Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Updates

Well, things haven't really changed. My coworkers in Lebanon have been successfully evacuated as of yesterday. Still waiting on news of the US intern in Egypt who decided to spend a couple of days visiting Beirut while on his summer break. Found his blog here, so he can give you an update of his situation.

I also came across this blog. Interesting stuff. Kind of a view into the mindset of the Lebanese people's views on this matter. I know it's just a small subset, but I honestly think it's representative of the popular mood going on in Lebanon right now. It's funny, but the camps have been split into two very distinct views on this. You have people on the one side who know literally nothing about the whole situation other than some people from Lebanon snuck across the border and captured an Israeli soldier, and you have people who recognize that it's a militant subgroup that in no way represents the majority of Lebanese popular opinion.

I actually had a friend, someone who's generally pretty smart, say to me that "it's their own damn fault. That's what happens when you're a terrorist state." It's funny, everyone's suddenly an expert based on what they see on Fox News.

Fact of the matter is: I have no problem with Israel going after Hezballah. I have no problem with them fighting Hezballah, and I have no problem with them trying to find their missing soldiers. What I do have a problem with, a big problem, is the concept of collective punishment. This morning Israel attacked and killed 11 Lebanese army personnel in their barracks. They've destroyed the airport and are almost exclusively going after the infrastructure. The majority pay for the crimes of the few. How many members of Hezballah have been killed? How many civilians? To hold the Lebanese government responsible is a joke and to hold the Lebanese people responsible will do nothing more than exacerbate the situation in the future.

You know, it's sad, but I remember when the Cedar revolution was taking place, on of Syria's defenses for remaining in Lebanon was that if they left then Israel would immediately come back. Or, that the civil war would start back up.

Most Lebanese saw this for what it was; bullshit. We called Syria's bluff and started up again.

So, for the next 15 months Syria did what it could to attack Lebanese political and opposition figures in the hopes of rekindling those old conflicts. They went after Tuani, they went after countless others in the hopes of starting the fighting anew. When that didn't work, when they saw that the Lebanese people had a deep commitment to prevent new bloodshed, they instructed their proxy army to invite Israel back into Lebanon.

There can be no doubt what Israel's reaction was going to have been, in fact, it was what they counted on. What they needed. Inexperienced national leaders with no military background do not have the capability, nor the political will, to stand up to their militaries and say "do x and y, but not z".

Syria is now proved right in the minds of the Islamist supporters who believed that the Syria - Hezballah alliance was what was keeping Israel out. What "defeated" Israel in 2000.

4 Comments:

At 9:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the minutemen, pissed off over the border crossings of Mexicans into the U.S., suddenly started launching rockets into Mexico what would be the reaction of the Mexican government. Well, if the US army or police forces stopped the attacks, they would probably do nothing. If the U.S. didn't stop or hold accountable those responsible Mexico would probably consider it an act of war. While this metaphor breaks down because Mexico would be retarded to attack the U.S., it is how many people view the current situation in Israel. If you fail to keep your extremists in check, someone else will do it for you.

 
At 9:46 AM, Blogger Soze said...

A good point, but flawed. Israel is not solely trying to keep the extremists in check. Again, anything more than a cursory glance at what I wrote would show you that I have no problem with going after Hezballah. However, when you decide that the best solution to attacking those in the South is to bomb the North, the question becomes "what are you really trying to prove?". The final line of your comment, if taken in reality, would read: "If you are unable to control the extremist element in the South, we will destroy your country."

The fact of the matter remains that Israel could have done a million different things, many of which would have actually helped their situation, but the barbaric response does little to solve any underlying problem. In fact, it will only exacerbate it. The majority of Lebanese dislike Hezballah...they will now dislike Israel more.


Imagine, if you will, the Irish revolutionaries who consistantly attacked the brits during the 70's, 80's and early 90's. What was the British response? Was it measured? Did it take the form of a police action? Or did they blow the whole of Northern Ireland up? Which method works?

You're smart enough to figure out that my beating your mother for something your father did will not cause her to "control" your father. Instead, it will cause her to dislike me more.

Or, better yet, next time we're out I will respond to every smart ass comment you make by flicking your wife's ear. I figure that way, she will keep your mouth in check. Correct? Is that a fair assumption to make? That I am justified in taking out my aggression on the entire group for the actions of a few?

Another example, and a final one because I could really go on all day with these, but there have been a string of crimes committed in Washington, DC lately. Should the police response be to seek out those who committed the crime, or should they enter all of South East DC and start blowing it all up? I mean, if the neighbors were willing to excercise control over their criminal element, then it would no longer exist...correct?

 
At 10:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn, I just wrote a huge response and somehow blogger.com lost it in the internet ether. Well, I'll summarize my response in two quick points. 1)I believe in the concept of democracy and the representative government it creates. Sometimes there is a lag in the amount of time that it takes for the will of the people to be enacted (a term limit usually), but if Lebanon is a true democracy, and the vast majority of the people wanted Hezballah to leave Israel alone, they have had more than enough time to elect a leader who would make it happen (it isn't like Israel wouldn't be willing to help disarm an adversary). 2) Israel seems (if the news reports are correct) to be targeting Hezballah positions and transit infrastructure and utilities. This doesn't seem cruel and unusual for a military conflict against a dangerous adversary. If Israel leaves roads open they allow either escape or rearmament of the group they are trying to destroy. Doesn't knocking out roads limit the mobility of your opponent?

Ultimately, I agree that this isn't a good move on Israel's part, but in the grand scheme of things there isn't a perfect solution to this problem (and many experts a lot more knowledgable about the conflict have been trying to figure one out for decades). And while I don't agree with the tactic taken, it is hard to argue that Israel should just bend over and continue to take terror-inducing rocket attacks. Israel after all is a democracy and the will of the people in Israel is overwhelmingly to wipe Hezballah off the map since Lebanon won't do it.

 
At 1:44 PM, Blogger Soze said...

Interesting point concerning your belief in the concept of democracy. However, you have inadvertantly shown that your knowledge of Lebanese politics ranks up there with my knowledge of Sanskrit.

A primer on the current Lebanese government: During the 1990's up until 2005 the government was effictively controlled by Syria. You see, Syria, by force, excercised total domination of the Lebanese political scene and permitted Hezballah to remain the only militerized faction in Lebanon. Coupled with aid received from Iran, Hezballah became the defacto ruler of the South.

Now, after the assassination of Rafic Hariri last February, and the subsequent "Cedar Revolution" Syria was forced out of the country and a new government was elected during the early summer of 2005. That government, elected by a majority of the people, is the government tasked with the disarming of Hezballah. Unfortunately, your "one term limit" argument completely dissolves here. You see, that government has been in power exactly 1 year.

Furthermore, a parliamentary system, which differes from a representative democracy, requires that a "representative" government be comprised of a coalition. Hence, you can have governments that last 1 week if they are unable to develop a coalition. I don't really have the time or energy to explain the difference. You have access to the internet, google it.

As for your second point; hilarious. Which news reports are you watching? Honestly, let me know. Because each and every single one I've looked at has come to my conclusion; that the infrastructure is being targeted as a manner of collective punishment. Of the 300 Lebanese killed so far only 25 have been soldiers. Of those, 11 were Lebanese army personnell who are in no way taking part in the war. So, roughly 2 dozen of 300 could be considered Hezballah fighters. 8%. Now, any person who has gone to Lebanon can tell you precisely where Hezballah is located. It's not hard. Every single person knows it, and so do the Israeli government.

 

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