Wednesday, August 02, 2006

posted by Elon

It boils down to this: can Israel, or can't it, defeat Hizbullah

I have been thinking a lot about whether this war is justified.

There are many issues concerning morality here. Qana is an example - dozens of civilians where killed by an Israeli bomb. One can go into the details of whether or not there were Hizbullah attacking from the village, and how far were they from the bombed house, and whether or not Israel should have known about the civilians hiding in the basement. But at the end of the day, if you are going to fight a war against an organization that fights within civilian settlements, you will kill civilians. It is important that you try to minimize the civilian casualties, and it remains a question whether the IDF is putting enough effort into that. But at the bottom line, civilians will get hurt. And since having a rule saying that this should stop you from fighting against such an organization will give a huge advantage to hiding behind civilians, such a rule is not acceptable.

So, the fact that civilians will get hurt should be a reason against, but cannot be a deal breaker in the decision to launch the war.

Hizbullah is a threat to Israel, and to the rest of the region. It represents anti-democratic forces of fanaticism, xenophobia and hatred (in fact, the only such forces in the region that do not side with Hizbullah, to the best of my knowledge, are the Israeli extreme religious right). If it is brought down, then these forces will suffer a large blow, and a great threat to the citizens of Israel, and of the rest of the region, will have been removed. I find it difficult to write, but probably the horrible casualties of this war would, in such case, be justified. However, if Hizbullah cannot be defeated, if it can claim victory, then those dangerous forces will gain a huge boost of power.

I have recently read a quote in the comments to some Lebanese blog, and I regret that I cannot remember where. The quote said something like "Wars are only defendable if they can be won". This is a very important lesson - wars are so horrible, that they are only justified if their objects are just, AND achievable.

So it boils down to this - Israel's offensive against the Hizbullah is only justifiable if it can achieve its goal of defeating Hizbullah. I am not optimistic about this prospect, and sincerely hope I am wrong in my pessimism.

May a long, lasting, loving peace come upon this region in our times.

10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If anyone is interested in how it feels for civilians in Beirut city today please read:

http://beirutupdate.blogspot.com/

Today Zena is filled with terror, all parties need to start peace talks ... now.

1:24 AM  
Blogger ran said...

Elon,
Your analysis is very tempting (the supporters of the war will emprace it, they are more optimistic than you are...), but it has one major flaw: it doesn't consider the possibility of a solution other than this war to reduce the hizbullah threat. The Israeli government must consider other ways to change the strategic situation in lebanon. Ways that will not cause the terrible situation we are in now. Ways that will be more efficient. I am not an expert in foreign relations and international politics, but I think that - for example - negotiating a peace agreement with syria is the best way to fight hizbullah. And now is the best time, when syria is under international pressure because of the war in Iraq.
My point is that you have to also compare the alternatives to war in order to decide if it is justified.
Unfortuanely, when the canons roar no one thinks about alternatives -people are too busy winning/stopping the war.

1:47 AM  
Blogger Ofer said...

Ran,

What peace with Syria ? Now, when half of our country cannot even swallow the pill of leaving tiny illegal settlements in the West Bank ? This is the time to start the debate on the Golan ?

And with who, with baby Assad ? The egomanic son who shares his father's dream of a greater Syria, but is also dangerously insecure ? After withdrawing from Lebanon with his tail between his legs, you think he will be willing to compromise with you ?

At the end of the day, the Lebanese are a reasonable bunch, and diplomacy has a chance of working. Same goes for the Palestinians. But with Syria the only avenue to peace is to bend Assad's arm until he says "uncle".

2:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Ran:

I don't think Israel wants peace with Syria. They don't want to give up the Golan Heights, and that's the only way peace with Syria can be achieved. Therefore, until they get the Golan back, Syria will use Lebanon as a pawn for it's regional goals.

To Elon:
You're right, I don't think this war is winnable either.

3:29 AM  
Blogger howie said...

Ah...did we forget a little something here? Hizbuallah started this war by crossing into Israel, killing soldiers and kidnapping two of them. Was Israel to sit on her hands? The option was ah, what? Hey..Nasrie..be a good terrorist and just give us the guys back, give the soldiers their lives back, give their families their lives back. Come on...and what about the 12,000 rockets...none with any military worth, but great terror worth...have a little talk and everybody will disarm?

