August 7, 2006
Here is a story you are unlikely to read in an American newspaper -- the story of extraordinary arrogance, naivety, stupidity, recklessness and callous indifference to human life. And it is all being inflicted in our names, on behalf of the people of the United States.
Behind all the happy talk in the U.S. media about the American/French ceasefire resolution on the War in Lebanon is the story of how truly, dangerously incompetent Bush, Rice and Bolton are.
The story by Mark Perry and Alistair Crooke, appears in Asia Times Online and begins with Bolton negotiating with a French diplomat over the terms of the resolution.
Bolton actually insisted that France lead an international peacekeeping force and that this force be deployed before a ceasefire is in place. Yes, that's right, he wanted French troops to jump into Lebanon in the middle of a shooting war.
The position that we're taking in the UN is just nuts," a former White House official close to the US decision-making process said during the negotiations. "The US wants to put international forces on the ground in the middle of the conflict, before there's a ceasefire. The reasoning at the White House is that the international force could weigh on the side of the Israelis - could enforce Hezbollah's disarmament."
This is just stunning in its stupidity. Bolton actually expected the French to send troops to Lebanon to intervene for Israel.
But wait! It gets even worse.
A former US Central Intelligence Agency officer confirmed this view: "I am under the impression that [President] George [W] Bush and [Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice were surprised when the Europeans disagreed with the US position - they were running around saying, 'But how can you disagree, don't you understand? Hezbollah is a terrorist organization.'"
So Bolton decides it's time to insult the French.
The normally taciturn La Sabliere was particularly enraged when Bolton indirectly accused him of naivety. Responding to a reporter's question about the French position calling for a ceasefire prior to a troop deployment, Bolton was at his arrogant best: "I think it simplistic, among other things. I want somebody to address the problem on how to get a ceasefire with a terrorist organization."
I'll be happy to address that, Mr. Bolton. Perhaps you have heard of an organization called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil, which has been waging a terror campaign in Sri Lanka for years. In fact, they invented the modern suicide vest, which was then adopted by Palestinian terror groups. The Tamil Tigers currently have a ceasefire agreement in place with the Sri Lankan government, although the ceasefire is in danger of falling apart. There have also been agreements to cease fire and disarm by the IRA and the Basque terror group ETA.
Predictably, Bolton's neocon dog and pony show was as popular as Tennessee Volunteers coach Phillip Fulmer at a Crimson Tide pep rally. Especially after Bolton said that the Lebanese civilians killed in Israeli attacks had it coming.
"The Bush people have never heard a shot fired in anger, and it's apparent," an official in the UN Secretary General's Office noted. "The French were quite fearful that one miscalculation, one stray rocket could set the region on fire. No one in Washington seemed willing to admit that as a possibility."
Bolton's continued "cheerleading for Israel" didn't help, according to this same official. "It's a real row that started with Bolton's statement that you couldn't compare the deaths of Lebanese to the deaths of Israelis," the official said. "He implied that because Lebanon harbored Hezbollah, Lebanese lives were forfeit. It was a stupid thing to say. It tore the scab off the wound."
Has any of this been reported in the American media? I haven't seen it and I read a great deal. That might be because the authors, Perry and Crooke, have been neocon targets. They are part of an organization called Conflicts Forum and Crooke is a former British intelligence official and diplomat.
The US press was quick to pick up on this, parroting the administration's line. Even the venerable Washington Post implied that seven Canadians who had died as a result of Israeli air strikes in the war's first days were of lesser value than other Westerners - since they were "Lebanese holding Canadian passports".
The Post might not have meant to imply that. But the implication is there.
But the coverage over the weekend of the American/French resolution made the whole thing sound like a triumph of diplomacy, as if France was our new best buddy and Bush was a lock for the Nobel Peace Prize.
For now, Condoleezza Rice is hailing the US-French draft as a symbol for US-European cooperation. But for many European diplomats, agreement on the draft resolution has only papered over a deepening rift between the United States and its European partners, with some European diplomats muttering that America's real goal is to induce the Europeans to wade into Lebanon on the side of a defanged and humiliated Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert "bragged that Israel would destroy Hezbollah", a French diplomat said in Washington, "and if he can't do it that's his problem. I don't care what the secretary of state says, we're not going to do it for him."
Makes you wonder just how the hell we are going to survive until January 2009.
Update: To add link to Yahoo story about Bolton's comments:
Lebanon civilian deaths morally not same as terror victims -- Bolton
Mon Jul 17, 4:47 PM ET
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - US Ambassador John Bolton said there was no moral equivalence between the civilian casualties from the Israeli raids in Lebanon and those killed in Israel from "malicious terrorist acts".
Asked to comment on the deaths in an Israeli air strike of eight Canadian citizens in southern Lebanon Sunday, he said: "it is a matter of great concern to us ...that these civilian deaths are occurring. It's a tragedy."
"I think it would be a mistake to ascribe moral equivalence to civilians who die as the direct result of malicious terrorist acts," he added, while defending as "self-defense" Israel's military action, which has had "the tragic and unfortunate consequence of civilian deaths".
The eight dead Canadians were a Lebanese-Canadian couple, their four children, his mother and an uncle, said relatives in Montreal.
The Montreal pharmacist and his family had arrived in Lebanon 10 days earlier for a vacation in his parents' home village and to introduce his children to relatives, they said.
Three of his Lebanese relatives died too, a family member told AFP.
"It's simply not the same thing to say that it's the same act to deliberately target innocent civilians, to desire their deaths, to fire rockets and use explosive devices or kidnapping versus the sad and highly unfortunate consequences of self-defense," Bolton noted.
The overall civilian death toll from the Israeli onslaught in Lebanon since last Wednesday reached 195, in addition to 12 soldiers, officials said. Twenty-four Israelis have also been killed since fighting began last Wednesday, including 12 civilians in a barrage of Hezbollah rocket fire across the border.