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July 13, 2006

Putting Things Into Perspective...

.... is this excellent editorial at The New Republic.

What has been clarified by this round of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is, first and foremost, the character of Israel's adversaries. They are Islamist terrorists, and proud to be so. More ominously, they are Islamist terrorists come to power. Hamas is no longer only a movement; it is now also a government. In the months since Hamas was elected by the Palestinians to govern (or misgovern) them, the regime of Ismail Haniyeh and company has presided over the launching of hundreds of Qassam rockets into Israel, applauded a suicide bombing at a Tel Aviv restaurant (it would have been hypocritical of them not to applaud it!), allowed an unprecedented escalation of the conflict with the firing of a souped-up rocket into Ashkelon--the first time such a strike has been made against a major Israeli city--and, of course, kidnapped Corporal Gilad Shalit. All of this, again, is the work of a government. When Hamas was elected, there was an eruption of assurances in the media that power will breed responsibility, that the drudgeries of governing will usurp the ecstasies of bombing, and so on. "Hamas?" the headline on the cover of The New York Review of Books asked hopefully. But the Hamas rulers of Palestine have made it plain that they see no contradiction between governing and bombing. Success at the ballot box has had no calming effect. It has merely conferred political legitimacy upon moral depravity.

The long and the short of it is that Israel is not defending herself against guerilla activities by a faction of "downtrodden" souls, they are defending themselves against an Act Of War by a sovereign government. If the Palestinians want terrorists as leaders, well, so be it -- they can reap what they've sown.

And as for Hezbollah and their Lebanese hosts, welllllll, they were warned a long time ago....

Hezbollah, of course, is not a government, but it is a part of a government. Its freedom of action, its unreconstructed radicalism, its pervasive presence in Lebanese politics: All this brings to mind nasty memories of a few decades ago, so that it is not incorrect to say that, over the last 30 years, Lebanon has exchanged a PLO mini-state within its borders for a Hezbollah mini-state within its borders. When Shalit was kidnapped, Hamas cited the precedent of Hezbollah's kidnappings (and prisoner-exchanges) in the past, as if in exoneration of its own extortion. Hezbollah has always been Hamas's teacher in the great madrassa of anti-Israeli terrorism. Now the teacher has taken a cue from the student and taken its own Israeli hostages. Israel must now remind its adversaries that it was deadly in earnest when, decades ago, it proclaimed that it would tolerate no such aggression along its northern border.

When you rent a DVD, you are deluged at the start of the feature with federal and international warnings regarding the illegality and criminal penalties of bootlegging the contents of the disc. When you see a no parking sign, there is, as often as not, a warning that if you park there, your car will be towed away and how much it will cost to get it back. A "No Trespassing" sign often makes sure you understand that if you trespass, you will be prosecuted. When I worked in a casino security department and we "86"ed someone from the property, we read them, from a card that everybody carried, a trespass warning that left no doubt that the next time the 86er was found in the casino or anyplace else on our property, he or she would be immediately arrested and sent to jail, and prosecuted. If the subject didn't understand English or purported not to, or even had the slightest foreign accent, we would call in an employee(a dealer, change person, whoever) that was fluent in the subject's native language and have them translate the trespass warning word-for-word. On highways, "No Littering" signs tell you how much you will be fined for littering.

The reason for all these warnings and posted explanations of the penalties for the transgressions indicated is to make unmistakeably plain what will happen if the warnings are not heeded, so that in court, the "I didn't know" defense would not hold any water. Unscrupulous, greasy, seedy, anal-cavity liberal trial lawyers and drooling left wing judges brought this necessity upon society, but that's one for another time.

My point being, decades ago, Israel warned the Lebanese and their terrorist Hezbollah butt-boys that there would be dire military consequences if there were any further cross border attacks -- the Lebanese government is responsible for dealing with its in-house terror factions. If they choose to let them do as they please, they, like the Palestinians who voted in terrorism as their choice of leadership, deserve whatever Israel feels like dishing out. Actions have consequences, and if you indulge in the first, you have to accept the second.

And make no mistake about the culpability of other countries as well, like Iran and Syria. This is war by every "legal" definition no matter what the "international community" says -- and it was declared on Israel, not the other way around, by governments that either enjoy legitimate sovereignty or, as in the case of the Palestinians, are recognized as such.

