Friday, July 28, 2006

OK, Mr. Smarty Pants, you have the answer, but what is the question?

How can one resist commenting on the crisis in Lebanon? One can’t.

The New York Times reports: Tide of Arab Opinion Turns to Support for Hezbollah. Despite early criticism of Hezbollah by Saudi Arabia and others for inciting the current conflict in Lebanon, those criticisms have ceased. Fingers are now pointed at Israel as the culprit. Hezbollah has become the darling of the Muslim world. All of this was to be expected.

Secretary Rice says she will return to the Middle East when the time is right. In her words that means not negotiating for a return to the status quo. It sounds a little abstract, but what it means is that there will be no negotiations until Hezbollah’s military capabilities are completely destroyed. We who have followed the success of laser guided bombing in destroying insurgent militias expect she won’t be back anytime soon.

And that is a damned shame. However, one wonders if the US has any diplomatic credibility chips left to spend with the rest of the world. We have seen the Bush Administration rapidly dismantle international treaties, laws, and institutions, the very institutions the US took the leadership in creating. (Of course, you hear revisionist conservatives claim the UN was something thrust upon the United States against its will. The UN building just popped up one morning in New York City like some giant pestilent mushroom.) According to neo-con notions, international law is not needed to resolve disputes when the world is blessed with a good super power such as the United States to assert its moral authority and military might against the forces of evil. Corollary to this is the idea that the US will always have a divinely inspired conservative President such as Mr. Bush to make the appropriate moral judgments for the often confused American public and world in general. You can’t make international relations much more tidy than that.

The question remains as to why the world remains so untidy despite all the Bush Administration’s best intentions and actions? We should clear up one obscurantist conservative talking point before seeking an answer to the question. Conservatives claim leftists don’t have any answer to what to do about Hezbollah. Leftists should be giving two replies. One, don’t do anything to galvanize all of world opinion in favor Hezbollah as is currently being done. Two, the question in and of itself is the wrong question in the first place.

The right question is when will the most powerful democracies step in and help achieve an agreed upon border settlement between Israel and Palestine so that there will be two sovereign states recognized by one and all? This requires restoration of international law and peace keeping institutions. It also requires the US to give diplomatic resolution the highest priority.

Unfortunately, the US government is dead set against both those initiatives. Thus we are saddled with the obfuscating rhetoric about what to do with Hezbollah. The first response by neo-cons is that of Mr. Bush: Hezbollah should stop doing this shit, so the whole thing will dry up and blow away. The second response is that the US will supply enough laser guided bombs to Israel to kill everyone in Hezbollah. Just wonderful. Let’s see how that works out. All out warfare always works best while sitting a safe distance from the conflict.

The crisis in Lebanon gives further evidence for the absolute disaster called neo-con international relations strategy. (I use disaster in its factual connotation.) It goes beyond categorization as Republican/Democrat, conservative/liberal, and realist/idealist. Neo-con notions are in a class by themselves—something we can make common cause against.


At 2:18 PM, Blogger -epm said...

Under the catastrophic "leadership" of George Bush, the US seems to no longer have the respect world community in regards to inter-national affairs. Indeed, we may even be counter productive as our modus operandi in the War on Terror has been to piss in the pool of international law, thus crippling the rudder of the international common ground. When the world’s only superpower snubs its nose at international law, what reason do any of the lesser players have to feel bound by it. We’ve opened the gates of chaos.

In this current conflict, the original agitator is quickly turning into the victim, as Israel reacts with extreme disproportional.

I fear this will not end well.

At 4:35 PM, Blogger Lynn said...


Given the intention not to intervene or help either side negotiate, I share your feelings about it not ending well. We are creating many new enemies in Lebanon.


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