Rice moves quickly to preempt a truce in Lebanon’s power struggle.


    Editorial. Daily Star. Saturday, November 03, 2007.


    Photo: Mohamed Shublaq. Beirut’s Southern Suburbs, August 2006.

Lebanon’s feuding political leaders have a long history of digging their country into holes from which it can only emerge by climbing over piles of dead bodies. The current impasse is just the latest example of this tendency, but at least a few cooler heads are determined to avoid the errors of those who went before. It remains to be seen which “side” will prevail – not between the government and the opposition, but between the sane and insane factions in each camp. Not content with this level of uncertainty, however, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has stepped back into the fray in defense of past traditions and future bloodshed.

In the wake of talks in Paris between the leader of Lebanon’s parliamentary majority, MP Saad Hariri, and the head of the opposition Reform and Change bloc, MP Michel Aoun, Rice wasted no time in seeking to pre-empt whatever progress they might eventually achieve. “There are a lot of discussions going on,” she remarked on Friday. “That is fine, but any candidate or any president needs to be committed to Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence, needs to be committed to resolutions that Lebanon has signed on to … and needs to be committed to carrying on the tribunal.”

Really? Rice and her boss, US President George W. Bush, have shown no such concern for Lebanon’s sovereignty when it comes to the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms, which UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report all but acknowledges as Lebanese territory. Likewise, they have done nothing to end Israel’s provocative overflights of this country, which – according to Ban – violate Security Council Resolution 1701. Nor, as Ban notes, have they persuaded the Jewish state to hand over targeting information that might help lessen the scourge of the 1 million unexploded Israeli cluster bomblets – many of them in the color and shape of toys – that continue to kill Lebanese children. As for the court, its purpose is to try suspects in the assassination of Hariri’s father, so the son is a far more reliable custodian of its form and function than the mouthpiece for a government that aided and abetted the Israeli military in hundreds of murders during and since the summer of 2006.

Washington has long accused countries like Syria and Iran of working to block a Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement. What America is doing in Lebanon today is precisely that: presuming to know better than its purported allies (like Saad Hariri) what is good for them and using its influence to scuttle a deal before it can be negotiated, let alone signed. The Lebanese have tasted this brand of “help” before, when Washington bought time for the Israelis to keep destroying this country with American-made weapons; we need no advice now from those who use duplicity to mask their own cowardice, ignorance and moral spasticity.

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