July 28, 2006

Schadenfreude Friday: Foreign Policy? What Foriegn Policy?

According to Washington Post reporter Robin Wright...

International talks on Lebanon here failed Wednesday to agree on an immediate cease-fire in the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah but called for a new multinational force in south Lebanon and opened the way for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to return to the Middle East soon for further discussions, U.S. and U.N. officials said.

The Rome conference did not bridge the gap between a tough U.S. position, opposing a cease-fire except as part of a broader arrangement that can endure for years, and European and Arab calls for an immediate halt to the fighting. The meeting went 90 minutes longer than expected, largely because of stiff debate over the cease-fire issue, U.S. diplomats said.

"We are all agreed that we want most urgently to end the violence on a basis that this time will be sustainable, because unfortunately, this is a region that has had too many broken cease-fires, too many spasms of violence, followed then by other spasms of violence," Rice said at a joint news conference with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and the conference host, Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema.

Despite an impassioned appeal for an immediate end to hostilities by Siniora, who said Israeli airstrikes had brought his country "to its knees," the United States pushed through language urging countries to "work immediately to reach with utmost urgency a cease-fire that will put an end to the current violence and hostilities." Most of the 18 parties called instead for "urgent work on an immediate cease-fire."

CNN similarly reported...

One source involved in the talks said everyone but the United States wanted to press ahead with an immediate cease-fire, but Rice argued that taking that approach would leave Hezbollah in place and still armed with its rockets.

Rice also expressed concern over what she said was Iran and Syria's involvement in the conflict, while Annan said that future dialogue should involve Tehran and Damascus.

A senior U.N. diplomat described the mood in the talks as somber. He said everyone but the United States wanted cessation of fighting to make room for more negotiations and humanitarian aid.

Here's a hypothetical. Let's say you happen upon two kids in a parking lot throwing down. Your first reaction? Well, unless they're going after each other with AK-47s, I'm guessing you'll try to stop them from doing damage to each other. I doubt any of us would consider standing a safe distance from them and calmly saying, "hey, kids, before you stop beating the ever-loving shit out of each other, let's make sure we all have in place a mutually agreeable solution to ensure the longevity of your friendship throughout the many years and decades to come." Because that would be stupid. I mean, someone's going to lose an eye or get kicked in the nuts before things get settled and no one involved (even though you might be the most convincing speaker in the history of the civilized world and not a dumb hick) is going to pay attention to your diplomatic ass anyway. Agreed?

By focusing only on the extended future of the region, the U.S. foreign policy we tried to push this week is short-sighted and naive. No, actually it's worse than that. I think it's practically criminal. Shouldn't the goal be to stop people from killing each other, even for a day? To stop innocent civilians from being turned out of their homes or, worse, murdered, by rocket attacks? Worst case scenario, a cease fire lasts a day. That's still one day during which no one was killed. What makes our policy approach even more suspect are comments about Iran and Syria. Instead of appearing as though we're searching for a solution, we appear to be looking for reasons to break out an Almighty American Bitchslap on the Axis of Evil and its distant cousins.

You know, it doesn't really matter which side of the conflict you come down on, which side you rally behind. People are dying and the situation is spiraling out of control. Our government doesn't seem to care, nor do they seem interested in finding a solution. Grandstanding and rhetoric don't solve problems. Instead, a commitment to doing what's right by people regardless of religious or ethnic persuasion is what's needed. And clearly Washington doesn't give a damn about people.

Posted by Chris at July 28, 2006 7:19 AM

Standing by and not DOING anything seems criminally negligent to me. And now I'm getting concerned over what's boiling over in Somalia. Are we going to let that go straight to hell, too?

Posted by: Nicole at July 28, 2006 7:35 AM

Amen, brother.

Posted by: Sharri at July 28, 2006 8:35 AM

Although I agree that the killing should be stopped I disagree with the cease fire approach. We need to get to the root of the problem and the problem is Hezbolluh and their backers. And maybe I have not been following as close as I should but was there a representative from Hezbolluh at this sumit? Not Lebanon but Hezbolluh?

Posted by: Bill at July 28, 2006 8:47 AM

I'm afraid the entire middle east is in for rougher times than this. Hezbolluh is a terrorist group. Just like Alkaida. I'm sure there are even more groups out there ready to kill the infandels. Unless the entire world comes together to work on this problem, things will only get worse.
I think too many people think the USA is responsible for the World. I don't think I am ready to believe that we are that big or that great that we can handle the entire world by ourselves.

