Thursday, August 03, 2006

Could the Lebanese army provide the needed solution?

Recently I've had the unusual experience of being in the minority on leftist blogs, and agreeing with the most hard core of right wingers on right-leaning blogs. Well, I call it like I see it.

The issue is the war in Lebanon. My own view is that the Israelis, having withdrawn from the area and subsequently been subject to small scale but escalating attacks from the area (which has been 'guarded' by an ineffective U.N. peacekeeping force), had little choice except to go on the offensive after the latest escalation, an attack by Hezbollah militants across the border on an Israeli army post, in which three Israeli soldiers were killed and two were captured. If Israel continued to do nothing, or simply bombed some target in Lebanon and called it even, these attacks would continue and they would continue to escalate, until you saw the same full scale war between Israel and Hezbollah that you see today, except that it would be being waged inside of Israel instead of in Lebanon.

Of course, if Hezbollah had their bases in designated military areas like most nations do, we would not have seen this level of civilian casualties. But they don't. They have their 'bases' in the basements of apartment buildings, in schools, in hospitals, wherever they can find a place that the Israelis will be excoriated if they dare attack. They use harbors, airports and civilian highways as supply lines (and if the Israelis really wanted to just destroy Lebanese infrastructure as opposed to preventing resupply for Hezbollah, they would have also bombed the ports, but they haven't because they have a navy that can blockade ports so that bombing port facilities is unnecessary, and will allow quick movement of emergency supplies into Lebanon when this is over and airports and highways still have to be repaired.)They launch missiles into Israel from urban areas (for example, the missiles that have fallen on Haifa were launched from Tyre) and then get out the cameras and wait for the bombs to start falling. Israel has done what few other armies try to do in order to prevent civilian casualties. They have dropped leaflets in advance that state that they will bomb a particular area so that people can leave. And hundreds of thousands of Lebanese have left southern Lebanon. But there are those who can't leave, and those are the ones who end up on TV. In fact, a Lebanese website has how even leveled the accusastion that the children in Qana were invalid children (mostly severely mentally retarded) who were collected from local families and planted in the building by Hezbollah when then left a rocket launcher on the roof specifically for the purpose of making sure the Israelis bombed the building. I don't know if the Lebanese who run the site are right about that, but it is interesting that when the building did collapse on the children (eight hours after the actual bombing) there were representatives of every major news organization on hand, among the hundreds of bombing sites around southern Lebanon (of course until the building collapsed, the story was not particularly newsworthy because there were not yet any casualties).

The fundamental problem for Israel is this though: Hezbollah is committed to the destruction of Israel. It is hard to stop fighting with someone who refuses to stop fighting with you, who refuses to negotiate with you, and who is committed to your annihilation.

So what can be done? Assuming that Hezbollah will continue to exist (and at some level they will, no matter how successful the Israeli offensive eventually is) and that over time they will re-arm themselves, and will still attack Israel if they can, what can be done to prevent this outcome?

The answer is to not only take Lebanese President Emile Lahoud at his word from two weeks ago, when he said that the Lebanese army should deploy along the border with Israel, but prevent attacks on Israel from that area, but give him the power to make good on that pledge. Of course Lahoud is a friend of both the Syrians and Hezbollah, but he is also the President of Lebanon, which is his primary obligation, and is still the only person who has made a suggestion that has the potential to form the basis for peace. Lebanon (unlike Syria) has recognized and participated in negotiations with Israel in the past. The Lebanese government is a democracy, and sooner or later Lahoud will be replaced democratically by other leaders.

