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John Simkin

War Crimes in the Lebanon

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It is 50 years since the Suez Crisis. It seems that once again Israel seems to be in a conspiracy with two other nations, in order to create havoc on a neighbouring state. Whereas the rest of the world has rightly condemned the bombing of the Lebanese people and called for a cease-fire, Blair and Bush have only expressed regret. Evidence has emerged that Bush and his lap dog, Blair, have given Israel a week to destroy the infrastructure of the Lebanon.

As a journalist said on the BBC last night, the idea of bombing civilian areas (so far an estimated 345 people have been killed) in exchange for the capture of three Israeli soldiers, is an example of punishing people because they are considered to be “collectively responsible” for the actions of a group of terrorists. He added, this is just the kind of thing that the Nazis did in occupied Europe. It did not work then and it will not work now. The people of Europe refused to be suppressed into submission. There is no reason to believe that the people living in the Lebanon will react any differently from Europeans. The end result is that the Lebanon will become a breeding ground for terrorism.

I wonder if Blair would have ordered the bombing of Dublin after the IRA bombings in the 1970s? If he did, he would have been rightly condemned as a war criminal. It is only acceptable if you are bombing Arabs.

Of course Blair does not make these decisions himself. We are now a client state. We do not have an independent foreign policy. We just follow the one carried out by the US.

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Morality in foreign policy is often subjective. The US administration is confident that it represents the forces of democracy and freedom, and thus feels free to do whatever it judges best to promote these fine things. Israel perceives Palestinians and Arabs as committed to its destruction, justifying any action taken against them. Some in the Muslim world see no prospect of frustrating western cultural, economic and military dominance on western terms of engagement, and so choose other methods - such as suicide-bombing - that better suit their weakness.

Many Americans and Israelis believe that virtue is anyway unimportant, that the Arab world - and indeed the world at large - chiefly respects the successful use of power. Yet the weakness of this argument is laid bare in Lebanon, Iraq and elsewhere. The US, Israel and their backers - prominently including Tony Blair, if not the British people - are perceived both as behaving immorally, and using force ineffectually.

In a recent article for the International Institute for Strategic Studies journal, Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the School of Public Policy at Singapore University, analysed the precipitous decline of perceived western legitimacy. His principal argument was that it is essential for the US and its allies to be seen to abide by the same rules that they seek to impose on others. He proposed a recasting of the post-1945 Truman consensus, within which most nations acknowledged that the US sought to exercise its might for the welfare of all. Urging the US to renew its commitment to making the UN a real force, Mahbubani acknowledged the justice of giving large powers large voices through the security council. He argued, however, that its members' special influence must be matched by a special sense of responsibility, which is today perceived as lacking.

The world is unimpressed, he said, by US attempts to limit the rising power of China. Osama bin Laden has "successfully delegitimised American power in the eyes of hundreds of millions of Muslims ... One of the key factors in the growing delegitimisation ... is [uS] indifference to its impact and to how it is perceived in the eyes of the 6 billion people in the rest of the world." The principle of political and economic even-handedness is key, and is being flouted.

Most of the above seems undeniable by any reasonable person. It is hard to overstate the practical consequences of the west's moral erosion. The 2001 Afghan invasion commanded widespread international support. Yet, in Afghanistan today, most Nato members are fulfilling their commitments to help stabilise the country in the most half-hearted fashion. American behaviour elsewhere has diminished willingness to assist American purposes anywhere. This is mistaken, but unsurprising. The British contingent is striving its hardest in Helmand province, but the leakage of moral authority from Iraq has impacted on the perceived legitimacy of military action in Afghanistan. British soldiers on the ground pay the price, as ever, for their political masters' misjudgments.

Last Tuesday the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, delivered a shamefully complacent speech about Britain's proud record in upholding international law, notably in Iraq and Afghanistan. "We in the United Kingdom," he said, "take great care to ensure that we comply with the rule of law ... We take legitimacy very seriously." Operationally, on the battlefield, this is true. But it seems astonishing that any member of a government that has joined with the US in inflicting frightful damage on western legitimacy should dare to speak in such terms. Goldsmith added: "International law cannot be a substitute for morality or political judgment." True enough. Blair, with the help of his attorney, has driven a coach and horses through all three.

Morality alone cannot make an international order work. Few of us, however, want to be represented by governments that are perceived by most of the human race as pursuing policies which have no moral basis at all.

Hizbullah is a profoundly unpleasant and violent movement, which has inflicted as much grief upon the people of Lebanon as the Israelis. But as long as Israel continues to deny justice to the Palestinians, Hizbullah's actions will be deemed by many to possess more legitimacy than its own. Higher standards are expected from a sovereign state than a terrorist organisation.

