Israel and Lebanon: Three Views of a Regional War

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We’re dealing with a very difficult moment in the Arab world. These explosions and disruptions that happen periodically here in Iraq, perhaps in Syria, perhaps in Iran are symptomatic of this greater problem of a region that’s still finding its own identity, and its place vis-a-vis the United States, vis-a-vis Israel, and its own conception of the future.

Anthony Shadid
lebanon_street

Lebanon before the chaos [Str1ke / Flickr]

With the conflict between Israel and Lebanon getting worse by the day, we’re pushing the redistricting show back by a week and taking a closer look at the situation, expanding outward in three ever-larger circles:

Anthony Shadid, the Oklahoma-born journalist of Lebanese extraction who last joined us to talk about his reporting from Iraq, will lead off. He’s been writing insightful pieces about Lebanon’s religious and sectarian divisions, their effects on popular support for Hezbollah, and the fragililty of the Lebanese government.

Vali Nasr, author of The Shia Revival, will expand the conversation eastward, past Beirut — and Damascus — to Hezbollah’s financial and ideological sponsors in Tehran — and those sponsors’ larger designs.

Zbigniew Brzezinski will take us home, somewhat literally, with a view of the geo-political ramifications of the current crisis and the the U.S. role.

(Tomorrow, most likely, we’ll add Israel to the conversation. Stay tuned.)

Anthony Shadid

Washington Post reporter

Author of Night Draws Near

Vali Nasr

Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Contemporary Conflict

Author, The Shia Revival

Zbigniew Brzezinski

Counselor and Trustee, Center for Strategic & International Studies

National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter

Extra Credit Reading

Rasha, Letter from Beirut, Three Quarks Daily, July 15, 2006.

Billmon, Failed States, Whiskey Bar, July 14, 2006.

Billmon, To Be Or Not To Be, Whiskey Bar, July 16, 2006.

Rami G. Khoury, The Mideast Death Dance, Salon, July 15, 2006.

Anthony Shadid, Barrage Reopens Wounds of a Fractured Beirut, The Washington Post, July 17, 2006.

Rory McCarthy and Patrick Wintour, Last minute talks in Lebanon amid fears of ground invasion, The Guardian, July 17, 2006.

Ari Shavit, Start Over, Haaretz, July 17, 2006.

Related Content


  • Potter

    Good guests! Thanks for the links.

    And I add Akiva Eldar’s Toward A Multilateral Solution

  • fiddlesticks

    A Lebanese, a Shiite, and an antisemitic Pole.

    This is par for the course, for Christopher Lyadown.

    “(Tomorrow, most likely, we’ll add Israel to the conversation.”

    Probably will add some Israeli useful idiot like Akiva Eldar.

    “Stay tuned.”

    No thanks, count me out.

  • Oy vey. I’m not going to play reductionist games here. I’m here with an open mind.

    Reviewing your blog links, I’m reminded of a regular problem here in blogspace–that it’s just as unhelpful to reduce the former National Security Advisor to an “antisemitic Pole” as it is to reduce Billmon to the blogger behind Whiskey Bar. I know that Billmon came from dKos, but there’s no byline to be found, no hint of where he’s coming from. And now I’m hunting around S. Abbas Raza of Three Quarks…

    Myself, through my research on the Free Alaa effort, I’ve been reading a lot of SandMonkey and The Big Pharaoh. Both are English-language Egyptian bloggers with other day jobs (SM works in finance I believe) and stand apart from the “let’s-blame-Israel-and-the-West” attitude that they see as pervasive in Egyptian/Arab society. And both are good reporters when they want to be.

    Big Pharaoh watched Nasrallah on TV

    and noticed that he no longer speaks with the machismo of before– he’s become softer. To your guests– does this have any merit? Is it meaningful?

  • Yark

    Let us remember the start of this mess a few weeks back – – 19 year old Cpl. Shalit is captured and demands are made for the release of Palestinian WOMEN AND CHILDREN being indeterminately held in Israeli prisons. But wait – – THAT was a KIDNAPPING, and Israel refuses to negotiate.

    But… Israel kidnaps 27 Hamas ministers and lawmakers, but Noooo, THEY weren’t kidnapped, THEY were ARRESTED.

    No double standard there, eh?

    Israel claims to want to prevent Cpl Shalit from being smuggled across three Gaza bridges – – so do they park a tank at each of those bridges? No they blow them to smithereens. But this is not terrorism. Neither is destroying the electrical generators that pump the water to this desert land – – no terrorism here!

    Someone who the Israelis decide THEY WANT to kill is in an apartment so the whole apartment bulding is bombed, with no thought for the women and children maimed in the attack. No terrorism here, either.

    And now Israel is systematically and wantonly destroying Lebanon and threatening to attack Syria. But THAT isn’t terrorism, either?

    It is time the United States QUITS FUNDING the Three Billion PLUS Dollars a year that supports this terrorism.

    When the Nazis destroyed an entire town in retalliation for one of their soldiers’ being killed they were horrid. What does that make the Israelis? Quick Learners?

    Please DO NOT start yapping about Anti Semitism – – it is quite clear and simple: DO NOT GIVE MONEY TO TERRORISTS, NEITHER TO PALESTINIAN NOR TO ISRAELI TERRORISTS.

    Anyone who would bulldoze a 700 year old olive orchard is nothing less than absolutely a terrorist.

  • I guess I would ask the people of Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Syria – the whole region – “Do you want peace?” I’m sure that plenty of people there do, but is it possible, that at this point, there are enough people who don’t know how to live in peace, don’t know what they’d do with themselves, that they don’t really want peace?

