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Israel: Too Far or Not Far Enough?

#1 User is offline   Isildur 

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 07:05 AM

Ok, some more serious conversation for the workday ACen users.

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"They're fighting again?"
"Not so much 'again' as 'still'."


So, for those who haven't seen a news channel in a week, Israel and Lebannon are again at war, or at least war in the sense that both sides are shooting at each other, but aside from a few limited operations the IDF hasn't actively invaded yet.

I'll give everyone the quick rundown:
A) Militants in Gaza kidnap a soldier to ransom for prisoners held by Israel. Several people are killed in this attack.
B) Israel responds by bombing and shelling key targets in Gaza
C) Militant rocket attacks on Israeli targets.
D) 2 more IDF soldiers are kidnapped by militants from Lebannon in copycat strike killing nearly a dozen soldiers and civilians in the process.
E) More rocket attacks killing several dozen people, Israel deploys Patriot anti-missile batteries.
F) Israel reponds by a campaign of bombing and shelling against Lebannon, destroying infrastructure and military targets.

G) Today: More of the same

Over the last week, more then a hundred civilians have died on both sides, and already millions, approaching billions of dollars of damage has been inflicted by Israeli artillery and aircraft.

So the questions:

Is Israel's response appropriate to the situation?
Is this situation likely to draw the world into a larger regional conflict?
Should America be involved in this conflict (beyond our duties as a member of the UN)?

#2 User is offline   GiveUpTheGhost 

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 09:35 AM

Israel has the balls america wants. Only think if we acted like the israelies.
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#3 User is offline   Dark Stranger 

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 03:09 PM

Honestly unless someone attacks the U.S. I don't really care. People in the middle east have been killing each other for as long as anyone can remember. It's just very boring to me now. In my opinoin everyone should leave the middle east alone and watch as it tears itself apart.
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#4 User is offline   sentinel28a 

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Posted 18 July 2006 - 03:59 AM

The only problem with that, Dark Stranger, is that the Middle East's problems rapidly tend to become everyone else's problems in a hurry. We're one big unhappy planet, and to make matters worse, guess where most of the oil is. We literally can't afford to forget the Middle East exists, and by "we" I mean the entire world.

To answer Isildur's questions...prepare for Sentinel's Rant #322:

1) Is Israel's response appropriate? When it comes to Hamas in Gaza, absolutely. (BTW, Isildur, I think you meant that Israel shelled and invaded Gaza; there hasn't been anything going on in the West Bank.) Hamas has been playing with fire for months, ever since the Israelis basically ceded Gaza to them, and now they're getting burned. I think Israel was prepared to leave them alone, but Hamas had to push things. Of course, when you're elected on a platform of "drive Israel into the sea" that tends to happen.

When it comes to Hezbollah and Lebanon, I'm less sure. While I agree with the Israelis that they can't just sit there and take it while Hezbollah rains rockets down on Israeli farms and cities, they are really hitting all of Lebanon with both barrels. I have no sympathy whatsoever with Hezbollah, or its backers, Syria and Iran, and militarily speaking the Israelis are correct in isolating Hezbollah from resupply sources in Lebanon and Syria. However, a lot of Lebanese are getting hurt in the process--Lebanese that have no beef with Israel and who don't like Hezbollah anymore than Israel does. It's kind of like trying to take pee out of a pool without disturbing the water. I don't claim to have a solution, except that Lebanon and Israel should work together against Hezbollah.

2) Is this situation likely to draw the world into a larger regional conflict? Maybe. It really depends on Syria and Iran. Alone, Israel can handle both Hezbollah and Hamas. If Syria decides to jump into the game, Israel won't hesitate in hitting them as well, and historically the Syrians have gotten creamed every time they got into a fight with the Israelis. Syria has very little to gain and everything to lose by getting into a war right now--their economy is rickety, and they have people who don't particularly like them on every one of their borders (Turkey to the north, Lebanon to the west, Israel to the southwest, Jordan to the south, and the US Army currently deployed in Iraq to their east and southeast--not that the Iraqis like the Syrians much either).

