Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sovereignty, Terrorism and Those Caught Between

Lebanese fireman during air attackAs everyone else has been doing, I am living life less-than-fully present to my environment. At the moment, part of my being hovers over the border between Lebanon and Israel. Not only is the conflict dreadfully painful — I grew up with many Lebanese American friends and in the war against the Jews, I stand with Israel — but this bloody mess has about it the air of something inevitable. The shoe has dropped...perhaps for the final time?

And much as everyone else has been doing, I try to read across a broad spectrum of mass media noise, to see if it is possible to filter out dibs and dabs of reality. I mean the reality underneath, not the who, what, or where of the bombs and brouhaha and the spin of the MSM.

Two commenters on Gates of Vienna — Rich (no profile), and Dave Schuler have summed up the current situation confronting Israel/Lebanon most succinctly.

First, Rich’s rhetorical question and response:

…how is Israel supposed to proportionally respond to an enemy that hides missiles in houses that are inhabited by civilians. A war crime. And how is Israel supposed to proportionally respond to an enemy that volleys missiles against Israel’s civilian population. Again a war crime.

In fact just about everything Hezbollah and Hamas do is a war crime.

But no one will say it is a war crime, and that Hezbollah and Hamas are war criminals.

Now, Dave Schuler, cutting to the quick of Lebanon’s dilemma:

Sovereignty requires that Lebanon maintain a monopoly on the use of force within its territory. It has not done so; consequently, the claims of sovereignty ring hollow. There are really only two plausible explanations: either Lebanon is allowing Hezbollah’s attacks in which case they’re a belligerent or they’re unable to stop Hezbollah in which case they’re not sovereign.

Both commenters have managed to say in very few words what the core issues are. Of course, in our anxiety, words help to stem the flow of uncertainty and our fear for the innocents in harm’s way, so we continue to read obsessively, hoping for some magic words of surcease to appear on the screen.

Meanwhile, there is, faintly on the horizon, the possibility of change, for I am reading, with surprise, the usual suspects say some unusual things. Here, for example, Saudi Arabia , of all countries, has criticized Hezbollah:

In a significant move, Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s political heavyweight and economic powerhouse, accused Hezbollah guerrillas — without naming them — of “uncalculated adventures” that could precipitate a new Middle East crisis.

A Saudi official quoted by the state Saudi Press Agency said the Lebanese Hezbollah’s brazen capture of two Israeli soldiers was not legitimate.

The kingdom “clearly announces that there has to be a differentiation between legitimate resistance (to Israel) and uncalculated adventures.”

[…]

The Saudi official said Hezbollah’s actions could lead to “an extremely serious situation, which could subject all Arab nations and its achievements to destruction.”

“The kingdom sees that it is time for those elements to alone shoulder the full responsibility for this irresponsible behavior and that the burden of ending the crisis falls on them alone.”

“The Kingdom” is also offering the Lebanese government some financial aid. The magnificent sum of fifty million dollars - this from a country whose 2005 GDP was $ 338,000,000,000. I suppose we should be glad they’re that stingy. Who knows how much of that “gift” will wind up in Hizbullah’s armory?

Meanwhile, I offer a prayer of gratitude for the blogosphere, for being able to read across the spectrum of opinion on this inevitable, here-at-last war. However grim the news, the light the ’sphere sheds on the situation at least provides us with enough information to make up our own minds as to how things “ought” to be.

So, thank you Rick and Dave for your astute summations. We are fortunate to have you as commenters.

13 comments:

Cato said...

The point about Lebanese sovereignty is particulary acute. It is a tragedy if the young Lebanese democracy has failed, but if it is so, as the Government says, that they cannot control major military operations by Hezbollah on their territory, then their sovereignty is a fiction and they have already failed. It's quite a tragedy.

It is apparent that Israel's only hope at this point is to decisively cripple Hezbollah - they have cut off their exits and supply lines - the next step is full-scale invasion. At that point, everyone will be howling for Israel to stand down, so they will need to work very quickly. Fortunately, they do that better than anybody. Let's all hope Iran and Syria don't decide to take a more active role.

Scott said...

Many third world 'nations' do not
exercise sovereignty over their
territory. Pakistan, for example,is
more a geographical region than a
coherent country.

As to the situation facing Israel,
it is grim. It is only a matter of
time before Palestinian terrorists
come into possession of the same
type of long range rockets that
Hezbollah is now firing. When that
happens no part of Israel will be
out of range.

For the time being Israel might be
able to resurrect the South Lebanon
Army and create a buffer zone up to
and along the Litani river in
Lebanon but unless Hezbollah is
utterly destroyed it is inevitable
that they will acquire weapons with
the required additional range to
reach into Israel. Same is true for
Hamas.

When that happens the only solution
for Israel would be to depopulate
Palestinians areas or reoccupy them.

