Monday, July 17, 2006

Mideast stuff

The following editorial which quotes me, distributed by the Freedom View was published in several newspapers:

It’s important to step back and view the situation between Israel and Lebanon with some perspective. Despite the repeated images from the 24/7 cable news channels, which understandably emphasize destruction and explosions, Israel is not engaged in a full-fledged “two-front war,” at least not yet. It is dealing with guerrilla-style incursions undertaken by nonstate-sponsored terrorist groups that have some ties with governments (more on that later) but operate with a certain amount of autonomy — and mystery.

Israel in the past has fought conventional military wars and prevailed. This time, we haven’t seen troops massed on Israel’s borders or bombers taking off with payloads meant for Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. The conflict could escalate into a more conventional war and even pull in outside powers. The activity Thursday suggested the conflict is beginning to escalate into a significant military confrontation.

That said, as Leon Hadar, author of Sandstorm and contributor to the new book Peace in the Promised Land, reminded, Israel is facing — as is the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan — a dilemma too few strategic or tactical thinkers have yet confronted head-on: How do you deter nonstate terrorist or guerrilla entities?

Israel (and the United States) know how to execute a military campaign against an opposing military. Knowledge of how to confront and defeat unofficial or unconventional forces — asymmetric threats, in the jargon of the day, or “fourth-generation war” — is sparse. We don’t have a handy-dandy answer, but suggest it is long past time for military and political leaders to focus on the problem more intently.

Invading and occupying countries in which you suspect terrorists are operating has not proven very successful and can create a nasty backlash that ends up strengthening, rather than weakening, terrorist or insurgent groups. In fact, Mr. Hadar contends, Israel’s current problems are, in some ways, part of an unfortunate “blowback” from the U.S. invasion of Iraq with the stated purpose of implanting more democratic governments in the Middle East.

Having used democratic justifications for our actions, we almost had to celebrate regime change against the Syrian-backed regime in Lebanon. But the democratic process in Lebanon brought more political power — not control of the government, but participation — for Hezbollah, the Iranian-financed terrorist group. Hamas, labeled a terrorist group by Americans and Europeans alike, took control of the Palestinian Authority through democratic processes, and the United States had to swallow hard and accept it.

Should it be surprising, then, that Hamas and Hezbollah might feel emboldened to undertake cross-border guerrilla and kidnapping raids against Israel, toward which they still feel unremitting hostility? Or that Israel would seize on the occasion to pummel their foes with military strikes?

For better or worse, the United States has little ability to control events in the Middle East. Perhaps President Bush could invite the leaders of the other industrialized countries, meeting at the G-8 summit this weekend in Russia, to temper their criticism of the United States and move in and handle the problem themselves. That would be a satisfying “put up or shut up” proposition — but, unfortunately, not more likely to bring about a peaceful resolution than would U.S. intervention.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Even if Bush thought Israel was over reacting (which he doesn't), he would not be able to say so with any sort of credubility. Israel could just say, "wait a sec Dubya - you toasted Fallujah, possibly killing who know how many, after four highly armed contractors were killed."

But another point - from this :

"Invading and occupying countries in which you suspect terrorists are operating has not proven very successful and can create a nasty backlash that ends up strengthening, rather than weakening, terrorist or insurgent groups"

Doctor - It has been proven succcessful - it got Bush re-elected and it served as a political tool and cause. Was Nixon successfull in Vitenam between 1968-1972? Most people say no, but he won the biggest victory in US history because he was able to provoke the anti-war movement and so people who were inclined to opposed Nixon ended up voting for him because they hated the antwar movement. This history was very much in Rove's mind.

You were speaking strategicaly and/or academically.

In Israel's case, the domestic politics are different - but anytime Israel is in a conflict, it serves the GOP because their strong support for whatever Israel doesn helps to dampen a bit the natural Dem advantage among Jewish voters. Not decisively - but in a way that is significant, though hard to quantify.

Anonymous said...

Just noticed the misspelling of credibility as credubulity. But the misspelling could be a neologism - notice how the word dubya is sort of embedded in credubility?

Credubility = The dubious nature of what would otherwise seem plausible, due to the fact that Dubya is connected to it.