July 23, 2006
WAR: Strong Words
They are only words, and one can argue that the President shouldn't offer anything but words at this point anyway. But it is a fine day when President Bush can step out a bit from behind the usual conventions of (1) diplomatic doublespeak and (2) non-specific condemnations of "terrorists," and speak truths that talk directly to who the problem is, and why:
The recent crisis in the region was triggered by the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers by the terrorist group Hezbollah and the launch of rockets against Israeli cities. I believe sovereign nations have the right to defend their people from terrorist attack, and to take the necessary action to prevent those attacks.
In 2004, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1559, which recognizes the sovereignty of Lebanon, calls for all foreign forces to withdraw from Lebanon, and calls for the disbanding and disarmament of all militias. Hezbollah defied the world's just demands by maintaining armed units in the southern region of Lebanon and attacking Israel in defiance of the democratically elected Lebanese government.
For many years, Syria has been a primary sponsor of Hezbollah and it has helped provide Hezbollah with shipments of Iranian made weapons. Iran's regime has also repeatedly defied the international community with its ambition for nuclear weapons and aid to terrorist groups. Their actions threaten the entire Middle East and stand in the way of resolving the current crisis and bringing lasting peace to this troubled region.
We're also concerned about the impact the current conflict is having on Lebanon's young democracy. This is a difficult and trying time for the people of Lebanon. Hezbollah's practice of hiding rockets in civilian neighborhoods, and its efforts to undermine the democratically elected government have shown it to be no friend of Lebanon.
I would have liked a little more connection drawn directly between Iran and Hezbollah, but otherwise President Bush left little doubt whose side we are on here, and why, and why even if Syria and Iran stay on the sidelines of the current crisis, they will have to be dealt with sooner or later.
I am sympathetic to Israel's plight, they need to do something in response to what was basically an armed incursion into their territory resulting in the abduction of their soldiers. And I am sympathetic to the fact that there are not the traditional "legitimate military targets" for them to strike back at.
Today on NPR, I heard some Lebanese guy pointing to damaged buildings and noting that they were a mosque, and other non-military targets. Well, Hezbollah stations itself among the populace for just that reason, so that rings hollow to me.
But Israel has gone way over the line. They are blasting everything that moves seemingly, and issuing a collective punishment on the Lebanese population that far outstrips what is warranted, or in my opinion, actually advances any sensible strategy.
And the U.S. has been worse than just sitting on the sidelines. No US official (that I've seen) has even as much as decried the civilian deaths, and we are sending Israel more missles.
It's one thing to support an ally, even supply them, but what is going on here is not as simple as Israel protecting itself.
I really gave some thought to a knee jerk reaction to "of course Israel is right." In this case, they are. I've read letters where it's said they are applying the Powell Doctrine, using overwhelming force, but that is a 'sub' doctrine, really a primer on how to win a battle once you decide to wage it.
I think the real doctrine is the Sun Tzu doctrine, as taught by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan: When you wage a battle or a war, you do it on your terms, not the enemy. Hezbollah (or Iran or Syria, whatever) waged it on their terms: lob some missles, maybe destroy something or kill an isolated person. Chinese water torture. So after enough drops, you free yourself and fight back.
Idiot Europeans, who really never had a concept of foreign policy (seriously--what foreign policy initiative have they ever advanced--then think of what the UK and US have advanced over the years), just a lot of "we think we are right, we know it, and we are old, and therefore we know better"--well the Romans did anyway, huff and puff, never accomplish a thing. The French can't even win their own bike race anymore.
So when you consider the global implications: Iran furiously racing to develop nuclear weapons, allying with North Korea no doubt for a delivery system, a basic global trade infrastructure that really is based on trust as risk from an enormous pool of religious zealots, then you have to fight the enemy (and the enemy is the one of the global economic system that the english speaking world, the Japanese speaking world and now the Europeans have adopted, and frankly, the Chinese and Hindu speaking world (as well as that very small Hebrew speaking one, --looks like a lot of the world except parts of South America (always out of it sadly, but maybe they can catch up),; well the Arabic speaking part of the world seems hell bent on making sure that they are not left behind, not by catching up, but by pulling everyone back. They are waging a war, we have to fight it on our terms.