Devastation in Lebanon
The international conference in Rome failed to come up with a cease fire solution for the Israel-Lebanon conflict, primarily because the US does not want a cease fire. An odd conference it was, with the most legitimately interested parties not participating - Hezbollah, Lebanon, Israel, Syria, and Iran. Israel purposely misinterprets the non-decision as a green light to continue destroying south Lebanon and everyone who does not get out of the way - including red cross ambulance drivers and UN observers - in order to destroy Hezbollah. Possessors of superior firepower always seem to naively assume guerrilla forces do not have enough sense to get out of the way of the fire and then fight back from new locations. Perhaps it is not just naievite, but also a desire to punish bystanders.
The Bush Administration’s mouthpiece, Dr. Rice, parrots the simplistic lines about Hezbollah being the instigator and cease fires being no good unless there can be a “sustainable peace”. Sustainability comes in degrees. Permanent sustainability is the ideal, but history shows the difficulty of obtaining it. How realistically sustainable does the US want peace for Lebanon to be? Expecting Hezbollah to lay down its arms, especially after Israel has wreaked such disproportionately responsive havoc, is not realistic, which the US knows, but talking about some “sustainable” phantasm enables Israel to continue the destruction, which is what the US really wants.
The Iraq fiasco show the Bush administration does not understand guerrilla movements, insurgencies and militias. They see these as symptoms of a military problem, solvable with military force, instead of identifying the underlying maladies manifested by the symptoms. Political, social-economic and religious-ethnic problems require more than the use of military force to achieve a solution which has some hope of longevity. In 1979, Jimmy Carter brought Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Menachem Begin of Israel together to negotiate and agree on how their countries could live together in peace without the use of military force. That agreement is still in effect 27 years later, which is quite an accomplishment in the middle east.
The US endorsed Israeli devastation of south Lebanon, like the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, is creating new generations of Arabs and Muslims who hate the US and Israel. After 9/11, the neo-cons in the Bush administration leaped in to launch their bogus agenda in Iraq. Most Americans now see the fraud of that endeavor, but the US support for the Israeli attacks on Lebanon shows the neo-cons still hold vast power over the Bush Administration.
Lebanese history over the last several decades is complex. Israel has been there before, most recently ending military occupation in 2000. The US has also been there, Reagan sending armed forces peace keepers to Beirut and then “cutting and running” after a suicide bomber (most likely from Hezbollah) killed 241 of them on October 23, 1983 - the earliest example of the US retreating in the face of middle eastern terrorists. Reagan distracted attention from the bombing by courageously launching an invasion of Grenada two days later. That farce worked for a short while, but the biggest distraction from remembering Reagan’s early encouragement of suicide bombers has been the creation of the mythology that Reagan single handedly ended the cold war.
There is a US backed UN resolution to disband Hezbollah. Though it is not fully realistic, the resolution should be enforced by the UN, not Israel, and the US as a UN superpower should be one of the leaders in getting the UN to enforce it. The US and Israel argue that military devastation of the infrastructure in south Lebanon is necessary to thwart Hezbollah, and that the Lebanese government is too weak to do the job itself. Massive devastation of the infrastructure of a nation, with attendant death and displacement of civilians, in the pursuit of non-governmental militias is unwise, immoral and possibly illegal. Failure to work with the moderate Lebanese government to empower it to better handle matters in its own country is also unwise and immoral, but military powers like the US and Israel cannot abide moderation. Militarists believe “if you are not with us, then you are against us” , a mentality which can only produce the kind of peace that lasts merely until the victor takes his foot off the throat of the vanquished.