September 1, 2006
WAR: Victory Without (More) War?
Charles Krauthammer makes one of the few persuasive optimistic cases I've seen for the argument that Hezbollah really did lose the war with Israel, and won't fight again. Most of the optimistic assessments by serious people have been grim ones, based on the idea that the peace won't hold and the war will restart on terms more favorable to Israel than where we were when the shooting stops. Krauthammer thinks otherwise:
"We did not think, even 1 percent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me, if I had known on July 11 ... that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not."
-- Hasan Nasrallah, Hezbollah leader, Aug. 27
Nasrallah . . . knows that Lebanon, however weak its army, has a deep desire to disarm him and that the arrival of Europeans in force, however weak their mandate, will make impossible the rebuilding of the vast Maginot Line he spent six years constructing.
Which is why the expected Round Two will, in fact, not happen. Hezbollah is in no position, either militarily or politically, for another round. Nasrallah's admission that the war was a mistake is an implicit pledge not to repeat it, lest he be completely finished as a Lebanese political figure.
The Lebanese know that Israel bombed easy-to-repair airport runways when it could have destroyed the new airport terminal and set Lebanon back 10 years. The Lebanese know that Israel attacked the Hezbollah TV towers when it could have pulverized Beirut's power grid, a billion-dollar reconstruction. The Lebanese know that next time Israel's leadership will hardly be as hesitant and restrained. Hezbollah dares not risk that next time.
Read the whole thing. Austin Bay also think's Hezbollah's moment of glory in not being entirely crushed by the IDF will prove fleeting, as does Amir Taheri. I hope they are right; if a weakened Hezbollah can be purged from power in Lebanon by the Lebanese themselves, only secondarily relying on foreign support and the in terrorem effect of Israeli vigilance, it will not only be a blessing to regional security but further proof of the effectiveness of the two-pronged Bush strategy of (1) frontal military confrontation of armed terror groups and (2) promotion of democratic institutions that can take ultimate responsibility for controlling the security of their own territory.
RE: "promotion of democratic institutions that can take ultimate responsibility for controlling the security of their own territory."
Didn't you say earlier that true conservatives don't over-value democracy for the sake of democracy and that other civil liberties can be as important as the right to vote.
I bring this up because I don't think there will ever be peace in the Middle East until Israel de-institutionalizes religion.
Through globalization, we ideally will all learn that citizens of each country share more in common with each other than they differ.
This realization is the strongest deterrent against future conflicts. For example, as we trade more and more with China, and as more Chinese come to the US to work and to learn, the liklihood of major conflicts between the two countries diminishes.
Institutionalized religion presents an obstacle to this process because when a country supports one specific religion, then its citizens will always be recognized as different from those who do not follow that religion.
I think Israel blew a lot against Hezbollah. Much of that might be based on the NY Times articles, which is rather biased, I grant you. But the Israelis really were not ready to do battle against their enemy, as their intelligence was poor, and their battle planning worse. However, I think we all learn from our military mistakes, sometimes even the French do (they plan to surrender differently next time). So also with the Israelis. That's how battles work.
Patrick, a quick lesson: institutionalized religions have been around for just about the 10,000 years of human civilization. Just so you won't think that the Israelis have the exclusive on it. In the region, I would say that Iran and Saudi Arabia may have the market sewn up on intolerant government.
1) "institutionalized religions have been around for just about the 10,000 years of human civilization."
Yes but 230 years ago a guy named Thomas Jefferson and his cohorts tried a different approach to government, and personally, I think they were on to something.
2) "I would say that Iran and Saudi Arabia may have the market sewn up on intolerant government. "
Yes those two governments are theocracies.
But Israel, with its institutionalized religion, operates under a theo-democracy. The latter is certainly an improvement, but as a Jewish state, Israel will always be viewed as 'different' from its neigbors and every other country on the planet. These differences allow opportunistic leaders on both sides to exploit their citizens' fears of people who are 'different.'
You have the wrong Virginian. Madison deserves the credit for his remarkable document, plus his amendments. Jefferson edited the Declaration (Adams assigned it BTW). And yes, they were, and are, onto something.
I think the test is the one Andy Rooney commented on, and that was that people want to come here, few want to leave. England is the same; for that matter, few Israeli Arabs want to leave. The problem is not one of religion, that is just the same scapegoat crap. It's that a 21st century nation is living among those who prefer the 11th century. It's much more Clan of the Cave Bear than religious wars.
RE: 'The problem is not one of religion, that is just the same scapegoat crap.'
Yeah - wars are never fought over religion. That was silly of me.