Saturday, August 05, 2006

Is It the Good Turtle Soup or merely the Mock?

The White House agreed this morning to submit with France a draft resolution calling for an immediate end to all Israeli offensive action in Lebanon and to all Hizbullah attacks [on Israel and Israeli soldiers in Lebanon]. The US had objected to the draft resolution, saying that the call for a cease fire should only come with the deployment of a strong UN peacekeeping force in the area south of the Litani River. Now, as ambassador to the UN John Bolton put it, the US “is prepared to move as quickly as other members of the council want to move.” A second resolution will authorize the peacekeeping force and its deployment.

Per the theory of Bush in the grip of neo-conservatives, this agreement (a humiliating surrender to the French!) indicates that neo-conservatives have thrown in the towel for the time being. They know Israel’s present government will not expand the current fighting into the wider war they want. So they see little point in having the war continue. The sooner it ends, the quicker recriminations will begin against the Olmert government’s handling of the war and its diplomatic aftermath.

Israel is likely to accept the draft resolution. Its conditions are favorable to Israel: it lets IDF stay in Lebanon, until the international force is deployed and Hizbullah fighters removed from south of the Litani. It emphasizes (though does not require) the need for Hizbullah to return the soldiers, whose capture provoked the current fighting. The government also knows the public will no longer unquestioningly support expanded operations in Lebanon. By now many Israelis understand that IDF's moving further into Lebanon will not stop the long range Hizbullah rockets from hitting Israel. That will require negotiations and agreements. As political scientist Yaron Ezrahi says, "we can have a lot to gain by stopping now and moving to convert what we have done to political assets." There is already open criticism of the government and general staff for their poor strategies, worse decision making and clumsy spinning. Criticism in another form came today with a peace rally in Tel Aviv of over 5,000 people. They heard former Knesset members Yael Dayan and Naomi Chazan and others call for an end to fighting and a prisoners swap to get back the captured soldiers. (Neither MK was speaking on behalf of her party Meretz, which continues to support the war.)

In contrast, a Hizbullah member of the Lebanese cabinet publicly rejected the cease fire call, saying there would be no cease fire as long as there are Israeli troops in Lebanon. Clearly Hizbullah would like to reclaim its role as a national resistance force, especially since the cease fire resolution foresees its disarmament or, at least, its integration in the Lebanese army. But by prolonging the fight and destruction of Lebanon, Hezbullah would lose much of the the sympathy it has won in Lebanon and alienate the other communities there. Moreover, Syria and Iran are very unlikely to rearm Hizbullah, while the Security Council is paying close attention to the conflict. More positively for Hizbullah, the resolution "encourages" the meeting of certain Hizbullah goals: Israel's return of Lebanese prisoners and its handing the Shebaa Farms to Lebanon. So, another week of bombs and rockets may ensue, but, I think, Hizbullah will accept the the draft resolution's substance in some fashion, in some way.


Anonymous shlomo said...

Atik, I turn to your blog daily now, and look for your Sunday post.

8:36 PM  

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