Friday, July 21, 2006


I cannot remember being surrounded in such a cloud of depression caused a world event as I am currently over the Lebanon situation. Israel's actions and rhetoric have been frightening, no less so than yesterday's comment from Amir Peretz:

"Let no terror organisation feel we would cower from any operation," he said. "We have no intention of conquering Lebanon but... we will do it without thinking twice."

It seems clear that Israel's actions are not merely a response to the two soldiers killed by Hizbullah a week ago. As the Economist describes, the military aid given to Hizbullah by Syria and Iran has built it into a major force in the region. From Israel's point of view this is an intolerable situation.

Any sympathy this may have drawn however has been totally extinguished by the manner of the invasion. With over 300 Lebanese dead, a paltry proportion of which can be identified as Hizbullah is ripping the heart out of a country only recently finding its feet after Syrian occupation. This is not to forget, either, the smokescreen the Lebanon action provides for the renewed shelling of Gaza (are we now seeing the real reason for the withdrawal?) with 130 dead there in the last week.

There are some glimmers of hope. Louise Arbour of the UN Human Rights Commission has stated that Israel's attacks on civilians and there are some in Europe
willing for some kind of intervention.

Unfortunately Britain, or rather Blair, has not seen fit to join this club. Contrary to Foreign office advice, "Tony" Blair has again deigned to stand strong and boldly do whatever the US tells him to. I would love to know waht defintion of diplomatic expediency old Tony subscribes to, but being afraid of not treading on toes when such outrage is being committed gives lie once more to the opinion that ours is a morally driven Prime Minister.

The worrying thing about Lebanon is that so many of the world's web of problems seem tangled within its small borders: Israel-Palestine, Iran, US-Europe relations, European unity, post-colonialism, neo-colonialism. I don't think its too sensationalist to say that all these could unravel if the situation escalates. Lets hope the cloud lifts soon.


Neil Craig said...

The quote in full is “We have no intention of conquering Lebanon, but if we have to act to complete our tasks and reach a victory we will do it.” ie that they will complete the job & achieve victory not that they will conquer Lebanon. To be fair to you the Telegraph used the quote without showing that something had been excised so your journalistic integrity rating is higher than theirs.

What it comes down to is that Israel was attacked, had their soldier kidnapped & are defending themselves. Lebanon has, as a sovereign state, a duty not to launch unprovoked attacks on others, or allow others to use their territory to do so (Hezbollah, as part of the government isn't really an other). They have refused to act & have no cause for complaint. Hezbollah could stop this atany time by stopping attacking civilians & returning their kidnap victim but apparently do not yet consider losses "proportionate" to the benefits to them.

Tom Paine said...

As for the civilian casualties, they are entirely a consequence of Hezbollah's breach of Article 50 of the Geneva Convention, para 7.

The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favour or impede military operations. The Parties to the conflict shall not direct the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield military operations.

World Peace Religion said...

This problem is 4000 years old.

My fist of flounce said...

Neil, I understand the reasons for invasion, my objection was that the means were completely disproportionate.

Tom, that's not enough to justify knowingly shelling the hell out of the civilians, but we're never going to agree on that one.

Neil Craig said...

Hezbollah didn't think the costs disproportionate to their gains or they would have handed back their captives & stopped it.

When did anybody say the US shouldn't have fought al Quaeda because the local deaths clearly aren't propotionate to the under 3,000 at 9/11. This definition of proportionality gives carte blanche to any 3rd world thug who considers their citizens lives expendable - eg Hezbollah & indeed Izetbegovic in Bosnia, except that Bosnia didn't used to be 3rd world.

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