Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 14, 2006
WAR: Cry Havoc

No time to give my full thoughts this morning on the accelerating war between Israel and Hezbollah, which controls southern Lebanon. It appears that the Israelis are mobilizing for a full-scale war, calling up the reserves. Most likely, this will mean war between Israel, on one hand, and Hezbollah, Syria, and Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon, on the other. (It may be disastrous for Assad to join in this conflict, but he may feel compelled, or Israel may attack him preemptively). If that's as far as it goes, the war will be bloody and ugly but could advance the long-term peace of the region by removing Hezboollah from its power base, permitting the full integration of Lebanon into a freestanding democracy, and potentially toppling the brutal and troublesome Assad regime.

Where things get really dicey for the rest of us, however, is what the Iranians do in response - they can't well take the loss of Hezbollah, a crucial terrorist proxy, sitting down, but as a matter of simple geography anything beyond very low profile support would involve violating the territory and/or airspace of Turkey (a NATO member) and/or Iraq (which, obviously, is the site of some 130,000 U.S. troops, including a number of the world's best combat units), as well as possibly Jordan and/or Saudi Arabia. Any of these steps would push Iran, ultimately, into war with the U.S., and possibly force the hand of some of our allies who would normally sit on their hands even if Israel was on the brink of extermination. My guess is that the Iranians have to back down and let Olmert clean out their allies in that neighborhood, but smaller things have started bigger wars.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:33 AM | War 2006 | Comments (17) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Forgive me for scoffing at the notion that some more massive war than the ones all ready being conducted in the Middle East will lead to long-term peace but I cannot think of any reaction more plausible. They have been at it for centuries there (which is partly why are incursion there is either misguided or disengenuous) and short of finding someone to put some oceans around each nation or convincing everyone over there that religion is not only a fairy tale but as important as one as well there is not going to be any peace. Oh, I guess you could just kill every single person over there. That would do it, too. Perhaps that is the strategy we are taking. In this setting, in this place in the world war only leads to more war or war down the road.

Posted by: jim at July 14, 2006 4:58 PM

Don't get to excited about the prospects of Israel uprooting Hezbollah in Lebanon. Remember the last time they invaded Lebanon they pushed the PLO out. Needless to say, that did not spell the end of either the PLO or terrorist attacks against Israel.

Posted by: robertl at July 14, 2006 7:24 PM

I don't think there is any other country in the world that is supposed to shrug it off when people fire rockets into their country from another, so I don't really fault the Israelis for acting. I'm not optimistic about it turning out well, but diplomacy with people who are never willing to give anything is never going to end well, either.

Posted by: Jerry at July 14, 2006 11:00 PM

A fundamentalist would say this is the beginning of the end. As a Catholic who sees Peter's speech at Pentecost (referring back to Joel) as the beginning of the millenium (not a literal thousand years, mind you), or the Church Age, I think the fundamentalists are wrong about their chronology (i.e., the millenium is right now, not later, as Catholic teaching holds), but thse are scary times nonetheless. I hope we, the US, play it right.

Posted by: John Salmon at July 15, 2006 2:52 PM

RE: "the war will be bloody and ugly but could advance the long-term peace of the region"

Yeah -- one more war and we'll see Bush's whole master plan come together, right?

The Middle East is not some board game with a neat beginning and ending. Its struggles date back more than two millenea. Peace can only be achieved through ongoing vigilance and diplomatic efforts. To think there is a master solution right around the corner is ridiculous.

RE: "any other country in the world that is supposed to shrug it off when people fire rockets into their country'

And the Palestinians could say the same thing. So many poeple echo the same facille arguments. Another popular one is 'what would the US do if Mexico attacked us?' Wake up -- these people are fighting over the same country and have been since Israel was created in 1948.

Posted by: patrick at July 15, 2006 7:08 PM

Don't be so sure that removal of the Assad regime would bring stability.

What takes its place could be far worse.

Posted by: Mike at July 16, 2006 10:26 AM

Patrick, the Mexican analogy is more apt than you thinkl. We created a war to take California, and the Alamo is famous since a group of white Texans wanted to break free of Mexico, since they did not permit slavery, and the US then did.

Look, it's really simple: when a sovreign nation, or even worse, a legal part of that sovreign nation (and that is now what Hezbollah is) stars firing missiles, and starts invading and kidnapping people (and BTW not just soldiers, they've started doing it with civilians, teenagers, etc), well, we generally call that an act of war. And a nation simply has a requirement, not just a justification, but a mandate to safeguard their borders from military strikes.

Period. Americans would fight back. The French would write a cookbook when their heads came from the sand. Nothing changes.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at July 16, 2006 12:24 PM

and the French have what, exactly, to do with this?

