The Jerusalem Post reports that the U.S. and our partner the French have agreed upon a cease fire resolution. From what I can tell, the resolution is a bad joke. Apparently, the same U.N. clown force that has been doing nothing in south Lebanon will be deployed. Then, the job of defanging Hezbollah will be turned over to the Lebanese army, made up in part of Hezbollah sympathizers and in part of those with no stomach to take on Hezbollah, especially on Israel’s behalf. Hezbollah will correctly viewed as the force that, for the first time in Lebanese history, prevented a meaningful Israeli advance. Thus, the prospects of it being truly defanged by the Lebanese would appear to be nil.
The JPost says there’s a good chance that the wobbly Olmert government will accept this resolution. Over at NRO’s corner, John Podhoretz contends that this would mean the end of the Olmert government. I’m tempted to suggest that our government, having seemingly lost its will to oppose (or even to let others oppose) our deadliest enemies, deserves the same fate. But let’s wait until the facts are in.
UPDATE: Here, via NRO’s Corner, is the content of the U.N. resolution. Here, via the same source, is the administration’s spin. The spin seems to be that the administration won a victory by insisting that Israel be permitted to remain in south Lebanon until the U.N force is deployed and that, at the end of the day, there was always going to be an international force to replace the Israelis (who don’t want to remain indefinitely).
But if, as I have argued, the IDF is the only force truly capable of degrading Hezbollah, then there is no excuse for bringing this matter to an end until the IDF has made much more progress than it has to date. Moreover, even assuming that eventually an international force would have to be relied on to keep Hezbollah degraded, that international force didn’t have to be the joke U.N. force, a proven failure that bears a share of the responsibility for all of the death and destruction of the past month.
FURTHER UPDATE: John Podhoretz argues that the resolution “is not a disaster” because it only bars Israel from “offensive” military action while the IDF remains in Lebanon. But, even taking an aggressive view of what consititutes defensive military action, the resolution surely bars a major push deeper into Lebanon, and that is what was needed. Further desultory action in the border towns isn’t going to mean much. Nor would I expect the IDF to be quick to ask its troops to be “the last to die for a mistake.”
Speaking of mistakes, the eventual administration spin on this is probably going to be that it gave Israel plenty of time to crush Hezbollah, but the Olmert government bungled the job. That the Olmert government disappointed seems indisputable. But why should Israel have been given less than a month to undo six years of Hezbollah entrenchment? We’ve had several years in Iraq and haven’t finished the job. My guess is that the administration just didn’t want to take the international heat associated with another month (say) of fighting in Lebanon. If so, that doesn’t bode well for its future conduct of the war on terror.
JOHN adds: Blog of the Week Vital Perspective has these thoughts:
It emphasizes the need for the “unconditional release” of the two IDF soldiers kidnapped on July 12, but does not make a direct demand for their freedom. Additionally, it calls on Israel and Lebanon to agree to a long-term solution under which Hezbullah would be disarmed. The text does not define when Hezbollah would be disarmed and by whom.
Further, it calls for a phased withdrawal by Israeli troops as the Lebanese army deploys 15,000 troops in the south, controlled by Hezbollah. At the same time, UNIFIL would be reinforced by French and other troops, perhaps as many as 15,000. The draft does not specify which chapter of the UN Charter UNIFIL would be authorized under. Instead, it says their mandate would include several elements: monitoring the cessation of hostilities, accompanying Lebanese troops as they deploy and as Israel withdraws, and ensuring humanitarian access. As in earlier drafts, the resolution includes an arms embargo on weapons flowing to Lebanon except for those ordered by the Beirut army and UN forces.
The question is, does any of this matter? The Security Council will likely unanimously approve the resolution tonight. Israel will likely accept it on Sunday. Lebanon has expressed satisfaction, but none of this matters if Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the terrorist Hezbollah organization, does not accept it. If the rocket attacks continue, if Israeli civilians are forced to live their lives in bomb shelters, if the IDF is attacked from their positions within Israel, then Israel can and will exercise its legitimate right to self-defense, and this resolution will have achieved little if anything at all. So by all means, Israel must accept this resolution. As Secretary Rice has said in the past, following this resolution, “We will see who is for peace and who is not.”
I haven’t yet had time to study the terms of the resolution, but it sounds indefinite enough that it will lead to further trouble before long.