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Photos and text, unless otherwise noted, Copyright 2003,2004,2005,2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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Consider:

"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"







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Friday, 11 August 2006
Compromise
Topic: Breaking News
Compromise
It's over? That's what the Associated Press reported late Friday evening, August 11 - the UN Security Council adopted a resolution that calls for an end to the war between Israel and Hezbollah. The resolution authorizes fifteen thousand UN peacekeepers to help Lebanese troops take control of south Lebanon, and oddly, as Israel withdraws. They don't get to stay. But it has, after all, been four weeks or more since this all started, and something had to be done. More than eight hundred are dead, mostly civilians, and Lebanon's infrastructure is pretty much destroyed, and all this displaced hundreds of thousands of people, and "inflamed tensions" (the AP folks doing understatement) across the Middle East. The resolution was drafted by France and the United States. It was adopted unanimously. Enough is enough.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert endorsed the resolution late Friday, after a day of what seemed like brinksmanship - a threat to expand the ground war and a public request for the United States to ship over some of those massive antipersonnel cluster bombs. Lebanon's cabinet was to consider the draft on Saturday, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the Lebanese government assured her that it supported the text. And she said so on CNN, not Fox News, to show, one must presume, that she's being as fair as possible. Wolf Blitzer scoops Bill O'Reilly. Who'd have guessed that would happen?

There still is the matter of when to implement this all. Israel said its go-get-'em operations would continue until Sunday - that's when its cabinet will meet to endorse the resolution. And it seems they will. Early Saturday the tanks, troops and armored personnel carriers were still pouring over the border, that "blue line" that seemed to disappear for a month. Kofi Annan said he planned to meet Lebanese and Israeli officials "as soon as possible" to determine the exact date of a cease-fire. Is it over? It's sort of over, maybe.

Rice was saying the "hard work of diplomacy" was "only beginning" - it would be unrealistic to expect an immediate end to all violence, and said that we'd be increasing our assistance to Lebanon by fifty million dollars, and demanded other nations just stop interfering in Lebanon's affairs. Yep, if Iran and Syria keeps sending in replacement rockets and such we might get really mad.

Kofi Annan admitted the whole world has been frustrated, and he had been - "I would be remiss if I did not tell you how profoundly disappointed I am that the council did not reach this point much, much earlier." But better late than never - even if the American neoconservatives don't agree.

Some demands just weren't met. Forget the Lebanese objections - Israel will be allowed to continue defensive operations. Arab diplomats suspect the Israeli military will interpret "defensive operations" very loosely. And there's the mater of Chebaa Farms along the Syria-Lebanon-Israel border - that's for later. And Israel won't get its wish - an entirely new multinational force separate from the UN peacekeepers that have there since 1978, with no authority to stomp on Hezbollah when the drop rockets into northern Israel. And Lebanon's acting foreign minister, Tarek Mitri, is not a happy camper - they'll buy into this but allowing Israel to continue operations in any way is crap - "A cease-fire that by its terms cannot be implemented is no cease-fire. A cease-fire that retains the right for one side the right not to cease firing is not a cease-fire."

Picky, picky, picky… And there's no call for the release of Lebanese prisoners held by Israel or any sort of demand for the "immediate" withdrawal of Israeli troops. The thing only says there's a "need" for the "unconditional release" of the two Israeli soldiers captured July 12, the thing that's stared this all. It's not one of the step here. It just would help, but it's not required.

Like all compromises, no one gets everything they want. Britain's Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said to look at it this way - "The question is, has everybody got enough for this to stick and for it to be enforceable?"

We'll see. This has been going on far too long. Israel and the Palestinians at it - Hezbollah formed after the 1967 war to fight back. Qatar's Foreign Minister - Hamad bin Jassem Al Thani - said the Arab states would be submitting formal requests for a Security Council meeting in September to work out a new regional peace plan. Enough of this foolishness - it's not good for anyone.

Glenn Greenwald, the attorney and the fellow who wrote the best-seller How Would A Patriot Act?, calls this "a bizarre end to a bizarre war" and discusses the political-policy implications of what happened here -
Hezbollah would not be disbanded nor disarmed, and its re-supply route from Syria would neither be destroyed nor impeded. Given the grand pronouncements with which this war began - that Hezbollah would be destroyed, that it was the start of the epic war of civilizations - any honest person (and even many who are not honest) would acknowledge that this is a defeat for Israel and for neoconservative dreams of a wider war. As a result, many in Israel are predicting, and vigorously calling for, the resignation of Israel's Prime Minister.

The disappointment and anger of neoconservatives over this ignominious end must be severe, and it is almost certain to be a source of very intense conflict between them and the Bush administration.
And he provides links to various sources - Israelis calling for Olmert to resign and over at the influential National Review, John Podhoretz saying he should go, adding this - "I'm tempted to suggest that our government, having seemingly lost its will to oppose (or even to let others oppose) our deadliest enemies, deserves the same fate. But let's wait until the facts are in."

