Sunday, March 25, 2007

Bolton to be Investigated?

Last week, John Bolton told the BBC that he was "damned proud" of the fact that the US refused to work for an early ceasefire in the Israel/Lebanon war. "He said the US decided to join efforts to end the conflict only when it was clear Israel's campaign wasn't working." In other words, the Bush administration's failure to seek a ceasefire cost hundreds of people their lives. You'll recall the last minute blitz by the IDF against Lebanon when the Israeli government knew UN resolution 1701 was going to be passed by the UN security council. It was a final act of desperation in a war they had already lost.

Now, the the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is calling for a congressional investigation into Bolton's revelations.

In January, the US Department of State issued a preliminary report to Congress indicating that the State Department might have found evidence that Israel violated bilateral weapons agreements when it dropped US-made cluster bombs on civilian populations in Lebanon last summer. According to reports from international human rights organizations, it was determined that Israeli Defense Forces dropped more than 130,000 cluster bombs containing 1.2 million cluster bomblets in 498 locations in villages throughout southern Lebanon. These cluster bombs are in addition to those already present in southern Lebanon from previous Israeli operations.
It should be noted, Israel dropped the majority of unexploded ordinances in Lebanon during the last 72 hours of the conflict before an impending cease fire deadline. Bolton's remarks to BBC indicate that the delay in implementing this ceasefire was a result of deliberate actions by the United States. The 2006 war in Lebanon resulted in well over 1,000 Lebanese civilian deaths, 43 Israeli civilian deaths, approximately 4,500 Lebanese civilian injuries, and approximately 4,000 Israeli civilian injuries. The war displaced over one million Lebanese civilians from their homes and resulted in an environmental tragedy creating the largest ever oil spill in the Mediterranean Sea with over four million gallons of oil leaking into the Mediterranean as a result of Israeli bombing of Lebanese power plants. According to reports, the damage to Lebanon's infrastructure and economy is estimated to surpass four billion dollars.

We also recently learned through leaked testimony that Olmert had been planning the war against Lebanon for months before the generally accepted reason (one of a few justifications) - the seizure of IDF soldiers (which became the cause celebre) - was used as an excuse to spur on a plan that had already been set in motion. It was just a matter of waiting for the right timing.


And second, we have an interview in the Israeli media with Meyrav Wurmser, the wife of one of the highest officials in the Bush Administration, David Wurmser, Vice-President Dick Cheney’s adviser on the Middle East. Meyrav Wurmser, an Israeli citizen, is herself closely associated with MEMRI, a group translating (and mistranslating) speeches by Arab leaders and officials that is known for its ties to the Israeli secret services.

She told the website of Israel's leading newspaper, Yediot Aharonot, that the US stalled over imposing a ceasefire during Israel's assault on Lebanon because the Bush Administration was expecting the war to be expanded to Syria.

"The anger [in the White House] is over the fact that Israel did not fight against the Syrians. The neocons are responsible for the fact that Israel got a lot of time and space. They believed that Israel should be allowed to win. A great part of it was the thought that Israel should fight against the real enemy, the one backing Hizbullah. It was obvious that it is impossible to fight directly against Iran, but the thought was that its [Iran's] strategic and important ally [Syria] should be hit."

In other words, the picture that emerges is of a long-standing plan by the Israeli army, approved by senior US officials, for a rapid war against Lebanon -- followed by possible intimidatory strikes against Syria -- using the pretext of a cross-border incident involving Hizbullah. The real purpose, we can surmise, was to weaken what are seen by Israel and the US to be Tehran's allies before an attack on Iran itself.

That was why neither the Americans nor Israel wanted, or appear still to want, to negotiate with Assad over the Golan and seek a peace agreement that could -- for once -- change the map of the Middle East for the better.

Many, of course, posited that the Israel/Lebanon war was just a proxy war against Iran and Syria and while the Israeli government was failing, the pressure for sanctions against Iran was racheted up via UN resolution 1696 (which was followed up again this weekend with yet another resolution. This time, however, the Bush administration didn't get everything it was asking for.)

Justin Raimondo was certainly prescient back in December, 2005 when he wrote this:

Syria is now girding for the imposition of economic sanctions and trying to head off the campaign to destabilize the country on two fronts: by restarting talks with Israel, and by cooperating with the request to permit Syrian officials to be questioned in the Hariri investigation. I have the funny feeling, however, that this is not going to do them a lot of good, as far as their enemies in the West are concerned. As we have seen in the case of Iraq, when the U.S. wants to manufacture a case for war, it can be done pretty easily: Congress is not likely to ask inconvenient questions until it's too late, and the American people can hardly be expected to keep up with arcane doings in faraway Lebanon, the scene of the intrigue and obscure religious-ethnic rivalries that could spark another Mideast war. Acting pretty much without either congressional or public scrutiny, this administration thinks it can get away with anything when it comes to Syria – and in that, they are probably right.

If things had gone differently in the Israel/Lebanon war, it definitely is possible that Syria would have been brought into the armed conflict as well.

I imagine John Bolton was severely disappointed by the IDF's failure - that is, if he actually feels anything at all - about anything. Only a sociopath would be "damned proud" that he engineered a strategy that cost more people their lives based on a failed neocon ideology that places military might above all else.

Will the Democratic congress, most of which supported Israel's war, agree to investigate Bolton? I guess we'll have to wait and see...

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