Posted by: Maribeth at July 28, 2006 8:55 AM

puh-lease excuse the Franklin-Covey calander cheesiness of it all, but two quotes immediately came to my mind:

He that would govern other, first should be The master of himself.
- Philip Massinger

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppresor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
- Elie Wiesel

I'm not particularly proud to be an American today.

Posted by: Betti at July 28, 2006 8:56 AM

Yep, I totally agree with you.

Posted by: Red at July 28, 2006 9:06 AM

I guess once you've invaded a country and killed 30,000 people there, things start to get a little blurry.

If they can save 1 life by negotiating a cease-fire right now, it would be worth it.

Posted by: Brad at July 28, 2006 9:12 AM

I disagree with you on one point: Israel is in the best position to take out Hezbollah, and if they do, Lebanon might have a better chance for a government not held under the thumb of a terrorist wackjob.

We're spread too thin to get involved, I think, and we also can't/won't tell Israel what to do, AND we won't negotiate with Hezbollah because they're terrorists. So our one chance for an accurately-described "war on terror" lies solely in our ability to stand aside and fund and arm Israel as they actually battle a verifiable terrorist organization. Hence, that's what the US is doing.

But if Syria and Iran get involved, we're no doubt looking at WWIII. We'll have to get involved then.

Posted by: Sarah at July 28, 2006 9:17 AM


Posted by: Amy at July 28, 2006 9:31 AM

Let's see ... am I up to seven, eight, one hundrend Amens?

Posted by: Heather at July 28, 2006 9:36 AM


Posted by: Kate the Shrew at July 28, 2006 9:38 AM

Ugh...this administration. No matter how often they step in horse shit, they insist that's it's chocolate cake. I can't take any more.

Posted by: wordgirl at July 28, 2006 9:50 AM

"People are dying and the situation is spiraling out of control. Our government doesn't seem to care, nor do they seem interested in finding a solution."

You're right. They don't care. And those that would care fail to comprehend the magnitude of it simply because they are so far away from the violence, from the conflict, from the suffering involved that it doesn't affect them.

It's the same as the mess things are in, the screwed American Medical Service and the British NHS, or the state schools in both countries, or the inner cities...They don't have to live with it, they don't have to be in any way involved with it, or suffer the consequences of it and neither do their families or children, so, yeah; they don't care.

The "I'm alright Jock" and "every man for himself" attitude is nowhere better demonstrated than in the hearts and minds of the people who don't have to experience the things they make decisions about.

Posted by: Alice at July 28, 2006 10:19 AM

I totally agree. But when you think about the world today there are plenty of situations that the US/UK/EU/UN should be intent on stopping the fighting immediately and aren't. My pet peeve is Zimbabwe, where Mugabe has not only killed white farmers, he's killed plenty of his own including those who worked for the white farmers and more, and now the country is starving. You also never hear about the Solomon islands or the desperate situation in East Timor in the media here. I could name countless other terrible situations that both the US and the UN are ignoring for whatever reason and it makes me sick.

Posted by: E :) at July 28, 2006 10:24 AM

I have wondered the same thing. How can an immediate cease-fire possibly PREVENT discussions about a longer-term peace?

I'm also a big fan of all the discussion of what this will do to the President's "legacy" in the Middle East. Because his "legacy" was so stellar before this current crisis started.

Posted by: Julie at July 28, 2006 10:26 AM

the middle east conflict is more complex than a throwdown in a parking lot. I dont understand why you would insist american step in and stop the fighting, how are they going to do that? occupy lebanon? Israel has a right to defend itself from terrorist organizations. Would you ask your friend to step on a rusty nail so you dont have too? Syria and Iran are involved and the UN needs to call them out. Lebanonese people need to take back their country and not let their government tolerate terrorist organizations. No cease fire will ever work because of the religious and ethnicity of the participants, its going to take a complete change in philosophy by both sides to resolve this and that just isnt going to happen with US telling Israel to back down. It is terrible that so many innocent people are in harms way, what kind of monster hides behind women and children?

Condi is doing a good job, and we need to give her time.

Posted by: linda at July 28, 2006 10:55 AM

"Kill em all and let god sort em out" is pretty much the unspoken motto of this administration.

Posted by: That Girl at July 28, 2006 11:06 AM

I'll probably garner the most hated comment of the day here but here goes:

Let them go at it until it's over. Might as well. It's like trying to get into the middle of a dog fight. You can only do so much to separate them and you may even get hurt while you're at it. If they want to kill each other, there's not a way you can stop them. So, go ahead. Just watch from the patio. There is always one left standing at the end.

The last time I checked when the US decided to intervene with other country's internal issues, you guys are still over there.