    Throughout my life, I have heard of Mid-East peace talks, negotiation, etc. But I’m usually hearing it from Americans or Europeans. I know we’re trying to protect our oil interests, but we’ve thrown a lot of energy, money and lives to – ostensibly – work for peace over there. I don’t see how we can accomplish that, if the people themselves aren’t choosing peace. Which means choosing to co-exist. How do you reach those who perpetuate this even when the ‘official’ line doesn’t?

  • jdyer

    York,

    “Let us remember the start of this mess a few weeks back – – 19 year old Cpl. Shalit is captured and demands are made for the release of Palestinian WOMEN AND CHILDREN being indeterminately held in Israeli prisons. But wait – – THAT was a KIDNAPPING…”

    Sarcasm aside, all the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are there for offenses ranging from mulutple murders, to attempted sucide bomings, shootings, and knifings.

    What would happen if some group kidnapped American policemen and demanded the release of all prisoners from American jails. They too could claim that the prisoners are really “kidnap victims.”

    “When the Nazis destroyed an entire town in retalliation for one of their soldiers’ being killed they were horrid. What does that make the Israelis?”

    This is an insane analogy.

    “Please DO NOT start yapping about Anti Semitism – -”

    This is called a pre-emptive strike.

    Sorry, but if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, and his name is YORK, it’s an antisemitic duck.

  • jdyer

    “I guess I would ask the people of Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Syria – the whole region – “Do you want peace?â€?

    The answer would be yes, in Israel, Yes among an ovewhelming number of Lebanese and a resoudning NO among Palestinians.

    Syria, who knows. It’s a totalitarian State and I doubt people will feel free to give an honest answer.

  • Yark

    [Comment deleted. Check the rules, guys.]

  • jdyer

    [Comment deleted. Check the rules, guys.]

  • jdyer

    [Comment deleted. Check the rules, guys.]

  • Yark

    [This comment has been deleted. Check out the rules, guys.]

  • Potter

    Thanks for the show- I’m definitely going to have to listen again.

    Allison, good questions. People get so used to fighting each other and being enemies, you wonder. Still, it’s amazing how many are open in their hearts to peace. They have kids, they love life, and they want it for their kids.

    Regarding Robert Malley I found a few – sorry I have not read them yet- hope this helps.

    http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=4268&l=1

    http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=4202&l=1

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5392862

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/14/AR2006051400807.html

  • booboo

    The real problem is that our current president can not think beyond a week or a month, and has no intellectual capablility grasp the mess he has made. Mr. Rove his chief advisor does not care about foreign affairs. And Cheney and the neo cons do not believe in history or planning beyond the immediate objective. The president is simple, Rove is evil and the neo cons are intellectually dishonst.

    Iraq was a mistake, but the mistake was made 1000 times worse by not planning for the consequences. And I believe that we still are being lead by guys who for the most part do not have a clue on dealing with the history, social history and the consequences of our action in Iraq and the middle east. I listen to Sen. Biden on Sunday morning and I agree that we most likely do not have a plan that will result in an outcome which is not going to be a disaster for us and Iraq. There is no evidence that we are preparing Iraq for working on its own. The happy talk is a veneer of democracy and training of Iraq security services on top of a house of cards that is on fire. We are not making any effort at creating a civil service, or teaching the sheiks and mullahs on how to operate democratically. And of course the violence is so out of hand that it is near impossible to do anything. And Iran is waiting in the wings.

    Iran is wide open to meddle. Our stupid policy in Iraq is making our friends in the region not trust us. They feel rightly that they are on their own because our leaders need instructions on how to tie shoes, let alone make reasonable polices in the middle east This is making our efforts at anything kind of influence ineffective. All because The idiot , (Bush) would not think through what his action would cause. The world is too complex, many Arabs are still living in the 13th century socially, and are fighting the crusades or colonial rulers of the past today. And we have distroyed our credibility to project reason and power in the world. And the bad guys are taking advantage.

    It is high time that american voters get over their love affair with the idea that a cowboy, an anti-intellectual, a man who thinks with his bible rather than his mind can lead america in this global world. This does not mean unable to make hard choices, a la President Carter. But it does mean that to lead, one must be able to listen to intellectuals, religious leaders, historians, and contrary views, and marshal strong arguments and understand consequences before one takes an action like war and be able to plan for result of this action 1 month, 6 months and 10 years from now.

    We as a nation will be recovering from our adventure in Iraq for 50 to 100 years. The sooner we have a political leadership that understands this, the sooner we can begin to recover.

    And this is why Iraq, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, and North Korea are doing what they are doing.

  • Potter said: Allison, good questions. People get so used to fighting each other and being enemies, you wonder. Still, it’s amazing how many are open in their hearts to peace. They have kids, they love life, and they want it for their kids.

    I have no doubt that many want peace. But this is definitely a case of the few who can make life miserable for the rest. How does anybody reach those who perpetuate violent responses to violent responses?

    The cycle goes so far back into history that I find it pointless to argue over who started what when. There simply has to be a commitment to stop. But I do believe that there is a critical group who are so far into the darkness they can’t even imagine life with light. It might blind them.

  • Potter

    Allison: I agree. David Grossman wrote a slim volume called “Death as a Way of Life”. I think I underlined the whole book and dog-eared most of the pages and stuck post-its in it as well. He says there are two sides in this conflict: those who want war and those who do not.

