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July 25, 2006

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the Brit papers are covering this quite differently than the US:

Beirut dispatch
Rice lacks recipe for success

The US secretary of state believes in a New Middle East, but her narrow focus on security leaves little room for the aspirations of ordinary people

Got power again yesterday.
Akiva Eldar suggests some possible international forces in this Haaretz article.
Even if Hezbollah would accept any terms meaning that they would be disarmed, Condi Rice flying solo is probably not the person to extract it from them.

The Cheney/Rumsfeld axis (probably includes Rice) are itching for fight with Syria, which under the current circumstances will have to take the form of a blockade and massive bombing on the same lines as Israel's assault on civilian Lebanon. As many have pointed out, this is essentially a reprisal attack with no strategic or tactical purpose, other than two send a message to Iran of 'what can happen to them' if they don't bend over.

The flaw in this strategy is that if it results from the IDF being bogged down in the trench warfare of southern Lebanon, it will be rightly seen as an admission of defeat, and send exactly the opposite message from what was intended.

I suppose it is not out of place to observe once again that an unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation is a War Crime. Not that it matters any more.

4jkb4ia

I do think NATO (boosted by Russian and maybe Latin American troops--ideally some from Brazil) would be the most likely (and most effective) force. I have two concerns about that. How long, honestly, would it take to get NATO in place? Are we just going to continue to bombing until them, simply because it takes a long time to mobilize a modern army?

Also, there was a case where the US violated NATO's principle of consensus related to the Iraq war (I think it was to get Afghansitan troops and defensive troops in countries that might be counterattacked, but I'm not sure--it's in Cobra II, but I'm listening, not reading, so I don't have the text). BushCo basically made the decision and forced Belgium to either accept their decision (with which they had alraedy disagreed), or to publicly undermine the unity of NATO.

What are the chances that the US, having tried and succeeded once in abusing the decision process of NATO, would do it again to benefit its ally Israel?

Check me on this -- isn't the "plan" she's proposing (if there were troops to implement it) basically a UN or NATO military occupation of Lebanon instead of an Israeli occupation? I say that because it seems like the entire proposed purpose of the force is to accomplish Israel's objectives in Lebanon, and none for Lebanon's objectives. The one factor that could charitably be described as being in Lebanon's long-term interest is disarming Hezbollah (or more properly, integrating their fighters into the Lebanese army, since they're not going to just disappear.) However, in the short term, that seems pretty questionable as the Lebanese side of the "deal."

As long as we're talking about introducing international military forces, how about this plan for lasting peace, one with a little more balance: Israel gets an international force in southern Lebanon to protect them from Hezbollah, as long as they accept international forces in all the territories they occupy that are outside of internationally-recognized boundaries.

Think they'd go for that?

Actually, Redshift, in the best news I've seen in 10 days, apparently Israel is willing to discuss Shebaa Farms.

Chances are you won't find out about it from any US media outlet, but there may be significant developments on the Shebaa Farms front.

According to today's The Guardian, the Israeli government is keeping withdrawal from Shebaa Farms on the table:

Israel has also signalled its readiness to surrender the 25sq km of the Shebaa Farms ... That would strengthen the Lebanese government and undermine Hizbullah's claim to be resisting Israeli "occupation".

And Ha'aretz columnist Zvi Bar'el reports that Hezbollah may be shifting its Shebaa strategy:

...Energy Minister Mohammed Fneish, a Hezbollah representative, announced that once [Israel] withdrew from the Shaba Farms area, Hezbollah's role as a 'liberating' army would be over, and it would stick to a purely a defensive role.

This is a very significant statement, because it begins to define the conditions for Hezbollah's disarmament.

Resolving Shebaa Farms would represent a true withdrawal on Israel's part, and would remove Hezbollah's one justification for a military stance against Israel.

So you put an international force in S. Lebanon to prevent the Israelis from coming in, disincent Hezbollah to shoot (because killing a Frenchman is going to cost you cred with the public), and provide a way to integrate Hezbollah's capabilities into the Lebanese army. That might work.

Wow, that is quite a development! I hope it pans out.

Shebaa Farms -- for that to work Syria would have to cede Shebaa to Lebanon as the UN has determined Shebaa is Syrian territory. This isn't the first time this has been discussed - problem is Syria is highly unlikely to do that because they fear Lebanon will make a separate peace with Israel, leaving them with less leverage to get Israel to negotiate over the Golan Heights.

Seems that the knives are out for Condi, think Gingerich, Perle, and more (sounds, oddly, like a good recommendation to me):

http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/Mag_Conservatives_want_incompetent_Condoleezza_Rice_0725.html


Speaking of Gingerich, I'm reminded of McCain... why throw away your honor for the Presidency? It's not worth it, it ain't worth it!

I do believe that Ms. Rice has been put into a position far, far beyond her capabilities, thus further increasing the decrease in our prestige in the middle east. On the other hand, how can it be any less than it already is? So maybe it doesn't matter.

Out of curiosity: who do you suppose gives Bush the orders to give to his good friend Condi?

Egypt. They have the army (we bought it for them), they're close and, because on his recent anti-democratic mischief, Mubarak owes us.

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