Israel has brought its troops across the border and has gained control of the village of Maroun al-Ras. There they found a mosque containing stocks of weapons which reportedly contains rockets.
Personally, I say it’s time to scratch “mosque” off the list of locations that are treated with kid gloves. The muslims don’t appear to have any issue with storing war materiel there so why should mosques be treated any different than any other building where terrorists operate?
More as it comes…
I had a conversation a couple of days ago with another contractor on a project I’m consulting on regarding the situation in Lebanon. While I make it a practice to avoid talking politics – or at least taking a definitive stance on political issues – while talking with the customer, I don’t have as much of a problem spelling out where I stand to other contractors. This particular guy is left-wing and he’s usually well-spoken, engagable in a debate, and has no issue agreeing to disagree on matters we can’t resolve. His stance on Lebanon is that Israel is as much to blame for the current situation as Hezbollah and that Israel should not, under any circumstances, “be permitted” to engage in a ground assault there.
I told him we’d get back to that whole “be permitted” comment but I wanted to hear what his proposed solution was, since it was Hezbollah who clearly triggered this phase of the conflict by invading Israeli soil. His reply was that a cease-fire needed to be performed by both sides and a buffer zone between the 2 combatants needed to be created such that Hezbollah wasn’t sitting right at the border.
“You mean you’re advocating a return to when Israel had that buffer zone on the Lebanese side of the border? The one that everyone was screaming at them was an illegal invasion of a sovereign nation?” I asked.
His reply was that the buffer zone wouldn’t be a problem so long as the Israelis themselves weren’t managing it. What was needed, he said, was for the UN to send in a peacekeeping force so stand literally between these 2. I asked him why he thought that would help, considering that such a force was already there. The reply was priceless.
“Already there?” he asked. “Wait a minute. You’re claiming there’s UN troops in a buffer zone between Lebanon and Israel?” I assured him it wasn’t a “claim” so much as a report of fact. “Since when?” he asked, looking rather smug.
“Since 1978,” I replied, “and they’ve been there since Israel did what the UN demanded and withdrew from Lebanon almost 6 years ago.”
To say he was flustered is an understatement. I asked him to go check it out and we’d talk after he’d gotten up to speed. His ignorance on the topic isn’t an isolated issue. As Jack Kelly writes in the Toledo Blade, the UN’s peacekeeping forces have not generally been effective nor have they been well-publicized. For good reason, it appears.
Dave Kopel writes a rather long but seriously overdue article on this UN force in Lebanon, called UNIFIL. Not only have they not done the job they were sent to do – which was to oversee the disarmament of Hezbollah and the securing of the border zone – they’ve actually actively participated in Hezbollah’s attacks. Kopel’s article at the Volohk Conspiracy goes into detail that you shouldn’t miss if you’re looking to be informed on the topic.
We’ll see this week whether my fellow contractor has informed himself.
There must have been some interesting conversations around the Vatican after Cardinal Sodano shot his mouth off about how the Holy See blamed Israel for the actions ongoing in Lebanon. Seems that when the Pope himself is speaking on the matter, he’s got a different take on things. He thinks the G8 folks were right on the money:
Jul. 19 (CWNews.com) – Pope Benedict XVI (bio – news) has indicated his support for a statement released by the leaders of the G8 industrial nations regarding the crisis in Lebanon.
In a brief exchange with reporters on July 18, as he returned to his vacation home in the Alpine village of Les Combes after a long afternoon hike, the Holy Father responded to a question about the Middle East by saying, “I fully agree with the G8 statement.”
At their meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, the G8 leaders had approved a statement calling for an immediate ceasefire. The G8 statement urged Israel to act with restraint, but suggested that the primary blame for the latest violence should fall upon Hezbollah terrorists.
“These extremist elements and those that support them cannot be allowed to plunge the Middle East into chaos and provoke a wider conflict,” the G8 leaders agreed. “The extremists must immediately halt their attacks.”
Pope Benedict said that in his view, the G8 statement “indicates the path” that should be taken toward peace in the Middle East. That statement had called for the safe return of Israeli soldiers who have been captured in Gaza and Lebanon; a halt to the rocket attacks and terror bombings on Israeli territory; the end of Israeli military operations in Lebanon; rapid withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza; and the release of Palestinian parliamentary leaders who have been arrested by Israeli forces.
“I have nothing to add,” Pope Benedict said, “except the importance of prayer that God will help us.”
That’s much better. There has been very few instances in the last 50 years where a situation has qualifed more for the status of “justifiable war” as envisioned by Thomas Aquinas. As a Catholic I was very dismayed by the comments issued by Cardinal Sodano. They showed a profound lack of insight into the situation or, frankly, a fairly hefty bias against Israel. Neither of those are qualities I like to see in a man of the cloth. I am pleased that the Pope has come out so definitively on the matter.