Mon Jul 31, 2006 17:4

As if on cue…

Tom Mysiewicz

The calculated madness of the Israeli incursion into Lebanon, the attacks on ambulances, columns of civilians, bridges, power plants, Shiites, Sunnis, Druze, Christians and just about everything that moves—and now the horrendous "bunker buster" attack on a building in Qana filled mostly with child refugees--may simply be a gambit to create a humanitarian crisis of such a degree in Lebanon that the world will rush to allow a strong UN, NATO or other “peacekeeping” force to enter the country. Such an eventuality, while in the interest of Israeli planners and of great benefit in a future war against Iran and Syria, would be a serious error for the participants as well as the victims. For a "peacekeeping" force is no substitute for strict international sanctions on Israel (including an embargo on WMDs and weapons capable of being used on civilian populations).

For starters, the UN (and Israel's proxy, the U.S., through John Bolton) has demonstrated that the UN cannot and will not be a force for peace in the region, rather, it will be a cynical partisan force masquerading as "peacekeepers"--sent into the region only to take the heat off the Israelis and disarm Hezbollah. It will merely embroil the participants--who will in no way be able to fight the Israelis--in the Mid East conflict. (No more than the current lightly-armed UN border guards!)

After the deliberate targeting of a UN observer outpost, in which four (4) unarmed UN observers were essentially murdered, the UN could not even generate a Security Council resolution critical of Israel. As with Qana, the UN will allow Israel to "investigate itself" on this matter. Ignoring Qana, at the same time, the UN Security Council had no problem generating a resolution demanding Iran abandon its nuclear program under threat of sanctions. (And, watching the current Israeli and U.S. actions, would YOU abandon your nuclear program under these conditions?)

Why a "peacekeeping" force? Stationing a “peacekeeping” force in Lebanon would be an effective buffer against an Iranian/Syrian counterattack in the probable event of an Israeli air/missile/nuclear strike on Iran. An infantry counterattack by Iran would be blocked by the “peacekeepers” who, in the meantime, would “mop up” Hezbollah—another threat to Israel in the event it attacks Iran. Remember that this idea was first floated after the VERY suspicious assassination of Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri, and the expulsion of the Syrians (who were real peacekeepers) from Lebanon by the contrived "Cedar Revolution". As I pointed out in my article at the time, “La Brea in Lebanon” (Media Monitors, March 11, 2005) such forces would be for the participants the equivalent of the tar pits of La Brea for prehistoric animals.

From the "get go" a UN force would not be backed up should it interfere in Israel in any meaningful way. And if it got into trouble, John Bolton would block any resolution by the UN Security Council. (Predicted more than a year ago by me in "A Time for Bolton?" Media Monitors, June 7th, 2005). If, through some miracle, any resolution was forced on the U.S., President Bush could simply cut off payment of U.S. dues to the UN, effectively shutting down that world body.

Thus, a NATO, UN or any other force would ONLY be there to disarm Hezbollah and buffer against a potential Iranian/Syrian land attack. They would be perceived as occupiers, NOT “peacekeepers”, for this very reason, just as U.S. Marines were in Lebanon in 1983. Initially, the Marines were well received and protected Lebanese from Israeli soldiers on numerous occasions (reportedly earning them taunts from IDF soldiers). On orders from Washington, however, U.S. Naval gunfire was directed on Hezbollah positions to assist the Israeli-backed paramilitary forces in a skirmish. Once the Marines were no longer seen as neutral, their aura of protection seemed to vanish and the inevitable happened. They were blown to “kingdom come”.

It has been said that exactly repeating the same action but expecting a different result is the classic definition of insanity. Following the insane Bush-Blair-Olmert course of “peacekeeping” can only lead to attacks on “peacekeepers”—both from Lebanese partisans and Mossad agent provocateurs—that will draw the participants and the world community deeper into the Mid East morass, reluctantly, but on the side of the Israelis.

The Israeli attack on Lebanon has served to unify the people of that country. Given a chance to rebuild, incorporate Hezbollah military units as part of the regular Lebanese army, and get on with their lives, I think the Lebanese will do so.


Still wrong for the UN
The New York Times

Published: July 30, 2006
When President George W. Bush nominated John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations last year, we argued that this convinced unilateralist and lifelong disparager of the United Nations should not be confirmed. The Senate agreed. Bush sent him to New York anyway, using the constitutional end run of a recess appointment. That appointment expires in January.

Now the Senate is being asked to confirm Bolton again. With one of last year's critics, George Voinovich, Republican of Ohio, having recently changed sides, confirmation seems more likely. But after a year of watching Bolton at work, we still believe the Senate should reject his nomination.

As ambassador, Bolton's performance has been more restrained than many of his opponents feared. He has, as far as we know, faithfully carried out any instructions he was given. And on some issues, like this spring's botched reform of the United Nations' human-rights monitoring body, Bolton was right not to accept a bad result.

But overall, American interests at the UN have suffered from Bolton's time there. At a time when a militarily and diplomatically overstretched Washington needs as much international cooperation as it can get - on Iraq, on Iran, on North Korea and now on the latest fighting between Israel and Lebanon - Bolton is a liability, not an asset at the United Nations.

No ambassador, however tactful and multilateral-minded, can persuade other countries to change their votes on high-profile issues in the face of contrary instructions from their home governments. But some of the most important business that goes on in the UN does not fall into that category. On a wide range of issues - winning the support of smaller countries for needed management reforms, mobilizing a strong international coalition to halt genocide in Darfur, attracting wider European support for stabilization and economic development in Iraq - an effective ambassador can make a huge difference.

Bolton, by temperament and conviction, is far too dismissive of the results that can be achieved by this kind of traditional diplomacy. That is what makes him the wrong man for the job. America desperately needs to repair the alliances and relationships damaged by the shoot-from-the-hip diplomacy of the Bush first term.


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