March 23, 2008

Cheney Watch as soft terror Palestine continues

A US soldier of 3rd Brigade Combat team

(photo: AP / Petros Giannakouris)
A Picture Most Of Us Would Like To See

Palestinians inspect a destroyed house in Jabaliya refugee camp,

(photo: WN / Ahmed Deeb)
Article by Correspondent Dallas Darling.

It was almost impossible, at least in the Western media, not to have noticed the images of the blood-soaked room and the anguished faces of Israelis due to last week’s deadly attack at a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem. Supposedly, the lone gunman from Gaza, a member of Hamas, received orders from The Free Men of Galilee to carry out the massacre in response to Israel‘s occupation and military incursions into Gaza, which have destroyed homes and killed a number of civilians including women and children.

I believe it was Harvard University professor Joseph Nye who first proposed the term ‘soft power.’ Soft power means the use of subtle effects of culture, values, and ideas on others’ in order to indirectly influence them and get them to do what you want. In international affairs, soft power is the opposite of ‘hard power,’ where nations and empires use threats, economic sanctions, and war to directly force other countries to behave in certain ways or follow specific policies.

Is it possible to also think of terrorism in hard and soft concepts? In other words, ‘hard terror’ is easy to perceive and identify, such as a gunman who massacres students or a plane that flies into a building. ‘Soft terror’ is more subtle for it is often hidden from history and entrenched in the dehumanizing and destructive structures of militarism, racism, politicism, and economic imperialism. Whereas hard terrorism causes immediate and dramatic deaths, soft terrorism slowly and indelibly chips away at the spirit and resilience of a people causing a long painful death. It usually goes unreported, except by those who live it and are oppressed.

Soft terror is forcing people to live in refugee camps and abject povery. For example, it is estimated that there are one million Palestinian Muslims and Christians living in the Gaza Strip. Over half are refugees, descendants of Palestinians who were forced and deported into that territory in 1948 during the first Arab-Israeli War. Gaza, which is 28 miles by 5 miles and one-fifteenth of the size of the West Bank, has one of the highest population densities in the world. Eight United Nations (UN)-sponsored refugee camps are located in this hot, dry land that receives very little rain and has few mineral resources.

Soft terror is the UN falsely promising the Palestinians their own state after World War II. It is also hastily forming an inexperienced committee to study the Palestinian and Jewish Questions for only five weeks, and then redrawing boundaries without taking into account or wishes all of the people living there. Soft terror is forcing the people to accept such boundaries, and then creating new national identities while dispossessing hundreds of thousands of those whom disagreed. Soft terror is not having a homeland.

Soft terror is establishing a system of segregation and apartheid through militarism and the occupation of another’s territories, that was supposed to be returned according to the UN. Since the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, Gaza has been under harsh Israeli military rule. Due to the Palestinian and Islamic resistance movements, groups in the Gaza Strip and notable out-spoken individuals and activists have been arrested, imprisoned, or deported for opposing Israeli occupation policies. Censorship of school textbooks and publications, punitive demolition of Arab homes, the expansion of Jewish settlements, and a permit system to travel outside of Gaza and for constructing new buildings, opening businesses, digging wells, and conducting other activities, have degraded and killed thousands of Gazans.

Soft terror is disallowing Gazans to pursue their own self-determination and rights based on their culture and religion. It is outlawing slogans, protests, the displaying of the Palestinian flag or national colors, and banning chants for independence or calling for a Palestinian State. The replacement of civilian courts with military tribunals without habeas corpus and the imprisonment of Palestinians for lengthy periods of time, including children, is also soft terror which causes resentment and anger. The allocation of scarce water resources, cutting off electricity, and road blocks are also forms of soft terror.

Soft terror is injustice and inequality forced upon a people by the world community, because of their race and religion. At the 1993 Oslo Agreement, why did Gaza receive only ‘limited’ autonomy? It is evident that for the last 60 years, the UN and Western Powers have favored certain groups in the Middle East at the expense of others. A global organization and countries that were supposed to be founded on the ideas of equality and impartiality, has not only neglected peace but also justice. The continued expansion of settlements and allowing masters to rule over an unwilling population that has to scavenge through garbage dumps for food, will only incur more war and hatred.

Finally, soft terror is enabling and using the nuclearization of one nation to promote proxy wars and imperialism by another nation. Backed by billions of dollars of U.S. military armaments and economic subsidies, Israel has taken steps to become militarily and politically powerful. Yet, it has happened at a great cost: Living in constant fear, continual wars, occupying territories, and huge outlays for defense which has driven Israel’s inflation rate and made it dependent on an empire. Armed airlifts of new U.S. weapons to be used and tested, such as Cluster Bombs, has only increased terrorism.

The same year that the UN granted Israel the right to exist, it also adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It called on every nation to disseminate, display, read, and live the text. The document stated that “everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person” and that these rights may not be taken away by any nation or individual. It also stated that neither is it acceptable for states to administer collective punishment and emphasized fair trials and “equal justice for all.” The most severe form of soft terror is probably hypocrisy. Just as Israel has a right to defend itself and exist as an independent nation, so do the Palestinians in Gaza. If peace is to ever exist, the World Community must deal with not only its own hypocrisy but also poverty and injustice.

