Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Nation of Hezbollah

Remember Strother Martin, in Cool Hand Luke? "What we have here is a failure to communicate." I wish it were that simple. With yesterday's kidnappings of Israeli soldiers, Hezbollah acted as a sovereign state. The militants' raid is a sign that it sees itself as an independent force in Lebanon and beyond.

Hezbollah chief Sheik Hassan Nasrallah went on Lebanese television, acting every bit like a head of state. In a not-so-veiled threat, Nasrallah said that criticism of the raids and kidnappings would be colluding with Israel. "To the Lebanese people, both officials and non-officials, nobody should behave in a way that encourages the enemy to attack Lebanon, and nobody should say anything that gives cover to attack Lebanon," he said.

Hezbollah has attempted this attack, unsuccessfully, before. This has been long planned, and it has nothing to do with the kidnapping of Corperal Gilad Shalit by Hamas in Gaza. While Nasrallah attempts to link the two, it really is a message to the rest of Lebanon, other neighboring states, and the West. Hezbollah is laying claims to being an independent state, at a time when Lebanon is trying to get them to give up arms.

Former UN spokesman Timur Goksel, who teaches at the American University of Beirut, lables Hezbollah's raid as an act of war. So does the State of Israel, but Olmert doesn't differentiate between Hezbollah and Lebanon, and so Israel attacks Lebanon.

And that is the problem. Hamas, and Hezbollah, have acted reprehensibly by kidnapping Israeli soldiers to use as leverage to gain the release of Arab prisoners. This undermines their own claims of political legitimacy. So does strapping bombs onto the bodies of young men and women, and having them walk into nightclubs, busses, other places crowded with civilians, and detonating.

Israel might feel justified in responding to these acts of terror by dropping bombs, but in truth, they would be better served by a more restrained approach. Widespread bombing in Gaza, and now in Lebanon, will not help gain a lasting peace. The situations are not the same. Hamas is a legally elected government in Gaza and West Bank. Hezbollah is not. While Hezbollah has legally elected officials in the Lebanese government, it is NOT the ruling party, and should not have its own militia. Yet Hezbollah's militia acted independently of Lebanon.

At this point, the entire Middle East sits on the brink. Will Mr. Bush use this as pretext to invade Iran and Syria? Probably. Hopefully, the governments in Egypt and Jordan are shuttling back and forth to negotiate a cease fire on both fronts; hopefully, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert will be struck with some sanity and call back his war planes. We need cooler heads, and great negotiators, and they appear to be MIA.


betmo said...

obob has an interesting article about this divajood. it doesn't look good.

Pete's Blog said...

I agree Diva.

Israel appears to have decided to react in such an exaggerated way that is encouraging Iran to voice more threats.

That may well be a green light for Olmert and Bush to order attacks on Iran - very handy for the Republicans before November (2006). We'll see.


robin andrea said...

I just can't see how the US has enough troops or even the will to invade another country. I wish cooler heads would prevail here. This is a powder keg that has the potential to become a horrible conflagration, if people don't take a step back. I hate that Israel's neighbors continue to antagonize, and I hate how Israel responds to the provocations. This has just gone on for far too long.

karenas said...

Bush never responded to logic and as long as we have planes and bombs he will threaten to use them and may in fact actually use them.

This exaggerated and collective punishment is not going to solve the problem, only exacerbate the situation.

There are unfortunately, no cooler heads involved to prevail.

I fear the worst.

DivaJood said...

betmo, I was going to read obob's article when I remembered I had a staff meeting -- was so late to work, it was scary. Will read it later today.

pete, yes, I think the timing is perfect for Republicans, which is one of the scariest pieces of this dangerous puzzle. How much of this is encouraged by Bush & Company?

robin, I agree we lack the troops, but I am not sure that this administration lacks the will to do anything it sets its cold black heart on. And I agree completely that both the Israelis and the Arabs are wrong - and, without someone capable of defusing this situation, well.

karena, Bush doesn't much care about logic. Right now, everything that's going on is like trying to put out a fire with gasoline.

