Sunday, August 06, 2006

Fashion in Lebanon

Armageddon, the sequel
Or is it the prequel
Of Kingdom Come
And Hell on the run
With Bush crudely chewing
Grabbing Merkel for all viewing
And Condi just sitting
And waiting on fittings
While refugees struggle
And children snuggle
With parents in strife
While praying for life.

The Cradle of Civilization is rocking again. This time, Israel is destroying a rebuilt Lebanon while the civil war in Iraq raises the daily toll to a hundred or more civilians each day. Hizballah is meanwhile taking on a couple of roles that would normally be seen as incompatible. They are clearly tweaking the Israeli nose and helping refugees escape to safety in bomb shelters and even to Tyre, although that has recently become a bombing target. Incidentally, the terrorists are also feeding the Lebanese in the bomb shelters. I mention this, because, while our administration appeared to be managing a redux of Hurricane Katrina, other countries acknowledged the crisis and began early evacuation of their citizens without having them sign promissory notes.
We have seen this before, and yet there appears to be a shrill tone to the shrieking from the Fox in the Bush. Fox is calling this WW III. The administration is clearly not interested in a cease-fire while claiming that it wants only a permanent solution. It also indicates that it will not talk with Hizballah despite the fact that Israel used the two prisoners Hizballah captured as the rationale for attacking Lebanon. Neither will the Bushies talk with Syria or Iran. At about this time, you may ask, “just who are they talking with?” Try Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have a vested interest in actively avoiding Shiite power waxing in the region. Now that we have enabled a Shiite theocracy in Iraq and are struggling with the Taliban in Afghanistan again, the Saudis are engaged to protect their Sunni interests. While most diplomats would agree that the crisis is serious, I find it difficult to believe that any diplomat or statesman would try to deal with it by non-engagement. A cease-fire is not a solution, but there is no long term solution possible until the shooting slows down enough for people to sit down for negotiations, so a cease-fire is normally a pre-condition for either military insertion of peacekeepers or for negotiation. Israel blames Lebanon for not stopping Hizballah and yet has targeted Lebanese military barracks and civilian housing and business apart from Hizballah. The West has given no help to the Lebanese but Hizballah has. So if you were Lebanese and being bombed by the Israelis while Hizballah guided you to bomb shelters and gave you food, water, and medical care for your injuries, how interested would you be in pointing out Hizballah to the bombers? Strangely, that premise underlies the Bush-Rice approach. We are preparing another generation for retaliation. While all sides are talking the peace talk, nobody is walking the walk. Without praising terrorists who kill indiscriminately as a habit, we need to acknowledge that Hizballah serves a purpose for the people of Lebanon. Similarly, without praising Israel for its violent response to the capture of 2 soldiers, we need to understand that military force has protected Israel and it keeps Israelis together. We expect people to act in their immediate self-interest. We have offered Lebanon a few million dollars for humanitarian aid, while the current damage already exceeds $20 Billion (most of it in Lebanon).
The surprise is that the US is not acting in United States interest. By openly supporting Israel and not calling for a cease-fire, we have placed the UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon in jeopardy. In fact, they took casualties on 23 July and needed medical evacuation. On 26 July, they suffered 4 killed. We are allowing, if not encouraging, Israel to “finish the job” before Condi puts her fashion boots on the ground to support a cease-fire. Just how much support can we expect from civilians in the region or from anywhere in the world with over 400 civilians killed on the Lebanese side and over 40 on the Israeli side. The Lebanese, Syrians, Iranians, Jordanians, Afghanis, Turks, or even continental Europeans will not see us as “honest brokers.” On an even more limited basis, if we want to gain cooperation of the majority Shiites in Iraq to help their government work, this American inaction will serve as inspiration to 15 million (Shiite) Iraqis to support the resistance. Being the bully or appearing to support a bully only generates resentment and resistance. The Sunni minority already uses the image of unfairness to recruit in Iraq. Now we encourage Shiites to do likewise. Visualize Uncle Sam pointing from a poster saying ”I want you as my enemy. “ It is our latest government promotion and smacks of Bush-n-Boots diplomacy.
The image this last week was an uncanny enactment of George Orwell’s Animal Farm with the Fox pundits repeating the message of the Pigs that WW III was here. The Pig-in-Chief was talking with his mouth full like he was in a sty instead of the White House and using barnyard language while groping a female chief of state for the whole world to see. What useful purpose does this talk of WW III serve? Perhaps this is a cover for a failed Iraq policy and civil war there? Perhaps it is the early justification for the pending nuclear attack of Iran! That attack is building unless we can turn the zealots from doing it and by telling FOX that the Armageddon of WW III and the following Rapture will have to wait. I believe in the world according to B.F. Skinner; that behaviors that are rewarded will be repeated. Let us ensure that we citizens of the Animal Farm vote out the Pigs. We cannot reward them for their incompetence, greed and callous disregard of human life any longer. Pax Condileeziana is not peace. Maybe the devil does wear Prada.
26 July 2006

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