Precision Techniques

In countering accusations of indiscrimate bombing of civilian sites in southern Lebanon, Israelis have always taken pains to maintain that bombings have been “clinical”, making much use of precision bombing technologies.

OK fine. But given that, the bombing of 4 UN officials puts paid to such claims since the Israeli prime minister’s office has had to issue a statement saying the UN bombing was a mistake. This has caused further diplomatic fallout since Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General, had already made a statement that condemned the attack as “apparently deliberate”. I’m still at a loss at how Israel have managed to justify the bombing of civilains, infrastructure and institutions as “precision” targetting of Hizbullah interests. Either projecting bombs at pinpoint-critical coordinates simply means, as it always has, disptach ‘to whom it may concern’, or bridges, power stations and UN peace-keeping forces present legimate targets for the Israelis.

In an inspired peice in the Guardian, Jonathan Freedland argues that its time Britain and the US in particular owe it the world to get off their collective backsides and enforce a comprehensive ceasefire.

I’m thinking of the United States. It’s fashionable to blame the US for all the world’s ills, but in this case the sins, both of omission and commission, of the Bush administration genuinely belong at the heart of the trouble.

Diplomacy has had a difficult task from the start, in part because the US is not seen as an honest broker, but as too closely aligned with Israel. Washington has long been pro-Israel, but under President Clinton and the first President Bush there was an effort to be seen as a plausible mediator. Not under George W. Far from keeping lines of communication open with Hizbullah’s two key patrons - Syria and Iran - they have been cast into outer darkness, branded as spokes, or satellites, of the axis of evil. As a result there has been no mechanism to restrain Hizbullah. Now, when the US needs Syria’s help, it may be too late. Damascus will extract a high price, no doubt demanding the right to re-enter, in some form, Lebanon. The White House can’t grant that - not when it considers Syria’s ejection from Lebanon in 2005 one of its few foreign-policy successes.

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