    I would go further to say, as you perhaps suggest, that there are very few, that if you peel away their outer coating would really be for war. They are very weary of it, those who are a little older. And the young, in their heart of hearts know better.

    Perhaps that is a fantasy, but it does not matter. What matters is that so many are simply swept up.

  • Sara

    This situation is complicated by the insistance that Lebanon be held responsible for Hezbollah. With the withdrawal of Syrian influence, the fledgling Lebanese government can do nothing, which they’ve admitted. I don’t understand how bombing the Lebanese infrastructure back to where it was developmentally 20 years ago helps them gain any strength to fight the influence of Hezbollah if they wanted to. It would seem a special forces/extraction mission would be a much more strategic option for all involved.

  • “This situation is complicated by the insistance that Lebanon be held responsible for Hezbollah. With the withdrawal of Syrian influence, the fledgling Lebanese government can do nothing, which they’ve admitted.”

    If a criminal moved into my house and started taking pot-shots at my neighbors, and bringing in huge stores of ammunition, but otherwise allowed me to go about my business, what would my obligations be? Shouldn’t I ask him to leave, or call the police, or ask the assistance of others to evict him, if I was too weak or afraid to do it myself?

    What if, instead, I asked him to join my family, or started cooking his meals?

    Hezbollah is part of of the Lebanese government, Hezbollah is the largest political party in Lebanon. Has Lebanon ever asked for international aid in getting rid of Hezbollah? Lebanon has allowed a powerful terrorist force to build up on their territory for years, when it was obvious what that force was going to be used for, without ever either making a serious attempt to get rid of them, or asking the international community to help them. Even now they don’t disavow Hezbollah.

    Lebanese protests at this point are disingenuous.

  • Sara

    There was hope that Hezbollah would transition to a more moderate force as it became involved in the goverment, similar to what happened with Sinn Fein. Obviously, this didn’t work out quite so well, but basically you’ve got a situation now where a parolee (to take your metaphor further) has returned to a life of crime, but there is no policeman, anywhere.

    Like I suggested before, it seems a better response would be to send special forces in to extricate the kidnapped soldiers. How decimating a country’s civilian infrastructure and creating MORE sympathy for Hezbollah helps the situation is beyond me.

  • Old Nick

    pl, I’m not sure this is a fair analogy:

    “If a criminal moved into my house and started taking pot-shots at my neighbors, and bringing in huge stores of ammunition, but otherwise allowed me to go about my business, what would my obligations be?�

    So let’s explore it:

    What if the criminal in question is my bigger and stronger brother, in whom I recognize sociopathic yet religiously-grounded ‘righteousness’? In whom I recognize a fully suicidal willingness to shoot at my neighbors, despite my years of trying to tame him and moderate his crazed religiosity?

    Suppose I’ve tried my level best to calm and ‘normalize’ him within the limits of my knowledge and constraints of our family’s cultural and religious milieu, but my brother goes nuts and begins the shooting anyway?

    Who, in your analogy, are the police?

    Who are the proverbial ‘men in white coats’ I can summon to subdue my brother, and take him away in a straitjacket?

    Now, within your analogy, I agree that it’s reasonable for the neighbors to shoot back: they must protect their own family.

    But is it fair for the Lebanese who were NOT religiously sociopathic to be held responsible for the bigger, stronger, better-armed and famously crazy brother?

    I haven’t got an answer. I do however reckon the Lebanese situation somewhat more complex than your analogy affords.

    The show hasn’t yet aired out here in the Pacific Time zone. I’m hoping it offers some answers.

    And just before I post this, I notice Sara has responded similarly. Forgive the redundancy, please.

  • Steve Law

    I had a teeth cleaning today. Ok what is that all about. My hygenist is from Haifa (sp?) and is of the Bahi faith. She told me that that Haifa has the main Bahi temple and is maintained by a significant number of Iranians of the Bahi Faith, I don’t remember the number she quoted. Just a little FYI if not already known.

    I don’t know if this is the same as the Suni or Shia, Sorry about the mis-spelling of any of the town names or the names of the religions (faiths).

  • Shaman

    “This is par for the course, for Christopher Lyadown.” – Fiddlesticks

    Oh, stop it. Ridiculous!

    Chris Lydon has had the tough guys on many times over the years from Richard Perle to… well, you name ’em, they’ve all been on!

    And good to hear ’em too!!!

    “Open Source” is the greatest program available in any media and you should be thankful someone as talented as Chris Lydon, Mary McGrath and the staff at Open Source have enough interest to gather yet more talent to talk about the weary wars of anguished, frustrated Israel and its frustrated, anguished neighbors.

    Even the least concerned among us must feel desperate to comprehend this endless war over this tiny spit of junky land which, in time, will belong to whatever population is finally largest – Muslim or Jewish – in the vast eons ahead.

    Make a note: The Christians won’t be doing any suicide bombing or defensive posturing. We simply don’t GIVE A DAMN about that land.

    That “Land” is not OUR covenant with Him.

    But the fate of the Jewish brothers is a most serious concern. No country came to help the Jews during the Holocaust. Nor did anyone protect Jews from pogroms of centuries before. That is a disgrace and unworthy of modern people.

    Israel will always protect Jews when all else fails. For that we can be grateful for Israel and hope it someday works things out with its neighbors over the decades ahead to keep so called ‘humanity’ in check (ironic and difficult as that may sound at the very moment).

    But understanding is too far away. Any talent put on this issue is well worth it.

    And The GREAT Chris Lydon and company is not your problem!

