Tuesday, January 13, 2009

the US punts on Gaza

So as I was boarding my plane to Belize, I heard to my shock that the US had abstained on the draft resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, allowing it to go forward. Instantly, I guessed at what had happened: Condi Rice didn't want her final moment as Secretary of State to be vetoing a resolution and pissing off the rest of the world. The Israelis and the neocons wanted a veto. Bush punted. Abstention.

John Bolton just had a great piece in the Wall Street Journal about how stupid and pointless this was (minus the unnecessary dig at the incoming administration, who had nothing to do with this and will, I hope, be far less convoluted in its diplomatic efforts). Quoth Bolton:

Ms. Rice's abstention last Thursday, for example, neither mitigated the council's pressure on Israel, nor increased the likelihood of a cease-fire. As a display of weakness, it simply invites a diplomatic feeding frenzy. That will almost certainly happen now in regards to Gaza, where Resolution 1860 is having no effect.

What's needed here is leadership and consistency. If the US believed a ceasefire was needed, it should have gone to the Israelis and worked one out while allowing the resolution to pass. If the US believed Israel's actions are self-defense, fully justified and worth continuing, it should have vetoed the resolution. By doing neither, the US has basically allowed a resolution to pass knowing the Israelis will violate it. In doing so, it has brought the Security Council into the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, which the Israelis never wanted, and now the Palestinian Permanent Observer at the UN is saying it's the Council's responsibility to undertake Chapter 7 intervention against Israel for failing to comply with a Council resolution.

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