Friday, August 11, 2006

Peace 2

The conflict in Lebanon rages on, even as people rally around the world in support of an immediate ceasefire. On the other hand, the principal participants remain reticent to back down from their positions. Israel, with the firm support of the USA and the UK are reluctant to leave southern Lebanon without the threat of Hizbollah having been eliminated. Hizbollah, with the tacit support of an angry Lebanese public and public support from a limited number of Arab and Muslim allies, refuses to end its shelling of Israeli communities in northern Israel unless Israel ends its bombing campaign. Caught in the middle is the Lebanese population.

Establishing a Dialog

There are two competing notions of peace which one might say engenders the stalemate. One calls for an immediate cease of hostilities--namely military acts, such as bombing and other militia attacks. Another calls for the rectification of what are considered the conditions that have led to the conflict in the first place. It is easy to see that achieving the latter is the more difficult and may take a considerable amount of time, if it can be achieved at all.

Presumably in the face of such a stalemate a middle ground will have to be found. In any solution hostilities would have to cease. That is a given. The point in question is how much the two warring parties can accept of the other's conditions, in order to agree to a disengagement. A first step, naturally, would be for the two parties to establish clearly what is they want--and for each to at least understand what the other is requesting. How, then, might this be done?

One way not to do it is to exclude from discussions any of the principal players. Therefore, talks should be held at a minimum between Israel, Hizbollah and Lebanon, together with a neutral moderator or moderators. It is almost elementary that this is a required first step.

Power Plays

The reality, however, is that the powers of the day intend only to establish debate on their terms. The United States would prefer to see itself in the role of moderator with Israel on one side and some coalition of Arab states on the other, excluding Hizbollah and its main backers. Such a proposal, ludicrous in its utter imbalance, is unfortunately the one that the world is being forced to work with.

To date, the Rome Conference was held involving a multitude of participants, excluding, however, Hizbollah and any of its backers. The United Nations Security Council at present is trying to engender a ceasefire, this time with all three key players left out. Israel, however, has its key backers to speak on its behalf.

Eventually the powers of the day will manage to push something through. It may result in achieving the cease fire that everyone wants, but at what additional cost in lives and destruction to Lebanon? If those with the power get their way, it can be expected that Israel alone will be given the upper hand. Even in the case of such a disproportionate solution, the Lebanese population will at least gain a reprieve from the shelling. So too will Israeli civilians in the affected areas.

Perhaps in the weeks and months that follow, an effort can be mounted internationally to pressure the United States and the United Kingdom to reverse their position of bias in favor of Israel. From that point on a fairer settlement might be worked out. Despite the monumental nature of such a task, it is a worthy goal and one more achievable through actions carried out in peace than in war.

You and I

The point of blogging, often, is to speak out--to have one's say, even when that single voice appears indiscernible. A blogger has an audience, however small it might be. Each individual in that audience in turn has his or her own small voice. Though a hundred or even a thousand such voices may still amount to little, the reality of the physical universe is that everything does in fact have an effect on other things. It is conceivable that at some point a large enough ground swell may rise to achieve the desired effect.

The "small" voices in the UAE have already developed into a collective roar. From the grassroots level to the echelons of power, individuals have participated in a public drive to provide charitable aid to the Lebanese. A colorful description of one of these efforts is provided in the post Sweat, smiles, and humanity... at The View From Dubai.

On the political front in the UAE, people voice their views on the Internet, in letters to the editor of local newspapers, on radio and through local television broadcasts (limited to the Arabic channels). Regrettably, political constraints, as it were, will not allow for truly free dialog to flourish. Similarly, however, the UAE government is not free itself to take a public stand that might endanger its relationship with the aforementioned powers of the day.

One More Voice

These political constraints aside, people in the UAE do have some avenues in which to honestly voice their views and contribute to efforts to resolve the crisis. My own choice is to speak out through blogging, principally on behalf of the humanitarian need. Toward this end, I invite others to consider signing a petition or two that if nothing else, adds one more voice to the call for a ceasefire--in whatever form that cessation of hostilities can be achieved.

The Ceasefire Campaign intones simply,
We call on US President Bush, UK Prime Minister Blair and the UN Security Council to support UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's call for an immediate ceasefire and an international force to stabilize the situation.
It explains,
Sign the petition below and your message will be delivered to the UN Security Council and publicized in newspapers in the US, Europe and the Middle East.
The Save the Lebanese Civilians Petition isn't clear on how it will proceed with its campaign, but it presents the following plea:
Up until now more than 1200 Lebanese civilians have been killed and thousands missing under the rubble, thousands wounded, bridges and infrastructure destroyed, refugees are leaving Beirut in droves and worst of all the enforced siege might lead to a human catastrophe in the next few days. There must be an end to this cycle of violence and continuous violation of international laws and basic ethical behavior.
These represent, perhaps, little more than emotional appeals, but even leaders are stirred by emotions--their own and those they serve.

1100 words
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