  • Sara

    The Baha’i faith is not really Muslim to my knowledge, it has roots in the Judeo-Christian tradition, but is really it’s own sect. Juan Cole has written an exceptional history on it. However that is an interesting tidbit, Steve. 🙂

  • “said Malley, who was a key member of then-President Bill Clinton’s negotiating team at Camp David in 2000.”

    Chris, If I am not mistaken, the 2000 Camp David meeting were a spectacular failure.

  • Chris says “meaning the informal but effective alliance of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.”

    “effective”?

    Iran – the Us is leading and winning in our efforts to isolate Iran. It had to coax it’s Hezbollah proxies into fighting a losing war to try and distract attention. Iran is a failing state. It sits on one of the world’s largest oil resreves yet has over 30% unemployment and just had to announce gas rationing becuase it cannot afford to subsidise it for it citizens anymore.

    Syrai – has been teetering on the edge of collapse since they were forced to leave Lebanon.

    Hezbollah – is about to be almost eliminated.

    The US in touch enough to be winning the efforts there.

  • Sara

    winston-While it’s a compelling theory that Iran coaxed Hezbollah into this war, it’s by no means proven, just a note. However, I take issue with your contention that Iran is anywhere NEAR a failing state. It’s economy is shot, but it’s got a highly functional education system and bureaucracy. It’s also got a lot of social capital, which is a decided rarity in the Middle East. In fact, since we’ve pretty much turned Iraq into what will amount to a failing state when/if we leave, the only next best hegemon in the region is Iran.

    The US has already proven to be overstretched just between Iraq and Afghanistan, opening up any sort of front with Syria or Iran would be disasterous.

    Israel has proven to have shoddy knowledge of Hezbollah’s military capabilities, seeing as they were shocked to have Haifa in it’s range.

    This is a disaster, and Israel/the US are already flexing most of their conventional military might.

  • fiddlesticks

    “Chris Lydon has had the tough guys on many times over the years from Richard Perle to… well, you name ‘em, they’ve all been on!

    And good to hear ‘em too!!!”

    They weren’t on tonight. There was no on who could counter ZB’s tendentious comments.

    We’ll wait and see if he will bring them on tomorrow or the next day.

  • fiddlesticks

    winston_dodson Says:

    July 17th, 2006 at 10:13 pm

    “Chris says

    “said Malley, who was a key member of then-President Bill Clinton’s negotiating team at Camp David in 2000.�

    Chris, If I am not mistaken, the 2000 Camp David meeting were a spectacular failure. ”

    Yes they were Winston. Malley though has put the blame on the Israelis which is why his artcles are quoted by those who hate Israel.

  • Someone please tell me, why is it that if you don’t unconditionally embrace what the Israeli government does, you are labled anti-Semitic? Can’t you feel concern for the Israeli people and yet feel disgust at the methods used by their leaders to secure their house? (Are you also anti-American because you feels the occupation of Iraq was an unjustified response to 9/11?) By the same token, are you also anti-palestinian if you hope that they can have a State of their own where they control their own affairs, even though you feel disgust at the use of suicide bombers as a means to obtain this?

  • Mutual recognition is a critical step to the end of hostilities. A poll in 2005 by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah showed that

    66% of the Israelis and 63% of the Palestinians support a mutual recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people and Palestine as the state of the Palestinian people after the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and the settlement of all issues in dispute. 29% of the Israelis and 35% of the Palestinians oppose such a step. Among Israeli Jews 67% support and 29% oppose this mutual recognition of identity.

    Even more remarkable is the majority support for this step among Israeli Arabs: 63% support and 34% oppose it. This result indicates that despite their frustration and marginalization as citizens, they are willing to accept the definition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people, concurrently with the recognition of a Palestinian identity and a Palestinian state.

    http://truman.huji.ac.il/polls.asp

  • dayan

    So I’ve been reading what Yark has been posting on this site, and frankly I’m shocked. Without question comparing Israel to Nazis is disgusting, insulting, in poor taste, and disgraceful to the memories of those who were murdered by the Nazis and those who died fighting them. Furthermore, at least in my opinion, it is flat out anti-semitism, and I do not say that lightly.

    If anyone would like to read two fantastic essays about this (I recommend you do,) they can be found at the following link.

    http://www.azure.org.il/search/search.asp?radio_search=radio_author1&search_name=Alain&search_Lname=Finkielkraut

    I would like the administers of this site to consider banning such comparisons. If profanity isn’t allowed here, then certianly such hate should be barred as well. It contributes nothing to meaningful discussion, and simply inflames people’s passions. Furthermore, as a person whose family lost an entire branch of its family tree in the Holocaust, I find such comparisons to be entirely beyond the pale of civilized debate.

  • David Weinstein

    Thank you Booboo for your insightful comment about how the extremists and totalitarian governments are outmaneuvering those on the side of peace and freedom because of Bush’s arrogance, lack of vision, wisdom and ineptitude in foreign affairs.

    The bottom line for this recent bloodletting in the Middel East is that peace might have had a chance once again with presdent Abbas a few weeks away from putting a referendum to the Palestinian people of whether to negotiate with Israel, and the G8 summit where nukes in the hands of this Irainan regime was certainly to be right in the middle of the agenda.

    It looks like Hamas and Iran, with it’s on the ground proxy, Hezbolla, are winning this bloody chess match, provoking Israel into its current response. But Israel is also to blame in a more fundamental way by believing that it can impose a solution to the Israel/Palestinian problem.

