things fall apart16 Jul 2006
While I think it’s plain that there’s severe criminality on both sides of the Israel/Hezbollah conflict, let’s put that aside for a minute and talk some realpolitik: Is there a specific purpose behind Israel’s pounding of south Lebanon? What does Israel really have to gain from this? I am having a hard time finding answers.
When Israel invaded and occupied Lebanon, there was at least a discernable plan behind it – a folly plan, but a plan nonetheless. By invading and occupying Lebanon, they hoped to oust the PLO from southern Lebanon and end the ceaseless attacks on Northern Israel. They discovered this was a mistake the hard way – that occupying a country sucks. So, now things have come full circle for Israel, with a few minor differences:
When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, it did so after a clear provocation: a barrage of rockets from southern Lebanon. This time, the provocation was lesser: the capture of two IDF soldiers – Israel itself initiated the violence, so claims of “self defense” against the Hezbollah rockets now raining down on Haifa are going to fall a litttle flat. Naturally in a conflict like this, claims of who started what are a meaningless web of tit-for-tat, but Israel’s complete lack of proportionality here seem to serve nothing but to make it look like a wounded brute lashing out at anything within sight in response to the kidnappings.
But is it really as simple as that, or does Israel have some goal in mind? Does Israel really expect its strikes in Lebanon to affect the ability of Hezbollah to fire rockets at northern Israel? Or are the strikes of the single-minded focus of preventing Hezbollah from fleeing to Syria or Iran with the captured IDF soldiers? Maybe, except they still have no idea where they even are – I’ve even read speculation on Israel’s behalf that they’ve already been tranpsorted to Tehran (I can’t find this link, though. anyone?). But if that was their only concern, why target power and water infrastructure as well? Why blockade the ports to prevent trade? Are they going to occupy Lebanon from the air and water alone?
Then there’s the question of Lebanon’s government, which is being emasculated and crippled yet again – to what end? Are they hoping that by destroying any semblance of a functioning government in Lebanon they can avoid the awkward unpleasantness of having to deal at all with a government with Hezbollah representatives? And how can we (the U.S.) scold Syria with a straight face for not reigning in Hezbollah when all our diplomatic capital was spent last year in ousting Syrian influence from Lebanon?
Lots of questions. Any answers?