Powered by WebAds

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Lebanon and Afghanistan, Hezbullah and al-Qaeda

I found a rather curious blogpost when I was checking the standings at TTLB and I thought that it at least deserved a response. The post is on a blog called Big Lizards. Here's what I think needs an answer:

Anent the deadly kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah in Israel's north, the United States properly blames Hezbollah's masters: Syria and especially Iran:

The White House condemned the Hizbollah attack and blamed Syria and Iran, which both back the Lebanese Shi'ite group.

But strangely, Israel itself (or at least one top general) seems to point a finger at Lebanon, of all places... the country that just successfully expelled Syrian troops and has worked the hardest to expel Hezbollah and the Syrian intelligence services:

GOC Northern Command [Aluf] Udi Adam told reporters that Israel plans to "push back" Hezbollah guerrillas controlling southern Lebanon, adding that the IDF has "no intention at the moment of involving Syria," which has great influence over Hezbollah.

"We think at the moment the debate is beween us and the government of Lebanon," he said.

With all due respect, I think Gen. Adam is nutty. (Assuming the quotation is not simply taken out of context by Haaretz.) We've already discussed Syria's connection with Hezbollah; this is certainly true, though the ultimate puppeteers are in Teheran, not Damascus. (And not just of Hezbollah but of Hamas as well, despite the latter being more or less Sunni.)

Five years ago, when nineteen young Saudis working for al-Qaeda flew two planes into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon and one into the ground in Western Pennsylvania with some help from some very gutsy passengers, the US didn't go after Saudi Arabia (although I would have been happy if they had) and they didn't just go after al-Qaeda: they went after Afghanistan and the Taliban. The US didn't do that because the Taliban were nasty people (which they were). It did that because nation states have a responsibility to the world community to control their citizenry and not to allow terrorist organizations to use their territory as a base. You have a responsibility to go after anyone who is committing terrorism on your soil and if you 'can't' we won't just go after the terrorists - we will go after you.

Israel is doing the same thing. It may well be that eventually Israel will go after Syria as the writer suggests. Frankly, I hope we do. But for now, Israel is going after Lebanon because the elected Lebanese government has refused to reign in Hezbullah. Whether it's 'cannot' or 'will not' is irrelevant. Lebanese territory is being used as a terror base, and Israel is going to put a stop to it at both Hezbullah's and the Lebanese government's expense. Israel will destroy whatever Lebanese infrastructure needs to be destroyed in order to crush Hezbullah's terror base. At least I hope we will.

And by the way, I'm not sure you're right about the 'ultimate puppeteers' either. Have a look at this.


At 2:22 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...

I think an invasion of Iran would be a terrible idea on Israel's part at this point in time, what with all that is going on in the world. However, I think an invasion of Syria is called for at the moment.

That said, I have to disagree with you, Carl re: Lebanon. The government in Beirut simply does not have the power to reign in Hezbollah even if they wanted to. Their forces are too weak and Hezbollah's too strong - and Hezbollah knows this. I do not see this as "terror enabling" because the government in Beirut cannot do much to stop Hezbollah even if they wanted to.

Now, while I am sure Iran is tied to this whole quagmire, it seems Syria is the most directly linked to it all. An invasion of Syria is fully justified, and I think necessary, to really end this conflict - as is an invasion of Southern Lebanon.

However, an invasion of Beirut itself does bring with it some moral questions, in my mind. The Beirut residents are actually some of the more cosmopolitan in the Arab world, and they are relatively less antisemitic and hate mongering than most of the Arab world. They didn't ask for Hezbollah, and from what I have read, most of them actively do not support Hezbollah. While I understand the notion of attacking Beirut in order to bring public sentiment against Hezbollah, I do not think this notion is justified, since public sentiment in Beirut already is not particularly in favor of Hezbollah.

The bottom line is I cannot say I really support the notion of invading Beirut (as opposed to Southern Lebanon), but I would support the notion of invading Syria.

At 3:11 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


I don't deny Lebanon's responsibility. What I was trying to show the other blogger is that Israel is applying a doctrine developed by President Bush and the United States in the aftermath of 9/11.

I'm a little less confident than you are that Syria and Iran will stay out. At some point, Israel almost has to go after Khaled Meshaal and that means Syria. And we've all heard the rumors that Syria has Iraq's WMD's hidden away. As to Iran, we're probably safe so long as Ahmedinadinnerjacket doesn't succeed in developing nukes. Another reason to take care of business now rather than later.

Miss R,

Do you think the Taliban had the power to reign in al-Qaeda? That Abu Mazen has the power to reign in Hamas? If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. That's what the US told the Taliban after 9/11.

But the truth is that Lebanon DOES have the power to reign in Hezbullah and that Abu Mazen does have the power to reign in Hamas. They're just not willing to go through the civil war it would take to do it. And there's a price to pay for that.

See above re: Syria and Iran.

At 4:21 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...

Carl in Jerusalem:

After 20 years of civil war, it is understandable why the Lebanese would not want another civil war to reign in Hezbollah. This doesn't mean they LIKE Hezbollah, but I believe the Lebanese are war weary. That said, the civil war never really ended - it just has been in detante for a while. I guess you have a point about SOUTH Beirut, but even still, Beirut does not pull the strings of Hezbollah - Damascus and to a lesser extent, Tehran does.

The bottom line is that Hezbollah collapses if their power base collapses. The power base is Syria and Iran. While I do think that a war with Iran is justified, I simply am worried about the ramifications of attacking Iran. Iran is not a country to sneeze at - they have a real military, and their people are not as hate-based as some other nations. However, should Iran be invaded, I foresee a long and drawn out war, and then a very difficult reconstruction, followed by a militarized people. But now that I am typing that out...I can see some of the same problems with invading Syria.

Ultimately, it's a cost/benefit analysis. Syria is directly and openly aiding Hezbollah and Hamas, and they cannot be allowed to continue with their activities. I believe Iran is not as directly linked. The immediate threat needs to be dealt with, because the COST of not dealing with it is too much to bear.

While the Lebanese Christians might be grateful to Israel for an invasion of Beirut, ultimately, I believe Israel's efforts are best spent going after the source of their troubles. This means invading South Lebanon (but not Beirut) and Syria.

I want to add that I do not see this as analogous to the war in Afghanistan, because there was a great deal of evidence that the Taliban directly supported terrorists. I do not believe the Lebanese government is directly supporting Hezbollah. (but I am willing to be proven wrong, if you know of links re: that)


Post a Comment

<< Home