Monday, July 24, 2006

Mideast Struggle Cannot Be Successfully Resolved With Diplomacy

Condi Rice is now in the Middle East to attempt to resolve the shooting war between Israel, Hezbollah, and potentially Lebanon and Syria, with Iran waiting in the wings. But the effort at diplomacy, if U.S. policy remains that Israel has a right to defend itself (which presumes that it has the right to exist in the first place), will be either ineffective or unnecessary.

I am praying that this is little more than the Bush Administration's effort to be seen doing something to avoid the accusation from the left that it allowed the Levant to turn into another Katrina. Because diplomacy can't solve the current problem, but if allowed time, Israel might.

The current parties to any talks to resolve this matter are, of course, Israel, Lebanon, and Syria, with the outside possibility of Iran. And with that understanding, the talks are DOA. Israel and Lebanon, a democratic nation and one desperately wanting to be, respectively, both would have a reasonable shot at working the whole matter out if they were the only parties involved. But the whole problem is that a terror group living in Lebanon with its blessings started it. And given that the terror group is funded and directed by Syria and Iran, explaining their involvement, it is hard to see how any diplomatic result could result in a lasting peace.

Hezbollah, who has no rightful place at any negotiating table, started this by firing weapons from Lebanon into Israel. Hezbollah is a terrorist group with the objective of eliminating Israel. Lebanon, while not blameless, insofar as they condone the presence of Hezbollah in their nation thus making them responsible for the aggressive acts of their guest, really can't stand up to Hezbollah. Their military has no legs, and they are therefore subject to the whims of this very well-armed terrorist gang. Both Syria and Iran are global terror sponsors who want Israel's destruction, the provocation therefor being that Israel wants to peacefully exist where it is (granted, things are looking down for Syria, but I see this as nothing more than a temporary setback for them). Which makes one wonder what objectives Condi Rice hopes to achieve, beyond simply the appearance of peace-making.

But to leave the matter alone, and support Israel may indeed be the solution.

Israel is by far the most effective and deadly military in the region. Hezbollah continues to exist only because Israel is showing undeserved gentlemanly respect for Lebanon by not simply annihilating the border towns that harbor the Hezbollah guerrillas. Conversely, Hezbollah cares not who or what it hits. It just wants to kill Jews. But if Hezbollah is wiped out, Lebanon has a real shot at being a nation in its own right rather than one held hostage to a foreign-funded group of thugs. It also leaves Syria without a proxy hand, as it does Iran. They would both have to do their own dirty work rather than paying a toady to do it, which means direct attacks on Israel. And neither Syria nor Iran have the capacity to deal with the Israeli military. Damascus would be raining missiles and Iran's nuclear program would no longer need to be the subject of UN debate.

Conversely, if we stop the shooting before Hezbollah has been thoroughly eliminated, we are doing nothing other than aiding Hezbollah. It will give them time to recoup their losses, rearm and repeat the same acts of war that began the conflict we have now, because these terrorists have no peaceful objectives.

And while I am not hoping for a wider Middle East war involving Syria and Iran, I do think that it is about time that we allow Israel to mete out justice on a gang of terrorists who, for too long, have served as the tool of terror-sponsoring states and who have impeded the emergence of real peace along the Eastern Mediterranean.

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