Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Arabs once again rush to waste an opportunity

The Prime Minister and Defense Minister of Lebanon are now both on record saying that their nation will resist any Israeli incursion (I couldn't find a link for the Prime Minister though his speech was shown on Fox News). Just by saying that they are doing a great disservice to their country whether or not they actually intend to follow through with their statements. I should first say that no one expects them to welcome an Israeli invasion with open arms. They certainly should say they oppose the Israeli invasion, say it is wrong, call for a U.N. cease fire, and say other such inanities for public consumption. The problem with their statements is that it locks them into the suicidal position of either challenging the Israelis directly or looking fatally weak to the Lebanese people.

The Israeli counterstrike against Hezbollah is not just a golden opportunity for Israel to destroy a major threat and Iranian/Syrian proxy, but it is also an opportunity for Lebanon to rid herself of the last foreign occupiers on her soil. It is true that Lebanon cannot deal with Hezbollah alone. The Lebanese military is capable of little more than running border checkpoints. That means for Hezbollah to be eliminated as a power in Lebanon someone else is going to have to do it for Lebanon. Syria won’t since they support Hezbollah. No international force will since dismantling Hezbollah requires a level of casualties and effort that none of the few countries capable of doing it will deem worth paying. The only country willing and able to do the job is Israel. She is doing it. It is in Lebanon’s best interest that she successfully finishes it.

The best course of action for Lebanon’s future would have been to say the absolute minimum an angry public demands while meeting with the Israelis secretly to plan for the post-Hezbollah south. Of course, we don’t know if they are meeting with the Israelis secretly. Though I would guess they are not since their statements are very strong and leave little room for backing down later. If they continue on their current path they are setting up Lebanon for a prolonged period of suffering. Until the Tehran-Damascus Axis is dealt with, Hezbollah will simply reconstitute at some point in the future. If Lebanon does not work with Israel to plan for what happens after Hezbollah is crushed, they will easily reoccupy their old positions in southern Lebanon. We will be right back where we are today only with the terror axis possibly nuclear armed. Should Hezbollah attempt any sort of WMD attack on Israel there is little doubt their response will be nuclear. Our time is running out to deal with terror axis before such nightmare scenarios are possible. So long as Hezbollah is in southern Lebanon, the Lebanese are an almost certain recipient of an Israeli retaliatory nuclear strike. It is in Lebanon’s best interest to do everything they can to preclude such a possibility, including working with the Israelis.

Aside from Hezbollah, there are other reasons for the Lebanese leadership to not behave rashly in this situation. The operation to destroy Hezbollah necessarily requires the destruction of Lebanon’s infrastructure. However, there has to be a Lebanese government after this to rebuild the country with the almost guaranteed American assistance. How will the country be rebuilt if the army, assuming it’s as suicidal as Hezbollah, is annihilated by the Israelis? The country will most assuredly fall into chaos in such an event. On the other hand, who will disburse the aid when the country is gripped by chaos because her leaders didn’t stand up to Israel as they promised? Just as Lebanon’s future requires Hezbollah to be eliminated, it also requires the current government to survive. If they were rational men they would be doing everything possible to achieve the first while not threatening the second.

There are also rather glaring problems with their statements. Why were they not as vigilant about seeing to it that Hezbollah and Iran stop infringing on Lebanon’s territory? If they had shown any interest in protecting Lebanon’s sovereignty in that case they wouldn’t be in the situation they are in today. They expect Israel to be concerned about the safety of the Lebanese people but they are not concerned about Hezbollah’s attacks into Israel. They are willing to commit their army to battle against the Israelis (again whether the army will do so is open to question) and yet they will not send it into a slightly less suicidal fight against Hezbollah. They will not risk chaos in their country to deal with Hezbollah when it’s only killing Israelis, but they will risk chaos to fight the Israelis when they finally do something about Hezbollah. They played a dangerous game with Israel and have come up short. Rather than try to make the best they can of the situation they have chosen to raise the stakes. Although sad, I suppose it shouldn’t be unexpected. As we have seen first-hand with the Palestinians, the Iraqis, and now with the Lebanese, it is true what they say, Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

3 comments:

  1. You start one of you statements out by saying "If they were rational men". This is the problem. They aren't rational men. Also, I don't think Arabs miss opportunities. I would say they allow opportunities to pass them by. They don't want opportunities. They want other countries to come in and change the horrible situation they're in and then leave so that other horrible dictators can rise to power. This way, when the new dictator and the situation ends up worse they won't have to take responsibility and can blame someone else for their problems.

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  2. Hi Jared, Mr. G. here, also from central Ohio. I just started my own blog and read your post in the last ten minutes.

    For a different central Ohio perspective, you can read my posting at www.american-agenda.blogspot.com.

