TELOSscope: The Telos Press Blog

Diplomacy and Fraud: From North Korea to Lebanon

At this point, it seems that the grand diplomacy around North Korea has led to another illusion of solution. Diplomacy means finding language that simulates action and therefore prevents it. What is to be done? Nothing. North Korea faces sanctions, which, apparently, may not be enforced; a warning with no consequences. Of course, the North Koreans and their illustrious leader may test again and (possibly) provoke a genuine reaction, but for now they face just the Potemkin village of UN anger.

Which brings us back to Lebanon, and the success of diplomacy there. The much touted European military force, it is now clear, has no intention of disarming Hezbollah. Its value is solely semiotic, a display of a sign, showing the flag. Again, a pretense of action is the outcome of diplomacy. The irrational is the real. In fact, however, matters are worse. The Syrians are shipping arms into Lebanon (despite the UN resolution—are we not shocked?) so UNIFIL is actually just guarding the rearmament process. To the extent that Israel intervenes to block that rearmament, it may find itself at odds with . . . France, as Ha’aretz reports:

Commanders of the French contingent of the United Nations force in Lebanon have warned that they might have to open fire if Israel Air Force warplanes continue their overflights in Lebanon, Defense Minister Amir Peretz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday.

Peretz said that nevertheless, Israel would continue to patrol the skies over Lebanon as long as United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 remained unfulfilled, adding that such operations were critical for the country’s security, especially as the abducted IDF soldiers remain in Hezbollah custody and the transfer of arms continue.

Over the past few days, Peretz said, Israel had gathered clear evidence that Syria was transferring arms and ammunition to Lebanon, meaning that the embargo imposed by UN Resolution 1701 was not being completely enforced.

That’s the point of comparison between North Korea and Lebanon: principled United Nations stances that have little to do with the reality on the ground. The rational world-view of multilateralism thrives only in the glass bubble of its own hallucinations. Outside that bubble lurk facts:

Israel plans to inform the joint committee of representatives of UNIFIL, the Israel Defense Forces and the Lebanese Army that unless the arms transfers are stopped, Israel will be forced to take independent action, Peretz said.

Take action? That is of course outrageous.

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