And the model already exists. Israel has two secure borders. That is, two borders across which there are no terrorist attacks, no infiltration by terrorists, and in fact which trade can pass freely across. Those are their borders with Egypt and Jordan, two neighbors who have recognized and made peace with Israel. Of course, both borders are still monitored and militarized (not surprising given the history of past wars and present tensions) but the fact is that the Egyption army prevents terrorists from setting up bases to attack Israel from Egyptiat territory and the Jordanian army does the same in Jordanian territory. There may be an occasional rocket fired from Aqaba into Elat as there has been on rare occasions in the past, but the Israelis tolerate that because they know when it happens that the Jordanians are right on it, arrest and try the guilty party if they are caught, and certainly beef up police presence in the area for long enough to prevent it from becoming a regular occurrence. The Israelis don't necessarily expect a 100% success rate in stopping terror by the Jordanians and the Egyptians (the Amman and Sharm el Sheikh bombings show that they can't even be 100% successful at stopping their own terrorists) but they are satisfied that the effort is being made and it is on the whole very successful.

We've seen that the U.N. peacekeepers are useless in this situation. Deployment by a foreign peacekeeping force that has the teeth to actually keep the peace, possibly including Americans, has been discussed by I think that would be a terrible idea. Such a force will be looked at as occupiers and will itself be subject to attack (as Americans were, at a high cost in blood, when Ronald Reagan briefly tried to intervene in Lebanon). Given that we are already stuck in a situation like that in Iraq and in Afghanistan thanks to George Bush's bungling of both wars, I see no benefit to America to being stuck in a third middle eastern country fighting a guerilla war. Nor is this an answer even without Americans, because eventually a foreign force would face domestic pressure to withdraw and then we would be back to where we are today. So that leaves the Lebanese army, which according to common sense should be the only army in Lebanon, as also the only option to form a force which is in fact the only army in Lebanon.

Lahoud's problem is that right now, the Lebanese army is weak. It is not even the strongest army in Lebanon when the Israelis are out of the country, being less powerful militarily than Hezbollah. The world will need to do two things to guarantee peace in the region-- 1. give the Lebanese army the military hardware and professional training it needs to battle either Hezbollah or Israel if necessary (though the former is much more likely-- the Israelis keep their word, and won't attack Lebanon if they are not attacked from Lebanon), and 2. (this is the more difficult task to be sure) give the Lebanese government the support it needs to become a real government, so that they will also have the backbone to fight Hezbollah if Hezbollah or some similar group decides to set up shop in southern Lebanon. The Jordanians and the Egyptians have established the model, now Lebanon needs to follow it.

And if they do, it could lead to bigger things. The Israelis have been willing to withdraw from land in exchange for peace in the past (for example they gave the Sinai back to Egypt), and if this kind of model worked in Lebanon then it might even set a clear roadmap for the Syrians (who still want Israel out of the Golan heights) and the Palestinians.

20 comments:

HD_Wanderer said...

"Recently I've had the unusual experience of being in the minority on leftist blogs, and agreeing with the most hard core of right wingers on right-leaning blogs."

Apparently it is possible to be both Left and right...

Bad pun, but I couldn't help it. Nice post.

Eli Blake said...

I'd like to think that I am on the Left, but also right.

Indy Voter said...

Eli, your penultimate paragraph hits on the fatal flaw in your proposal. Not only is the Lebanese Army weak, their entire government is weak. They're not really capable of governing the different ethnic/religious regions of their nations without the active cooperation of the factions which dominate those regions.

Also, neither Jordan nor Egypt faced either a civil war or de facto partition of the nation between two foreign powers during the past three decades, either. Lebanon hasn't really recovered from those twin calamities.

I totally agree with you that Lebanon needs time to sort itself out. They needed it after the Syrians withdrew, and they need it more now that Israel has turned much of their infrastructure into rubble. I don't think they're going to get that time, however.

dorsano said...

Those who say that "Hezbollah started this" are ignoring 80 years of history.

Now here's a question for anyone reading that? What's the first thought that came to your mind?

Am I defending Hezbollah? Am I justifying the kidnapping? Do I hate Israel and Jews? Am I a terrorist lover? Am I an appeaser. Am I "soft on terror."

Just curious ...

The fact that "this" didn't begin three weeks ago doesn't justify Hezbollah's actions (or mission or methods for that matter)

But the "Hezbollah started this" is a rhetorical frame that oversimplifies the complexities of reality

And it is cage that limits the choice of actions available.

============

One of major drivers of unrest in the Middle East, though not the only one, is Israel's occupation of lands she does not own.