    Just so you know, I too am quite knowledgable about economics and history, and love my country. I'm a former Christian minister, so I suspect my Christian background is equivalent to yours. But I am more than twice your age and am a Democrat. Not only that, I couldn't disagree with you more about the war on terror and the situation in the Mideast.

    A previous response said that the Arabs aren't rational men. Let me ask you a question: What is rational about six million Jewish refugees taking land in the middle of 500 million Arabs, running off the population who lived there, and then using war and violence for sixty years to keep it?

    If this is rational, I have a proposition: In order to rectify the suffering of the Native American population over the last three hundred years of American conquest, let's give them a state of their own, oh, say Ohio. Let's make that a U.N. general resolution -- then let's try to obtain a majority in the U.N. to agree with it. Given the current popularity of the United States in today's world community, out of the current 190 or so countries in the U.N., how hard do you think it would be to get 96 votes?

    Now after the native Americans get Ohio, you (and I) have to leave. So does your family, your friends, six or seven generations of German farmers in northwest Ohio, well let's just say the entire 11.5 million current population of Ohio. To quote the local bartenders at closing time, "We don't care where you go, but you can't stay here."

    Does that work for you? I don't particularly like it, but given your support of Israel in the middle East, it's entirely rational.

    In order to understand the situation in the Mideast, you have to be able to put yourself in the shoes of both parties. If you can't understand the viewpoint of the Muslim Arab whose family lived in Jerusalem for eight hundred years until they were run off by Israeli settlers from Russia in 1952, then you'll never understand the conflict. You'll just pick a side and root for it. Looks like you've picked the side with the biggest and most well-equipped army. Not an illogical choice -- it's tough to go with the underdog. But if you think "might makes right", you might want to look into your Christian background a little more.

    Here's a rational idea for you: What if the Israelis simply decided to leave? They are all more than welcome here in central Ohio. It's a lot safer than living in a war zone. The climate and environment is much friendlier. The economic opportunities are staggering. The entire country would welcome them with open arms.

    And we'll let the Palestinians have their land back.

    Now how do we do that without violence? Seriously.

    I hope we can continue a dialogue. I think we'd learn a ton from each other.

    Thanks.

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  3. Obviously I agree a little bit more with Kirstachub than Mr. G. but thanks for both comments.

    A bit of a twofer response, to Kirstachub:
    Yeah, I didn't really touch on the responsability angle. It is always easier to blame the other, especially when they are more powerful. I would argue though that watching opportunites pass you by is the same as missing them.

    and to Mr. G.:
    As for the situation in the middle east in my view it is a typical example of power politics. All of history revolves around the natural and artificial shift of power and nothing will ever change that. Yes the Arabs can be mad about the Jews returning to their homeland and showing them up. Yes China can be mad she isn't the center of the world anymore. Yes Russia can be bitter about her loss of empire. Understanding why they are mad doesn't make any of their actions different, they are all based on power. In the Arab case they are essentially attempting to use our guilt in a Judo move to turn our power into theirs. That is the heart of the matter. As for whether Israel should exist is beside the point because Israel does exist. Now I know and don't mind that the Arabs vehemently oppose her existence. It's for them to decide if they will let that opposition destroy themselves. Again, power matters. Is it worth it to have your people and economy devestated and to suffer 5 or 10 deaths just to kill an Israeli? The rational thing to do is accept it (for now at least), get on with life and develop.
    We should not encourage such irredentism by giving the Arabs concessions that feed its growing desire.

    We saw that with German post world war I irredentism where the concept of Gross Deutschland kept growing with every concession. Give up the Jews and then the Arabs will remember how traumatic the Reconquesta was. Also with the Germans, they were treated badly, carried a chip, behaved even worse, were treated even worse and then had a choice of carrying the chip further or giving it up and making something of themselves. Instead of World War III and another round of destruction at the hands of more powerful countries, the Germans became the economic powerhouse we know (well knew).

    The Indian comparison is also something that isn't going to happen. But for arguments sake, if they have the power, or if they have a backer with the power, to take over an American state as their own then thats for them to decide. Then it would be for us to decide if we will see our nation and people devastated in a vain attempt to reverse that outcome. If we decide it is that's fine but we shouldn't complain when the consequences of our actions are visited upon us. Believe me, I love the Jewish people and would love for all the world's Jews to move here (although that would presumably further anger the Indians). But again, they are not all going to move here and unless they first went to Mexico and illegally entered they would never get through our immigration system anyways. This comes back to why I would not say Arabs are being rational, they need to do things based on reality, based on the balance of power, and based on what can be achieved. Unfortunately for the Arabs, Israel exists, she is far more powerful, and she will not be destroyed without bringing down the entire Middle East with her. Behaving on any other basis is simply not being rational.

    Thanks again for taking the time to write out a long and reasoned response.

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