5.8.06

Bush's Butler Tony Blair, has Blood on his hands

New Statesman - Blood on his hands:

Israel's assault on Lebanon is, in many respects, as disastrous as the war in Iraq. But at least then the pre-war hubris and deceit were played out in parliament and at the UN. This latest act of folly took place suddenly, with only the barest of attempts to justify it to global public opinion. And it stems from the core Middle East problem: the decades-old conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.

I am told that the Israelis informed George W Bush in advance of their plans to 'destroy' Hezbollah by bombing villages in southern Lebanon. The Americans duly informed the British. So Blair knew. This exposes as a fraud the debate of the past week about calling for a ceasefire. Indeed, one of the reasons why negotiations failed in Rome was British obduracy. This has been a case not of turning a blind eye and failing to halt the onslaught, but of providing active support.

Blair, like Bush, had no intention of urging the Israelis to slow down their bombardment, believing somehow that this struggle was winnable. Israel has a right to self-defence, but it could have responded to the seizure of its soldiers, and to the rocket attacks, by the diplomatic route. That would have ensured greater sympathy. Now, growing numbers in Israel itself realise that military action will bring no long-term solution.

Even if the guns fall silent for a while, the damage has been done. This is the score sheet so far: roughly 800 deaths; shocking images of the slaughter of children in Qana; no clear Israeli military advance. And the transformation of Hezbollah from an organisation on the periphery of Lebanese politics into an object of admiration across the Arab world. But it is even worse than that. Is the assumption that civilians are legitimate targets if they do not flee certain areas any different from the principles that underlay the US war in Vietnam? Blair and Bush have given their blessing to the forced displacement of a large population, in violation of the guiding principles of the UN Commission on Human Rights.

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