Friday, July 21, 2006
Haifa has been in the news quite a lot in the last few days. I was actually born in that city and although I didn't grow up there I spent several happy summers there with my grandparents, who incidently celebrated their honeymoon in a vacation in Lebanon (that was in the 1920's when you could take a train from Haifa to Beirut). And I also have several good friends in Lebanon and from Lebaon and have always wanted to visit the country. For many years (especially during the Oslo process), I've fantasized about the revival of Spirit the Levant (which includes Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon) hoping that the region could be transformed into a great global center of trade and tourism in which different religious and ethnic could co-exist together as they raise their families, make money, enjoy the great weather, go to the beach, and dream about far-away lands. Maybe one day...Inshallah. Meanwhile I'm very depressed and I hope and pray that the fighting will end asap.
My All Hell Breaks Loose in the Middle East provides (I think) a certain strategic perspective on the Mideast crisis/war. More specifically, I see it as a direct consequences of the failure of the Bush/neocon project in the Middle East. Some interesting updates: The Iraqi PM leading the Shiite-led government in Baghdad has defended Hizbollah and conemned Israel. Waiting to see how Kristol, Brooks, etc. will make sense of that. Well, their predecessors in the old Comintern didn't have any problem defending the Stalin-Hitler pact based on some complex dialectics. My guess is that if Saddam was still in power he would by congragulating Israel... I wasn't surprised by the mild Saudi reaction. Some of their guys who have been visiting Washington in recent months have warned the Bushies that they would be forced to make deals with Iran (appease them) unless the Americans take some action against Tehran to restore the balance of power in the Persian Gulf. As In Mideast Strife, Bush Sees a Step To Peace published in the Washington Post today makes it clear, President Bush has given Israel a Green Light to attack Lebanon and destroy the Hizbollah as way of countering the rising influence of Iran. Reminds me very much of the 1967 war when LBJ had given the Israelis a Yellow Light to attack Egypt as a way of counterbalancing Soviet influence in the Mideast. Israel would punish a proxy of the Soviets as the Americans were fighting another Soviet proxy in the Mideast (that's how they saw it). (See my earlier 1967/2006 post and check-out Vietnam, Jews and the Middle East: Unintended Consequences.) We will have to see whether Israel will be able to deliver the goods also this time. They seem to face a clear dilemma: Entering southern Lebanon with ground troops will embroil them in guerrilla warfare which is difficult to "win." But if they don't enter Lebanon they certainly won't be able to get rid of the missiles and destroy's Hizbollah's military infrastructure. So they have to square the circle here: a limited incursion of ground troops? If Israel fails (in a sense that it doesn't win Big), the Bushies would have no choice but to deal with Iran and Syria in order to resolve the crisis. So Washington is now praying for a swift Israeli military victory which they Bushies are bound to use as a way of demonstrating that their Mideast project IS working. But I think that they are dismissing many potenial problems, including the renewal of the civil war in Lebanon.