The duplicity of the leadership at the United Nations could not have been more clearly shown than this week when four members of the 'interim' peacekeeping force in Lebanon were killed by Israeli forces.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan denounced the Israelis for the "apparently" intentional strike on the post that was right next to Hezbollah forces firing at Israelis. The Israelis had been shooting back, as is their right and duty, all day long, prompting, according to one survivor from the UN post, at least 10 messages to them concerning the closeness of the strikes. As pretty much could be expected, one ultimately hit the post and four members of the international force died.
Kofi Annan's denunciation of Israel, and his subsequent backing off of that claim, in fact, trying to make it appear during a news conference that reporters were taking him out of context, shows the absolute incompetence and cowardice of the upper levels of the UN. This incident also goes a long way toward explaining the American public's distrust of an organization that claims to represent the entire world but shows repeatedly that it really represents a clueless elite using the organization as a funnel for corruption and cash flow.
Kofi Annan says the peacekeepers were his eyes and ears, observing the battlefield and gathering information on the fighting between Israel and the Hezbollah terrorists. OK, for the record, observers are what you have when there are war games or when there have been tensions and someone is trying to keep the combatants apart.
But you don't put observers into a war! The troops manning that post should have been withdrawn as soon as hostilities erupted, or failing to do that, should have been told to depart at the very first sign that the fighting was coming close. Today's munitions are remarkably accurate compared to generations ago, but there still are regular reports of rounds falling short, so-called 'friendly fire' incidents, and the expected confusion that results in the shifting conditions on a battlefield.
I would be remiss if I didn't point out that the Israelis also have averred that some UN observers have been taking sides with Hezbollah and using Kofi Annan's eyes and ears to provide battlefield information to the terrorists. Could be, I don't know for sure because I wasn't there.
But I am sure that the UN forces should have been withdrawn immediately. And I am sure that it was Kofi Annan's responsibility to get them out of there to safety. And I am sure that if anyone is ultimately responsible it is not the fighters on the ground, it is the Secretary General at the UN. As they say in the military, you can delegate authority, but not responsibility.
Kofi Annan is not only trying to delegate responsibility, he is trying to shift it and the resultant blame to someone else. Which tells me everything I need to know about his true character.
Other writers in the blogosphere are far more conversant than I about members of the US Congress who are openly anti-Semitic. One of the foremost of these writers authors the Atlas Shrugs blog at http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/ which recently printed a list naming members of Congress who openly oppose backing Israel in the ongoing conflict. (I am referring readers of this blog to that blog because its author not only has an upfront style with plenty of solid information, but she also is quick to credit others who contribute.)
But I would like to make a point here about other forms of anti-Semitism that may not be so obvious, but can inflict every bit as much damage. I am talking about members of Congress who say they support Israel, but then go public with statements that they support an immediate cease fire, and that they think we should talk to the terrorists, both in Lebanon and in Gaza.
They are giving aid and comfort to the enemy wrapped in the gauze of international cooperation and understanding. In my view, there is no option open for Israel, and by extension the US and the rest of the free world, except to eliminate Hezbollah and to do it now.
One of the often unspoken truths about Israel's allegiance with the United States is that it has been carrying the load against terrorism for far longer than any other country in the world. Israel is like a magnet that attracts the worst elements of the extremist world, and has taken the most damage.
But like the US position in Iraq, where we have actually benefited from the influx of foreign terrorists who are participating in the jihad, Israel is providing an invaluable benefit to the free world. By migrating to Iraq to ply their terrorist trade the extremists encounter armed and trained American troops instead of the soft underside of stateside America.
While we take losses in Iraq, and Afghanistan, we inflict far more damage on the enemy, we learn their tactics, we adapt to them as they adapt to us, and most importantly, we prevent attacks on the American homeland.
Israel is doing the same thing for us, and anyone in America who thinks for a minute that we aren't safer because Israel exists and attracts terrorists who might otherwise target American cities, isn't paying attention.
Anti-Semitism is rampant in the world, and we would be naive to believe it doesn't exist in America too. But it is crucial that all Americans take a hard look at their members of Congress, in both houses, and honestly interpret their actions, or lack of actions. Anything less than a hard-line stance in support of Israel is in reality support of terrorism, because to allow terrorists to live is to allow them to continue their plotting and attacks.
Undercover anti-Semitism is harder to spot but just as bad and dangerous as the open in-your-face kind. It is the duty of all Americans to know this and see it for what it is. Because eliminating Israel won't eliminate terrorism. It will just eliminate a target, and if Israel is gone, guess who is next?
In the world of journalism, which I inhabited as a print reporter, columnist and editor for 20 years, prizes are the Holy Grail of the successful career. The more prestigious the prize, the better the chances of promotions, plum assignments, and ultimately more money.
So it is understandable when the world's reporters migrate en masse to the scene of an international event, such as the fighting in Lebanon, where they stand the best chances of getting a prize, because that is where the action is, no pun intended.
But there is a caveat. To improve their chances of winning a prize, they have to show evidence of extraordinary difficulty, great personal danger even, in gathering the information that led to the story that is up for the prize. Hence, a requirement to be reporting from the front or at least where bullets are zinging around and rockets are impacting within camera range.
Up to this point I understand the concept as long as reporters aren't broadcasting real time information that can aid the terrorists.
But I do have a problem with reporters who seem to have zero knowledge of the makeup of the military, its tactics, and its priorities. This was evident once again on Wednesday, July 26, when Israeli forces lost 9 killed and more than 20 wounded in an ambush.
The world press reported it as cataclysmic, catastrophic, a turning point, etc. etc. I am not callous or uncaring, but when I flew as a Marine helicopter machine gunner in Vietnam we would have medevaced that many casualties in two helicopters and considered it a slow day.
I understand that for the families of the dead soldiers this is the worst possible outcome of the war, and from my own personal experiences I know the impact that these deaths will have on the families and loved ones left behind.
But I also know that entire regiments, if not divisions, amounting to tens of thousands of Israeli troops, are operating in Lebanon against the terrorists. Israel's loss in that one skirmish amounted to one squad killed, and less than three squads wounded, most of whom will likely rejoin their units.
When the military looks at casualty reports it doesn't, and to be effective it can't, look at the individuals affected. It can only look at the numbers and interpret those numbers in terms of battlefield effectiveness. In the case of less than 30 casualties out of an army that approaches nearly a million members, the battlefield effectiveness simply is not impacted.
You can be sure that as humans the Israeli commanders feel those deaths and injuries as deeply as close family members. But it is their job to remain stoic in these situations and continue on until the terrorists are eliminated.
Again, this doesn't make it any easier for those killed and wounded.
But it would be more than a little bit helpful if news organizations made an effort to hire military veterans to do battlefield reporting and analysis, or at least teach the basics to the new guys. This would provide the requisite experience and perspective to do an accurate job of reporting the horrors of battle.
Battlefield reports on July 26 in some cases were approaching hysteria. It was not a hysterical situation. In fact, it was fairly typical, and to be brutally honest, it shows that Israeli tactics are focused on lessening the loss of soldiers' lives.
Had the media reported it as such, the quest for a prize would have been taken a back seat to the quest for the truth, which shouldn't even be an issue.
Thursday, July 27, 2006