Friday, September 01, 2006

Why Aid to Lebanon?

Lebanon has 300 tons of gold in reserve. At $20 million a ton, that's about $6 billion. Why does Lebanon need more cash from international donors? And what portion of it is intended as "blood money" for the families, both Lebanese and Israeli, whose relatives were unjustly slain through Hezbollah's viciousness?

The pressing needs for Lebanon are material aid and the resumption of economic activity, correct? That can best be done by freeing up Lebanon's ports from the Israeli blockade, and probably the quickest way to do that is to release the prisoners unconditionally, as UNSC 1701 requires. True, UNSC 1701 doesn't require Israel to lift its blockade, but returning the prisoners will probably result in international pressure for Israel to do so.

Remember, in every war that Israel fought with Syria, Jordan, and Egypt, prisoners were returned per agreement afterwards. Only Lebanon has a history of reneging on such agreements. Siniora claims that Lebanon "will be the last country" to sign a peace treaty with Israel. I call that optimistic; if Lebanon maintains is present course, there will never be a peace treaty at all, perhaps not even a Lebanon to sign a peace treaty with.

Enjoy your $2 billion in "aid". Whether the money can actually deliver aid to suffering Lebanese I don't know. What the money can deliver to politicians who will control the funds everybody knows.

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