Can We Get Serious?

Posted: Aug 04, 2006 9:24 PM

Marketing experts know that you don’t sell people what they need, you sell them what they want. That’s why peace sells so well -- everybody wants it.

In the 1950s we had “Atoms for Peace.” More recently, Israel has been encouraged to hand over “land for peace.” But there’s a problem: You can’t trade for peace if one of the participants involved in the deal doesn’t want peace.

That’s the situation in the Middle East today.

Terrorist groups, including Hezbollah and Hamas and their sponsors Iran and Syria, have made it clear they want to destroy Israel. Hezbollah’s patron Iran is a country that has atoms but clearly doesn’t want peace. “Iranians today possess the nuclear know-how,” President Ahmadinejad warned recently. “If some believe they can use the language of force and threats they are badly mistaken, and if they don’t realize it now they will when their head hits a stone.”

Still, some are ready to allow their own desire for peace to cloud their judgment. Take William Cohen, former defense secretary under President Clinton and a former Republican senator from Maine. He’s now with the consulting firm The Cohen Group -- but whatever his clients are paying him for his advice is too much.

Cohen was on CNN on July 30 to dissect the situation in the Middle East. “One of the great ironies is that Iran is now in Beirut, acting as a peace broker, apparently,” he told Wolf Blitzer. “Here’s the country that is responsible for arming and supplying the munitions and the moral support for Hezbollah, now in Beirut, obviously talking about ways they can bring about a peaceful settlement, along with the French.”

What’s ironic, of course, is that anyone would put “Iran” and “peace broker” in the same sentence.

Cohen’s correct in his diagnosis that Iran is responsible for arming Hezbollah. Yet for some reason he’s allowed himself to be fooled into thinking the warmongers are actually now interested in seeking peace. If the Iranians are indeed seeking a ceasefire, it’s probably so they can help Hezbollah re-arm for new attacks. Maybe Tehran will even give the terrorists some of the atomic technology that Iran’s president brags his country has developed.

That’s not how Cohen sees it, though. He puts the blame on Washington. “By virtue of not being able to broker a peace agreement at this particular point, or even being willing to talk about a cease-fire, will put the United States, I think, at a disadvantage, when it goes to the U.N. later this week, hopefully to bring about some sort of sanctions.”

But going to the U.N. is pointless. The U.N. Security Council already demanded, in 2004, that Hezbollah disarm. And while there are U.N. troops in Lebanon, they’ve never taken steps to enforce that resolution. So there’s no reason to believe the U.N. can accomplish anything.

Cohen concluded with a false moral equivalence. “The root cause is Syria and Iran supporting the Hezbollah. And the root cause is, again, Israel, in terms of its continued expansion of settlement on the West Bank.” Cohen’s right on the first count, wrong on the second.

Israel has, in recent years, completely pulled out of Gaza and Lebanon. And it’s indicated a willingness to negotiate over the West Bank. It’s shown, again and again, that it’s willing to hand over land, if only its enemies will make peace. Israel has cut that root cause off at the root.

The real problem is that Iran and Syria are supporting terrorists, and these terrorists are heavily armed and eager to kill. The only way to stop them is to kill them or force them to disarm. The U.N. isn’t going to do that; only a powerful military can.

Simply delivering a cease-fire won’t deliver peace. Peace isn’t the absence of fighting -- it’s what exists when people would rather co-exist than fight. Hezbollah wants to fight and kill non-Muslims, and especially Americans.

Unless we want to see the terrorist group succeed, we’d better get serious about stopping it. First we have to allow Israel to finish off Hezbollah. Then we can talk about a cease-fire and maybe even build peace with people who want it.