It is understandable that George Bush should have endorsed the current Israeli campaign, for no more can be expected from him. It is almost incomprehensible, however, that Blair should also have done so, save in the context of the prime minister's wider loss of radio contact with Planet Earth. Israeli actions fail the pragmatic as well as the moral test. There is no possibility that they will suppress terrorist resistance to their polity. An Israeli academic chided me this week: "You columnists witter about proportionality - you should consider what the Israeli public demands from its government."

This recalled to me the wise observation of that most brilliant of British strategists Professor Sir Michael Howard in the aftermath of 9/11. "We have just got to hope," he said, "that whatever retaliatory action the Bush government undertakes to satisfy its own people for the twin towers does the least possible damage to the struggle against terrorism."

The defeat of terrorism is best achieved through an unglamorous cocktail of politics, diplomacy, intelligence, bribery, police work and special forces operations. Above all, a successful campaign offers the society from which the terrorists are drawn a just political dispensation. Contrary to widespread belief, the British did not defeat the 1950s Malayan insurgency by brilliant soldiering, but by shrewd politicking, which included a promise to quit the country. Northern Ireland today may not be a satisfactory place, but it owes its relative tranquillity to politics and economics rather than to 30 years of counter-terrorist campaigning.

Israel's attempts to quell opponents by the use of superior force may briefly appease its own public opinion, but contribute nothing to the nation's lasting security - indeed the reverse. Bush deserves some sort of award from the erratic and incompetent leaders of Iran, Venezuela and Cuba, to name but three, because the force most helpful to sustaining them in power is the raucous hostility of the US.

It is extraordinary to behold the loud, small people who direct US policy-making today, and contrast them with the towering figures who dominated in the late 1940s. Can Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld come from the same country that produced Dean Acheson, Averell Harriman, George Kennan and George Marshall? There was nothing limp-wristed about the latter. They forged the policy of containment of the Soviet Union and urged Truman to fight in Korea. Yet all were repositories of deep wisdom and generosity of spirit. When I once applauded their memories to Ray Seitz, then US ambassador in London, he dryly reminded me that none achieved elective office.

The point is well made. But they wielded influence in a fashion that determined US policy, in an era when western command of the moral high ground was hardly disputed in any civilised society. Somehow, though surely not under the current US president or British prime minister, this is what we must regain.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/st...1827328,00.html

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Can Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld come from the same country that produced Dean Acheson, Averell Harriman, George Kennan and George Marshall? There was nothing limp-wristed about the latter. They forged the policy of containment of the Soviet Union and urged Truman to fight in Korea. Yet all were repositories of deep wisdom and generosity of spirit. When I once applauded their memories to Ray Seitz, then US ambassador in London, he dryly reminded me that none achieved elective office.

As someone said on the Guardian website: "That's the same US that "From 1945 to 2005, the United States attempted to overthrow 50 governments, many of them democracies, and to crush 30 popular movements fighting tyrannical regimes. In the process, 25 countries were bombed, causing the loss of several million lives"?"

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Last Tuesday the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, delivered a shamefully complacent speech about Britain's proud record in upholding international law, notably in Iraq and Afghanistan. "We in the United Kingdom," he said, "take great care to ensure that we comply with the rule of law ... We take legitimacy very seriously." Operationally, on the battlefield, this is true. But it seems astonishing that any member of a government that has joined with the US in inflicting frightful damage on western legitimacy should dare to speak in such terms. Goldsmith added: "International law cannot be a substitute for morality or political judgment." True enough. Blair, with the help of his attorney, has driven a coach and horses through all three.

Morality alone cannot make an international order work. Few of us, however, want to be represented by governments that are perceived by most of the human race as pursuing policies which have no moral basis at all.

Hizbullah is a profoundly unpleasant and violent movement, which has inflicted as much grief upon the people of Lebanon as the Israelis. But as long as Israel continues to deny justice to the Palestinians, Hizbullah's actions will be deemed by many to possess more legitimacy than its own. Higher standards are expected from a sovereign state than a terrorist organisation.

It is understandable that George Bush should have endorsed the current Israeli campaign, for no more can be expected from him. It is almost incomprehensible, however, that Blair should also have done so, save in the context of the prime minister's wider loss of radio contact with Planet Earth. Israeli actions fail the pragmatic as well as the moral test. There is no possibility that they will suppress terrorist resistance to their polity. An Israeli academic chided me this week: "You columnists witter about proportionality - you should consider what the Israeli public demands from its government."

This only emphasizes the fact that the UK no longer has an independent foreign policy. Blair/Beckett refused to condemn the actions of the Israelis (Blair called it regrettable) or to call for a cease-fire. Whereas the rest of the world, including officials of the United Nations pointed out that Israel’s action was completely out of proportion, and some rightly argued that the bombing of civilian areas in the Lebanon was a war crime.

