U.N. Security Council Unanimously Backs Cease Fire And MultiNational Force In Lebanon
If Lebanon and Israel ratify the cease-fire call in the next couple of days, as widely expected, and an international peacekeeping force and the Lebanese Army are successful in ridding South Lebanon of Hezbollah and creating a buffer zone, the most essential war aims of the Israelis will have been satisfied.
Those were to get Hezbollah and its thousands of rockets away from the Israeli border and curb to the largest extent possible the Iranian and Syrian influence through Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The Israeli Army could have gone further into Lebanon than it did, but it was perhaps wise of the Olmert government to rein in the Army, hold Israeli casualties down, and wait for diplomacy to work.
(Late dispatches today say the Israelis are in fact charging forward, trying to seize as much territory as they can get before the cease fire takes effect. This is not really surprising, since the more the Israelis can rub Hezbollah noses in the dirt, the less likely they are to want to fight some more in the future. This is just like American forces in the War of 1812. They won their greatest victory over Britain in the Battle of New Orleans, which took place after peace had been declared).
The total casualties of the Israelis, considering the goals attained, were not terribly high. Casualties in Lebanon were higher. Perhaps the Lebanese will now have gotten the point that allowing their country to be taken over by Hezbollah, Iran and Syria to pursue their goal of exterminating the state of Israel was a very foolish thing to do, because the Israelis are not willing to go down without fighting, as they have just proved once again.
I'm disappointed that the Syrian regime of the thugish dictator, Bashir Assad, was not also dealt a direct and fatal blow in the war, but you can't have everything. Assad is smart enough and cowardly enough to steer clear of direct involvement in fighting Israel. He just wants to assist the Hezbollah aggressors without running too many risks himself. The Israeli government was probably wise in deciding to let him go for now. The Israeli-Syrian border has been quiet since the 1973 war, and that much is to the good.
The Bush and Blair administrations in the United States and Britain were instrumental in opposing an immediate cease fire until the Israelis had a chance to take Hezbollah down a peg. It is very fashionable in some quarters to make fun of George W. Bush and Tony Blair, but they are tough, they are steadfast, and, though they have made some mistakes in Iraq particularly, they are not easily defeated. The Olmert government was quick to offer its thanks to Mr. Bush, and this gratitude was proper and well-expressed.
The United Nations now has the task of putting together a peacekeeping force that is tougher and more effective than others in the past. But with the French, who know Lebanon well, and other countries' forces on the ground, backed by logistic support from the U.S. and Britain, the chance of a success may not be negligible. If Hezbollah tries terror tactics to take down the force, as it did American and French forces that sought to intervene in Lebanon in 1983, the world reaction this time might be more forceful. Publicly-spirited New Zealand early today was one of the first countries to commit its forces to the peacekeeping force.
It may be wise, if they are willing, to include some Russian forces in the peacekeeping force. After all, both Russia and China supported the Security Council resolution, and neither country has any love for Middle Eastern terrorists.
We can hope, as New York Times foreign columnist Tom Friedman suggested this week, that the Lebanese people will not be anxious to incur Israeli wrath again by submitting to terrorist opportunism.
These have been a difficult past few weeks. However, due primarily to the fighting character of Israel, and the good faith of President Bush, it looks like it will come out all right. Let's hope we can do as well in the next few months in Iraq.
An apology: I wish to apologize for earlier criticisms of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper. Just the day after I wrote that he was avoiding the battlefield, Cooper went to Israel and for weeks broadcast nightly from parts of Northern Israel subject to Hezbollah rocket fire. He proved his mettle in covering the war, and I was wrong about him.
An anonymous comment on a recent blog, says, at the end: "And please join the Republican party. That's really what you are."
Just so it's clear, I have been a Republican most of my life and am today.