I fully expect that “argument” to flower into nearly full blown conventional wisdom in the weeks ahead, particularly if the Lebanese Army ends up fighting alongside Hezbollah. Yesterday, on NPR I listened to Rami Khouri of the Lebanese Daily Star ask with deep scorn “So America can ship precision weapons to Israel but Iran and Syria can’t send weapons to Hezbollah.” I’m quoting from memory, but I’m fairly certain that’s close to an exact quote.
This captures, in a nutshell, the essence of the asininity of the forthcoming debate. The point of fact, Khouri’s highly cultivated righteousness notwithstanding, is, yes, America can ship precision weapons to Israel and, no, Iran and Syria should not be sending missiles to Hezbollah, an established terror organization. Hezbollah claims to be a political party. Why does it need anti-ship missiles? Moreover, look at what the U.S. is shipping to Israel. We’re selling them precision munitions so as to avoid casualties. What do Iran and Syria give to Hezbollah? Rockets intended to kill casualties, many of them loaded with buck shot, almost none of them with a guidance system to aim at strategic targets. Their rockets are intended to just fly in any old direction. If they hit a school, fine. If they hit an old-age home, fine. If they hit an oil refinery, bonus!
Of course, we sell other weapons to Israel, but this is a small illustration of how important moral distinctions get deliberately worn down in these sorts of conflicts.
As time goes by, we’re going to see the analogy between Hezbollah and Israel harden for two reasons: 1) People on the anti-Israel side want to elevate Hezbollah’s moral status while lowering Israel’s and 2) journalists are very, very lazy and will want to take comfort in supposedly “balanced” formulations.