The Corner

Disaster, Conference, Etc.

Straw man, Rich, Fandy isn’t saying that an international conference is the solution, what he is (effectively) saying is (a) that some sort of process has to resume and (b) that a peaceful resolution to the Israel/Palestinian impasse will do much to defang the rise of militant Islam. Neither claim ought to be particularly controversial, even if (b) seems painfully elusive, and (a) will involve signing up for quite remarkable amounts of nonsense.

You and I, of course, agree on how much we dislike Hezbollah. Where we disagree is how it can be defeated. I’d like to stress that I’m not debating here the rights and wrongs of Israel’s incursion into the Lebanon. What we’re debating is what will work. Clearly Israel had to respond to the attacks upon it, but my point is that taking the war as far as Israel has done has strengthened Hezbollah, and it was always going to do so. So long as Hezbollah has sponsoring powers behind it (as it does), so long as Hezbollah is indifferent to the deaths of the civilians in its midst (as it is), and so long as Hezbollah is able to recruit new ‘martyrs’ (it still is) the only military question was how bloody a nose it was going to get. It was never going to be knocked out. Given those facts, Israel would have better advised to devise a method of retaliation that (a) minimized any propaganda advantage Hezbollah might derive and (b) boosted the indigenous Lebanese opposition to Hezbollah. Clearly, it did the opposite. The result of all this is that over the longer term Hezbollah will emerge strengthened from this affair, something that was, I fear, all too predictable.  As I’ve said before, I will be delighted if I’m eventually proved wrong, but it doesn’t look like I will be.

Above all, there’s the position of the US to consider. America’s primary focus has to be on its wider struggle with Islamic extremism, an immensely complex, dangerous and, doubtless, prolonged struggle in which it has, at all costs, to prevail. The question that the administration has to ask itself is whether the current situation has made that effort easier or more difficult. It’s not a question that should take long to answer.

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