Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 12:48:23 PM EST
So now we hear that up to 15,000 UN troops will be heading into Lebanon. Two thousand from France, three thousand from Italy, yay us. Israel will be kept safe from a few kidnappings and rockets. Lebanon will be kept safe from Israel. And Hezbollah watch out! the wrath of the EU will be upon you.
Is this an example of the new, robust, EU foreign policy? A Europe no longer afraid of force, able to step in while its American rival is tied down in an endless war?
No, it is not. It brings home to me all that is ugly about Europe - its legacy of colonialism, racism, and exploitation. This is a continent that once enslaved the world. It today may have progressive welfare states and humane labour markets, but the old, darker instincts are still there.
What makes the deployment to Lebanon so damning is, of course, the situation in Darfur.
All along, everyone has tut-tutted about the genocide there, talking sorry but doing nothing. China buys oil from these murderers, oblivious to the human agony behind their fuel supply. The UN remains paralyzed by the threat of a Chinese or Russian veto. The African Union sends a toothless force of barely armed monitors who can hardly protect themselves, let alone the civilian population. The US sidesteps and ducks, with its own military trapped in Iraq, and dependent on the Khartoum regime for intelligence on Al Qaeda. The Arab League, of course, will never criticize or condemn one of their own, no matter how evil.
And the EU? Excuse after excuse. We can't risk war with Sudan. We don't have the military capacity. We're already busy in Congo and Côte d'Ivoire. Blah blah fucking blah.
But when Israel and the US apply suitable diplomatic pressure, troops just magically appear. They can fight a puny pseudo-state with a few rockets but they cannot take on a murderous genocidal regime. They can disarm rockets but they stand idly by as villages are destroyed, women raped, and children left to starve.
The reason is obvious of course. Israel matters. It is (or occupies) The Holy Land. Whether they love or hate Israel, Europeans, Americans, and Arabs all obsess about it. They praise or criticize its every move, obsessively follow every real or imagined threat to it, or threat it poses. They offer their diplomatic offices and, now, their military strength either on its behalf, or to guard against it, or both simultaneously.
Israel is not as evil as Khartoum. Hezbollah is not as evil as Khartoum. Indeed, offhand I cannot think of any international actor on earth who is more evil than Khartoum. Fighting them - or at the very least making at least some effort to protect their victims - should be the top priority of the international community.
And nations that pride themselves as lacking the jingoism and militarism of their transatlantic rival should be at the forefront of that effort. They are not. As secularized as they may have become, the atavistic call of religion is not entirely forgotten.
And so Europe will take out the speck in Israel's and Hezbollah's eyes, and ignore the log in Sudan's eye.