I keep thinking, again, that if Israel, with its back to the sea, cannot muster the will to fight in a big way, then the fat, faraway U.S.A. will never be able to do it. I keep saying this and it terrifies me. Ben Stein here
Both the US and Israel have been taken. I can not begin to understand what Condi was thinking.
Europeans Balk Over Sending Troops to Lebanon
The European countries that had been called upon to provide the backbone of a peacekeeping force delayed a decision on committing troops until the mission is more clearly defined. European governments are insisting upon clarifying the chain of command and rules of engagement. "In the past, when peacekeeping missions were not properly defined, we've seen major failures,'' a spokeswoman for the French Foreign Ministry, Agnes Romatet-Espagne, said Sunday. A senior French official said, "Italy, Spain, and Finland have raised the same questions as France has."
Australia, which has placed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, has refused to commit troops. "We don't have any confidence in it. It is not going to have the mandate to disarm Hizballah." (New York Times)
Israel: No UN Troops from Countries that Don't Recognize Israel - Doug Struck
Israel on Sunday objected to including countries that do not have diplomatic relations with the Jewish state in the nascent peacekeeping force for Lebanon, such as the Muslim countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Bangladesh. "The idea that you could have forces on our border from countries that we could not talk to, that we couldn't coordinate with, would cause problems," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said Sunday. (Washington Post)
UPDATE: More from Ambassador Bolton today and yeah it's Pure Bolton;
Ambassador Bolton: Well, we've just finished a briefing on the report submitted by the Secretary General, as required by Resolution 1701, discussed a number of issues in connection with the resolution, and emphasized especially the need to get humanitarian assistance into southern Lebanon, the work that we've been doing. The president, of course, has just pledged an additional $200 million-plus package for reconstruction in addition to the $50 million that Secretary Rice had mentioned in her speech, of which we've already provided 24 million in humanitarian assistance. And we talked about the need to enhance UNIFIL, increase its troop deployment as soon as possible and the various efforts that are being made there. So this was a - the report, as I say, that the resolution called for in seven days, submitted on Friday, discussed today, and we'll go from there. I have time just for a few questions.
Reporter: (Inaudible) there would be another resolution on rules of engagement, which is unusual. Can you explain this?
Ambassador Bolton: Well, I understood what he was saying was that the – as we've always contemplated the disarming of Hezbollah, which was not specifically addressed in 1701, would have to be addressed, and that should be coming shortly. And I think the point is, obviously, our road map is the full implementation of Resolution 1559. If 1559 had been fully implemented, we probably wouldn't be here today. And that's why the return of security to southern Lebanon and preventing the re-supply of Hezbollah is so important.
Reporter: When would that be? And would that hold up deployment of the current contingents even more?
Ambassador Bolton: I don't think we have a particular view on time. There's no reason that it should hold up the deployment. Each country should be making its own decision, and the Secretariat, then, can coordinate their arrival in Lebanon.
QUESTION: The Iranian leader has declared today that they will continue their program despite the Security Council resolution. Is there any comment?
BOLTON: None that I will give for the moment. What we're awaiting for their definitive response and -- which is overdue by our lights -- but the Security Council gave them until the 31st of August to complete the suspension of their uranium enrichment activities so they still have a few days.
QUESTION: Are you saying, on this new resolution, that you are already working on such concepts such as disarming Hezbollah? Is there possibly a timeframe given to the Lebanese government before you move on to on? Can you explain that?
BOLTON: Well, Resolution 1701 itself expressly says that we would consider changes, enhancements to the mandate of the expanded UNIFIL. And obviously, one critical element of the political solution in Lebanon, contemplated fully by Resolution 1559, is that all of the armed militia groups would be disarmed.
And so the question of dealing with Hezbollah, or whether they deal with themselves by becoming a real political party instead of a terrorist group, is obviously on the agenda. But there is no timetable.
QUESTION: There is an element in 1701 which uses sort of the chapter 7 language in terms of the borders when the (inaudible). Can you interpret that for me, in terms of the borders?
