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Commentary Last Updated: Aug 19th, 2006 - 01:37:27

South Lebanon: The waters return to the fish
By Luciana Bohne
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Aug 19, 2006, 01:34

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UN Resolution 1701 is causing anxiety in the Italian Parliament, which is moving to authorize the participation of Italian troops in the UN "peacekeeping" mission in Lebanon. In fact, it is exactly the word "peacekeeping" that has the parliament in a muddle.

The defense and external affairs committees in the Chamber of Deputies have proposed a resolution which would bind the government "to adopt every initiative to insure humanitarian support for the Lebanese population and to send a military contingent to serve with UNFIL according to the rules of engagement determined by the UN." This essentially conforms to ongoing UN deliberations in New York (Wed).

But why are the rules of engagement not spelled out by the resolution? Who, exactly, is UNFIL supposed to protect South Lebanon from? Surely, not the Lebanese army? Who else is left? There is no mention of protecting it from Israel, which was, after all, the aggressor of the Lebanese homeland. (And, no, you cannot claim to be "defending" yourself in territories you occupy, nor are you allowed to "defend" yourself at all unless under immediate or imminent attack and before the Security Council can intervene! Words of the UN charter, to which Israel is a signatory and which a former US, in its now dead legal incarnation, majestically and loftily wrote in 1948!)

In the Italian Senate, accordingly, the defense and external affairs committees have suggested that the chamber's resolution adopt a clause which would specify that Italian troops "would not participate in the effort to disarm Hizballah."

Great pressure is being applied on the committees requesting this clarification of the "peacekeeping" venture to remove the clause. Such pressure is leading observers to regard the involvement of Italian troops in disarming Hizballah as more than an "eventuality," but as a hidden goal.

Whatever the result of this anxiety over the true nature of the Italian "peacekeeping" mission, the current debate underscores the fact that the resolution may constitute a "mortal trap," which is how Italian senator De Gregorio characterized the potential hidden agenda of Resolution 1701. "The [ambiguous way in which] Security Council Resolution 1701 [is phrased] could make it possible that our collaboration will be solicited to impose disarmament on all armed groups in Lebanon. The hypothesis that this request could transform itself into a request for our troops to disarm Hizballah could involve a risky operation with unpredictable results."

You got that right, senator!

Even the opposition, Berlusconi's gang of neo-fascists, worries about a lack of clarity in the terms of the mission, emanating primarily from the original UN resolution. Former Berlusconi minister Martino declared that "we have to avoid dispatching our troops without adequate rules of engagement."

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, meanwhile, has been forced to address the European powers' reluctance. �I don't think there is an expectation that this [UN] force is going to physically disarm Hezbollah. I think it's a little bit of a misreading about how you disarm a militia. You have to have a plan, first of all, for the disarmament of the militia, and then the hope is that some people lay down their arms voluntarily.� (I LOVE the realistic touch in the use of cosy phrases like "a little bit" and the metaphoric mumbling that goes along with them to give the impression that Condi is just like your Wal-Mart supervisor, a person of flesh and bone, which her vampire-like thirst for blood, illustrated in her firmness to prevent a cease-fire in Lebanon, belies.)

Say what? We have to have a plan to disarm the militia (naturally "secret" even from the people participating in it), but they will lay down their arms voluntarily because of our plan? What is this plan exactly? Inviting Hizballah to a reconciliation picnic on the banks of the Litani and serving cluster bombs disguised as Big Macs? Or blanketing the area with pornographic films to distract guerrillas from their alleged attachment to virgins -- a fantasy to which the West is addicted in their portrayal of Islamic "fundamentalism" and the insistence on which reflects their own prurient hang-ups instead?

What's the "plan," Condi? That's all the non-doormat Euros want to know, because, among other things, the US refuses to acknowledge, they know that resistance forces are never defeated should the effort take a thousand years. The Euros should know -- especially the Italians and the French -- having pegged their post WW II political identities to the memory of a fierce, bloody, and fearless resistance against the Nazis. I realize that Americans have been conditioned by the entertainment industry to regard themselves as "the cavalry" that rescued Europe from the Nazis, but it was a little more complicated than that. However, the story is not really Hollywood material as it would entail talking about the sacrifice of godless communists and socialists. Consequently, Americans have no concept of what "resistance" means and of why it is a "human right" under occupation and not a "terrorist" activity.

European people are, after all, the bruised survivors of fallen empires, having expended two world wars competing for them and having fought countless revolts to retain them -- to no avail. Have you heard of Dien Bien Phu, Condi? The French have, and you can bet your Ferragamo shoes that they don't want to hear it again! Do you remember Vietnam? Not the "syndrome," but the actual victory of a peasant army over the mightiest military force on earth?

Or is it that having failed to lure US-commanded NATO into your messy "plans" for the same old Middle East under the boot of the new imperialism, you are trying to use UNFIL troops as advance shock troopers against Hizballah? Good luck, then, because the people of South Lebanon are returning to their homes, mightily pissed and singing the praises of the only force that fought to defend them. And that's Hizballah, in case you haven't noticed in the flurry of your master's pathetic declaration to the contrary.

Remember the fish swimming in the sea of Mao's guerrilla's theory, Condi? That's them -- the outraged Lebanese farmers, peasants, and laborers, returning to the devastated land that Hizballah secured for them and promises to rebuild.

Not a pretty picture for your shop-worn Middle East plans, Condi, whatever tricks you think you have stashed up your Bush-administration-fashioned, loser, mannequin sleeves!

Luciana Bohne teaches film and literature at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. She can be reached at

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