Tuesday :: Jul 25, 2006

The Condi Con Can't

by pessimist

Israel continues to run amok in Lebanon, targeting a UN border observation post and killing at least two UN soldiers:

Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was "shocked and deeply distressed by the apparently deliberate targeting" of the U.N. post. He said Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had assured him that U.N. positions would be spared, and the U.N. force commander, Gen. Alain Pelligrini, had been in contact with Israeli officers throughout the day stressing the need to protect the post.

The sad thing is - there are far too many echoes of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty in 1967. But that is a topic for another post.

Eager to disply world diplomatic leadership that they don't have, Secretary of State-wannabee Condi (who isn't qualified to be a secretary much less a Cabinet officer) went to Southwest Asia and blathered, "It is time for a new Middle East" and "It is time to say to those who do not want a different kind of Middle East that we will prevail, they will not."

Funny thing is - no one believes her.

Considering that Israel appears to be using chemical weapons in Lebanon, the Saudis are positioning themselves as the humanitarians in this disaster, pledging $US500 million to rebuild Lebanon and another $US250 million for the Palestinians.

In addition, the Saudis are consulting with the Russians - and that can't be a good thing for building neo-confidence!

Such a step by the Saudis appears necessary, because the United States and Israel had little if any chance of achieving their stated goals of disarming the guerrilla group Hizbollah and deploying the Lebanese army or an international buffer force along the Israeli-Lebanese frontier. In short, someone has to take the lead in attempting to deal with this crisis - and the US is not:

Fifty years ago this week, when Egypt seized the Suez Canal, Britain colluded with France and Israel to invade. It was a recklessly ill-judged venture that was only stopped by the Americans. It was the end of Britain's imperial pretensions and a hard lesson. But in retrospect, many would accept it was one this country needed to learn. America acted as a candid friend to Britain then - and our special relationship survived.
Shouldn't Britain be be a candid friend to America now
and urge it to effect an immediate ceasefire?

There is plenty of incentive for Britain to do so. The Independent is presenting a list of five likely possibilities concerning Lebanon. Israel comes out on the short end in most cases - and Lebanon in all of them.

These possibilities are clearly becoming a worry to Israelis as well:

Two columns, one from a "hawk" and another by a "dove," illustrate the growing unease in that country that goes beyond the fear of incoming rockets.

First the hawk. Yoel Marcus, an influential columnist for the paper, had called for a massive and unfettered response to the Hezbollah actions two weeks ago. But now he is concerned that the job is being bungled.

"Who would have believed that
a guerrilla organization with a few hundred regular fighters,
something like a brigade and a half,
could paralyze half a country,
firing off hundreds of missiles every day?"
Also at Haaretz.com is a new column by Ze'ev Maoz, a professor of political science at Tel Aviv University. Here are excerpts:

"There's practically a holy consensus right now that the war in the North is a just war and that morality is on our side. The bitter truth must be said: this holy consensus is based on short-range selective memory, an introverted worldview, and double standards.

"But in terms of our own national soul searching, we owe ourselves to confront the bitter truth -- maybe we will win this conflict on the military field, maybe we will make some diplomatic gains, but on the moral plane, we have no advantage, and we have no special status."

Special status - a largely meaningless something that the (mis)Administration bestows liberally on its 'friends', none moreso than the British. But that isn't easing the bitter taste that Britons are experiencing over ouor close relations.

The British people are losing faith in the United States - and Killer Attack Lap Poodle Tony Blair. Almost two-thirds of Britons think Tony Blair is George Bush's poodle - almost the same as the number who feel that the Israeli government had over-reacted to Hezbollah (61 per cent). This clear majority wants the Britain government to "take a more robust and independent approach to the United States."

In other words, they want a legal separation - both from King George and also from his criminal war:

Support for the war in Iraq has hit a record low and only 36 percent of voters now think it was justified. The same proportion believes the presence of British troops in Iraq is making the situation worse, against 29 percent who think this is true of Britain's more recent deployment in southern Afghanistan. Just 19 percent think British forces are making progress in Iraq, compared with 23 percent who think this the case in Afghanistan.

Ah, yes! Afghanistan - the other Rich White Oilman's Burden!

It is still a mess, and at least 257 members of the U.S. military have died in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan, according to the Defense Department. But that isn't important.

What is important is to parade our puppet - er, the Prime Minister of Iraq to show what a success it is.

Or is that "suck cess?"

When Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki visits the White House on Tuesday for the first time, he is expected to make requests that clash sharply with President Bush’s foreign policy, Iraqi officials say, signaling a widening gap between the Iraqis and the Americans on crucial issues.

The requests will include asking President Bush to allow American-led troops in Iraq to be tried under Iraqi law, and to call for a halt to Israeli attacks on Lebanon... Mr. Maliki is also expected to demand more autonomy for Iraqi forces...

In other words, Maliki wants to be able to fight in his nation's pending civil war without having to ask for King George's dispensation.

In addition, Turkey is being asked to be a part of the neo-confidence plan for border buffer troops in Lebanon. If this were to come about, Turkey's troops would be in position to attack Kurdistan from at least two different directions.

If I were the Kurds, I would take this development very seriously - especially since the US seeks to 'tame' them for being far too independent of Unca Dick's 'guidance' in their affairs.

It's a lose-lose-lose-lose...lose situation all around. I'll let Wayne White, Adjunct Scholar with Washington's Middle East Institute and former Deputy Director of the State Department's Office of Middle East and South Asia Analysis until March 2005, sum up what all of this means for America under King George:

This crisis will further erode the United States' credibility in the Middle East—and beyond. Despite clearly siding with Israel, Washington used to be regarded as a party quite often useful for intercession with the Israelis, but in this case the Bush Administration has seemingly given Israel a blank check to do whatever it wants for as long as it wants. With respect to another extremely serious consequence of not working to bring this carnage to an early end, Lebanon already has absorbed billions of dollars of damage.

By the end of the crisis, the cost of rebuilding Lebanon will be incredibly high and the rebuilding effort quite prolonged, leaving most Lebanese, aside perhaps from the hard-core Christian right, considerably more hostile to Israel — and the United States — than ever before.

Sic semper tyrannis? Coming soon - from former Southwest Asian friends.

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