Thursday, July 20, 2006

Twenty-five Days Of Fighting At Israel's Borders

Gilad Shalit was kidnapped 25 days ago, and each day the war at Israel's borders grows steadily more deadly. The Marines are back in Lebanon, and their mission will probably be, for warriors, nondescript: they're there to help the evacuation of Americans from Beirut. But it seems ominous nonetheless: the last time they were in Beirut, it didn't go so well.

The Lebanese government, we're learning, is schizophrenic about Hezbollah, not least because Hezbollah is a junior partner in that government. The Lebanese Prime Minister, Fuad Saniora, seems on the one hand to be aware that his country is not fully his country:

Saniora told Milan-based newspaper Corriere della Sera that the Shiite militia has been doing the bidding of Syria and Iran and that it can only be disarmed with the help of the international community and once a cease-fire has been achieved in the current Middle East fighting.

But his government is claiming that he has been misquoted:
"What the prime minister said was that the international community has not given the Lebanese government the chance to deal with the problem of Hezbollah weapons, since the continued presence of Israeli occupation of Lebanese lands in the Chebaa Farms region is what contributes to the presence of Hezbollah weapons," the statement said. "The international community must help us in (getting) an Israeli withdrawal from Chebaa Farms so we can solve the problem of Hezbollah's arms."

Israel is not the central problem. The central problem is still Syria, and that country's and Iran's sponsorship of Hezbollah as the vanguard in a war against Israel.

There are other signs that the government is not fully cognizant of its responsibility for disarming Hezbollah, or at the very least for allowing other countries to do so, even if those countries support Israel:
One of the most bizarre aspects of the current Lebanon crisis is the international community's unanimous insistence that the Lebanese government is an innocent party, and should therefore not be made to suffer for Hizbullah's actions.


But in any normal country, a junior coalition member that attacked a neighboring country without its partners' consent would be swiftly disavowed and ousted from the government.

Instead, the Lebanese government has passionately defended Hizbullah's actions on the international stage. At an Arab League meeting on Saturday, for instance, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, reportedly backed by representatives of Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, the Palestinian Authority, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, lambasted Hizbullah's assault as "inappropriate and irresponsible." But Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh, far from agreeing, presented a draft resolution defending the attack.

Via Israpundit.

There is no consensus outside Lebanon and Israel as to what to do about Lebanon and Israel. Despite what I said before about stasis being an indicator that things are bout to change, the diplomatic confusion surrounding this war may make a change in conditions unlikely; diplomacy seems immobilized by disagreement. The U.N., hosting an ad hoc summit on the matter, has decided that the war is crisis that demands it intervene. The U.S. and the E.U. disagree on whether Israel should commit to a cease fire. A powerful Sunni cleric has issued a fatwa against Shiite Hezbollah (via Israpundit), even as the Saudi state demands Israel stop its actions against Hezbollah.

All this disagreement paralyzes diplomacy, and allows the parties to continue to fight in gradually escalating encounters. We may see the conflagration we feared, only it will develop over the course of weeks, not hours.

This is the way the world ends: not with a flood but a drip.


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