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Thursday, August 24, 2006
Put up or shut up
It's been an interesting week in Lebanon. Hezbollah has made more progress cleaning up Beirut in a couple of weeks than FEMA has made in New Orleans in a year, and the UN has committed 15000 troops to be in the buffer zone, as per the US/French brokered ceasefire agreement.
So far, so good.
The French originally committed 2000 troops to the contingent, but earlier this week backed that down to 200. Two hundred. This, again, from a nation that helped broker this deal, and at last check has a population of about 61 million persons.
Now, this is not just random France-bashing. I'm not one of those who prefers his potatoes "freedom fried" nor do I think the French are cowards for not helping the US in Iraq. They made a smart choice based on the evidence at hand. If I were the French government, I'd have kept my army at home, too.
But this ridiculously small commitment of 200 soldiers is just nonsensical. Especially given France's colonial history in Lebanon, they should certainly be well represented. Hell, Italy is sending 3000.
So today, after pressure was applied, mainly by the US, France relented and agreed to send the original force of 2000. I am very proud of the French and Italians for doing their part to keep peace in the world. For a change.
The Bush administration, which by all accounts is (pardon my lapse) completely fucked, has been put in a position to ask the EU to actually do something for a change. I am being put in a position to decide whether the Bush government or the European ones are in fact, more reprehensible.
It's a tie!
You can go through the archives of this well-read and poorly written blog and see quite clearly that I have no love for this president, his cabinet, cronies, or anything that he is associated with. He is, without a doubt, the worst president ever. I say these things as a liberal with economically socialist leanings, who would tax the wealthy at 80% and provide health care for everyone.
I do not share the liberal affinity for Europe. Of course, many wonderful things have come from Europe, far too many to name, so this is not a complete dismissal. But to talk to my liberal brethren and, ah, sistern, you'd think Europe was Utopia.
"Oh, they're so advanced in their thinking, and Copenhagen in the Spring? Blah blah blah."
Great, you can smoke weed, not get arrested and go on a six-week vacation.
My problem is, the Europeans are every bit as hypocritical as any American. Their shit doesn't stink. Go ahead, just ask them.
But maybe they don't notice the poo-smell over the stench of rotting corpses. That stench, incidentally, is one that Europeans have trained themselves to ignore.
"Is this about the Holocaust? That was last century, dude."
And so it was. Although European disinterest in the plight of its own during the Third Reich would serve as a solid enough example, I won't burden you with the details. They are fact, and they are everywhere, and no, they will not be forgotten.
I'd like to talk about Kosovo, if I could.
Slobodan Milosevic spent the better part of a decade waging war on Kosovar Albanians, a campaign known by the achingly familiar name of "ethnic cleansing." Thousands were killed, and many more displaced. It was grotesque sectarian violence, which was precluded by the usual vilifying cry of an "enemy among us." Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, a dizzying array of new names for Americans to learn. We may be excused for our ignorance of these nationalities up to that point, as I would excuse someone from outside the United States for not being able to find West Virginia on a map, or identify where Creoles live.
All of this went on right there in the middle of Europe. For years. Nothing was done.
Back in 1995, when we still had a president that could read and actually gave a shit, the US led an agreement to try and put an end to these atrocities. The Dayton Accords were the result, and a US-led NATO force (is there any other kind?) was put into the region as peacekeepers. Slaughters continued, including the Racak Massacre, which led to a 78-day bombing campaign by NATO forces in 1999. A peace was brokered, and Milosevic was captured in 2001. He was tried for war crimes, but unfortunately died in March of 2006 before he could enjoy a full measure of justice.
The question I must ask is, why did the US need to be involved in this conflict? If this was not a European problem that ought to have been dealt with by Europeans, what else possibly could be? Why didn't the fact that bodies were piling up on the continent matter to Europeans?
I have no answers.
None of this excuses the US fiasco in Iraq. That FUBAR is ours, solely owned, and fully operated by George W. Bush and Halliburton Inc.
That being acknowledged, I will not silently sit by as Europeans once again try to skate on the thin ice of lecturing about ugliness taking place in all corners of the world, when they have so frequently disregarded their own blood-soaked native soil.
And let's not even get started about the former British colony of Darfur.
posted at 6:45 PM
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