It seems that while our writing styles are different, on almost every major issue, Bruce and I agree. Sometimes I will consider a news item or interesting quotation as the subject of potential blog and then, before I have started to write the post, will find that he has already blogged on the topic. In just the past month, he “scooped” me on Ben Stein’s praise of the president, Lanny Davis’s thoughts on Liberal McCarthyism and Tony Snow’s “Smackdown” of Cindy Sheehan.
We differ, however, on UN Resolution 1701 which Bruce calls “our version of ‘Peace in Our Time’.” And it seems our differences reflect those of conservatives pundits and bloggers. While a majority share Bruce’s view of this flawed resolution, a handful share my view, including Captain Ed and Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom.
I learned today that while not cautiously optimistic about the resolution as is Goldstein*, one of my favorite columnists pretty much echoes my views, though expresses his thoughts far better than I have mine. In his column today, Charles Krauthammer contends that Israel will be able to “take care of itself.” He fears, however, that Lebanese democracy, “the high point . . . of the Bush doctrine” will be lost.”
The first Israel-Hezbollah war ended in a tie, and in this kind of warfare, tie goes to the terrorist. Yet there is no doubt that had Israel been permitted to proceed with the expanded offensive it began two days before the cease-fire, Israel would eventually have destroyed Hezbollah in the south, albeit at great cost to itself, Lebanon and Israel’s patron, the United States. Which is why the war was called off.
Fortunately, the Israel army learns from its mistakes and adapts its tactics and equipment to address problems in past engagements. The army is already investigating problems in the war and will not be caught flat-footed in the next battle as they were in the most recent one.
Krauthammer and I agree that one of the biggest problems of the resolution its lack of teeth. Given at the failure of the United Nations (UN) to enforce its past resolutions on Lebanon, Krauthammer is astounded that the current resolution gives the Secretariat the responsibility for enforcing its provisions:
Yet, the fact that responsibility for implementation is given to Kofi Annan’s office — not known for integrity, competence or neutrality — betrays a certain unseriousness about the enterprise from the very beginning.
Despite Annan’s past failures, the Secretary General may have a chance to show his seriousness this time without doing anything more than what he is known for — making statements. If the Lebanese army continues to refuse to disarm Hezbollah as mandated, then Israel should refuse to withdraw its troops from all of Southern Lebanon.
It’s up to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to demand that Lebanon fulfill its obligations under the Resolution as precondition to the completion of the Israeli withdrawal. If the Prime Minister shows such resolve in the coming days, then Annan will have his chance to show his seriousness by demanding that all parties, including Lebanon, honor the world body. If he singles out Hezbollah for its repeated violations of UN mandates, he would show that he takes his organization seriously. If not, he will confirm (once again) what conservative critics of the UN have been saying all along.
I don’t expect Kofi to show such resolve because while he claims such high regard for the United Nations, he has shown little commitment to the principles upon which it was founded and the mandates of its Security Council.
While “Annan angered Israeli officials when he told Channel 2 on Tuesday that ‘dismantling Hizbullah is not the direct mandate of the UN,’” he may soon have a chance to redeem himself in the eyes of Israel — and the free world. Israeli officials have also “said the IDF would not complete its withdrawal from southern Lebanon until the international force was deployed — even if it took months — to prevent a vacuum in Lebanon that could endanger Israeli civilians.” If Kofi Annan is serious about the UN, he would defend that decision.
One reason I have not criticized the Administration as harshly as have other conservatives is that I believe its resolve has not yet been fully tested on this “cease-fire.” The real test will come if Israel objects to the composition of the international force — and its failure to enforce 1701. If that happens, then the United States must stand clearly behind Israel and demand that all parties meet their obligations under that resolution.
Given Annan’s past record, I don’t have much hope that he will show much resolve on this issue, more eager is he to end hostilities, then to see a just end to hostilities where UN mandates are fulfilled. He has a chance to show that his belief in his organization is more than just empty rhetoric. The coming days will show whether he really believes in the mandates of United Nations — or just in the idea of the United Nations.
To prove his commitment to his own organization, all Annan need do is insist that all parties meet their obligations under this and previous resolutions. And stand behind Israel if it demands that all provisions of the relevant UN resolutions be honored. Given the quality of the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, there’s a good chance he’ll hold the Secretary General’s feet to the fire.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com
*It might more accurate to call Krauthammer’s take cautiously pessimistic.