Monday, July 31, 2006

With Friends Like Us ...

Many in the West seem to have a very twisted sense of morality when it comes to the war that Hezbollah started and is enthusiastically continuing to prosecute against Israel. Victor Davis Hanson discusses this weird sense of morality in this National Review article. Hanson rips on the West for seeing only bad in Israel’s actions while absolving Hezbollah and Lebanon from any real responsibility.

Hanson explains the “distortion of language” in five points.

  • “Middle Eastern oil,” without which, “the war would receive the same scant attention as bloodletting in central Africa.”
  • “The fear of Islamic terrorism. If the Middle East were Buddhist, the world would care about Lebanon as little as it does about occupied Tibet.”
  • Anti-Semitism. “Israel is the symbol of the hated West.” If this were to happen elsewhere in the world, say France, Russia, China, India, “no one would dare say a word.”
  • “The worry that Israel might upset things in Iraq.”
  • “The world deplores the Jewish state because it is strong, and can strike back rather than suffer.” Hanson is clearly disgusted by the tendency to ascribe equivalent levels of morality to the actions of Hezbollah terrorists and the efforts of Israel to defend itself from the terrorists.
If it looks like a terrorist
Hezbollah invited the war by attacking Israelis on Israeli soil, killing and kidnapping Israeli soldiers. When Israel moved in to take actions intended to prevent the movement of the captured soldiers, Hezbollah used this as a pretext to begin firing missiles into northern Israel from southern Lebanon. It’s not surprising that the West has been surprised at Hezbollah’s military capabilities, but it is surprising that Israel was taken off guard. To date, Israel’s military actions in southern Lebanon appear to have been largely ineffective against Hezbollah’s missile capabilities.

Hezbollah is definitely a terrorist organization, but it is a recognized (and quite popular) political party in Lebanon, where it also sponsors health care as well as education (designed to indoctrinate against the “Great Satans” of Israel and the West). But it does not officially represent the Lebanese government.

Hezbollah embeds itself among the Lebanese citizenry, many of whom support the organization (see here). Its unguided missiles damage infrastructure and kill a few Israelis, but the chief purpose of the missile barrage is to terrorize the population of northern Israel. Former DoD official Mario Loyola says here that this is part of “Iran’s grand strategy ... to depopulate Israel through missile terror.” Israel haters want Israelis to leave on their own because they fear for their personal safety.

Proxies of evil
That brings us to the question of where Hezbollah gets its military prowess. The answer is that it comes directly and indirectly from one third of the Axis of Evil, Iran, and its nasty neighbor and partner in crime, Syria, both of which have been quite open about seeking Israel’s demise, and both of which are only capable of this due to oil wealth.

Loyola argues in his article that Israel cannot hope to be effective against Hezbollah missile barrages. He says that Israel’s only hope “is a robust Security Council resolution under Chapter VII that requires Iran to stop supplying weapons to Syria, and requires Syria to stop supplying weapons to Hezbollah.” Loyola says that the resolution should also demand transparency in military shipments from Iran to Syria and from Syria to elsewhere, and that it should authorize inspectors to enforce the resolution. And here’s the kicker. It must also carry enough teeth to authorize force.

Bad to the bone
Oh, good. Our hope for peace in the Middle East resides firmly in a U.N. Security Council resolution. I must seriously question Mr. Loyola’s sanity. Precisely when has a resolution of this type ever produced a long-term positive solution? And what are the odds that the “robust” resolution Mr. Loyola suggests could ever pass the Security Council?

How many of our “friends” (many of whom buy lots of oil from Iran and Syria) would support it? After months and months of talking, followed by some more talking, lavishly catered meals, Condi Rice trips to Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Beijing, and Jerusalem, etc., while Iranian and Syrian missiles continue strike Israel, would our “friends” on the council support the writing of such a resolution, let alone its passage?

And assuming that we live in Mr. Loyola’s fantasy world where this grand, world-saving resolution passes the council, how much support would the other member nations of the U.N. provide in carrying out the “force” provisions of the resolution? We’ve already seen how hospitable Iran is to Security Council resolutions, so we must assume that force would become necessary. I’m afraid that it would end up being Israel and the U.S., with some possible support from the U.K. (maybe) and Australia. Such “unilateral” application of authorized force would bring near universal condemnation from the international community and anti-security folks here at home. Perhaps a sufficiently broad multi-national force could be cobbled together about the time there are no Israelis left to protect.

I have my reservations about our elected Congress, but the U.N. is a corrupt, expensive, weak organization that is well suited only to talking and to squandering heaps of cash. It is ill suited to do anything that requires force. And, when you think about it, perhaps that’s a good thing. Imagine where we’d be otherwise, given the fact that about 85% of all General Assembly votes go against the U.S. and even more go against Israel. Some argue that we should get out of the U.N., but I argue that we have to stay in order to keep it from getting as bad as it would be without our involvement.

So, what should Israel do? Interdict Iranian and Syrian war materiel on its own? Go to war against Iran and Syria on its own? Iran’s nutcake president and ruling mullahocracy would love that. What a grand excuse to nuke the small country of Israel out of existence! Let’s face it; Israel isn’t big enough to take on its real antagonists on its own.

Who are we really?
We are Israel’s most powerful ally. But we have effectively demonstrated in Iraq that our population lacks the will to crush those that oppose us there. We are capable of doing so militarily, but we apparently don’t have it in us to do it. It would be too ruthless, so we approach war with the most exquisite military etiquette, while our ragtag opposition is decidedly less concerned about such mundane manners. Would we even be able to muster the desire and courage as a nation to support Israel in physically opposing Iran and Syria?

The Iranians and Syrians don’t think so either.

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