Dallas Darling -

Self-Government or Self-Adulation?

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch (left), Commander, 3rd Infantry Division, applauds U.S. Vice President Richard B. Cheney after he addressed the Soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division and the 48th Brigade Combat Team, Georgia Army National Guard (GAARNG), at Cottrell Field, Fort Stewart, Ga., on July 21, 2006, during a visit to the installation. (Photo: US Army file / Mr. Jimmy McSalters)

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch (left), Commander, 3rd Infantry Division, applauds U.S. Vice President Richard B. Cheney after he addressed the Soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division and the 48th Brigade Combat Team, Georgia Army National Guard (GAARNG), at Cottrell Field, Fort Stewart, Ga., on July 21, 2006, during a visit to the installation.

As Vice President Dick Cheney travels to the Middle East, (due mainly to Iran’s rising influence, OPEC’s unwillingness to increase production and the sharp rise in gas prices, a tainted U.S. image throughout the world, and Turkey’s incursions into northern Iraq to battle Kurdish rebels), I am reminded of what he said during an interview several months ago. Mr. Cheney predicted that Iraq would be a self-governing democracy by the time he left office in 2009. (1)

Mr. Cheney’s trip to the Middle East, though, is more about self-adulation than self-government. Self-adulation means an overly excessive view of one’s self, thoughts, and actions. As one of the architects of the mismanaged U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, along with the expansion of American military presence in that region, Vice President Cheney’s trip is about feeling powerful and finding worth in controlling the fate of another nation, its people, and perhaps an entire region?

Mr. Cheney is only one of a series of political elites in American History that have pursued self-adulation, at the expense of millions whom neither wanted war nor the U.S. to pursue imperial ambitions. For example, several months after the U.S. defeated the Spanish and extended its empire into the Caribbean, Central America, and the Pacific, Senator Albert J. Beveridge arose in the Senate to debate the Philippine Question: Should the U.S. colonize and declare the Philippines a protectorate?

In strong support for the conquest of the Philippines, Mr. Beveridge said, “Mr. President, the times call for candor. The Philippines are ours forever…and just beyond the Philippines are China’s illimitable markets. We will not retreat from either…We will not renounce our part in the mission of our race, trustee, under God, of civilization of the world…They (Filipinos) are not capable of self-government…They are Orientals, Malays, instructed by Spaniards in the latter's worst estate.”

“Better pure military occupation for years,” Senator Beveridge continued, “than government by any other quality of administration…He (God) has made us the master organizers of the world to establish system where chaos reigns…He has marked the American people as His chosen nation to finally lead in the regeneration of the world. This is the divine mission of America, and it holds for us all the profit, all the glory, all the happiness possible to man.” (2)

President William McKinley, when asked about taking the Philippines, remarked it would be cowardly and dishonorable to give it back to Spain and not very good business to allow Germany to have it. He then said, “That there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all (including Cuba and Puerto Rico) and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them…” (3) He then mentioned how he ordered his cabinet to redraw the map of the world to show the Philippines belonged to the U.S.

Speaking of maps, in the 19th Century most textbooks contained maps labeling regions of the world as either enlightened-as in the case of the U.S. and Europe, or barbaric and savage-as in the case of Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Religions were also identified as enlightened-such as Christianity, and barbaric-such as Islam or savage-such as Animism. In other words, American political officials and experts were often products of a racist, ethnocentric, and self-centered educational and political system, just like Vice President Cheney and President George W. Bush are today.

In the same interview mentioned above, Mr. Cheney claimed the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq has been “a remarkable success story” that will be studied for years to come. But just like Senator Beveridge who said, “A declaration of independence and freedom applies only to people capable of self-government (meaning the Americans but not the Filipinos),” Vice President Cheney has continued to confuse self-government-rule of the people, with self-adulation-rule of one person over millions.

Self-adulation does not respect the rights of others (at home or overseas), neither is it capable of making good decisions. What needs to be studied for years to come is why and how Iraq has been a miserable failure, how better to promote self-determination, and how self-centered statesmen have slowly destroyed the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution. Also, the real success story will be when U.S. citizens awaken and realize they too have been held hostage by self-adulated politicians and thus begin to pursue their own self-government.

Let’s hope this takes place before Vice President Cheney and President George W. Bush try to redraw the map of the Middle East in their own image, that is if it has not already happened.

Dallas Darling -

(Dallas Darling currently teaches U.S. and World History and writes for World News. He was a pastor in rural America for ten years and worked in a Guatemala Refugee Camp, the barrios of Panama, and in Mexico. Dallas was active in the Central American Peace Movement and currently works with Pastors For Peace in delivering humanitarian aid to foreign countries. He has a Masters in Pastoral Theology and a Bachelor of Arts in History and Religion. Dallas is a regular contributor to You can also read more of his articles at

(1) The Politico. Cheney: Iraq to be self-governing by 2009. 6 December 2007

(2) Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States. The New Press: New York, New York, 1997, p. 229.

(3) Ibid. p. 228.

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