Bloggers on the U.N. cease-fire.

Bloggers on the U.N. cease-fire.

Bloggers on the U.N. cease-fire.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Aug. 14 2006 6:30 PM

U.N. What Army?

Bloggers ponder the U.N. resolution that has halted the violence—for the moment—between Hezbollah and Israel. They also mock the latest photos of an ailing Fidel Castro.

U.N. what army?: A U.N.-brokered cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah went into effect this morning. Israeli troops will remain in Lebanon until an international peacekeeping force arrives, but bloggers wonder whether the truce will hold until then.

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Steve Lendman, a retired market research analyst in Chicago, complains that the resolution is a "sham" since it fails to offer a fixed timetable for Israeli withdrawal: "It thus gives Israel what it wanted - more time for the IDF to continue its assault by air and to try on the ground to seize more territory so when both sides agree to halt hostilities, Israel will be in the strongest bargaining position." But Steve Schippert at national security blog ThreatsWatch argues that Hezbollah comes out on top: "With Hizballah undeniably awarded a reprieve it may now celebrate knowing it has been rewarded for its actions and enjoys an increased self-perception of legitimacy and tangible power within Lebanon."

Suzanne Nossel, a deputy to former U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke writing at the Huffington Post wonders what a U.N. force can do that the IDF cannot: "If Hezbollah stands down, that's one thing. But unless they abandon or put on hold their raison d'etre of returning the region to its 1948 borders (minus the State of Israel, that is), the UN force will be faced with trying to contain an aggressive, well-armed, and sophisticated guerrilla group, something both the US military (in Iraq) and the Israel Defense Force (in Lebanon in recent weeks) have failed at. This could be a humiliating defeat for the UN, or potentially a triumph that shows the organizations relevance in an era of terror." Conservative Power Line's Paul Mirengoff imagines a scenario in which Hezbollah uses U.N. forces as a shield: "The real point, however, is that in another few years Hezbollah will be able to attack Israel with rockets that might well contain nuclear tips. A longer Israeli military action followed by a U.N resolution along the lines of what the U.S. and France originally proposed would have provided greater protection against this prospect."

Some think Israel agreed to the cease-fire just so they have the moral high ground when Hezbollah breaks the truce. Karl, a commenter at Protein Wisdom, sees a hidden "end game" for Israel and the United States. If Hezbollah keeps its promise to fight back until Israel pulls out southern Lebanon, he writes, "[t]he UN resolution allows Israel to respond.  So the US satisfies its critics by going with the UN resolution, which—surprise surprise—changes nothing." Guest blogger Dean Barnett at conservative Hugh Hewitt's blog doesn't buy this "jujitsu" theory: "The reports of Olmert being spooked by the military's body-bag forecasts ring too true. Olmert's a politician; he sees how literally every IDF death is splashed on the front page of Ha'Aretz. What's more, he has done nothing to date that suggests he is a politician of unusual resolve. In other words, he seems like the kind of guy that would be only too eager to bestow upon the people of Haifa the gift of peace and quiet and the popularity that he thinks such a gift will bring him."

Meanwhile, the Lebanese government postponed talks about disarming Hezbollah. Conservative blogger Brian at Iowa Voice accuses Hezbollah of "thumbing their noses" at the U.N.: "This is exactly why Israel was right in going after them in the first place. Hezbollah is, by all definitions of the word, the sovereign power in Lebanon. They have armed fighters that won't lay down their arms, with a Lebanese government that is unwilling and incapable of making them do so." Ed Morrissey at the conservative Captain's Quarters points out that of course Hezbollah won't disarm—then it wouldn't be Hezbollah anymore: "If the Lebanese Army took that function away from them, they just become another terrorist militia, a construct of which the Lebanese have rightly tired." National Review Online hosts a symposium of Middle East commentators attempting to answer the question, "Who Wins?"

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Citizen Smash at the California-based Mr. Smash Goes to Washington gives the "Ironic Headline of the Day Award" to the Washington Post for its paradoxical "Cease-Fire Takes Effect; More Fighting Expected."

Read more about the U.N. resolution. Shmuel Rosner argues in Slatethat the resolution misses the mark, and Fred Kaplan calls the cease-fire a "major test" for the United Nations.

Photoshopping spree: Cuba's Communist daily, Granma, published new photos of Fidel Castro with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a day after the Communist Youth paper, Juventud Rebelde, released the first photos of Castro since his operation. But bloggers suspect something's afoot.

Cigar Envy points to Castro's clothing, among other things, as evidence of possible fakery: "Fidel was seen wearing that same Adidas outfit back in 2002 when former president Jimmy Carter visited the island nation and threw out the first pitch in a Cuban baseball game. … In fact, the jacket Castro is wearing in the photos released today appears just as new as the one in the photos taken back in 2002." Al Riccobono at Fools R Us takes back earlier conclusions about the photos ("Fidel is dead"), but still smells something fishy: "There seems to be little doubt that the Fidel shown in the JR and Granma photos is really Fidel Castro. The question is when?"

James Taranto at OpinionJournal calls attention to the photo of Castro holding up a copy of Granma—"that's Spanish for 'Pravda,'" he snarks. "It's reminiscent of photos kidnappers release to prove their hostages are still alive, by showing the hostages holding up a copy of today's paper, except that in this case it's a whole country that's been held hostage for more than 47 years." Wonkette describes the photos in a manner unsuitable for a family publication. Babalublog hosts the inevitable caption contest.

Read more about the new Castro photos.

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