As Condi's heart-aching sympathies for "innocent people" - gloriously backed up by tacit support for the Israeli action - ring out around the world, Simon Jenkins has been calling for non-intervention as the way forward. He has peddled the same line on Iraq, and it's certainly persuasive. Constant meddling in Middle East affairs seems to have averted little and perhaps prolonged the crisis.
I agree with Jenkins so far as any intervention will undoubtedly come with strings attached by the peacekeepers. The chances of this seem lessened by UN intervention, but the chances of Lebanon becoming a football for the West as they squabble over its fate - something which has crippled Afghanistan - seems an unenticing prospect.
However, the issue in Lebanon is not a stand alone issue. As I have argued before, so much of the world is tied up in the region that leaving Lebanon alone will be a massive advantage for Israel with its $2.3 billion p.a. of US military aid jangling in its pockets. Hizbullah, of course, receives aid from Syria and Iran but this is NOT the Lebanese state which is being so gouged and gutted by the current crisis as to make stable democracy myth if it were left on its own.
Iraq has diminished such hopes of a supervised transition to stability, but there is hope from Bosnia. As the UN High Representative with almost absolute power, Paddy Ashdown - although sometimes controversial - seemed to do just job and its good to see his successor, Christian Scwarz-Schilling, easing up on those powers. The strength of the scheme was that simple existence of a guarantor of the country's integrity, responsible to an organisation which is as close as you can get to neutral.
This of course rests on getting the right man for the job but it seems a far more sensible option than leaving the Middle East at the mercy of the US.
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