...there has been only one reported airstrike on a Syrian target.
Both Israel and Syria were quick to deny this.What is interesting is that it was the Syrians who insisted very publicly that no such attack took place. The Syrians are clearly trying to avoid a situation in which they are locked into a confrontation with Israel. Israel might well think this is the time to have it out with Syria as well, but Syria is trying very hard not to give Israel casus belli. [More at the link]
We are in a relatively "quiet" spell. Both sides have made their strategic decisions. Both know how the war will be fought. Hezbollah thinks it can give as good as it will get for a while, and will ultimately be able to regroup for a guerrilla war against the Israelis. Israel thinks it can immobilize and crush Hezbollah quickly and decisively and will be able to withdraw. Both sides know Syria is the wild card, and neither is quite sure how it will play its hand. One side is wrong in its expectations about the outcome. That's the nature of war.
Allison Kaplan Sommer puts the reader smack in the middle of things. Too much for me to cover with snips. You have to go to the link for a full treatment.
My current dilemma, when the kids come home, how do I follow the directions to "pay attention to the media" without completely freaking them out with the constant TV and radio coverage? I guess I'll just leave the laptop on and sneak peeks at it.
I'm not going to freak out. If I freak out, the Hizbollah will have won.
UPDATE 2: Hubby thinks I should let my daughter ride the bus home and keep the little one at her caregiver's house till 4. He says business as usual. I'll do what feels right.Things could be worse. I could be in Haifa (this blog, by the way, is reporting events very nicely . Or Beirut.
The Israeli media is starting to be more careful about reporting exactly where the rockets have fallen, so as not to give Hezbollah any tips to improve their aim.
Josh Landis weighs in with a comprehensive look at the conflict. Syria is his area of expertise. Incidentally, the comments thread is longer than the post with more content than can be summarized here. Excellent discussion there.
My own take on this question is that Hizbullah's relationship to Syria is much like Israel's with the United States. As Bush said yesterday, the US does not tell Israel how to defend itself. Nevertheless, no one would suggest that Israel does not run major foreign policy moves by its friends in Washington before launching them. It would not like to get too far out ahead of Washington and lose cover. The same goes for the relationship between Hizbullah and Syria. The two have a close relationship and in something as big as the present escalation, Hizbullah would not want to lose Syrian or Iranian support. Doing so would leave it very exposed. The three powers need to coordinate very closely in the coming weeks. If they can be divided, they will be easy pray.
Israel is attempting to cut Lebanon off from Syria so that Hizbullah will be isolated and unable to resupply itself. This Israel may be able to do. The majority of its targets so far have been aimed at cutting off Lebanon's communications with the outside world. The Israeli chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, said the air strikes would continue until the Israeli soldiers were returned and the Lebanese government took responsibility for Hezbollah’s actions. Israel, he said, also wanted to deliver “a clear message to both greater Beirut and Lebanon that they’ve swallowed a cancer and have to vomit it up, because if they don’t their country will pay a very high price.” Asked about possible Syrian intervention, General Halutz said, “There’s no reason for the Syrians to jump into a pool they might drown in.”
Such talk sounds tough and good, but how exactly does Israel expect the Lebanese government to "take responsibility for Hizbullah’s actions? How is it supposed to vomit up Hizbullah? Young has suggested that the UN should fly to the rescue, but that cannot happen until Hizbullah cries uncle and asks it to send in peace keeping troops. Hizbullah is not like the Palestinians who could be shipped off to Tunis. It is Lebanese.
Anyway, Hizbullah is intent on trumpeting its own tough talk. After his house was bombed by Israeli jets, Nasrallah exclaimed, “You Zionists, you wanted an open war and you will have it,” and he promised “to reach Haifa and even farther.” He continued: “You want your government to change the rules of the game? This game will change. Now you know whom you’re fighting with. You are fighting the sons of Muhammad and Ali.”
This conflict is being fought at two levels. At the ground level the participants are doing the actual fighting, returning fire, bleeding, hiding and dying. At another level these local forces are playing proxy for international actors hoping to settle greater differences by manipulating their respective avatars in a high-stakes game. Something about that image makes me sick.
Lisa Goldman has translated from Hebrew a rather lengthy piece from a few days ago which is a must-read. It is passionate and on-point argument that Israel should focus it's attention on the real targets, while doing everything possible to preserve the already fragile but civilized government trying to find its legs in Lebanon. This is powerful stuff.