There is also a larger strategic dimension to the Hamas-Hezbollah offensive. These provocations stink of Assad and Ahmadinejad. The Hamas action in Gaza appears to have been ordered by Khaled Meshal, the Hamas leader who resides in Damascus--which is to say, it is also a piece of Syrian intrigue. Nor can anything of significance take place in Lebanon without the sanction of Damascus; and Hezbollah enjoys not only the toleration of Syria but also the time-honored support of Iran, which is also Syria's great ally in a region that may be otherwise turning in a better direction. Perhaps Meshal's responsibility for the Gaza attack will now allow Haniyeh to masquerade as a moderate. (The Washington Post this week published an op-ed by Haniyeh that was full of outrageous assertions. It seems that an election is all that stands between terrorism and punditry.)

I sincerely hope that liberals in Israel (fat chance, if they're anything like American liberals) have now taken to heart the consequences of making concessions to the "my way or the highway" brand of terrorism that seems to be the driving force behind Islam.

I love the last paragraph in the editorial:

It is also worth noting that the Hamas-Hezbollah aggression is aimed at damaging precisely those political forces in Israel--now represented by Ehud Olmert's government--that withdrew Israeli settlers from Gaza and is committed to withdrawing Israeli settlers (70,000 of them) from the West Bank. It was one of the great ironies of recent times that Olmert's party rose in Israel at the exact moment that Hamas rose in Palestine; but the irony has turned deadly. They, the Palestinians, really do want everything. And so they are about to learn, yet again, that, as long as they want everything, they will get nothing. This may satisfy the nihilists in charge, since nihilists live for nothing.

Posted by Seth at July 13, 2006 12:49 PM


EXCELLENT. Just excellent. And so true.

Posted by: Raven at July 13, 2006 03:29 PM

Israel is not defending herself against guerilla activities by a faction of "downtrodden" souls, they are defending themselves against an Act Of War by a sovereign government. If the Palestinians want terrorists as leaders, well, so be it -- they can reap what they've sown.

Great point!

Meanwhile, "the international community" wants Israel to calm down. I think not!

Posted by: Always On Watch at July 13, 2006 03:45 PM

Raven --

Despite some stuff I was reading where some specialist or other from the Agency expounded upon his not believing Israel is up to the task of fighting Iran, presumably, then, he probably wouldn't think Israel capable of fighting on so many fronts -- he must've forgotten the war in the fall of 1973, when in a little under a month and with a strength of much lesser numbers, Israel decimated Syria on the Golan Heights and Egypt in the territories(in the end, during the ingenious Operation Gazelle, cutting off an entire Egyptian division in Israel without a supply line and placing Israeli soldiers on Egyptian soil.

Also, the Israeli military machine runs a lot like ours and the Brits', so I'd wager they've drawn up strategies to meet every conceivable enemy military threat or combination of threats, such as having to take on multiple Arab fronts at once.

Outright Iranian involvement, such as sending troops to fight the Israelis in Lebanon, could have some tragic consequences if Iran is permitted to build nuclear weapons with even halfway decent delivery systems. Israel has nukes, and is totally responsible with them, unlike a fanatical Islamic regime like Iran's wouold be. If they nuked Israel, Israel would probably, and arguably rightfully, respond in kind, and then... and then...

Posted by: Seth at July 13, 2006 03:58 PM

AOW --

The Israelis definitely don't seem to see the point, this time out, in talking to the U.N., according to Olmert's # 2. They feel they've met even the U.N.'s criteria for reasons to go to war, and that therefore there's really nothing the U.N. can contribute. LOL.

Let Koffi ram that up his over-ambitious, corrupt, anti-semitic, self important .... well, let him chew on that.

Posted by: Seth at July 13, 2006 04:05 PM

If Iran's leadership would really like to end its regime on a high note, they should go ahead and use "nuclear" armaments. A few hours after that, Iran will cease to exist.

Posted by: Mustang at July 13, 2006 05:21 PM

This is true, Mustang. It would be an interesting change of space usage, from a rug factory to a parking lot. :-)

My only concern there would be for Israel, that whatever Iran fired at them, given their physical area, didn't get there and, if it did, took out a sparsely populated piece of the Negev or accidentally and ironically landed in the Gaza Strip, where Israel's enemies now rule, rather than a population center like Tel Aviv.

Posted by: Seth at July 13, 2006 07:05 PM


Here are excerpts from comments I made on your blog back on Dec 21st, during the run-up to the Palestinian elections:

For Hamas to take official leadership of the Palestinians would show everyone the bankrupcy of their approach (and clear the way for Israel to respond militarily)...

