News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Israel Invades Lebanon/Rice Says Iran Not Doing Enough

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Israel Invades Lebanon/Rice Says Iran Not Doing Enough

I know, these events have nothing to do with each other: Israel invades Lebanon, ostensibly to retrieve captured Israeli soldiers and deal a blow to Hizballah; and Sec. of State Condi Rice says Iran just isn't delivering on its side of negotiations to keep the US from invading Iran.

This plan would involve taking out Hizballah's ability to follow Iranian orders to attack Israel after Iran itself is attacked by the US. There it is... call me a fool for saying so.

But perhaps I am not so far off in these intimations of doom. The Bush administration itself has said that Syria and Iran are behind the Hizballah attacks on Israel. Even esteemed reporter and noted insider Steve Clemons sees something fishy about this invasion of Lebanon.

At his blog, The Washington Note, Clemons writes:

One has to wonder whether Israel's reaction -- so dramatically different than in the past -- is designed to REMOVE from the table certain options America might prefer to have with the Palestinians, with the broader Arab region, and even -- eventually -- with Iran.

This crisis has many facets. Certainly, there are going to be accusations all over the board. Thomas Riggins at Political thinks that Israeli PM Olmert is playing a deceitful game (with Washington's approval):
So does Olmert really want peace? It would seem not. While he and Bush, as well as the EU whine about the Hamas election victory, he refuses to deal with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, calling him an ineffective peace partner. First it was Arafat that Israel couldn't deal with, now it is Abbas ("who keeps inviting Israel to renew peace talks.") It appears that no Palestinian leader would be acceptable because Olmert actually wants to impose a unilateral Israeli settlement. This is because he has no intention of returning Israel to its 1967 borders and has every intention of holding on to illegally occupied Palestinian land.

There are three big problems that Olmert faces with this plan, according to Elton [sic]. They are his lack of a parliamentary majority, the refusal of the Palestinians to go along with it, and, finally, the new wall he is completing to cut off Israel from any contact with the Palestinians that will isolate 200,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem "from their relatives, their natural hinterland, their universities, public institutions, businesses, workshops, and property. Tens os thousands of other Palestinians on either side of the wall will be cut off from their orange and olive groves and their fields." The Jewish state, Elton [sic] writes, behind this enormous 759 kilometer wall will be "one enormous bunker."
The US response to the present invasion of Palestine and Lebanon leaves Washington with few options, according to Robin Wright at the Washington Post:
The most pressing is the new violence along Israel's borders. Overnight, the confrontation with Hamas mushroomed dramatically into a confrontation that includes Hizballah, Lebanon, Syria and Iran. Iran is using Hizballah to improve its own leverage, analysts say.

"The Iranians think they have a regional role," Bakhash said. "If the Israelis are beating up the Palestinians in Gaza, they may feel compelled as supporters of the Palestinian cause to have Hizballah take a stand at this difficult moment." Hizballah was founded in 1982 with the funding, arms and training by Iranian Revolutionary Guards dispatched to Lebanon after Israel's invasion.
Juan Cole presents a more balanced view and sees that the blame can be equally shared among the warring parties:
Rejectionists on both sides are to blame. The Oslo Peace Process could have forestalled all this violence, as Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin understood. But on the Israeli side, the then Likud Party of Bibi Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert derailed it. On the Palestinian side, Hamas rejected it. Had there been a peace process, prisoners would have been released in return for a cessation of hostilities, and there would have been no motivation to capture Israeli soldiers.
As with many things in politics, however, it is always a sign of opportunity when affairs seem at their worst. The problem with Washington and Israel is that they always revert to paradigms that inevitably involve the killing of innocents as well as the imposition of an order that instils even greater fear and instability in their opponents.

The first rule of politics, according to the philosopher Thomas Hobbes is to minimize fear and terror. A corollary to that view is the notion advanced by Judith Shklar that minimizing fear and terror always entails putting oneself in the place of the oppressed and dispossessed.

At this time, Israel is the powerhouse in the Mideast. It has shed its own prophetic tradition of battling for the voices and blood of the victim and instead turned into the oppressor,
"Some remove landmarks;
They seize flocks violently and feed on them;
They drive away the donkey of the fatherless;
They take the widow's ox as a pledge.
They push the needy off the road;
All the poor of the land are forced to hide. [Job 24:2 ff.]
It's now time for Israel to return to its prophetic roots and become once more the beacon of nations by treating its enemies as neighbors and shoring up the ruins of the oppressed in their midst.

As the always incisive and compassionate journalist, Helena Cobban, writes:
But meantime, let's still keep in mind that there are always alternatives to the use of violence. Negotiating a complete, comprehensive and final resolution of the Israeli-Arab conflict is still quite possible. And perhaps today we should say it is more necessary than ever. Enough fussing around with piddly little nickel-and-diming partial and incomplete "acccords."
Oh yeah, I almost forgot. How does this all relate to Iran? As pointed by Born at the Crest of the Empire, the "Iran issue" looks to be on its way to the UN Security Council under section 7 of the UN Charter. What's Article 7, you ask? Mike writes:
What caught my eye is the oblique, very diplomatic mention during the announcement of section 7 of the UN charter. Invocation of this section is very significant as that is the portion under which military action can be taken.
Note, however, that Mike tones down that interpretation somewhat, based on his reading of the NYTimes this morning.

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