Lost?

Last week I met with a member of Israel’s Chicago consulate who had come to the Twin Cities to meet with the editorial boards of the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press as well as supporters of Israel in the local Jewish community. In addition to the return of its soldiers, he described Israel’s objective in the war as the installation of an international force in southern Lebanon that would separate Israel and Hezbollah. Defeating Hezbollah was not part of the equation. In his Wall Street Journal column this morning, Bret Stephens takes note of Israel’s shifting goals and finds Israel to be losing the war both militarily and politically.

Advocacy of the installation of an international force in southern Lebanon seemed to me a substantial departure from Israeli policy that previously foreswore commitment of its security to hands other than its own. It was in any event unclear to me how such a force would even theoretically protect Israel from Hezbollah given the ability of Hezbollah to fire missiles into Israel over the force.

In her Jerusalem Post column this morning, Caroline Glick frames her analysis around the thinking of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Yet the flaws in the projected outcome of the war for Israel seem devastating on their own terms for both American and Israeli interests, and Glick ably elaborates on these flaws in connection with the anticipated adoption of terms consistent with this outcome in a United Nations Security Council Chapter VII resolution:

THERE ARE several basic problems with this approach. First, Chapter VII resolutions are the only UN resolutions that enable the Security Council to use force and other coercive tools against UN member states. Any state breaching them is considered an international lawbreaker.

Israel’s enemies have for decades sought to have Israel come under the authority of Chapter VII resolutions, but the US has blocked all such attempts, understanding that they are aimed at denying Israel the right to defend itself.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her colleagues claim that the proposed multinational force would protect Israel. Yet it is already clear that this will not be the case. As things now stand, the proposed force will be led by France. Indonesia and Turkey have reportedly offered to participate. With France leading the international community in condemning Israel for defending itself; with some 40 percent of Indonesians telling pollsters that they wish to participate in jihad; and with Turkey led by an Islamist government, can anyone believe that this force will neutralize Hizbullah? None of these countries even accept that Hizbullah is a terrorist organization.

OBVIOUSLY this force will not fight Hizbullah. But it will prevent Israel from attacking Hizbullah. And given that the force is to be mandated under a Chapter VII resolution, were Israel to take independent measures to defend itself, it would immediately become an outlaw state open to arms embargoes and other sanctions.

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IN HER discussions with Israeli leaders, Rice has proposed that in the framework of a settlement of the current crisis, Israel give Mt. Dov on the Golan Heights to Lebanon. There has been almost no public debate about the reasonableness of the US position. Yet even the most superficial analysis makes it clear that such a move would be catastrophic for Israel’s long-term viability.

Mt. Dov, which Hizbullah refers to as the Shaba Farms, is not and has never been Lebanese territory. In 2000, following Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon, the UN certified that Israel had removed itself from all Lebanese territory.

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ADDITIONALLY, by supporting Hizbullah’s demand, the US is in effect suing for a Hizbullah victory in this war. Hizbullah has never demanded Mt. Dov for itself. It demands the vast territory that connects the Syrian Golan to the Upper Galilee for Lebanon. And the Lebanese government, which the US seeks to strengthen, supports this Hizbullah demand just as it supports all of Hizbullah’s demands. If Lebanon receives the territory, Hizbullah will be the clear victor in this war.

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Somehow, between the US’s early and misguided decision to ignore the Lebanese government’s support and responsibility for Hizbullah and the Olmert government’s clearly halfhearted prosecution of the war, both governments have gotten lost.

A related Jerusalem Post editorial suggests that Israel’s military objectives are still in flux and urges “No half measures.” This morning’s New York Sun carries Eli Lake’s report from Tel Aviv with Olmert’s disclaimer of any ceasefire and the announcement of a ground offensive.

As for the agreement to a Chapter VII resolution by the Security Council that would leave Hezbollah standing and as for the urging of Israeli concession of territory to Lebanon, I hope someone in a position of authority to speak for the administration will say it ain’t so.

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