Sunday, August 13, 2006

Lebanon, Israel, US Policy: Random Thoughts On A Middle Eastern Disaster

Random thoughts

Israel finally figured out they needed to go clear out the caves and bunkers... Great, nice try. An American Muslim panelist on a Fox Show said it perfectly: U.S. Marines didn't rely on bombing in Fallujah, they went in and took the damn town.

So the Israeli's took the high ground all the way to the Litani River. Hello? You are three weeks too late.

The Generals and politicians are yelling at each-other in Israel. Sounds like some Generals were giving spotty advice. Bombing does not work on well dug-in ground troops. See Okinawa, Cu-Chi, Iwo-Jima, and the Atlantic Wall.

However much Nasrallah talks, his people still got the hell knocked out of them for a month. They have two U.N. declarations calling for their disarmament hanging on them. Don't automatically chalk this one up in the "W" column, despite any political gains.

Israel operates on a military job timetable that ends: till they get the job done or till they kill enough civilians revolting the rest of the world, to the point where even the U.S. has to call em out. Kind of a sick equation if you think about it

In the end for the U.S. the equation should have been: was endangering Lebanese democracy and destroying its infraestructure worth giving Israel a month to try to destroy Hizbullah and weakening Iranian proxies on the border?

Talk about double standards! The Arab "street" suffers from massive denial and a kind of moral blindness when dealing with Israel and the U.S.. The same folks who embrace suicide bombers get all bent out of shape when Israeli rockets hits civilian homes. At this point, I am so cynical about it I call it the "Arab-Islamic standard of aggrievement" = take any real atrocity multiply it by hate-Israel-and-the-West factor of three, put it through an eggshell-thin sensitivity, multiply it by a factor of 10 for an excagerated sense of personal and communal honor, add in a high degree of insecurity, and voila Truth is, its not going to change anytime soon. No matter how silly or hypocritical this vision is, it is a reality - a fact any policymaker has to take into account.

How did the Lebanese government and its military have six years to disarm Hizbullah? Doing the math it seems that they were partly-occupied by the nasty Syrians for five of those years. Unsurprisingly militias the Syrians did not care for, got disarmed. Any time the Lebanese tried doing anything independent of the Syrians, Lebanese politicians would get blown up. In the past year the Lebanese finally managed to chase out the Syrians after a huge struggle, and tried consolidating their fragile democracy. Not much energy and time left to disarm the fanatics in the South.

The U.S. needs to see this vague cease-fire resolution as a canvas in which to craft long term solutions, using the carrot and stick approach. Israel doesn't want rockets pointed at them and an armed to the teeth Hizbullah on their borders. The trick is to first of all get them out of there without their weapons. Or simply get them out of the border area. Time to engage Syria and even the loony mullahs in Iran - but always with a stick in your hand ready to beat them back. When it all comes down to it, we have more nukes than they do.

Whats up with some idiots calling for Condi Rice's replacement? Why? Because she thought it might be wise to quit cutting Israel that much slack? Bush should call his dad, he knew how to handle the Israeli's. Actually most of her Republican predecessors understood the basic fact that the U.S. has strategic interests outside of that country.

And whats up with the Neo-Cons. Back when the US Right's was hostage to the Curtis Le May/Bircher school of knee-jerk anti-communism and the Democrats were stuck in post-Vietnam McGovernite defeatism, Neo-Cons were the only ones who made the strategic and moral case of why the Cold War had to be won. Now they seem just too eager to prove Pat Buchanan's nasty remarks during Gulf War v 1.0 were on target. Neo-Wilsonian schemes and uncritical support of Israel get you only so far.

How come the British Pakistani's bomb stuff and ours don't??? There are literally millions of Pakistani-Americans in the U.S. and they mostly go about their business (truth be told so do a majority of Pakistani-Brits). It probably has more to do with MTV and Suburbia than anything really deep.

Egyptian exchange students do not go to Montana for summer school and wander off elsewhere in the U.S. much to Fox News' chagrin. Had these been American students going to summer school in Helsinki, Finland, would you blame them if they went to Rome, Paris, or even Stockholm?


Anonymous said...

Actually, there's only somewhere between 250,000 (2000 Census) and 500,000 (estimate which includes various illegal immigrants) Pakistanis, not millions in the US.

That being said, the usual stereotype of an American Pakistani is a small business owner, and people who don't face any particular level of prejudice and who are small business owners are usually not inclined to rock the boat.

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