Axis of Shame
by Ash-amed-of US
- / -
The Axis of Evil was named by George Bush on 30th January 2002.
By so doing he implicitly positioned the USA and its closest friends as a countervailing
Axis of Good -- by whose standards Evil was henceforth to be detected and judged.
The April 2002 incursion of Israeli forces into Palestinian towns
and refugee camps sharpens ability to make new assessments. George Bush has
repeatedly indicated his close support and friendship for Israel, as its "strongest
ally". On 7th April he and Tony Blair, "standing shoulder-to-shoulder",
emphasized yet again their close friendship for Israel. In the case of the USA
this is reflected in massive annual financial and military support for Israel.
In the case of the UK, this includes military materiel supplied to the Israeli
Defense Force, supposedly with the explicit commitment that it would not be
used against civilians in the Occupied Territories. How are such bonds reinforced
by secret deals and the threat to reveal secret intelligence that would totally
shame these allies in the eyes of world opinion?
Are the USA, the UK and Israel to be understood as together constituting
the Axis of Good? Or are we really faced with an Axis of Shame?
What offenses would make the world ashamed of the complicity of
great countries in actions against civilians? Would it be the use of cluster
bombs and daisy cutters dropped from great height on primitively armed peoples
whom they have never seen? Would it be the use of target killings of any opponents
as "terrorists", without presentation of evidence or the intention
to produce any for critical review? Would it be the secret seizure of people,
declared to be suspects (again without presentation of evidence)? Would it be
the interrogation of detainees under conditions which many consider to be indistinguishable
from the most reprehensible forms of torture? Or their subsequent secret execution?
Or would it be the massive financial, military and political support
for such actions? Or simply the avoidance of any but token criticism of such
initiatives by a procrastinating international community? Or would it be the
cynical nature of the repeated appeals to the disempowered to cease their support
for opposition to such initiatives? Or would it be the declared intention to
supply public opinion systematically with misleading information (through an
Office of Strategic Influence) to complement total news management, notably
of military action? Is such cover-up an indication of how ashamed of their actions
are the parties to the Axis of Shame?
If the USA, the UK and Israel indeed constitute an Axis of Shame,
what is to be said of the European Community for whom Israel continues to have
"most-favored nation" status -- despite its massive destruction of
Palestinian infrastructure funded by the European Community? Should it aspire
to be considered an "Axis of Just as Shameful" -- especially after
the Israeli snub to European delegations seeking to make contact with Yasser
Arafat in April 2002?
What does it take to constitute an Axis of Shame? Is it the nature
of the complicity in the actions against civilians -- despite a hygienic degree
of deniability? How much responsibility does the UK carry for its devious role
in the creation of Israel and its subsequent avoidance of responsibility for
any safeguards? How much shame is to be borne by the permanent members of the
Security Council associated with failure to implement UN resolutions relating
to the Middle East -- whilst using hastily prepared UN resolutions to legitimate
action against the people of Afghanistan, and accepting the extension of such
suspect legitimacy for attacks against Iraq? What deals were done regarding
UN policy in exchange for the US payment of its arrears? Are the members of
the Security Council to be seen as constituting an "Axis of Not Quite So
Who is it that provides the intellectual legitimacy of the Axis
of Shame? Is it the brilliant government and military strategists -- whose views
on "terrorism" are so thoroughly shared between the USA and Israel?
Or is it the national security advisers and their foreign policy think-tank
consultants? Or is it the wider network of academic specialists in international
relations? Exactly what have they all offered over the years to reframe conceptually
the tragic territorial circumstances that have given rise to "terrorism"
-- suicidal or otherwise? Are they, to a high degree, complicit in justifying
brutality, precisely because they have failed to apply their conceptual skills
to reframe simplistic dialogue in the light of new options? Have they been excessively
quick in jumping on simplistic conceptual bandwagons that fail to address the
origins of terrorism -- or the unusual challenges to defining it? Above all,
to what degree have they engaged in massive and systematic intellectual dishonesty
through their denial of the terror-inducing nature of particular actions of
their own states -- rendering the moral and intellectual positions of those
states untenable in the eyes of those they criticize for supporting terrorism?