This is a real mess and events seem
to be leading ineluctably towards a
conflagration of World War scale.

We in America need to build up our
ground forces against that day. It
was a fool's bargain to cut 7 army
divisions during the 1990's. How
are going to get them back absent
conscription?

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

We in America need to build up our
ground forces against that day. It
was a fool's bargain to cut 7 army
divisions during the 1990's. How
are going to get them back absent
conscription?


Never send men to do the work of neutron bombs.

ScottSA said...

Scott said:
"This is a real mess and events seem to be leading ineluctably towards a conflagration of World War scale."

We have been in a world war for several years. Its the first major war in the history of the planet in which one side steadfastly refuses to name the other side while the other side howls the name of its enemy from every available pulpit.

Not until blood starts running in western streets is this war going to get fully underway.

MK said...

First off, the IDF does its absolute best to avoid civillian casualties while hizbullah targets jewish civillians intentionally.

Terrorists usually justify butchering civillians in western countries by saying the civillians voted in the governments that are fighting the terrorists, so they are fair game.

Apparently Hizbullah has 30% of the Lebanese government, since they were voted in, can israel justify the civillian deaths using the terrorists own defence.

I'm sure the terrorist apologists would not agree.

Thomas the Wraith said...

What we are seeing in the Arab world is that democratic "states" (Lebanon, Iraq, Gaza) are not sovereign and sovereign states are not democratic (Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, all across North Africa). This conflict, sovereignty vs democracy, shows that in fact the democracies do not exist.

Lebanon and other Arab 'democracies' have elections, campaigns, voters, etc but the real stuff of democracy (compromise, moderation, the acceptance of political competition without violence combined with a state monopoly on violence) does not exist.

Lebanon then is a similar to some African countries that Robert Kaplan used to write about: it exists on a map but not as a coherent set of state institutions. Not as a polity on the ground or in the minds of the people who live there.

This is underlined by Nasrallah earlier. When asked if he considered the effect of the Hezbollah's actions on the Lebanese economy he replied 'Yes. But we did not consider it important.'

That is the statement of a Shia fanatic and an Iranian puppet not a Lebanese.

MK said...

"This is underlined by Nasrallah earlier. When asked if he considered the effect of the Hezbollah's actions on the Lebanese economy he replied 'Yes. But we did not consider it important.'"

Thanks for that Thomas, do you perhaps have a link for this story, i'd like to read the whole thing and store it for future reference.

Once again Arabs have the clear choice, if they want to live in peace and prosper, then cut loose these terrorists and stop voting them into power, however minor their hold.

Otherwise get used to the stone age and blaming everyone else for their situation.

Voyager said...

I think people are finally tired of the 1960s legacy of Terrorism which for Arabs has probably reached its apogee in Iraq.

One thing that is good however is that saddam is gone, were he still there I wonder what mischief he would be causing.

The Palestinians have caused havoc wherever they have been - Jordan, Lebanon, Gaza, and failed to organise themselves into anything resembling a community with law and order - it is just a moving caravan of brigands much as Mohammed started out

Always On Watch said...

From this source:

Saudi Arabia is upset because Hezbollah, 'the Party of God' is controlled by the infidels Shi'ites of Iran. They are not upset about Hezbollah per se; they are upset they are not the ones controlling the Jew murder, and reaping the popularity that comes with it in the Muslim world.

Just another aspect to consider.

Also, some groups of jihadists don't like certain regimes in the Middle East because these jihadsits feel that the regimes have sold out the intent of MTP and also have compromised too much with the West.

Voyager said...

That's the problem with Extremists - there is always another guy who wants to outflank you by being even more extremist

lostlakehiker said...

It isn't exactly a war crime for Hezbollah to shell the Israeli rail station. Railroads have their military uses. They transport troops and supplies. It isn't even a war crime to shell the general area of the station. For the exact same reason, it isn't a war crime for Israel to bomb the Lebanese airport. Civilian airport by name though it be, it could have been used to resupply Hezbollah. And it isn't a war crime when an Israeli air-to-ground missile misses and kills civilians instead of destroying its target, nor is it a war crime if the targeting information was wrong.

We are too quick to name as a war crime the military tactics of warring parties. Rules that are too finely drawn reap only scorn from the less squeamish warring party, and bring down unwarranted denunciations on even the most scrupulous side.

Thomas the Wraith said...

During Nasrallah's press conference announcing the abduction of the Israeli solders, a reporter asked him: "Did consider the price the Lebanese economy would pay?"

Nasrallah, surprised, squirmed and gave an answer that could be condensed to one sentence: "Yes, but there are more important things."

MK said...

Thanks thomas, why am i not surprised that it would not be important to this flea Nasrallah.

I mean why would it, afterall, he probably doesn't need to work and feed the family, just engineer bombs and mayhem.