Friday, July 14, 2006

agents of peace

It's not like we expect world leaders to bring about instant change, to suddenly intervene in a positive way. We know from history that civil wars, border disputes, tribal rivalries and religious squabbles are ludicrously hard to heal; so no-one expects of George Bush that he will be capable of sorting out the current situation in Lebanon. His track record and reputation in the Middle East make that a comical notion. But we might expect, at the very least, a measured statement, something which demonstrates that, even if he retains a clear sympathy for the Israeli side of the equation, he has an understanding of the situation and a desire to do what he can to alleviate the tension and prevent more needless suffering. Surely?

And yet this is his statement, stunning in its bone-headedness, when asked how he saw the situation yesterday, "My attitude is this: there are a group of terrorists who want to stop the advance of peace. Those of us who are peace living (sic) must work together to help the agents of peace". Canada's Stephen Harper, meanwhile - with whom Blair spent yesterday (miffed at Bush cuddling up to Merkel perhaps?) - goes a step further. "I think Israel's response under the circumstances has been measured", he said. There is no argument that the Israeli soldiers should not be immediately released, and the actions of Hezbollah obviously need condemning in the strongest terms. But Israel's ludicrous threat to turn the clock back twenty years, their actions in destroying the economic infrastructure of Beirut and killing many civilians along the way are violently dispropportionate and excessive. Any conception that this Israeli government is an 'agent of peace' must surely now be dissmissed as a fantasy.

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