This can not be minimized or rationalized away - sorry.

The fact that extremist groups like Hezbollah do not accept Israel's right to exist is NOT justification for Israel's annexation of territory under force - especially Palestian lands.

It is not only wrong for Israel to hold those lands, it is against her best interest because there will never peace in the Middle East until those lands are returned.

If the United States is to be perceived as an honest broker in the region, as it was in large part during both the Clinton and the Bush Sr. presidencies, it needs to publically acknowledge that point loudly and clearly and it needs to begin soon to put presure on Israel to return those lands.

This is no trivial grievence and anyone that doesn't understand that doesn't understand the Middle East.

And any argument or any plan for peace (or disscussion of recent events for that matter) that doesn't begin there will never make sense.

It's all chatter.

dorsano said...

I don't know if the Lebanese who run the site are right about that ...

Hezbollah believes that all Lebanese should be willing to die to defeat Israel so they don't get too bent out of shape when some of them do.

Hezbollah also believes that Lebanon should become an Islamic state along the lines of Iran but they are publically committed to achieving those ends by "democratic" means and in fact have gained some representation in the Lebanese government including two cabinet positions.

Israel's currently helping them with their get out the vote effort for the next election.

Well over 500 Lebanese have died so far and over 1/3 of them are kids. Only a moonbat on a right wing blog would believe that they all were planted by Hezbollah even if we find that some of them were.

The thing about Hezbollah is that they can kill as many kids as they deem necessary and not suffer remorse over it

but every child that Israel kills is a wound to Israel herself

it is a wound to her soul, it's a wound to her prestige around the world, and it's a wound that ultimately endangers her existence as a nation because

no democracy can survive by killing kids.

The fact that terrorists kill kids doesn't pardon a democracy for doing so

When cops chase down a dangerous, armed suspect in a crowded mall, they don't pull out their guns and start shooting up the place - we're a bit different than Hezbollah in that regard

at least we were

EAPrez said...

you've been tagged.....i tagged you on my blog today hope you don't mind.

Eli Blake said...

dorsano:

It is true that Israel needs to get out of the Palestinian lands (though they acquired them not by defeating the Palestinians in a war, but by defeating Egypt and Jordan in a war, as those countries had occupied the lands previously.

And they are getting out. They have gotten out of Gaza. Ohlmert has stated he plans to continue Sharon's plan to evacuate the West Bank, with or without Palestinian participation. And no, that evacuation won't include east Jerusalem, the land the Israelis are building their border wall on, or a few enclaves of settlements, which the Palestinians can blame themselves for by reason that they aren't choosing to meet the Israelis to negotiate the details of the withdrawal.

But you know what? When Israel was 100% out of Gaza, it was attacked from Gaza. When they were out of Lebanon, they were attacked from Lebanon. I bet that once Israel is out of the West Bank (even if they do get all the way out) they will be attacked from the West Bank.

And the reason I have trouble taking people seriously who propose "immediate peace" is that not one of them is willing to address why, if the land is no longer occupied, Israel was attacked from Lebanon or Gaza, or why they won't be attacked from the West Bank if they leave the West Bank. There is no attempt to address that issue from people who insist that Israel stop their current offensives, but it is the proverbial "elephant in the middle of the room" that has to be discussed if you expect to make a case for why Israel should agree to a ceasefire and withdraw again from Lebanon.

Eli Blake said...

Indy Voter:

Their government is weak, but that can be changed too. A generation ago, the governments in South America were weak, and coups were the norm.

But today, nearly every government there is elected, and even a real challenge to democracy (as we see now in Mexico, where Calderon won the election but is facing continued demonstrations by supporters of Obrador) is not being met with riot police and paramilitary death squads as it once would have been, but by an ongoing discussion in Mexico about how to involve everyone in the system.

