- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 8, 2006

With the U.N. Security Council likely to vote this week on a Lebanon cease-fire resolution, U.S. diplomats have a difficult job of producing a proposal that addresses what President Bush rightly calls the “root cause” of the crisis: Hezbollah, backed by Iran and Syria, uses Lebanon to attack Israel. It’s difficult to be optimistic about the prospects of a decent Security Council resolution on Lebanon, given the reality that under the most charitable interpretation, the draft resolution agreed to Saturday by the United States and France raises serious questions as to whether Hezbollah will ever be disarmed. Russia, the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference have united with the Lebanese government to wage an all-out campaign to further weaken the draft resolution and to force the Israeli army to retreat from Lebanon at once. The U.S.-French proposal includes a number of provisions which, if implemented, would ensure that Lebanese territory is no longer used to menace Israel. It includes language that would create a procedure to disarm Hezbollah, to establish an embargo on weapons for the terrorists and strengthen the Lebanese army, enabling it to control the south. These provisions sound nice on paper, but on paper is where they likely will remain. Israeli scholar Barry Rubin observes that no one knows what rules of engagement the new, French-led “stabilization” force would have. What kind of inspections will be in place at Lebanese airports and at the Syrian border to prevent arms from being smuggled to Hezbollah? Will an international force be authorized to act against Iranian or Syrian agents who attempt to provide arms to Hezbollah or target Lebanese security forces who get in the way? What happens if Hezbollah refuses to give up its weapons? Would the Security Council be prepared to impose sanctions on Iran if it flouts the embargo? What will the French do if attacked by Hezbollah? Will it be different from 1983-84, when Hezbollah drove French and American peacekeepers out of Lebanon? These are not hypotheticals put forward by mean-spirited enemies of “peace.” Given the pattern of behavior from Hezbollah and Iran dating from 1979, a prudent person should expect to confront each of these scenarios — and worse — in the months and years ahead — if such a force were to be deployed. Unfortunately, over the next few days, American diplomats won’t be working to clarify and strengthen a flawed draft resolution. Instead, they will likely spend most of their time fending off the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and Moscow, all demanding that Israel withdraw immediately and turn southern Lebanon over to a Lebanese army that cannot stand up to Hezbollah. Washington should be prepared to veto such a resolution on principle, rather than permit the Security Council to adopt a farcical proposal that serves Hezbollah’s propaganda and military interests.

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