    As long as there is no negotiated, compromise solution for a lasting peace with dignity and security for both sides, there will be no peace in the region. Those who thrive and indeed survive on strife and enmity will always be able to exacerbate the situation if not throw a match onto the dry tinder in the absence of peace accord acceptable to both Israel and Palestine.

    I hope Chris will host Yossi Belin a key archtecht of the failed peace negotiatins when an Israeli assasinated prime minister Rabin, as well as the recent Geneva accords that come very close to settling the two-state solution. I also hope tht Chris will invite president Abbas onto ROS to get the Palestinian viewpoint on a negotiated peace.

    If peace breaks out between Israel and Palestine, Hezbolla and Hamas will have no reason for being, and Iran will be left with their nukes between its knees.

  • David Weinstein

    Addenda: Both prime minister Rabin and Shimon Peres argued in the 1990’s that the reasons for negotaiting a two-state peace with Palestine was because it was the right thing to do, and because in the near future Israel’s enmeies will have missiles. Well here we are today…

    I do not think that Hezbolla will ever realy be peacibly co-opted by the Lebanese government. I do strongly believe that the Lebanese government must take responsibility for permitting this terrorist army to stay in its territory with missiles that can hit thea interiror of Israel. They should 1) outlaw Hezbolla by act of parliment 2) Arrest all Hezbolla members who do not lay down their arms within a specified period of time 3) Occupy with its armed forces southern Lebanon and expel Hezbolla from there. 4)Expel Hezbolla from the entire nation

    The United Nations should condemn Hezbolla as a terrorist organization. The United States should use all its influence to form a coalition of democratic, industrialized nations and the moderate Arab states including Jordan, Egypt and Saudia Arabia to guarantee financing and logistical support for the Lebanese military and security forces to secure southern Lebanon and then expel Hezbolla from its borders once and for all (and tell Iran who’s boss). Once this is done, these same nations will finance the reconstruction of the Lebanese infrastrcuture destroyed in this conflict. This same coalition should endeavor to facilitate a peace treaty between Israel and Lebannon once the meddling Hezbolla is out of the picture.

  • Potter

    I’ll add my voice to the objection of this use of Nazi. Although I am not in favor of banning the word itself- this use of it, I feel, is not only distasteful but it hurts.

    Regarding the 2000 Camp David/Taba peace talks I would never characterize them as a failure because they did not result in the elusive end of conflict/peace deal. As with my feelings about Oslo, these were very important attempts at reaching an equitable solution and will stand forever as markers for their good aspects and intentions as well as the lessons learned about why they did not produce the end that all parties seemed to want. Out of the 2000 talks in particular came the Geneva Accord between Beilin and Rabbo,

    See http://www.geneva-accord.org/HomePage.aspx?FolderID=11&lang=en

    which shows that there is a way to an end if there is a will on every issue.

    The peace process is a process, a learning process, exercises in bending, the give and take, and it does move forward. The agreements stand as monuments whether they have been respected or violated. Talks will not go back to zero. This could and should be another moment to return to that process this time with the most extreme elements included.

    Regarding Sara’s about the culpability of a people for the policies or weaknesses of their government, isn’t it is always the case that the people suffer? They are ultimately responsible for what they allow or turn a blind eye towards. We are responsible for and will feel the effects of Bush’s policies, probably for years to come.

    Billmon (linked above) who makes some very good points is too harsh vis a vis Israel on that point though I agree that Israel’s strategy will not work. This situation is as cruel as war; it is war. I would not say that Israel is targeting the people but I would say that Israel probably (I imagine) cares less about those who support militants. Maybe I am shaving it too close. The Lebanese, their government at least, is responsible for those who act in their name. By not gathering the strength or asking for help to contain Hezbollah; by giving them the long rope, allowing them to arm, they are complicit in the suffering of their own people at this moment. The situation with Hezbollah provoking and aiming at Israel, having been given “okayâ€? to conduct a “resistance operation” foreign policy in the name of the Palestinians across an international border makes Lebanon responsible.

    This situation has been festering for years as weapons stockpile and advance, rocket training crews are allowed in etc. This makes the people, especially those in the areas that support Hezbollah, much more culpable and vulnerable. Rockets are coming from their residential neighborhoods for instance. One report said that some roofs slide back to allow the rockets to fire. We see and hear of people handing out candy and celebrating when they have struck a blow at Israel.

    Hamas and Hezbollah ( “ The Party of God�) use their people, betray them in this manner and Israel complies by attacking and receiving all the blame ( part of the ugliness, immorality warfare).

  • jdyer

    “Someone please tell me, why is it that if you don’t unconditionally embrace what the Israeli government does, you are labled anti-Semitic?”

    No one can tell you that, Sidewalker, because it isn’t true.

    Criticizing the actions of any government including that of Israel is not antisemitic. However, denying that Israel has a right to exist IS.

  • Dylan, I also thought Yark’s comparison was not at all correct. Yark could have just vented his opinion about the excessive use of force without it. But if you want to bar such hateful comments, then you will also have to bar comments that expose your hate, such as:

    I’m not sure attacking Iran would be such a bad thing.

    http://www.radioopensource.org/regional-war-in-the-mideast-our-role/#comment-13425

  • I guess if everyone just keeps saying it, just like the WMD mantra, it becomes true. Just where is the evidence that Iran pull the strings?

    This is not to say that it is not possible, but shouldn’t we be careful considering who is making such claims?

  • Where is the edit button when you need it. I wrote Dylan and not Dayan above. Sorry for the mistake.

