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The roadmap to peace and potholes therein

The events of the last week, which build upon the Intifadah of the last six years (which are the result of…), have the real possibility of spilling over into a general Mid East war. Mitch Potter’s article in today’s Toronto Sun proposes that Hezbollah is attempting to fill the Arab leadership role that was most recently held by Yasser Arafat, and that sucking Israel into over-reacting in southern Lebanon, or worse, Beirut, would be just the thing they want. A regional analog of Osama bin Laden drawing the US into over-reacting and hence raising the power of his international jihadi movement, I suppose.

The real threat is, as always these days, Iran. Iran has backed Hezbollah for some time and recently also the Palestinian government, thanks to the West’s reaction to the election of Hamas earlier this year. The coordination of the attacks on Israeli soldiers in Gaza and in the north from Lebanon imply either coordination between Hezbollah and the Hamas military arm (via Iran?) or maybe simple opportunism on the part of Hezbollah. If it is the former, then there is an increased likelihood of a military defeat of Lebanon drawing in Syria and perhaps Iran.

The Israeli government, in cutting off Beirut, is trying to isolate the Lebanese government in order to force it to deal with the more active elements of Hezbollah, in the same way that they isolated Yasser Arafat in his compound. However, the government, which includes Hezbollah, has in the past not been able to handle Hezbollah in any effective manner, and it seems unlikely to me that they will have any more luck with a civilian population that will doubtlessly harden against Israeli demands. Anyone older than kindergarten age in Lebanon will remember at least some of the 18 years of Israeli presence.

As Potter points out, Hezbollah may well have under-estimated Israel’s determination this time around, but I can’t help but think that Israel is simplistically thinking that a military solution will last. Whatever the immediate result, in the long-term this may well mark the resurgence of Iran’s Shia-based extremism, which has for the past few years been quiet.

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5 thoughts on “The roadmap to peace and potholes therein

  1. Iran’s Shia-based extremism may have been under the radar for the past few years, but that’s a far cry from saying it’s been quiet – it just hasn’t had much news coverage lately. Try Googling the term ‘Iraq executions of homosexuals’ sometime. That, and a quick perusal of wikipedia, showing that any candidate for political office has to be approved by a council of clerics and lawyers, leads me to think that the term ‘Moderate Iranian Government’ is about as much an oxymoron as ‘George Bush Compassionate Conservative’. Also, it’s kind of one-sided to say that the Lebanese people remember 18 years of Israeli occupation without taking into account that Israel has had close to 60 years of people vowing to ‘wipe Israel off the map’ – not defending Israel here, but it’s not exactly one-sided.

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  2. Dan,
    I’m aware that the issue is multi-faceted. The purpose of my post was to highlight the difficult road that Israel has chosen to follow. One of the central problems in the region is that everyone can and chooses to play the victim, which gives them carte blanche to do all sorts of over-the-top things that make it all the harder to calm the waters: the Palestinians got essentially evicted by the creation of Israel and were not given homes or status by neighbouring nations, many of which are poor to begin with, then the Israelis get car-bombed by Palestinians with no real hope of a future, the Israelis respond by attacking and further reducing their options, which in turn results in another wave of attacks…

    I guess I’m simply saying that we’ve seen this before and it has always ended up back here.

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  3. I’ve commented on my blog, but is Israel over-reacting? Would it have been better for them to invade Iran if their soldiers had made it out of Lebannon on those runways they bombed.

    Perhaps they weren’t over-reacting after all.

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  4. Hey Shoshana,
    I just posted over on your blog. This is very 21st century or something. (“Sad” is what my wife would say;))

    The death of any civilians is over-reacting I think, and there have been many apparently.

    I honestly don’t know what Israel’s best option is – they obviously can’t just roll over to Hezbollah’s demands because their own government might well fall apart, but they walk a very thin line militarily. And in the long run, a military “solution” to this issue will likely cause far more problems down the road.

    But again, I don’t know what the answer is just now. That’s why I’m paid the little bucks.

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