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July 16, 2006

No Alternative in the Middle East

At first I thought the Israeli attack on Hezbollah in Lebanon was an over reaction even given the provocation of the raid across Israel’s northern border and the kidnapping of the two soldiers.  Now it is clear that Hezbollah, which was supposed to be disarmed, has instead been vastly fortified with sophisticated new rockets capable of firing deep into Israel.  Now I think the Israelis may have waited too long to dismantle the terrorist fortress which southern Lebanon has become.

The fact that the legitimate Lebanese government is not capable of controlling or disarming Hezbollah reduced Israel’s options to either waiting for Hezbollah to become even stronger as arms from Syria and Iran continued to pour in or taking action now.  That’s not a real choice.  Israel is doing what it has to do.

Israel should not continue to characterize this as an attempt to rescue the two soldiers – as important as that is.  This would be an over reaction if that were the only provocation.  This is a necessary action to remove the growing threat from Iran’s surrogate in Lebanon.

Necessity does not reduce the consequences of the action which Israel has undertaken.  Many innocent people on both sides have died and will die as a consequence.  It is small consolation to them or their families that more would have died on both sides had Israel waited longer to act.

Nor is it clear what victory for Israel will look like.  Doesn’t matter what the Lebanese government agrees to because it is helpless to disarm Hezbollah.  The Syrians and the Iranians are happy to fight to the last Lebanese or Palestinian.  The leaders of radical Islam have more to gain from war than peace - at least as long as the war is around the borders of Israel or in Iraq.

Perhaps Israel can weaken Hezbollah enough militarily so Lebanon can reassert its sovereignty over its territory.  There must be many Lebanese who want to do that including the large community of Lebanese Christians who have been understandably silent this week. Perhaps there is a middle in the Arab and Moslem world which will refuse to suffer for the transgressions of the militants among them and will reassert itself.  Despite some attempts, hasn’t happened yet in Iraq.

It is a hopeful sign that Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other Arab countries have NOT vociferously supported Hezbollah.

It is unlikely that the UN is the answer.  It has a force patrolling the Israel-Lebanon border.  It manages to be out of the way during most hostilities.  The UN has taken no steps to enforce its mandate that Hezbollah be disarmed.

France, and to a lesser degree much of the rest of continental Europe, has much to gain and nothing to lose by condemning those who fight its battles for it. Russian President Putin has his own trouble-making agenda.  Doesn’t stop him from “over reacting” in Chechnya, though.

It is a good sign, although only tangentially related, that the UN Security Council  did manage to pass a unanimous and concrete resolution on North Korea even if it was watered down.  The resolution means that NK has to cease and desist missile tests or diss their Chinese patrons.  I don’t think China will take well to being dissed.  The world cannot tolerate rogue regimes or private armies.  That’s what North Korea is about. And that’s what tonight’s news from Lebanon and Israel is about as well.

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For everyone who might believe the circumstances that resulted in the death of four UN observers is black and white: Below are quotes pull DIRECTLY FROM the UN Press Releases, where UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) are actively [Read More]

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