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!