Revolution #57, August 20, 2006
Unjust U.N. Resolution #1701
U.S. Expected to Expedite Cluster Bombs to Israel
On July 11, the New York Times reported that the U.S. is expected to grant Israel’s request to speed up a shipment of M-26 artillery rockets packed with cluster munitions. Cluster weapons are one of the most vicious anti-personnel weapons in the U.S. arsenal, combining high-tech design with medieval barbarism. They feature a large number of soda-can-size bombs that scatter and explode, spreading metal fragments over a very large area. They deliver extensive damage to civilian populations. They are especially dangerous because a significant percentage of the “soda cans” fail to explode and can later detonate when a child picks one up.
The U.S. stopped selling cluster bombs to Israel in the 1980s after Israel was exposed for using the weapons against civilians in its 1982 invasion of Lebanon. The U.S. resumed selling the weapons to Israel in the 1990s. A recent report by Human Rights Watch uncovered evidence that Israel had fired cluster munitions in the current war, including in an attack on the Lebanese village of Bilda, which killed one civilian and wounded at least 12 others, including seven children.
U.N. Security Council resolution #1701, drafted by the U.S. and France, in close consultation with Israel, is part of the same process and serves the same imperialist political ends as the U.S./Israeli war. Announcing the decision of the Israeli cabinet to escalate the war, Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz said on Israeli radio, “We are doing everything to allow these two efforts [military and diplomatic] to complement each other. We’ll see the military operation as having created the diplomatic climate and a new situation.” If diplomacy fails, Peretz said, Israel will “use all of the tools” to win the war.
This resolution is unjust and cannot be supported by the people.
First, the UN resolution legitimizes the Israeli aggression against Lebanon. The resolution reads: “Expressing its utmost concern at the continuing escalation of hostilities in Lebanon and in Israel since Hezbollah’s attack on Israel on 12 July 2006, which has already caused hundreds of deaths and injuries on both sides, extensive damage to civilian infrastructure and hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons.”
This paragraph portrays the bombing and destruction of an entire country as a “conflict between Hezbollah and Israel.” It blames Hezbollah for starting the war, covering up the truth that an all-out war against Lebanon was in the planning stages well before July 12.
The resolution denies the history of the region, from the establishment of the state of Israel on land stolen from the Palestinian people to the genocidal actions by Israel in Gaza and the West Bank today. It ignores the illegal occupation by Israel of southern Lebanon for 18 years, and the many crimes committed by Israel against Lebanon, including assassinations, refusing to reveal the location of land mines, theft of land and water, illegal flyovers of the country and more. Instead, the capture of the two Israeli soldiers on July 12 is presented as a just cause for Israeli retaliation.
Second, the resolution is a threat to the political sovereignty of the country of Lebanon. While the resolution acknowledges the “request” by the Lebanese government “for an immediate withdrawal of the Israeli forces from southern Lebanon,” Israeli forces are allowed to continue to occupy Lebanon until they can be replaced with U.N. forces.
Third, the resolution justifies further attacks by Israel. The resolution calls “for a full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations.” In other words, Hezbollah, which has fought against an unjust invasion of Lebanon, is prevented from firing a shot, while Israel will be able to justify pretty much any military action they take as “defensive.”
For Israel, and the U.S., any action by Israel is by definition defensive and justified. Israel was established on land stolen from the Palestinian people; it has brutally occupied the West Bank and Gaza for nearly 40 years; it has provided nuclear weapons to the government of South Africa. In the current war Israel has bombed civilians and destroyed power plants, factories, hospitals, and killed children. All of this has been justified by Israel as defensive. Israel is a theocracy justified on the basis that the land was given to the Jewish people by God. This ideological framework is used, even by Israel’s secular leaders who refer to Israel in biblical terms, to justify almost any action they take.
Fourth, there is no mention of Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity in the resolution. Israel has deliberately targeted civilian populations and destroyed the civilian infrastructure of a country—all of which are war crimes under the Nuremberg Charter.
Finally, the resolution gives to Israel an occupation of southern Lebanon that they were not able to achieve militarily. Israel, at the moment, says that it plans to stop fighting at 7 a.m. on Monday, August 14, after its military objective of occupying Lebanon up to the Litani River (about 15 miles north of Israel’s border with Lebanon) is completed. During the war, Israel has had difficulty holding onto territory in Lebanon that it has tried to occupy right on the Israeli border. So what the resolution does, in fact, is allow Israel to seize territory that it has been unable to hold militarily and then declare a ceasefire so that the Israeli troops or their supply lines cannot be attacked.
The government of Lebanon had previously objected to a similar U.N. resolution drafted last week. Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora objected that “Israel says this war is against Hezbollah, not Lebanon. But the Israeli terror is inflicted on all Lebanese.” He wrote that the resolution “failed to address the key points of our plan, and was rejected by all Lebanese. The idea of an international force being sent to Lebanon directly challenges our sovereignty, and we can never accept that.”
While the new resolution has some diplomatic niceties, like saying in words that it respects Lebanese sovereignty, the essential features of the plan have not changed. Israel clearly is holding a gun to Lebanon’s head with the threat of a large-scale invasion, including massive bombing of all parts of Beirut. The last invasion of Lebanon on a similar scale cost the lives of over 20,000 Palestinians and Lebanese. Hezbollah has said that it will comply with the resolution but that it has the right to attack Israeli troops in Lebanon.
There has been complex negotiation among various imperialist powers over the resolution. This is a reflection of different imperialist interests in the region. France and Russia, who get a significant part of their oil from Iran, have different strategic interests in the region than the U.S. imperialists. And France has major investments in Lebanon that is maneuvering to protect. However, it seems that the European imperialist powers see their interests in colluding with the U.S. and Israel in Lebanon at this point.
While it is not even certain that the resolution will stop the war in Lebanon, it does serve the world powers by making it look to the people of the world that they care about the devastation in Lebanon.
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