Rumours began to spread that Bush had given Israel seven days to smash the infrastructure of Lebanon. As it turns out, it seems it was ten days. Today US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has suggested that Bush is now ready to accept a cease-fire. A few hours later Blair claimed he was now in favour of an “immediate cessation of hostilities" in Lebanon.

There was no need for Blair to issue this statement. All we need to do is to read the ones issued by the White House.

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Last Tuesday the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, delivered a shamefully complacent speech about Britain's proud record in upholding international law, notably in Iraq and Afghanistan. "We in the United Kingdom," he said, "take great care to ensure that we comply with the rule of law ... We take legitimacy very seriously." Operationally, on the battlefield, this is true. But it seems astonishing that any member of a government that has joined with the US in inflicting frightful damage on western legitimacy should dare to speak in such terms. Goldsmith added: "International law cannot be a substitute for morality or political judgment." True enough. Blair, with the help of his attorney, has driven a coach and horses through all three.

Morality alone cannot make an international order work. Few of us, however, want to be represented by governments that are perceived by most of the human race as pursuing policies which have no moral basis at all.

Hizbullah is a profoundly unpleasant and violent movement, which has inflicted as much grief upon the people of Lebanon as the Israelis. But as long as Israel continues to deny justice to the Palestinians, Hizbullah's actions will be deemed by many to possess more legitimacy than its own. Higher standards are expected from a sovereign state than a terrorist organisation.

It is understandable that George Bush should have endorsed the current Israeli campaign, for no more can be expected from him. It is almost incomprehensible, however, that Blair should also have done so, save in the context of the prime minister's wider loss of radio contact with Planet Earth. Israeli actions fail the pragmatic as well as the moral test. There is no possibility that they will suppress terrorist resistance to their polity. An Israeli academic chided me this week: "You columnists witter about proportionality - you should consider what the Israeli public demands from its government."

This only emphasizes the fact that the UK no longer has an independent foreign policy. Blair/Beckett refused to condemn the actions of the Israelis (Blair called it regrettable) or to call for a cease-fire. Whereas the rest of the world, including officials of the United Nations pointed out that Israel’s action was completely out of proportion, and some rightly argued that the bombing of civilian areas in the Lebanon was a war crime.

Rumours began to spread that Bush had given Israel seven days to smash the infrastructure of Lebanon. As it turns out, it seems it was ten days. Today US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has suggested that Bush is now ready to accept a cease-fire. A few hours later Blair claimed he was now in favour of an “immediate cessation of hostilities" in Lebanon.

There was no need for Blair to issue this statement. All we need to do is to read the ones issued by the White House.

I agree, John. It seems this has been a joint US/Israeli effort to establish Israel as a regional superpower. Ultimately Syria and Iran are the targets. Blair and that other poodle John Howard just follow like sheep.

The outcome for Lebanon is that this smoking wasteland will become a rich breeding ground for terrorists. I've read that many fleeing Lebanese have stated they are now prepared to give their lives for Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. As if the US and Israeli Governments didn't know this would be one of the consequences. They would be more than happy to see this occur, IMO. A cynic might suggest that the fanatical Christian neocons in Washington and the equally fanatical zeolots in Tel Aviv are dragging the world into some kind of biblical Armagedden prophesy. Bush has already claimed that his orders come from a "higher power".

When the smoke clears, I wonder who'll get the contract for restoring Lebanon's shattered infrastructure?

War on terror indeed. Create the terrorists, then drag the western world into a war on them. Make billions while you're at it. I know who the "axis of evil" is.

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War on terror indeed. Create the terrorists, then drag the western world into a war on them. Make billions while you're at it. I know who the "axis of evil" is.

Steven Jones (Palestine Chronicle)

I recently came across a graphic on the McClatchy (formerly Knight Ridder) website entitled “Weapons aimed at Israel”[McClatchy Washington Bureau 7/21/06]]. Curious, I opened the link. I discovered that Hezbollah currently has aimed at Israel short range Katyusha rockets (developed, ironically, by the USSR to repel the Nazis in WWII), as well as series of medium and longer-range missiles, including the Iranian made Fadjr 3 and Zelzal-2 among others. I clicked back to the previous page to see if there was a graphic on “Israeli weapons used to vaporize and incinerate Lebanese and Palestinian civilians.” Much to my disappointment, but not to my surprise, I found nothing.

The New York Times was a little (a very little) more informative. In an article dated July 22 [“U.S. Speeds Up Bomb Delivery for the Israelis”], the Times states that “the Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon.” According to the “American officials” cited by the Times, the rush job is out of the ordinary and has not been announced publicly by the government, but the bombs are “part of a multi million-dollar arms sale package approved last year that Israel is able to draw on as needed.” We are further informed that this is “just one example of a broad array of armaments that the U.S. has long provided Israel”, without being given any details.

