Friday, July 14, 2006

Giving Them What They Deserve

Deuteronomy 20; 1-3

When you take the field against your enemies, and see horses and chariots – forces larger than yours – have no fear of them, for the LORD your God, who brought you from the land of Egypt, is with you. Before you join battle, the priest shall come forward and address the troops. He shall say to them,

“Hear, O Israel! You are about to join battle with your enemy. Let not your courage falter. Do not be in fear, or in panic, or in dread of them. For it is the LORD your God who marches with you to do battle for you against your enemy, to bring you victory.”

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W
hen the U.S. went to war in Iraq, it was because we believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. But, like our Civil War, which went from just being a war to preserve the Union and became, only later with a major victory and the Emancipation Proclamation, a war to end slavery, the Iraq War took on new meaning as it went from simply enforcing United Nations resolutions which had built up for twelve years, to deposing a brutal dictator and installing a democratic government in Baghdad. This is not without its complications, but is hardly an illegitimate goal. Hitting back, in force, at Hezbollah is hardly illegitimate either.

As the saying goes, the best defense is a good offense. Well, the Israel Defense Forces know how to conduct a good offense.

There are likely those to be reading the news or watching network coverage who will see what the EU calls the “disproportionate force” of Israel – bombing Beirut’s international airport, the Beirut-Damascus highway, power stations, buildings in south Beirut, other areas in Lebanon, all resulting in more civilian casualties than usual, etc. – and be inclined to blame Israel.

But this time, even the Saudis are blaming not Israel, but Hezbollah for starting…well, for starting what’s going on now. A war. Hezbollah launched missiles into Israel, then attacked, killed, and kidnapped soldiers, and then publicly connected their demands with those of the terrorists who’d attacked and killed Israeli soldiers and then kidnapped a third just outside of Gaza nearly three weeks ago. With the support of Iran, and Syria, Hezbollah opened a second front in an ongoing war with Israel that Israel, and by extension the United States, cannot afford to lose. A prisoner swap – now that would be a loss.

Are civilian casualties in Lebanon regrettable? On the face of it, yes. But under the surface, we’ll never know if those who died supported Hezbollah or not. And anyone who read my last entry knows what I think of such people at this moment in time. And it is not Israel, but Hezbollah that is to blame, for occupying buildings and holding weapons stores near civilian population centers in Lebanon. Israel always tries to avoid civilian casualties, though, unlike those who it is fighting – Hamas in Gaza to the south, and Hezbollah in Lebanon to the north.

There are those Lebanese who do not support Hezbollah, and would like to see Lebanon be free of Syrian and Iranian influence. Reading over some of the “talkbacks” of certain Lebanese on the websites of Israeli newspapers demonstrates as much. As for the Lebanese government’s claims that it is “powerless” to stop Hezbollah, Beirut refuses to take up control of its own southern borders. Thus, the Lebanese government makes the deliberate choice of powerlessness.

UN Security Council Resolution 1559 called on the Lebanese government to disarm groups like Hezbollah, and take control of the south. Even if the Lebanese government is as powerless as they say, what good is a government if it isn’t willing to act in the best interests of the people who elected it into office? Shouldn’t the Lebanese government as a whole be held responsible for what the private army of a member of that government does against Lebanon’s neighbors? I think so.

Hezbollah isn’t only an independent terror group, but a political party that holds 18% of the seats in the Lebanese parliament. That’s hardly an insignificant portion of power. There are Hezbollah ministers in the Lebanese cabinet. Even if the wider Lebanese government doesn’t have capabilities to govern its own territory, as a governing partner in Lebanon Hezbollah does. And Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah made the deliberate, selfish choice of dragging Lebanon into war with Israel. He called down the thunder, and now they are getting it. The whole world has seen – once again – the thunderous capabilities the Jewish state has at its disposal.

Should the war be widened to include Syria? Iran threatened this very morning (it is now early Friday, just hours before I’m to go see the new “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie in Jerusalem) that if Israel attacked Syria it would be an attack on “the entire Islamic world”. Last night, Hezbollah launched missiles at Israel’s third largest city, Haifa, after warning that they would do so if Israel bombed southern Beirut. The thing is, at the time Haifa was hit by a missile, Israel had yet to bomb southern Beirut. Some warning – they warn, and then attack anyway. Israel has since bombed southern Beirut, where Hassan Nasrallah lives and where Hezbollah has many properties.

Syria and Iran, by virtue of their supplying and financing Hezbollah, long ago made their feelings known and have continuously conducted a not-so-secret war against Israel for many, many years. At times it has seemed like a cold war, but now – well, who is to say at this time whether Israel will attack Syrian targets. I don’t personally think that the job will truly be done unless Israel makes the Syrians and Iranians feel the consequences of their actions themselves. Surely, they are more deserving of retribution than ordinary Lebanese.

It’s almost too bad, in retrospect, that there aren’t masses of Syrian troops in Lebanon anymore since the events of last year (the assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri and the subsequent “Cedar Revolution” which ended the Syrian dictatorship’s occupation of Lebanon – but not its influence, and not its intelligence apparatus and influence in the country either).

If you ask me, a campaign dubbed “Operation Just Reward” should extract a little more than symbolic justice as part of its goals. Making Syria pay for its irresponsible support of Hezbollah’s version of Islamic terrorism would be a Just Reward for the Allawite-dominated dictatorship in that country.

This war might last but a short time. It might not. Whatever happens, if as usual in Lebanon there are members of the Iranian Republican Guard working openly with Hezbollah and I hear that some have been killed, I won’t shed a tear. Should Damascus – the regime, or the city – get a black eye from the IAF, I will shout a cheer.

Whether we’re fighting al-Qaeda in Iraq, Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Taliban in Afghanistan, or the regimes in Syria and Iran, we’re fighting against a region-wide murderous ideology of hate, theocratic dominance and, well, murder that needs to meet its end, one way or another.

Killing those who espouse it…now that’s a start.

4 comments:

Grayson, PHX AZ said...

I agree with your take on the absence of leadership by Syria and the Lebanese in realtion to Hamas and Hezbollah. Imagine if the Minutemen here in AZ started firing rockets at Juarez, Mexico and the US government said "Oh, sorry, we can't control those guys."....?

James said...

You're a complete tool for the following reasons.

1. Israel is targetting civilian infrastructure. Let me translate it into redneck for you. It's like killing americans because you don't like bush. That's right, it's terrorism, and it's wrong. Plus, the bombing of every single airport in Lebanon is a little harsh for the capture of a couple of soldiers. It's way out of proportion.

2. Many Lebanese actually, believe it or not, like Hezbollah, because it resists the Israeli occupation of and incursions into southern Lebanon. They provide hospitals, schools and welfare services as well as defence. And they represent the Shia fairly, because Lebanon's constitution is fucked.

3. This whole thing would never have happened if Israel had released the prisoners it captured 2 decades ago. Although given your political stance I'm wholly expecting you to support indefinite incarceration.

Keep trying

Anonymous said...

James - the only tool here is you. If you actually 'followed' the news coming from Lebanon, you'd see that their government is only agree cuz they feel that Israel's attack should be directed towards SYRIA, the main backer of Hezbollah along with Iran. Why not read up on the last 6 years of our border tensions with our dear enemies and see that 'regular' Israeli incursions into Lebanon have ONLY happened when Hezbollah has crossed our border ... But nice try though, propogating propaganda has always been a useful tool of the Arabs ...

Janet said...

Well put, Jeremy. I wish I had your depth of knowledge when it comes to these matters. I am learning, but there is so much to know! I learn a lot from reading your posts...keep 'em coming! You inspire me!