Iran's the real worry point here. They've been dropping broad hints that they'd love to finish the job that Hitler started. Getting to Israel directly is suicide--they'd have to come over American and Iraqi forces in Iraq, then Jordan, who isn't going to sit there. The Arabs despise the Persian Iranians in general, no matter the religious similarities; there's few things that would unite Iraq quicker than an Iranian invasion. However, Iran could send a few missiles Israel's way, and if Iran has a nuke...that would be very bad for all parties involved, because Israel will retailiate. Assuming they don't launch a preemptive strike. That whole scenario is nightmarish.

If Syria and Iran don't get involved, then this will probably result in a defeat of Hamas and Hezbollah and possibly a lot of bad feelings in Lebanon. In other words, not much different from the way things were in the late 1980s--not good, but not all-out war, either.

3) Should America become involved (beyond our duties with the UN)? No way. The Israelis don't need (or probably want) our help, even if Syria gets into it. If Iran tries something really dumb like launching an airstrike or attempting to smuggle supplies through Iraq and Syria to Hezbollah--pretty unlikely--then we wouldn't have much choice. For now, we should probably stick to what we're doing--evacuating our citizens from Lebanon, trying to broker a fair peace deal, and keeping a wary eye on Iran.

As for the UN, I don't have much confidence in their ability to find a way out of this. Their track record in keeping the peace is pretty lousy, sad to say.

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#5 User is offline   Isildur 

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Posted 18 July 2006 - 05:46 AM

sentinel28a said:

(BTW, Isildur, I think you meant that Israel shelled and invaded Gaza; there hasn't been anything going on in the West Bank.)
Yeah.

Quote

Iran's the real worry point here. They've been dropping broad hints that they'd love to finish the job that Hitler started.  Getting to Israel directly is suicide--they'd have to come over American and Iraqi forces in Iraq, then Jordan, who isn't going to sit there.  The Arabs despise the Persian Iranians in general, no matter the religious similarities; there's few things that would unite Iraq quicker than an Iranian invasion. However, Iran could send a few missiles Israel's way, and if Iran has a nuke...that would be very bad for all parties involved, because Israel will retailiate.  Assuming they don't launch a preemptive strike.  That whole scenario is nightmarish.


I just want to point out to those who are new to the whole situation:

It's generally accepted in the intellgence community that Israel has nuclear weapons and has had them for some time; they've just never been stupid enough to test them and make it an issue to the countries around them, but conservative estimates give them an arsenal of about 30 devices, most being air deployed bombs, and a few smaller devices that could be integrated into missiles.


If Israel decided "**** it, they're going down", they have the firepower to make one, possibly two of their closest enemies disappear altogether, or leave Iran or Syria largely defenseless.


I believe, regarding my own questions:

Israel is in the right to be aggressively defending it's borders and preemptively striking it's opponents in retaliation for the kidnappings, which effectively amount to an act of war. It's not that the lives of those 3 soldiers are worth thousands of civilian dead... it's the principle of it, that having ANY of your population taken from your country by enemy combatants is an act of war.

But I think Israel is banking on America and the UN jumping in. Israel can fight a multi-front war... their army is larger then some European ones, and their hardware is identical to ours, or in a few cases better then ours (the Merkava mk IV is generally superior to the M1A2-SEP). But they can't win if they start taking deep loses because their reservers are limited and they have very few aces up their sleeves other then their allies and their nuclear stockpiles.

Should America jump in?

Tough to say. America is arguably already in a 3 front war. Iraq itself is a nightmarish situation to begin with. The people we're trying to disarm live among the people we're trying to protect, so every fight is a disaster. Afghanistan isn't much better, save that there isn't as much to protect in the first place.

The main concern is North Korea and Iran. The USA cannot take on both at once, and fighting either today would push our military beyond it's current capacities. The key problem is that both are wolves right now. If Amercia became entangled with Iran, North Korea would become more aggressive against South Korea and Japan. If America goes after North Korea, Iran would move against Israel. In either case, even with European, Chinese, or even in the worst case, Japanese help (more on this later), America would be left with just nuclear deterent to stop the fighting.


The last thing the world needs is for North Korea to pull Japan into conflict again. Already there are rumblings of nationalism in Tokyo and if North Korea goes to far then the pacifistic constitution of Japan is going to disappear and the Rising Sun is going rearm. Which from a world power perspective is bad because traditionally what happens in that case is eventually war with China. The worst case scenario would be North Korea attacks South Korea, then attacks Japan, Japan retaliates, rearms, and jumps in, and then out of nowhere Hong Kong and Taiwan go against China and Japan jumps in with them. The result would likely be nuclear strikes by China, precipating Defcon 1 and nuclear war between America and China, which we can win but at that point the difference between winning and losing really doesn't matter that much.

#6 User is offline   Kasemei 

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Posted 18 July 2006 - 11:25 PM

alright, this thread definetly intruiged me, being in high school policy debate. hmmmmmmmmm here comes my ideas on this. they may be a bit naive though, so please bear with me. also, this'll probably sound like a debate speech by the time I'm done with it. I'm sorry in advance.

I would like to give a brief roadmap and show what questions are being asked currently.

Is Israel's response appropriate to the situation?
Is this situation likely to draw the world into a larger regional conflict?
Should America be involved in this conflict (beyond our duties as a member of the UN)?

These are the questions being asked right now. I will go down the flow and respond with my opinion to each of the questions asked. Let us now take a look at the first question. As you can see from the first post in this thread, Israel has only retaliated in anger from the events unfolding. I must ask though, why Israel is even holding prisoners? Do they not realize that they could have released them and this matter may not have unfolded in such a tragic way? I do realize that even if Israel had released the prisoners it probably wouldn't have made a huge impact in the overall picture of israelies and the palistiniens (sorry about the spelling, but its' 1 in the morning and I do not type well on a laptop) but it may have stopped the casulties that the civilians had to deal with when Lebannon decided to take a few israeli solidiers for ransom. I therefore must say that I believe that the way Israelis have been dealing with the current situation is wrong.

I'd now like to go to the next question presented, which was asking if this situation was likely to draw the work into a larger regional conflict. My answer to this is a definete YES. I believe that this will eventally escalate, because in any war, countries will seek allies to help them win. Unless I'm incredibly mistaken, the US is fond of Israel, and would probably back them up. Other countries would possibly take sides depending on which side would be mutually more beneficial especially because of the amount of oil in the area.

I will now go to the last question. I believe that America is already being looked down upon for various reasons such as Guantanamo Bay, the War on Terror, and other things. I believe that if America interferes in this situation, it may bring a blow that wouldn't be good. Also, I don't believe that America would even have the money to get into this. The defecit is at an all time high, unless I'm not up to date on that, and this defecit will fall onto the generations to come, aka, the people like me and people with the ages near me. I believe that if this defecit continues, another depression may set in, and we'll all be in the breadlines. Thank you for taking your time to read this post, and please feel free to comment on what I hae posted. I would like some feedback. Thank you.
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#7 User is offline   sentinel28a 

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Posted 18 July 2006 - 11:49 PM

Kasemei, on the surface your solution makes sense. Release the prisoners, and Hamas/Hezbollah is happy. The problem is, you assume that you're dealing with rational people who understand the give and take of international diplomacy.

Hamas and Hezbollah choose not to understand it, unless they are being pressed to the wall--in which case, they start suddenly screaming for mercy. It's like a bully who beats up on some other kid. When the kid finally gets tired of it and hammers the bully into the ground, the bully starts screaming for teacher. Releasing the prisoners would be like giving the same bully your lunch money. He's going to want it tomorrow and as long as he gets away with it. Moreover, releasing those prisoners means putting known terrorists back into circulation. It's very similar to the problem we have with Guantanamo Bay (though I support trials for Gitmo prisoners--if they're guilty, put 'em away; if they're innocent, let them go home).

The problem with Hamas and Hezbollah is that they are not interested in anything but Israel's destruction and the death of all its inhabitants. I didn't make that up--they say it themselves every chance they get. Look it up--it's just sad. When you're dealing with people like that, there tends to be only one, violent solution until they give up or they die.

I don't think it will escalate unless Syria attacks Israel directly or Iran starts chucking missiles. I don't think the Syrians are quite that insane; I'm not sure about Iran. If they limit their involvement to rhetoric, this will die down in a few weeks. Egypt, Jordan, and amazingly enough, Saudi Arabia have all blamed Hezbollah and Hamas for this situation, which in itself is a major step forward for peace.

As for North Korea, yeah--they're scary. Kim has nothing to lose and nothing to gain, and he's basically insane. They've pushed Japan into rearming (China wasn't helping matters either in that regard). The ideal solution there would be for China to step in and remove Kim (barring a popular democratic revolution), as he's increasingly as much of a threat to China as he is to everyone else. I'm not sure China would let a North Korean-Japanese war draw them in unless a) they could profit from it, which is doubtful or B) the Japanese started talking about reoccupying Korea again, which is probably impossible. The Chinese are understandably hypersensitive when it comes to Japan, but I think the danger of a war there probably is centered more towards Taiwan than Korea.

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#8 User is offline   Isildur 

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Posted 19 July 2006 - 06:06 AM

sentinel28a said:

As for North Korea, yeah--they're scary.  Kim has nothing to lose and nothing to gain, and he's basically insane.  They've pushed Japan into rearming (China wasn't helping matters either in that regard).  The ideal solution there would be for China to step in and remove Kim (barring a popular democratic revolution), as he's increasingly as much of a threat to China as he is to everyone else.  I'm not sure China would let a North Korean-Japanese war draw them in unless a) they could profit from it, which is doubtful or B) the Japanese started talking about reoccupying Korea again, which is probably impossible.  The Chinese are understandably hypersensitive when it comes to Japan, but I think the danger of a war there probably is centered more towards Taiwan than Korea.

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Definitely correct on the North Korea point.

Right now, Kim has cornered himself. Sanctions might knock him from power by driving the people over the edge, possibly precipating a civil war. But pressing ahead with nuclear arms also doesn't help him because nobody else on the planet thinks he should have them, and Washington hasn't entirely ruled out hitting him first just to make sure he doesn't get them.

Regarding Japan: in terms of defense abilities, Japan is in the same boat as Israel, but a few steps backwards. They have the economy and the expertise for a first rate military but their ready reserves are quite small, and they already have a dwindling 'service age' population. But it's a slippery slope situation with them and rearming, and eventually they would fight China. Maybe not in a decade, maybe not several... but they would. They're like the English and the Irish.

Regarding Iran...

It doesn't help that India and Pakistan have tested nuclear arms. Until they openly demonstrated that ability, only the big 5 and Israel had that ability, and ALL of them had a vested interest in not using them because everyone had something pointed at everyone else. Iran is a wealthy nation and from some perspectives it is 'fair' in a sense that they should be able to exploit nuclear power, but every nation that does so is expected to submit to international oversight to insure that civilian nuclear use does not become military use. I don't think Iran has the stones to go to war over it, because unlike North Korea they're in a pretty good situation right now. Instead, I think they're going to try to leverage their role as an energy producing nation to their benefit, which might encourage other oil producers to do the same.

If all the Opec nations embargoed to demand nuclear arms rights, the result would be chaos. Everyone would go after them, but it'd be a rush to win because nobody who stands to lose in that situation has enough oil in their own countries to hold out more then a year or so, and the economic consequences would be catastrophic.


Israel... Israel is standing on principles. Releasing prisioners would only reward the militants for their actions, which is contrary to why Israel is holding people in the first place. Israel's prisoners should be released as a reward for cooperation with the peace process, rather then at the demands of militant groups.

#9 User is offline   GiveUpTheGhost 

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Posted 19 July 2006 - 07:50 AM

Isildur said:

Israel... Israel is standing on principles.  Releasing prisioners would only reward the militants for their actions, which is contrary to why Israel is holding people in the first place.  Israel's prisoners should be released as a reward for cooperation with the peace process, rather then at the demands of militant groups.


Since this is Israel we are talking about...... I expect to see executions instead of releases. You all seem to forget that Israel is Possibly the most ruthless nation in the world.
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Posted 19 July 2006 - 09:21 AM

Blowing each other to kingdom come is not always the best solution in getting what you want. But on the same boat I believe that a country has a right to defend itself from threats, such as Isreal against Lebannon's Hezbollah. But for what price? The price is that this terror organization has kidnapped two of Isreal's soldiers and has no intention of releasing them. They would prefer to fight to the death until Isreal is wiped off the map. Also remember that Palestine's Hamas movement, another terror organization, has kidnapped an Israeli soldier and killed several during a surprise raid. They also want Isreal wiped off the map. As I watch the news and read the papers I think to myself that a resolution will hopefully come soon. I don't think it will come at any time, but as more innocent people are killed because of someone's cause, something's gotta give.
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Posted 19 July 2006 - 01:31 PM

I do understand that, but unfortunatly people refuse to see eye to eye in the middle east. *sigh* oh ya, I'm gunna make a guantanamo bay thread in chit chat, I hope some of you will come and discuss there as well.
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#12 User is offline   sentinel28a 

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Posted 22 July 2006 - 08:20 AM

GiveUpTheGhost said:

Since this is Israel we are talking about...... I expect to see executions instead of releases. You all seem to forget that Israel is Possibly the most ruthless nation in the world.


I disagree. The first nation in the world to grant citizenship, voting rights, and the right to hold property to Palestinians was Israel...in Israel itself, not the Territories.

As one Israeli soldier told me, "We could solve the Palestinian problem tomorrow by simply razing every Palestinian town and driving them into the Jordan River or Egypt. We won't, because we're not like them."

It's sad, because the Israelis and the Palestinians actually have a lot in common. The latter have been so raised in a culture of hatred that they can't and won't realize that. If Arafat had accepted the Barak deal back in '98 and hadn't started an intifada, Palestine might be as wealthy and prosperous as the Gulf Kingdoms by now.

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Posted 23 July 2006 - 10:02 PM

I'll give everyone the quick rundown:
A) Militants in Gaza kidnap a soldier to ransom for prisoners held by Israel. Several people are killed in this attack.
B) Israel responds by bombing and shelling key targets in the West Bank
C) Militant rocket attacks on Israeli targets.
D) 2 more IDF soldiers are kidnapped by militants from Lebannon in copycat strike killing nearly a dozen soldiers and civilians in the process.
E) More rocket attacks killing several dozen people, Israel deploys Patriot anti-missile batteries.
F) Israel reponds by a campaign of bombing and shelling against Lebannon, destroying infrastructure and military targets.

G) Today: More of the same

Over the last week, more then a hundred civilians have died on both sides, and already millions, approaching billions of dollars of damage has been inflicted by Israeli artillery and aircraft.

So the questions:


Is Israel's response appropriate to the situation?

Yes and no. Hamas (a known terrorist organization) attacked Israel by kidnapping and killing Israel's citizens. A negotiation would be impossible, since Hamas's intent is to eliminate every square inch of Israel. However, Israel should have targeted key areas in the Gaza Strip instead. Since Hamas militants attacked from the Gaza Strip, it would logical sense for Israel to attack in that same area.

Is this situation likely to draw the world into a larger regional conflict?

Possibly. Hezbollah receives funding from both Syria and Iran; therefore, Israel could end up fighting against Syria and Iran (especially since Iran's president has said many anti-Israel statements (see here). In addition, if the U.S. starts a war with Iran (Since Iran is in the "Axis of Evil" (especially with its claims of nuclear weapons)), then it will probably get entangled in the Israel-Hezbollah conflict.

Should America be involved in this conflict (beyond our duties as a member of the UN)?

No. This is strictly a regional issue. The U.S. was not attacked by either of the opponents (Israel and Hezbollah) and they don't pose an immediate threat to the U.S. Therefore, other than evacuating Americans from Lebanon (and being involved in U.N. actions), the U.S. should not be involved in the conflict. In addition, the U.S. should not give any non-humanitarian* foreign aid to any country in the Middle East. That way, it will save taxpayers money and lessen the feeling among Arab countries that the U.S. is supporting Israel more than them, therefore further isolating us from the conflict.

*Humanitarian aid would be given mainly for disaster relief in severe, deadly natural disasters (e.g. earthquakes, tsunamis)

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#14 User is offline   sentinel28a 

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Posted 23 July 2006 - 11:34 PM

I have to agree with JNOtaku on foreign aid. We give quite a bit of it to both Egypt and Israel, and I have to wonder if either really need it. Egypt certainly doesn't, since they don't have the world's best humanitarian record. If you have to bribe somebody to be your friend, he's not a friend. Israel has a superb economy for the most part, so why they need foreign aid I'm not sure. (When it comes to arms sales, we buy as much from them as they from us, so it's a two-way street there.)

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#15 User is offline   Isildur 

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Posted 24 July 2006 - 05:59 AM

The West Bank - Gaza confusion was my fault. When I wrote the first post, I was reading from two news reports and got some points confused. The fighting is in Gaza. My bad.

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Posted 24 July 2006 - 07:56 AM

sentinel28a said:

I disagree.  The first nation in the world to grant citizenship, voting rights, and the right to hold property to Palestinians was Israel...in Israel itself, not the Territories.  

As one Israeli soldier told me, "We could solve the Palestinian problem tomorrow by simply razing every Palestinian town and driving them into the Jordan River or Egypt.  We won't, because we're not like them."

It's sad, because the Israelis and the Palestinians actually have a lot in common.  The latter have been so raised in a culture of hatred that they can't and won't realize that.  If Arafat had accepted the Barak deal back in '98 and hadn't started an intifada, Palestine might be as wealthy and prosperous as the Gulf Kingdoms by now.  

Ben Da Mad Irishman


Just because you make laws and give privlages does not change the fact that you are not afraid to kill. If an organization tries to put israel under it's thumb it gets bitten off much faster than another nation under the same problem.
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Posted 24 July 2006 - 09:01 AM

As a sort of forward, I've been a long-time advocate of the U.S. getting it's nose out of the Middle East's business. I think we went into Iraq for all the wrong reasons, and I think the American taxpayers are paying for it, and will continue to do so, for far too much time to come.

Also, I am a firm believer that the U.N. can only be so effective while it hands out "get out of jail free" cards to it's seemingly more important members (*coughcoughUnitedStatescough*). If the foundation is crumbling, how long can the structure be expected to last?

So, the more I read about this world-going-to-hell debacle, the more I think the U.S. will continue to paint a giant target on its citizens unless it handles the Israel-Lebanon fiasco the way it is: removing U.S. citizens and performing necessary U.N. duties.

By the way, I think this thread is quite fascinating. It has helped me grasp a better understanding of the Israel-Lebanon conflict. Thanks Isildur and all other posters!
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#18 User is offline   sentinel28a 

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Posted 26 July 2006 - 01:54 AM

The UN will continue to be a mockery of what it's supposed to be as long as it gives "get out of jail free" cards to countries with horrid human rights records. That would be most of those nations sitting on the Human Rights Council, by the way--such paradises as Cuba, Zimbabwe, and Libya. Let's not forget the abysmal record of UN peacekeepers in the Congo and Bosnia, the fact that it's taken seven years for the UN to get around to addressing what to do with Kosovo, and it's butt-deep involvement in the Oil For Food scandal in Saddam's Iraq.

I'm not in favor of disbanding the thing, because the UN has had a few notable successes (UNICEF has been generally decent, as has WHO), and I think the Security Council should expand and have votes decided by two-thirds majority rather than have anything axed by a single veto. However, the people who are running the UN now are a sad bunch of bureaucrats who don't know what the hell they're doing. I'm not a big fan of Bill Clinton, but I would much rather have him in there as Secretary General than Kofi Annan, who seems to have never met a crisis he couldn't find a way to do nothing about.

Anyway, just my opinion.

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#19 User is offline   SyaoranFan85 

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Posted 26 July 2006 - 07:55 AM

sentinel28a said:

I'm not a big fan of Bill Clinton, but I would much rather have him in there as Secretary General than Kofi Annan, who seems to have never met a crisis he couldn't find a way to do nothing about.


Wow... :D

I can't say I disagree with you at all.
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