Last I checked, "winning the peace" is far and away the number one reason to wage war both in the Mideast and elsewhere. And what a stunning success it has been, eh? Especially over there in Korea. And Vietnam. And the Mideast. You're gonna have to come up with a newer rationale for legalized murder on a grotesque scale someday, hawks, 'cause the rest of us still have some memory left.

Shame on the Lebanese for letting a group like Hezbollah become such a powerful force in their national government and military. But let's not let the IDF off the hook either, since what happened recently to three of their soldiers to kick this whole thing off has been happening for decades to any and all opponents of Israeli military dominance in the region. Israel needs to be held accountable for their actions and made to understand the counterproductivity of acting as if the US will back them up NO MATTER WHAT they do. And the Arab/Muslim nations of the world need to pull their collective heads out of their backsides and figure out that they cannot win the jihad their extremist brothers espouse without the incurrence of suffering and loss on a scale that could serve to endanger their existence as a culture.

Posted by: searsponcho at July 17, 2006 12:36 PM

Shame on the Lebanese for letting a group like Hezbollah become such a powerful force in their national government and military.

You're kidding, right? I mean, you are aware that Hezbollah thrived in Lebanon because the country was occupied and dominated by Syria for decades and that the Syrians are one of Hezbollah's major patrons, right? This is not a problem of the Lebanese people's making.

Posted by: The Crank at July 17, 2006 6:40 PM

First, the reason I pick on the French is because it is to easy to. They cheer bombing a McDonbals, yet their French unit is about the most profitable in the Golden Arch empire--and they never ever meiss an opportunity to criticize us while they do nothing but saute asparagus.

And blaming the Lebanese?? All they di was establish a secualr nation and got along quite well with the world for years until they were invaded by Syria. The world, of course, did nothing, including those selfsame asparagus cookers, who supposedly cared about Lebanon. Beirut was supposed to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. A terrible shame what their fellow arabs wrought.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at July 17, 2006 9:34 PM

Daryl,

Sauteed asparagus would not really be considered true French cuisine. True French haute cuisine would generally involve steaming or blanching the asparagus.

Posted by: jim at July 18, 2006 12:17 PM

I forgot to mention that Texas was fighting at the Alamo (and soon afterward, successfully, at San Jacinto) for independence from Mexico in order to become a sovereign nation in 1836, which it remained until 1845 when it became a state.

Sure it's easy to pick on the French. It's also stale, simplistic, and irrelevant in this context. Unless you want to talk about the colonialization of Lebanon, or French occupation until the end of WWII, which again seems superflous. We could compare our abysmal State Department and Pentagon planning for withdrawl of US nationals with to the swift and decisive way the French have managed a nearly equal number of expatriates - but similarly - I fail to see the relevance to this thread.

Finally, to the inference that I am laying the consequences of these latest mutual bombing campaigns at the feet of innocent Lebanese civilians, I'll just say that the history of that country and their various governments' collective blind eyes to Muslim aggression is once again proving the quick road to a humiliating kick in the crotch - one that civilians, sympathetic and otherwise, will continue to feel unless they can figure out a way to force the jihadists out onto the fringe of local Arab politics.

Consider again the last words of my previous post:

"And the Arab/Muslim nations of the world need to pull their collective heads out of their backsides and figure out that they cannot win the jihad their extremist brothers espouse without the incurrence of suffering and loss on a scale that could serve to endanger their existence as a culture."

Are you saying that you disagree with this assessment? Or that somehow Israel or the west can expedite this transformation by force?

Posted by: searsponcho at July 18, 2006 12:27 PM

Say what you want about asparagus but I sure wouldn't protest if today's lunch was duck confit with pommes frites. Preceded by a huge bowl of mussels steamed in white wine, garlic and lemon. Followed by a glass of sherry burgundy and a slice of mille-feuille.

Sorry, just had to do it.

Posted by: searsponcho at July 18, 2006 12:44 PM

Good lord man don't forget the Burgundy or the Sancerre to go with the meal!

Posted by: jim at July 18, 2006 1:53 PM

Naturellement, I'd need a glass of each - Sancerre avec aperitif - and uh, the red with the duck.

Posted by: searsponcho at July 18, 2006 2:10 PM



"What they need to do is get Syria to get Hizbollah to stop this shit and it's over"

The President has divined a solution...now we can return to our discussions of the Pennant Race.

Posted by: patrick at July 18, 2006 3:26 PM

I hope they take out Iran while they are at it.

Posted by: dr. jeff at July 18, 2006 7:37 PM
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