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Candide Recommends: Monday, July 24, 2006
No Rice-Throwing, Please
Peace in our time: A Lebanese woman in Tyre, getting used to her Israeli make-up kit, as Condi Rice cooks up the Middle East Bush-style, in Beirut.
  • Henry Kissinger getting ready for some shuttle diplomacy she ain’t: Condoleezza Rice arrived in Beirut today, trailing the sort of wind-breaking rhetoric that’s not about to endear her to Lebanese doused in cordite: “ En route from Washington, Ms Rice said there was an ‘urgent’ need for a ceasefire in Lebanon—but that conditions had to be right,” the BBC reports. “Ms Rice said there must be no place for ‘terrorist groups’ like Hezbollah to launch attacks from Lebanese territory.” But there must always be a please in Lebanese hearts for warm and fuzzy groups like the “IDF” on whom to launch attacks. Remember, this riceroni treat is the same Brahms-playing prodigy who, as a national security adviser, so brilliantly advised the president on Osama’s impending attacks in 2001, on how to win in Iraq , how to win the war on terror, and how to hold that six and a half square miles of territory under American control in Afghanistan . Now she’s going to be in charge of brokering peace in Lebanon ? Duck, ladies and gentlemen of the jury.
  • But Rice’s pointless trip is only an attempt by the Israelis to make the Bush administration look like it has a hand in the war’s next episode. In fact, Israel has already settled for international troops, and mostly because Israel is realizing that its massive attacks are producing neither the military nor political pay-offs it had intended. On the American continent, where reporting about Israel is always a smoke-and-mitrrors kind of thing, the Toronto Star’s Micth Potter has the more hjonest analysis: “ Cracks began to appear yesterday in the Israeli consensus on Lebanon as mounting international criticism and dwindling expectations of a knockout blow against Hezbollah kept most of Israel's invasion-sized force idling on its northern border. The apparent hesitance of Israeli leaders to order more than limited incursions into the risk-fraught hills of southern Lebanon came as a parade of foreign diplomats worked Jerusalem's corridors of power in search of a political formula to end the standoff.” So Rice’s trip is merely show, a courtesy, an Israeli favor in exchange for those rushed military shipments, so Rice can be made to look like an effective instrument of an administration on the ropes. But the cards have already been played, while the New York Times and the Washington Post, ever the ingénue, call the visit a surprise.
  • The BBC on the human cost of Israel’s bombing campaign: “At the Jabal Amil hospital, for example, they have received 275 bombing victims. Of those, 27 (including eight children and five women) were either dead on arrival or the doctors were unable to save them.” That’s just in Tyre, Lebanon’s fourth-largest city that once was an island, until Alexander the Great built a dyke knotting it to the mainland. The death toll so far, according to Lebanon’s French daily: 370 killed in Lebanon, 37 in Israel, a 10-to-1 ratio that should amply satisfy the calculators of infinitely vengeful justice. The Associated Press also takes a look at the “heavy civilian toll.”
  • The Jerusalem Post claims “sleeper Hezbollah cells” have been activated abroad and may be going after Israeli targets. But here’s an interesting nut: “ The assumption within Military Intelligence is that Hizbullah would only attack targets abroad if it felt pushed into a corner. According to this thinking, the Islamist group hesitates to carry out such attacks because it does not want to be associated with Global Jihad and al-Qaida.”
  • Alan Dershowitz's complicity in demonizing Lebanese civilians: Here's what he writes at the conclusion of his piece in today's Los Angeles Times: "The Israeli army has given well-publicized notice to civilians to leave those areas of southern Lebanon that have been turned into war zones. Those who voluntarily remain behind have become complicit. Some — those who cannot leave on their own — should be counted among the innocent victims. If the media were to adopt this "continuum," it would be informative to learn how many of the "civilian casualties" fall closer to the line of complicity and how many fall closer to the line of innocence." By that reasoning of course every inhabitant of New Orleans who didn't heed evacuation calls last August was complicit either in his own misfortune or in the lawless mayhem that followed, making him fair game for arrest, not relief. And now you understand why those black residents of New Orleans were treated like animals. When American prejudice rears its big-tent ass, it has no equal. Lebanon's civilians are this summer's Katrina victims, with this obvious difference: the mayhem is entirely man-made and abetted by the Bush administration. Doing a heck of a job, Bushy.

In Other Worlds and Blogs

  • Brad Plumer welcomes you to death row in Japan with a terrific piece on that outpost of medievalism: "Welcome to death row in Japan. Prisoners are executed by hanging—a process known to produce "gruesome scenes of slow strangulation and even decapitation." And prisoners sitting on death row don't even know when they'll actually die. No one gives them a date. Prisoners aren't told "this day will be your last" until the actual morning of their execution, which can come at any time—days or months or decades after their appeals process is exhausted. Their families aren't notified until after they're dead. Everyone involved lives under the strain of uncertainty." See the full post...

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