Sunday, August 20, 2006

It is difficult to express the scale of the defeat for Lebanon, Israel and the United States, represented by the United Nations Resolution 1701 calling for a cease-fire in Hezbollah-Israeli hostilities. With its unanimous acceptance, there is now virtually nothing in a position to stop Hezbollah from its grandiose objectives.

With the full backing of Iran and Syria, the murderous Shi’ite bigots are well-positioned for taking full control of Lebanon, for rearming and rebuilding to attack Israel another day and for preparing its fanatical cadres to envelop the Middle East and strike directly at the United States.

The situation is so grave that it can accurately be said the latest U.N. resolution has opened the door to a new wave of autocratic terror throughout the Muslim world that makes previous regimes — Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Hafez Assad in Syria, even the Taliban in Afghanistan — pale in comparison.

It has been centuries since an indigenous force has been positioned to bring the entire region under control: Hezbollah, with Iran and Syria, have effectively been given the opportunity. As President Bush urges prompt fulfillment of the resolution, consider:

• Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah has incomprehensibly announced his forces accept the cease-fire but will continue to fight until all Israeli military have left Lebanese soil.

• Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has firmly said his government will honor the cease-fire, but Israeli forces will not leave Lebanon until the U.N. peacekeeping force is on the ground.

• Lebanese acting Foreign Minister Tarek Mitri has logically observed that, “A cease-fire that by its terms cannot be implemented is no cease-fire.”

So, where does that leave us? As w ritten, Resolution 1701:

(1) Imposes heavy burdens on the Lebanese government and army, which are both weak and heavily influenced by Hezbollah.

(2) Does not mention Iran and Syria, Hezbollah’s two greatest supporters.

(3) Postpones consideration, much less imposition, of an arms embargo and the demobilizing of Hezbollah’s forces to a indeterminate day when Lebanon and Israel have agreed to a “permanent cease-fire.”

Placing any serious responsibility on the Lebanese at this time all but guarantees the failure of the entire cease fire exercise. Physically incapable of significant action, the Beirut government also is heavily influenced by Hezbollah Cabinet members and the Lebanese army numbers some 40 percent Shi’ite recruits.

Not taking Iran and Syria into consideration enables Iran to send Hezbollah all the munitions it wishes across the open Syria-Lebanese border.

Finally, evading the issue of demobilizing Hezbollah — the central demand of Israel, the United States and the U.N. itself when it passed Resolution 1559 after the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in 2004 — allows the organization free rein to take full control of Lebanon and subsequently move against regimes in other countries including Egypt, Iraq and Yemen, not to mention training its worst and dullest in undertaking major sabotage in Europe and the U.S.

Had the United States and France stood firm in demanding their reasonable goals as expressed in the initial resolution put forth three weeks ago, Muslim governments including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Malaysia that initially opposed Hezbollah’s provocations against Israel could have regained their political footing and stood firm. Lebanon’s non-Shi’ite majority could similarly have been freed from their fear of Hezbollah reprisals.

At the same time, Israel could have effectively eliminated the armed Hezbollah presence from Lebanon and sealed that country’s border with Syria.

But as things stand, the Muslim world will be coerced into accepting Hezbollah’s “victor” status, much as the Democrats have been forced to embrace antiwar candidate Ned Lamont after his narrow defeat of Sen. Joe Lieberman in Connecticut’s senatorial primary.

Non-Shi’ite Lebanese — 60 percent to 70 percent of the population — will either have to leave the country or be subjugated to the dictatorial despotism of the Nasrallah fanatics controlling Hezbollah. Street scenes of jackbooted militia marching under Hezbollah’s bellicose banner will be order of the day, as the beloved Lebanese national flag becomes, likes its sovereignty, a thing of the past.

And the Middle East, Europe and the United States will progressively suffer more and greater assaults by Hezbollah terrorists.

Make no mistake: Radical Shi’ite theology is a doomsday creed that will happily suffer and inflict on its enemies the most awful extremes, to fulfill its objective of Islam’s 12th imam returning to save mankind.

This is the solemn belief of Hezbollah Lebanese head Sheik Nasrallah, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. For them, it is all very logical because the great imam will only return under apocalyptic conditions created by humanity. This is the awesome threat the rest of the world faces.

Washington’s collaboration with France effectively abets these outrageous goals. Such a horrific diplomatic blunder is a travesty that can only be explained by the State Department and the National Security Council relying on thoroughly uninformed, tragically misguided “experts.”

With acceptance of U.N. Resolution 1701, the world is left to await the next terrible attack — and it will occur — on freedom-loving society by an implacable, suicidal terrorist foe. Then and only then, it seems, will we realize the magnitude of the threat we face and finally be moved to destroy an enemy that will not be satisfied until it has driven Israel into the sea and demolished the great Satan United States.

John R. Thomson has worked in the Middle East as businessman, diplomat and journalist, living in Beirut, Cairo and Riyadh.

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