Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Hizbanese and Israelis Cease Fire

Now that a cease-fire is in place (that’s how they say those things in the news), it’s time to recap what the hell went on. Hizbollah stole an Israeli soldier, and the Israelis got pissed, and then they did it again, and Israel got pissed some more. After all, who is Israel supposed to deal with in Lebanon when Hizbollah kidnaps your soldiers. If Hizbollah is the true government of Lebanon, kidnapping a soldier is an act of war. If they are not the true government of Lebanon, it’s an act of terrorism. You choose.

Either way, and whether you like Jews and Israel or not, they acted like any sovereign state would when faced with an act of war from an avowed enemy. Now, is there anybody out there who does not believe that Hizbollah is an avowed enemy of Israel? (Only the guy with the tin foil hat denies this, so I think we can go on.) Now, I know it’s tempting for Arab and Israeli apologists to say it’s in retaliation for X, Y, or Z; I mean we hear that juvenile crap all the time. Both sides have 473 pages of “I did that because you did this” lists. Sometimes you have to grow up and leave the neighborhood.

Okay, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe they didn’t act like “any sovereign state” would, but they acted like America would. Could you imagine how fast Congress would line up to yell about Iran or North Korea stealing a soldier! Could you imagine that the vast majority of Americans wouldn’t urge the government to do anything it takes to get them back. If you don’t make this claim, you’re simply being disingenuous. No president could survive if diplomacy were allowed to grind on at its usual geologic rate. Sooner or later, a failure to return the soldiers would be seen as an excuse for military incursion. The only difference between Israel’s action against Hizbollah and ours against Iraq is that there was a cease-fire six weeks later. If anything, Israel is more disciplined than America in how it uses military power.

Now for the really trying question: What about all the civilian casualties? I think it’s terrible that soldiers don’t just kill soldiers. Israeli soldiers have uniforms and insignia of rank. I’m not aware of the same with Hizbollah. In this very real sense, every person the Israeli army kills is a civilian. When Hizbollah hides in the local population, it makes the innocent more vulnerable. And who are we to wax sentimentally over widows and orphans when we have done nothing to stop the brutality in Rwanda or Somalia, and do what we can to fight against properly elected leaders like Hugo Chavez, regardless of his leftist propensities. Ever hear of removing the beam from your eye before concerning yourself with the mote in someone else’s?

That’s the message I would leave all the powerful versus all the powerless. The powerful have a responsibility to look at their abuses of power and to curb them. To the extent that the Israelis can come to think of themselves as not having to act as if their very existence were threatened at every turn, they should. Lives will be saved. To the extent that the Hizbollah can come to think of themselves as citizens with things to gain from peace with Israel, they should. Lives will be saved.


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