Monday, August 28, 2006

Meaning and Miracle

by Mogens Michaelsen

Today I heard about a Danish girl, who was out collecting money for poor children in Africa. She did that, in spite of the fact, that it was her 14-years birthday today.

Now, why should a young girl do that?

As I understood from the clip on TV, she had visited Mozambique in Africa just recently, and seen children living under very harsh and poor conditions. So her motive to collect money here in Denmark was clearly, that she wanted to help those children.

But that is not so special, after all - many people do that, and many young people too. I remember from my young days, when I was in Public School, that we were sometimes out collecting money for some organisation. Especially I remember selling postcards for UNICEF several times. But I also remember, that we were not only motivated by helping other children in the world through UNICEF. We were also highly motivated by the fact, that it gave us an opportunity to get away from the damned school!

So why should a young girl spend her valuable time doing something like that, on her own birthday?

Maybe she is simply a better person than most. Or maybe it is because she finds a lot of meaning in it?

I don't know if this girl is religious or not. You cannot judge that from her behavior, because non-religious people can certainly also show this behavior, and they are all good people - religious or not.

Suppose she is really not religious at all? Suppose she rejects faith, because she cannot believe in a God that allows human suffering, like the suffering of these African children?

Like many other people, she might not understand why God doesn't use his power to help people, since he is assumed to be a loving God. Why doesn't he make some more miracles?

Only fools would say, that she is a lost soul, going to hell when she dies, because she doesn't believe in God, Jesus, and the Holy Bible!

Of course this is not so. She is clearly motivated by clean and pure love to her fellow human beings. And, as you might know: God is love!

Mogens Michaelsen

source: Newsvine

Friday, August 18, 2006

From Mania to Depression

By Uri Avnery

08/17/06 "Information Clearing House" -- -- Tel Aviv. --- Thirty three days of war. The longest of our wars since 1949.

On the Israeli side: 154 dead--117 of them soldiers. 3970 rockets launched against us, 37 civilians dead, more than 422 civilians wounded.

On the Lebanese side: about a thousand dead civilians, thousands wounded. An unknown number of Hizbullah fighters dead and wounded.

More than a million refugees on both sides.

So what has been achieved for this terrible price?

"GLOOMY, HUMBLE, despondent," was how the journalist Yossef Werter described Ehud Olmert, a few hours after the cease-fire had come into effect.

Olmert? Humble? Is this the same Olmert we know? The same Olmert who thumped the table and shouted: "No more!" Who said: "After the war, the situation will be completely different than before!" Who promised a "New Middle East" as a result of the war?

THE RESULTS of the war are obvious:

* The prisoners, who served as casus belli (or pretext) for the war, have not been released. They will come back only as a result of an exchange of prisoners, exactly as Hassan Nasrallah proposed before the war.

* Hizbullah has remained as it was. It has not been destroyed, nor disarmed, nor even removed from where it was. Its fighters have proved themselves in battle and have even garnered compliments from Israeli soldiers. Its command and communication stucture has continued to function to the end. Its TV station is still broadcasting.

* Hassan Nasrallah is alive and kicking. Persistent attempts to kill him failed. His prestige is sky-high. Everywhere in the Arab world, from Morocco to Iraq, songs are being composed in his honor and his picture adorns the walls.

* The Lebanese army will be deployed along the border, side by side with a large international force. That is the only material change that has been achieved.

This will not replace Hizbullah. Hizbullah will remain in the area, in every village and town. The Israeli army has not succeeded in removing it from one single village. That was simply impossible without permanently removing the population to which it belongs.

The Lebanese army and the international force cannot and will not confront Hizbullah. Their very presence there depends on Hizbullah's consent. In practice, a kind of co-existence of the three forces will come into being, each one knowing that it has to come to terms with the other two.

Perhaps the international force will be able to prevent incursions by Hizbullah, such as the one that preceded this war. But it will also have to prevent Israeli actions, such as the reconnaissance flights of our Air Force over Lebanon. That's why the Israeli army objected, at the beginning, so strenuously to the introduction of this force.

IN ISRAEL, there is now a general atmosphere of disappointment and despondency. From mania to depression. It's not only that the politicians and the generals are firing accusations at each other, as we foresaw, but the general public is also voicing criticism from every possible angle. The soldiers criticize the conduct of the war, the reserve soldiers gripe about the chaos and the failure of supplies.

In all parties, there are new opposition groupings and threats of splits. In Kadima. In Labor. It seems that in Meretz, too, there is a lot of ferment, because most of its leaders supported the war dragon almost until the last moment, when they caught its tail and pierced it with their little lance.

At the head of the critics are marching--surprise, surprise--the media. The entire horde of interviewers and commentators, correspondents and presstitutes, who (with very few exceptions) enthused about the war, who deceived, misled, falsified, ignored, duped and lied for the fatherland, who stifled all criticism and branded as traitors all who opposed the war--they are now running ahead of the lynch mob. How predictable, how ugly. Suddenly they remember what we have been saying right from the beginning of the war.

This phase is symbolized by Dan Halutz, the Chief-of-Staff. Only yesterday he was the hero of the masses, it was forbidden to utter a word against him. Now he is being described as a war profiteer. A moment before sending his soldiers into battle, he found the time to sell his shares, in expectation of a decline of the stock market. (Let us hope that a moment before the end he found the time to buy them back again.)

Victory, as is well known, has many fathers, and failure in war is an orphan.

FROM THE deluge of accusations and gripes, one slogan stands out , a slogan that must send a cold shiver down the spine of anyone with a good memory: "the politicians did not let the army win."

Exactly as I wrote two weeks ago, we see before our very eyes the resurrection of the old cry "they stabbed the army in the back!"

This is how it goes: At long last, two days before the end, the land offensive started to roll. Thanks to our heroic soldiers, the men of the reserves, it was a dazzling success. And then, when we were on the verge of a great victory, the cease-fire came into effect.

There is not a single word of truth in this. This operation, which was planned and which the army spent years training for, was not carried out earlier, because it was clear that it would not bring any meaningful gains but would be costly in lives. The army would, indeed, have occupied wide areas, but without being able to dislodge the Hizbullah fighters from them.

The town of Bint Jbeil, for example, right next to the border, was taken by the army three times, and the Hizbullah fighters remained there to the end. If we had occupied 20 towns and villages like this one, the soldiers and the tanks would have been exposed in twenty places to the mortal attacks of the guerillas with their highly effective anti-tank weapons.

If so, why was it decided, at the last moment, to carry out this operation after all--well after the UN had already called for an end to hostilities? The horrific answer: it was a cynical--not to say vile--exercise of the failed trio. Olmert, Peretz and Halutz wanted to create "a picture of victory", as was openly stated in the media. On this altar the lives of 33 soldiers (including a young woman) were sacrificed.

The aim was to photograph the victorious soldiers on the bank of the Litani. The operation could only last 48 hours, when the cease-fire would come into force. In spite of the fact that the army used helicopters to land the troops, the aim was not attained. At no point did the army reach the Litani.

For comparison: in the first Lebanon war, that of Sharon in 1982, the army crossed the Litani in the first few hours. (The Litani, by the way, is not a real river anymore, but just a shallow creek. Most of its waters are drawn off far from there, in the north. Its last stretch is about 25 km distant from the border, near Metulla the distance is only 4 km.)

This time, when the cease-fire took effect, all the units taking part had reached villages on the way to the river. There they became sitting ducks, surrounded by Hizbullah fighters, without secure supply lines. From that moment on, the army had only one aim: to get them out of there as quickly as possible, regardless of who might take their place.

If a commission of inquiry is set up--as it must be--and investigates all the moves of this war, starting from the way the decision to start it was made, it will also have to investigate the decision to start this last operation. The death of 33 soldiers (including the son of the writer David Grossman, who had supported the war) and the pain this caused their families demand that!

BUT THESE facts are not yet clear to the general public. The brain-washing by the military commentators and the ex-generals, who dominated the media at the time, has turned the foolish--I would almost say "criminal"--operation into a rousing victory parade. The decision of the political leadership to stop it is now being seen by many as an act of defeatist, spineless, corrupt and even treasonous politicians.

And that is exactly the new slogan of the fascist Right that is now raising its ugly head.

After World War I, in similar circumstances, the legend of the "knife in the back of the victorious army" grew up. Adolf Hitler used it to carry him to power--and on to World War II.

Now, even before the last fallen soldier has been buried, the incompetent generals are starting to talk shamelessly about "another round", the next war that will surely come "in a month or in a year", God willing. After all, we cannot end the matter like this, in failure. Where is our pride?

THE ISRAELI public is now in a state of shock and disorientation. Accusations--justified and unjustified--are flung around in all directions, and it cannot be foreseen how things will develop.

Perhaps, in the end, it is logic that will win. Logic says: what has thoroughly been demonstrated is that there is no military solution. That is true in the North. That is also true in the South, where we are confronting a whole people that has nothing to lose anymore. The success of the Lebanese guerilla will encourage the Palestinian guerilla.

For logic to win, we must be honest with ourselves: pinpoint the failures, investigate their deeper causes, draw the proper conclusions.

Some people want to prevent that at any price. President Bush declares vociferously that we have won the war. A glorious victory over the Evil Ones. Like his own victory in Iraq.

When a football team is able to choose the referee, it is no surprise if it is declared the winner.

Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom.

source: ICH

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Pitch Black Void


By Manuel Valenzuela

08/15/06 "Information Clearing House" -- -- The towers fell upon their own imprints, floor after floor cascading down upon the next in an avalanche of concrete, glass, steel and flesh, in the process pulverizing everything, and everybody, between them, over 200 combined stories of human ingenuity flattened in the span of seconds, their reign over gravity and the skies eviscerated, falling down to the land of mortals not with the chaos of randomness and malevolent physics but with the unexpected order and perfection of orchestration and wicked pre-planned intentions.

One building was followed by another in a near perfect duplication of the first, almost as if déjà vu had supplanted itself on Manhattan island, after morbidly disturbing airplane crashes had sent the collective conscious of the world on freefall, their fires blazing yet their inferno not scorching enough to melt the reinforced steel of towers designed to withstand airline crashes. Soon after the strikes black and gray smoke billowed out of the crash sites, proof that what had once burned was now dissipating, unable to breathe the oxygen it needed to burn or unable to chemically alter steel skeletons or cause the structural integrity of two separate skyscrapers to be compromised.

