Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Cease Fire Turvy Topsy

The war rages in south Lebanon, and the diplomats in New York keep going back and forth over the cease fire. Russia has now withdrawn its support for the cease fire, saying that there's no point in the resolution if Lebanon doesn't agree with it. Israel has dismissed Lebanon's offer to send troops to the south:

...Dan Gillerman, the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations said, "I'm very skeptical about the possibility of the Lebanese army being able to do it." He added, "They had their chance to do it for years when they had the power and the authority. To expect them to be able to do it now against the wishes of Hezbollah seems to me to be terribly naive."

Israel is also interested in the Lebanese plan:
Israel'’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, today called the plan "interesting," and said he would study it. "The faster we can leave south Lebanon, the happier we will be," he said.

I think both normative judgments can be true simultaneously: yes, they want to be out of Lebanon, but no, the Lebanese army probably can't do what Lebanon claims it can do.

The wild card is whether the Lebanese army can be as ruthless as needed to uproot Hezbollah. The army itself may have been infiltrated by Shia sympathetic to Hezbollah, so may not be as ready to disarm them as Fouad Siniora would have us believe. And frankly, there's something a little fishy about the fact that the Hezbollah ministers in the cabinet, apparently, back the plan. On the other hand, the Arab League is backing Lebanon, and every indication is that Arab nations would be almost as happy to see Hezbollah suppressed as would be Israel. Perhaps that will put a little spine into the Lebanese central government.

Atlas Shrugs reports John Bolton's remarks on the resolution. It looks like the U.S. will side with Israel on the Shebaa Farms issue, even though George Bush had reportedly asked Israel to make a concession on that issue for the benefit of the Lebanese central government. Frankly, Lebanese demands on the matter are a little absurd. From Bolton's comments:
It is surely a pretext that Hezbollah uses that it maintains anti-ship cruise missiles in its arsenal in order to liberate Shebaa Farms. And that is an indication of the general pretext of Hezbollah, to have the kind of military capability that it obviously has. The Security Council has previously decided, unanimously, that Israel had fully withdrawn from all Lebanese territory, even though everybody in the world knew that it was still occupying Shebaa Farms, which is a judgment by the Security Council at that time that Shebaa Farms was not Lebanese territory. That's as clear as one can be.

Israel has recently said it would abandon the Shebaa Farms, but does not wish to do so now because it would appear to be a concession to Hezbollah.

The fighting continues in the south and bombings continue in Beirut and elsewhere. There are still Hezbollah in Bint Jbeil, and they seem a little too well-equipped. Two were captured while they setup and anti-aircraft battery, and three more were captured in that town while they slept.

UPDATE 2:21 pm CDT: Apparently, I was on to something vis-a-vis the Arab League support for Lebanon.


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