No. Condi offered Lebanon a choice between war ... or war.
An official close to Beri said his talks with Rice failed to "reach an agreement because Rice insisted on one full package to end the fighting."
The package included a cease-fire, simultaneous with the deployment of the Lebanese army and an international force in south Lebanon and the removal of Hezbollah weapons from a buffer zone extending 30 kilometers from the Israeli border, said the official. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks were private.
Beri rejected the package, proposing instead a two-phased plan. First would come a cease-fire and negotiations for a prisoner swap. Then an inter-Lebanese dialogue would work out a solution to the situation in south Lebanon, said the official. [my emphasis]
Condi demands a cease-fire to be simultaneous with the deployment of the Lebanese army and an international force. To which we all ought to be asking Kevin Drum's question.
During a briefing with senior officials at several major Jewish organizations, Deputy National Security Advisor Elliot Abrams reportedly said that a multinational force in Lebanon would have to be “combat ready,” authorized and appropriately equipped to engage Hezbollah militarily if needed. Such a force, he said, would also have to patrol not only Lebanon’s border with Israel but also Lebanon’s border with Syria, to prevent smuggling of weapons to Hezbollah. In addition, such a force would have to observe Lebanon’s sea and air ports to make sure that Iran is not rearming Hezbollah, Abrams reportedly said.
This is fascinating. At a guess, something this ambitious would take a minimum of seven or eight combat brigades plus associated support and logistics. Call it 40,000 troops in round numbers.
The United States has previously said that it won't be able to participate in this because our troops are tied down in Iraq and Afghanistan. The UN can't help since it deals only in peacekeeping missions, not combat missions. None of the troops can come from Middle Eastern countries, of course. NATO troops are largely committed to Afghanistan, and Europe has in any case been notably reluctant to commit combat troops to either the Middle East or Africa.
What's needed here are (a) large numbers of (b) quickly deployable (c) combat troops. Offhand, I can't think of anyplace this could come from. Am I missing something?
Assuming that, when Condi refers to an international force, she means the same thing Eliott Abrams means (that is, that it will basically patrol all borders of the country and take on Hezbollah), she is saying that, before the US will agree to a ceasefire, either the Lebanese army (which I've heard had an effective combat strength of 75,000, including Shiites, before it took a number of direct hits from Israel) or an as-yet non-existent international force must be deployed. One that, as Drum points out, isn't exactly growing on a tree somewhere. Until the time that such a force deploys, Israel will remain in Lebanon, presumably doing what it is doing.
When Condi talks about a ceasefire, she's not talking about a near term event. As the administration did with Iraq, she's talking about an ongoing military occupation until that time that a mythical army is ready to take over. Condi's plans for "peace" in Lebanon? When that mythical fighting force stands up, Israel will stand down.
Because it's working so well in Iraq, I guess.