Yet less than one hour after each building was struck the monoliths of New York came crashing down, almost in perfect synchronization, more than half an hour apart, one after the other in a display of destruction too perfect to qualify as randomness, a form of controlled chaos never to befall a burning steel skyscraper in the histories of modern civilization or architecture. Strangely, not one hour passed before we were led to believe fire and heat compromised and melted reinforced steel, not for one but two separate buildings, as if lightning had struck twice in the same spot, as if the impossible had become normal, as if black smoke could bend, in the course of an hour, what usually would take multiple hours to achieve.

In America, however, where citizens have the attention spans of gnats, tuning out after ten-second sound bites, one minute news reports and having the patience only to accept rapid video flashes, even orchestrated, criminal mass murder must be accomplished on fast-forward time. And so the destruction by controlled demolition of the WTC, brilliantly executed, monstrously planned, hidden behind the charade of hijacked airliner crashes, yet so easily deciphered by open minds and through the magic of video and the passage of time, became a reality, in a few seconds of malevolent decimation killing close to 3,000 innocent human beings and plunging a nation of 300 million into the freefall of madness, shock, fear, hatred, rage and the collective blindness needed by criminals, warmongers and greed addicts to steer a nation down the precipice of human emotion and into the realm of total control and obedience.

While the nation, indeed the world entire, recovered its collective breath, paralyzed shock and ever-increasing fear at what we had just witnessed – and repeatedly seen over and over again thanks to the corporate media – a rather peculiar, and unexpected, event occurred that hundreds of millions were unable to see, either because of shock, fear or the blindness spawned by the psychological trauma we had just experienced. A few hours after the towers had fallen, entombing thousands and forever altering the course of history, another skyscraper came tumbling down, clandestinely falling almost inconspicuously to the ground below. This building, the fifty story WTC 7, seemingly untouched and unaffected by the destruction of her much larger brothers, with no fires or smoke apparent, with no structural damage noticeable, with no airplane smashing into her, decided to fall to earth in much the same way, falling exactly the way multiple buildings have fallen over the years thanks to controlled demolitions, seemingly imploding from within, her top falling down as if her structural skeleton had been turned to butter. It would later be said by authorities that WTC 7 fell due to structural and fire damage, yet video and eyewitness testimony, as well as the open eyes of any rational human being, beg to differ. If no rational reason can be found to explain how WTC 7 fell in such a “controlled” demolition sort of way, in the absence of damage, what, then, can be deduced? What, then, are we to make of the fate that befell the Twin Towers, in direct contradiction to the laws of physics and those of logic?

Make no mistake, 9/11 was, and continues to be, a war upon the American people, a psychological operation directed at our minds and hearts that was, from the very start, nothing but the catalyst needed to launch Project Empire by the delusional criminals and miscreants in power. The events of 9/11, with the destruction of the World Trade Center, as well as the hit on the Pentagon, were designed by the architects of mass murder as the oil needed to fine-tune and start the engine of the American war machine as well as those sparkplugs of blind and unthinking support, the American people. The targets were largely symbolic, landmarks entrenched into the American psyche, easily recognizable as pillars of American strength, the strikes upon their infrastructure calculated not only to inflict mass murder, but to deeply affect the collective psychology of hundreds of millions of Americans. In 9/11 the enablers of terror would have the birth pangs of their new American Century.

The Throne Determined

The individuals who planned and executed 9/11 knew that with the ascension of George W. Bush to the throne of the American presidency their plans and projects, long since created and written yet for years lacking the keys to power, would have the green-light to commence wars upon the American people as well as those long-planned against the Arab world. Indeed, well before Bush became president the decision had already been made, deep in the dark closets of clandestine meetings and arrangements, where deal making and power decisions are made, to attack and invade Iraq, along with other nations deemed “important,” both for geopolitical and ideological reasons.

These wars and invasions, which were to be the centerpiece of the miscreants’ master plans, creating the birth pangs of a New American Century, one based on unilateralism, resource domination, protection of Israel’s vital interests and unequaled imperial hegemony, would, it was thought, catapult America into the realm of Empire, a kingdom untouched and unrivaled, in control of the world’s energy resources, in full mastery of all potential rivals, possessed of vitally important lands and locations. All that was needed was a stolen election or two, a little luck and a new Pearl Harbor from which to spawn their dogma of controlled chaos upon the globe.

When seen in this light, the importance to the miscreants that George W. Bush become president after the 2000 election, by any means necessary, is more readily understood. To the corporatist and neoconservative cabal that has declared war on the American people, it was imperative that Bush be declared the winner versus Al Gore. Only with a Bush victory could their projects and sinister intentions be born and implemented, thereby creating the conditions needed to control the country and its citizens, and by extension the entire planet, for years and even decades into the future.

Indeed, they knew that to succeed, years and even decades would be needed to transform the world according to their ideology. The Project for the New American Century, or PNAC, full of corporatists and neoconservatives, could only commence their blueprint with the selection, no matter how devious it became or how unscrupulous the methods chosen, of George W. Bush to the White House, and not just for one term. Thus, the stolen election of 2000, especially in the state of Florida, was but one more strategic maneuver designed specifically to set in place the mechanisms by which their ideology could, after years of frustration, finally be allowed to blossom. The ascension of George W. Bush to the American throne thus became an inevitable conclusion well before the first vote was cast. It was the individuals that counted the votes, and not those that cast them, who would decide the 2000 election.

The election of 2000 was orchestrated to perfection by the corporatists and neoconservatives who clandestinely or openly supported the Republican ticket. Using the television and the unrivaled power of the corporate media, with its images, sound bites, editing magic and legions of journalist lackeys, they set out to tarnish the reputation and achievements of Bill Clinton and by consequence, those of his vice-president and most likely Democratic candidate, Al Gore. Knowing how easy the buttons of manipulation can be pressed upon an unsuspecting and dumbed down American populace, they created Clinton fatigue and dislike among millions of potential voters, knowing full well that by destroying the president’s likeability they were at the same time decimating Al Gore’s potential votes among moderates and independents. Using the television to their advantage, they thereby eliminated the president from the election picture, knowing that Clinton, if allowed to campaign for Gore, and ever the political charmer and genius, could have delivered the election to the Democrats, or at the least made Gore a more marketable personality to the electorate.

With Clinton out of the picture, the smearing of Gore and the adulation of Bush commenced, with the corporate media using all tools at its disposal to turn Gore into an unlikable candidate, using clever editing of sound and video, combined with the negative comments of embedded lackey journalists, to turn Gore, a much worthier candidate than Bush could ever become, into a mediocre politician with no personality or popularity. He became the unlikable candidate, the elitist Washingtonian whose candidacy was imputed to Bill Clinton fatigue. The corporate media did everything in its power to sway the unsure voter that Gore was not the right man to be president. In the era of corporatism, it is the corporations that decide who will run and who will win. We the People can only vote for those deemed acceptable by the corporate establishment, those that have shown loyalty not to the People, but to the interests of the corporate world.

Meanwhile, with the complete backing of big business, the military industrial energy complex and the neoconservatives in and out of the media, Bush was transformed from east coast elitist into average Joe six-pack, with the tools of television propelling and marketing Bush as an average middle class American, with a recently purchased Texas ranch to prove it. The creation of the Bush persona was carefully orchestrated, following the results of research, polls and focus groups, trying to recreate or imitate, at least in some psychological way, shape or form, the qualities inherent in or sought by those groups needed for Bush and his still clandestine cabal to garner the most votes in the general election. Meanwhile, the corporate media gave the dimwit Bush a pass at every turn, forgiving his penchant for idiocy and his quite apparent lack of knowledge. His shady past was ignored; his repeated failures as a businessman were glossed over. The corporatist world had its man and the will of the People would not stand in their way.

As such, Bush’s persona is a fiction, in as much as he is made to represent the American middle-class, for deep inside, where genetics and environment and pathology meet on the superhighway of psychological fusion, Bush is a manifestation of the unthinking knuckle-dragger, a slight step above our primate cousins, incapable of deep thought, reasoned intelligence or logical decision making, preferring to dwell in the certainties of black and white thinking and the archaic beliefs of primitive theology. He remains a hollow poster child for elitist juniors, a pampered spoiled little boy given to temper tantrums when he does not get what he wants, a man who for too long nursed off the breast of superiority, apathy and greed, for decades living in a wealth-induced bubble devoid of discipline or suffering.

Deeply flawed mentally, never able to replicate the intelligence or the success of fathers and grandfathers, possessing a lack of empathy and a willingness to inflict suffering onto others, fully aware that everything he has achieved has been due to the laurels of his father and not the talents of his existence, Bush nonetheless exhibits many characteristics of a psychotic, with a penchant for incessant lying, for walking over anybody that gets in his way, for his appetite for destruction and murder, for his indifference for human life, in his ability to bully the world, in his love of greed and power, in his distaste for knowledge and intellectual stimulation, and in the unmistakable reality that whatever he has touched during his life has turned not to gold, but to pure, one-hundred percent fecal matter. This is the George W. Bush chosen by the cabal of corporatists and neoconservatives to help usher in a new era of American imperialism. With such a president at the helm of the most powerful state in the world, a man easily influenced and manipulated, lacking reason, logic and the wisdom of leaders, PNAC found itself the instrument of terror it so desperately needed.

Knowing for months the likely outcome of the 2000 election, after months of research, studies and historical analysis, and millions of dollars invested had shown them the direction, Bush’s handlers focused on the one state they knew would decide the outcome. And so, with months to go before the 2000 election, the Republican machine set out, with help from George W. Bush’s brother Jeb, to embed into the election system the mechanisms needed to steal Florida in favor of Bush, the Republicans, the neoconservatives and the corporatists.

They immediately set out to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters, most of them African-American, through a myriad of illegal yet methodical ways. Felons were purged from the voting records, as were thousands of law-abiding citizens whose names were erased from registration lists. Outdated voting machines, those most likely to tabulate wrong vote counts, were introduced into poor areas for the sole purpose of disenfranchising voters, most of whom would likely vote for Gore. The irregularities were many; the votes purged were in the hundreds of thousands. The corporatist/Republican voter disenfranchisement machine, so adept at Jim Crow, had come calling again.

