Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Middle East Crazy, Redux

Writer Michael Totten spent six months living and working in Lebanon recently. When the fighting broke out between Israel and Lebanon, his was the first blog I turned to. He's been on a freelance job recently but briefly returned to give his input on the situation:

The Lebanese government should have asked for more help from the international community. The Lebanese government should have been far less reactionary in its attitude toward the Israelis. They made more mistakes than just two, but I'd say these are the principal ones.

What should the Israelis have done instead? They should have treated Hezbollahland as a country, which it basically is, and attacked it. They should have treated Lebanon as a separate country, which it basically is, and left it alone. Mainstream Lebanese have no problem when Israel hammers Hezbollah in its little enclave. Somebody has to do it, and it cannot be them. If you want to embolden Lebanese to work with Israelis against Hezbollah, or at least move in to Hezbollah's bombed out positions, don't attack all of Lebanon.

Another rational thought comes from an editorial in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz (H/T True Ancestor):

The objective of the campaign in Lebanon is to distance Hezbollah so that it will not pose a threat to Israel. The Israel Defense Forces, with very broad public support, are acting to crush that organization's offensive capability and to weaken it so that the Lebanese government can once and for all deploy its army in the south of the country. This objective will eventually be achieved by an agreement with Lebanon brokered by international bodies.

It is not too early to begin holding contacts of this kind even if there is no intention at this stage of suspending hostilities, and there is therefore no reason to reject totally the Lebanese prime minister's proposal for a cease-fire nor for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to refuse to meet with the UN delegation to begin discussions on ways to solve the crisis.

What I like about the foregoing is that there's no call for "restraint," that wimpy, let's-join-hands-and-sing "Kumbaya" bromide that no country in the Middle East is going to follow. Would you? If I were an Israeli I'd probably be going all Menachem Begin right now, which is another reason I consider myself fortunate to be an American.

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