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May 2002 • Vol 2, No. 5 •

A Tale of Two Occupations

Mumia Abu-Jamal

“Fervor is the weapon of choice of the impotent.” (Dr. Frantz Fanon)

A president orders his armed forces across a neighboring border, into foreign territory, to occupy the land of another people.

On the face of it, this is a clear, and unquestionable violation of International Law, is it not?

Well, the answer to this conundrum is—it depends.

When Iraqi president Saddam Hussein sent his military forces into the neighboring land of Kuwait, (although he did so after assurances from the resident American Ambassador that such a move was of no import to Americans), the global, corporate press decried the invasion as an act in clear violation of international law, and the Iraqi head-of-state was likened to a “Hitler,” or “Mussolini,” or worse.

When Israeli president Ariel Sharon sent his military forces into the neighboring land of Palestine, the global, corporate press was virtually mum as to whether this invasion constituted a breach of international law, and the U.S. President hailed the Israeli head-of-state as a “man of peace.”

When Iraq invaded its Kuwait neighbor, it was only after it received a tacit OK from the Americans. The reason for the invasion was Iraqi anger at Kuwait’s practices of what’s called “slant drilling” into oil resources on Iraqi soil (under it, actually).

When Israel invaded its Palestinian neighbors, it was only after it, too, received the tacit OK from the Bush administration. Ostensibly, the Israeli re-occupation and increased military presence in Palestinian territories is an attempt to “stop terrorism.”

When Iraq’s president refused to acquiesce to U.S. demands that his forces withdraw, the U.S. began a punishing bombing campaign that continues to this day (over 10 years later!).

When Israel’s president refuses to acquiesce to U.S. requests that his forces withdraw, there is a polite shuttle diplomacy of top State Department figures, who pose shaking hands, smiling, and slapping backs. There is no tough talk, no military intervention, and no intention of things developing in that direction.

When one looks at this stark dichotomy of responses, the question of necessity emerges, “What’s up?” Why does the U.S. react one way in one situation, and quite another, in a related situation?

The naive among us might reply, “Well, one country is our friend; and the other was our enemy. It’s obvious, ain’t it?”

Well, no.

At the time of the Kuwait invasion, the U.S. and Iraq were not enemies. Iraq was, in everything but name, a client state, buying a large share of U.S. weapons, especially to prosecute the brutal war against its Shi’ite neighbor, Iran (not to mention its brutal war against internal ethnic minorities, like the Kurds).

Nor is this schizophrenic response due to American warmth toward the Kuwaitis, or an opposite coolness toward the Palestinians.

Ultimately, this fractured set of responses can be measured, not in feet, nor miles, but in tonnage.


If Iraq were to successfully control the oil-rich fields of Kuwait (the British used to call Kuwait an oil derrick with a flag), it would emerge as a serious rival to Saudi Arabia as a leading oil exporter, and a nation that could call its own tune to the world’s biggest oil customer—the United States.

The Palestinians are a beautiful, brave, aggressive, and beleaguered people, who, like their Jewish tormenters, were scattered to the winds of the earth by the repression and lebensraum (land hunger) of the Zionists. Their population is among the most educated in the Middle East, their poetry and other productions in the arts rival that of any of their neighbors in the Arab world.

But they have no oil.

This is the reason the well-paid-for media whores of the networks, their political bosses on Capitol Hill, and the moneyed interests that controls them all won’t lift a finger to help a people crushed into the sandy soil of Palestine. It’s not worth it.

It doesn’t make, uh—cents.





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