Thursday, July 20, 2006

Israeli Troops Start The Day In Lebanon

Israeli troops are inside Lebanon, trying to destroy the sites from which Hezbollah launches rockets into Israeli cities. Not unlike rats, Hezbollah guerrillas hide inside tunnels built underneath civilian houses; they emerge to fire their rockets into Israel, then scurry back into their caves. The fighting has been fierce: two Israeli soldiers have been killed, as have been an 30-40 of Hezbollah's terrorists. It will probably stay fierce: Hezbollah has had years to build their defenses, and have been joined by Iranian troops.

It is possible that Hezbollah will be joined by the regular Lebanese army. The Lebanese defense minister has said he may send the Lebanese army to fight Israel in southern Lebanon, an area he was unwilling to send troops to when the threat was Nasrallah's illegal private militia. Nonetheless, Israel is likely to stay: they've issued warnings to residents to leave the area.

Israel had tried to decapitate Hezbollah. Isreallycool noted Nasrallah's absence from the news and questioned whether he had survived; alas, the creepy little man eventually appeared on al Jazeera television, claiming Israel had destroyed a mosque. Israel Matzav points out that for Hezbollah, a mosque, like a home, is a military supply depot.

Kofi Annan, taking a break from counting his money, gave a speech at the U.N. in which he equated Israel's response and Hezbollah's indiscriminate rocket attacks. He called for an immediate "cessation of hostilities". To his credit, his proposals call for a return of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers without calling for Israel to release Hezbollah prisoners. The rest of his proposals are worse than useless, however, as are the omissions: determined steps to disarm Hezbollah and to recognize Iran and Syria's role in the war on Israel.

As I said earlier, diplomacy is paralyzed by disagreement, and this paralysis may allow the conflict to gradually escalate past the point of no return. Each side has received sufficient international support to convince it that it can keep fighting. Neither side has been given any reason to hold back.

As time passes, Lebanon, seeing no relief from the international community, may follow up on the defense minister's threats and enter the conflict. Syria will perhaps join them, and then Iran. The only positive outcome I can foresee is if Israel succeeds in destroying Hezbollah's capacity to wage war before either the international community steps in to prevent their self-defense, or other Muslim states step in force Israel into total war. Israel has only a few more days: Condoleezza Rice is traveling to the Middle East next week, and much about the next stage of the conflict may be decided then.


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