BOLTON: We think those provisions are binding on all U.N. member states. The resolution also says that the government of Lebanon can request assistance from UNIFIL to help secure the borders. We would certainly welcome such a request, when UNIFIL is enhanced, to give that assistance.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.
Last week, Lakhdar Brahimi wrote an op-ed article in the New York Times saying that we need to talk to the Hezbollah right now; and then in another article, said that we need to talk to the Syrians.
Do you think it's about time to speak with the Hezbollah, the Syrians and also with the Iranians regarding Lebanon?
QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, there seems to be quite a number of questions about the rules of engagement which appears to be holding up possible commitments, particularly from the Europeans.
What's your understanding of whether there are going to be new clarifications to the rules of engagement? Are the rules of engagement that you got over the weekend and that governments have been studying from the Department of Peacekeeping acceptable? Could you give us a sense of where this stands?
BOLTON: Well, the concept of operations and draft rules of engagement were distributed to 70-plus countries, I think, on Friday. And many of the potential troops contributors were very much involved in helping to draft the concept of operations and rules of engagement.
The fact is that we should keep our eye focused on the objective, which is that the combined efforts of the government of Lebanon and UNIFIL in southern Lebanon should in the government of Israel being able to withdraw and no security vacuum being created by these parallel operations, no security vacuum into which Hezbollah can re- infiltrate.
BOLTON: So the issue is really how effectively UNIFIL can assist the government of Lebanon as it deploys south and as Israel turns over various sectors in the southern part of the country, as it has already turned over very substantial portions of the territory south of Litani.
I don't doubt that there will be other discussions on the rules of engagement. And you'll recall the original American position was we wanted a very robust multinational force, not even under -- possibly under even -- even under U.N. command. The government of Lebanon made it clear they did not want a multinational force, they did not want a Chapter 7 mandate, they wanted pretty much what Resolution 1701 provides.
So those are the circumstances in which we're operating, and that was known to all of the cosponsors of the resolution at the time it was adopted.
QUESTION: Could I just do a quick follow-up? The Jerusalem Post reported today that the secretary general was going to announce some new rules of engagement that would allow the U.N. peacekeepers to shoot Hezbollah fighters. Wondered whether that was in the rules of engagement that you have seen.
BOLTON: I haven't seen that, but I'm always eager to read additional press stories and find out what I should know.
QUESTION: You have been briefed, I suppose, this morning, by DPO, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
After listening to them, how confident are you that the U.N. will be able to come up with the numbers they need?
BOLTON: Well, I think it's still a work in progress. I think that's the best I can say. I don't think there's any doubt in our mind of the urgency of the deployment of the full enhanced UNIFIL as soon as possible. And the United States has been working very vigorously at all levels to help the -- encourage and facilitate that deployment. So the timing here remains critical. There's no question about it.
QUESTION: At the beginning of this resolution, 1701, there was so much thrust, including the U.S. efforts, to stop the violence or to get a cease-fire. The whole world saw what happened. It seized. Suddenly everybody's hesitant to send troops. Why? What is exactly the explanation to that?
And also could you comment on some reports coming up right now -- Kofi Annan going very soon to Syria. Can you comment or deny?
BOLTON: I think that we've been told the secretary general plans to travel to the region to follow up to the Roed-Larsen-Nambiar mission that's there now. So his exact itinerary, I suppose, will be announced by the Secretariat.
In terms of why countries are reluctant to provide peacekeepers, it's obviously a very dangerous situation. The cease-fire is quite fragile. And I think they want to be -- countries that are trying to take this decision want to be sure that they -- that their troops will have the maximum opportunity to defend themselves. That's one of the reasons why we have sought and others sought a very robust mandate for the force and why this may still remain to be worked out.
BOLTON: I think as long as Hezbollah fighters remained armed in the south or elsewhere in the country, whether the arms are visible or hidden under mattresses, the international peacekeeping force and the Lebanese armed forces, while we're on the subject, will be vulnerable if Hezbollah orders additional attacks.
