Lebanon: So much for a “strong mandate”

According to today’s Haaretz, Israel has abandoned the idea of an international force in Lebanon designed to disarm Hezbollah. What they are now talking about is a 1 km wide “demilitarized zone” along the Israeli border where Hezbollah can’t deploy, enforced by Israeli artillery over the border in Israel.

Since Hezbollah’s rockets go a lot further into Israel than that, this indicates, if the report is true, that stopping rocket attacks is no longer seen as a viable goal for this conflict. And, a demilitarized zone enforced by artillery fire has no impact on Hezbollah’s ability to undertake the kind of border skirmishes that served as pretext for this fight. So, deployment of an international force is becoming not much more than a cover for Israel to declare some form of victory in a conflict they certainly appear to be losing. So much for “strong mandates” and avoiding, in Condoleeza Rice’s words, “temporary solutions”.

Beirut’s Daily Star is offering a more optimistic outlook this morning, suggesting Israel will accept some kind of negotiated trade for its kidnapped soldiers (which it could have gotten in the first place without going to war) and that Hezbollah might agree to stop to rocket attacks on Israel in return for some sort of settlement on the Shebaa farms area, an end to Israeli harassment of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and some other outstanding issues. If either side was going to be honest in making such an agreement, an international force would hardly be necessary to keep the peace. In a true flight of fancy, the Lebanese editorialist sees such an agreement as opening the way to settlements between Israel and Syria, and to addressing Palestinian grievances. Fat chance.

Hezbollah’s chief is openly declaring the intent to continue rocket attacks even while declaring itself open to political discussions to resolve the conflict. He also admits that no one expected Israel to freak out like this. This willingness to discuss options from Hezbollah, and Israel’s apparent willingness to accept reduced demands, might be indicative of an openness to some kind of agreement, as the author of the editorial suggests. But it almost certainly means no meaningful solution.

Again, I have to ask: Why should anyone send troops to Lebanon if the intended outcome is nothing more than a restoration of the status quo ante that led to this war in the first place? If negotiation is supposed to end this conflict without actually undermining either side, then what purpose is served by a peacekeeping force with no mandate to keep the peace? Why should outsiders participate in saving face for Israel and in solidifying what will no doubt be perceived in the Middle East as a Hezbollah victory?

17 thoughts on “Lebanon: So much for a “strong mandate”

  1. The nonsense of the buffer zone is revealed by the fact that rockets can be made bigger and bigger so no area of Israel is safe.

    I suppose if they invaded and occupied all the surrounding countries (not beyond the realm of Israeli misguided thinking) then they might have an adequate if still temporary buffer zone.

    The best outcome of all this would be if Israel finally realized that might is not right and that military force will never ensure it has peace. It might then start to negotiate and decrease its highly unrealistic demands and posturing.

    They might call themselves the Children of God but the truth is that they are only very ordinary humans, just like the rest of us!

  2. Scott,

    I posted some information and links at your web site, Pedantry.

    Also put up a couple of follow up posts under your previous post.

    I understand your frustration with the Israeli mess, but I believe that you are underestimating the larger and growing problem.

    Like it or not, Israel is sending a strong message to Iran and Syria, but particularly to Iran.

    The message is not lost on Iran.

    If Israel fails in pursuing compliance with UN Security Resolution 1559, and if Iraq goes completely south, then we have a serious problem down the road. Iran’s Medieval regime and Supreme cleric will have achieved great gains in Iraq, Palestine, and Lebanon upon which it will build to create dominance throughout the Middle East within 10-15 years. Once the dominoes start collapsing, they may go down quickly.

    This is the problem that extends beyond any consideration of Israel.

    Note as well that Russia will shortly be back in Syria, complete with two naval bases and the latest surface to air missile systems.

    The overall situation is about to become rather complicated.

    The Western powers (all of them) can’t sit by and watch Iran’s Medieval cleric and ruling regime determine the future of all Middle East nation states. That would be a disaster.

    Imagine living in a Medieval society where you have watch every word you speak, whether in person, on the telephone, or computer, among other more serious considerations. The numbers of public hanging in Iran have shot up in the past three months. The regime is out of control.

    The Middle East is at risk, whether others realize it. It’s well underway. Stay tuned.