  • dayan

    That’s fine. I happen to be a big fan of Dylan. I don’t really see why my opinion about attacking Iran is hateful. It is a reflection of my understanding of the bellicose stance of the current Iranian regime and of the threat that regime would pose if it possessed nuclear weapons. I didn’t say anything hateful about Iranians in general. If Iran acted differently I would of course not favor attacking them.

    As for Iranian support for Hezbullah, this reflects simple fact. Hezbullah is financed by Iran and armed by Iran. There are even Iranian Revolutionary guards in Lebanon helping Hezbollah operate against Israel. The missile that killed four Israeli sailors a few days ago was Iranian made and, according to Israeli intelligence, which is pretty good in this regard, Iranian agents were involved in teaching Hezbollah how to use such a weapon (it was a radar guided missile. Not the kind of thing you just figure out on your own) and almost certainly in firing it as well. The fact is that Hezbollah is an arm of Iran in the region. This isn’t make believe, it is simply true. (And by the by, I don’t think the WMD thing was a big lie either. Chris Hitchens is great to read on this. You can find all his stuff at hitchensweb.com)

  • Dayan, if you think about all the damage that could be done to the lives of Iranian people and to their society, to suggest that an attack is not bad just expresses a feeling that they are not important humans, which is hateful it seems. This is not suggesting you actually feel this way, but the implication is there.

  • “Suppose I’ve tried my level best to calm and ‘normalize’ him within the limits of my knowledge and constraints of our family’s cultural and religious milieu, but my brother goes nuts and begins the shooting anyway?

    Who, in your analogy, are the police?

    Who are the proverbial ‘men in white coats’ I can summon to subdue my brother, and take him away in a straitjacket?”

    The UN, the world community, moderate Islamic nations, the media, etc . . .

    In other words I don’t see any examples where the Lebanese government ever made a serious atempt to frame the presence of Hezbollah in their country as a problem to be gotten rid of.

    Individual Lebanese did, of course, but usually they were the Druze or other groups whose motives were considered suspect. What I’m saying is that I see no evidence that anyone who spoke for Lebanon as a nation ever raised a serious alarm about this.

    Are you arguing for a kind of national “Stockholm Syndrome” in which kidnap victims start to identify with their kidnappers’ interests?

  • faysal

    Hello everyone,

    This is an interesting discussion. Im Lebanese myself and are lucky enough to be here when all this stuff is taking place. My friends and I have a blog you might be interested in visiting. Your comments are welcome!

    Cheers.

  • faysal

    thethinkingleb.blogspot.com

  • “Hezbollah – is about to be almost eliminated.”

    The Wall Street Journal – NOT exactly a darling of the loony-left and anti-Israeli forces – has an op-ed piece in today’s issue arguing that things are working out perfectly for Hezbollah and thay are winning bigtime from all this.

  • “Like I suggested before, it seems a better response would be to send special forces in to extricate the kidnapped soldiers.”

    That might work in a James Bond movie, but in the real world it’s realistic. First of all they probably have no idea where the soldiers are. Secondly they would have no way sneak in with enough force to accomplish it before the kidnappers killed their hostages.

    But more importantly, the point of all this bombing is to accomplish what SHOULD have been done long ago, which was to disarm or destroy Hezbollah.

    EVERYONE – Lebanon, nearby Arab and Islamic nations, the US, the EU, the UN – has been standing by and watching while Hezbollah has been building up HUGE forces in Lebanon – thousands of troops and 13,000 missiles. There was never any doubt what these forces would be used for.

    People always criticize Israel for acting alone and going against the tide of world opinion. But Hezbollah exactly illustrates why they have to do that.

  • “That might work in a James Bond movie, but in the real world it’s realistic.”

    Make that __ UNrealistic __.

    Does this foru have some kind of secret “Edit” or “Preview” button like a NORMAL forum does?

    If I make a bigger donation to WGBH or UMass Lowell where they show me where it is?

  • Old Nick

    faysal: thanks for the link to your blog. Perhaps you might care to comment on the remainder of this post.

    pl (@ 11:27 AM, July 18th): no not exactly a “Stockholm Syndrome�. I’m trying to think this issue through, and maybe you can help me. Maybe we in this thread can ‘build a better metaphor.’

    You offered a ‘house in a neighborhood’ metaphor – a metaphor I understand intuitively because I’m a born and bred American who grew up in the ’burbs. However, I’ve two grandparents who emigrated here from the same Aegean island; and having spent (cumulatively, over five summers) more than a year of my life visiting that island, I can tell you that American suburban neighborhoods differ substantially from the kin-centric neighborhoods of Old World, Mediterranean societies. Societies like Lebanon, Israel, and Palestine.

    So, here’s my opening contribution to ‘building a better metaphor’:

    If I’m Lebanese, the house to the south of mine has an interesting and tragic history. In ancient times it was home to a proud and urbane family that was forced to leave. Only one child of that family remained in the neighborhood, living as a herder in the hills out back (someone else, with better knowledge of non-Iberian Sephardic Jews, will have to flesh out this part of the metaphor). Lately, however, distant descendants of that original family began moving back into the house to my south – which created no end of ruckus and violence because the house wasn’t abandoned but had been for centuries home to others of the same neighborhood: my cousins, no less.

    We, in my house, have ‘heard the fighting’ through the windows for years. And since we’re more closely related to the new family than the older one, we just can’t accept how the descendants of the ancient family thinks it still has rights to their forebears’ ancient house. Nevertheless, the descendants of the ancient family have powerful friends from another neighborhood across the sea, and so they are able, in a final, terrifying battle (1948), to evict the newer family – my cousins.

