Thursday, July 20, 2006

No Clear Direction

Commentators have noted that Israel's prime minister, Ehud Olmert, with America's acquiescence, wants to prolong the military assault for perhaps another two weeks—perhaps until he can point to some specific success, such as Hezbollah giving up its captive soldiers. However, doubts have arise over the effectiveness of Israel's campaign, since it seems that Hezbollah's guerrilla fighters are as eager to continue the conflict, in the hope of bolstering their own reputation.

To date, over 300 Lebanese have been killed by Israel's airstrikes, the vast majority of them victims. Some 29 Israelis have been killed. The Israeli government claims to have destroyed half of Hezbollah's military capacity, but where is the evidence? The Shia group denies that any of its leaders were hurt in the bunker bombing on Wednesday and suggested that Israeli planes had actually flattened a half-built mosque. As if to add insult to injury, Hezbollah continues to fire rockets into Israel and is riding a wave of popularity in the Arab world. And, to the chagrin of Western politicians, it is abundantly clear that the Lebanonese government is unable (even if it were willing) to rein in the Hezbollah.
A reason to doubt that Israel's assault over its northern border will prove effective soon is that a similar campaign, in Palestinian territory, seems to be getting nowhere. Back, in Gaza, where Palestinian militants are holding a soldier they captured late last month, Israel has adopted a similar military strategy, simultaneously trying to secure his release and stamp out the firing of homemade rockets into Israel. It has attacked militant leaders, shelled areas where rockets were launched, and bombed what little public infrastructure and government buildings the Palestinian’s have, in an attempt to put pressure on the Hamas-run government. It has not worked. 110 Palestinians have been killed, more rockets fall, the Israeli soldier remains in captivity, public support for Hamas is growing, and the government (or what is left of it after a wave of arrests in the West Bank) remains defiant.

The pictures from both sides of the Israel-Lebanon border have been unremittingly familiar: buildings bombed to rubble, corpses and grief, refugees fleeing to safer areas. The scenes of chaos and suffering prompted Tony Blair, Britain's prime minister, and Kofi Annan, the secretary-general of the United Nations, to propose sending a multinational force to the area. America, always sceptical with ideas coming from the UN, said that there is already a 1,990-strong UN peacekeeping force on the border that has failed to curb the fighting. Today, Kofi Annan called for an immediate end to the fighting between Israeli and Hezbollah forces.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton maintained that a cease-fire was a "simplistic" solution to the current problem between Israel and the Lebanese militia.
"As we've said repeatedly, what we seek is a long-term cessation of hostilities that is part of a comprehensive change in the region and a part of a real foundation for peace," Bolton said and reported by CNN. "But, still, no one has explained how you conduct the cease-fire with a group of terrorists."

Mr. Bolton and the United States foreign policy regarding this current crisis are off the mark. The fact that you are fighting terrorists is not the issue. Stopping the escalating violence and curbing the severe humanitarian crisis IS. It is this type of rationale that prevented decades of peace in Northern Ireland. It is this exact muddled and confusing disagreement between the UN, EU members, and the United States over language and semantics that allowed the genocide in the Balkans to continue unabated for three years as well as millions killed, displaced, and starving currently in Darfur, Sudan.

Pick up the phone, contact the ambassadors, or use the known intermediaries for the parties involved, and call a cease-fire. What is so difficult to comprehend?

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