Nice Try, Mr. Bolton

The proposed UN Security Council resolution, whose language the US and France have agreed upon, calling for the “end of hostilities” between Israel and Hizbollah, is destined to join other similar one-sided resolutions that proved to be part of the problem rather than the solution. Most likely, it will help drive the final nail in Lebanon’s fast filling coffin. Disturbingly, the one logical conclusion that derives from this judgment is: if you think the destruction that Israel has already visited upon Lebanon was bad enough, and if you think that surely this cannot go on, think again: there’s almost certainly much worse to come.

The first test that the new resolution would be grossly one-sided and will be unacceptable to a significant half of the protagonists in this struggle, stems from its very sponsorship by, and acceptability to the US and Israel. This is not to be interpreted as knee-jerk “anti-Americanism”, but a mere reflection of reality steeped in history: since 1967, the US has never missed the occasion to veto any resolution that was even remotely balanced and equitable when it came to Israel. It would be legitimate to conclude, therefore, that the US cosponsoring of this latest UN proposal, provides prima facie evidence that this resolution will almost surely not address the underlying causes of the conflict. Equally, it is unlikely to propose the right and just solution that would be acceptable to all parties concerned.

Firstly, the proposed text starts by defining Hizbollah’s raid against a military Israeli target as the source, primary cause of the violence, thereby providing Israel with a moral, if not legal, cover for the war crimes it committed in Lebanon, since it will now be able to claim that it was merely responding to what it will describe as Hizbollah’s “vicious, unprovoked and illegitimate attacks” against it. The text of the proposed resolution expresses the Security Council’s “utmost concern at the continuing hostilities … since Hizbollah’s attack on Israel on 12 July 2006, which has already caused hundreds of deaths and injuries on both sides…” Thus, Hizbollah is to bear the blame for Israel’s criminal actions by being indicted as the party that started it all. Israel is consequently absolved of a large measure of responsibility for the destruction, death and suffering that its army has been raining on Lebanon and its population.

Secondly, the text of the resolution does not call for an immediate cease-fire. It only issues a vague recommendation for the “cessation of hostilities.” It defines these “hostilities” as Hizbollah “attacks” and Israeli “offensive military operations.” Clearly, the resolution therefore does two things: 1- It defines Hizbollah as the attacker; 2- It provides an almost overt cover for Israel should it define unilaterally that its further bombardment of Lebanon, the continued killing of its civilian population, and the additional destruction of its infrastructure, constitute “defensive”, not “offensive” actions. The language of the text therefore gives Israel –though not Hizbollah– the right to respond to any provocation, real or “claimed to be real”, as will most certainly be the case, and to do so under the cover of international legitimacy. Nice try Mr. Bolton.

Thirdly, the proposed text does not call on Israel to evacuate its armed forces from Lebanese territory. It simply expresses the Council’s “strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon…”, which is nothing but wishy-washy blabber talk of no value or consequence. By not calling specifically on Israel immediately to withdraw its army from Lebanon, the proposed resolution -albeit indirectly- therefore sanctions the maintenance of Tsahal’s occupation of South Lebanon. Indeed, Israel can claim, and in fact has already done so, that its actions and attacks against Lebanon are meant to “reinforce Lebanon’s sovereignty and authority over all of its territory.” What this resolution therefore does is to provide Israel with international legitimacy to claim that by maintaining its army in South Lebanon, it is in fact acting “on behalf” of Lebanon and in reinforcement of this latest UNSC resolution that expresses the will of the “international community.” Another nice try, Mr. Bolton.

Fourthly, the resolution calls on “Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution based”, among others, on the “delineation of the international borders of Lebanon, especially in those areas where the border is disputed or uncertain, including the Shebaa farm area.” Nice try again, but for a catch: the resolution does not mention that Lebanon has almost zero ability to accomplish this task: the delineation of the “uncertain” border that surrounds the Shebaa farms, for example, can only be accomplished in cooperation with Syria and Israel, two countries which Lebanon has little control over. Thus, the resolution only serves to perpetuate the current situation on the ground, which initially played a role in exacerbating the ongoing conflict. To be sure, the resolution goes on to invite the Secretary General to “develop, in liaison with key international actors and the concerned parties, proposals to implement” certain select Security Council resolutions, i.e. only those resolutions that are to the liking of the US and Israel, and none of those which are not.

