From the Middle East to Pyongyang
The G-8 has been meeting these past few days, but world events have completely overtaken the significance of that gathering. For PM Stephen Harper, it is his first appearance among some of the most powerful leaders on the planet. Harper, among the newest members of this select group, has played a very low-key role. When the past week is reviewed in future, both Harper’s performance and the whole G-8 affair may well be forgotten.
Nearly seven days ago Israel responded to the cross-border kidnapping of two its soldiers by holding Hezbollah to account. In the time that’s passed, violence has escalated, lives have been lost, and infrastructure in parts of Lebanon has been razed. Now with talk of a ceasefire, there may be, at least temporarily, a stepping back from the brink.
Much of the international community has described Hezbollah’s actions as amounting to terrorism, and Israel’s right to protect itself has been recognized. And Israel has made clear its actions are aimed not against either Lebanon or its government, but squarely against Hezbollah. Stephen Harper, speaking from the G-8, noted that Israeli actions have amounted to “a measured response.”
Over the past several days governments have acted to begin withdrawing their citizens from what some observers claim is already a war zone. Canada is no exception, now working on securing ships to ferry Canadian nationals to safety. On 16 July 2006 media reported 7 Canadians were killed in Lebanon, and at least six others seriously wounded.
Some analysts speculate that what may now be shaping up in the Middle East is only a very small part of a much larger affair. Robin Wright, writing for the Washington Post
on 16 July 2006 suggests “For Israel, the goal is to eliminate Hezbollah as a security threat -- or altogether…For the United States, the broader goal is to strangle the axis of Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria and Iran, which the Bush administration believes is pooling resources to change the strategic playing field in the Middle East” [‘Strikes are Part of a Broader Strategy’ by Robin Wright. Story posted at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13884768/
And with the Middle East now taking centre-stage, North Korea seems all but forgotten. Yet it was only weeks ago that Pyongyang grabbed international headlines and stirred panic in some parts of the world. Timed to coincide with Americans’ celebrating their July 4 holiday, Pyongyang test-fired seven missiles, including one long-range missile that may have the capability of reaching North America.
Posted by Stan Markotich
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