This election, after all, was of paramount importance, both for the corporatists from the military industrial energy complex, who were depending on Bush for hundreds of billions of dollars in future oil and war profiteering profits, as well as a complete dismantling of burdensome corporate taxes, laws and environmental regulations, not to mention untold billions of dollars in stolen Iraqi money and American taxes, and the neoconservatives, whose main interests were ideological and strategic, through imperial domination of the Middle East and Central Asia, control of oil/gas resources and mechanisms, toward complete American hegemony and eventual Empire building through domination of potential rivals, not to mention the always present protection of Israel and her interests, assuring her regional domination in the Middle East through the elimination of her rivals. By any means necessary, the 2000 election would have to be won, irrespective of the will of the People.

After the Supreme Court selected their man as the new president of the United States, a decision that was a foregone conclusion, the wheels were set in motion, and soon the project for the New American Century would have its new and improved Pearl Harbor, a 21st century Reichstag fire whose usefulness would never subside and whose demons could always, at the whim of expediency, be resurrected. The dreaded Arab terrorist was about to be born, entering the grand stage of American produced enemies, becoming the bogeyman striking fear at the heart of a cowardly majority.

A new America was soon to be born from the smoke, dust and debris of falling monoliths and demolished lives. An obedient populace would soon surface, wide eyed in allegiance to fascism, ready to hate and fear and kill for the sake of the red, white and blue, proud to march lockstep with the drums of war, eager to unleash weapons of destruction upon the lands of the barbarians. Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Iran were only months away from being gobbled up, and the Bush cabal, assured by its delusions and its arrogance, could only salivate at the thoughts of what would surely soon arrive.

Enter the Darkness

If we ponder over the horizon of the last five years and ask ourselves who has benefited the most from the tragic events of 9/11 then surely the arrow would point to the Bush administration, along with the clandestine and known neoconservatives and corporatists controlling the military industrial energy complex. As a result of 9/11, these groups, the Bush cabal for short, have seemingly grown in absolute power and wealth, declaring wars, occupying nations, killing hundreds of thousands of human beings, manipulating the American populace, fleecing America’s treasury, making obscene profits from war and death, curtailing Americans’ civil liberties and rights, further instituting corporatist control over government and society, engendering fear and hatred into the people and ignoring the rule of law along with the Constitution of the United States.

The Bush cabal has succeeded in reaching many of the goals it had set for itself before taking office in 2000. In this war against the American people, the cabal has utterly defeated us, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. We are quite impotent, it seems, to their manipulation of our fears and the conditioning of our hatreds. It has been 9/11, that catalyst to population control and manipulation, that has cemented the Bush cabal firmly in power, doing with the American people as they wish, leading us further down the road to corporatism. The cabal has systematically declawed us of our bravery, making us babies crying out for our mother. It has succeeded at manipulating us through the use of fear and terror, actually convincing us to throw away liberties and flush down freedoms for the sake of protection and security, even though the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

It was 9/11, a devastating conduit of brain wave alteration, more than anything else, that has completely and systematically transformed the American people into the sheeple and lemmings needed by authoritarian rulers everywhere to govern and impose their tyrannical policies. The 9/11 psychological war upon the citizenry, or, in the words of the PNAC, the “new Pearl Harbor,” was designed to nurture perpetual fear and hatred in hundreds of millions of minds, in the process harvesting loyal and obedient citizen soldiers. The attack, taking place on a few city blocks of the largest metropolis in the country, devastated two giant buildings but left the rest of the country, besides the Pentagon, physically unscathed.

What September 11, 2001, did, however, more than anything else, was destroy not the physical infrastructure of America, but the mental energy of the nation and its citizens. It was both a mental manipulation dirty bomb and a weapon of mass deception rolled into one, a direct hit against the very foundation of America’s citizenry, creating the most fragile, and by extension subservient, populace since Nazi Germany. September 11th’s tragedy, its morbid violence, its sinister evils were played and replayed countless times, from every possible angle, sending shockwaves into our pores, fear running through our veins, with every replay our mind succumbing further inside our fragile psyches, searching for answers, and vengeance. The thirst for Arab blood was what the cabal wanted, and it was what it got.

A direct hit upon the American psyche did more damage to the nation than two hits on colossal skyscrapers ever could, yet slowly but methodically, our mind became the dominion of the cabal. We became, over the course of a few days, possessed by the demons of fear and hatred, like zombies sleep-walking through our daily lives, not knowing what to do, experiencing emotions we had never felt, remembering tragedy we had just recently seen, searching in darkness for light, needing to place blind trust in the nation’s authorities, needing to trust our security and freedom and democracy upon the leaders of the country.

We became putty in the hands of the cabal, and they knew it. Everything they wanted we would gladly give them for we had become, in the span of a few days, corralled sheep and caged lemmings, robbed of free thought, our bravery supplanted by the fear hovering throughout the land, our reason destroyed by the hate in our hearts. We wanted security, safety and most of all, vengeance. We failed to think logically about the mess the cabal was immersing us in. We failed to understand the ramifications of entering a hornet’s nest and murdering tens of thousands of people. We failed to comprehend the vicious cycle of violence our acquiescence would soon spawn, nor the disaster that was to unfold. Standing behind the flag and our patriotism blind we became to the view of reality. We wanted revenge for 9/11; we wanted to unleash carnage upon Arab lands, whether they were a threat or not. We fell right into the cabal’s master plans.

The tragic events of 9/11 became an instant myth in our collective consciousness, its story firmly entrenched in our minds, its official narrative becoming both national tragedy and inspiration, its fable unable to be altered, its façade unbending, its reality hidden by blind rage and closed minds. We were conditioned never to question the official narrative, or the obvious 9/11 Commission white wash. To question and even seek truth was to delve in realities we could not bare or wish to understand. The implications would be unfathomable, and deeply disturbing. For if our protectors had committed mass murder in New York and Washington, if our leaders were responsible for 9/11, then who and what was running the nation? If they could kill 3,000 citizens, what was stopping them from murdering many more? It was better to be brainwashed with the official story than to question the uncomfortable. It was easier to never question than to seek the truth. In the end, it was easier to drink the Kool-Aid than enter the rabbit hole.

In the end, it was simple to believe that we had been attacked by what we did not know or understand, by entities that wished to destroy our freedom and our democracy, by brown-skinned bogey men lurking in every corner and underneath every bed, waiting to come out of closets, ready to murder and rape, pillage and devastate. We were made to fear, and with fear we lost reason. We were made to hate, and with hate born free thought died. The Arab and the Muslim had become our enemy; almost overnight more than a billion humans were condemned by a barrage of corporate media propaganda and government manipulation, seemingly too conveniently, too prepared and scripted, as if the enemy had been concocted months and years before, its fault carefully planned and orchestrated, marketed for all its faults and none of its virtues, transforming a group of people into the monsters of our imaginations and the madmen of our corporate media indoctrination.

The Bush cabal had succeeded in concocting an enemy from the same lands and region where it wanted to wage war and occupation. Geopolitics, geostrategy, oil, gas and pipelines, imperial hegemony and absolute power, how lucky for the cabal that America’s new bogeymen hailed from the same nations scheduled for invasion. The cabal’s actions, or inaction, depending on how one looks at 9/11, embedded the lust for vengeance, and thus for war, on the American population. The Bush cabal, fully aware that the American people would never consent or give approval to multiple wars of choice upon lands and peoples that had not done us harm, thus needed a catalyst, a new Pearl Harbor, a 9/11-like event from which to alter the minds of 300 million Americans, making warmongers out of pacifists, vengeance-seekers out of peaceful citizens. Without the trauma and the shock and the fear and the hatred and the blind rage spawned by 9/11, the Bush cabal would never have been able to embark on their warmongering and profiteering ways. The anger and hatred and blind trust engendered thanks to 9/11 made sure that the cabal could proceed with long-held plans and ideologies.

Thus we were fed the lies and the deceits and the manipulations that exist in the lands of authoritarianism, where the citizenry is too dumbed down and unable, or unwilling, to question its own government. We followed the fable and the bull manure, believing, still to this day, a government that has lied about every single issue to ever arise in five years since usurping power. In a world where war is peace, slavery is freedom and ignorance is knowledge, let it also be said that lies are truth in these new days of “new normals” and “birth pangs” and “bringing democracy to the Middle East.” Let it be said we have entered the darkness, from which light dare not enter.

Terrorist Cabal

The cabal, it must be understood, is comprised of pure blooded authoritarians, corporatist (fascists) tyrants that care not one ounce for the well-being of the population. To them we are but mere peasants, nothing but peons and pawns and patsies relegated to playing the grand game of geopolitical and greed-mongering chess, doing our part to advance the neocon Machiavelli wet dream of imperial hegemony. The death of 3,000 citizens means nothing to these monsters, much like the murder of 250,000 Iraqis or the death of 2,600 American soldiers. The Bush cabal is made up of madmen and monsters, incapable of living in reality or of understanding truth, yet tyrannical enough to create a new Pearl Harbor through the controlled demolition of the Twin Towers (not to mention WTC 7 and a strike on the Pentagon). They dwell in an infallible bubble of make believe and of unrealistic theories, a land of Kool-Aid drinkers and dependents of delusional cocktails.

The Bush cabal has no morals or scruples, preferring lies to truth, secrecy to transparency, life in a pitch black void over that in translucent light. They have no trouble murdering their own citizens to pursue and achieve their goals and ideology. They are authoritarians, tyrants more comfortable living in a police state than in an open society, inside their pores hating every facet of true democracy, for to them the will of the people should never be heeded. Democracy is a hindrance of governance, an uncomfortable principle that works to destroy their vision, though now made a charade for the masses to believe the system is as it has always been. The death of democracy and of the Constitution would send tears of joy running down their cheeks.

In their view citizens are incapable of making the right decision and should therefore be told what to think, how to act and who to follow and obey. The majority needs to be conditioned as to what to do and how to do it. To them the corporate media is but a tool of control and manipulation, a way to make good sheep and lemmings out of the citizenry, a loudspeaker to proclaim that the state is the only entity capable of protecting the nation, a disseminator of lies and half truths, a gatekeeper telling the people only what the cabal wants us to know.