    All the other families in our neighborhood (Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, etc.) are outraged at this, but their collective attempts to evict the descendants of the ancient family fail consistently – in no small part because of the powerful friends from across the sea who provide the descendants of the ancient family with weapons much better than those of the neighbors. Worse, this neighborhood is part of a culture grounded in an exaggerated (to Americans, anyway) sense of honor. Thus the outrage is doubled or even trebled by the neighborhood’s consistent collective humiliations.

    My own half-brother – young, headstrong, and overly susceptible to religious chauvinism – is one of the most outraged.

    Meanwhile the descendants of the ancient family, using money from overseas and their own technological industriousness (a trait they developed while overseas, that we of the neighborhood are only just beginning to learn) remake the old house into a gorgeous new mansion, a villa—and a fortress. By contrast, the family they evicted lives in two huts to the east and south of this enviable villa. The descendants of the ancient family control the lives of the evicted – and even begin adding outbuildings to the land where the huts stand.

    My half-brother, crazed with religious fervor and indignation, explodes: he begins shooting willy-nilly into the windows of the fortified villa.

    Who do I turn to?

    Moreover, who do I sympathize with more? The descendants of the ancient family, or my kin in the neighborhood?

    When hypocritical yet powerful families from overseas blame me for my brother’s descent into religiosity and irrationality, do I accept their opprobrium – they who’ve never lived in this neighborhood and can’t be bothered to practice what they preach – or do I instinctively side with my neighbors, no matter how much I, a simple Lebanese, might deplore their self-defeating resort to violence?

    End of metaphor.

    Now, I’m not saying one side is right and the other wrong. I’m simply suggesting that you can’t apply to the Middle East a metaphor of an atomized American neighborhood.

    If we’re going to use a ‘neighborhood’ metaphor, we’ve got to strive to make it relevant, socially and culturally, to that region.

    I welcome comments from pl, faysal, and anyone else. Maybe we can agree to make this thread a constructive exercise in building a better understanding instead of another ‘flame war’.

    ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flame_wars )

  • Sara

    pl, I wasn’t implying a James Bondesque type mission, although you’re right, it would take a certain level of intel, and lives would be risked. It just seems to me that is a much more proportional response than what is happening.

    Thanks for the heads up on the WSJ piece. 🙂

  • jdyer

    Poster to Pinelson:

    ““Like I suggested before, it seems a better response would be to send special forces in to extricate the kidnapped soldiers.â€?

    plnelson’s reply:

    July 18th, 2006 at 11:44 am

    “That might work in a James Bond movie, but in the real world it’s realistic. First of all they probably have no idea where the soldiers are. Secondly they would have no way sneak in with enough force to accomplish it before the kidnappers killed their hostages.”

    I agree with Pinelson.

    Posters here and elsewhere have been watching too many James Bond movies.

    Besides, the issue isn’t only the kidnapped soldiers. It’s the ongoing missile attacks on Israeli towns and villages as well as infiltration and murder of Israelis on Israeli soil.

  • jdyer

    faysal has been posting also on The New Republic wesite.

  • “Besides, the issue isn’t only the kidnapped soldiers. It’s the ongoing missile attacks on Israeli towns and villages as well as infiltration and murder of Israelis on Israeli soil. ”

    NOW it is. Those attacks were retaliatory, not pre-emptive.

    I’m not basing this theory on movies and such. I’m basing it on the knowledge that the IDF and Mossad are two of the most highly trained military/intelligence units in the world and it seems to me that 3 soldiers is a special forces task, not a bomb all the infrastructure back a few decades task.

    There is probably something in-between that would work better, I’m eager to hear it.

  • jdyer

    No, Sara, those attacks were ongoing even before the soldiers were kidnapped and their comrades murdered by Lebanese.

    In fact people in the North have spent many a night in shelters because of the attacks.

    Your idea that the Mossad is somehow invincible is reminiscent of the notion of the all power Jude. Israel could no more mount an operation to rescue the soldiers than the US could have to rescue the Americans held hostage in Iran in the late 70’s.

    Historically, very few rescue operations succeeded. The Entebbe raid was an exception and what made it possible was tactical surprise, the fact that it was known were the hostages were being held, and the foe’s inexperience.

  • dayan

    Sidewalker: I do think that an attack on Iran would be bad for the Iranians. That much should be obvious. I also think that the Iranians, and this is true of the Lebanese and the Palestinians as well, should not be treated like children, but like responsible adults. They have a state and are responsible for its actions. Right now that state is sponsoring, arming, and most likely directing, terrorist groups who are attacking Israel. Iran is also seeking nuclear weapons. Their president has said that Israel should be wiped off the map (he has also denied the Holocaust ever happened). A nuclear armed Iran would be intolerable, not only to Israel, but to the world as a whole. Many people are not so sure of the rationality of Iranian leaders (you should look at their messianis beliefs about the coming of the “hidden imam” after the world is plunged into chaos), it is very possible that they might arm the terrorist groups they sponsor with these weapons, and even if they didn’t, these terrorist would still be able to operate freely under an Iranian nuclear shield. This is not an issue of Iranian people being harmed. It is an issue of one state posing an existential threat to another. This is political. Politically I believe that an attack on Iran would be a good thing. Certainly this would be BAD for individual Iranians. That said, if the Iranian people would like to avoid being attacked they should take responsibility for their out of control government and remove it from power.