Posted by: Oakley at July 28, 2006 11:14 AM


And just to lighten things up a bit, I was sort of 1 degree from Kofi Annan this week. My friend called me from Rome and was staying on the floor above him in the same hotel. She got screened by security. I think there were two Prime Ministers there too, but no Condi. I told my friend to get her butt downstairs and tell Kofi what to do - you know, tell them all to cut that shit out! - but to no avail. I think she was going out for gelato or something. Probably the same as Condi.

Posted by: Q at July 28, 2006 11:25 AM

Golly. It seems so sycophantic of me, but I always totally and completely agree with you about this stuff.

Further proof that I need to GET THE HELL OUT of Ohio.

Posted by: candace at July 28, 2006 11:42 AM

Here is a statement from Al Jazeera television. The woman is Wafa Sultan, an Arab-American psychologist from Los Angeles .
Make sure to double click on the video to enlarge the picture to be able to read the English translation.


Posted by: Theresa at July 28, 2006 12:29 PM

Makes you wonder where the outrage is. Oh, yeah. The populace would have to learn to read, understand and discern. Oops.

Posted by: bhd at July 28, 2006 12:45 PM

OT: is it just my crappy work browser or do the last 3 (to the far right) tiny pics up in your banner sit just a skosh higher than the previous ones? sorry, i'm a virgo.

Posted by: b. at July 28, 2006 1:19 PM

BHD is right, America is not critical enough or educated enough to know what the hell is going on and most people are too concerned with American Idol or whatever to care. We should be ashamed.

Posted by: Janet at July 28, 2006 1:41 PM

It's difficult to criticize Israel without being compared to Hitler.

The fighting has been going on since the days of Isaac and Ishmael and until we have someone in our government who understands history, it will continue.

I won't tie up your comment box with a history lesson but ever since we recognized Israel in 1948 thereby displacing people who have lived there since time out of mind we'll have nations fighting nations and a fertile ground for terrorism.

In the meantime, let's at least try to put a bandaid on the current outbreak before Armageddon becomes a reality.

I read on some blog or another that bombing Lebanon to destroy Hezbollah made about as much sense as bombing Chicago to get rid of Al Capone.

Posted by: ann adams at July 28, 2006 2:48 PM

I am SO with ya there!

Posted by: Lisa B at July 28, 2006 4:31 PM

This reminds me of a bit I saw on The Daily Show a few nights ago. Bush vetoed the Stem Cell bill because he considered it the taking of innocent lives. Yet the administration seems to be okay with the killing of 30,000 innocent Iraqis. Apparently the innocent people being killed throughout the Middle East aren't innocent enough or something.

Posted by: Beth in StL at July 28, 2006 6:52 PM

Amen! I can't stand the short sighted policies which again see the US backing Israel, and what akes me more angry is that the same short sighted policies have traveled north. A UN post was hit in Lebanon, and is alleged by the UN to have been TARGETED by Israel... and still the PM up here does little. All this to say nothing of the many civilians injured and killed.

Posted by: Heather at July 28, 2006 10:33 PM

God, don't even get me started. You pretty much summed it up right here:

"Instead of appearing as though we're searching for a solution, we appear to be looking for reasons to break out an Almighty American Bitchslap on the Axis of Evil and its distant cousins."


Posted by: Kristen at July 29, 2006 11:08 PM

The analogy I point to is that of a hockey fight. The officials don't step in until both participants are drained, which I think is rather stupid; but that's the mentality of the U.S.

Posted by: Bill L at July 30, 2006 11:15 AM

sir, you crack my sh#t up.

Posted by: krystyn at July 30, 2006 5:37 PM

it seems to me that the US is just trying to get Isreal to do its dirty work for them now. Its shameful thats for sure. i have long since given up trying to understand anything that comes out of this administration's mouths,.

Posted by: kristied at July 30, 2006 11:02 PM

I must apologize if I come across as naive, or crminally stupid, but I don't understand what you are so confused about when it comes to U.S. Foreign Policy.

As long as we have CNN, MSNBC, FOX (not that they really matter),etc focused on the "potential WW III" and the attrocities going on in Lebanon, nobody is paying much mind to the people being kidnapped by the busload in Iraq, or even the fact that despite the insurgency being "in its last throes" for well over a year now, that the situation is Iraq is not only NOT improving it is getting worse.

This is just the "look something shiny" that this administration needs to get the awful focus off of Iraq, but still use fear mongering (pointing to the "Axis of Evil") to try and use "security" as GOP talking point for the November elections.

As I see it, to think that this administration is sitting on their hands, without a definite agenda is simply denying how underhanded they really are.

Posted by: Latte Man at August 1, 2006 2:15 PM