Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Cease-diplomacy

This is a fanciful world of foreign policy for our president. He seems to believe that a war can last for more than two weeks, grow increasingly bloody for each side, and yet a cease-fire remains a certainty. Cease-fires happen when both sides have something to gain from the end of hostilities. At this point, Israel will not agree to a cease-fire because there are chunks of Lebanon they want to deprive to Hezbollah. Hezbollah won't agree to a cease-fire because they are brutal and still successful. They maintain about a hundred rocket attacks per day, and have proven tough to dislodge from well entrenched positions.

More troublingly, both sides seem to believe they can win and/or have to win. At this point, can we expect Israel to cease hostilities until they have control over several kilometers of Lebanon? If they were to stop their incursions, Hezbollah would claim a victory of sorts. The same dynamic works for Hezbollah. Were they to declare a unilateral cease-fire, Israel could claim a victory.

An international peace-keeping, or peace-making, force could settle the "buffer zone" question for Israel. However, a cease-fire seems to be a necessary precondition for such a force.

The Los Angeles Times:
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration's effort to assemble an international peacekeeping force for Lebanon has quickly run into several roadblocks, including one especially daunting: Few countries seem willing to commit troops, especially without a cease-fire agreement in place.

The White House has said no U.S. troops would be part of such a force. Britain says it is stretched too thin to take on another deployment. France has called talk of such a force "premature," while German officials wince at the idea of their troops on Israel's border.
With neither Israel nor Hezbollah close to a cease-fire, such a force remains a work of fiction. Finding the troops to constitute the force is actually much more complicated than this article recounts. How many countries would be eager to position troops in the region, between two rivals, with chaos developing in Iraq?

There is one potential motivation for a cease-fire that could work effectively on Israel and may be effective with Hezbollah. That would be strong international pressure. That would require the United States applying pressure.

CNN:
A senior U.N. diplomat described the mood in the talks as somber. He said everyone but the United States wanted cessation of fighting to make room for more negotiations and humanitarian aid.

"This wouldn't require much contact between parties, and you can build on this for a political dialogue, but the United States wants formal cease-fire as part of a comprehensive deal, return of soldiers, etc.," the source said.
Et cetera in this case also includes a no-go zone for Hezbollah. That, it seems, will have to be imposed on the terrorist group through the use of force. That, it seems, is still some time off.

CNN:
BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- Eight Israeli soldiers were killed in fierce fighting with Hezbollah militiamen Wednesday in southern Lebanon, the Israel Defense Forces said.
George W. Bush deserves some credit for his pursuit, or acceptance, of the pacification of Hezbollah. However, the matter is at best a gambit. The guiding vision is detailed in this Washington Post story:
"If this Lebanon emerges stronger from this crisis, then the enemies of peace and stability in the area will be dealt a big defeat. In many ways, for the region, Lebanon is a polyglot country that represents the hopes of many," C. David Welch, assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, told reporters traveling with Rice from Jerusalem to Rome.

"The new Middle East is not going to be built every single day with a big victory in one place or another," he added. "It's got to be done with a steady effort. This is an opportunity now in the midst of this crisis to see freedom strengthened in Lebanon. And I expect that that can occur if we get the responsible voices prevailing over the irresponsible ones."
Part of the plan was to pull more moderate Arab states into the pro-Western sphere. This was detailed by Bloomberg News in the beginning of the week:
July 24 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. is trying to make sure that Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Arab states that have criticized Hezbollah for attacking Israel don't back down under pressure from their own citizens or other nations supporting the Shiite militia.
But these governments are not democratic and they are not stable. They can, at best, support American interests in fits and starts.

The Los Angeles Times:
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose Socialist government has had testy relations with Washington since coming to power a little more than a year ago, has also been critical of "abusive" force in the region, alluding to Israel.

"The silences of today in light of what is happening in the Mideast could become the regrets of tomorrow, because waiting for time to pass costs human lives," Zapatero said.

Germany, while recognizing Israel's right to defend itself, warned that Lebanon could be "further destabilized" under a prolonged bombing campaign.

Perhaps more worrisome for Washington, two of its strongest Arab allies, Saudi Arabia and Egypt — which had generally sided with the U.S. as the conflict began — on Tuesday voiced strong misgivings over the severity of the Israeli airstrikes and echoed European calls for a speedy end to the crisis.
Now, it seems Israel is forced into a prolonged (weeks, months) conflict in Lebanon. An international force is not likely for some time. The fight will continue. The war on terror will only grow hotter.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Avid Reader said...

Your coverage of US affairs is laudable. Your perspective on international news is refreshing and well thought. How about you put some coverage into intersteller affairs, such as Lance Bass? I haven't seen anything on this blog about Lance. After dominating American lives for years, Lance Bass became an international figure and walked away after being on top for so long. He didn't finish us off and left us wondering how big he could have been.

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Dave said...

ok. I´m from Spain and We are very satisfied with the last decisions of our prime minister in help of the peace in the world. We are with peace in Irak and with the peace in middle east. I think that the political position of our president must be an example for the rest of the world, finally, in Europe the most important countries have our ideas.
I think that the american people don´t deserve yours politics and the bad image which have in Europe. Actually the antiamericanism grow day by day and that is a serious problem.
Sorry but I´m exhausted and I cant write a good english.

4:30 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Dave, your English is quite good and your sentiment transcends language barriers.

4:40 PM  

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