Lebanon: No Time To ?Lay There and Bleed?

By Greg O’Brien, Codfish Press

Time magazine declared last week on its cover: “The End of Cowboy Diplomacy.” It was a thought provoking, yet misdirected in part, perspective on President Bush’s “grand strategy for remaking the world” and “what North Korea, Iraq and Iran teach us about the limits of going it alone” in the ongoing struggle against the “axis of evil.”

“To accomplish those goals of democracy building, you need help,” Time observed. “The biggest illusion of the Bush Doctrine was the idea that the U.S. could carry out a strategy as ambitious as reshaping the Middle East and changing unfriendly regimes without a degree of international legitimacy and cooperation to back it up.”

Hold that thought! One of the biggest illusions today on the international scene is the United Nations, and the suggestion that only UN action can end Lebanon’s misery today is a magic act worthy of the great Houdini. As Israel steps up its righteous incursion into Southern Lebanon against terrorist Hezbollah guerrillas in an attempt to disenfranchise this self-proclaimed “party of God” and enforce UN Resolution 1559 calling on “all remaining foreign forces to withdraw from Lebanon,” our world body of peace seems impotent as ever. UN monitoring forces near the border are about as practicable as a substitute teacher in a raucous Bronx high school. Sanctioned by the UN Security Council in February 2004, Resolution 1559 has been a declaration in name only.

If history is any indication, the United States, Europe and key Arab allies must be prepared to go it alone—and soon—in Lebanon to disarm Iran-aided Hezbollah, with the U.S. leading the charge, far out in front if necessary. The litany of UN failures is as stunning as it is sickening: failure to prevent the 1994 Rwandan genocide that resulted in the massacre of nearly a million people; failure to enforce UN Resolution 1291 and effectively intervene in the Second Congo War (1998-2002) which claimed five million victims; failure to deliver food to starving people in Somalia in the early 1990s (the shipments instead were confiscated by local warlords); and failure to stop sexual abuse at the hands of UN “peacekeepers.”

It’s time for the United States to “cowboy up” in the Middle East. We must deal with Lebanon head on, or with a select coalition of committed allies, to douse this flame of terrorism before it ignites into an inferno. In rodeo terms, the 2003 Red Sox mantra means “suck it up in times of adversity,” Joseph P. Kahn wrote at the time in The Boston Globe, noting a T-shirt slogan that proclaimed:  “Are you Gonna Cowboy Up or Just Lay There and Bleed?”

This is no time to lay there and bleed. Fighting terrorism in Lebanon is all together different than sweeping Iraq for nukes that never existed. Get the hats and guns out, George, and water the horses!

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