The Times goes on to state that “Israel’s need for precision-guided munitions is driven in part by its strategy in Lebanon,” which is, judging from what Israel has done in Lebanon since July 12, to massacre as many civilians and as few militants as possible in a savage campaign of bombing that is fulfilling the promise of IDF chief Dan Halutz (certainly in line to become Israel’s next former General/war criminal PM) to set Lebanese infrastructure back “20, maybe 50 years.” Meanwhile, judging from the number of rockets that Hezbollah continues to fire into Israel, the IDF bombardment, including 23 tons of ordinance dropped on a single target, has done little damage to “terrorist infrastructure.”

I recalled a line in William Blum’s Rogue State. “A terrorist is someone with a bomb but not an air force.” I followed a certain logic: Israel is fighting “terrorism”, therefore Israel is not itself a terrorist entity, therefore Israel must have an air force with which to drop their American bombs so precisely on minivans of Lebanese families fleeing their homes on the advice of Israeli leaflets raining down from cruel summer skies warning of an imminent heavy metal sufa. Sufa means storm in Hebrew and, coincidentally, is also the name of the type of Israeli fighter jet that crashed during take off from the Negev on its way to Lebanon the other day [Ha’aretz 7/20/06]. It turns out that despite its Hebrew name, the Sufa is actually manufactured in Texas by none other than Lockheed Martin. According to the same Ha’aretz article, Israel bought 102 of these new fighter jets, also known as the F-16I, at a cost of “nearly $70 million” per aircraft.

http://www.palestinechronicle.com/story-07240641722.htm

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It looks like Israel is tired of acting like NATO and now wants to bring NATO into the fray. They've just been paving the way for NATO occupation. This comes from Arutz Sheva, a right-wing Israeli news source:

Peretz Opens Door to NATO Force

12:37 Jul 23, '06 / 27 Tammuz 5766

(IsraelNN.com) Defense Minister Amir Peretz (Labor) stated Sunday morning that

Israel would allow a NATO force to patrol in Lebanon. He said the presence of an international force is due to the "weakness of the Lebanese army." However, European officials have pushed for a United National force. Previous U.N. patrols have been ineffective and often have openly aided Hizbullah terrorists to attack Israel.

Ministers Peretz spoke following a meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier. Israel and NATO have forged closer relations the past year, and NATO officials visited Jerusalem earlier this year. (source)

(This isn't my discovery by the way, thanks go to Francisco Gil-White's latest article, although he draws all the wrong conclusions from this.)

EDIT: I've just found some additional interesting information. Apparently Israel conducted a joint "tactical exercise" with NATO about a month ago (its first).

IDF AND NATO STRENGTHEN TIES

"For the first time since its founding in 1949, NATO will fully integrate Israeli naval forces into a military exercise, Arutz-7 reported. Israel has previously only been allowed to observe such exercises. The military exercise will take place in the Black sea off the coast of Romania. The exercise will involve simulated combat between missile boat fleets as well as search-and rescue drills.

Senior IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) officers said that the NATO mission was designed to strengthen ties between Israel and the alliance and to look into possibilities for future military cooperation. Some analysts have speculated that Israel would apply for membership in the NATO alliance, but IDF officials have indicated that formal membership would limit Israel's ability to apply military force independently, as it sees fit." (source)

From the Jerusalem Post:

Israel in first NATO tactical exercise

"The purpose of the exercise, explained Lavi, was to create better interoperability between the Israeli Navy and NATO naval forces. To do that, the exercise practiced communicating between the fleets and emphasized how the different independent systems on each boat worked in concert with one another." (source)

Edited by Owen Parsons

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It's my understanding that Hizbollah has repeatedly said it will disarm when the Lenanese Military are capable of defending the country.

It therefore seems to me that Condoleeza has an obvious game plan for solving the 'conflict'.

She has only to persuade her good friend George W and the nice folk at the Pentagon to arm its democratic ally in the middle east to a sufficient level that next time Israel attacks, The Lebanon can repel and punish the aggressor with superior force.

On that basis, Hizbollah would aurely disarm and the Israelis would be presumably be delighted to have a secure neighbour to the north.

How's about that for an instant peace policy? Who could possibly object? Even the Military Industrial Complex would have a field day. As we ALL know, it's ONLY interest is to sell more arms. Hence arming The Lebanon to at least the Israeli level would be in the MIDs interests also, wouldn't it?

Win, win, win all round!

Wonder why this will never happen?