Lebanon does face unique challenges, but in that the government there does include everyone from Hezbollah to former members of the Phalange, it is at least a broadly based government and one leading a country that is unified (even if it is against a common enemy at the moment, Israel). There is also an opportunity here to strengthen the Lebanese government by investing in rebuilding the country, not by self serving no-bid contracts, but by something akin to the Marshall plan in which the international community makes a direct investment, and (this should be stressed) Israel providing at least a portion of the funds (which Israel is likely to do if they see how it will benefit them to have a stronger Lebanese government) -- with the Lebanese government ultimately making the decisions about what the priorities are and directing those funds while western countries (here is a very good use for NATO) train the Lebanese army into an effective force, not only for fighting, but also for controlling their own territory.

dorsano said...

But you know what? When Israel was 100% out of Gaza, it was attacked from Gaza.

You know what? It still doesn't make holding the land right and retaking the land won't stop the attacks.

And when she returns to the 67 borders (which she must if there is to be any hope of peace) and when the issues around Jerusalem are negotiated (which they must be if there is to be any hope of peace)

she will still be attacked most likely - but the 67 border is the high ground - it is the moral high ground, it is high ground in the court of world opinion and it is the high ground in the minds of most everyone living in the Middle East except for the 3000 - 4000 Hezbollah and the Hamas leadership.

Hezbollah is not Lebanon but just like Israel's actions in Palestine has made Hamas the majority party it's actions in Lebanon are going to make Hezbollah the majority party.

And when the people of Israel first came to settle that area, the Lebanese were one of the few peoples who openly welcomed them.

And the reason I have trouble taking people seriously who propose "immediate peace" is that not one of them is willing to address why ...

No one is proposing "immediate peace". Most everyone except the U.S. and Israel are calling for an immediate cease fire. (and you know that as well as I do).

Lebanon has the makings of being one of Israel's best neighbors and Israel is destroying that future.

Whatever actions she takes should be to strengthen the Lebanese government not weaken it.

Her response to Hezbollah has turned a kidnapping into a major crisis if not a fight for her existence.

What's "tougher" sucking it up and agreeing to a forced prisoner exchange and taking out Hezbollah leadership three months later

or destroying your support around the world and destroying a future with Lebanon as a friend

all because "she had no choice". Hezbollah pricked Israel into a knee jerk response - into a battle that she can't win without committing genocide.

And you know what? Occupying Lebanon didn't work the first time around - that's why Israel left.

Scowcroft has some thoughts on the matter

If the president was as smart has father was he would sat on Israel and insisted she devise a response to Hezbollah that had some chance of success. This one doesn't.

dorsano said...

The reason Israel was able to secure peace with Jordan and Egypt after 67 was because she made peace with the nations she fought.

Hezbollah is a guerilla proxy for Iran and to a certain extent Syria. Iran wants to be seen as the pre-eminent force in the region and a major player on the world stage. One objective is to be seen as the champion of Palestinian grievances.

For Israel to win that kind of war she needs a different strategy and how that is not obvious today is beyond me.

I'm not sure such a war is winnable militarily

but if Israel believed that a military response was her only option, she should have used the opportunity to strike at Iran's nuclear facilities and degrade its missle capability and maybe taken out its navy and airforce at the same time.

to exclude such a military option is to confine oneself to the same box LBJ placed himself in Vietnam. The amount of force brought to bear in Vietnam was always calculated not to bring China or Russia directly in to the conflict.

Iran doesn't care about Lebanon at least not until it becomes an Islamic state. Anyone who thinks they do is delusional. Syria doesn't care much either.

Don't like that idea? I don't blame you, but at least she'd be fighting the right nation.

Eli Blake said...

As a matter of fact, I like Scowcroft's ideas, especially those on the Palestinian issue.

I do question whether an international force, no matter how robust, would work. Recall that in 1984, we had a 'robust' force in Beirut, one which quickly ended after 241 American marines and 44 French paratroopers were killed by suicide bombers. And they'd become targets again. Right now, the last thing the U.S. needs is to be fighting another unseen enemy in the middle east, with us being dragged deeper into Iraq and Afghanistan.

