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The Wild Kingdom


By Kam Zarrabi, Intellectual Discourse 


Why does history repeat itself? Simple; human nature hasn’t changed that much from the time our ancestors came down from the treetops and began to walk upright. The sapient species does exactly what its distant cousins do in the animal kingdom; we all partake in the struggle and competition for survival and dominance. And that is how life, from the lowly amoeba to man, has propagated itself in the continuous march of natural selection.


However, there is only one thing that distinguishes us humans from all the rest. Our cognitive faculties have inflicted us with a level of understanding that, in order to function properly, we require answers to the strange question, “Why?” This “why” rears its head up at every turn, demanding explanations, rationalizations and justifications for what we do, even though our animal cousins that do the same things are never bothered with such questions. When a lion challenges the aging monarch, chasing it away and taking over the deposed king’s harem and killing his cubs, naturalists and environmentalists do not interfere, therefore, allowing “nature” to maintain its own balance. The issue is not referred to the United Animals Council or some International Court of Beasts’ Justice.


Of course, we know that we are not animals. Or, are we? 


We can extrapolate with some degree of certainty that what we see recorded in our Biblical accounts about one special tribe’s trials and tribulations must be a reflection of the aspirations and actions of other tribes in other realms, dating back to the earliest times when colonies of man came in contact with rival groups.


We can learn a lot from the narratives we read in the Old Testament, Torah, for example, whether they are facts or fiction, or weather those accounts were records of oral traditions or written centuries later to rationalize and validate what would be otherwise difficult to justify. 


We read that one tribe’s god who rules the kingdom of heaven has his own “chosen” people whom he favors at everyone else’s expense. He grants his favored tribe other people’s wealth and lands, and allows them, in fact orders them, to slaughter all who resist the chosen tribe from manifesting god’s will. Their entitlement to their rival tribes’ possessions becomes, therefore, their god-given legitimate birthright.



Deuteronomy, Chapter 7:

1 When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;

2 And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:

5 But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.

6 For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.

How self-servingly convenient!


The Book of Joshua then follows, where, in obeying God’s commands, he helps manifest one people’s destiny through the merciless devastation of non-compliant nations whose populations are slaughtered and their lands and possessions taken over, all with God’s blessing!


How different are things these days?


It is recorded that when, many centuries later, Chengiz Khan the Mongol, led the Yellow Hordes westward into Central Asia and the Middle East, he sent emissaries ahead to inform the rulers and townsfolk of his intentions to pass through unhindered. He offered all the choice: they were either with him or against him. If they accepted to submit to the Khan’s will they stood the chance to be spared their lives; otherwise, it would be total devastation of lives and property. You see, Chengiz Khan was also motivated and inspired by his own tribe’s divine blessing and support.


Doesn’t that ring familiar?


Quite naturally, every tribe or nation in history has regarded itself as The people, the Original people, the Noble people, or the Chosen people. How else could a tribe or nation validate its own existence and justify whatever action it takes to confront and overcome any competitor or challenger? We can, therefore, understand why each nation considers its mission as noble and its assault against its challengers as a just war.


Again, quite naturally, a noble or chosen peoples’ quest for dominance, territorial expansion and prosperity must be perceived by that noble or chosen people as legitimate and righteous. This is exactly how each competitor in this human version of animal territoriality feels entitled to its greed-based ambitions. While our animal cousins do not need to resort to this sense of entitlement – they simply take what they can without remorse – we humans do require this self-serving rationale in order to satisfy our own righteous image.


Of course, it goes without saying that embarking upon any act of aggression in the name of a just cause or noble mission requires ample pretexts to further justify the harm caused by such acts. In the absence of true justifications, the aggressor resorts to fabricated scenarios, false evidence, or even intentional provocations in order to cover its real ambitions under the cloak of preemptive self defense or retaliation.


After this rather commonsensical dissertation on cultural anthropology, let us now examine the current situation on the ground in the Middle East.


The heads of the Group of 8 most powerful nations met in St. Petersburg, Russia, to discuss, among other things, the issue of Iran’s nuclear energy program. Meanwhile, a band of the Lebanese Hezbollah militants crossed the Lebanon/Israel border and, after doing some damage to the Israeli border post, took two Israeli soldiers as hostage.