In that sense, then, it might almost be preferable for Hamas to take control since they do have a desire for economic reform, and they ironically would have to be more realistic about sponsoring terrorist activity as the visible government, since their actions would represent hostile actions by the Palestinian government, to which the Israelis could reply in accordance with recognized international procedures. And Hamas would also have to make a clear decision whether to embrace or oppose Hizbollah.

Unfortunately, events have unfolded as predicted. Hamas came into power and faced a choice whether to govern, or whether to wage war on Israel as a nation -- no more chance to play the good-cop/bad-cop routine.

Sadly, because many people will die and others face destitution as a consequence, Hamas chose the path of war, and Israel can respond appropriately without having to navigate the ambiguities of non-national terrorism.

We also must not forget that even after the Hamas kidnapping, Israel gave the PA/Hamas a chance to act like a responsible nation and to rein in the terrorists within their borders by returning Corporal Shalit, which could have opened the path to a true peace settlement once the Palestinians demonstrated that they finally had a responsible government. Unfortuately, Hamas chose a different path. But at least, the world can see the true face of Palestinian governance. Whether the world will act honorably this time remains to be seen, although the initial test (i.e. the U.N. Security Council Resolution vetoed by the U.S.) augurs poorly.

I would make no predictions as to how large this conflict will expand, now that Hezbollah has jumped in. A key determinant, of course, will be what other regional powers, especially Syria and Iran, will do. My sense is that Iran has not yet lined up its ducks (rather, its nukes) -- but events can have a way of spiraling beyond clever calculations.

The biggest question is whether this time, unlike Suez 1956 and later conflicts, the U.S. will give Israel free rein to bring the matter to a definitive conclusion, now that the masks are off.

Posted by: civil truth at July 13, 2006 09:03 PM

Civil Truth --

That is an intense question, given GWB's Israel policies to date. During his first term in the White House, he proferred the "Roadmap For Peace" plan and insisted that Israel stick to its every iota, making a lot of dangerous concessions, despite the fact that the Palestinians weren't keeping up a single part of their end of the terms agreed upon.

During the time of that failed endeavor, it became obvious that like most, if not all, other western political leaders, Bush was forming diplomatic policy under the assumption that Islamic reasoning is compatible with Judeo-Christian reasoning. It is not.

According to their beliefs, lying to unbelievers is "okay" -- that includes signing treaties and other agreements. Hamas has even said as much. No matter how many times we receive that "in-your-face" message, we seem to ignore it and continue dealing with Arab states as though we were on the same page. We are not.

It has completely eluded me for several years why our Presidents, of both parties, no less, continue to believe that they can engender peace between Israel and the Palestinians. You can't talk peace with jihadis. The only way to obtain peace, unfortunately, is to smite them root and branch.

As I've blogged many times, I believe that all roads in the Israel-Arab conflict lead to a military solution. Israel's only Roadmap For Peace comes from defeating their enemies once and for all, and then keeping vigilant lest they regroup and attack again in the future. Talking peace with the Arabs is like talking peace with the Klingons.

Our Presidents should simply get out of the way already and allow the inevitable to take its course, one way or another, rather than continue to interfere in a situation whose base realities their western sensibilities can't possibly grasp. You can't reason with primitive mindsets using modern thought, and the Arabs are definitely an example of the former.

George Bush should be totally exasperated by the Palestinians by now, you'd think, and realize that reasoning with them is a quixotic concept.

If he's got the moxi and has indeed come to fully understand what's going on "over there", he'll run whatever interference is necessary at the U.N. and allow Israel to do what she should have been allowed to do a long time ago -- defend herself in a "once and for all" manner.

In many ways I envy you your faith in human nature, as it were, in having considered the possibility of Hamas embracing their new found political leadership responsibilities and striving to better the lives of their constituents by addressing economic issues and so forth, but I work in an industry whose requisites include attending seminars, work shops and other venues that explore terrorist mentalities and methodology, and it's made me somewhat cynical about people who can justify murdering innocent civilians to further a "cause".

As soon as the Palestinians elected Hamas and the Israelis ceded the Gaza Strip to them, I knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that massive violence was the next course on the menu.

I only hope that Dubya lets nature take its course.

Posted by: Seth at July 13, 2006 11:16 PM