[Marxism] The Hindu: "A defeat for Israel, but also for justice"

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Thu Aug 17 20:41:18 MDT 2006

Interesting comments on the concessions Washington had to make to get a
UN resolution adopted.
Here was what Prof. Mark Jensen of United for Peace of Pierce County --
Washington State, (one of the most valuable sources I know about the
international repercussions of the "war on terror", a precious analyst
and translator for the antiwar movement, although I think he has never
quite become an "Out Now" person like myself, for instance, says about
The Hindu newspaper, from which this article was taken:
"Most of the subscribers to the *Hindu*, one of the foremost
English-language newspapers in India, live in south India; its
headquarters is in Chennai (formerly Madras). --  The *Hindu* is read by
about 3 million and was the first Indian daily to offer an online
Fred Feldman.   
News Analysis 
** The U.N. resolution is a consolation prize for the Olmert regime,
whose failure in Lebanon throws the wider U.S.-Israeli game plan for the
region into disarray. ** 
Hindu August 14, 2006 
When Israel attacked Lebanon a month ago, it had two stated and two
unstated military objectives.  The stated objectives were the
unconditional release of two of its soldiers captured by Hezbollah, and
the physical destruction of the Lebanese resistance force, its
leadership. and command structure.  As for the unstated objectives, the
first was to so totally degrade the civilian infrastructure of the
country that the non-Shia population of Lebanon would turn against
Hezbollah and the Shias for inviting the wrath of Israel upon them in
this manner.  And the second, to deny Iran and its supporters the chance
of opening a second front against Israel from close quarters -- in the
event of American airstrikes on Iranian nuclear installations. 
In turn, these military objectives were part of a wider political
objective: to use Israel's overwhelming military superiority as the
basis for implementing the Sharon-Olmert plan of a unilaterally imposed
"peace settlement" on the region which would leave Tel Aviv in control
of as much Palestinian, Lebanese, and Syrian land and water as it deems
When the promised ceasefire takes effect on Monday morning, however,
Israel will find that not a single one of its objectives has been
This failure has ignited a predictable blame-game within the Israeli
military and political establishment, but the repercussions of military
defeat will travel much further afield.  The Olmert regime took a big
gamble in going to war and the Bush administration backed it to the hilt
in the hope that a "New Middle East" could be built on the backs of a
military machine that was believed to be invincible.  By smashing that
myth of invincibility and registering a decisive military and even moral
victory over the Israeli Defense Forces, Hezbollah has thrown the
neo-conservative agenda for a "New Middle East" into utter disarray. 
The Lebanese militia has not only managed to preserve its capability to
fight despite the withering bombardment of its strongholds in southern
Lebanon but has also inflicted severe losses on the Israeli military.
Nor has its ability to fire Katyusha rockets into northern Israel in
retaliation for the Israeli bombing of civilian areas been effectively
degraded.  The IDF's desperate push towards the Litani river following
the adoption of a ceasefire resolution by the United Nations Security
Council has itself cost the lives of more than two dozen soldiers,
taking the number of Israeli troops killed in the war to well over 100. 
More than 30 years of enforcing a military occupation and fighting
children and poorly-equipped guerrillas have clearly taken their toll on
the ability of the legendary Israeli army to fight a full-fledged war.
That is why, right at the outset, the IDF had hoped to rely more or less
exclusively on air power and deploy ground forces only after Hezbollah
had been sufficiently softened up.  However, the international outrage
that Israel's bombardment of Lebanon provoked, particularly after the
Qana massacre, forced Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his backers in
Washington to change tack.  Israel realized it had to commit a more
significant detachment of ground troops if Hezbollah was to be defeated.
At the same time, it preferred the easier option of an international
stabilization force coming in to finish the job for it. 
Since the political balance of power in the Security Council is more
decisively in favor of Israel than the military balance is on the ground
in southern Lebanon, Washington's priority has been to use its clout at
the U.N. to bring in to the region a well-armed military force that
could prosecute Tel Aviv's war aims more effectively.  UNSC Resolution
1701, passed unanimously on Friday, was originally intended to do just
that.  Its original version ignited outrage in Lebanon and the Arab
world but even as now amended, the resolution is problematic on a number
of grounds.  At the same time, its military provisions fall somewhat
short of the original American-Israeli objective. 
Rather than creating a new stabilization force -- which would respond,
by default, to the command and control structures of the U.S. and the
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) -- the Security Council has
expanded the mandate and size of the existing U.N. peacekeeping force on
the ground, UNIFIL.  The new mandate will include monitoring the
cessation of hostilities, accompanying and supporting the Lebanese Army
as it deploys up to the Israeli border in tandem with the Israeli
withdrawal, assisting the Lebanese army "in taking steps towards the
establishment" of an area between the border and the Litani river that
is free of armed forces not authorized by the Lebanese Government, and
assisting the Lebanese Government "at its request" to establish better
control over its borders. 
In order to discharge this enlarged mandate, UNIFIL has been authorized
to "take all necessary action" -- a code word for the use of even
offensive military action -- to ensure that the territory where it is
deployed is "not utilized for hostile activities of any kind."  In other
words, UNIFIL would be authorized to attack Hezbollah if the militia
sends fighters south of the Litani to launch rockets into Israel.
UNIFIL has also been authorized to use deadly force "to protect
civilians under imminent threat of physical violence," which, at least
in theory, could also apply to situations such as Israeli airstrikes and
attacks on civilian areas of the kind Lebanon has witnessed this past
Whether this expanded mandate will help preserve the peace will depend
entirely on UNIFIL's ability to avoid getting caught in the wider
American political agenda.  If it acts professionally and solely as a
facilitator for the Lebanese army, there is no reason why Hezbollah will
not cooperate with it.  At any rate, Hezbollah, with the consent of the
Lebanese Government, is free to preserve its military capability north
of the Litani as a hedge against future Israeli aggression. 
The problem with Resolution 1701, however, is that it is structured in
such a way as to prolong or re-ignite the conflict between Israel and
Lebanon rather than to settle it expeditiously on the basis of reason
and justice. 
The most important shortcoming is the resolution's vague formulation on
the need for Israel to vacate the territories in Lebanon it has forcibly
occupied over the past month.  If Israel takes the view that it will not
begin withdrawing until the expanded UNIFIL force is in place, Hezbollah
will be perfectly justified in attacking what is after all an army of
occupation.  But apart from the immediate issue of an Israeli
withdrawal, the resolution contains no timeframe for tackling the root
causes of the conflict.  Israel will remain in occupation of the Shebaa
farms, which is Lebanese territory, it will not be obliged to hand over
within any specified time period the map of land mines it has laid on
Lebanese territory, nor is it obliged to return the Lebanese prisoners
it is holding.  As for the hundreds of Israeli violations of Lebanese
airspace and territorial waters which occur every year, no specific
mechanisms for redressal have been created to ensure these do not occur
There are other glaring omissions too.  For example, the resolution does
not oblige Israel to pay Lebanon any compensation for the destruction of
civilian life and property it has wilfully caused since its attack began
on July 12. 
Unless the international community moves sincerely to address these
fundamental questions and finds a way to impose punitive costs on Israel
for its wholly disproportionate use of military force, the underlying
problem will never go away. 

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