Such cross-border episodes between the Israeli army and the Hezbollah fighters have been going on forever, and haven’t stopped since the Israeli military pulled out of South Lebanon in 2000. The Hezbollah militants have been firing short-range missiles into the Israeli border areas causing hardly any casualties, and Israel has been bombing and shelling the Lebanese side with some losses of lives. Of course, Israel being our staunch ally and friend, we prefer to believe that the Israeli attacks are always in response to unprovoked aggression from their enemy’s side. The Hezbollah, of course, claims that they are still fighting to liberate the small strip of territory attached to the Syrian Golan Heights from Israeli occupation.


A similar episode took place a couple of weeks earlier, when the Hamas fighters captured an Israeli soldier and took him hostage to exchange for the Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.


The pretext was at hand. The most powerful military in the Middle East, armed and supported by the might of the most powerful empire in the world, is unleashing its merciless assault upon the tiniest sliver of land, the Gaza Strip, containing more humans per unit of area than anywhere else in the world, while its air force and navy are destroying the infrastructure of the smallest country in the Middle East, Lebanon.  


We are told to believe that there really is no moral equivalency here. Those hundreds upon hundreds held captive in the Israeli jails, whether members of the Lebanese Hezbollah or Palestinians, all belong to terrorist groups. How could Israel, therefore, negotiate an exchange of certified terrorists for innocent soldiers?  


This is reminiscent of an anecdote: Two kids were playing a guessing game. One asks the other the question, “What is huge, has four legs, a long trunk, a pair of tusks, and is pink?” The second kid cannot come up with anything that is pink and has those characteristics. So, the first kid wins the bet by claiming that the answer was a pink elephant!


Upset about the first kid’s ad-hoc claim, the second kid then asks his question, “What is large, thick-skinned, and has a large horn on its nose, and is purple?” The first kid answers that there is no such animal in existence. “Aha;” proclaims the second kid, “it is a purple rhino. I win!” “Wait just a minute, my friend” says the first boy, “Rhinos don’t ever come in purple. You lose again.”


So, when Israel crosses the border into the Palestinian territory, captures and holds the entire Palestinian cabinet that was “democratically” elected by the Palestinians, and holds them in Israeli jails, that does not constitute act of aggression or a declaration of war. But when Hamas militants manage to capture an Israeli soldier to hold him for exchange against the Palestinians held in Israel, that does constitute an “unprovoked” act of war.  


When the Israeli military and secret service engage in training insurgents and terror groups, supplying them with arms and military intelligence information, infiltrate into the Iranian territory and provoke violence in the Kurdish northwestern Iran, not even the United Nations has anything to say about it. But, when arms and money supplied by Iran reach Lebanon through Syria, both Syria and Iran are regarded as responsible for the actions of the military flank of Hezbollah against the Israeli interests.


Israel remained in violation of a number of the UN Security Council resolutions for occupying South Lebanon for twenty years. Of course, Israel had a just cause, the “Chosen People” needed to “defend their lives!” But when the Hezbollah militants ignore the Security Council Resolution 1559 requiring them to disarm, they deserve to be punished.


Double standards? So what else is new?


Israel and, by extension the United States, consider Syria and Iran as the real culprits behind the Hamas and Hezbollah militancy. Both groups are officially listed as terror organizations by the United States and now even by a few other Western countries, particularly by the Anglo-Saxon clique. Under that logic Iran and Syria are, therefore, states that support international terrorism.


In the rest of the planet, particularly among the Islamic states, Israel is regarded as the terrorist regime and as the cause of most if not all the problems in the Middle East. That would then make the United States and its Western allies states supporters of international terrorism! While the United States President labels Iran as a member of the Axis of Evil, the Iranian regime calls the United States government The Great Satan or the Evil itself.


Wolf Blitzer, the CNN analyst, interviewed the Syrian Ambassador to the United States last Sunday. Blitzer tried several times to draw a response from the Syrian official that arms and supplies to the Lebanese Hezbollah do go through Syria. Paralyzed like a deer in the headlights of a speeding semi, he avoided the question as best he could. Of course, had he been a little less afraid of losing his job, he could have answered by turning the table and asking if Mr. Blitzer knew who supplies and supports Israel’s military might. Why is it ok for Israel, a terrorist state, to receive arms and money and diplomatic support from the West, and clandestinely acquire a huge stockpile of nuclear weapons, but it is not ok for Hezbollah and Hamas to receive support from Iran or Syria?


The answer in, of course, quite simple: Hezbollah and Hamas are terrorist groups, while Israel is a peace-loving democracy. Who says so? Why, we do! What more do you want; a global approval?