The Bush cabal cares only about absolute power, hegemony, greed and wealth. They care nothing for American soldiers, all of whom are considered cannon fodder for the military industrial energy complex. Wars are fought not for defending “freedom and democracy,” which to them is nothing more than a catchy focus group catchphrase, rather to expand and defend the interests of American corporations, as well as to enrich the military industrial energy complex. After all, instability in the Middle East is great for energy corporations; the more instability the higher the price of a barrel of crude will be and the higher will thus be a gallon at the American pump. The cabal thinks in black and white, not in shades of grey; it makes policy based on ideology, not reality. It operates under the theory of controlled chaos, unleashing hell to get to an eventual heaven.

The cabal makes enormous profits at our expense, helping shrink our wallets while fattening theirs. The cabal supplies billions of dollars in military arms to the Middle East, and to the world, only to see nations declare war on each other, killing and murdering with our weapons. Human life and human rights, along with international law are but bumps in the road to total hegemony, to be sidestepped on the road to Empire. Civil rights and freedoms in America are contrary to the authoritarian dream; if it was up to them America would be under martial law and under severe police powers, our civil liberties curtailed severely, our freedoms eroded. In time they will inevitably get their wish; each year the threat to our liberties and freedoms is exacerbated, not by terrorists but by the Bush cabal.

For five years we have been told to look far and wide for so-called terrorists, across the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, given a magnifying glass into the Middle East. It is here, we are made to believe, where they hate us for our freedoms and our democracy, for our “grand” way of life, though certainly not for our occupations, undying support for Israel and brutal foreign policy. It is said they hate us for our democracy, yet we refuse to grant them the same freedoms. It is said they strike us for our open society, yet we exploit their lands, rape their women and subjugate their daily lives. For five years our minds have been distracted with the threats posed by Arabs and Muslims, most of which happen to live below the last remaining fields of oil. If the French or the Germans lived in the Middle East, they too would today be America’s enemy, our terrorist barbarians.

For five long years we alone have been responsible for sacrificing our civil liberties and our freedoms, not to mention our democracy, which in essence is today nothing but a charade, a banana republic façade exported to a first world nation. Our fear and cowardice has resulted in the loss of liberty at home and in warmongering escapades abroad, creating in Iraq the worst strategic disaster in the history of the nation. Our almost absurd over-reactions to bull manure infested terror warnings, nothing but control mechanisms implemented to remind us who is protecting us and who deserves our loyalty and our vote, make us the laughing stock of the world. Terror warnings laced in lies and manipulation should be questioned, not religiously followed. They should be understood for what they are, not feared like the end of the world. Terror warnings about dark-skinned Arabs and Muslims are but a ploy to control your thoughts and your lives, designed for you to place allegiance to the cabal, to distract you from the erosion of liberties or the disasters in the Middle East. They are, like 9/11, a figment of our imaginations, nightmares of our conditioned minds, stories meant to frighten us into giving away more of our freedoms and liberties. Sadly, however, these mechanisms seem to be working brilliantly.

All this time we have been looking to the Middle East for the dreaded terrorist, yet since 9/11 we should have been looking for terrorists within our own shores. It is the Bush corporatist and neocon cabal that is the real terrorist organization. It is they, a bunch of miscreants of the highest order, criminal minds addicted to power, wealth and greed, arrogant and monstrous in behavior, that are the cause of terror worldwide. It is they that have made our nation less safe, not more. It is they who are guilty of committing mass murder upon our shores and it is they who will not hesitate to murder many more if it suits their needs.

It is because of them that the so-called war on terror paralyzes and controls us. It is they that spawned it and continue nurturing it, carefully rearing it like a mother does a child, ever so proud of what it has become, looking forward to the greatness it can one day turn into. The war on terror is their brainchild, a creation designed to replicate its malevolent energy over and over, growing and expanding through the vicious cycle of hatred born and murder committed, repeated until a clash of cultures, civilizations and religions sustains and engorges it, creating the controlled chaos needed to satisfy the delusion of the Project for the New American Century.

The so-called war of terror is a figment of their imagination, now lingering in ours, a creation that has become a self-fulfilling prophesy. It was a war started by the cabal, a result of our foreign policy and our destruction of both people and land abroad, a vicious cycle that feeds itself more and more with each new death inflicted by our corporate controlled military. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, for every death or maiming the thirst for vengeance grows; for every brutal occupation calls for hatred and revenge arise. With every American made missile launched, artillery exploded, bullet released the war on terror is assured of new recruits, new reactions of opposite and intended consequences. This is the war on terror’s mantra, its slogan, the law created by the cabal so that it never ends, just as it never began. The war on terror is designed to last into perpetuity, for America always needs an enemy to quench its war culture thirst. It always needs war and enemies to cause fright among the populace, the easier to control millions. War means profit, wealth and the sustained viability of the economy. In America, war, and thus enemies, is good for business.

The war on terror is but an illusion, a concoction disseminated by the Bush cabal and its journalist hacks to control the population into submission, into forcing us to abandon the freedoms and democracy we once enjoyed. We are being frightened by the cabal of terrorists using the corporate media and government loudspeakers, our strength and courage evaporating with each new terror threat or warning, with each new sermon advocating still another war of choice. We are being used and abused, our lives transformed, slowly but surely, methodically creating a “new normal,” an American police state, an authoritarian system full of followers, full of yes-men and women, full of sheep and lemmings, unable to comprehend how we allowed our nation to become the reality of our nightmares.

We must open our eyes to the reality of the Bush cabal. They are the real terrorist organization. They are the murderers and the criminals, the destroyers of life and the butchers of the Middle East. They are preparing us for perpetual war, for a future devoid of security or freedom or democracy. The war on terror will not end; our troops will be in Iraq for decades to come; wars against Iran and Syria have been planned. There will be many more 9/11’s to come, some real and some concocted, yet the next one will undoubtedly open the doors to a perpetual police state, altering dramatically our way of life, making George Orwell roll in his grave. According to the cabal of terrorists, it is inevitable.

One more attack on our soil is all it will take for the bastion of democracy and freedom to turn into the cesspool of authoritarian rule. The cabal of terrorists is looking for an excuse, an opportunity. How many of us will die this time? How many of our children will be sent to the next war(s)? How many liberties will we have left? How many of our friends and neighbors will be made to disappear? Will we accept their rule, and continue fighting a charade, or will we finally put an end to this madness? Will we change our ways, or will we continue living like the sheep and lemmings we are being conditioned to become?

We must put a stop to the madness before the madness puts a stop to us. We must reclaim America from the claws of authoritarianism and corporatism. We must show we are not pawns or patsies in the games the neocons play. We must show we are brave and strong, not fearful and weak. They are few, we are many. Truth and fairness and justice are on our side; karma and malevolence on theirs. The time for indifference and passivity are over. Enough fear mongering and war making, enough terror threat manipulation. We must show that we do not hate, that we actually think for ourselves, that we seek peace and international harmony. Enough death and suffering has gone on in our name. America is being made the laughing stock of the world, hated like never before, stirring anger and boiling rage for all we allow to happen. Only this time, the peoples of the world no longer differentiate between the government and the people. We are all hated now. The time to take a stand is now, for if not now, when? We were once loved and admired, respected and an inspiration. Let not five years of disarray become a lifetime of disaster. We know who the real terrorists are. It is up to us to show them that their America is not our America. It is time we show them the door out of the country.

Their America is not our America, for we are the People of the World; they but the Scourge of Humanity. We are Peace and they are War, they are few and we are many, many more.

Manuel Valenzuela is a social critic and commentator, international affairs analyst and Internet columnist. His articles as well as his archive can be found at his blog, and at as well as at other alternative news websites from around the globe. Mr. Valenzuela is also author of Echoes in the Wind, a fiction novel. Mr. Valenzuela welcomes comments and can be reached at

source: Information Clearing House

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Washington’s interests in Israel’s war

by Seymour M. Hersh

In the days after Hezbollah crossed from Lebanon into Israel, on July 12th, to kidnap two soldiers, triggering an Israeli air attack on Lebanon and a full-scale war, the Bush Administration seemed strangely passive. “It’s a moment of clarification,” President George W. Bush said at the G-8 summit, in St. Petersburg, on July 16th. “It’s now become clear why we don’t have peace in the Middle East.” He described the relationship between Hezbollah and its supporters in Iran and Syria as one of the “root causes of instability,” and subsequently said that it was up to those countries to end the crisis. Two days later, despite calls from several governments for the United States to take the lead in negotiations to end the fighting, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that a ceasefire should be put off until “the conditions are conducive.”

The Bush Administration, however, was closely involved in the planning of Israel’s retaliatory attacks. President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney were convinced, current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials told me, that a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against Hezbollah’s heavily fortified underground-missile and command-and-control complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel’s security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American preëmptive attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground.

Israeli military and intelligence experts I spoke to emphasized that the country’s immediate security issues were reason enough to confront Hezbollah, regardless of what the Bush Administration wanted. Shabtai Shavit, a national-security adviser to the Knesset who headed the Mossad, Israel’s foreign-intelligence service, from 1989 to 1996, told me, “We do what we think is best for us, and if it happens to meet America’s requirements, that’s just part of a relationship between two friends. Hezbollah is armed to the teeth and trained in the most advanced technology of guerrilla warfare. It was just a matter of time. We had to address it.”

Hezbollah is seen by Israelis as a profound threat—a terrorist organization, operating on their border, with a military arsenal that, with help from Iran and Syria, has grown stronger since the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon ended, in 2000. Hezbollah’s leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, has said he does not believe that Israel is a “legal state.” Israeli intelligence estimated at the outset of the air war that Hezbollah had roughly five hundred medium-range Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 rockets and a few dozen long-range Zelzal rockets; the Zelzals, with a range of about two hundred kilometres, could reach Tel Aviv. (One rocket hit Haifa the day after the kidnappings.) It also has more than twelve thousand shorter-range rockets. Since the conflict began, more than three thousand of these have been fired at Israel.

According to a Middle East expert with knowledge of the current thinking of both the Israeli and the U.S. governments, Israel had devised a plan for attacking Hezbollah—and shared it with Bush Administration officials—well before the July 12th kidnappings. “It’s not that the Israelis had a trap that Hezbollah walked into,” he said, “but there was a strong feeling in the White House that sooner or later the Israelis were going to do it.”