Here is possibly a workable idea-- what if you agreed to strengthen the Lebanese army but then to stiffen their backbone and determination to keep order, you got them to agree for a fixed period of time (say five years) to include within each division a brigade of troops from an arab country where order is on the whole kept very firmly (Egypt being the most obvious candidate) to show how it is done. The brigade would be commanded by an Egyptian officer but he would take his orders from the Lebanese commanding officer of the unit. After five years, if order had been kept, the Lebanese would be given 100% of the responsibility and the Egyptians would go back to Egypt.

she will still be attacked most likely.

Do you know any country in the world which would not respond if they were attacked? That is the problem. You may recall that Barbi and I had a discussion of what would happen if the U.S. was attacked from Mexico, and Pancho Villa came up, since he did attack the U.S. from Mexico in 1916. Now, it is true that after chasing him 2000 miles around Mexico, we looked foolish, and that later after the loss of over 100,000 American troops during World War I Americans had no stomach for any more of Pancho Villa (though President Wilson was ready to occupy Juarez during the 1919 incident) but what we did do was what we should have done in the first place-- we worked on strengthening the then-government of Mexico (which had been a lawless place full of bandits) to bring order to their country, and as they gained strength and control over Mexico, lo and behold, one day THEY did what we never did, and caught Pancho Villa.

There is a great deal to be learned from history, and we should be ready to do the same for Lebanon.

And yes, I think that when the crisis is resolved and Lebanon is rebuilt, it is important that Israel make a sizable monetary contribution towards the rebuilding effort. But that can come later.

Eli Blake said...

As for the idea that Israel should be fighting Iran instead of Hezbollah, I doubt if they will do that. You suggested that they might take out Iran's nuclear facilities and missile capability.

To be honest, dorsano, I don't think they could. Unlike Saddam's nuclear facility, which could be destroyed by one quick strike, Iran has decentralized their nuclear program to where it would take a concerted bombing campaign. They are much more intelligent about things like that than Saddam's one-dimensional mind. It would present a challenge even for the U.S. to really take all that out, and Israel, with a far smaller air force, and having to fly across over a thousand miles of hostile air space both going and coming back every single bombing mission, would simply put not have the capability.

Further, any ground war between Israel and Iran would likely end up being fought in Lebanon anyway because it would be much easier for the Iranians to 'smuggle' their troops across the porous borders of northern Iraq and through Syria into Lebanon than it would be for Israel to get and troops into any position from which they would be able to attack Iran, let alone supply them once they did. That's just the geography of the situation.

dorsano said...

I do question whether an international force, no matter how robust, would work.

I think hell will freeze over before there is an international force. Think about reconstructing Lebanon in that environment. And think about Israel's choices now. She has just fertilized Hezbollah's garden.

dorsano said...

As for the idea that Israel should be fighting Iran instead of Hezbollah, I doubt if they will do that. You suggested that they might take out Iran's nuclear facilities and missile capability.


I doubt Israel will attack Iran - but if they feel they need to bomb someone that's who they should bomb.

That fact that a bunch of politicans disagree with me, doesn't make me wrong.

If I thought politicans, ours and theirs, were doing the right thing, I wouldn't be here.

=====

It doesn't matter if Israel completely destroys Iran's nuclear infrastructure or not. If Israel is going to "punish" anyone, or demonstrate that they have a deterrent they should be punishing and deterring Iran - that's who needs to be deterred.

Right now, they've demonstrated that they can destroy Lebanon and not deter 3000 - 4000 lightly armed millitia. If Iran trashes Lebanon in response to an Israeli attack, Iran loses.

dorsano said...

Do you know any country in the world which would not respond if they were attacked?

Reagan made the right choice when he pulled U.S. troops out of Lebanon after we were attacked and lost over 240 marines.

But if you insist that there is "no other choice" then hit Iran's military infrastructure - no civilians killed, no civilian infrastructure damage, the Lebanese government is not weakened, and Iran is "deterred".

If you're not tough enough to do that then maybe you should think twice about bombing the shit out of Lebanon to try and exterminate Hezbollah.

========

Nation's get suckered all the time - especially by guerilla forces. Israel made the wrong response against the wrong party. She's has already lost and if that's not plain it will become so soon.