I fear the worst as well.

Anonymous said...

Read that there are rumors that Hezbollah may be trying to pack the two kidnapped soldiers off to Iran. Sheer instanity in my opinion.

Solitaire said...

Hopefully, Hamas and Hezbollah will return the soldiers they kidnapped... alive.
I think that's the only thing that will stop Israel now.
If they don't, Israel is very likely to follow through on even their most brutal threats, and Lebanon, all it's usual bluster aside, will be reduced to rubble.
Another victory for Islam?
Not so much.

DivaJood said...

kvatch, I'd not heard that - that would really be insane indeed. I can just picture Bush rubbing his hands with glee - "I get to go into Iran"

solitare, welcome. I hope so too, but I doubt it highly. At this point, I'm no longer sure Shalit is alive. Neither a victory for Islam, nor for Israel. Nobody wins in this.

Comandante Agí said...

Israel has nukes.

Be afraid.

DivaJood said...

agi, Israel had nukes when I lived there, I really in my heart do not believe they would use them. Olmert may be insane, but he's not stupid.

BZ said...

You said, "They would be better served by a more restrained approach. Widespread bombing in Gaza, and now in Lebanon, will not help gain a lasting peace"

I am glad you can see this. But this is the only response Israel has ever used. A small group of militants do something stupid, so Israel like a spoiled child throws a tantrum and "collectively punishes" a large group of people not responsible and further angers their opposition. You would think they would learn it doesn't work. This is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

More on this soon...

DivaJood said...

bz, I've never said that Israel's reaction is the correct reaction. What I've always said is that both the Arab militants who deliberately target civilians, and kidnap soldiers are equally wrong.

I am appalled by people who say that Hamas or Hezbollah are justified in their deliberate acts of terrorism; terrorism is wrong always. Israel continues to not that reacting to terrorism by pounding the hell out of everyone in a surrounding area is not the solution. Dropping a bomb on a house that "might" hold a terrorist leader, and then killing a dozen civilians who are not terrorists is as wrong as a Palestinian walking onto a crowded bus and blowing himself and everyone around him to bits.

The real tragedy is that I believe most Israelis, and most Palestinians, want a peaceful solution; both Israelis and Palestinians are held hostage by their militant leaders.

And worse, I believe in my core that this horrific situation has been neatly manipulated by the Bush administration (Rove, Cheney and Rumsfeld) to justify their intended invasion of Iran.

DivaJood said...

I meant Israel continues to not learn that reacting to terrorism... rest of the sentence.

By the way, the White House has a Department of Lessons Learned, and the director of said department earns a bit over $100,000 per year. I WANT that job.

Linkmeister said...

"I WANT that job."

No you don't. Look who you'd have to work with (and for).

sumo said...

I just watched "Syriana" last night and it left me feeling even worse for the Middle East than I already did. Have you seen it yet? If you haven' should. It explains alot of things and it punches you in the gut.If only oil hadn't been discovered there...things would be different.

DivaJood said...

linkmeister, but I am so well qualified: Jewish mother, grandmother, recovering alcoholic, travel professional. I understand guilt, recrimination, obfuscation, and sales. Kidding, really.

sumo, I did see Syriana. I agree, it was quite powerful. Peace in the Middle East is not in the best interests of Big Oil. Making all of the Middle East a US Territory is their goal.

karena said...

Huffington Post posted a priceless quote by Tony Snow. He referred to the "so-called collateral damage that affected not only civilians but human lives as well." We in the US (our government) has wanted to get a war on in Iran and Syria for many years. Who's to say that the kidnappings of these latest two soldiers were not a false flag operation carried out by government provocateurs? Hezbollah has not laid claim to the act. What good does it do a militant group to create a political act and then not lay claim?

DivaJood said...

Karena, Tony Snow is the idiot's idiot. I'd love to see him in a jester's hat. In light of PNAC's goals, I would not put it past the current US administration to kidnap the Israeli soldiers and provoke Israel. Heart sick.