Tuesday, August 15, 2006

War and diplomacy

War and Ceasefire Diplomacy - http://www.opceasefire.org/At last, both sides, the Israelis and the Lebanese (or should I say, the Hizbollah?) have finally agreed to a UN brokered ceasefire, effective Monday, 14 August 2006 at 0500 GMT. Even so, it is reported that both sides are still lobbing bombs at each other even after the accepting the agreement. We now hear that there are problems in the Lebanese government cabinet, where the Hizbollah has two representatives, about the implementation of the terms of the ceasefire.

Yes, all of us want to believe that the ceasefire agreement will end the bloodshed and bring permanent respite to the innocent Lebanese citizens. But the reality is that both sides are still simmering, ready to start the war all over again at the slightest opportunity or provocation. Both sides will view the ceasefire as a chance to regroup, relocate and rearm for another day. Fundamentally, no peace agreement has been reached, only a ceasefire. And when the war starts again, as it inevitably will, the world will see that nothing has been resolved. Diplomacy has merely won a stay of execution. The final solution will only be reached until one side destroys, or at least neutralizes, the other side permanently.

So yes, Mr Kofi Annan can claim a sort of belated diplomatic victory, but the UN, being the UN, can never bring lasting peace to the two sides. What is tragic about the whole incident is that the duly constituted and elected government of Lebanon was never able to exert any meaningful influence and control over the Hizbollah faction, in spite of the fact that it has at least 15,000 troops under its command. A government that cannot, or will not, govern and control the country and the various factions among it must ultimately take responsibility for the death of its people and destruction of its property. If it still does not recognize this fact, and take action to bring the Hizbollah under its control, then it should cede control totally to the Hizbollah. It should not continue with a pretense that serves to hoodwink charitable souls of the world, including the Lebanese women and children.

The Hizbollah, by some combination of warped logic and delusion, are claiming a victory in this conflict. It has sustained 900 over deaths (probably mostly civilians - which do not matter much?) on the Lebanese side versus 150 odd deaths on Israel's side. Much of their homes are buried in rubble and it will take a lot of charity from the rest of the world to rebuild their homes and feed their people. It is a strange victory when you have to depend on charity.

Israel, on the other hand, is more subdued over this war and is certainly not over the moon regarding the achievements (or lack) of its original objectives - the return of its two soldiers.

Do we now wonder why the fight is not over yet? Dare I say that the diplomatic world is facilitating a conflict more destructive than the first?

Image origin: http://www.opceasefire.org/

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