Hezbollah will not be destroyed.
Hezbollah will rearm.
Hezbollah will become more influential in Lebanese politics.
Hezbollah will be even more emboldened.
Hezbollah will look like heros in the region.
Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Queda - all three at odds politically, ideologically and operationally will move closer together.
Israel has exposed her weakness.

Any other president other than our current one wouldn't have given Israel a green light for this action.

dorsano said...

Your post is looking for a solution ...

Like I said, there can be no solution without addressing Israel's occupation.

Why is it that we can talk about anything in the Middle East = the role of women, terrorism, civil liberties, economic policy, the role of religion,

but as soon as we mention Israel's occuption we're told we must excuse it because a sliver of the population in the region wants to exterminate Israel. And being told to excuse is the polite response, usuall we're called terrorist lovers.

That needs to change. Step one is to make that point in public conversation so people can begin to think for themselves.

Step two is to have an honest, real public debate.

=========

If I do something wrong

and someone does something wrong and calls me on it.

Does that make me right?

===========

Israel is occupying lands she does not own and most likely some of the people she's holding at least deserve a trial in an international court.

So Hezbollah is right (yea - I know, I'm a terrorist lover and soft on terror, and an Israel blamer, yada, yada, yada)

I think a great response under the circumstances would have been to suck it up and publically ignore Hezbollah and continue to track the leadership and when actionable intelligence was obtained, respond with a quick reaction force (not just bombs). And if you get someone, call it even.

Or hit Iran if sucking it up proves too difficult.

dorsano said...

by the way, I agree with Scowcroft and always have.

It was bombing Iran that I thought you might not agree with.

There are two proverbial elephants, one is Israel annexation of lands and the other is Iran's use of Hezbollah to wage war on Israel and transform states like Lebanon in satelite Islamic states.

Both need to be dealt with if there is to be peace in the Middle East.

dorsano said...

Have you ever played chess, Eli? to at least a semi-serious level?

Do you understand what it means during the opening and mid-game to "control the center"

Palestinian grievances represent "the center" of Middle Eastern politics. Every offensive player in the region, Iran, Syria, Iraq (even now), al-Qaeda, Hamas, etc.

seeks to control the center and claim the Palestinian cause as theirs.

======

How do we implement Scrowcroft's plan and gain control of the center?

Every step of the way we will be fought.

Assuming we manage to elect someone who understands the Middle East to the extent that the Clinton and Bush Sr. teams did

and we begin anew the peace process

when we come once again within reach of a settlement

Hezbollah will attack Israel. Israel will be negotiating with a Hamas led government but the Hamas irregular militia may attack as well.

=====

Am I going to hear AGAIN that Israel MUST respond in kind? That she has NO OTHER choice? That we need to be TOUGH on terrorists?

=====

Who's playing whom here for a fool?

=====

If Israel withdraws under fire to the 67 borders and completes the negotiations under fire for the final disposition of Jerusalem

and then goes to war with Iran (if the agent is Hezbollah) and Syria if necessary, she'll have the backing of most of the world and perhaps the U.N. Security Council. And a U.S. led force will have no appearance of being an agent of Israel.

Palestine and Lebanan should not be attacked no matter how many attacks are launched from those countries.

and the the war can be prosecuted until Hezbollah and the Hamas militia are disbanded

or until the current Iranian and Syrian governments are replaced.

========

Is that being tough enough on terror?

=========

Is Chuck Hagel thinking along those lines when calls on Israel to stand down now?

How can we tell which candidates will be "tough on terror"?

Eli Blake said...

Dorsano:

First, I hope you are right about no international force and especially none including Americans. Otherwise we would be repeating Reagan's mistake. However, the Lebanese army is not an international force, it is a domestic force, and since Lahoud stated quite clearly that he is willing to deploy it to the south to displace Hezbollah, my point is that the international community should strengthen both the government and the army to the point where that suggestion can be put into action.

Until it is put into action, I honestly at this point don't see any chance of an Israeli withdrawal very soon.

