Friday, August 25, 2006

US Investigates Alleged Israeli Use of Cluster Bombs in Lebanon

The U.S. State Department said Friday it is investigating whether Israel may have used cluster munitions in Lebanon in violation of agreements with the United States restricting their use. A United Nations agency said earlier this week it has found abundant evidence that Israel used the bombs against Hezbollah guerrillas, some in populated areas of southern Lebanon.

The Bush administration defended Israel's overall military campaign against Hezbollah as an act of national self defense. But officials here acknowledge that an inquiry is under way as to whether the Israelis used U.S.-supplied cluster munitions in civilian areas in violation of unpublished agreements with Washington.


The newspaper said agreements governing Israel's use of U.S. cluster bombs date back to the 1970's when they were first supplied, and are understood to require that they be used only against organized armies in conventional war situations.

I'm sure the U.S. will find that Israel did nothing wrong:

During its air war in Afghanistan, the United States dropped nearly a quarter-million cluster bomblets that killed or injured scores of civilians, especially children, both during and after strikes, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today.


Human Rights Watch found that the United States did not take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties, as required by international humanitarian law, when it used cluster bombs in or near populated areas. U.S. cluster bombs also left an estimated 12,400 explosive duds—de facto antipersonnel landmines—that continue to take civilian lives to this day.

What I find interesting is that they focus on how the use of cluster bombs violated agreements with Washington, as if their use in civilian areas wasn't already prohibited by international law.

But the news isn't all bad:

Annan: Europe will provide over half of peacekeeping force

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today that Europe had agreed to provide more than half of an expanded peacekeeping force for Lebanon, with nearly 7,000 troops, and he hoped the “strong, credible and robust” force would be able to deploy in days, not weeks.

“Europe is providing the backbone of the force,” Annan said after an emergency meeting with EU foreign ministers in Brussels. “We can now begin to put together a credible force,” he said.

He said he asked France – which dramatically increased its pledged contribution to 2,000 troops late yesterday – to lead the force until February 2007.

I'm glad to hear that the U.S. won't be heading this up. We're doing such a bang-up job in Iraq that I'd hate to see anything detract from that. It seems inevitable that something will, though. Whether we want it to or not:

Nearly five years later, it is Mr. Bush’s turn to send a message to Mr. Bashir, by way of the top American diplomat for Africa, who is to meet with Mr. Bashir on Saturday and press him to accept a United Nations peacekeeping force in Darfur to salvage the dying peace agreement that the United States worked hard to arrange.

The message will be blunt, Jendayi Frazer, assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, said in a briefing in Washington today before leaving for Khartoum. Despite Sudanese objections to the peacekeeping force, she said, she expected the Security Council to adopt a resolution authorizing it, and the dispatch of at least some troops, by October 1.

But Ms. Frazer will arrive in a very different Khartoum than the cowed one that sent the message in 2001. The Sudanese capital today is defiant and transformed, a boomtown built on oil money and investments from the Persian Gulf, China and Malaysia, buoyed by a changing geopolitical landscape in which it seems convinced it has little to fear from thumbing its nose at the world’s only superpower.

“They seem to be playing on Washington’s weakness and their relative strength,” said J. Stephen Morrison, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, whose writings helped shape the Bush administration’s Sudan policy.

The U.S. is completely pinned down with Iraq and Lebanon and related issues; there is a surge of investment capital coming into Khartoum,” Mr. Morrison said. “It looks to me like they are calculating that time is on their side, and they don’t have to compromise. Immediately after 9/11, they came under a serious, credible threat from U.S., but now I think the equation has changed to where the threats are not there and not credible.”

Somewhere that we're actually needed... and all we can do is send emissaries. The reason is right in front of our noses. As long as Bush is President, we won't be leaving Iraq, and as long as we're in Iraq, we won't have the leverage to be a broker for peace in the rest of the world. Our "big stick" doesn't do us much good if we throw it in a fire pit.

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