President Bush commented shortly after the Israeli attacks on Lebanon, looking his usual distant or absent self, that he holds both Syria and Iran responsible for the Hamas and Hezbollah wrongdoings. With his trademark crooked smile he pointed out that the hostilities started by the taking of the hostages and firing of missiles by the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists.


Really? Is that when the hostilities started, Mr. President?


It wouldn’t be so pitifully disappointing to watch and listen to this great nation’s President expressing his sophomoric views if it weren’t for the fact that he honestly believes what he says. 


Later this last Sunday, Wolf Blitzer had the Democratic Senator, Dianne Feinstein, and the Republican Senator, Trent Lott, on his program to comment on the escalating hostilities in the Middle East. Of course, we don’t expect anybody from the Republican side to not reflect the President’s official position. What was lacking from the Democratic Party’s side were people like Senator Joe Lieberman and  Representatives Thomas Lantos, Brad Sherman, Robert Wexler, Rick Santorum, and a few other staunch Israel supporters to create a truly balanced atmosphere!


So much for CNN, the supposedly only “liberal” alternative to the war-hungry conservative channels and radio talk show junkyard pit-bulls.


There was, however, one moment of sanity and savvy, when the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, was asked by Wolf Blitzer to comment on the current situation. Unlike the others, and most assuredly unlike his counterpart in our own administration, the academic White House mascot, Condoleezza Rice, Lavrov avoided to partake in the blame game, name calling, conjectures and allegations and, instead, went to the core issues: that is stopping the aggressions on both sides as quickly as possible and not allowing this war to escalate and broaden into a regional catastrophe.


Meanwhile, we hear that our UN Ambassador, the Israel firster, John Bolton, is, like his boss, against a resolution for Israel to scale back its all out assault on Lebanon.


Okay. Now let’s go back to our Cultural Anthropology reference manual and try to figure out what’s going on in that volatile area of the Blue Planet.


Could it be that, as was the case with the invasion of Iraq, this current explosion has also been on the drawing boards for some time, waiting for just the right flashpoint to ignite? That flashpoint was provided by the errant Hezbollah military wing at the Israeli border, which left Israel with no other option but to unleash its might against Lebanon, with our blessing, of course.


Now, let us stretch it a little farther. Could it be, perhaps, that the long drawn-out stalemate between the United States (Israel) and Iran over the nuclear proliferation issue, and even more importantly, Israel’s concerns about Iran’s support for the Palestinian resistance groups, the troublemakers for Israel, could no longer be tolerated. We (Israel), therefore, couldn’t wait for some fortuitous incident to initiate the implementation of the final solution to all the problems: Hamas, Hezbollah, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran. The cross-border incursion by the Hezbollah militants would have served as the perfect trigger mechanism. Could it just be that, perhaps, the Israeli intelligence had something to do with that? They have done much stranger things in the past.


Well, now if Israel sees fit to also blockade Syria’s Mediterranean ports in order to prevent military supplies from Iran to reach Syria and be funneled into Lebanon (a good excuse), that would be tantamount to a declaration of war. This might easily lead to a Syrian/Israeli military engagement.


Iran has just repeated that any attack on Syria would have “unimaginable” consequences. So, whether or not such rhetoric is taken as boisterous chest-thumping or real threats that Iran would get involved in such eventuality, any meaningful blow against Israel by the Syrian forces will be regarded as an assault by Iran.


Should this scenario come to pass, the United States (Israel) would have ample reasons to claim that the devastation of the Middle East and the wholesale massacre of the people was for a just cause and a noble mission, all in self-defense.


The only question that remains in my mind is whether the path our nation has been led to take is likely to lead to a better, more secure and prosperous future for us and our children. Let’s forget about our Cultural Anthropology lessons and ask ourselves a pragmatic question. We understand that our current policy in the Middle East and toward the Islamic World is a Godsend formula for Israel’s regional agendas. But what about us; what about America and the Americans’ best interests? Isn’t there anybody out there worrying about us rather than trying to hold on to their own jobs as congressmen or cabinet members?


Does our President realize what kind of “shit” he’s got us into? Somebody please wake him up before it is too late.


You see, this is why of the hundreds of stations on my satellite television I prefer to only watch The Animal Planet or The Wild Kingdom programs. Folks, you can learn a lot by watching your distant ancestors.


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