Condi Rice is gearing up for some major diplomatic efforts to resolve the Lebanon crisis. She takes off for the Mideast on Sunday. I’m being a bit presumptuous in assuming that a diplomatic mission that has hardly begun will fail. But I’m afraid that it must. And even if she does broker some sort of agreement (doubtful as that may be), I do not see any way it can succeed in the long run. I say this for several reasons. First, the U.S. is no longer an honest broker in either the Israeli-Hezbollah or Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is a partisan of one side over the other. This will make Hezbollah and Syria lackadaisical in enforcing the provisions of the agreement that apply to them.
Second, (and perhaps most important) what will we give to the Syrians and Hezbollah? Any negotiation has to provide perceived benefits to both parties. So what benefit will it provide to the Arab parties? Will Rice broker Israeli recognition of Syria and a return of the Golan Heights? Highly doubtful. Will she even manage a turnaround in U.S. spiteful rhetoric toward Syria? How can she given that Syria’s totalitarian government violates every precept of the tarnished Bush vision for Mideast democracy. Can the U.S. become lovey dovey with a regime that represents much of the worst of the worst that Arab government has to offer? As for Hezbollah, what do we offer them? A chance to end the Israeli slaughter of Lebanese innocents? Not very appealing I’m afraid since every dead civilian further tarnishes Israel’s reputation throughout the world.
Unless of course, Condi believes she can bypass both Syria and Hezbollah and impose a settlement on them without their consent. This would be a foolhardy plan but given Bush’s penchant for unilateralism it is not unlikely he would believe it could somehow succeed.
Condi’s been telling the world she refuses to support an immediate ceasefire:
“I have no interest in diplomacy for the sake of returning Lebanon and Israel to the status quo ante,” Ms. Rice said Friday. “I could have gotten on a plane and rushed over and started shuttling around, and it wouldn’t have been clear what I was shuttling to do.”
A bestial position that will cause further death and misery in Lebanon. The reason she won’t support such a position: she’s holding out for a far-reaching framework which will once and for all solve the problem of “terror” for Israel on its northern border. Nice words. But rather meaningless. How will she achieve this long-term solution unless she’s willing to put something on the table for the Arab parties? And I just don’t see anything that she’d offer which would be appealing.
Condi, don’t waste those frequent flier miles. Stay home. That’s of course a flippant and cynical response. I hope that she can broker a compromise that silences the guns on both sides. But I’m very doubtful.
Further evidence of our destructive impact on the conflict is the NY Times report that the U.S. plans to expedite a shipment of highly advanced missiles for Israel to use on Lebanese targets:
The Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, American officials said Friday.
The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration, the officials said. Its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way that could be compared to Iran’s efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah.
The munitions that the United States is sending to Israel are part of a multimillion-dollar arms sale package approved last year that Israel is able to draw on as needed, the officials said. But Israel’s request for expedited delivery of the satellite and laser-guided bombs was described as unusual by some military officers, and as an indication that Israel still had a long list of targets in Lebanon to strike…
Pentagon and military officials declined to describe in detail the size and contents of the shipment to Israel, and they would not say whether the munitions were being shipped by cargo aircraft or some other means. But an arms-sale package approved last year provides authority for Israel to purchase from the United States as many as 100 GBU-28’s, which are 5,000-pound laser-guided bombs intended to destroy concrete bunkers. The package also provides for selling satellite-guided munitions.
An announcement in 2005 that Israel was eligible to buy the “bunker buster” weapons described the GBU-28 as “a special weapon that was developed for penetrating hardened command centers located deep underground.” The document added, “The Israeli Air Force will use these GBU-28’s on their F-15 aircraft.”
How can Rice and her spokespeople look at the world with a straight face when they claim that they call on Israel not to harm civilians or ‘civilian infrastructure.’ Do they imagine that our bombs will not do precisely that? Have they been reading about the 400 Lebanese civilians killed by Israel’s “precision” weaponry? How can we claim we want to broker a ceasefire of any sort when we’re pumping Israel with iron for the long haul? Does the Bush Administration think that the Arabs and the rest of the world are stupid and can’t see through the subterfuge??
Besides, as Mark A. LeVine points out, how are we any different than those Arab nations we accuse of stoking Hezbollah with weapons? If we wish to fulminate about the long hand of Syria or Iran in Lebanon which aids and abets Hezbollah terror, then why can’t the Arabs fulminate about us doing precisely the same thing.