Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Chaos lies of the road leading to the unknown

Amazing, Hezbollah had not expected Israel to react so heavy-handedly to their illegal crossing of the Israeli border and seizure of two IDF personnel. My response to that is simple. Please tell me that the political arm of Hezbollah is not that stupid! The fighting rages on in southern Lebanon with no apparent end in sight. I am not sure what they expected, but as veterans in this game, Hezbollah should have had more clarity and expected that just about anything can happen when you are dealing with a new Israeli leader (particularly one that never served in the military).

According to the article Mahmoud Komati stated Hezbollah’s reaction by saying; “’the truth is — let me say this clearly — we didn't even expect (this) response ... that (Israel) would exploit this operation for this big war against us,’ said Komati. He said Hezbollah had expected ‘the usual, limited response’ from Israel.” This is the first indication from Hezbollah had, perhaps, misjudged the situation. Do you think??? There lack of understanding makes it clear the Hezbollah is not some idealistic movement but a bunch of power hungry amateurs.

All that aside, I believe that the Israeli response is heavy-handed and their comparisons between this event and September 11th are insulting. There is no parallel between September 11th and the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers. The only similarity is that we both were attacked, but to ignore that there are shades of gray make it all the more clear that there will be no peace in this region as long as even the “moderates” lack the ability to determine degrees of severity. Commonsense is nonexistent in the Middle East, on all sides. The central premise of trying to carve up a safety zone in southern Lebanon would be a logical approach if these attacks from Hezbollah were a chronically recurring problem, but they are not. Peace has never been made through war, especially when warring against ignorant ideologues.

The smarter approach for Israel would have been to broker a ceasefire (if only temporary) with conditions to protect their sovereignty. Then the Israeli government could make goodwill gestures to the Lebanese people (of all faiths) in an effort to bolster the weak and pitiful democratically elected government. The U.S. should get their filthy, ugly noses out of this affair lest we provoke a fight that we are ill-equipped for.

The threat of a broader fight in the Middle East is very real and the United States needs to be very careful to not get caught in the middle of it. To be certain, aggression from extra-national forces like Hezbollah must never be tolerated and the goals of Israel are certainly supportable, in principle. Unfortunately, in practice it is not quite so easy to separate Hezbollah from the Lebanese people, who do not deserve such attacks. The effort to eliminate Hezbollah must be an internal struggle in Lebanon and the way to achieve that is through international pressure. That international pressure could have been leveraged in the aftermath of the attack and a limited response. Leverage could even have been found within the Arab world where nations like Egypt and Saudi Arabia want to maintain good economic relations with the United States (despite their rhetoric) and simultaneously fear the growing Iranian influence in the Islamic world.

Now that moment is passed and as always we watch a chance disappear like a match flame in a strong wind. What we are left with, unsurprisingly, is uncertainty.