Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Brazen Stupidity of the War in Lebanon ...

One can't help but be moved by Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's urgent and emotional plea in the Washington Post this morning:

As the world watches, Israel has besieged and ravaged our country, created a humanitarian and environmental disaster, and shattered our infrastructure and economy, putting an intolerable strain on our social and economic systems. Fuel, food and medical equipment are in short supply; homes, factories and warehouses have been destroyed; roads severed, bridges smashed and airports disabled.

The damage to infrastructure alone is running into the billions of dollars, as are the losses to owners of private property, and the long-term direct and indirect costs due to lost revenue in tourism, agriculture and industrial sectors are expected to be many more billions. Lebanon's well-known achievements in 15 years of postwar development have been wiped out in a matter of days by Israel's deadly military might.

There is, of course, little mention of Hezbollah's part in this ... which - to a certain point - is understandable given the situation on the ground. Whomever is telling Israel's Defense Forces (long a misnomer in the wake of its offensive stance) and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that the Lebanese people will somehow see the light on Hezbollah's dangerous fundamentalism after being blasted into oblivion by Israeli F-16s and Merkava tanks is definitely smoking Lebanese trees ...

Or - it's an outrageous matter of arrogance and underestimating the Lebanese response on the ground and Hezbollah's appeal. After winning so many wars, Israel must now save face - but, it's not that simple. If faced with the prospect of future oblivion, it pretty much boils down to a "kill-or-be-killed" attitude. Which is the root of the problem, especially when Iran won't back off.

Hezbollah may not have had much appeal before the outbreak of hostilities (and the creation of yet another WW III front), but it certainly does now since Lebanese civilians probably perceive them as the only line of defense. Which is funny since Hezbollah is, in turn, using civilians as human shields. Which, ultimately, doesn't bode too well for this once promising oasis of democracy in the Middle East.

Nobody wins in this disaster - Hezbollah will recruit fresh talent from angered Lebanese and Muslim carpetbaggers to fill its devastated ranks; Israel will have to pull out or risk getting bogged down, again, in Lebanon; Hezbollah, seeing an opening, will try to seize power in Lebanon, thereby creating a recipe for a new civil war; and Israel will stand by on the border as the carnage unfolds; a Lebanese civil war isn't really good for Israel because it ends up serving as a training ground for battle-hardened Islamists who will ultimately reign terror on Israel. But, it doesn't take a political scientist to understand that Israel is only concerned with the fate of Israel. If it takes launching Lebanon into a civil war to keep Hezbollah and others distracted from protracted missile launches into Israel, then so be it, says Olmert and others. Still, that says nothing of what happens to that region as it continues to spiral into the apocalypse. Nobody wins.