I think that's very much on the minds of the troop contributors and I think that's understandable.
QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, one of the components of disarming Hezbollah is Syria and Iran. Do you have any comment on what you would expect from them in the context of what you're trying to achieve here?
BOLTON: Well, what they should do -- I don't expect anything in particular from Syria and Iran, but what they should do is follow the obligations of the resolution and not provide arms to Hezbollah or other armed groups inside Lebanon.
That's consistent with 1559. That's an obligation they've routinely broken, but it's an obligation they should comply with now.
QUESTION: Would there be any mention in this new resolution you're trying to draft here that would obligate them to that?
BOLTON: Well, I think they are obligated now, under the terms of 1701, not to supply arms into Lebanon without the consent of the government of Lebanon. I think that's clear from various provisions of 1701, so they're already under that obligation.
QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, Malaysia and Indonesia are considered moderate Muslim countries. Do you consider it counterproductive the statement that Olmert made saying that they did not want to have any peacekeeping forces from countries that do not have diplomatic ties?
BOLTON: Well, it's a long-standing custom in U.S. peacekeeping that the parties have to agree on who the troop contributors will be. And the Israeli position seems to me to be a pretty straightforward one; that countries that don't even recognize the state of Israel can't be counted upon to fulfill the impartial role that we look for in the enhanced UNIFIL.
We've done some quick research, and so don't take these figures as absolutely in concrete. But we think something like 161 governments around the world recognize Israel, something like 126 recognize Lebanon. Those two don't overlap entirely, but if you sort out how many countries recognize both Lebanon and Israel, it's a very substantial number of countries. We ought to be able to find troops to enhance UNIFIL from countries that recognize both Lebanon and Israel.
QUESTION: When you were negotiating 1701 with the French, did you find objections to the mandate that you're hearing now?
BOLTON: What a question.
I think the concern that we all had was that the mandate be sufficiently robust that, working with the government of Lebanon, the enhanced UNIFIL could help create those conditions of security in southern Lebanon that would give Israel confidence that Hezbollah was not going to come and fill in the vacuum, thus facilitating the withdrawal.
So I think that element was there throughout.
QUESTION: So you said a little earlier in answer to a question that no to talks with Hezbollah and no to talks with Syria. Now, how would you feel about the secretary general...
BOLTON: And Iran.
QUESTION: ... this organization going to Syria at this time? Is this something that you do not support, that you have a problem with, because you stand against talks with Syria and Hezbollah?
BOLTON: I don't think his travel schedule is fixed. I don't want to comment on a hypothetical at this point.
QUESTION: Is there a new resolution being looked at right now, as President Bush just said one hour ago in Washington, D.C.?
BOLTON: Absolutely we've been thinking about it. We knew that -- although our preference would have been to have taken care of all of these issues in one resolution, we knew, because of the difficulties and complexities involved, that more than one resolution would be required.
And the issue of disarming Hezbollah, which is central not just to resolution of the current conflict, but central to the implementation of 1559, was going to have to be addressed, if not in this first resolution, in due course. So that's one of the elements we're working on.
QUESTION: Is this a short-term step that needs to be taken care of, this resolution, before the initial force can deploy?
BOLTON: No, I think the initial force can be deployed now. But it's, obviously, closely linked. And we want the disarming of Hezbollah to be accomplished rapidly so that the democratically elected government of Lebanon can establish full control over its territory.
QUESTION: How can you deploy a force and then think of its mandate afterward?
BOLTON: Because you can expand its mandate. And again, there's a provision of 1701 that expressly says we will consider adapting or expanding the mandate.
QUESTION: Most countries are objecting to disarming Hezbollah and leaving it to the Lebanese people, here, through a dialogue.
BOLTON: Well, that's one possible way to do it. It hasn't happened that way yet. But fundamentally, this is about implementing 1559. And that is having all elements of Lebanese society return to a peaceful political debate. And a democratic context is the measure of success.
UPDATE: More Hezbo media propaganda