The Middle East expert said that the Administration had several reasons for supporting the Israeli bombing campaign. Within the State Department, it was seen as a way to strengthen the Lebanese government so that it could assert its authority over the south of the country, much of which is controlled by Hezbollah. He went on, “The White House was more focussed on stripping Hezbollah of its missiles, because, if there was to be a military option against Iran’s nuclear facilities, it had to get rid of the weapons that Hezbollah could use in a potential retaliation at Israel. Bush wanted both. Bush was going after Iran, as part of the Axis of Evil, and its nuclear sites, and he was interested in going after Hezbollah as part of his interest in democratization, with Lebanon as one of the crown jewels of Middle East democracy.”

Administration officials denied that they knew of Israel’s plan for the air war. The White House did not respond to a detailed list of questions. In response to a separate request, a National Security Council spokesman said, “Prior to Hezbollah’s attack on Israel, the Israeli government gave no official in Washington any reason to believe that Israel was planning to attack. Even after the July 12th attack, we did not know what the Israeli plans were.” A Pentagon spokesman said, “The United States government remains committed to a diplomatic solution to the problem of Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program,” and denied the story, as did a State Department spokesman.

The United States and Israel have shared intelligence and enjoyed close military coöperation for decades, but early this spring, according to a former senior intelligence official, high-level planners from the U.S. Air Force—under pressure from the White House to develop a war plan for a decisive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities—began consulting with their counterparts in the Israeli Air Force.

“The big question for our Air Force was how to hit a series of hard targets in Iran successfully,” the former senior intelligence official said. “Who is the closest ally of the U.S. Air Force in its planning? It’s not Congo—it’s Israel. Everybody knows that Iranian engineers have been advising Hezbollah on tunnels and underground gun emplacements. And so the Air Force went to the Israelis with some new tactics and said to them, ‘Let’s concentrate on the bombing and share what we have on Iran and what you have on Lebanon.’ ” The discussions reached the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, he said.

“The Israelis told us it would be a cheap war with many benefits,” a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said. “Why oppose it? We’ll be able to hunt down and bomb missiles, tunnels, and bunkers from the air. It would be a demo for Iran.”

A Pentagon consultant said that the Bush White House “has been agitating for some time to find a reason for a preëmptive blow against Hezbollah.” He added, “It was our intent to have Hezbollah diminished, and now we have someone else doing it.” (As this article went to press, the United Nations Security Council passed a ceasefire resolution, although it was unclear if it would change the situation on the ground.)

According to Richard Armitage, who served as Deputy Secretary of State in Bush’s first term—and who, in 2002, said that Hezbollah “may be the A team of terrorists”—Israel’s campaign in Lebanon, which has faced unexpected difficulties and widespread criticism, may, in the end, serve as a warning to the White House about Iran. “If the most dominant military force in the region—the Israel Defense Forces—can’t pacify a country like Lebanon, with a population of four million, you should think carefully about taking that template to Iran, with strategic depth and a population of seventy million,” Armitage said. “The only thing that the bombing has achieved so far is to unite the population against the Israelis.”

Several current and former officials involved in the Middle East told me that Israel viewed the soldiers’ kidnapping as the opportune moment to begin its planned military campaign against Hezbollah. “Hezbollah, like clockwork, was instigating something small every month or two,” the U.S. government consultant with ties to Israel said. Two weeks earlier, in late June, members of Hamas, the Palestinian group, had tunnelled under the barrier separating southern Gaza from Israel and captured an Israeli soldier. Hamas also had lobbed a series of rockets at Israeli towns near the border with Gaza. In response, Israel had initiated an extensive bombing campaign and reoccupied parts of Gaza.

The Pentagon consultant noted that there had also been cross-border incidents involving Israel and Hezbollah, in both directions, for some time. “They’ve been sniping at each other,” he said. “Either side could have pointed to some incident and said ‘We have to go to war with these guys’—because they were already at war.”

David Siegel, the spokesman at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, said that the Israeli Air Force had not been seeking a reason to attack Hezbollah. “We did not plan the campaign. That decision was forced on us.” There were ongoing alerts that Hezbollah “was pressing to go on the attack,” Siegel said. “Hezbollah attacks every two or three months,” but the kidnapping of the soldiers raised the stakes.

In interviews, several Israeli academics, journalists, and retired military and intelligence officers all made one point: they believed that the Israeli leadership, and not Washington, had decided that it would go to war with Hezbollah. Opinion polls showed that a broad spectrum of Israelis supported that choice. “The neocons in Washington may be happy, but Israel did not need to be pushed, because Israel has been wanting to get rid of Hezbollah,” Yossi Melman, a journalist for the newspaper Ha’aretz, who has written several books about the Israeli intelligence community, said. “By provoking Israel, Hezbollah provided that opportunity.”

“We were facing a dilemma,” an Israeli official said. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert “had to decide whether to go for a local response, which we always do, or for a comprehensive response—to really take on Hezbollah once and for all.” Olmert made his decision, the official said, only after a series of Israeli rescue efforts failed.

The U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel told me, however, that, from Israel’s perspective, the decision to take strong action had become inevitable weeks earlier, after the Israeli Army’s signals intelligence group, known as Unit 8200, picked up bellicose intercepts in late spring and early summer, involving Hamas, Hezbollah, and Khaled Meshal, the Hamas leader now living in Damascus.

One intercept was of a meeting in late May of the Hamas political and military leadership, with Meshal participating by telephone. “Hamas believed the call from Damascus was scrambled, but Israel had broken the code,” the consultant said. For almost a year before its victory in the Palestinian elections in January, Hamas had curtailed its terrorist activities. In the late May intercepted conversation, the consultant told me, the Hamas leadership said that “they got no benefit from it, and were losing standing among the Palestinian population.” The conclusion, he said, was “ ‘Let’s go back into the terror business and then try and wrestle concessions from the Israeli government.’ ” The consultant told me that the U.S. and Israel agreed that if the Hamas leadership did so, and if Nasrallah backed them up, there should be “a full-scale response.” In the next several weeks, when Hamas began digging the tunnel into Israel, the consultant said, Unit 8200 “picked up signals intelligence involving Hamas, Syria, and Hezbollah, saying, in essence, that they wanted Hezbollah to ‘warm up’ the north.” In one intercept, the consultant said, Nasrallah referred to Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz “as seeming to be weak,” in comparison with the former Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak, who had extensive military experience, and said “he thought Israel would respond in a small-scale, local way, as they had in the past.”

Earlier this summer, before the Hezbollah kidnappings, the U.S. government consultant said, several Israeli officials visited Washington, separately, “to get a green light for the bombing operation and to find out how much the United States would bear.” The consultant added, “Israel began with Cheney. It wanted to be sure that it had his support and the support of his office and the Middle East desk of the National Security Council.” After that, “persuading Bush was never a problem, and Condi Rice was on board,” the consultant said.

The initial plan, as outlined by the Israelis, called for a major bombing campaign in response to the next Hezbollah provocation, according to the Middle East expert with knowledge of U.S. and Israeli thinking. Israel believed that, by targeting Lebanon’s infrastructure, including highways, fuel depots, and even the civilian runways at the main Beirut airport, it could persuade Lebanon’s large Christian and Sunni populations to turn against Hezbollah, according to the former senior intelligence official. The airport, highways, and bridges, among other things, have been hit in the bombing campaign. The Israeli Air Force had flown almost nine thousand missions as of last week. (David Siegel, the Israeli spokesman, said that Israel had targeted only sites connected to Hezbollah; the bombing of bridges and roads was meant to prevent the transport of weapons.)

The Israeli plan, according to the former senior intelligence official, was “the mirror image of what the United States has been planning for Iran.” (The initial U.S. Air Force proposals for an air attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear capacity, which included the option of intense bombing of civilian infrastructure targets inside Iran, have been resisted by the top leadership of the Army, the Navy, and the Marine Corps, according to current and former officials. They argue that the Air Force plan will not work and will inevitably lead, as in the Israeli war with Hezbollah, to the insertion of troops on the ground.)

Uzi Arad, who served for more than two decades in the Mossad, told me that to the best of his knowledge the contacts between the Israeli and U.S. governments were routine, and that, “in all my meetings and conversations with government officials, never once did I hear anyone refer to prior coördination with the United States.” He was troubled by one issue—the speed with which the Olmert government went to war. “For the life of me, I’ve never seen a decision to go to war taken so speedily,” he said. “We usually go through long analyses.”

The key military planner was Lieutenant General Dan Halutz, the I.D.F. chief of staff, who, during a career in the Israeli Air Force, worked on contingency planning for an air war with Iran. Olmert, a former mayor of Jerusalem, and Peretz, a former labor leader, could not match his experience and expertise.

In the early discussions with American officials, I was told by the Middle East expert and the government consultant, the Israelis repeatedly pointed to the war in Kosovo as an example of what Israel would try to achieve. The NATO forces commanded by U.S. Army General Wesley Clark methodically bombed and strafed not only military targets but tunnels, bridges, and roads, in Kosovo and elsewhere in Serbia, for seventy-eight days before forcing Serbian forces to withdraw from Kosovo. “Israel studied the Kosovo war as its role model,” the government consultant said. “The Israelis told Condi Rice, ‘You did it in about seventy days, but we need half of that—thirty-five days.’ ”

There are, of course, vast differences between Lebanon and Kosovo. Clark, who retired from the military in 2000 and unsuccessfully ran as a Democrat for the Presidency in 2004, took issue with the analogy: “If it’s true that the Israeli campaign is based on the American approach in Kosovo, then it missed the point. Ours was to use force to obtain a diplomatic objective—it was not about killing people.” Clark noted in a 2001 book, “Waging Modern War,” that it was the threat of a possible ground invasion as well as the bombing that forced the Serbs to end the war. He told me, “In my experience, air campaigns have to be backed, ultimately, by the will and capability to finish the job on the ground.”

Kosovo has been cited publicly by Israeli officials and journalists since the war began. On August 6th, Prime Minister Olmert, responding to European condemnation of the deaths of Lebanese civilians, said, “Where do they get the right to preach to Israel? European countries attacked Kosovo and killed ten thousand civilians. Ten thousand! And none of these countries had to suffer before that from a single rocket. I’m not saying it was wrong to intervene in Kosovo. But please: don’t preach to us about the treatment of civilians.” (Human Rights Watch estimated the number of civilians killed in the NATO bombing to be five hundred; the Yugoslav government put the number between twelve hundred and five thousand.)

