The Bush Administration continues its ghoulish support for the ongoing Israeli assault on Lebanon. We’re in favor of pounding the shit out of the country for another week until Hezbollah is supposedly vanquished or else weakened. Only then, will we be in favor of peace. This comes from the NY Times:
President Bush has brushed aside calls for an immediate cease-fire both by defending Israel’s right to defend itself and by seeking to shift the pressure for action to Syria and Iran, who are Hezbollah’s prime sponsors.
Earlier this week, in remarks to Mr. Blair picked up by an open microphone, Mr. Bush said that the United Nations should be focusing on getting Mr. Assad to “make something happen.”
American and Israeli officials have reached a consensus that Israel should be allowed to bombard Lebanon for another week or so to degrade the capabilities of the Hezbollah militia, officials of the two countries said Tuesday.
Then, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would go to the region and seek to establish a buffer zone in southern Lebanon, and perhaps an international force to monitor Lebanon’s borders and prevent Hezbollah from obtaining more rockets for bombarding Israel.
Sean McCormick, the State Department spokesman, said in a televised interview today that Ms. Rice would begin her trip “in the near future.”
But he ruled out any visit to Damascus, saying that Syria was “isolated” along with Hezbollah and Iran. Instead, Ms. Rice will work with countries he described as being interested in a permanent solution, like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
The White House spokesman, Tony Snow, said today that there was no point in talking directly to Mr. Assad “because his track record stinks.”
American officials said Tuesday that Ms. Rice was waiting at least a few more days before wading into the conflict, in part to give Israel more time to weaken Hezbollah.
You’ll notice that Condi will refuse to talk to precisely those regional players who have some impact on the hostilities (especially Syria and Hezbollah), while she’s terribly eager to talk to those who have almost no influence (Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia). Does this sound like a recipe for failure or what? It’s like a detective going to a murder scene and refusing to talk to either the prime suspect or his accomplice, and instead talking to someone who might’ve somehow seen something. It is a heartless, cynical and bankrupt approach. It deserves the universal condemnation of the world community.
Bashir Assad (not someone I admire by a longshot) meanwhile has made quite a deft diplomatic stroke by joining Lebanon in endorsing calls for a ceasefire:
Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, today called for a cease-fire in Lebanon and criticized the international community for “procrastinating” on ending the conflict…
Mr. Assad’s statement, reported by Syria’s state-run news agency, appeared to be a direct challenge to President Bush, who has decided to allow Israel to continue its attacks for another week or so, according to American and Israeli officials. Mr. Bush has singled out the Syrian president as the person best placed to end the fighting, by reining in Hezbollah.
But Mr. Assad, in a conversation today with President Recep Tayyib Erdogan of Turkey, talked instead of “how the international community is procrastinating on imposing a cease-fire and ending the crisis,” the Syrian news agency said.
I too would join the Bush Administration in calling for a more comprehensive solution to the conflict than a mere ceasefire which reinforces the status quo. But there is no reason that we can’t start with a ceasefire and then build upon that with later measures which will put in place all the changes that the parties would like to see such as the deployment of the Lebanese army or an international force along the border, along with the return of Israel’s kidnapped soldiers.
Assad has thrown the ball back into Israel’s and the U.S.’ court since they are the primary obstacles to such a ceasefire. I too would like Syria to call for the release of the hostages. But as long as the horrific violence against the entire Lebanese nation continues unabated, I’m afraid that such a hope is in vain.
The Times reports that the Lebanese death toll now tops 310, most of whom are civilians while nearly 30 Israelis have also died. Two IDF soldiers were killed in a ground incursion into Lebanon and two young boys were killed today in Nazareth.
Foreign Minister Livni responded to charges:
that Israel is guilty of “disproportionate use of force” in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon and of “collective punishment” of the civilian populations.
Israel has heard these arguments before. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said, “Proportionality is not compared to the event, but to the threat, and the threat is bigger and wider than the captured soldiers.”
Israel is confronting a regional threat, she and the government argue, which begins with Iran and Syria and their proxy, Hezbollah, and stretches to the radical Islamic Palestinian group Hamas.
Nor does Israel deliberately single out civilians, she argued, as Hezbollah and Hamas do through rocket attacks and suicide bombings. Intent matters, she said.
But in Gaza and Lebanon, civilians are inevitably harmed when militants hide among them. And in Lebanon, she said, some of the dead may be civilians associated with Hezbollah, assisting it or storing its rockets.
“Terrorists use the population and live among them,” Ms. Livni said. “It’s difficult to target like a surgery. Unfortunately, civilians sometimes pay the price of giving shelter to terrorists.” Under pressure or not, she said, citing Israeli intelligence, many civilians in southern Lebanon have Katyusha and other rockets under their beds.
“When you go to sleep with a missile,” she said, “you might find yourself waking up to another kind of missile.”
Livni’s response to the “proportionality” issue is full of fetid organic matter. The world knows this and blanches at her patently self-serving pablum. The enemy it is currently fighting in Lebanon is Hezbollah. Not Syria, Iran or Hamas. While there may be weapons designed or manufactured in Syria or Iran that are used by Hezbollah, there are no personnel from those countries fighting in Lebanon. Therefore dragging them into the argument is pathetic and self-serving. And given the armaments and tactics Hezbollah is using the Israeli response IS criminally disproportionate.
For Livni, I have one question: are the dead children ‘associated with Hezbollah?’ Were they killed because they hid Katyushas under their cribs and trundle beds? And this is how Israel expertly targets only its militant Hezbollah enemies:
In the country’s south, one shell fell inside a compound manned by the United Nations, which was sheltering 36 civilians, but no one was hurt, according to Reuters. Another shell fell on the headquarters of the United Nations battalion, Unifil, in the southern town of Naqoura. No one was harmed.
Livni and Olmert also talk of their invasion as an effort to “strengthen” the Lebanese government and its institutions. Can someone tell me how bombarding Lebanese army barracks and killing its soldiers does that:
On Tuesday, the seventh day of the face-off, Israeli warplanes battered more targets in Lebanon, killing 30 people, including 11 members of the Lebanese Army, when bombs hit their barracks east of Beirut. Four of the dead were officers, and 30 more soldiers were wounded.
Israel has created at least 500,000 refugees as well.