  • dayan, are you looking for another society to be ripped apart? Hasn’t there been enough with Iraq and now Lebanon? It is all out of proportion to the actual threat. It seems to me that the most militarized nations pose the biggest obstacle to greater peace in the world. Sharing rather than taking and aggressively defending seems a better way forward.

  • zagidog

    Root causes. Let’s see. How about Sykes-Picot and Balfour Declaration which flew is the face of the democratic consensus on the ground (see Woodrow Wilson’s King-Crane Commission Report on the web for overwhelming statistical evidence of this consensus, i.e, facts on the ground. Or, how about the population and land ownership stats in November 1947. Yes, the same month that Truman armtwisted and forced the brand spanking new U.N to give Zionism (not yet Israel) 56% of Palestinian land, even though the Jewish National Fund owned only 6.59% and consituted only one-third of the population. For the biased UNSCOP recommendation in favor of Zionism that was “voted” on, i.e., forced through by Truman, see Ilan Pappe’s “The Making …”. Since 1885 when the Zionist push to colonize Palestine began, that’s 65 years, this is all that Zionism could accomplish in terms of population and land ownership dominance, so they turned to the great powers to help them steal the land, and wonder today why they live in a dangerous neighborhood. This blows the Israeli myth apart that there were no people on the land and that those who were there did not want the land.

  • faysal

    Old Nick:

    “is it fair for the Lebanese who were NOT religiously sociopathic to be held responsible for the bigger, stronger, better-armed and famously crazy brother?”

    Absolutely not. As a Lebanese myself, I despise Hizbullah, but I cannot condone the punishment of a civilian population. HA represents a portion of Lebanon’s Shiite constituency, who were historically marginalized politically and who only gained access to Lebanese public life through Iranian support in the form of Hizbullah. Thus, they are extremely protective over Hizbullah’s current status.

    Because of the nature of Lebanon’s confessional system and its rather colorful history of inter-communal violence, it would have been impossible for the Lebanese Army to move militarily against Hizbullah without the army itself fracturing along sectarian lines and provoking a Lebanese civil war. This would definitely not have been in the interests of Israel. Also, Syria – Hizbullah’s patron and conduit of Iranian weapons and finance – would never have allowed this and would have stepped up its campaign of terror and assassination in Lebanon, something I doubt the Israelis would have been kind enough to step in and prevent. Therefore, the reality of the Lebanese political situation dictated that out and out military action against Hizbullah was at this time impossible. The alternatives are worse than the current situation, for both Israel and Lebanon.

    “I don’t understand how bombing the Lebanese infrastructure back to where it was developmentally 20 years ago helps them gain any strength to fight the influence of Hezbollah if they wanted to.”

    I agree. This campaign has done nothing but radicalize the Shiites who are going to support HA no matter how hard you bomb them while making enemies of all the other sects who are un-armed and have greater political maturity and interest in a stable and strong Lebanese government. Destroying Lebanon strengthens non-state elements and fractures the fragile democracy and country the Lebanese have worked so hard to built after 30 years of war and occupation. Shameful.

    The real culprits behind this war are of course Iran and Syria, neither of which are in any danger of being attacked by the US and Israel. Thus, Israel attacks who it can not who it must. Tough luck for the Lebanese? Maybe. But don’t go on about the lack of peace in the region and animosity from Israel’s northern neighbor if this is going to be approach.

    It’s ironic that in destroying Lebanon, Israel is attacking the Middle Eastern nation most likely to be open to a peacable relationship with it. Lebanon is modern, cosmopolitan and (imperfectly) democratic. This is definitely a loss.

    What’s doubly ironic is how this will all end: either in civil war when the Israelis succeed in bullying the Lebanese government to use force against Hizbullah. OR in an enhanced Hizbullah position when the Israelis – who don’t have the stomach for a prolonged land war – are repelled by the Hizbullah zealots. Grim.

  • Someone wrote that if peace were brokered and Israel and Palestine agreed to co-exist that Hezbollah would not have a reason to exist.

    From what I’ve heard about the stated mission of Hezbollah/Iran, which is to wipe Israel off the planet, I don’t see how this peace agreement would affect them at all. It might make them more angry.

    I think efforts have to be made to give the young people who are signing on to the terrorist activities other things to do. Other perceptions to hold onto.

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  • zagidog

    Allison, go back to Spring 2002 on the eve of the Israeli invasion of the West Bank with Sharon’s intended mission to destroy the Palestinian authority because he like Netanyahu never supported the Oslo process or wanted it to succeed, though Clinton did twist Netanyahu’s arm a bit at Wye. At the precipice of that invasion the Arab League meeting in Beirut offered Israel the Saudi plan, i.e., full normalization of relations with the Arab world. Peace and economic interconnectedness, in exchange for Israel finally accepting U.N. Security Council Res. 242, i.e., give up the 22% of Palestine on the West Bank and Gaza to Palestinians for a SOVERIGN state. When you have the full Arab League behind such a proposal, it can be supported by the entire world community with money and peacekeepers. Hang on groups who didn’t like it, such as Hezbollah and Iran, could then be truly marginalized by ACTION brought on by broad consensus. Did Sharon and Israel consider this call to implement what had been known as the Saudi plan put forth by the Arab League? No, they rejected it out of hand because of Sharon’s vision. You can read more about the historical tenacity with which Sharon has stuck to his goal of obliterating the Palestinians as a meaningful political entity in Noam Chomsky’s book on the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, “The Fateful Triangle”. Look at the bigger picture and ask yourself, historically, has Israel wanted peace with its neighbors, OR the expansion of its territory, OR BOTH?

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