Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Right Time, Wrong Place?

It's a very scary time in many parts of the world, but the focus right now is on the Middle East. The Israel-Hezbollah-Lebanon situation is getting the most attention, so much so that Iraq is being referred to in some circles as the "forgotten war". I'm not sure where that relegates the hostilities in Afghanistan and all of the other conflicts occurring now on our planet, but it's a sobering thought nonetheless.

Obviously, I take a special interest in what's going on in Israel. For my money, Israel has a right to defend itself from terrorist action and it's hard to fault them for carrying out this operation in Lebanon. If they did not do this, the populace would justifiably question how well they were being protected by their government and military. So I'm not going to say that they are wrong. But I think it's legitimate to ask whether this mission will achieve long term security from rocket attacks and other perils and, therefore, whether one can objectively justify the human cost.

This is not about moral equivalence. I think the Israelis and their leaders want to live in peace, whereas some of the other actors in that part of the world like Hamas and Hezbollah have no such interest. I think Israel is morally superior, and it is for that reason that I hold Israel to a higher standard than just saying "we're not as bad as they are."

I was speaking with my mother about the conflict the other day, and she said something that just isn't like her. When discussing how Hezbollah is really just fighting a proxy war for Iran and Syria to take the focus off Iran, my mom essentially expressed her desire to essentially wipe all of them out with nuclear weapons. Considering the despair of the situation and the seemingly endless prospects of eternal attacks on Israel from terrorists, that is a common emotional response. But even if that event did occur, would Israel actually achieve peace in the aftermath? Not likely. Even if your conscience allowed you to justify the means, you will still not have accomplished the desired end.

Ever since 9/11, we've been reminded again and again that the war on terror is unlike wars between sovereign nations, but Israel is executing the current operation as if it were at war with Lebanon. To their credit, they have tried to be measured and selective about their targets, but they are destroying civilian infrastructure that took years to build after civil war, and displacing hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom have no beef with them. I can't say I'm totally comfortable with that, especially since I'm not convinced that this is all going to work. I'm sorry if I'm mixing metaphors here, but I see it this way: throwing out the baby with the bathwater while the pipes are still leaking sewage into the tub. This might put a temporary halt to rocket attacks from Lebanon, but we've seen enough in the last few years to know that nothing and nobody in the realm of terrorism is unexpendable.

In a way, Israel and its allies are weaselling a bit here. If they believe that the Lebanese government is complicit in the strength of Hezbollah in that country, then Israel should openly declare war on Lebanon. If not, then instead of bombing Lebanese infrastructure in order to halt supplies to Hezbollah, they should attack the supply lines at their source in Syria and/or Iran, and their allies in the West should step up and help them. But Israel decided to be halfway bold by fighting the easier fight, and its allies (including Canada and the U.S.) chose to practice strength through passivity. They are acting like the arresting officer who allows the rape victim's husband a few minutes in a locked room with the cuffed assailant.

To be clear again, I do not fault Israel for taking the fight to Hezbollah. It was a necessary thing to do. But with the way in which it is being fought, I suspect that Israeli citizens will not feel much safer a year from now, and the people in Lebanon will be wondering what the point was.

2 Comments:

Anonymous mustardman said...

Welcome back Jaymeister!

I missed your blog. You are a voice of reason in an otherwise oppressive, neo-con world.

Your take on the Israel-Hezbollah crisis is interesting. I agree to a degree. Israel does have a right to self-defence. However, I can't support the bombing of innocent civilians.

Violence just breeds more violence. It will never stop unless you stop it first.

The Americans are realizing it now. After 9/11 they went out and bombed the shit out of Afghanistan and Iraq. Has that made the world safer? I think not.

Has it radicalized millions? Yes, I think so.

The bombing of innocents creates more martyrs for radical movements. Lebanese who were on the fence about Hezbollah have been pushed over into full support by Israel's actions.

You are right to ask whether this latest crisis will make Israel more secure in the future. I don't think so.

Unfortunately, I can't see these bombs bringing peace for Israel for many years.

7/26/2006 10:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Jaymeister's mother:
I never meant to imply I approved of "nuking" anybody. I meant that once again the "west" has left it to little Israel to do its dirty work, i.e. blast the hell out of Iran's nuclear weapons capability, the way it did Sadam's. Of course, all the while Israeli civilian lives are expendible, where Lebanese are not! There is more than a double standard at work here. No matter what you call it, it is still anti-semitism. I do not believe that everything Israel's government does is necessarily right, but surely self-preservation is every country's priority. I mourn the loss of all innocent life, but when you lie down with dogs you wake up with fleas. Get rid of the dogs!

7/28/2006 02:15:00 PM  

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