Finally. A western leader who will buck the code of silence invoked by Israel and the U.S. to perpetuate the ongoing mayhem in Lebanon. Haaretz reports that Tony Blair and Kofi Annan have jointly called for the deployment of an international force to guarantee the peace between Israel and Lebanon:
British Prime Minister Tony Blair and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan on Monday called for the deployment of an international force in southern Lebanon in order to end the conflict between Israel.
Speaking at the Group of Eight leaders summit in St. Petersburg Blair said such intervention by the international community could be the only way to end the crisis, Sky TV said.
“The blunt reality is that this violence is not going to stop unless we create the conditions for the cessation of violence,” Blair said after talks with Annan on the margins of the Group of Eight summit.
“The only way is if we have a deployment of international forces that can stop bombardment coming into Israel,” he said.
What neither man makes clear is how this new force would differ from the UN forces which currently serve in southern Lebanon. Their purpose I thought was to do precisely what the new force would do. So what would the new entity do differently than the previous one? Would it be well-armed and equipped and have a muscular mandate to maintain the peace?
Anyway, at least it’s a start. But please God residents of other European nations (especially France, which is supposed to have a “special relationship” with Lebanon) will begin to clamor for a resolution to the conflict and and demand that they lobby the Bush Administration to get down off its high horse and DO SOMETHING!
But Bush’s statements at the G8 summit give further cause for alarm. This is how the NY Times characterized them:
The Bush administration on Sunday appeared to give Israel tacit approval to cripple Hezbollah, casting the widening conflict in the Middle East in terms of a wider war on terrorism.
This is precisely the problem with Bush’s thinking on the Mideast and global terrorism. Instead of seeing regional conflicts like the Israeli-Arab dispute in their own terms, he only sees them as ‘writ small’ versions of the war on terror. The problem with this world view is that it allows for no understand or sensitivity to the unique particular aspects of these conflicts. If you do not understand the specific grievances of Israelis, Palestinians, etc. but rather see it all through the lens of “terror” you miss everything that might allow you to play a constructive role in bringing peace. So, the Bush position is essentially hopeless as far as that is concerned. The policy, such as it is, is dead in the water. And Bush’s face in the photo above is a perfect mirror of the dead-end nature of the current U.S. approach.
Ms. Rice and other officials repeatedly noted Iran’s support of Hezbollah — the Iranians appear to have supplied many of the rockets that have hit Haifa, other areas of Israel and perhaps an Israeli ship — and some administration officials said they saw this as the moment to damage the link between Iran and Syria and the Hezbollah fighters who appear to operate with impunity in southern Lebanon.
At the same time, American officials were careful in their accusations against Iran, stopping short of saying that nation inspired the current outbreak of violence. But several officials noted that the crisis had distracted the leaders from what, just days ago, appeared to be one of their main agenda items — pressing Iran to suspend its production of nuclear material in exchange for a broad economic incentives deal offered by Europe and the United States. Several officials suggested that the Iranian leadership might see the renewal of fighting as a chance to demonstrate how it could strike back at American interests in the region, both in Israel and in Iraq.
I find support here for my earlier post arguing that the U.S. sees Israel in the current Lebanon conflict as its proxy in a wider war (or war to come) against Iran. That is why it doesn’t want to the war to end. The more Hezbollah is bloodied, the greater damage is done to Iran. At least that’s the way the theory might work if you were George Bush, Dick Cheney or Don Rumsfeld and dumb enough to believe it.
Though I do not support Iran’s position regarding its nuclear program, I have to admit that in a tactical sense it is sittin’ pretty right about now. As the passage above notes, the G8 was supposed to deal with future strategy against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Hezbollah, and by extension Iran, has effectively seized the initiative and the agenda from Bush.
Here’s some more doublespeak from Condi Rice which conveniently rewrites recent Mideast history:
“We have a new day in the Middle East, and it is a day in which the people of the Middle East, the people of Lebanon without Syrian forces there, the people of the Palestinian territories with a democratic leader in Mahmoud Abbas, are seeking to find a democratic future,” Ms. Rice said. “We’re standing with all responsible parties in the region and with moderate parties in the region who want a Middle East that is different than the 30-plus years of — really, 60-plus years — of Middle East history.”
