Tuesday, August 01, 2006

bloody congee in the soup

I’m a little confused about the timeline on this. Did Israel tell the US Secretary of State that the IDF would cease air strikes for a 48-hour period and then just renege due to “security concerns,” or have we witnessed the first publicly documented case of female premature ejaculation?

I found it odd that the Sunday announcement of this pause in air attacks was announced first by a US State Department spokesman, but I assumed it was part of some yet-to-be-uncovered piece of the deal that has American smart bombs going to Israel, while the Israelis fight a mistargeted proxy war on the administration’s behalf. Now, it seems that Secretary Rice, completely taken aback by the chilly reception she received in both European and Middle Eastern diplomatic circles, yet compelled by the Qana bombing to prove she was not wholly irrelevant, may have gone off half-cocked and announced a humanitarian-ish semi-cease-fire to which Israel had never really agreed.

As the BBC reported within hours of the State Department announcement, Israeli planes were again bombing southern Lebanon (artillery bombardment had never stopped), leaving several reporters in the region at first confused, and then distressed. Fergal Keane reported from Bint Jbeil (where the IDF had lost nine soldiers last week) that the city had been reduced to rubble. (There is film of reporters trying to rescue the few residents that remain on the BBC website—UN aid cannot get to the city.) Keane said on BBC radio that “most civilians” had now fled the south, leaving only the old, the sick, and those with no means of escape, and turning southern Lebanon “into an effective free-fire zone.”

Meanwhile, in lieu of US “diplomacy,” “old Europe” has stepped up to the plate. As reported in the New York Times, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy has attempted to fill the “diplomatic vacuum” left by the hamstrung/overwhelmed/ideologically blinded Rice. Douste-Blazy called for an immediate cease-fire by both Israel and Hezbollah, while engaging (rather then fecklessly trying to isolate) Iran, acknowledging publicly that they could play a “stabilizing force” in the region (rather than publicly demonizing them)—because that’s what real diplomats do.

The only advantage to be gained from Bloody Condi’s pathetic performance? Well, it’s a selfish and domestic one, but as blueness theorizes, when it comes to her (sometimes disavowed) aspirations for higher office, “Rice is cooked.”

If any good has come from the conflict in southern Lebanon, it is that this unholy mess has forever put an end to the dreams. . . that Condoleezza Rice will emerge as a serious contender for national office.

Rice's hideous non-performance as a peacemaker has embarrassed even the wingnuts. After decades of droning about the fecklessness of Democratic diplomats, these people must now own a woman who first announced, before even reaching the region, that she would not demand that one party cease hostilities, then proceeded to lulu amidst the mayhem, diddling with the piano and yammering about "birth pangs." When an attack by "her team" went badly awry, she stiffed the Lebanese PM, turned her jet around, and went back to the understanding arms of her "husband."

But that is a good that comes two years hence. If any good is to come at present (and I admit I am hard-pressed to think of what that might be), it will likely have nothing to do with the Republican administration in Washington.

Something to think about as we assess our personal safety, our place in the world, and our claim to the moral high ground. Something to think about as we go to the polls this November.


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