Global Trends by Martin
Monday 24 July 2006
Tragedy in Lebanon
Is there no one left to
help Lebanon? This question is asked by people around the world as
TV images show the effects of the continuous bombing of the country.
Calls for the “international community” to impose a ceasefire have been
rejected by the United States, thus giving Israel clearance to continue
its attacks, with disastrous results for the Lebanese.
The tragedy of Lebanon continues
to be played out, with its capital Beirut and other towns and regions
being bombed by Israel, and with the United Nations seemingly powerless
to do anything.
As the bombs continued to
rain down, the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan told the Security Council
that a ceasefire should be put in place.
But this was rejected by
the United States, whose Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said there
were no "conducive circumstances" for a ceasefire.
The Prime Minister of Lebanon,
who months ago was welcomed warmly by US President George Bush at the
White House, went on CNN to condemn the Israeli attack on his country,
appealing to the “international community” to stop it. But his pleas
fell on deaf ears.
A transcript of a private
conversation between US President Bush and British premier Tony Blair
at a tea-break at the G8 Summit in St Petersburg last week revealed
Blair offered to go to the Middle East to resolve the crisis but that
Bush turned it down, saying his Secretary of State would do the job.
Having prevented the UN and
others from taking action, the US opened the way for Israel to give
Lebanon many more days of acute punishment.
Lebanon has rebuilt its infrastructure
and buildings in the last few years, costing scores of billions of dollars,
in a spurt of reconstruction after its many civil wars. Much of that
reconstruction is in ruins.
Israel’s portrayal that its
bombs are aimed at Hezbollah, does not reflect the reality, some of
which is seen on TV screens.
Bombs have fallen on family
homes, roads and dams, the ports and airport, a milk factory, a paper
mill, a packaging firm, a pharmaceutical factory, a Greek Orthodox church,
over civilian trucks, bridges, water reservoirs, electric plants, gas
More than 300 have been killed,
mostly civilians. The UN estimated that 500,000 people (20% of the
population) have been displaced, with 150,000 fleeing to Syria.
More tragedy is to come. Israel has warned southern Lebanon residents
to leave their homes, indicating it is about to blanket-bomb or invade
The World Food Program finds
it hard to get food to the displaced, as "damage to roads and bridges
has almost completely disrupted the food supply chain.” Food and fuel
supplies into the country cannot be replenished due to the Israeli blockade
on ports and strikes on roads to Syria. Prices have shot up.
The hypocrisy of the Western
governments is astounding. They turn a blind eye to Israel’s actions,
and some of them give more than a helping hand. They have helped evacuate
tens of thousands of their own citizens from Lebanon, getting them out
of harm’s way, while exposing the locals to continued bombardment.
The so-called “international community” (code name for the West) is
both shameful and shameless in its inaction and complicity, by refusing
to get Israel to stop its destruction of Lebanon, which is out of all
proportion to the supposed original cause, the capture of two Israeli
soldiers. The rocket-shelling of Israeli towns by Hezbollah came following
the Israeli attacks on Lebanon.
The killing of civilians,
on either side, should not have taken place and should stop. But it
would appear there is an unequal weighing of lives.
The US ambassador to the
UN, John Bolton, believes "it would be a mistake to ascribe moral
equivalence to civilians who die as the direct result of malicious terrorist
acts". Israel's bombing for its part is "self-defense"
that has had "the tragic and unfortunate consequence of civilian
Remarked Pepe Escobar (in
the Asia Times Online): The translation for this is that “dead Lebanese
civilians are collateral damage, expendable and not worth the life of
a single Israeli.”
The tragedy is that the "international
community" has totally deserted the Lebanese people; they are the
new Palestinians, says Escobar. “Even by its own standards of irrelevance,
the European Union has excelled, with the added spectacle of British
Prime Minister Tony Blair, French President Jacques Chirac and German
Chancellor Angela Merkel meekly toeing the US line…”
Escobar also notes the inaction
of most of the Arab states, and their implicit approval of the attack
He concludes: “There is
simply no solution whatsoever to the ongoing Middle East disaster until
"David" Israel (with its nuclear weapons) stops stealing Arab
lands and returns all occupied territory to the "Goliaths"
- the Sheba Farms to Lebanon, the Golan Heights to Syria, the West Bank
and East Jerusalem to the Palestinians.”
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