Wednesday, August 23, 2006

More Hezbollah in a Handbag

Diplomatically, the U.S. continues to dig itself into a deeper hole in the Middle East.

Helene Cooper of the New York Times writes today on aspects of the Iran situation I've been tracking at Pen and Sword.
It was always going to be tough for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to hold together her fragile coalition of world powers trying to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The Israel-Hezbollah war in Lebanon has made that job harder.

Now that Iran has apparently refused to discontinue its uranium enrichment program, Rice's big challenge will come when a resolution on sanctions comes to a vote in the UN Security Council.
While only the permanent members can veto, the rising fear, particularly among European diplomats, is that smaller countries on the Council are so angry over how the United States, and now France, have handled the Lebanon crisis that they will give Russia and China political cover to balk against imposing tough sanctions.

And as Cooper reminds us, China and Russia have energy investments in Iran, and are unlikely agree to anything that limits their ability to buy Iranian oil or hinders foreign investment in Iran's petroleum industry.

But China and Russia have an even better reason to balk at imposing sanctions. They've arrived at a golden window of opportunity to stick it the good old U.S. of A. Thanks to its misadventures in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon, America's stature in the world has suffered an enormous blow, and a lot of folks besides China and Russia--especially folks in the Muslim world--would like nothing better than to see the American Cyclops take a sharp stick in the eye.

Moreover, by backing Iran in any sanctions vote, China and Russia will make heroes of themselves on the Islamic street, and the world on that street will become, "Hey, maybe China and Russia and Iran together can shoulder the American bastards out of Southwest Asia."

Believe you me, I take no joy whatsoever in seeing the U.S. take a drubbing like this, but we absolutely, positively must wake up to the fact that the neoconservatives running our foreign policy have completely blown it, and with every step they take, they pull our country deeper into the quicksand.

Another story from today's Times illustrates just how hapless our diplomacy has become.
When Mercy Corps and other Western aid agencies reached this devastated village on the front line of the battle between Israel and Hezbollah with food and medicine, they quickly discovered they had a big problem: the United States.

Mercy Corps and the other agencies that receive financing from the U.S. are barred from giving out money or aid through Hezbollah, but it's next to impossible to give out money or aid without going through Hezbollah.

Iran, of course, has no problem whatsoever with distributing money through Hezbollah, so guess whose money is getting to the needy in southern Lebanon. How likely, then, are Russia and China to back sanctions against the country that's providing the bulk of the aid to southern Lebanon?

Not very likely at all.

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Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at ePluribus Media and Pen and Sword.

8 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:51 AM

    I think one balancing act that the US (by which I mean our administration) is having trouble with is moral authority vs. military authority. You cannot have high scores in both. During communist times, there was a general belief (need to ignore some reality for this) that the US was a positive force in the world, that promoted things like justice, law, and human rights.

    To maintain such a stance, you necessarily have to limit overt military action and/or policy. The current administration has taken the opposite approach. It uses military action and an aggressive foreign policy to ostensibly promote freedom as the stated goal, but all free thinking people can see this as an absurd way to go about things.

    So as military action increases, moral authority decreases, and moral authority is pretty important in the UN I would say.

    Other powerful nations must on some level be loving what the US is doing. By shooting in Iraq, and supporting shooting in the ME, we are shooting ourselves in the foot. I doubt anyone could have been more effective in diminishing US foreign influence than the US itself.

    Hope that made some sense.

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  2. It made perfect sense. If we keep pullling the trigger, we won't have any toes left. ;-)

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  3. I've known for some time that we're witnessing the decline of the American empire, but I've been surprised at how quickly we've squandered our credibility. Thanks for, as usual, putting it in perspective, Jeff.

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  4. Seven of Six2:23 PM

    A bit OT Jeff.
    From the Co. Springs Gazette:
    Tens of thousands of National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers came under the command of Fort Carson on Tuesday in a move that will mean scores of new jobs and could bring large numbers of troops for training.
    The post will oversee training for more than 200,000 part-time troops from 21 states. The greatly expanded role also brought a name change for the headquarters unit now on post, from 7th Infantry Division to Division West.

    I don't know about you but this looks like an easy staging area to deploy!

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  5. Dude, it's really simple, China got factories to supply the world, India got brains to run the offices of the world, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, and a few other stans got gas and oil to run said offices and factories. You think the money guys gonna hang around here? Which neighborhood would you invest in? Bottom line is all these critters see.

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  6. Anonymous6:12 AM

    Any American charity that goes to an area such as southern Lebanon to help reconstruction, an area just trashed by a close ally and financial beneficiary of the USG, is an imbecile in the clinical sense of the word.

    Given that hostilities could re-erupt anytime, and that on the battlefield knowledge is power, I am surprised that any Europeans / Americans / non-Shia have not been pointedly warned to stay the hell out of (southern) Lebanon.

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  7. Anonymous6:34 AM

    Nato itself says that the Russians are convinced that they had GHWB's solemn, if verbal, promise that if they acquiesced to Germany's reunification, Nato would in turn not expand beyond the limits of the former FRG. For the Russians, at the time, winding up their presence was a gesture of goodwill.

    http://www.nato.int/acad/fellow/94-96/konovalo/04.htm

    Then, under Clinton and the sway of defense contractors, the US broke its word, incorporated just about everything from Lithuania to Slovenia into NATO, (temporarily) installed a government to its liking in the Ukraine and Georgia. In short, under Clinton and George II the US peeed all over a weakened Russia, and then, drunk on these successes, went on to Iraq.

    The Russians, if pressed, may have understood Western-leaning Poland and the Baltic states joining NATO, but never the Ukraine or Georgia. This is like having an affair with a man's wife and with his daughters at the same time.

    Anyone who thinks the Russians are not going to gleefully retaliate for this breach of a promise, and piss all over a US that is in rather deep doodoo, is as divorced from reality as the Mercy Corps.

    The bummer for Rummy the Dummy & co, is that Iran and Iraq are much bigger prizes than backwaters like Estonia.

    Consider the horror Cheney must feel if it were possible for Russia, Venezuela, Iran, Iraq, and possibly Nigeria to get together 5 months before an American presidential election, and approach the two parties and ask them what concessions they would offer to avert a 25% cut in oil output in the months leading up to the election.

    Perhaps this explains why they are so obsessed on "keeping" Iraq.

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  8. I think these are the same international relief outfits that have been in the area since the hostilities started. And if I read the source story correctly, the fact that they take money from the US prohibits them from giving anything out through Hezbollah.

    As to the Russians and Chinese--yeah, I see a big oil squeeze coming from them. Hence their likelihood to stick with Iran. The more excuses to do so, the better, and the better to mask what they're really up to.

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