I don't see how there was ANY option but to hit at Hizbuallah and very hard. Look a victory for them. Moslems can NEVER NEVER lose when they attack Israel...NEVER. If they kill a few kids and old ladies...bravo...if they lose "ah mean old USA helped Israel, but little us still gave it one hell of a go". It is a winner formula every time and they don't give a rat's ass about their civilians and certianly not ours.

So they forced this fight...100% Hizbuallah's fault and the blood of Lebanese civilians in on THEIR hands...but they don't care.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Ginni said...

dear friend Auscwitz is a tragedy which hollowed humanity... It should have never happened,,, but aren't we carrying on d debts of past way to far... terrorism is a cancer... It needs therepy not laser fire... Israel can coutinue on the work of Nazi's... all peace out my friend...

"The peace makers shall be called the children of God"- BIbLE

8:52 AM  
Blogger Elon said...

howie -

There are always alternatives. The Israeli response could have ranged from dropping candies on Beirut with the hope that this will persuade the Lebanese that we are nice and they should disarm Hizbullah to dropping an A-bomb there. I tend to agree that Israel should have responded with a military strike. I doubt this full-out war is smart.

ginni -

What does Auscwitz have to do with it?

If you are insinuating that the Israeli psych is paranoid because of the Holocaust, and therefore we overreact then you are wrong. Nasserallah, his patrons in Iran, as well as many others in the Arab world have clearly stated that their goal is the destruction of Israel. In other words, the fact that I am paranoid does not mean I am not being persecuted. This does not mean that we should attack whoever calls for our distraction. Just that if it is within our interest, we have a right to.

As for comparing our actions with that of the Nazis. Read Ofer's 9:02AM here. These are only some aspects of the vast difference. Why compare with the Nazis? If you want, compare with the Americans in Vietnam, the Russians in Chechnia or any other offensive by a large military on an weaker opponent (btw - I am quite sure you will find that in most of there cases the number of civilian casualties was much greater). Your choice to equate us with the Nazis is offensive and states much more about your ignorance and bigotry than on anything else.

12:15 PM  
Blogger the perpetual refugee said...

One more question...

What constitutes defeat?

12:30 PM  
Blogger Remmy said...

Aside of the question whether Israel has the right of self-defense in this way (I think they have indeed), what strikes me most, what angers me is that this war was not inevitable. Only two years ago, there have been serious attempts by the Israeli government to talk, yet to start negotiations with Syria, that would have also included an possible returning of the Golan Heights. But this attempt was quickly interrupted by the objection of the US government, they wanted no talks whatsoever with the Syrian regime. Their only goal was a regime change. This is the real tragic in my eyes. It would have been so important to break Syria out of its coalition with Iran, to make Syria able to get rid of the Hizbollah, as a support of them would no longer be in the interest of Syria. The ties between Syria and HA are not that close - one of the few benefits of an opportunistic regime: they can change sides whenever needed. Israel has something to offer, and Syria is trying for years now to gain a bit acceptance from the West.

But I'm afraid that actually this road is closed, and will be for a long time.

And as for the defeat of Hizbullah: I'm also afraid that Israel has already lost this war, at least on the psychological front. On the military side I also see no real progress. Sad but true.

Well, I have no solution or any advice to offer, the only thing is that I'm quite angry over all the missed opportunities in the past. We could easily set up a long, long record of crucial points, where we all have thought to see the gate to a bright future opening. But from both sides, from all involved parties, there was - and is - to state a remarkable lack of willingness to do the final step forward.

Nevertheless, I'm still hoping for a quick return of peace, and a new chance for a real solution!

5:22 PM  
Blogger Elon said...

perpetual,

It appears to me like the (correct) perception of Hizbullah as the only arab force to defeat Israel in combat by chasing it out of Lebanon in 2000 is it's most important source of power.
Therefore, in this sorry-ass business, defeat of the Hizbullah means anything that will be perceived as defeat in the eyes of the supporters and potential supporters of the Hizbullah and other xenophobic organizations and ideologies. This psychological defeat is more important than the actual degrading of the Hizbullah firepower. The problem is, it looks like the mere survival of Hizbullah can be portrayed as victory. So I am pessimistic.

2:06 PM  

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