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Candide's Latest: Saturday, August 12, 2006
Peace As a C-Section Through Lebanon

Vigil in Beirut for more than 1000 dead

Israeli bombers’ sensitivity to civilians: First, drop leaflets warning them away from their town. Then bomb the hell out of their convoys. Seven dead, 36 wounded. “Hundreds of Lebanese soldiers and hundreds of civilians fleeing  the Israeli bombardments were in the convoy, which several hours  previously had left Marjayun escorted by two United Nations Interim  Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) armoured vehicles,” Beirut’s Daily Star reports. “Some 350 members of a joint police and army security force,  whose barracks had been occupied by Israeli troops, and more than  500 civilian cars formed the massive convoy. The UN escorted them as far as the Druze village of Hasbaya, 13  kilometres (eight miles) from Marjayun.”

One month into the Lebanon war, the United Nations Security Council approves a resolution calling for an end to hostilities. Israel’s response? A wider bombing campaign, a deeper incursion with its invasion force, and a tripling of its troops inside Lebanon: “ Israeli troops are moving towards the strategically significant Litani River ,” the BBC reports. “Fresh air strikes inside Lebanon left several dead. […] Israel 's cabinet is to discuss the issue on Sunday and will only halt military action after it takes a vote. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is asking the cabinet to endorse the resolution, describing it as positive and acceptable. But even as diplomats finalised the draft, Israel radio said troops had been ordered to seize ground as far as the Litani River , up to 30km (18 miles) from the Israeli border. […]Long columns of tanks and troops crossed the border under cover of darkness, reports from northern Israel said.” How any of this has done anything to degrade rather than strengthen Hezbollah is, of course, the question Israelis and Americans would rather not ask. The situation is a two-headed monster: a maximizing of destructive capacities on the ground, in the event the UN resolution either fails to carry through or the international force planned for South Lebanon takes the long route around Cape Horn . Diplomatically, the UN resolution at this point is Israel ’s version of peace with honor—for itself. Its offensive has been a success of obliterating destruction, a massive failure of objectives and long-term strategic vision. Lebanon is now an unstable, more dangerous place than it was a month ago. Hezbollah is regarded in the Arab world more highly than at any point in its 25-year history.

In love with al-Qaeda: The American press—with the exception of the Wall Street Journal—is so attached to al-Qaeda in that perverse co-dependence that attaches to known enemies (remember the Cold War) that it can’t see past the possibility that the Britain Plane Plot (BPP, or BP for short, leaky liquids being involved) was not an al-Qaeda job, or at least “al-Qaeda” inspired. That’s the new favorite one: al-Qaeda inspired. The all-purpose, unassailable blame-it-on-al-Qaeda approach. Even if the would-be terrorists had absolutely nothing whatever to do with Osama’s bands, they at least watched TV. They were inspired. So we get the New York Times and the Washington Post playing up the “Pakistani connection” while the London Times plays up the “7/7 connection” (which, as we remember, had nothing to do with al-Qaeda), leaving it to the Daily Show on Monday to play up the Jimmy Hoffa connection.

Terror goes on; as does the “war on terror.”So what,asks Richard Haas, needs doing? “The first thing to do is to drop the metaphor of a ‘war on terrorism.’ Wars are mostly fought with arms on battlefields between soldiers of opposing countries. Wars have beginnings and ends. None of these characteristics apply here,” Haas writes in a Project Syndicate column. “There is another reason to jettison the martial vocabulary. Terrorism cannot be defeated by arms alone. Other instruments of policy, including intelligence, police work and diplomacy, are likely to play a larger part in any effective policy.”

When American sports teams start acting like the Pentagon: A few teams in the National Football League forbid news media from filming or photographing players’ in juries during practice. The Minnesota Vikings are the latest to embrace censorship “out of sensitivity” to players who get hurt, says Bob Hogan, the Vikings’ director of public relations. Because that’s what these million-dollar tractor-trailers on legs need: sensitivity. When Edward Gibbon Jr. writes “The Decline and Fall of the American Empire,” vikings acting like small-cap wimps maked as big-time presumption should provide a few illustrative lines.

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