Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The stand-bys

We Westerners have become the stand-bys, the people who protest about everything and never actually do anything useful. In Burma, where over a million may die in an epidemic, the government refuses to let aid agencies and aid into the country. Cue photographs of Western diplomats smiling and shaking hands with members of the ruling junta. There is much wringing of hands, but nobody actually does anything. A great crime is being committed, but its perpetrators know all too well that no international policeman will arrive to arrest and imprison them. In Lebanon, Hizbullah threaten to take control from the legitimate government. UN troops, sent there to prevent Hizbullah re-arming, whistle through their teeth as they watch the rockets being shipped in. Hizbullah captures a southern village that gives them a vantage point over northern Israel and thus betokens another war; and the United Nations does sod all. I have just watched a gruelling video of four men being stoned to death in Iran. I had to switch it off. No-one stepped in to prevent this vile act, an act that debases a great nation and all humanity. James Bond did not arrive by plane or supercharged sports car, no-one took a pistol and shot the mullah in charge of the event, I don't think a question was asked in the House of Commons or in Congress, and I don't recall the Iranian ambassador ever being hauled in to explain these or any other deaths.

What are we scared of? World opinion? We are the world, or at least the richest and strongest part of it. What do we care about some two-bit tinpot dictatorship in Africa or the Arab world? Why should they outvote the democracies in the General Assembly or the UN Commission for Human Rights? Robert Mugabe destroys an entire country, its economy, and the lives of its people. We shake our heads because it would be improper to assassinate him or even go in and arrest him. If we apply that logic to Britain or any other country, the police would stand back from arresting drug dealers and criminal masterminds. Israel is the only country that says, if someone is a mass murderer and threatens to kill more innocent people, it is ethical to go in and take him out. If Saddam Husayn has built a nuclear reactor, it is for everyone's benefit to blow it to pieces. If terrorists have taken a plane-load of your people and threaten to kill them, you send hard men in after the terrorists, you kill them, and you rescue the hostages.

It is a mockery of the international system that Israel, a member state of the UN, has fought wars and terrorist attacks for 60 years, yet not one other member state has come to its aid. Nato was founded on the basis that an attack on any member country was to be considered an attack on everyone, and that retaliation would follow from all member states. That is still true. Similar alliances exist elsewhere. Of course, the UN is not a military alliance; but it still makes no sense to me that there can be no role for the UN when Israel is attacked by wholly illegal entities like Hamas or Hizbullah. It's not even a case of asking the UN to send in fighting troops to go into battle alongside Israelis, simply wondering why the UN chooses not to enforce international law when it is so blatantly broken by a group like Hizbullah that was founded and is backed by a regime who record in human rights or in international relations is consistently black. What do you have to do to get the UN, to which you pay your membership dues, to do what it was set up to do?

It matters hugely to the West that Hizbullah does not set the Middle East alight, that Iran and Syria do not take joint control of Lebanon, that they do not use their alliance with Hamas to engage in another war with Israel, and that Syria does not try to drag Jordan into it. But surely this is the point. It is precisely because the West (like the UN) stood aside during the last war in Lebanon, and put heavy pressure on Israel to end the war prematurely, that Hizbullah was able to come out of the conflict ready to re-arm and re-group. thereby creating the present situation. To be honest, if the West (or the UN) had acted years ago, Hizbullah could have been flattened before they got the missiles they now use. The same with Hamas.

Everyone is afraid — and rightly afraid — of starting a war with Iran. Attacking Hizbullah could lead to that. Taking out Iran's nucleaer installations could lead to it. Iran is a big country with difficult terrain and a large population. A war would be foolish and Western troops would get even more bogged down than they are now in Iraq or Afghanistan. US blunders in Iraq have made life easier for Ahmadinezhad and his generals. I cannot suggest the right course of action. Perhaps no-one in the West really cares: if Israel is all that's at stake, no doubt a lot of people can live with that. We don't reward heroism any longer, not if it ruffles feathers in high places. We are politically correct, which means we hate Israel and love the terrorists masquerading as freedom fighters who want to destroy her body and soul. They want to destroy Israel's spirit, and they know no-one out there has a spirit like it, and that no-one dare trespass the laws of 'do not speak', 'do not call on others to speak', 'do not act', and 'do not urge others to take action'. Let us prove them wrong.

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