Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Fighting Rages On; Cease-Fire Talks Continue

As Israel expands the ground offensive into Lebanon, talks regarding a cease-fire drag on:

President Bush vowed Monday to work for a cease-fire to stop the bloodshed in the Middle East as long as several broad conditions are met, but deliberations at the United Nations quickly became tangled in a dispute between the United States and France over the right approach.

Bush insisted that any cease-fire plan establish Lebanese control over its territory, dispatch a multinational force to create a buffer zone, and require Iran and Syria to stop backing the Hezbollah militia, which is firing rockets at Israeli territory. He made no demands on Israel a day after Israeli bombs killed at least 57 people in a Lebanese village, mostly women and children, and he again rejected calls for an immediate, unconditional cease-fire.

Note: these are the conditions that must be met before a cease-fire. Not a permament end to hostilities or a flowering of peace and an end to hatred throughout the Middle East, but conditions for just stopping the shooting so people can catch their breaths. When you think about it though, this approach is pretty clever. If we actually manage to get all of those requirements met, we'd have more than a cease-fire on our hands wouldn't we? We'd have a peace likely to last for the indefinite future. But by conflating that with an immediate, unconditional cease-fire, the Bush administration admits to no possibility of a cessation of hostilities before the conditions of any agreement are met. What they call a cease-fire isn't really just a cease-fire, and they don't want us to think too hard about that. If we did, we'd realize that you can actually put an end to the shooting before you meet any of the requirements. At least, that's my theory. The other theory is they're too dumb to know the difference.

Whether we call it a cease-fire, a peace-plan or just taking a breath, the Bush administration is no hurry to get to it. The biggest sticking point is the multi-national force that will patrol southern Lebanon; as we continue to give Israel our tacit permission to bomb the snot out of Hezbollah and Lebanese civilians, we're less likely to get any of the other major powers to agree to commit troops, especially with the French calling for a cease-fire before they'll agree to any political settlement. But again, that seems to be the point for the Bush administration. Israel has certain objectives they want to meet before any cease-fire is implemented, and our only goal seems to be to stall the peace process long enough to let them do it (though there does seem to be some divergence between us and Israel as to how much longer they should have to do that.) That Israel cannot hope for a military victory over Hezbollah at this point, or that allowing the bombing to continue has inflamed the Middle East against us, is of course beside the point.

Update: Check out Hilzoy over at Obsidian Wings for a very detailed explanation of every thing that's wrong with policy on Lebanon and Israel. I can't really say it any better myself.


adam said...

That's great, and this sums it up for me:

"First, we are more or less completely isolated. As best I can tell, much of the world looks at this and thinks: yes, Hezbollah started it, and yes, that required some response. But there's no reason to think that that response had to be: the systematic destruction of an entire country. That that's what Israel chose to do -- to flatten and devastate large chunks of a country, at a horrific cost in terms of human life and uprooted civilians -- is shameful. And we not only allowed this to happen; we have more or less single-handedly blocked any diplomatic resolution of the crisis while expediting weapons shipments to Israel so that it will be able to do as much damage as possible before the diplomatic pressure becomes overwhelming. This appalls most of the rest of the world, for good reason."

Anonymous said...

Today, Mr Yishai, a member of the Israeli parliament said:

"Israel is not obliged to stand at attention and cease its operations if the United Nations decide on a ceasefire.

"We will continue to react and will not accept a ceasefire except on our conditions."

"I suppose that our American friends will use their veto in such a case,"

I think this sums it up really well.

Carl said...

What I find interesting in all this world hatred of Israel is that as horrible the deaths of these children in So. Lebanon is, Hezbollah launched rockets from among women and children. This is clear violation of international law, but our Israel hating allies and other nations refuse to note this. This is typical of terrorist cowardice. I guess if Adolf Hitler launched rockets from an orphanage in Germany at France, France would have no right to strike back.

adam said...

Well, maybe it's "hippocracy," whatever that is (a government run by hippos?), but it's certainly not hypocrisy. I don't think anyone is saying Hezbollah isn't evil, that doesn't really need to be said. However, we do need to point out when Israel has crossed the line, as they have here in their widely disproportionate killing of Lebanese civilians and utter destruction of their country to a terrorist act by a small faction of Lebanon.

Nat-Wu said...

It's funny how you hear these conservatives or zionists or whatever they are acting as if all the condemnation of Israel is unaccompanied by condemnation of Hezbollah. Does it really need to be said that nobody over here supports a terrorist organization? Although that's a rhetorical question, the answer is no (since I'm not sure you're smart enough to figure that one out).

The problem is this: people on your side of the argument have consistently ignored that 1)Hezbollah's original actions were strictly against military targets, i.e. soldiers; 2) that it was Israel that fired on civilians first and Hezbollah responded with their attacks afterward and; 3) that as the latest news tells it, there are 19 Israeli civilian deaths as compared to 477 Lebanese civilians.

Blame Hezbollah all you want for hiding behind civilians, but the truth is that it's still Israelis pulling the trigger.