They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you. Bush - Joint News Conference with Blair - 28 July '06

Sunday, July 23, 2006

End Arms Sales to Israel - for an 'ethical foreign policy'

Mick Smith Weblog

A Half-Hearted Condemnation of Full-Scale Murder

So finally, at last, after a dozen days of Israeli attacks on Lebanon, ostensibly aimed at Hezbollah but in fact destroying the rebirth of a country that has suffered almost as much if not more than Israel itself from the cancer ripping apart the Middle-East, at last the British government has thought it right to condemn the Israeli bombardment in which several hundred civilians have now died.

Finally, Blair has allowed his government to reproach Israel, albeit in a half-hearted way, backing the junior foreign office minister Kim Howells in his condemnation in Lebanon of the ludicrous Israeli over-reaction, diverging from the policies of his US mentor who is even now rushing more bombs to Israel to allow it to kill yet more innocent civilians.

I hold no sympathy for the terrorist bomb-makers of Hezbollah, or their sponsors in Tehran and Damascus. If Israel had sent assassins to specifically target the terrorists I would not have shed a single tear, not have issued a word of criticism. If it had taken out the evil Syrian and Iranian men who pull the strings of groups like Hezbollah I might even have shed a sigh of relief and cheered. But bombing Lebanon from the air was not only ineffective in stopping Hezbollah, it was never intended to be. It was always about showing that the government of Ehud Olmert is not weak.

Israel likes to see itself as the brave face of democracy, right and truth, surrounded by those who would destroy it, but there was nothing brave about launching largely indiscriminate attacks on Lebanon, it was the action of a nasty little bully. Far from making Olmert look strong, it will ultimately make him weaker, failing to destroy Hezbollah, losing Israel friends and giving those in Damascus and Tehran who sought to provoke this foolish assault precisely what they wanted.

Our prolonged refusal to condemn the attacks - preferring to follow the lead of the Bush administration - has demeaned us as a nation. But there is a way of showing our true feelings, of setting us apart from the Bush administration's willingness to fuel the fighting with yet more bombs.

The Blair government could show its independence and ban arms sales to Israel as the Thatcher government did in the wake of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Israeli F16 fighters are launching attacks on their targets using British-made heads-up displays. As I recall, this government's ethical foreign policy was designed to prevent the use of British-made military equipment against civilians. A new ban on sales of military equipment would actually show that the British government means what it says. But don't hold your breath. Link