Cheney’s office supported the Israeli plan, as did Elliott Abrams, a deputy national-security adviser, according to several former and current officials. (A spokesman for the N.S.C. denied that Abrams had done so.) They believed that Israel should move quickly in its air war against Hezbollah. A former intelligence officer said, “We told Israel, ‘Look, if you guys have to go, we’re behind you all the way. But we think it should be sooner rather than later—the longer you wait, the less time we have to evaluate and plan for Iran before Bush gets out of office.’ ”

Cheney’s point, the former senior intelligence official said, was “What if the Israelis execute their part of this first, and it’s really successful? It’d be great. We can learn what to do in Iran by watching what the Israelis do in Lebanon.”

The Pentagon consultant told me that intelligence about Hezbollah and Iran is being mishandled by the White House the same way intelligence had been when, in 2002 and early 2003, the Administration was making the case that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. “The big complaint now in the intelligence community is that all of the important stuff is being sent directly to the top—at the insistence of the White House—and not being analyzed at all, or scarcely,” he said. “It’s an awful policy and violates all of the N.S.A.’s strictures, and if you complain about it you’re out,” he said. “Cheney had a strong hand in this.”

The long-term Administration goal was to help set up a Sunni Arab coalition—including countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt—that would join the United States and Europe to pressure the ruling Shiite mullahs in Iran. “But the thought behind that plan was that Israel would defeat Hezbollah, not lose to it,” the consultant with close ties to Israel said. Some officials in Cheney’s office and at the N.S.C. had become convinced, on the basis of private talks, that those nations would moderate their public criticism of Israel and blame Hezbollah for creating the crisis that led to war. Although they did so at first, they shifted their position in the wake of public protests in their countries about the Israeli bombing. The White House was clearly disappointed when, late last month, Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, came to Washington and, at a meeting with Bush, called for the President to intervene immediately to end the war. The Washington Post reported that Washington had hoped to enlist moderate Arab states “in an effort to pressure Syria and Iran to rein in Hezbollah, but the Saudi move . . . seemed to cloud that initiative.”

The surprising strength of Hezbollah’s resistance, and its continuing ability to fire rockets into northern Israel in the face of the constant Israeli bombing, the Middle East expert told me, “is a massive setback for those in the White House who want to use force in Iran. And those who argue that the bombing will create internal dissent and revolt in Iran are also set back.”

Nonetheless, some officers serving with the Joint Chiefs of Staff remain deeply concerned that the Administration will have a far more positive assessment of the air campaign than they should, the former senior intelligence official said. “There is no way that Rumsfeld and Cheney will draw the right conclusion about this,” he said. “When the smoke clears, they’ll say it was a success, and they’ll draw reinforcement for their plan to attack Iran.”

In the White House, especially in the Vice-President’s office, many officials believe that the military campaign against Hezbollah is working and should be carried forward. At the same time, the government consultant said, some policymakers in the Administration have concluded that the cost of the bombing to Lebanese society is too high. “They are telling Israel that it’s time to wind down the attacks on infrastructure.”

Similar divisions are emerging in Israel. David Siegel, the Israeli spokesman, said that his country’s leadership believed, as of early August, that the air war had been successful, and had destroyed more than seventy per cent of Hezbollah’s medium- and long-range-missile launching capacity. “The problem is short-range missiles, without launchers, that can be shot from civilian areas and homes,” Siegel told me. “The only way to resolve this is ground operations—which is why Israel would be forced to expand ground operations if the latest round of diplomacy doesn’t work.” Last week, however, there was evidence that the Israeli government was troubled by the progress of the war. In an unusual move, Major General Moshe Kaplinsky, Halutz’s deputy, was put in charge of the operation, supplanting Major General Udi Adam. The worry in Israel is that Nasrallah might escalate the crisis by firing missiles at Tel Aviv. “There is a big debate over how much damage Israel should inflict to prevent it,” the consultant said. “If Nasrallah hits Tel Aviv, what should Israel do? Its goal is to deter more attacks by telling Nasrallah that it will destroy his country if he doesn’t stop, and to remind the Arab world that Israel can set it back twenty years. We’re no longer playing by the same rules.”

A European intelligence officer told me, “The Israelis have been caught in a psychological trap. In earlier years, they had the belief that they could solve their problems with toughness. But now, with Islamic martyrdom, things have changed, and they need different answers. How do you scare people who love martyrdom?” The problem with trying to eliminate Hezbollah, the intelligence officer said, is the group’s ties to the Shiite population in southern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, and Beirut’s southern suburbs, where it operates schools, hospitals, a radio station, and various charities.

A high-level American military planner told me, “We have a lot of vulnerability in the region, and we’ve talked about some of the effects of an Iranian or Hezbollah attack on the Saudi regime and on the oil infrastructure.” There is special concern inside the Pentagon, he added, about the oil-producing nations north of the Strait of Hormuz. “We have to anticipate the unintended consequences,” he told me. “Will we be able to absorb a barrel of oil at one hundred dollars? There is this almost comical thinking that you can do it all from the air, even when you’re up against an irregular enemy with a dug-in capability. You’re not going to be successful unless you have a ground presence, but the political leadership never considers the worst case. These guys only want to hear the best case.”

There is evidence that the Iranians were expecting the war against Hezbollah. Vali Nasr, an expert on Shiite Muslims and Iran, who is a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and also teaches at the Naval Postgraduate School, in Monterey, California, said, “Every negative American move against Hezbollah was seen by Iran as part of a larger campaign against it. And Iran began to prepare for the showdown by supplying more sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah—anti-ship and anti-tank missiles—and training its fighters in their use. And now Hezbollah is testing Iran’s new weapons. Iran sees the Bush Administration as trying to marginalize its regional role, so it fomented trouble.”

Nasr, an Iranian-American who recently published a study of the Sunni-Shiite divide, entitled “The Shia Revival,” also said that the Iranian leadership believes that Washington’s ultimate political goal is to get some international force to act as a buffer—to physically separate Syria and Lebanon in an effort to isolate and disarm Hezbollah, whose main supply route is through Syria. “Military action cannot bring about the desired political result,” Nasr said. The popularity of Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a virulent critic of Israel, is greatest in his own country. If the U.S. were to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, Nasr said, “you may end up turning Ahmadinejad into another Nasrallah—the rock star of the Arab street.”

Donald Rumsfeld, who is one of the Bush Administration’s most outspoken, and powerful, officials, has said very little publicly about the crisis in Lebanon. His relative quiet, compared to his aggressive visibility in the run-up to the Iraq war, has prompted a debate in Washington about where he stands on the issue.

Some current and former intelligence officials who were interviewed for this article believe that Rumsfeld disagrees with Bush and Cheney about the American role in the war between Israel and Hezbollah. The U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said that “there was a feeling that Rumsfeld was jaded in his approach to the Israeli war.” He added, “Air power and the use of a few Special Forces had worked in Afghanistan, and he tried to do it again in Iraq. It was the same idea, but it didn’t work. He thought that Hezbollah was too dug in and the Israeli attack plan would not work, and the last thing he wanted was another war on his shift that would put the American forces in Iraq in greater jeopardy.”

A Western diplomat said that he understood that Rumsfeld did not know all the intricacies of the war plan. “He is angry and worried about his troops” in Iraq, the diplomat said. Rumsfeld served in the White House during the last year of the war in Vietnam, from which American troops withdrew in 1975, “and he did not want to see something like this having an impact in Iraq.” Rumsfeld’s concern, the diplomat added, was that an expansion of the war into Iran could put the American troops in Iraq at greater risk of attacks by pro-Iranian Shiite militias.

At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on August 3rd, Rumsfeld was less than enthusiastic about the war’s implications for the American troops in Iraq. Asked whether the Administration was mindful of the war’s impact on Iraq, he testified that, in his meetings with Bush and Condoleezza Rice, “there is a sensitivity to the desire to not have our country or our interests or our forces put at greater risk as a result of what’s taking place between Israel and Hezbollah. . . . There are a variety of risks that we face in that region, and it’s a difficult and delicate situation.”

The Pentagon consultant dismissed talk of a split at the top of the Administration, however, and said simply, “Rummy is on the team. He’d love to see Hezbollah degraded, but he also is a voice for less bombing and more innovative Israeli ground operations.” The former senior intelligence official similarly depicted Rumsfeld as being “delighted that Israel is our stalking horse.”

There are also questions about the status of Condoleezza Rice. Her initial support for the Israeli air war against Hezbollah has reportedly been tempered by dismay at the effects of the attacks on Lebanon. The Pentagon consultant said that in early August she began privately “agitating” inside the Administration for permission to begin direct diplomatic talks with Syria—so far, without much success. Last week, the Times reported that Rice had directed an Embassy official in Damascus to meet with the Syrian foreign minister, though the meeting apparently yielded no results. The Times also reported that Rice viewed herself as “trying to be not only a peacemaker abroad but also a mediator among contending parties” within the Administration. The article pointed to a divide between career diplomats in the State Department and “conservatives in the government,” including Cheney and Abrams, “who were pushing for strong American support for Israel.”

The Western diplomat told me his embassy believes that Abrams has emerged as a key policymaker on Iran, and on the current Hezbollah-Israeli crisis, and that Rice’s role has been relatively diminished. Rice did not want to make her most recent diplomatic trip to the Middle East, the diplomat said. “She only wanted to go if she thought there was a real chance to get a ceasefire.”

Bush’s strongest supporter in Europe continues to be British Prime Minister Tony Blair, but many in Blair’s own Foreign Office, as a former diplomat said, believe that he has “gone out on a particular limb on this”—especially by accepting Bush’s refusal to seek an immediate and total ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah. “Blair stands alone on this,” the former diplomat said. “He knows he’s a lame duck who’s on the way out, but he buys it”—the Bush policy. “He drinks the White House Kool-Aid as much as anybody in Washington.” The crisis will really start at the end of August, the diplomat added, “when the Iranians”—under a United Nations deadline to stop uranium enrichment—“will say no.”