Get rid of George Bush? These guys aren't happy. Rich Lowry here quotes an Israeli source as saying that this is the "worst defeat for Israel since 1948," and adds this - "When it comes to UN resolutions in the Middle East is that they either simply reflect the facts on the ground, or make the victor give away a little bit of his victory; they never let someone pull victory out of a hat from defeat. So Israel will ultimately get from this resolution what they won on the ground, which is to say not much."

John Podhoretz earlier had said the resolution will mean that "Israel and the United States will be handing Hezbollah a victory. And Israel will have lost a war for the first time - and probably not the last." Olmert agrees to the cease-fire. He's a coward.

Greenwald -
When this all started, neoconservatives were in full bloodthirsty glory, salivating over the complete obliteration of Hezbollah and much of Southern Lebanon, as the start of the "great opportunity" - "our war" - in which we would do the same to Syria and Iran. Instead, they got a joint U.S.-French UN resolution engineering a cease-fire dependent upon French troops protecting Israel from the Hezbollah militia, and even Israeli hawks lamenting the humiliation suffered at the hands of Hezbollah (assuming Hezbollah, which clearly has the strongest hand here, agrees to all of this).

Watching Fox News right now discussing this is like being at a wake. … The neoconservative dream for broader war, at least for the moment, has collapsed on its shattered foundations. Nobody should consider a Hezbollah victory to be anything remotely a cause for celebration; that should go without saying. But the plan the neoconservatives harbor - and thought they were finally able to execute - is as dangerous a threat as anything else in the world, and anything which puts a stop to it, and which drives a wedge between them and their enablers in the Bush administration, is something which, independent of all else, is a constructive development.

… I view this war and the end of it as "bizarre" because the war's ambitions were so grand and sweeping from the start - the amount of brutality and slaughter required to accomplish them were far in excess of what could be tolerated - that it was almost designed to fail from the start. One could say exactly that of the general neoconservative view on all matters…
No Cheney neoconservative will really want Rice's head on a platter - and she gave the interview to CNN, not Fox News. Oh my, or as Donald Rumsfeld would say, "Good Gracious!"

Bill Montgomery adds this about Israel's position now, and ours -
They've blown it, right down the line, from the opening bid for an aerial knockout, through the defeats and retreats, the incredible shrinking war aims, the daily humiliation of seeing a third of Israel bombarded with rockets. And now this - a ceasefire that appears to give Hezbollah all or nearly all of what it demanded (although not the Laker tickets), all of it to be supervised by a "reinforced" version of UNIFIL (most of the reinforcements will probably never arrive) working under a limited one-year mandate, and with no more legal authority to use force than the current bunch of blue helmets.

And for this, Lebanon was ravaged, thousands were killled, millions on both sides spent weeks cooped up in air raid shelters and the credibility and any lingering shreds of respectability of the US government in the Islamic world were flushed down the you-know-what. For this.

After all, why did we embark on the war, if not to ensure that French soldiers will protect Israel from the Hezbollah rocket battery.

The long knives are already out - for Olmert, for Peretz, the ward boss turned defense minister, for Halutz and the commander of the Northern Front (who was effectively sacked in the middle of the war) and probably half of entire IDF general staff, if they don't sink them in each other's backs first. Losing is never pretty, and the post-war settling of accounts is going to be even less so.

It seems as if every minor league neocon in Washington is taking the opportunity to remind Israel that if there's one thing America detests it's a loser. So much for all the tearful singing of the Ha'tikvah. If Washington's Middle Eastern Rottweiler wants to keep getting its kennel ration, it will put a little more teeth into the business next time.

… All the bellicose rhetoric in the world - like Schiff's threat to respond with "cruel craziness" if and when other red lines are crossed in the future - can't conceal the failures: of a military aristocracy's arrogant faith in technology, of an Army that's grown accustomed to waging war against Palestinian teenagers, of a political establishment that believes with zombie-like intensity that the cure for incompetence is ever greater applications of military force.

There will be hell to pay for this fiasco - coming as it does on top of Uncle Sam's own murder suicide pact in Iraq. When and where that payment will be demanded isn't clear yet, but if the past is any guide it will be paid in the blood of the innocent and not the guilty.
Yeah, well, wait until we pull out of Iraq. This is just a foretaste of what's to come.

And as for Rice weeks ago saying the fighting might have continue as, although it seemed bad, it was really a good thing, and opportunity when you looked at it the right way, just the "birth pangs" of a new Middle East - "Condi better swap her forceps for a shovel, because it looks like there's going to be a lot of graves to dig in the 'new' Middle East."

It was a strange day indeed. The old way of working things out prevailed - disagreement, negotiation, compromise, uneasy peace and distrust, but some sort of peace nonetheless. For those who see compromise as a sign of weakness and moral failure, this was a very bad day. For those who will now live and not die in a pill of rubble or be blasted apart by a rocket falling from the sky, not so bad.

Posted by Alan at 21:40 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Saturday, 12 August 2006 06:35 PDT home

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