It is surprising to observe the degree to which the Western powers that dominate the Security Council, engaged as they are in continuous attempts to maintain a 19th Century style Western hegemony, seem to be oblivious to the fact that the era of unbalanced resolutions imposed by the West on its former and current colonies, is dead and going. There’s little doubt that the Security Council will adopt this one-sided proposal, which will become yet another resolution that’s not worth the paper it’s printed on.

It would not have taken much merit to predict that the formulation agreed to by the US and France (by the way, what’s France’s excuse?) had little chance of being accepted by Lebanon or by Hizbollah. Even if it were otherwise possible to impose it upon these two key parties, the proposed resolution would not lead to a solution that actually addresses the underlying issues and causes of the conflict that opposes Israel and Lebanon. Clearly, it is destined to fail, at least in its overtly stated purposes. Transparently, its covert purpose is to provide international cover and legitimacy to Israel’s use of inordinate force in its bid to expand the West’s influence in the Middle East, and to act as its spearhead in its struggle against an inexorably emerging militant Islam, whose cardinal sin is that it has proven its unwillingness to kow-tow in front of the American idol, and its ability to resist effectively America’s imperial designs.

Furthermore, any solution that would involve Lebanon alone, but also does not address the wider Palestinian issue, has little chance of satisfying the “long term” test that the proposed Franco-US language calls for. The resolution therefore will have little value other than to provide legitimacy and cover for Israel’s continuing use of unfettered violence against its neighbors. This can only lead Israel, acting as a proxy for the US, Britain, and Europe, to step up its destructive raids on Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank. Therefore, the violence of the past 25 days will most certainly look like a mere warm-up compared to the one that is sure to follow. One can only grieve for the people who will die and suffer as a result of this escalation.

I pray that I’m wrong in my assessment. I fear that I may not be.

The US, Britain, Germany, and even France, have certainly decided that Lebanon is expendable, in what the West considers its fundamental clash with Iran as the main representative of an alternative to a “Judeo-Christian” dominated world-order. As far as the West is concerned, if Lebanon needs to be sacrificed on the altar of that struggle, so be it. For Bush, Blair, Merkel, Chirac, and Olmert, if the price of pushing back and containing Iran, lies in the destruction of Lebanon and its people, especially its 40% Shia population which embodies the core of the struggle, then in the infamous words of Madeleine Albright, the price will be “worth it.”

Incidentally, this may point to the possible rehabilitation of Syria, to whom GW Bush is likely to issue the same laissez-passer that his father, and Reagan, provided it before him. One certain result would be the revival of Syria’s role and mandate as Lebanon’s overlord. The award for Syria’s curtailment of its pragmatic support for Hizbollah will be some sort of arrangement on the Golan, and of course “fixing” Syria’s outstanding “traffic-violations” at the UNSC, in other words forgetting all that jazz about Syria being responsible for the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Harriri and a score of other Lebanese politicians and media personalities.

Obviously, only the destruction of Hizbollah will enable the above to be implemented. The destruction of Hizbollah, unfortunately, is not possible, though attempting to bring it about will cause the utter destruction of Lebanon, without solving the core problems that bedevil the people of the Middle East.

Two questions remain:

1- Does the West really believe that it will be able to get away with the monumental crimes against humanity that it will need to perpetrate in Lebanon to further its aims?

2- Don’t Western politicians realize that this will only stoke the fires of a much wider and more deadly conflict that has almost certainly already become a historical clash of civilizations, a situation which many commentators and politicians are still denying?

Just as in Iraq, where Western policy and war makers took more than a year to admit that a civil war that has been under way all along, now “may possibly break out if it is not contained”, Western politicians not only are not admitting that a clash of civilizations is already under way, they are not even aware that this is one clash that no one, neither the West, nor those that the West has defined as its ideological and religious deadly enemies, can win.

It truly boggles the 21st century mind, that a possible solution to the Middle East’s human tragedy should be rendered so remote by religious extremism, whether Western or otherwise, an extremism which the West has chosen to stoke. Those of us who are both of the West and of the East, and who have friends on both sides of the divide, have been long distressed to observe that so-called Western democracies are behaving no better than the dictatorships, which these democracies claim to oppose. Indeed, the total opposite is true: most Western democracies have actively supported despotic regimes, for a variety of corrupt reasons, both personal and collective, at the socio-economic level.

