WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The most recent battles in the global war on terror -- on the northern and southern borders of Israel -- have provoked politicians and pundits to make some very strange comments:
"As a sovereign nation, Israel has every right to defend itself from terrorist activities." -- President George W. Bush.
"I fully support Israel's right to defend itself." -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.
"Israel must defend itself, and it had the right to do so." -- French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy.
On their face, each of these statements appear supportive of Israeli military action in the aftermath of terrorist attacks across Israel's borders by Hamas in the south and Hezbollah in the north. Unfortunately, these expressions of "approval" miss the point -- and invite a debate that is irrelevant. Every sovereign state, by any definition, has the "inherent right of self defense." Even raising the issue concedes that there may be a question about Israel's "right to exist" -- the principal argument made by the Jewish nation's opponents ever since it came into being in May 16, 1948.
Worse, nearly all of these preambles are followed by judgments about the nature of the Israeli response to attacks across internationally recognized borders perpetrated by groups nearly universally accepted at terrorist organizations:
Bush concluded his "self defense" comments with the rather strange admonition: "Our message to Israel is to defend itself but to be careful about the consequences."
Paris, apparently chagrined that Israel would have the temerity to hold a war that competes with coverage of the Tour de France, was of two minds about the conflict. French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin insisted on an "immediate cease-fire," while Sarkozy urged, "as friends of Israel, we must advise it to maintain level-headedness and restraint."
The "cease-fire" theme was quickly adopted by Kofi Annan at the United Nations and within the European Union. Javier Solana, the globe-trotting, promise-them-anything EU foreign-policy representative, rushed to Jerusalem to have his photo taken urging that the Israelis "stop combat operations immediately to prevent a humanitarian disaster in Lebanon."
As expected, the so-called mainstream media jumped on the "bash-Israel-now" bandwagon. Photos and videotape of Lebanese killed and wounded dominate the coverage -- rather than explanations about Israel's attempts to break Hezbollah supply lines through Syria. A New York Times headline challenged: "With Israeli Use of Force, Debate Over Proportion." In the same edition, the "Newspaper of Record" included an "Interactive Feature" titled "A Question of Proportion" and invited reader input as to whether the Israeli Defense Forces had gone "too far."
Now, the Euro-elites and many in the U.S. media -- the very ones most critical of American military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq -- are urging that the United States intervene to "force" the Israelis to cease their efforts to eliminate Hamas and Hezbollah as threats. Critics of U.S. policy in Washington, New York and Paris are calling on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to commence a round of "shuttle diplomacy" to "stop the killing."
Absent from all this is any sense of reality. Here are a few perspectives on the current conflict you won't get from the so-called mainstream media:
-- Israel is fighting for survival against a regime that has sworn to wipe the Jewish state "off the map" -- the Islamic Republic of Iran. While racing to build nuclear weapons, the Iranians are supplying money, rockets, missiles, weapons, training and technology to their Hezbollah proxies.
-- Since the 1980s -- when I was dispatched to Beirut, Lebanon, and Tehran, Iran, to seek the release of American hostages held in Lebanon -- the U.S. government has known for certain that Hezbollah is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Iranian Intelligence Service -- VEVAK -- and that the organization has killed hundreds of Americans.
-- There is no way that any U.S. Secretary of State should ever sit down at a table to discuss anything with Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, or Mohammed Deif, the leader of Hamas, who was wounded in an air strike this week. Thus, "shuttle diplomacy" is worthless.
The best way we can help end the current Mid-East conflict isn't to "pressure Israel," but to help break Hezbollah -- an entity that cannot exist without direction and support from Tehran. The key to Hezbollah is Tehran -- and the key to Tehran is -- strangely enough -- Pyongyang.
Tehran was stunned by last week's UN Security Council Resolution condemning North Korea's missile launches. Rather than trying to compel Israel to cease its military action against Hezbollah, we should instead pressure our western "allies" into a similarly strong-worded, enforceable resolution aimed at Tehran. We should start by seizing all Iranian assets currently "frozen" in the United States, distributing the proceeds of their sale to the victims of Iranian terror -- and urging the Europeans to follow suit.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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