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August 11, 2006

Quick Introduction and the Cease-Fire Agreement

First off, I need to introduce myself. My name is Chad Evans, I am an American, I prefer light beer to dark beer, brunettes to blondes and I absolutely despite both terrorism and totalitarianism. I am thrilled to have been invited aboard Freedom's Zone and I do hope that everyone will enjoy my commentary. All right, you don't have to enjoy it but for my sake, can you act like you do?

I have been blogging for a little over two years in my humble corner of the web and have covered topics from politics to baseball, from hockey to the United Nations, but for close to a year and a half now I have focussed on terrorism with the occasional movie, Seinfeld or sports analogy within. I prefer to not be serious even over serious issues, and frankly, if you look at the ideology and statements of the mufsidun how can you not laugh. I try to be serious at times, but I employ dry humor that doesn't translate too well into the written word, or so my journalism professors used to scream in red ink at me.

Thank you all, fellow bloggers at Freedom's Zone, for giving me the chance to contribute and being a part of a classy group of individuals.

Now on to the cease-fire agreement . . .

Perusing over Richard's post concerning the UN sponsored cease-fire, there are portions of the post that I strongly agree with Richard and others that I don't. Agreed, Olmert is a gonner and the cease-fire will be seen by many in the region as a defeat of Israel and a victory for Islamists, but short of a dead Nasrallah carved up and packaged to Iran any solution including the complete destruction of Hezbollah would have been seen as a victory for Islamists.

Where I disagree is that I think this agreement stands a chance at working to the benefit of freedom. Did anyone expect UN Secretary General Kofi Annan would actually condemn Hezbollah? I certianly didn't, but he did, kind of, by saying Hezbollah carried out an "unprovoked attack on Israel." Shocking statement from the same Kofi Annan who proclaimed within hours of a UNIFIL post hit by Israel stating that too was an "unprovoked attack." But words have meaning, even if the person uttering those words is as hollow as Hezbollah's promise not to attack Israel. However Annan also condemned the UN Security Council for failing to reach an agreement earlier which took away any good graces his other statement of recognition of who started this conflict had. This year's end cannot come soon enough.

The Iranian leadership walks away the major victor in this war, and sadly the civilians in both Lebanon and Israel are on the losing end. Through Iran's puppet, Iran found it had the ability to stand the entire world on end and it will do it again, likely on August 22 of this year when Iran announces its official response to nuclear negotiations. A reasoned person would not believe it is a good thing to push two nations into war, but Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with his belief that he must pave the way for the Twelth Imam is not a reasoned man. His rhetoric over the past two weeks condemning the Security Council only throws gasoline on the fire Annan readily blew upon. Ahmadinejad was not alone in Iran lashing out at the Security Council either. Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, also had heated words. This rhetoric though underscores what reaction Iran will have if the Security Council actually acts upon Iran's nuclear program.

I do see a difference in this proposal from past proposals and cease-fire agreements, though I admit the difference I see is more based out of hope rather than logical assumption or using history as any guide. The UN is set to send 15,000 peacekeepers to Southern Lebanon and work in conjuction with the Lebanese military to disarm Hezbollah. This will be the second UN calling to disarm the group and let us hope it's "the second time's the charm." These UN peacekeepers will have the mandate to actively fight Hezbollah if needed, and I don't think it will be needed because Hezbollah won't show all that we don't know they have. The current UN mandate, exercised by UNIFIL, has no such ability to actually engage Hezbollah or act as anything other than blue-helmeted tourists charged with watching Hezbollah import rocket after rocket and missile after missile.

Can things change? I hope so; 'hope' being the opportune word. And let us hope Hezbollah does not play rope-a-dope with their weaponry like I fully expect them to. They have learned from some of the masters of deception burrowed in Tehran. Hezbollah is cut from the same cloth that has routinely deceived the IAEA and even cut forrests down to hide nuclear facilities. Where are the environmentalists when we need them? To believe Hezbollah will load up their weaponry and hand it over to either the UN or Lebanese government force . . . you want to buy some beach front property in Arizona?

The problem Israel has faced in Southern Lebanon is not just questionable political moves during a war, it is the manner in which Hezbollah operates under. Guerilla warfare does involve non-conventional tactics, but terrorist warfare involves hiding among the populace and actively using civilians as human shield wanting civilians to die before the bodies are paraded for the cameras. This tactic is never more apparent than from the written word of a Lebanese man in a letter to the editor of the German publication Der Tagesspiegel. The man, Dr. Mounir Herzallah, wrote that he had lived in Southern Lebanon until 2002 when he noticed Hezbollah "moved into his town, dug rocket depots in bunkers, and then built a school and a residence over those bunkers." Does anyone seriously think the UN peacekeepers or the Lebanese military will even find those bunkers in a strongly Hezbollah supported region? People don't turn in those who have built schools, even if those schools were built intended to be graves in the next war.

There is still time for Israel to try to kill more Hezbollah and clear out any weaponry that could be and is being used against the Israeli populace. According to the agreement, Israel does not have to withdraw until the 15,000 person UN force is deployed to the region and the Lebanese military also makes the voyage. This is a United Nations project so I would estimate that leaves a timetable as at least one week, though more likely that means one month since no nations have yet agreed to participate in the mission. If only Syria or Iran would volunteer to make up that force. Oh yeah, that's what Hezbollah is.

The key part to this agreement, other than the disarming of Hezbollah that hopefully is actually done this time, is that it props up the Democratic government of Lebanon and by extension, the Lebanese people. It gives the Lebanese government full power to accept or decline any arms shipments. No, that certainly never stopped anything before, however there's a chance it might this time with increased international support, hopefully outside the framework of the UN. But in the short-term, this part of the agreement will boost the government's sovereignty, at least in theory and theory is all we have until the history books are written.

Let us, again, hope history will prove Richard is wrong and my first impressions are right, but sadly I hardly believe the optimism I wrote above. Hope may be all we have.



Posted by Chad at August 11, 2006 11:03 PM





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