Even those who continue to support Israel’s war against Hezbollah agree that it is failing to achieve one of its main goals—to rally the Lebanese against Hezbollah. “Strategic bombing has been a failed military concept for ninety years, and yet air forces all over the world keep on doing it,” John Arquilla, a defense analyst at the Naval Postgraduate School, told me. Arquilla has been campaigning for more than a decade, with growing success, to change the way America fights terrorism. “The warfare of today is not mass on mass,” he said. “You have to hunt like a network to defeat a network. Israel focussed on bombing against Hezbollah, and, when that did not work, it became more aggressive on the ground. The definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different result.”

source: The New Yorker

Monday, August 14, 2006

The UN Mideast Ceasefire Resolution Paragraph-by-Paragraph

08/13/06 "JURIST" -- --

JURIST Guest Columnist Anthony D'Amato of Northwestern University School of Law offers a detailed analysis of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities in the Middle East conflict involving Israel, Hezbollah and Lebanon...
Hezbollah's surprising television announcement accepting the terms of the UN Ceasefire Resolution means that the precise wording of the Resolution will be under strict diplomatic scrutiny for weeks or months to come. The following is my paragraph-by-paragraph commentary (in regular text) on the complete text (in italics) of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 (11 August 2006).

The Security Council,

PP1. Recalling all its previous resolutions on Lebanon, in particular resolutions 425 (1978), 426 (1978), 520 (1982), 1559 (2004), 1655 (2006) 1680 (2006) and 1697 (2006), as well as the statements of its President on the situation in Lebanon, in particular the statements of 18 June 2000 (S/PRST/2000/21), of 19 October 2004 (S/PRST/2004/36), of 4 May 2005 (S/PRST/2005/17) of 23 January 2006 (S/PRST/2006/3) and of 30 July 2006 (S/PRST/2006/35),

These previous resolutions are all superseded by the present resolution.

PP2. Expressing its utmost concern at the continuing escalation of hostilities in Lebanon and in Israel since Hezbollah's attack on Israel on 12 July 2006, which has already caused hundreds of deaths and injuries on both sides, extensive damage to civilian infrastructure and hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons,

Hezbollah's attack on 12 July 2006 was a border incident that under international law does not amount to an armed attack against a nation. Violent border incidents occur between India and Pakistan almost on a daily basis. If either side regarded these as armed attacks, the two sides right now would be engaged in total war, perhaps even using nuclear weapons. Constant border incidents also occur between a number of nations in Africa. None of these are regarded in international law as a casus belli. Israel's immediate and massive retaliation, however, was arguably an act of aggression. Nevertheless, this paragraph PP2 casts the blame on Hezbollah. Since it is not an operative paragraph (OP), but merely a preparatory paragraph (PP), its inclusion was probably a sop to Israeli sensibilities.

PP3. Emphasizing the need for an end of violence, but at the same time emphasizing the need to address urgently the causes that have given rise to the current crisis, including by the unconditional release of the abducted Israeli soldiers,

This paragraph does not call for the immediate release of the abducted Israeli soldiers. Its main purpose seems to be the decoupling of Israeli prisoners from Lebanese prisoners, so that the final settlement does not appear to be a trade. Israel has made it clear that a "trade" would be humiliating under the circumstances.

PP4. Mindful of the sensitivity of the issue of prisoners and encouraging the efforts aimed at urgently settling the issue of the Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel,

For the same reason as above, this paragraph finishes the job of decoupling.

PP5. Welcoming the efforts of the Lebanese Prime Minister and the commitment of the government of Lebanon, in its seven-point plan, to extend its authority over its territory, through its own legitimate armed forces, such that there will be no weapons without the consent of the government of Lebanon and no authority other than that of the government of Lebanon, welcoming also its commitment to a UN force that is supplemented and enhanced in numbers, equipment, mandate and scope of operation, and bearing in mind its request in this plan for an immediate withdrawal of the Israeli forces from Southern Lebanon,

This is now a sop to the sensibilities of the Lebanese government.

PP6. Determined to act for this withdrawal to happen at the earliest,

The Security Council could have decreed that the withdrawal begin immediately. However, to do so would have meant that the Security Council was acting within its mandatory powers of Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. This paragraph PP6 indicates that the Council is acting under Chapter 6, which is limited to making recommendations to the parties. As we shall see, this entire Resolution creates profound ambiguities as to whether it is authorized by either Chapter 6 or Chapter 7. Different paragraphs seem to shift from one to the other.

PP7. Taking due note of the proposals made in the seven-point plan regarding the Chebaa farms area,

The Chebaa Farms is a small strip of territory on the border between Israel and Lebanon. Israel has occupied it since defeating Syria in the 1967 war, but it belongs either to Syria or to Lebanon. Under international law, territory can no longer be obtained by military conquest, and hence it does not legally belong to Israel. Heated diplomatic disputes between Lebanon and Israel in the past week over this territory almost killed the UN draft resolution. The accommodation in PP7 allows UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to determine the status of the Chebaa Farms. This was not acceptable to Israel. In a side deal between the United States and Israel, brokered by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the United States pledged to use its veto power in the Security Council to block any decision by Annan to hand the territory directly over to Lebanon. This side deal appears to have sandbagged the Lebanese government. Yet it does not contradict the language of PP7 and therefore appears to be lawful. Perhaps Lebanon should have had better lawyers representing it at the United Nations. Or maybe Lebanon liked the rest of the Resolution so much as to induce it to let the Chebaa Farms go for the time being.

PP8. Welcoming the unanimous decision by the government of Lebanon on 7 August 2006 to deploy a Lebanese armed force of 15,000 troops in South Lebanon as the Israeli army withdraws behind the Blue Line and to request the assistance of additional forces from UNIFIL as needed, to facilitate the entry of the Lebanese armed forces into the region and to restate its intention to strengthen the Lebanese armed forces with material as needed to enable it to perform its duties,

This language tilts the resolution toward Chapter 6 (recommendations). The Security Council could have ordered Lebanon to deploy such an armed force if the Council wished to invoke Chapter 7 (decisions). But inasmuch as the government of Lebanon agreed in advance to deploy such an armed force, it was prudent here for the Council to use the honey of Chapter 6 instead of the vinegar of Chapter 7.

PP9. Aware of its responsibilities to help secure a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution to the conflict,

This is probably meant for the average American high-school student who says, "What's the United Nations and why should I care?"

PP10. Determining that the situation in Lebanon constitutes a threat to international peace and security,

Suddenly, almost as an afterthought, come these remarkable words. Up to now it has appeared that the Security Council was acting under the recommendatory powers of Chapter 6. But PP10 directly invokes Chapter 7 by the use of the key words "determine," "constitutes," "threat," and "international peace and security," all found in Article 39 of the Charter. Why would Israel consent to PP10 when all along it had been insisting on its right to accept or reject the pending UN resolution? (Note that Israel could reject a "recommendation" under Chapter 6, but would have no choice in the matter if the Security Council were to act under Chapter 7). The reason is probably that Israel for the past month has complained that the 2,000 UNIFIL force in southern Lebanon (United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon) has from its inception in 1978 been nothing but a see-no-evil vacation spot for lazy peacekeepers. Israel's insistence that a UN force have full military powers to use force if necessary to back up UN recommendations may have been interpreted as a concession on Israel's part that the UN peacekeeping force can be nothing other than a UN Army with full enforcement powers under Chapter 7.

OP1. Calls for a full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations;

Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah has called this provision unfair: it only bars "offensive" military operations by Israel while prohibiting "all" Hezbollah attacks. Yet this is what lawyers would call a distinction without a difference. So long as Hezbollah ceases all attacks, Israel would not have any justification for offensive or defensive operations.

OP2. Upon full cessation of hostilities, calls upon the government of Lebanon and UNIFIL as authorized by paragraph 11 to deploy their forces together throughout the South and calls upon the government of Israel, as that deployment begins, to withdraw all of its forces from Southern Lebanon in parallel;

Just as the ink was drying on the UN Resolution, Israel hurriedly moved 20,000 of its ground forces across the border into Lebanon. This action shocked many of the members of the Security Council in New York. They should have seen it coming. Israel's decision seems to have been triggered by the "in parallel" language of OP2. With a total now of 30,000 soldiers in Lebanon, Israel is in a position of withdrawing them one-for-one only with each replacement soldier from the UN or from Lebanon. The UN peacekeeping force is capped at 15,000 (see below, OP 11), and Lebanon has amassed 15,000 troops for deployment in its southern area.

OP3. Emphasizes the importance of the extension of the control of the government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory in accordance with the provisions of resolution 1559 (2004) and resolution 1680 (2006), and of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, for it to exercise its full sovereignty, so that there will be no weapons without the consent of the government of Lebanon and no authority other than that of the government of Lebanon;

This is one of the many paragraphs of the Resolution that is premised upon the assumption that the Lebanese government wants to disarm and render inoperative the Hezbollah fighters. But what if the Lebanese government and Hezbollah in the past few days have reached a secret accommodation between themselves so that they are no longer in opposition to each other? Then many of the provisions of this Resolution could fall apart. I will take up this possibility in greater detail as we proceed through the operative paragraphs of this Resolution.

OP4. Reiterates its strong support for full respect for the Blue Line;

With Israel having so many boundary disputes, it comes as a relief to all sides that at least the Blue Line between Lebanon and Israel is being made permanent.

OP5. Also reiterates its strong support, as recalled in all its previous relevant resolutions, for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized borders, as contemplated by the Israeli-Lebanese General Armistice Agreement of 23 March 1949;

This provision could backfire if Hezbollah becomes integrally associated with the government of Lebanon. The parallel with Palestine is striking: Hamas became the democratically elected government of the Palestinians to the utter dismay of Israel. Now the four-week war between Lebanon and Israel has moved the majority of the Lebanese public to support Hezbollah, as if there has been a virtual election of Hezbollah to the government.

OP6. Calls on the international community to take immediate steps to extend its financial and humanitarian assistance to the Lebanese people, including through facilitating the safe return of displaced persons and, under the authority of the Government of Lebanon, reopening airports and harbours, consistent with paragraphs 14 and 15, and calls on it also to consider further assistance in the future to contribute to the reconstruction and development of Lebanon;

A sound humanitarian provision to which no one could object.

