I suppose I’ll weigh in on the situation on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, although I tend to shy away from politics in these pages. In short, my view is that Israel is doing exactly what it ought to be doing, and ought to keep doing it for a little while longer. I offer a few thoughts, none of them particularly original.
- I disagree with those, including Kofi Annan, who, because more Lebanese than Israeli civilians have died in the conflict, are calling the Israeli response “disproportionate”. First of all, the asymmetry is due, in large part, to Israeli preparedness for civil defense. Would critics prefer that fewer Israelis had found safety in bomb shelters? Second, there is a fundamental difference in the goals of the warring parties: while Israel’s aim is entirely to degrade Hezbollah’s military and command-and-control infrastructure (Israel having no quarrel with the Lebanese people), Hezbollah is dedicated to the destruction of Israel by any means possible, and explicitly tries to wipe out as many civilians as they can. Israel has gone out of its way to attack only those areas that are known Hezbollah strongholds, and Hezbollah has deliberately immersed itself in the civilian population in order not only to use civilians as human shields, but also to increase the noncombatant casualty count in a dastardly play for sympathy. In fact, reports are that they have prevented refugees from fleeing the southern border area precisely for this reason – a vile and cowardly tactic that should earn them universal contempt.
- It is well known that Hezbollah is simply a proxy for Iran; it is in the world’s interest for Iran to be handed a clear and public defeat before a cease-fire goes into effect.
- Furthermore, beginning a cease-fire before Hezbollah has been severely beaten and driven back from the Israeli border simply leaves Israel vulnerable once again to similar attacks in future. A much more desirable outcome is for Israel to capture and cleanse a buffer zone that they can then hand over to an international peacekeeping force. Rest assured that Israel has no wish for another long-term occupation of southern Lebanon.
- Finally, this brazen and foolish act on the part of Iran, and its partner in perfidy Syria, has had a salubrious effect on world opinion – everyone at last begins to see just how much of a threat to regional stability they really are, and can begin to appreciate what a danger Iran would be as a nuclear power.
The State Department seems to have a good grasp of these realities, and is in no hurry to rein in the Israeli response. This is sound foreign policy.