The moderates of the Muslim world are defending themselves desperately. The extremists face no difficulty in slaughtering them. But if the free world has any kind of hope, it is not to be found in actions like the invasion of Iraq, but in the victory of Western values - in the victory of democracy over tyranny, free thought over religious intolerance, nationality over ethnic identity, the individual over the tribe.
The fragile Lebanese democracy represents all of these values, and it is converting – slowly, it is true, and with difficulty – followers from the Muslim street. Hezbollah’s operation – the long arm of Tehran and Damascus – was directed against Lebanon no less than it was directed against Israel. Arab democracy, an alternative to Islam, frightens the Islamists more than Israeli democracy.
Today the army, crazed with humiliation and rage, is dragging us into a second Lebanon War. The butting bull is not bothering to check whether the china dishes will break as a result of its wild behaviour. It knows that there is no government which will stand up to its bellowing for revenge. But if we do not wish to be part of a culture war, and we do not want once again to be stuck in the mud of Lebanon, we need to rein in the destructive animal.
Israel’s answer should be simple: an ultimatum to the Lebanese government to return unhurt all the Israeli prisoners, within one week. At the same time, we should demand that Nasrallah be arrested and put on trial at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, because the shelling of civilian areas is certainly a war crime. If Israeli pressure is joined by international pressure, it will strengthen the Lebanese government and help it to dismantle the Hezbollah – and the dismantling of the Hezbollah is a UN demand.
At the same time, Israeli Air Force planes should reduce to dust the palace of the tyrant in Damascus, and bomb its army from the air. That way Israel will destroy the real target – while simultaneously helping to liberate Lebanon. That message – that a murderous Arab tyranny is collapsing because it tried to undermine its two democratic neighbours – will provide great encouragement to the Arab street.
Michael J. Totten has disabled comments at his blog because of mean and thoughtless messages left there by stupid, insensitive people. I don't blame him. He speaks from the heart with certainty that Israel has badly missed the mark by doing damage to Beirut.
I sympathize one hundred percent with what Israel is trying to do here. But they aren't going about it the right way, and they're punishing far too many of the wrong people. Lord knows I could be wrong, and the situation is rapidly changing, but at this particular moment it looks bad for Israel, bad for Lebanon, bad for the United States, good for Syria, and good for Iran.
There is no alternate universe where the Lebanese government could have disarmed an Iranian-trained terrorist/guerilla militia that even the Israelis could not defeat in years of grinding war. There is no alternate universe where it was in Lebanon's interest to restart the civil war on Israel's behalf, to burn down their country all over again right at the moment where they finally had hope after 30 years of convulsive conflict and Baath Party overlordship.
What should the Israelis have done instead? They should have treated Hezbollahland as a country, which it basically is, and attacked it. They should have treated Lebanon as a separate country, which it basically is, and left it alone. Mainstream Lebanese have no problem when Israel hammers Hezbollah in its little enclave. Somebody has to do it, and it cannot be them. If you want to embolden Lebanese to work with Israelis against Hezbollah, or at least move in to Hezbollah's bombed out positions, don't attack all of Lebanon. ***
Israelis thinks everyone hates them. It isn't true, especially not in Lebanon. But they will make it so if they do not pay more attention to the internal characteristics of neighboring countries. "The Arabs" do not exist as a bloc except in the feverish dreams of the Nasserists and the Baath.
***Allison Kaplan Sommer understands but disagrees.
Michael, we've tried it already. Been, there, done that. It was called occupying Southern Lebanon -- we did it for a lot of years. And guess what? It didn't win Israel any popularity contests either in Lebanon or internationally.
Someone at the UAE Community Blog is trying to raise aid for Lebanon!
Of all that I have read this morning, this hits me as perhaps the most significant. Does he not know that he will have to make a distinction between "Lebanon" and "Hesbollah"? Is he really trying to aid the country that kicked out Syria, and if they could would do the same to the extremist squatters on their Southern border with Israel?
I am trying to organize a relief campaign to gather much needed aid to Lebanon. Does anyone know any UAE based relief/Aid agency that is accepting funds or donations and arranging sending them to Lebanon?
I tried calling the UAE Red Crescent but I can't get through..Please if you know of any, place a comment or email me directly on dubaimirror(at)gmail(dot)com