Had the US truly fostered real, universal democracy in the region, as it falsely claims to be doing, and had it not helped “its” despots and “its” bastards to repress the aspirations of their own people who sought political freedom and a dignified life, the people of the Middle East would not be living in the hell that is theirs today. Nor would the West fear and hate them to the extent that it does.

One cannot expect neither the Lebanese, nor the Palestinian people, both of whom are being battered and murdered by Western bombs, to accept anything less than an unconditional and immediate cease-fire. The fact that the bombs that are being used to kill thousands of innocent Lebanese and Palestinians are specifically American and British made, and not, say, French made, is immaterial: as long as Western economies depend on arms sales for a significant part of their GDPs, and as long as they continue to provide arms to their Middle Eastern friends, they are all collectively responsible for what’s happening in the Middle East today.

If the “International Community” therefore does not manage to overcome US-Israeli objections, which Britain is aiding and abetting, in order to call for an immediate cease-fire, and if it does not manage to get the parties concerned to negotiate a truly equitable, just and lasting solution to the Middle East conflict, then it’s hard to reach any other conclusion than the West deserves to reap what it has been sowing. A just and lasting solution would clearly have to start with an end of Israel’s occupation of Arab territories and a cessation of its military assaults targeting principally Palestinian and Lebanese civilians.

In other words: if Western politicians consider that there are no innocent Lebanese and Palestinian children, what they’re actually also saying is that they consider that there are no innocent children anywhere in the world. This is a proposition that no civilized person can countenance, and is one which all civilized people are duty-bound actively to resist, reject, and oppose.

There’s a simple reason why the above analysis places the responsibility for the violence meted today upon the Lebanese people, squarely upon the shoulders of Western politicians, and why it does not attempt to be balanced by apportioning blame equally on Hizbollah and, say, Hamas also. This is because Western politicians bear an overwhelming part of responsibility when compared, say to Hizbollah. Personally, I would rather that Hizbollah did not exist. I do not agree with its social philosophy. I am a secularist who rejects the mixing of religion and state. By extension, I reject religion-based political movements as an anachronism that is best relegated to humanity’s past. Most importantly, I would rather that the unfair and unjust socio-political conditions that led to Hizbollah’s emergence did not exist. I can imagine the leaders and followers of Hizbollah to share in, and agree with this affirmation.

However, I also firmly believe in the freedom of religion and thought. Which must mean that if people are being discriminated against on the basis of their religion, as Shiites and by extension Hizbollah certainly are, by a Western coalition which clearly identifies itself as Judeo-Christian and indubitably thinks of itself as the superior and more advanced of the two, then I believe in the right of such people to resist those who would oppress them. The contrary proposition would hold equally true in my mind.

The US, Israel and other allies of theirs do not label Hizbollah as a “terrorist” organization because of any violent acts perpetrated by Hizbollah against civilian populations. Indeed, there had been almost none for over 10 years anyway. However, the Western world labels Hizbollah as a “terrorist” organization because Hizbollah Hizbollah represents an “Islamist” worldview. Almost worse, the West considers that Hizbollah represents Iran, which the West knows better than to attack directly. Thus, the attack against Hizbollah, and the destruction of Lebanon. The West, therefore, is using its rejection of Hizbollah and principally of Iran, to justify its trampling of a whole people’s human-rights, its discrimination against them, and the destruction of their democracy, based on a bigoted Islamophobic fear directed at less than half of that population’s members. Like the addict who has not yet scrapped the bottom of the barrel, what Western politicians, and a sufficiently large percentage of their electorate still are unable to admit, is that Hizbollah’s raison d’être, its very existence, is an indirect Western-Israeli creation. Unlike Hamas, which was a direct Israeli creation. And as one almost forgotten Osama Bin Laden was a uniquely American creation.

Surprisingly, Westerners, principally Americans, seem to have forgotten the lessons of their own historical struggles against oppression, and no longer seem to be aware that oppressed people will not remain oppressed for ever. Furthermore, history has shown time and again, that no military power or might can resist the uprising of oppressed people when they finally decide to rid themselves of the yoke of oppression.

In the words of one of Western civilization’s most defining documents:

” …whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of (people’s inalienable rights), it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

To coin a phrase, what’s good for the American turkey, certainly ought to be equally valid for the Middle-Easter camel.

RACHARD ITANI can be reached at: