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Lileks: Clarity just confuses the issues for diplomats
The Austin American-Statesman ^ | August 19, 2006 | James Lileks

Posted on 08/19/2006 3:17:51 PM PDT by neverdem


Recent times make perfect sense, if you're walking on your hands. Otherwise, it's all upside down.

Last week was a perfect example. The Brits foiled a terror plot to blow up airplanes, and since it reminded us there are still suicidal maniacs around, it felt like bad news. Then the West struck a deal with Hezbollah and its paymasters, and it was regarded as a positive development. Peace in our time, and all that.

It's a wonder they didn't pass out tiny collectible umbrellas from the Franklin Mint "Neville Chamberlain Collection" to solemnize the event.

The cease-fire resolution wasn't surprising; the United Nations may have created Israel, but it's been apologizing ever since. Nevertheless, let no one assert the document lacks teeth. As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice put it: "This resolution has an arms embargo within it, and a responsibility of the Lebanese government to make sure that illegal arms are not coming into their country."

Yes, that'll work. You can well imagine the frosty reception that awaits an Iranian general who tells the mullahs he's found a way to slip new rockets into Lebanon: "We will smuggle in the parts under the guise of providing reconstruction machinery; if satellites detect the tell-tale profile of the rockets, we will simply point to the damage suffered by the Lebanese Space Agency. Then we tattoo assembly instructions on small children and send them via diplomatic pouch. When the parts are in place — why are you looking at me that way?"

The mullahs look at one another, and one finally speaks. "General, perhaps you were unaware of this fact, but all parties have agreed to disarm Hezbollah. Assurances were made to Ms. Rice. Do you understand? Now rip up your mad schemes, return to base, and think no more of perfidious things."

Some insist that misbehavior from Hezbollah will hurt its credibility. Let the rockets falls, and the diplomats would feel betrayed.

The end result? Clarity. After innumerable breaches of trust and violations of previous U.N. resolutions as well as the complete disregard for a solemn "pinky swear, cross my heart" issued by Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, that would be the moment when the scales fall. After which some helpful aide will note, "Sir, your scales fell," and the diplomat will reattach them. To admit that Hezbollah, Syria and Iran are not acting in good faith, after all, implies that the United Nations might have to draft additional resolutions. That's fine; they've stocked up on toner. But people may begin to suspect that U.N. resolutions don't have the power to melt gun barrels and plant blooms of love in the hearts of all. Then what?

Clarity! We will know what we're up against. But people with memories of elephantine persistence may recall a certain rhetorical formulation all the rage five years ago: You're either with us, or on the side of the terrorists.

Those were days of clarity and resolve, two things that horrify the international community. Diplomats live in a fog of smiles and sheathed knives, and the idea that one could behold the world in terms of Naughty and Nice threatened to upset the order that had kept the peace for 60 years. By "peace," we mean no fistfights in the U.N. dining room. Outside of that, who cares?

But clarity is not enough without action; one can say that bank robbing is wrong, but it helps also to install alarms, stock up on exploding dye packs, hire cops and build prisons. It doesn't help that the penalty for being on the side of the terrorists appears as dire as for an overdue movie rental.

We've bought some time, but it will be time when the bad guys gather strength and the heirs of the Enlightenment spend their hours in the accustomed pastime: tearing themselves apart, pausing only to send honey to the enemies with the threat of nettles at a later date.

You can lose many things in the course of final victory. Focus isn't one of them.

TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government; Israel; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: District of Columbia; United Kingdom; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: 2006israelwar; globaljihad; hezbollah; jameslileks; un

1 posted on 08/19/2006 3:17:52 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: NCSteve
... that would be the moment when the scales fall. After which some helpful aide will note, "Sir, your scales fell," and the diplomat will reattach them.

A Steyn line.

2 posted on 08/19/2006 3:22:10 PM PDT by Tax-chick (I've always wanted to be 40 ... and it's as good as I anticipated!)
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To: Tolik

For your consideration.

3 posted on 08/19/2006 3:31:17 PM PDT by NonValueAdded (Tom Gallagher - the anti-Crist [FL Governor, 2006 primary])
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To: neverdem; Lando Lincoln; quidnunc; .cnI redruM; Valin; King Prout; SJackson; dennisw; ...

Nailed It!
Moral Clarity BUMP !

This ping list is not author-specific for articles I'd like to share. Some for the perfect moral clarity, some for provocative thoughts; or simply interesting articles I'd hate to miss myself. (I don't have to agree with the author all 100% to feel the need to share an article.) I will try not to abuse the ping list and not to annoy you too much, but on some days there is more of the good stuff that is worthy of attention. You can see the list of articles I pinged to lately  on  my page.
You are welcome in or out, just freepmail me (and note which PING list you are talking about). Besides this one, I keep 2 separate PING lists for my favorite authors Victor Davis Hanson and Orson Scott Card.  

4 posted on 08/19/2006 7:22:24 PM PDT by Tolik
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To: neverdem; Egon
James Lileks is tremendously witty, and I used to read The Bleat regularly, but I just recently discovered his ScreedBlog, which is his comentary on the world situation.
5 posted on 08/19/2006 9:38:36 PM PDT by RhoTheta (Twas brillig, and the toves were not just slithy, they were stinking drunk.)
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To: Tolik; potlatch; ntnychik; Smartass; Boazo; Alamo-Girl; PhilDragoo; The Spirit Of Allegiance; ...

smart bump

6 posted on 08/20/2006 11:16:54 AM PDT by bitt ("And an angel still rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm.")
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To: bitt; potlatch; ntnychik; PhilDragoo; OXENinFLA; La Enchiladita; JustPiper; kstewskis; Cindy; ...

Quick fast solution...


7 posted on 08/20/2006 11:46:30 AM PDT by Smartass ("In God We Trust" - "An informed and knowledgeably citizen is the best defense against tyranny")
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To: Smartass

Good one!

8 posted on 08/20/2006 11:50:15 AM PDT by hedgetrimmer
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To: bitt

9 posted on 08/20/2006 12:27:08 PM PDT by george76 (Ward Churchill : Fake Indian, Fake Scholarship, and Fake Art)
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To: Smartass

If only...

10 posted on 08/20/2006 3:36:06 PM PDT by Czar ( StillFedUptotheTeeth@Washington)
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