Edited by Sid Walker

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It looks like Israel is tired of acting like NATO and now wants to bring NATO into the fray. They've just been paving the way for NATO occupation. This comes from Arutz Sheva, a right-wing Israeli news source:
Peretz Opens Door to NATO Force

12:37 Jul 23, '06 / 27 Tammuz 5766

(IsraelNN.com) Defense Minister Amir Peretz (Labor) stated Sunday morning that

Israel would allow a NATO force to patrol in Lebanon. He said the presence of an international force is due to the "weakness of the Lebanese army." However, European officials have pushed for a United National force. Previous U.N. patrols have been ineffective and often have openly aided Hizbullah terrorists to attack Israel.

Ministers Peretz spoke following a meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier. Israel and NATO have forged closer relations the past year, and NATO officials visited Jerusalem earlier this year. (source)

(This isn't my discovery by the way, thanks go to Francisco Gil-White's latest article, although he draws all the wrong conclusions from this.)

EDIT: I've just found some additional interesting information. Apparently Israel conducted a joint "tactical exercise" with NATO about a month ago (its first).

IDF AND NATO STRENGTHEN TIES

"For the first time since its founding in 1949, NATO will fully integrate Israeli naval forces into a military exercise, Arutz-7 reported. Israel has previously only been allowed to observe such exercises. The military exercise will take place in the Black sea off the coast of Romania. The exercise will involve simulated combat between missile boat fleets as well as search-and rescue drills.

Senior IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) officers said that the NATO mission was designed to strengthen ties between Israel and the alliance and to look into possibilities for future military cooperation. Some analysts have speculated that Israel would apply for membership in the NATO alliance, but IDF officials have indicated that formal membership would limit Israel's ability to apply military force independently, as it sees fit." (source)

From the Jerusalem Post:

Israel in first NATO tactical exercise

"The purpose of the exercise, explained Lavi, was to create better interoperability between the Israeli Navy and NATO naval forces. To do that, the exercise practiced communicating between the fleets and emphasized how the different independent systems on each boat worked in concert with one another." (source)

Owen,

Well that is very interesting. It would seem that there's a larger strategy being employed here. The US can't wait any longer. Control of the entire region, with Israel as a willing ally, would seem to be the big picture.

Maybe the concern over Iran's pending nuclear capability has forced their hand. Once Tehran has this capability, there's no way the US and Israel could throw their weight around like this.

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"(IsraelNN.com) Defense Minister Amir Peretz (Labor) stated Sunday morning that Israel would allow a NATO force to patrol in Lebanon."

So, Israel will "allow" NATO forces into The Lebanon - a sovereign nation whose population is not represented in the Knesset.

How jolly nice.

Does that mean putative NATO forces in The Lebanon won't be attacked and murdered by the Israeli military - a fate experienced by both UN forces and the Red Cross?

It's great to hear from 'left-wing' Zionists such as Peretz on matters such as this, so we can better understand the Zionist 'center of gravity' on this debate.

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"(IsraelNN.com) Defense Minister Amir Peretz (Labor) stated Sunday morning that Israel would allow a NATO force to patrol in Lebanon."

So, Israel will "allow" NATO forces into The Lebanon - a sovereign nation whose population is not represented in the Knesset.

How jolly nice.

Does that mean putative NATO forces in The Lebanon won't be attacked and murdered by the Israeli military - a fate experienced by both UN forces and the Red Cross?

It's great to hear from 'left-wing' Zionists such as Peretz on matters such as this, so we can better understand the Zionist 'center of gravity' on this debate.

I agree Sid.

The sad thing is that they'll convince gullible people in the West that they're being fair and reasonable (because the Western media will say this is so, of course).

Israel and the US have zero respect for the sovereignty of other nations. That's an undisputable fact. Under the dubious pretexts of spreading democracy, liberating them from oppression and eradicating terrorism (a problem mostly of their own making), our allies have sunk to the status of global cowards and bullies. The emperor is buck naked and what an awful sight it is.

From today's Sydney Daily Telegraph comes this quote from Connie Rice during her visit to Sydney four months ago:

I do think we were hurt by sixty years of turning a blind eye to the absence of freedom in the Middle East. But we have a different course now and I believe over time the people of the Middle East will see that that's a course supportive of their aspirations.

My interpretation of this garbage is:

We are in deep trouble. We want that oil--ALL the oil, before China gets a sniff. Because of the way Israel and the US have behaved in the region since WW2, there's no chance of us getting it peacefully so we're just going to take it by force. But don't worry friends--we'll say we're bringing freedom to the region. Ain't that hilarious? We get the oil and Israel gets to destroy its regional enemies. It's win win. BTW, if you're not with us, you're against us. That should keep you all in line.