Are such intellectuals to be understood as constituting an "Axis of We
What shameful role does religion play in this sorry situation?
The current intifada cycle was triggered by Ariel Sharon stomping onto the grounds
of the al-Aqsa Mosque, that stands so close to the remains of the Jewish Temple.
The Easter-Passover incursions of 2002 involve a highly symbolic occupation
of Bethlehem, accompanied by Israeli damage to the Church of the Nativity in
which Palestinians sought refugee. Is Sharon enacting a parody of Herod's role
as King of the Jews, in slaughtering the first-born, in the hopes of eliminating
agents of change threatening to a frozen Jewish mindset? What sort of perversion
sustains George Bush and Tony Blair, as believing Christians, in unashamedly
supporting Israel in such symbolic acts -- echoing Christian complicity in the
Holocaust? Would they act any differently if Israel destroyed all the Christian
holy sites? Would they express more than token regret at the destruction of
the al-Aqsa Mosque? And how would Christians as a whole respond? Are the protagonists
of all religions to be understood as each engaged in a historic holy mission:
Christian militarists (arms suppliers, bombers, and assassins); Jewish settlers
encroaching "peacefully" on the lands of others; and Moslem suicide
bombers? How curious that the interfaith outcome in the Holy Lands is so profoundly
unholy? Perhaps the religions could usefully be understood as an "Axis
of Unholy Shame"?
After the ambiguity of the international response to the massacres
of Cambodia, Sarajevo and Rwanda -- and the tens of millions dying of AIDS in
Africa -- is there any act that would provoke total moral revulsion around the
world? Israel itself was created out of western guilt at the "never to
be repeated" horrors of the Holocaust. But, as psychotherapists have long
pointed out, new generations tend to be influenced in strange ways by the horrors
heaped upon the previous generation. Historical lessons are poorly learnt --
and repugnant methods used against the older generation tend to be adopted again
by their successors. Had the Jews responded like the Palestinians to their oppressors,
would the Nazis have legitimately identified them as "terrorists"?
Just as western governments and establishment churches were well-informed of
the horrors of the concentration camps -- and remained complicit in the negligence
of their response -- so it would appear that the cycle is being repeated in
the Middle East, with some recasting of roles. Would the widespread ghettoization
and slaughter of Palestinians arouse more reaction than at present? Would the
installation of gas chambers -- or the use of biochemical equivalents (for which
AIDS is effectively a surrogate)? Are we all not complicit in what might be
termed an "Axis of Shameful Indifference"?
Promotion of "terrorism" as a threat to the world is
now being systematically used to bypass due process and the need for evidence
-- as a perverted form of world governance. Western civilization has completely
lost confidence in the structures and processes it struggled so hard to build
up -- and which it used so arrogantly to belittle the achievements of other
cultures. Its incapacity to act effectively in anything but a brutal or callous
manner has become so shameful that it is now re-legitimating its own long-discredited
strategy of colonialism as a means of justifying its incursions into countries
and cultures in which its previous policies have proven to be bankrupt.
The "terrorism" that is promoted as a threat has been
very carefully distinguished from the widespread "terrorism" to which
children are subject in schools, to which conscripts are subject in the military,
to which prisoners are subject in prison, to which men subject women in many
settings, to which the elderly and vulnerable are subject in urban housing developments,
or to which organized crime subjects businesses or the judiciary. And, as the
ultimate users of the oil that is so intimately linked to identification of
terrorist regimes, what level of road accidents would be required before hit-and-runners,
or dangerous and drunken drivers, are also treated as "terrorists".
Terrorism is promoted as an external, foreign threat rather than one with which
many are intimately familiar in their local communities -- and whose experience
of it is thereby insulted and demeaned. Who has not been terrorized by bullies,
or been complicit in the terrorization of others, and then failed to acknowledge
the problem? Surely there is a good case for recognizing our personal membership
of an "Axis of Shameful Denial"?