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    The world is at war. It is a real world war, even if it is not hot like the two world wars that bloodied humanity in the first half of the last century, or cold like that which lasted throughout the second half of that same century together with its attendant regional wars that were bloody in their own right.

               It is a war of a new type. It joins up with much of the barbarism and destructiveness of the hot wars made much greater by the extensive development of the means of destruction and extermination, as it also joins up with many of the features of the Cold War. It adds to that a total absence of any restraints because of the imbalance that characterizes the unipolar world system and because it has become possible now to use any weapon and method of attack.

               To put it another way, it is a war that combines classical warfare - as is taking place in Afghanistan, and perhaps may happen somewhere else - with the threat of war and attack and financial, economic, and political extortion - as is happening or might happen in numerous places in the world. As to the means and tools being used, they are the entire arsenal of the United States and its big allies - all their military, security, intelligence, economic and financial potential.

               Perhaps the most outstanding feature of the war is the fact that the other side is an obscure force, spread out throughout the entire world, in all its countries. And all that we can see of it is like that tip of an iceberg floating in the frigid oceans.

               The wide spread of targeted organizations, movements, and countries, and the expansion by the United States of its target beyond that related to the events of 11 September are the reasons for the broad popular rejection of the war, the many condemnations of war on the part of leaders and thinkers, and the demonstrations that are growing in number and size in the capitals and cities of America itself as well as in other European states. These reasons helped to spur the growing rejection of the barbarism that has characterized the first military operations in Afghanistan that have produced millions of refugees among the residents of that country, exposing them to death from hunger and thirst in one of the greatest human disasters, causing hundreds of dead civilians, elderly, women, and children, from the bombings of peaceful residential neighborhoods in Kabul and other Afghan cities.

               This rejection of the war is at the same time accompanied by a rejection of terrorism and terrorists and an awareness that terrorism has never for one day served a just cause, but rather has always helped to inflict great damage on such causes.

               Terrorism cannot be fought by a similar terrorism. The response to the killing of thousands of innocent people cannot be the killing of thousands of others, and the subjugation of millions to fear, exile, hunger, death, the destruction of a whole country, and perhaps of many countries.

               Yet the war has in fact begun. And despite the widespread opposition to it there is no reason for us to believe that it will stop. In fact it is probable that it will last, that other places in addition to Afghanistan will be subjected to it, and that it will take various forms and pursue obscure aims, that numerous interests and many aspirations will get involved in an effort to spread American military, political, and economic domination throughout the entire world. In no war in history have the final goals and effects been limited to the causes that led to its outbreak.

               This is a dangerous war, particularly because of the characteristics that the basic parties to it have used to describe it. President George Bush called it a war "of good against evil" with all the ambiguity that that description carries with it. Usama bin Ladin has met Bush on the same ground, calling the war a jihad against "Christians and Jews." Both parties are thus trying to excite natural impulses in the name of values or in the name of religion.

               What concerns us, now that the war has really begun, and now that its far-flung goals have been exposed, is what damage it might do and what effects it might have upon the Arab region as a whole of which Lebanon is a part. The Israeli government under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, hastened to try to exploit the events of 11 September to escalate its aggression against the Palestinian people in an effort to stamp out their intifada. This Israeli desire appears to be at cross-purposes with Washington's efforts to form an international alliance that must comprise numerous states in the Middle East region, including, surely, Arab states. This conflict has become apparent from the fact that in the last few days Washington has on two occasions had to declare its support for the establishment of a Palestinian state and for the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338.

               Yet the official Arab position has not yet risen to the necessary level to deal with these developments. There is a real possibility to protect the Palestinian people and to make these "new" positions and promises by Washington find their way to implementation. The first thing necessary for this is to insist upon the establishment of a real mechanism to implement relevant UN resolutions, and also to distinguish definitively between terrorism and resistance, and to inaugurate that distinction at the level of the United Nations and under its aegis. What makes this more timely is that some aspects of the American position, as enunciated by the Deputy Secretary of State in his threats against Syria, and also some American leaks of information that are directed against the Lebanese resistance fighters sow doubt as to whether the new elements in American policy aren't merely tactics that will disappear with the disappearance of the circumstances that necessitated them, whereupon Washington will revert to its traditional firm alignment with Israel.

               Precisely this, in fact, is the probable outcome if the official Arab position remains as it is now.

               The Lebanese authorities appear as if they had not heard of the war and do not think it a matter of any importance that it has broken out. It looks as if they do not grasp or are not conscious of the real dangers that it entails for all the world's countries and for Lebanon in particular, for reasons that one would think the Lebanese authorities would understand better than others would. For Lebanon, with its structure and the fragility of its political, economic, and social situation, with its open door and exposure to the outside world, can be the most affected of any of the countries in the region by this war and its effects and results in the short and long term.

               Despite this they act as if nothing has changed. If this were not the case, how can we explain the continuation of this monotonous official rhetoric and the boring public statements? How can we explain this indifference and frightening complacency at a time when even the details have become known of the clear warnings that Lebanon has received that can arouse no sense of complacency? How can we explain the persistence of the politics of little plots and little cliques and pestering and the blows against our freedoms while the officials continue to compete with one another over the remaining spoils, they diligently work to cripple the administration with fights over shares rather than hastening to resolve these pending issues and to take measures to get beyond the divisions that have afflicted Lebanon in recent months, and to undertake the measures demanded by fortifying the national situation so that Lebanon can confront the imminent dangers it faces with true, firm, deep-rooted unity.

               The only exception might be the movement that the Prime Minister [Rafiq Hariri] has undertaken which has not so far seen much success. It has in any case absolutely not changed the official indifference despite what has been said about the seriousness of the dangers, as we are coming to know.

               Are the officials, as usual for them, waiting for inspiration that they have become accustomed to, but which has not yet come? Have they therefore gone to sleep on their silks at a time when all countries great and small, near and far are preoccupied with fortifying their positions and determining their options to avert what they can of the threatening consequences and effects of this war?

         People of good intentions believed that the authorities delayed in order to learn the results of the Islamic Conference Foreign Ministers conference in Doha, Qatar, before they took a position fortified by the stand of all the Arab and Islamic states. But then after the conference concluded and issued the Doha Declaration, which took no position, the Lebanese authorities surprised us by saying that the Conference had adopted Lebanon's position in its entirety! So, the Doha Declaration expressed Lebanon's position!, What an unfortunate position and how unfortunate are those who declared it and welcomed it!

         The contradictions and confusion grow when we read the declarations of the American ambassador who repeated that Lebanon is in very close cooperation with the American administration and that it carries out the requests it receives from that administration!

         September 11 brings up dozens of questions and challenges that it appears now too early and unfeasible to answer. It is possible, however, to be absolutely certain now that:

      A. The United States of America has received a great slap in the face because of its own mistakes, and because of its oppression, and because of its remoteness from justice. It will certainly never succeed in its attempt to turn this slap into an expansion of its hegemony throughout the world.

      B. Terrorism, extremism, and bigotry are not useful, sound ways to resist oppression. That requires, instead, political work and work among the people - something that has become a science with its own fixed rules as well as its changing features, depending on objective stages and conditions.

      C. No one will forgive us as Arabs, countries and peoples, if we are not up to our rights and interests, first among them the right of the Palestinian people to return to their homes, their right to freedom and to establishing their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.


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