You’ll find no mention there of Hamas, which also won a legitimate democratic election. Nor of Hezbollah, which ran and won a sizable number of seats in Lebanon’s parliament. So she’s really saying she doesn’t believe in full-on democracy. She believes in democratic processes that provide the U.S. the result it wants to see. If an election produces an “irresponsible, immoderate” (according to the U.S.’ definition of course) party then we will simply ignore the democratic nature of their victory and deny them legitimacy despite the fact that they engage in precisely the processes which we call for and endorse. What utter hypocrisy!
I wonder if there is a way for all Palestinians and Israeli’s to gather along the outer boarders of their countries, areas and bow to pray if that would send a message to All Official Leaders to stop the killing madness because the people they are representing don’t want unrest but to live side by side in peace. It would be an act of sheer courage and faith. What if the whole world could bend down and kneel in prayer at the same time and end this conflict without the talking heads that can’t seem to do anything but fight? Could the Internet be used to get something like this going and bring the world to a quiet and peaceful stop and end the blood shed? If we organize a time around the world to all stop and bow to the earth and pray for peace, could we collectively gain it? Just a childlike, positive thought.
Jake Hayman says
OneVoice is a grassroots, non-partisan Israeli-Palestinian group working to empower moderates to stand up against extremism and seize back the agenda for conflict resolution. At a time when extremists are once again dominating the agenda, its need to exist and to deliver could not be more crucial.
From OneVoice Youth Leaders, Saed Bilbeisi and Elad Dunayevsky
Dear International Friends of OneVoice,
There are rockets flying into Israel’s Northern towns as far down as Haifa as we write this, while the people of Gaza are in fear for their homes and lives, without electricity and running water. People are suffering, people are dying and people are afraid. It’s a crisis. We are writing to tell you though not to give up on us, or to give up on hope for an end to the conflict.
The situation today makes it very difficult to talk about conflict resolution – to see an end to the conflict. Sometimes it is easy to see the light at the end of the tunnel, at the moment the tunnel is dark. But this crisis and this conflict will end, and we say that with sobriety and rationality. As much as we feel helpless today, as rational people we must see any crisis as an opportunity to rise up and overcome the reasons that brought that crisis.
The situation will come to an end, when we do not know. In the meantime both people suffer so badly. Believe us that no-one is happy with this life. We want everyone around the world to know that we, and many friends and colleagues like us at OneVoice, are working to change this situation. We are ready. We are ready to do anything necessary to help end this situation. We have done so many activities and introduced so many people to OneVoice and it always gives them hope and energy. We can not and will not lose all of this however hard it is at this moment. We will strive to improve this life.
A resolution to the conflict may seem like a dream, but let us dream it and keep helping us do whatever we have to do to make it a reality. The day will never come when Israelis and Palestinians are prepared to accept living with this situation. How far we are from the day when we have a situation we will accept is hard to say, but we will work for it, even as the fighter jets and rockets go overhead, we will work for it.
Saed and Elad
Saed has been involved with OneVoice for around a year. He visits the OneVoice office to meet with other youth leaders and staff at least once a week and has even pioneered his own workshops on OneVoice in Ramallah, which have recruited many new volunteers. He spoke about OneVoice in Synagogues, community centers and campuses during OneVoice’s International Education Program tour to Canada.
Elad has also been volunteering for around a year. He uses his Arabic and Hebrew language skills to speak with both Arabs and Jews about the work of OneVoice and has served to educate and recruit activists in the Region and also in the US, where he spoke at over 10 venues on behalf of OneVoice during their International Education Program tour to New York.
Wow, OneVoice sounds wonderful. I will say a prayer for all that are caught up in this fight and hope for a peaceful outcome. Communication is the best gift OneVoice can give and please keep giving it.