Friday, August 04, 2006
I'm sure the average Frenchman is puzzled by all the fuss over the minutiae of sequencing this peacekeeping deployment and the corresponding Israeli cease-fire that should have happened yesterday. He's also probably annoyed that this sh*tty little country yet again prefers fighting on indefinitely rather than simply accepting a reasonable offer of peace in our time. Undoubtedly our Monsieur Average in the depth of his French heart and European soul, safely assured of his own security by Chirac's pledge to nuke any state targeting France with terror, knows that peace is the most powerful force, if one would only surrender to it.
France is leading the effort at the United Nations for a cease-fire resolution and insists, along with other European Union member states, that a cessation of hostilities should precede the introduction of a new international peacekeeping force and a broader peace framework.
If Israelis really love peace -- like they claim -- why don't they just stop firing missiles right now? Why this decidedly un-French commotion about the precise date and time on which such-and-such security force takes position God-knows-where in this hell-hole of a conflict zone? Why not just end it and get back to some seriously peaceful latte-sipping in a nice sidewalk cafe? After all, Nasrallah has even promised -- promised! -- that Hezbollah would stop firing rockets on northern Israel in return for an end to air strikes throughout Lebanon -- so why do you even need peacekeepers when you already have Nasrallah's iron-clad pledge?
What the average European might be ignoring is that Hezbollah still has thousands of Katyushas and hundreds of launchers. Nasrallah built up that vast stockpile over the past six years, after Israel had already secured UN verification of its complete withdrawal from all Lebanese territory, and the only remaing job for yesterday's UN peacekeepers was to ensure that peacekeepers wouldn't be needed today by disarming Hizballah. Hah! While Reagan could afford to 'trust but verify,' the fruits of bitter experience leave Israelis no option but to 'doubt and solve the problem themselves.'
Honestly, what do these cease-fire surrender-fetishists think is going to happen the moment Israel obediently sends its troops back home to their bomb shelters and puts the bombers back in mothballs -- all based solely on promises from the discredited UN and the never-credited Nasrallah? Consider that Nasrallah's promise to 'stop launching missiles' rhetorically almost guarantees an intention to restart launching them the moment he feels finds it advantageous for him or his Iranian string-pullers.
The only realistic scenarios that play out from a cease-fire that precedes Hizballah's verified disarmament involve more missiles down the road.
Think not? What exactly does the world think Nasrallah intends to do with all those missiles if they are left in his care? It's not as if Hezbullah just needs some breathing space to meditate about peace, love and understanding, or are clamouring to pack up and leave for a trip to the Far East to "find themselves" or get centered, if mean old Israel would only allow it.
No, not after obliging themselves to Syrian, Iranian, and North Korean interests in exchange for assistance in digging their extensive tunnel network . Hizballah's got a lot invested in this, and is indebted to powers not known for their contributions to regional peace and stability -- except in the eyes of the French Foreign Minister presumably in charge of the UN's ongoing surrender negotiations.
And what is Hizballah supposed to do with these thousands of missiles if not fire them at Israel? They can't just send them back to Iran for a refund. The money-back guarantee is only for the first year, and only if returned in the original packaging, which is a little hard to do when the crates have been cracked so the missiles will fit behind civilian sofas.
Even worse for Hizballah is the ongoing expense of keeping all these unused missiles, conceivably in perpetuity if they are not to be fired at Israel -- who else can they fire them at, other than maybe the Lebanese-sovereigny-violating, invading hordes of peacekeeper forces?
Consider the overhead costs of maintaining these ten thousand missiles year after year. This would just be a nightmare for Hizballah's accountants, who I'm sure are praying, to a man, that Nasrallah fires off every last one of these suckers right away. Consider just the inventory taxes -- do you have any idea what the depreciation schedule is for second-hand missiles?
Then there are all the costs associated with storing the missiles. Even massive infusion of humanitarian aid from peace-loving European governments wouldn't be enough to lease the commercial storage space necessary to house ten thousand missiles long term. But it's not as if Hizballah can count on the Lebanon's civilian public continuing to bear this storage burden indefinitely either. That would probably require Hizballah to come up with cash to pay for civilian home-owners insurance policy upgrades covering living room damage from accidental missile detonations. Unless of course Hizballah plans to permanently allocate gunmen to guarding their own civilians -- sure that works for a little while, but not as a way of life. Heck they're already having trouble with this, having to drag the missiles around out in the open before actually firing them from civilian living rooms (important video).
So here we see the genius of France's negotiating position. They recognize that Nasrallah has no use for his missiles once peacekeepers are in place, other than firing at the peacekeepers. So of course the answer is to get Israel to stop hindering Hizballah immediately, and then leave a gap before the UN peacekeeping targets are put in place so that Nasrallah can finish firing his missiles at Israeli civilians rather than peace-loving blue helmets.
Once again we see the true depth of French courage, vision, and wisdom in time of war.
Cozy corner has done an amazing job answering my question about the depreciation schedule for 2nd hand missiles by assuming Hizballah operates according to virgin economics. Not being much of an accountant myself I can't tell you if he's right, but I can tell you he's pretty funny.