OP7. Affirms that all parties are responsible for ensuring that no action is taken contrary to paragraph 1 that might adversely affect the search for a long-term solution, humanitarian access to civilian populations, including safe passage for humanitarian convoys, or the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons, and calls on all parties to comply with this responsibility and to cooperate with the Security Council;

This is more than precatory language. It enables the Security Council to enforce its provisions under the Chapter 7 authorization of this Resolution that was inserted above in PP 10.

OP8. Calls for Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution based on the following principles and elements:
  • full respect for the Blue Line by both parties,

  • security arrangements to prevent the resumption of hostilities, including the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL as authorized in paragraph 11, deployed in this area,

    Whether or not it occurred to the Security Council, this provision could turn into an economic bonanza for Lebanon in partial compensation for the suffering and losses it has endured for the past four weeks. The area between the Blue Line and the Litani river will be one of the most secure places in the Middle East, with 30,000 soldiers guarding it. Moreover, the soldiers will bring foreign money into the area to purchase food, supplies, clothing, recreational gear, services, accommodations, bars, etc. Not only will displaced Lebanese civilians return to the area, but Palestinian refugees might also emigrate there to take up the many jobs that will be created.

  • full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of July 27, 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state,

    It is clear that the authors of this provision intend the disarmament of all members of Hezbollah. But this is where common sense must interrupt our formal analysis of the Resolution and ask: what group in its right mind would consent to a Resolution that calls for its disarmament to be likely followed by arrests and prosecutions for war crimes? (See my JURIST editorial on war crimes.) The only reasonably conceivable reason Hezbollah has agreed to this Resolution is that it has been assured, by secret agreement with the government of Lebanon, that its members will not be disarmed, arrested, or prosecuted. My best guess is that the agreement calls for members of Hezbollah to be smoothly integrated into the armed forces of the Lebanese government.

  • no foreign forces in Lebanon without the consent of its government,

    No problem if Hezbollah becomes a governmental force instead of a foreign force.

  • no sales or supply of arms and related materiel to Lebanon except as authorized by its government,

    In my JURIST editorial last week, I focused upon the importation of rockets and rocket launchers by Hezbollah as the most important issue that Israel faces in this conflict. So long as Syria and Iran supply increasingly sophisticated rockets to Hezbollah, Israel's security diminishes with each shipment. What would be ideal, from Israel's point of view, is a blockade on all arms and military equipment to Lebanon. But instead Israel has settled for a loophole: there is no blockade to arms and military equipment if authorized by the Lebanese government. In my view, this is the reason why Hezbollah has agreed to the UN Resolution. Hezbollah must believe that it can look forward to importing sophisticated armaments and rockets under the authority and permission of the government of Lebanon. By the same token, the magnitude of this concession makes it appear that Israel has thrown in the towel.

  • provision to the United Nations of all remaining maps of land mines in Lebanon in Israel's possession;
OP9. Invites the Secretary General to support efforts to secure as soon as possible agreements in principle from the Government of Lebanon and the Government of Israel to the principles and elements for a long-term solution as set forth in paragraph 8, and expresses its intention to be actively involved;

OP10. Requests the Secretary General to develop, in liaison with relevant international actors and the concerned parties, proposals to implement the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), including disarmament, and for delineation of the international borders of Lebanon, especially in those areas where the border is disputed or uncertain, including by dealing with the Chebaa farms area, and to present to the Security Council those proposals within thirty days;

OP11. Decides, in order to supplement and enhance the force in numbers, equipment, mandate and scope of operations, to authorize an increase in the force strength of UNIFIL to a maximum of 15,000 troops, and that the force shall, in addition to carrying out its mandate under resolutions 425 and 426 (1978):

Is the UNIFIL force, which has been at 2,000 troops since 1978, a Chapter 6 or a Chapter 7 force? It has certainly behaved as if it were an entirely defensive Chapter 6 force. Yet Resolutions 425 and 426 (1978) contain language that fixes UNIFIL within Chapter 7. It appears that Hezbollah, in accepting this Resolution, has abandoned the area between the Blue Line and the Litani river. This area was extremely important to Hezbollah because of its proximity to the northern Israeli cities, making it possible for Hezbollah to use short-range Katyusha rockets against Israel. But with Hezbollah's success in holding out against Israel for four weeks, Hezbollah can now look forward to importing more sophisticated and deadly rockets from Iran and Syria. The Katyusha rockets, after all, are World War II models. The new ones can be fired from a much longer range with greater accuracy and a greater payload, over the heads, so to speak, of the peacekeepers in southern Lebanon.

a. Monitor the cessation of hostilities;

b. Accompany and support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the South, including along the Blue Line, as Israel withdraws its armed forces from Lebanon as provided in paragraph 2;

c. Coordinate its activities related to paragraph 11 (b) with the Government of Lebanon and the Government of Israel;

d. Extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons;

e. Assist the Lebanese armed forces in taking steps towards the establishment of the area as referred to in paragraph 8;

f. Assist the government of Lebanon, at its request, to implement paragraph 14;

It is clear from all these provisions of OP 11 that something decisive must have happened between Hezbollah and the government of Lebanon in the past few days. I have no evidence of any such thing. But purely from inference, it seems to me that the two have joined forces for the following reasons: (a) Israel's ill-advised indiscriminate bombing campaign in Lebanon, reminiscent of Operation Barbarossa in World War II which turned the citizens of Russia against the German armies, has elevated Hezbollah to the heights of popularity among the Lebanese people; (b) half of the Lebanese army is composed of Shiites, who are of the same faith as Hezbollah; (c) many of the senior officers of the Lebanese army are members of Hezbollah; (d) Hezbollah is already a minor party that is officially part of the Lebanese government; (e) Hezbollah is already more powerful than the Lebanese government and its army; (f) Hezbollah is increasing its power due to training, funding, and arms shipments from Iran and Syria; (g) one may reasonably assume that many Hezbollah fighters will now enlist in the Lebanese army, thus averting "disarmament" while simply changing their uniforms.

OP12. Acting in support of a request from the government of Lebanon to deploy an international force to assist it to exercise its authority throughout the territory, authorizes UNIFIL to take all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind, to resist attempts by forceful means to prevent it from discharging its duties under the mandate of the Security Council, and to protect United Nations personnel, facilities, installations and equipment, ensure the security and freedom of movement of United Nations personnel, humanitarian workers, and, without prejudice to the responsibility of the government of Lebanon, to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence;

The use of the term “authorizes” in OP 12 means that the Security Council is acting here under its Chapter 7 powers. In other words, UNIFIL is a lot more than a conventional peacekeeping force. It is an Army acting under the direct authority of the Security Council.

OP13. Requests the Secretary General urgently to put in place measures to ensure UNIFIL is able to carry out the functions envisaged in this resolution, urges Member States to consider making appropriate contributions to UNIFIL and to respond positively to requests for assistance from the Force, and expresses its strong appreciation to those who have contributed to UNIFIL in the past;

The Chapter 7 mandate to the new UNIFIL has already made it so attractive that OP 13 became unnecessary as soon as it was written. Nations are now vying to send their own soldiers to UNIFIL. It was only a week ago that most nations expressed their reluctance to send any of their ground troops into Lebanon.

OP14. Calls upon the Government of Lebanon to secure its borders and other entry points to prevent the entry in Lebanon without its consent of arms or related materiel and requests UNIFIL as authorized in paragraph 11 to assist the Government of Lebanon at its request;

The important thing here is what is not mentioned. UNIFIL is not authorized to act outside its assigned territory. Thus, if UNIFIL wishes to add to the blockade of weapon shipments into Lebanon originating in Syria or Iran, it must receive authorization from the Lebanese government. This effectively means that if the government wants to import such weapons, UNIFIL cannot interfere with it.

OP15. Decides further that all states shall take the necessary measures to prevent, by their nationals or from their territories or using their flag vessels or aircraft,

(a) the sale or supply to any entity or individual in Lebanon of arms and related materiel of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts for the aforementioned, whether or not originating in their territories, and

(b) the provision to any entity or individual in Lebanon of any technical training or assistance related to the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of the items listed in subparagraph (a) above, except that these prohibitions shall not apply to arms, related material, training or assistance authorized by the Government of Lebanon or by UNIFIL as authorized in paragraph 11;

Notice the huge ambiguity between these paragraphs (a) and (b). Paragraph (a) seems to require any country, such as Iran for example, to prevent its nationals from sending missiles. for example, to Lebanon. Paragraph (b) allows Iran to send technical trainers to Lebanon if the government of Lebanon authorizes it. The ambiguity arises from the “except” clause in (b): does it apply just to the technical trainers mentioned in (b), or does it also relate back to (a) and allow missiles to be sent to Lebanon if authorized by the government of Lebanon? Furthermore, on either interpretation, what happens if a state violates OP 15? The Resolution does not contain any provision for enforcement of OP 15. Thus the Security Council would have to enact a further Resolution to use force to impede any state from sending missiles to Lebanon. But this further Resolution might be vetoed by Russia or China, for example, who may not want to accept any restrictions on their power to freely export goods or services. The reader may ask how such basic ambiguities find their way into international resolutions and treaties when the drafters are surely intelligent enough to spot them and to clarify the language. The straightforward answer is that the drafters were unable to agree on any plain language and so they intentionally adopted ambiguous language in order to “give something” to both sides.

OP16. Decides to extend the mandate of UNIFIL until 31 August 2007, and expresses its intention to consider in a later resolution further enhancements to the mandate and other steps to contribute to the implementation of a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution;

OP17. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council within one week on the implementation of this resolution and subsequently on a regular basis;

OP18. Stresses the importance of, and the need to achieve, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on all its relevant resolutions including its resolutions 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967 and 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973;

OP19. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

POSTSCRIPT. Hezbollah's rockets have been a wake-up call to Israel. Or, more accurately, it is like a dream in which you dream you are waking up only to fall into a deeper nightmare. The rockets will not uninvent themselves. The UN Resolution is not going to keep them away. Israel's best defense, in my humble opinion, is to return to strict adherence to international law, to move its Wall from Palestinian property and either dismantle it or erect it on its own property, and to cease and desist from land-grabbing. For what is vital to me, a non-Jew, is Jewish morality, its teachings on justice, its immense contribution to civilization, the music of Gershwin and Weill that daily runs through my mind, and even its incomparable humor. These must survive. War is not the way.

Anthony D.Amato is Leighton Professor of Law at Northwestern University, where he teaches international law and human rights.

source: Information Clearing House