  3. Scott,

    I posted some information and links at your web site, Pedantry.

    Also put up a couple of follow up posts under your previous post.

    I understand your frustration with the Israeli mess, but I believe that you are underestimating the larger and growing problem.

    Like it or not, Israel is sending a strong message to Iran and Syria, but particularly to Iran.

    The message is not lost on Iran.

    If Israel fails in pursuing compliance with UN Security Resolution 1559, and if Iraq goes completely south, then we have a serious problem down the road. Iran’s Medieval regime and Supreme cleric will have achieved great gains in Iraq, Palestine, and Lebanon upon which it will build to create dominance throughout the Middle East within 10-15 years. Once the dominoes start collapsing, they may go down quickly.

    This is the problem that extends beyond any consideration of Israel.

    Note as well that Russia will shortly be back in Syria, complete with two naval bases and the latest surface to air missile systems.

    The overall situation is about to become rather complicated.

    The Western powers (all of them) can’t sit by and watch Iran’s Medieval cleric and ruling regime determine the future of all Middle East nation states. That would be a disaster.

    Imagine living in a Medieval society where you have watch every word you speak, whether in person, on the telephone, or computer, among other more serious considerations. The numbers of public hanging in Iran have shot up in the past three months. The regime is out of control.

    The Middle East is close to being at full risk, whether others realize it. It’s well underway.

  4. Movie, I take it you haven’t noticed the sheer number of Persian blogs? Iran has elections in which they have unexpected results. That’s a large advance on Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the UAE..

    Further, if you really believe this Dr Evil scenario, surely Russian influence in Syria is nothing but good news?

  5. Iran has elections in which they have unexpected results. That’s a large advance on Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the UAE..

    Advance? Without such advance we can live very well and some of us could even live longer.

  6. C’mon Alex that’s not much of an answer. The middle-class authors of those Persian blogs acknowledge that they are not Iran, the people who voted for Ahmadinejad are.

    The ‘unexpected’ Israeli over-reaction seems to me to indicate that it was not a reaction at all, but a response to an opportunity to pursue the US neocon agenda in the Middle East. In US eyes, Putin in Syria would be closing a short-lived window of opportunity.

    All sorts of measures will be taken to prevent Iran becoming the dominant power in the region, and Syria could end up as road-kill if it doesn’t realize that the US is navigating by a very different map.

    I’m no conspiracy theorist or lefty idealist, just a jaded observer. Europeans are in for a shock if they fail to realise that the new US programme is not limited to Republican administrations and has been long in the making.

  7. C’mon Alex that’s not much of an answer. The middle-class authors of those Persian blogs acknowledge that they are not Iran, the people who voted for Ahmadinejad are.

    So why aren’t they dead? My point is that Iran is far less tyrannous than Saudi Arabia, for example.

    The ‘unexpected’ Israeli over-reaction seems to me to indicate that it was not a reaction at all, but a response to an opportunity to pursue the US neocon agenda in the Middle East. In US eyes, Putin in Syria would be closing a short-lived window of opportunity.

    Whereas MG seems to think it would be part of Dr Evil’s plan for World Domination. That’s also the kind of “window of opportunity” that wants slamming shut on the fingers of any fool who wants to stick their hands in it, for fear they would otherwise stick their heads under it.

  8. “New US programme is not limited to Republican administrations and has been long in the making.”

    Please. This is a stupid comment. Speaking as an American let me clear something up for those people who don’t live here, but seem to think along these lines. It is not mainstream in America to pursue the installation of democracies in the Middle East (we went to Afghanistan because we were attacked, and Bush was able to get support for the Iraq fiasco because he sold it as a larger war on terror and Iraq’s WMDs; nothing about democacy until we found there were no WMDs in Iraq). Have you seen Bush’s approval ratings? His ratings on foreign policy are below 40% even with Republicans. Have you read the numerous op-eds by conservatives bashing his foreign policy as of late? And these are conservatives, not liberals who didn’t like his policies all along. His last cheerleaders is the editorial board of The Weekly Standard at the folks at the American Enterprise Institute. The Heritage Foundation (the original conservative thinktank) no longer supports him on foreign policy and fiscal issues.

