THE SPINE JULY 16, 2009
It is three years since the second Lebanon war began and nearly three years since it was supposedly ended. Formally, the finale came with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, which was the handicraft of Condi Rice in her panic to have some kind of achievement to her name. President Bush played along with the charade, maybe because Israeli politics itself had made continuing the conflict untenable.
In any case, I warned time and again, during the war and long after, that 1701 was a fraud. The first objection was that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL, had accomplished nothing--not, by the way, next to nothing--and was still "interim." Yet the truce was put into its hands. This would be a joke if human life were not at stake in the operations of the blue helmets. But human life is, and not only the soldiers soldiers killed when Hezbollah crossed into Israel on July 13, 2006. Then there were the two kidnapped soldiers in the operation--Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev--who were subsequently murdered. And, of course, the cross-border carnage from and to both sides.
UNIFIL is a model U.N. operation, startlingly dishonest (even for the U.N.), cowardly, unprofessional. It never had the number of troops that had been designated. And it never took to its major task which was to keep Hezbollah arms out of Lebanon's south. Read the article in today's Times by the highly reliable Ethan Bronner, who focuses rightly on an explosion in the village of Khirbet Siem which, according to 1701, is in the zone where Hezbollah is forbidden to have arms.
It was only the explosion that has fixed attention on the scandal of Hezbollah rockets in the precluded region. But both the Lebanese army and Hezbollah kept UNIFIL from inspecting the area around the exploded building. Why did the two units cooperate in this venture? Because, though moderate democrats won the Lebanese elections, Hezbollah still has a stranglehold on the country's politics, especially its politics vis-a-vis Israel.
So Condi Rice lives on and remember that this is not Susan Rice. When Bush's secretary of state was frantically ending the war she was also guaranteeing that another war over the frontier between Israel and Hezbollah-dominated southern Lebanon would be in the offing.