Further, I would disagree with you about the idea that if they do, then they would have the 'moral high ground.' They did withdraw from Lebanon, and nobody ever condemned subsequent mortar and rocket attacks into Israeli border communities. They withdrew from Gaza, with the same outcome. They have announced their intention to withdraw from the West Bank, outside of east Jerusalem and a couple of settlements which they would very likely agree to withdraw from as well if the Palestinians were willing to meet with them to discuss it. But even if not, it will be true that by 2012, unless something like the current conflict changes their plans, Israel will, with or without Palestinian and arab consent, have withdrawn from nearly all of the land that she occupied in 1967 (the only other area that Israel might still be occupying is the Golan heights, from which Syrian artillery used to shell Israel. And Israel would give that back too, if Syria would agree to sign an Egyptian style treaty normalizing relations with them.)

So I guess my answer to your contention is that Israel has been working on creating a secure border and withdrawing from occupied territory for the past few years, and it is groups like Hezbollah that won't even let them do that. And, if they succeed, and by 2012 are out of the West Bank, Gaza, and Lebanon, you know what? The rest of the world will still support those who want to completely get rid of Israel and wipe it off the map.

And that's where the logic comes in. Israel has never been the beneficiary of world opinion, not at the time that the P.L.O. first began operations in 1965 (two years before the 'occupied territory' as it is now defined existed-- according to these groups, even downtown Tel Aviv is 'occupied territory'), not at the time of the 1973 war when Israel was attacked, and not at any time since (despite the fact that not only have they announced plans to withdraw from the territory they now occupy, but have already withdrawn from most of what they occupied after the 1967 war).

And as for chess (and yes, I once won a tournament, though that was ages ago) Israel's attempts to address Palestinian grievances include the aforementioned plan to withdraw from virtually all of the West Bank and Gaza over the next few years. And what they aren't withdrawing from, they could if Palestinians could and would police their own extremist elements.

But since the definition of 'occupied territory' according to even official sites maintained by the government of Palestine includes every inch of Israel, it does not matter whether Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, or to the 1948 partition, or even just to one square mile in Tel Aviv. Hence the Palestinian/Israeli conflict will continue no matter what the border is. And when it does, I doubt if world opinion will be any different than it is now.

dorsano said...

The rest of the world will still support those who want to completely get rid of Israel and wipe it off the map.

Then we see the world differently because even in the Middle East the majority of the population accepts the existence Israel.

And the U.N. Security council has passed numerous resolutions in her defense including those calling for Hezbollah to disarm.

The fact that there are extremists who wish to see Israel's destruction has been used to justify Israel's self destructive behavior for too long.

It's creating a self fullfilling prophecy.

Your argument proceeds from a false premise, Eli - the rest of the world does not deny Israel's right to exist or to defend herself.

It does find Israel's treatment of the Palestinians and her actions against Lebanon repulsive and so do I.

=====

But it is true that Israel has begun to see how she is hurting herself and is withdrawing from lands she doesn't own - though the extent of her unilateral withdrawal is not as generous as you make it out to be. So apparently she sees things as I do in that regard.

======

Israel helped Hamas win a majority. She's doing the same favor for Hezbollah in Lebanon. I don't know if Hamas can be brought to the table even if there is a concerted effort to do so, but I suspect they could eventually. Perhaps they will be voted out of office soon.

======

As to the argument about strengthening Lebanon, I've argued that from the beginning and that is one of failures of Israel's response - it doesn't accomplish that end.

She's hurt Lebanon badly and frankly right now I can't imagine them doing anything other than telling Israel to go hell.

And I think it's the epidemy of arrogance for any nation such as ours who blocked a call at the U.N. for a cease fire

to expect Lebanon to do so.

Let's bomb the shit out of Lebanon so we can strengthen her - yea right.

======

You still don't seem to acknowledge that Hezbollah is a tool of Iran.

That Iran is using Hezbollah to turn Lebanon into an Iranian satellite, aligned, politically, ideologically and economically.

And that's why Israel's reponse will fail both tactically and strategically.

========

But by God, we were tough on terror.