mettle with the Palestinians. The Lebanese are just a sorry sequel.
And as for the so-called amorphous "War on Terror" that Bush claims to be waging, it all seems like a bit of a sick joke. Perhaps he truly believes that the entire world at large possesses his "special" intellect. He insults our collective intelligence with his transparent rhetoric and warmongering platitudes. If there is anyone responsible for the creation of future terrorism, then the all time award should be go to him, his minions and his Israeli comrades. It's not just the blood of Lebanese civilians that their hands are sullied with, but the blood of all those who will lose their lives as a result of the resentment, rage, revenge and retaliation that inevitably follows from the complete contempt they have shown toward human life.
So the next time Americans ask why the world hates them, just tell them to switch on the television. The answer to their question lies under the rubble and the ever-expanding graveyards in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and now Lebanon.
*Lubna Hussain is a Saudi Writer. She is based in Riyadh.