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More details on this NATO force:

US, Israel ready to back NATO-led force in Lebanon

Sun Jul 23, 6:19 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States and

Israel said that they were ready to support an international force led by

NATO in south Lebanon to ease tensions.

No US troops are likely to be in the force, which according to a US media report could be between 10,000 and 20,000 strong and led by a contingent from France or Turkey.

There could be delicate questions, however, over whether the force's mission is to disarm Hezbollah or to support the Lebanese army's efforts to take control in the south of the country.

John Bolton, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said Sunday the US administration would take the idea of NATO leading a buffer force "seriously".

In Jerusalem, Defence Minster Amir Peretz said Israel supported the deployment of an international force in southern Lebanon.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora said, however, that the United Nations should take the lead if an international force is to be established.

As Israel pursues its military campaign against Hezbollah in Lebanon, an operation which has left hundreds dead and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes, the proposed force is to be discussed by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on her crisis mission to Italy and the Middle East this week.

"It's a new idea. We'll certainly take it seriously," Bolton said on CNN television's "Late Edition" programme when asked about the possibility of NATO leading the force.

"I think we have been looking carefully at the possibility of a multinational force perhaps authorized by the Security Council, but not a UN-helmeted force," he added.

Rice had already stated that the United States was open to the proposal. The Israeli defence minister discussed the idea during talks in Jerusalem with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

"Due to the weakness of the Lebanese army, Israel supports the possibility of deploying a multinational force with a strong mandate," a defence ministry official quoted Peretz as saying, adding that the force could be sponsored by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Siniora, who called for an immediate ceasefire, said no concrete proposals have been offered for a multinational force.

"If it is going to be considered, then it has to be under the flag of the United Nations," he told CNN.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other leaders have already called for a "robust" force, to take the place of the 2,000-strong UN observer mission already in Lebanon.

The Washington Post quoted US officials as saying that planning for a force is in early stages and that the United States cannot contribute because it is already stretched by operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rice said Friday she did not think US ground forces would take part.

Officials quoted by the Washington Post said the force could be 10,000-20,000 troops and be led by a French or Turkish contingent. Italy, Brazil, Pakistan, India and Germany have also been named as nations that could send military units.

"The questions about what kind of force it is -- what its command structure is, is it a UN force, is it an international force -- those are the discussions that are going on and I think are going to go on over the next few days," Rice said Friday.

However, on Sunday Mohamad Chatah, an advisor to Siniora, said the issue of a multinational force is "not at the centre of the problem."

"What -- you send troops to finish a war that Israel couldn't finish?" he asked on CNN.

"And unless we have a clear solution to these problems and a political framework, a multinational force, whether NATO or a UN force, doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

"We need to agree, quickly, on an end to this and a political solution that makes sense. And then a multinational support (force) can provide a lot of assistance to our own armed forces."

Bolton said that any force would have to be part of an effort to implement UN Security Council resolution 1559, which calls for Lebanese government forces to be able to assert their authority over all of the country's territory.

"I think you don't want a multilateral force that usurps that role," Bolton said on the "Fox News Sunday" programme. "You want a multilateral presence, an international presence that strengthens the Lebanese government's ability to control all of its territory." (link)

Isn't it funny that while the Lebanese P.M. wants a UN force, our own Ambassador to the UN (who is trying to bring about "reform") wants a NATO force "perhaps authorized by the Security Council." Blair and others are sick of the UN and want something a little more "robust." We can gather from all this that Siniora has no say in the country he is supposed to govern and that NATO will bypass the Security Council altogether, just like they did in Kosovo. NATO is going to "help" him "implement" resolution 1559, whether he wants their help or not.

Also, Israel is committing more war crimes. This comes from HRW:

Israeli Cluster Munitions Hit Civilians in Lebanon

(Beirut, July 24, 2006) – Israel has used artillery-fired cluster munitions in populated areas of Lebanon, Human Rights Watch said today. Researchers on the ground in Lebanon confirmed that a cluster munitions attack on the village of Blida on July 19 killed one and wounded at least 12 civilians, including seven children. Human Rights Watch researchers also photographed cluster munitions in the arsenal of Israeli artillery teams on the Israel-Lebanon border.

"Cluster munitions are unacceptably inaccurate and unreliable weapons when used around civilians," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "They should never be used in populated areas." (Human Rights Watch)

Rice Sees Israeli Bombs as Birth Pangs

WASHINGTON - Condoleezza Rice has described the plight of Lebanon as a part of the "birth pangs of a new Middle East" and said that Israel should ignore calls for a ceasefire.

"This is a different Middle East. It's a new Middle East. It's hard, We're going through a very violent time," the US secretary of state said.

"A ceasefire would be a false promise if it simply returns us to the status quo.