    Back to the point of this particular post by Scott. It is stupid for there to be an international force if there is just going to be more fighting. However, Hezbollah has stated that if a deal can be made on the Shabba Farms, then they would demilitarize in the south of Lebanon and begin to only focus on politics. Israel should put them on the spot, and give the land (as well the Golan Heights) back to their original owners. Make the Arab governments live up to their word. If they can’t, then Israel will have the justification for their actions.

  9. MacGyver, I’m fully aware of that most Americans, even on the right, do not support this new anti-Wilsonian approach to world affairs. But I can’t help but be influenced by the public statements of Mr Clinton, Mr Gore and Ms Allbright concerning the need to use force in order to deal with Saddam’s development of WMD.

    Unlike in our case, where the government got the degree of misinformation it specified, I’m prepared to believe that the Clinton administration did not actually ask to be lied to. What I find difficult to believe is that the British intelligence services knew it was a crock of … and the US services did not. The debate in Congress on the Iraq Liberation act http://www.house.gov/paul/congrec/congrec98/cr100598.htm of 1998 makes interesting reading, with the benefit of hindsight.

    You do agree, at least, that the Bush administration had planned an attack on Iraq before 9/11? And that in the US, as in the UK, elements in the intelligence services and defence departments can at times have their own particular interpretation of the national interest?

    Ms Rice is now proposing no return to the status quo ante, yet is presumably fully aware that such a change can only be achieved by a radical transformation. I’m not saying this policy will prevail in this particular instance – just that it will be a recurring theme.

  10. Alex, sure, Iran has elections and they don’t always produce the results desired by the Guardian Council. In this case, that’s more a source of anxiety than reassurance, given Ahmadinejad’s political antecedents. I don’t think there’s anybody in Saudi with Iranian Minister of the Interior Mustafa Pour-Mohammadi’s record of mass executions.

    Sorry to divert the thread … it just seems to me that for the US and even for Israel, to the dismay of all local Lebanese forces, the conflict in Lebanon turns out to be about restraining Iranian power, not about a few rockets.

  11. John,

    I feel were having debate that meant something 3 years ago, but I’m more than willing to talk about it.

    I am very skeptical that Clinton, Gore, or Albright ever said that a land invasion of Iraq was justified in the run up to the war in 2002-ish. Afterall, they had all the power for 8 years previous, had the same exact intelligence that Bush had, and the most they ever did were missile strikes on 2-3 occasions.

    There were elements within the Bush Whitehouse who wanted this war all along (read “Assassins Gate” if you want a great background to the war and who was pushing for it, and it wasn’t Bush or Rumsfield), but they never could have sold it to the American public without September 11th.

    Elements within the CIA, DIA, NSA, and FBI were never for the war either, but civilians within the Pentagon kept manipulating the facts. Mix that with an anxiety ridden public and its easier for half-truths to prevail.

  12. Alex – “Whereas MG seems to think it would be part of Dr Evil’s plan for World Domination.”

    You can defend Iran’s supreme cleric, its president, and the entire Iran regime. That’s your priviledge. But that doesn’t change the facts regarding Iran’s many supreme cleric and national government leadership statements, stated goals, and regional/global actions. This information is available on the Internet for anyone to read. Iran’s leadership has a regional influence expansion agenda, and this point is not lost on the EU-3, G-8, Arab nations, or anyone who is well read on these subjects. Iran’s vile hatred of Israel, Jewish citizens and Jewish descendants is well documented, including supporting groups attacks on Jewish individuals worldwide.

    Where are your facts about the innocence of the Iran regime? I haven’t seen you post any. Put them up, including links. I will gladly read them with an open mind, which I can’t say appears to be your approach thus far. Don’t believe it? Try it. It might create an interesting discussion. I am willing to look at both sides of an issue.

  13. In response to the very first post, Jews call themselves the Children of God?? Im Jewish and I dont think Im better than anybody else. And by the way, Jews dont run the world, what is this, a Hitler tribute site??

  14. In response to the very first post, Jews call themselves the Children of God?? Im Jewish and I dont think Im better than anybody else. And by the way, Jews dont run the world, what is this, a Hitler tribute site??

  15. Is this the European thinking? That somehow Israel can simply hand back some land and all of these groups that have avowed to destroy Israel completely will be satisfied?

    LOL.

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