Saturday, July 22, 2006

Stepping on landmines

Israel and the US claim they want to disarm Hizbollah. What they fail to acknowledge is that the Lebanese government has never been in a position to disarm, remove or replace Hizbollah. Please explain exactly how they were supposed to do this?

Has Israel, with a much stronger army, ever been able to disarm or remove Hamas, a much weaker movement? Could Arafat or Abbas, weakened by years of Israeli raids on Palestinian National Authority police and security forces have done so? Can the US disarm Moqtada Sadr's Mahdi Army?

The idea of physically attacking, defeating and disarming these militant movements is a red herring. It sounds nice but it is not in the least bit realistic. The failure here is to come to a negotiated settlement that ends these conflicts. Unilateral military action, whether attacks or withdrawls, only feeds the conflicts.
In the meantime, here's what the conflicts mean:
"These people, what was their sin to die?" asked Ziad Shahadi, one of the onlookers.
"None of them was carrying a weapon. None of them was wearing a uniform. None of them were soldiers on the ground," he said. "They were all civilians. There's no military honor in this, none. How could there be? Killing the young and the old."

Civilian casualties are mounting in Lebanon. No. 37 became Sally Wahbi, a 7-year-old who died in an attack on the Civil Defense Building in Tyre on Sunday. No. 35, Alia Alaedeen, who suffered serious head injuries as she was escaping the town of Sarifa on Wednesday and died Thursday. And No. 73 became Mariam Abdullah, who along with Zahra, Hadi and Myrna was among the 23 people killed in an Israeli attack on a pickup truck escaping the town of Marwaheen last Saturday.

I'm reluctant to post this next link, it has some of the most horrific pictures I've ever seen, but this is the real meaning of war, not the pretty sanitized computer games and Hollywood-like scenes we usually see on TV. I don't mean to sponser the site by sharing it. I have no idea who put it together, but maybe it will make people less eager for war.

Forget all the extended commentary you read about the conflict in Lebanon. The average person speaks it better than anyone.

“If you speak the truth here you are called a traitor,” Mr. Abdullah said. “But we all know that this is a war between Iran and America. I am paying part of the price for it.” Then he suddenly grew pensive as he stood at the edge of the trench. “That’s my daughter, No. 9,” he said, pointing at a coffin coming out of the truck as. “It’s a nice number, don’t you think? And No. 7, it’s a nice number, too. It’s my wife. And there’s No. 10. I hope they will be lucky.”

The stupid right-wing arm chair analysts, who've never experienced a conflict in their lives, are cheering on Israel, and a friend of mine here in Jordan suggested last night that the US maybe wants this war more than Israel does. He argued that the US sees this as an opportunity to reduce Iranian influence in the region and are egging the Israelis on. Israelis are privately more torn about it then they admit in public, especially those in the military. They recognize air-power alone won't acheive thier goals and are worried about the costs of a land invasion. They recognize the limits of their power and if you look closely you can see that they don't quite know what they are doing.

Israel has already lost this war, radicalized people who just a few months ago were moderates and given a new generation of Lebanese a reason to hate them more than the last. Until people in the west understand how military defeat of one's enemy can translate into his political victory we will continue to step into fields of landmines all over the Middle East.

An old proverb aptly describes what is happening right now: "The jackal has swallowed a scythe. When it comes out the back end you will hear the howls."


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