Saturday, July 15, 2006
History In The Making
"In my judgment, the best way to stop the violence is to understand why the violence occurred in the first place," Bush said. "And that's because Hezbollah has been launching rocket attacks out of Lebanon into Israel and because Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers."There is an interesting account of the UN meeting on the web. It's long:
President Bush, on a trip to Russia, said it was up to Hezbollah "to lay down its arms and to stop attacking." Arab foreign ministers gathered in Cairo but fell into squabbling after moderate states, led by Saudi Arabia, denounced Hezbollah for starting the fight.
...Lebanon's representative said the Council was meeting “in the shadow of a widespread barbaric aggression waged by Israel at this very moment against my nation”. He warned that Israel's destruction of vital bridges, roads and buildings, and the killing and maiming of hundreds of Lebanese civilians “will not resolve the problem, but will further complicate it”.A sovereign nation cannot announce that it has no responsibility for what happens in its own territory. That's where I keep getting stuck. It's not enough to say "oops". It just isn't. If Israel cannot hold Lebanon responsible for attacks on Israel by Lebanon's citizens mounted from Lebanese territory, then anyone who wants to can attack Israel from Lebanon with impunity. According to the UN's Under-Secretary for Peace-Keeping Operations, Guéhenno, Israel's conditions for a cease-fire are that its two soldiers be returned. That amounts effectively to a demand that Lebanon assert at least veto power over the operations of Hizbollah in Lebanese territory.
He said the Israeli Government had held Lebanon responsible for Hizbollah's acts, even though the Lebanese Government had issued a statement on 12 July, declaring that it was not aware of the incident, that it did not take responsibility for it, and did not endorse what had happened. Israel's subsequent aggression undermined Lebanon's sovereignty and attempts to exercise its authority over its entire territory, he said, calling on the Council to take a clear decision to establish a ceasefire and to end the air and sea blockade imposed on Lebanon.
Israel's' representative said that Hizbollah terrorists continued to act with impunity in southern Lebanon. They had carried out their heinous acts and then retreated to the Hizbollah stronghold in southern Lebanon. Israel had to respond, as any sovereign Government would, to the assault that had been carried out against it on a scale that had not been seen in recent years. Israel's actions had been in direct response to Hizbollah's actions, he declared, stressing that Israel had targeted Hizbollah strongholds and infrastructure, not civilian targets.
Unfortunately, since Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, the Lebanese Government had chosen to succumb to terror, rather than vanquish it, and to relinquish control of its country, rather than exercise it sovereignty. It had become a country held hostage and tormented by decades of sectarian strife, political assassinations, full-fledged civil war and Syrian control. He said the Council had a duty to help the Lebanese people achieve the goal of a free, prosperous and democratic Lebanon. It was up to the Council and the international community to see that the opportunity was seized, for the sake of generations to come.
I don't see any brokered solution here unless the UN were to come in to Lebanon and stop attacks on Israel, and everyone knows that it will not because they would take extremely heavy casualties if they tried. The UN's calls for Israel to restrict its attacks to "military" targets are ridiculous, because when your attackers don't wear uniforms and operate from civilian areas, there are no uniquely military targets. This amounts to a demand by the UN that Israel just sit, tolerate attacks within its borders and artillery barrages, and not respond. No country in the world would do that. But that is, of course, exactly what is being asked of Israel by people like this, and it amounts to a demand that Israel stand quietly and politely in front of the firing squad.
Perhaps the most moderate ones in all this are the Israelis themselves, who are very accustomed to being shot and bombed, as this Haaretz editorial shows:
Israel cannot and should not come to terms with a blatant violation of its sovereignty, along either the Lebanese or the Gaza borders. The launching of Qassam and Katyusha rockets at Israeli citizens in Sderot and the Galilee is unacceptable; the sole question is, what is the best way of stopping them.But it will never be possible unless the international community can rouse itself to insist that a sovereign nation must take responsibility for attacks launched by its citizenry from its own territory. And if Lebanon cannot physically do that and yet Lebanon will agree that this should be done and that this is their government's intent, then it will require armed intervention of outside powers to enforce that intent. That will not happen unless Hezbollah supporters in Lebanon, Syria and Iran are willing to prevent Hizbollah from attacking these forces. I do not see that Israel has any diplomatic options whatsoever at this time. The diplomatic ball lies with the world and most especially with the Islamic world, and no amount of yammering at the UN can change that.
After the government has authorized the Israel Defense Forces to use massive force and marked dozens of targets for attack in Lebanon - the Beirut airport being only the first, according to Interior Minister Roni Bar-On; after Lebanon has been placed under siege from land, sea and air, and after dozens of civilians have been killed, it would not be a sign of weakness for Israel to declare a time-out in its military assault in order to allow the Lebanese to reach their own conclusions.
If it is possible to achieve our security goals through diplomacy, a temporary cease-fire should be declared - and hopefully, these aims can be achieved without inflaming the entire region.