Israel and Hezbollah

 Posted by on 17 October 2008 at 4:47 pm  Foreign Policy
Oct 172008

StrategyPage reports this little news tidbit regarding Israel and Hezbollah (look at the October 4, 2008 entry, towards the end of the webpage):

Israel has announced that, if there is another round of Hezbollah rocket attacks from southern Lebanon, all the villages that the attacks come from will be destroyed. Hezbollah is ignoring the UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon and again installing rocket storage areas in the basements of homes, or nearby. The locals are threatened with violence or death by Hezbollah if they resist, so Israel is now playing by the same rules and letting the villagers know that, yes, they are in the crossfire if the rockets go off again

Now I don’t know whether Israel’s political leadership will actually follow through with their promise. But at least they are articulating the right principle. If Israel is attacked again by Hezbollah, then they have the moral right to strike back and end the threat even if it involves the deaths of Lebanese civilians in those villages where the rockets are coming from.

If those civilians were coerced by Hezbollah into storing those rockets in their homes, then the moral fault for their deaths lies with Hezbollah, not with Israel. If those civilians were willing, then they are active participants and cannot claim to be “innocent civilians”.

And it also means that if Lebanese civilians genuinely don’t want Hezbollah forcing them to act against their own self-interest, then they will have to stand up and oppose Hezbollah and fight instead for a better Lebanese government that protects their rights (rather than violates those rights and puts them in harm’s way).

Of course, if another conflict were to break out between Israel and Hezbollah, I expect the usual unjust condemnation of Israel by the Western press decrying those “innocent civilian casualties” in Lebanon. And American politicians (of both political parties) will put intense diplomatic pressure on Israel to stand down. And Israel will eventually knuckle under, bringing them one step closer to national suicide.

America does not have to fight Israel’s wars — that’s not our job. But the one thing we can do is to give Israel our moral support — in particular affirming with words and deeds that it has a right to defend itself. That more than anything else could reshape Middle East politics in a positive direction and put America’s enemies on notice that there will no longer be “business as usual”.

Unfortunately, I don’t expect this sort of leadership from either McCain or Obama. And if Israel does eventually go under, it won’t be long before we’re next…

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