"Such a step would allow terrorists to launch attacks at the time and terms of their choosing and to threaten innocent people, Arab and Israeli, throughout the region."

She was speaking on Saturday after meeting with members of a United Nations team that had just returned from the region.

More than 300 Lebanese civilians have been killed in 11 days of Israeli air and artillery strikes against Hezbollah, the armed Lebanese Shia group. (Palestine Chronicle)

Edited by Owen Parsons

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Two sides of the story published in the Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/st...1828055,00.html

This is a fight for our survival

Isaac Herzog, Israeli government

Tuesday July 25, 2006

The Guardian

Some may wonder how, as a man of the left and Israel's peace camp, I can at the same time be a member of a government now fighting a war in Lebanon. The answer is the same one that Clement Attlee or even Harold Wilson would have given: when your very existence is under threat, you have the right to defend yourself, and the responsibility to your people to defend their security. Let's be clear: Hizbullah is a terrorist organisation. This is not a political issue, it is not an ideological issue; it is a matter of survival. That is why I and the vast majority of the Israeli population support this military response.

Israel today is facing a sustained onslaught from one of the world's most dangerous and effective terrorist organisations. In the past few days, 1,000 rockets and 1,200 mortar rounds have been hurled across the border by Hizbullah at hospitals, schools and homes. Their intention is the killing and maiming of Israelis in general.

Israel is fighting back. Israel's use of force is entirely proportionate to the extent of the threat that Hizbullah poses. A third of our people are in immediate danger of Hizbullah missiles and are sheltering for fear of their lives. The whole of the north of our country has in effect been shut down. International law recognises the right to respond to the extent of a threat, and Israel has therefore acted within international law.

Our goals are clear. Israel was forced to enter this conflict after an unprovoked attack by Hizbullah terrorists across the border, in which three soldiers were killed, and two kidnapped. The attack, one of many in recent years, was made possible because of an abnormal political situation in Lebanon. Since May 2000 the southern part of that country has effectively been hijacked by a terrorist organisation. Hizbullah controls the border, and administers every aspect of life for the residents of southern Lebanon. The organisation is armed, trained and kept afloat by foreign powers - Iran and Syria are at the forefront.

This terrorist organisation openly desires the destruction of Israel. Its leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, is an anti-semite, and is one of the most cynical leaders in the region. He uses Lebanon as a launch pad to pursue his own agenda with a wilful disregard of the hardship and pain he has brought on his fellow countrymen and women in Lebanon.

This situation is unacceptable. It will not continue. Israel's goal, first and foremost, is to ensure that, when our operations end, Hizbullah no longer controls the border with Israel, and may not reignite fighting at its whim. This is why a simple ceasefire, as attractive as it sounds, is not enough. It would allow Hizbullah, as it has done for six years, to rest, regroup, replenish supplies, and then start the fighting all over again.

The goal of ending Hizbullah's capacity for aggression can be achieved in a number of ways. From our point of view, the obvious solution would be the deployment by the Lebanese army of its forces throughout the entirety of Lebanese territory. This is in accordance with the norms of life in sovereign countries. It is also required by Lebanon's obligations according to UN resolution 1559. We are told, however, that the Lebanese army is weak and small, and contains within its own ranks a considerable number of Hizbullah sympathisers.

So be it. Clearly, it is imperative that the international community endeavours to help the Lebanese government to reach a situation where it is able to effectively police its territory, and prevent it from being seized by armed organisations in the pay of foreign states.

The international community has already proved that with solid, unified support it helped Lebanon rid itself of Syrian occupation. The same international will must now be garnered to rid Lebanon of Hizbullah. For the interim period, however, Israel could accept the deployment of a sizeable, effective international force along the border.

Hopefully, the Israeli action of recent days has disabused Hizbullah and its backers of the notion that Israel is a "paper tiger", lacking the will to act in its citizens' defence. If this lesson has not been absorbed, and the aggression recommences, Israel will be prepared, if necessary, to mobilise once again.

It is to be hoped that arrangements of this type, along with the immediate return of the kidnapped soldiers, will now be enforced upon Hizbullah. The lives and dignity of the people of both Lebanon and northern Israel have for too long been forfeit to the whims of a terror group in the pay of a neighbouring dictatorship. It is time for this situation to end. Hizbullah's immoral and illegal behaviour must end so a new era may dawn on the region.

· Isaac Herzog is minister of tourism and a member of Israel's security cabinet

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/st...1828055,00.html

We are defending our sovereignty

Ali Fayyad, Hizbullah leadership

Tuesday July 25, 2006

The Guardian

For nearly two weeks Israel has been waging a war of terror and aggression against Lebanon. Its stated justification is the capture by the Islamic Resistance (Hizbullah) of two Israeli soldiers with the aim of exchanging them for Lebanese prisoners. The war has already resulted in the killing of around 400 and wounding of more than 1,000 Lebanese. Most are civilians (a third children), crushed in their homes or ripped to pieces in their cars by Israeli bombs and missiles.

