Monday, July 31, 2006
There's no need to post a history lesson here: we all know that the Middle East is a complex place with complex problems. There's plenty of grievance to go around, as well as plenty of blame. I'll simply note that Abraham had two sons, Isaac and Ishmael, and it's been trouble ever since.
But one has to wonder: right or wrong, what was Israel thinking? Border skirmishes with Hezbollah have been going on for some time now; why was it suddenly the right time for Shock and Awe? I'm sitting here listening to Fresh Air, where Christopher Dickey, Middle East editor for Newsweek, is trying to figure out what the goal was. Israel has no hope of defeating Hezbollah, in any traditional sense of the word. Hezbollah is a guerilla movement, and the conventional thinking is that if a guerilla movement is able to remain standing, that is a de facto victory. Israel can and likely will continue fighting with air power, but history shows us that an enemy is rarely defeated in this way. Iraq would be the most recent example of this, where it could be argued that our aerial bombarment did little except trash the infrastructure and inflame the insurgency.
So Israel finds itself, very quickly, in a terrible position; "staying the course" offers little chance of success, while negotiating a ceasefire will have the sheen of a Hezbollah victory.
It's quite amazing that Israel, having had a ringside seat as the US ran the ship onto the rocks in Iraq, has now charged down a similar path. Let's remember, we supported Saddam in the '80s solely to prevent the type of Shiite government that is now in charge in Baghdad. Now Lebanon, the great hope, the Cedar Revolution, is poised to meet the same fate as Hezbollah's popularity soars.
Where, oh where are the statesmen, the diplomats, the Churchills, the Adlai Stevensons? It should be obvious to any thinking person that diplomacy offers the only hope. But BushCo is not given to talk, and so the bullets fly.