Monday, July 24, 2006

Dead Or Democratized: Either Will Work

At Slate, Frank Kaplan complains that Condoleezza Rice has failed the Middle East because she is too ambitious. Calling her witless and arrogant, he decries the willingness of the U.S. to allow the fighting to continue. He apparently would have preferred she "shuttled" to the Middle East and restrained Israel on behalf of the status quo. This point of view has the practical effect of preserving some Lebanese lives now at the expense of Israeli lives later.

Mr. Kaplan seems to consider the U.S. to be a pollyanna because it seeks to change the status quo. I don't see how this belief coincides with the facts, which show that the U.S. is quite content to let the Israelis pummel Hezbollah for as long is required for that illegal, private army to be neutralized. The "birth" that he derides is a bloody, ugly process that requires the deaths of a significant number of Hezbollah terrorists. It is not some soft, touchy-feely process, and I do not know when Secretary Rice has so suggested.

It is preferable, but not necessary, for democracy to rise from the ashes of Lebanon. I see no evidence that Secretary Rice thinks otherwise. Equally effective at preserving the peace in the future is a Hezbollah that has been destroyed, and a Syria and Iran so marginalized that they cannot muster any support for their goal of destroying Israel. Ending the fighting now is not realism, but surrender. The Muslim world will always produce armies anxious to destroy Israel; refusing to fight back will not prevent their aggression.


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