In reality, the Israeli escalation is less about the two soldiers and more about its determination to disarm the Lebanese resistance. According to the US, Israel and some other western states, this would implement UN security council resolution 1559, which led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon last year.

Most Lebanese, however, do not regard the resistance forces of Hizbullah as militias, as referred to in the UN resolution, let alone any kind of terrorist organisation. Our resistance accomplished a major national mission by forcing Israeli troops to withdraw from most Lebanese territory in 2000 after 22 years of occupation. Since then there has been intense national debate about how Lebanon can defend itself in future once the resistance has achieved the liberation of the remaining occupied Lebanese land (the Shaba'a farms area) and the release of Lebanese detainees.

The Lebanese people's support for the resistance was demonstrated by the fact that Hizbullah and its allies won more seats in the 2005 elections, following the Syrian withdrawal, than when Syrian troops were still in the country. That is why Israel is now targeting civilians.

In the context of the continued occupation, detention of prisoners and repeated Israeli attacks and incursions into Lebanese territory, the capture of the Israeli soldiers was entirely legitimate. The operation was fully in line with the Lebanese ministerial declaration, supported in parliament, that stressed the right of the resistance to liberate occupied Lebanese territory, free prisoners of war and defend Lebanon against Israeli aggression. International law also allows peoples and states to take action to protect their citizens and territory. The Israeli onslaught is aimed not only at liquidating the resistance and destroying the country's infrastructure but at intervening in Lebanese politics and imposing conditions on what can be agreed.

There is now a clear national consensus on the need to maintain the military power necessary to prevent Lebanon from being subjugated by Israel's war machine. Popular resistance is a way of redressing the huge imbalance of power, defending Lebanon's sovereignty and preventing Israel from intervening in Lebanese internal affairs, as has happened repeatedly since 1948. It is also - as has been the case in the prisoner-capture operation - dictated by an entirely local agenda, rather than reflecting any Syrian or Iranian policy.

The aggression against Lebanon, which has primarily targeted civilians and failed to achieve any tangible military objectives, is part of a continuing attempt to impose Israeli hegemony on the area and prevent the emergence of a regional system that might guarantee stability, self-determination, freedom and democracy.

Hizbullah has tried from the start of this crisis to limit the escalation by adopting a policy of limited response while avoiding civilian targets; its aims were restricted to freeing the prisoners of war held in both camps. However, Israel's systematic destruction of entire civilian areas in Beirut and elsewhere and perpetration of scores of horrific massacres prompted Hizbullah to shift to an all-out confrontation to affirm Lebanon's right to deter aggression and defend its territorial integrity and its citizens, just as any sovereign state would do.

Thus far, Hizbullah has had surprising military successes, while maintaining its position in the face of Israel's superior fire power, and preserved its capacity to wage a long-term war. But Hizbullah is still ready to accept a ceasefire and negotiate indirectly an exchange of prisoners to bring the current crisis to an end.

This is what Israel has so far rejected, with the support of the US. For this is also a war of American hegemony over the Middle East, and the US - supported by the British government - is fully complicit in the Israeli war crimes carried out in the past two weeks. It would appear that the peaceful option will not be given a chance until Hizbullah and the forces of resistance have demonstrated their ability to confront Israel's aggression and thwart its objectives, as happened in 1993 and 1996. That is why resistance is not only a pillar of our sovereignty but also a prerequisite of stability.

· Ali Fayyad is a senior member of Hizbullah's executive committee

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/st...1828134,00.html

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Last night, on national TV, Australian Prime Minister John Howard repeated hisd Government's pro-Israeli line on the current conflict in The Lebanon.

Inter alia, Howard said:

Once a war starts, innocent people do get hurt and killed and this war is no exception, but it is true that the cause of this current conflict was the action of Hezbollah going across the Israeli border, provocatively capturing soldiers, and until there is an acceptance in the entire Arab world - and I mean the entire Arab world - of Israel's right to exist and an embrace of the two-state solution, we're never going to have a lasting peace.

This is consistent with the general impression one gleans from the mainstream media about this incident.

There appears to be an alternative narrative, however, doucmented HERE. In this account, the soldiers were captured while walkabout in Southern Lebanon.

As an entire country is currently being destroyed, allegedly in response to the soldiers' capture - and given the possibility an even wider and more terrible war ensuing - it seems of some importance to establish the truth on this matter.

Do any forum members have more definitive information?

Where were these Israeli soldiers when captured? Were they inside Israel - or operating (illegally) within another country?

Edited by Sid Walker

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