Civil Fights: The three monkeys do Lebanon

Commander of UNIFIL force in Lebanon neither sees nor hears any evil - except on the part of Israel.

UNIFIL 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
UNIFIL 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
As my colleague Caroline Glick aptly noted two weeks ago, Russia's invasion of Georgia was an object lesson in the folly of relying on others to protect you. But lest anyone remain unconvinced, Claudio Graziano has kindly offered further proof. Graziano, an Italian general, commands the expanded UNIFIL force stationed in Lebanon under Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War. On August 14, he gave a press conference on the resolution's implementation. His conclusions were simple: Israel, he said, is in "permanent violation," whereas Hizbullah is "one of [the] parties that agrees with 1701," and has cooperated fully. The next day, outraged Israeli officials met with Graziano to point out the Hizbullah violations he had somehow overlooked. Graziano countered that Israel has provided no intelligence to support its allegations. That is conceivable, since his coziness with Hizbullah undoubtedly deters Israel from sharing sensitive intelligence with him. But since Hizbullah's most egregious violations have been conducted in full view and reported in major media outlets worldwide, classified intelligence is unnecessary. It is enough not to be blind and deaf. FOR INSTANCE, 1701 repeatedly cites an earlier resolution, 1559, which demands that all Lebanese militias disarm. Indeed, it begins by "recalling previous resolutions... in particular 425 (1978), 426 (1978), 520 (1982), 1559 (2004)...," which is UN-speak for "we still want those resolutions implemented." Next, operative paragraph three "emphasizes the importance of the extension of the control of the government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory in accordance with the provisions of resolution 1559 (2004)... so that there will be no weapons without the consent of the government of Lebanon and no authority other than that of the government of Lebanon." Operative paragraph eight calls for a "long-term solution" based on "full implementation... of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that... there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state." Finally, operative paragraph 10 asks the secretary-general to develop "proposals to implement the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), including disarmament..." YET FAR from disarming and accepting the elected government's authority, Hizbullah not only rearmed, but used its arms to stage a coup against the government in May. The coup involved days of battles against other Lebanese forces, which were extensively reported worldwide, even if Graziano somehow failed to notice them on the ground. But about 10 days after the fighting ended, he and his spokesman, Milos Strugar, gave a joint interview in which Graziano declared Hizbullah in full compliance with 1701, while Strugar termed it a mere "social organization... that runs charitable associations." The coup produced a unity government in which Hizbullah has veto power. And a week before Graziano's August 14 press conference, this government approved the following guidelines: "Lebanon, its army, its people and its resistance [i.e. Hizbullah] have the right to act to liberate lands that remain occupied at Shaba Farms... with all legitimate means possible." Then, lest anyone think the qualifier "legitimate" precludes violence, President Michel Suleiman announced that "all means," including military, are "legitimate to this end." In short, the government formally authorized Hizbullah to attack Israel whenever it pleases - which flatly contradicts 1701's demand for "no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state" (not to mention the UN's 2000 ruling that Shaba is not Lebanese). But Graziano, like the three monkeys, sees and hears no evil. Finally, 1701 prohibits "sales or supply of arms and related materiel to Lebanon except as authorized by its government" (paragraph eight, and again in more detail in paragraphs 14 and 15). Just this Monday, the UN's own inspectors reported that smuggling is rife despite this provision. Yet Graziano denies its existence. Does he imagine the government authorized Hizbullah to acquire the arms used in its May coup? THUS HIZBULLAH has grossly violated numerous key provisions of 1701, while Graziano turned a blind eye. Yet he persistently denounces three Israeli violations: its overflights of Lebanon, its continued presence in Ghajar and its failure to provide maps of unexploded cluster bombs in Lebanon. The latter is never actually mentioned in 1701; the closest thing is paragraph eight's prescription for a long-term solution, which includes Israel handing over "all remaining maps of land mines" it possesses. This same paragraph explicitly requires Hizbullah's disarmament and an end to arms smuggling, yet Graziano deems Hizbullah in compliance. Nevertheless, since unexploded cluster bombs primarily harm civilians, Israel should provide additional maps if it has any. The overflights and Ghajar, in contrast, undoubtedly violate the resolution's demands for "full respect" for the international border and a full Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon. Yet both are defensive moves necessitated mainly by Graziano's whitewash of Hizbullah. The overflights are aimed solely at gathering intelligence on the Hizbullah arms buildup whose existence Graziano denies, and would thus be unnecessary had his force either prevented it or collected and shared accurate intelligence on it. As for Ghajar, the international border runs right through this village. Thus the only way to defend southern Ghajar, meaning Israel, is either to sever the halves completely (which residents oppose) or to have a trustworthy force in northern Ghajar. And a force whose commander so blatantly ignores Hizbullah's hostile activities hardly qualifies. By falsely declaring Hizbullah in compliance, Graziano has shielded it from international pressure that might impede its preparations for renewed hostilities. By denouncing Israeli violations, he has simultaneously sought to generate international pressure that would impede Israel's defensive efforts. And since no country with troops in UNIFIL has protested this double standard, they evidently deem appeasing Hizbullah to be in their interests. And that is precisely why relying on others for protection is folly: Not only will no country ever consider another state's defense its top priority, but often, such defense will actively conflict with higher priorities. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has yet to learn this lesson; she still claims that UNIFIL bolsters Israel's security. One can only hope that other Israelis are better attuned to reality.