Thursday, July 13, 2006


I have this creeping dread when I watch al-Jazeera in the lounge at work and I think I finally figured out why. I’ll offer a prognostication in a bit.

I started off being incredulous and angry, which is typical for any day spent thinking about the Middle East.

Why the hell would Hizbullah seemingly go nuts for no reason, attack across the border, and kidnap Israeli soldiers?

Why is Israel claiming to want to punish Hizbullah, but bombing outside of southern Lebanon with the strikes on the airport and the Beirut-Damascus highway?

I went on being mad until I started seeing conspiracies, which is another thing that al-Jazeera can make you do. The airport and the highway were bombed so that Hizbullah would have a hard time getting the soldiers out of Lebanon. Where would they go? Syria? Iran? Would Israel go so far as to invade Syria? Would we go so far as to put even more pressure on Iran?

So, you see Hizbullah carrying off a master stroke. World opinion is already moving towards anger at Israel for re-invading Gaza, the family who were blown up at the beach, and now re-invading southern Lebanon. The Israeli government can’t invade Syria without losing the support of the Israelis who voted for unilateral withdrawal from these sorts of situations, but if the kidnapped soldiers are taken out of Lebanon and the Israeli government can’t get them back through force, it might also give votes to the Likud who want a more hawkish response and, of course, a greater control of the government. Either way, the current Israeli government loses.

Now, if the soldiers are taken as far as Iran, we might be revealed to be overextended and unable to threaten Iran militarily if the soldiers are held for, say, as long as the last time the Iranians held hostages. That’s bad enough; the Bush team loses even more international face and we lose one more threatened stick to go along with our carrots in the nuclear negotiations.

It could be much, much worse. Suppose Hizbullah decides to truly cast the region into a chaos that they think could be better filled by them and other like-minded groups: the kidnapped soldiers are executed on Iranian state television. Israel, unilateral detachment or no, begins air strikes and declares outright war. They ask us to help and suddenly we either have to tell our ally that we’re currently occupied with occupying or we have to pull up the very reserves that we’ve already burned out for war with Iran. The sad thing is, I honestly don’t know if we could win against a nation willing to send schoolchildren running through minefields to clear the way for tanks.

Where would we be if we lost?

That’s my current crystal ball gazing. I’m hoping that either they get the soldiers back immediately or offer Hizbullah some incentives to trade them before it gets worse.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, the long and short of it is that we're pretty much fucked.

Though I tend not to believe conspiracy theories, I am prone towards the dark sort of thinking that imagines them. The general sense I get (and I heard something similar on Diane Rehm on friday), is that somewhere, someone has given the go ahead to just unleash havoc on the world.

It's interesting to me that no one has claimed the India bombings yet. If someone were trying to make a point or send out a political message, you'd think they'd claim it so people would know what the attackers are unhappy with. The speculation is that it's Kashmir sepratists, but that is only speculation.

However, if you look at all of it from a broader perspective, no one claiming the attack could set the blame, by default, onto Pakistan, breaking down their tentative truce with India (who, incidentally, just got the go ahead to make more nukes). It's not unreasonable to think that this was a deliberate move to push Pakistan into a corner, forcing them to rely on Iran, Lebenon, etc for support.

A little tit for tat and you've got a pretty strong coalition at work.


The worst thing, looking at the entire situation with the cool lens of objectivity, is that the world would probably be a lot safer a place if there just wasn't an Israel anymore. I'd never suggest the removal of a people or culture from the planet, but, it would make things a bit smoother for everyone else.

Unfortunately, some situations just can't work. Some things just aren't possible. Just a question in general, and I'm certain that you're far more knowledgable on this subject than I am, at what point should the world admit that the experiment that was Israel just, well, failed?

Reality is brtual and often ugly and no matter how good intentioned, certain things just can't work.

-God Emperor Robot, Joe

7:23 PM  
Anonymous qkslvrwolf said...

This question I can answer: "Why is Israel claiming to want to punish Hizbullah, but bombing outside of southern Lebanon with the strikes on the airport and the Beirut-Damascus highway?"

They're doing it because when the lebanese elected Hizbullah, they effectively legitimized the organization as the voice of the lebanese people. They added to this legitimization by not cracking down on the hizbullah stationed in the hills in south lebanon.

To me, that makes this a legitimate war on Israel's part. They were attacked by an organization represented in and therefore representing the lebanese government. They responded against that government and that people.

What I'm afraid of is that you're right about Syria/Iran trying to get involved and make it look like someone else's fault.

But here's the worst part. Of Iran decides to play, and Israel asks for our help, we won't say no. We don't need to. We won't be invading them. We'll be destroying them. All we need to do with Iran is send a constant parade of B2 bombers streaming over the top of their country all night for as long as it takes for them to back down. One B2 can carry just short of a hundred 500 pound guided bombs. That means every B2 that we fly over the country can knock out nearly a hundred bridges, power stations, radio towers, industrial complexes. That won't last very long before they can't take any more. See, with Iraq, we had to at least pretend to try and rebuild them, because we wanted with the oil. In Iran, we'd be "bringing and aggressor to their knees". They're be no need for ground troops, with the possible exception of some special forces.

What really scares me is the way that China/Russia will react if it goes that far. I think that's where the real threat lies.

That said, even if they sit back and don't decide to get involved, the involvement of Syria and Iran would be very, very bad for a couple of reasons: It would vastly increase the number of people that are going to get killed, and the blood of those people would be on the hands of Americans. Which is the last thing we need.

I personally feel that the root cause of that blood lies with the palestinians and the lebanese, and the Iranians if they encouraged this. But even so, if we come to the party, we will lose what little innocense we have left in our national identity. We will have passed once and for all from the glorious dream that we once were to just another super-power. Another Rome. Another Britain. You could say we already have. But that would certainly seal our fate.

4:51 PM  

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