Under a broiling hot midday sun on the south Lebanese-Israeli border this summer, an extraordinary and very angry meeting took place between two major generals: the 60-year-old Irish UN force commander in Lebanon and the 54-year-old deputy chief of staff of the Israeli army. Listening to them was the ambitious, pro-Israeli – but very inexperienced – US ambassador to the United Nations. The row between the two men appears to have been pre-planned by the Israelis to impress the highly impressionable Nikki Haley. It worked.
Haley had been helicoptered up to the border from Jerusalem on 8 June by Israeli General Aviv Kochavi for a tour regularly laid on for visiting – and gullible – US officials: a walk to the Lebanese frontier wire with many a fearful warning from the Israelis about Hezbollah “terrorists”, “secret” Hezbollah missile bunkers in UN-controlled territory and the failure of UN troops to “disarm” the “terrorists” in Lebanon. This is a familiar horror story, trotted out for American and other Western diplomats and politicians over more than 30 years.