Sunday, July 16, 2006

Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine

I feel it would be remiss of me not to revisit my opinions on the middle-east given recent escalation.

1) There was a point in time with quite a bit of optimism on three fronts - Democracy in Palestine and Iraq, Syria pulling troops out of Lebanon, and Australia and Japan working together in Iraq. Well as I expected, democratic palestine is as hopeless as totalitarian palestine, Syria pulling out of Lebanon was almost completely useless without a disarming of Hezbollah, and Japan took the opportunity to pull out at about the time we were harrassing them about the Whales (I don't believe in co-incidences). However, the current blood-thirst and chaos in Lebanon is making Iraq look stable, secure and connected to the outside world in comparison, as well as democratic.

2) This Israeli escalation is not indicative of an overall escalation, as Arab forces that were to attack in Iraq will be diverted to attack in Israel and surrounds.

3) Syria and Iran may become more vulnerable to attack, and the diplomatic cost of doing so seems to have lessened.


Dave said...

I've been puzzling for days how Israel could possibly benefit out of raising the stakes so high as to appear more extreme than even Hezbollah?

I'm not convinced that the strategic objective is to draw combatants out of Iraq, though it would certainly be an innovative approach.

Marco said...

I actually do see the big picture strategy for Israel, but it is more about hurting the enemy rather than helping or protecting itself. From all my models, there is no good strategy for long term peace short of full scale war with Syria and Iran first.

The fact that Shiite and Sunni will stop fighting eachother in favour of bombing Israel is just an unintended by-product, good for the medium term Iraqi prospects.

Dr. Clam said...

I will join you soon, I have just been on holiday, and now there is work to do here, there, and everywhere!

I must cavil at your assessment that Lebanon now looks bad compared to Iraq, Marco: Lebanon is still in very much better shape and the overall prospects for democracy there are good, especially if the current situation makes its possible for the central government to assert its authority in Hezbollah-land.

One thing that doesn't get mentioned enough is that Hezbollah *is* part of the governing coalition in Lebanon: it is as if we had a Labor-Democrats-Green coaltion after the next election and Bob Brown's private fleet of gunboats decided to lob a few missiles at Japanese whalers. Does Dear Leader Kim fight a war with Japan, or lose his majority and let the bloodthirsty Capitalist Running Dogs take over? Or does he stand around uselessly wringing his hands and make lame excuses?

The timing of this is being driven by Iran, to take the heat off. Hamas and Hezbollah get money guns and lawyers from the Islamic Republic.

As for the magnitude of the Israeli response, it is driven by domestic politics: the uniliteral withdrawals from South Lebanon and Gaza were sold to a dubious electorate on the understanding that if attacks were made on Israel from the abandoned territories, the Israeli Defence Forces would respond immediately and forcefully. Someone like Sharon might have been able to trade on his past iron-man reputation to wuss out on this undertaking, but a civilian like Olmert does not have this luxury. Israelis kinow they have more conventional military force than Hezbollah and will not be satisfied with a 'proportional' response allowing their enemies to set the pace of the conflict and adapt to changing circumstances. Thus at each stage of escalation, democracy drives Israel to hit back harder than it has been hit.

Damn, and I said I wouldn't say anything yet... must get back to work...

I agree that regime change in Syria and Iran is necessary for long term peace and Happy Fun WorldTM and first argued this in October 2001 (with me Mum).

Marco said...

So I take it you agree with me with my whales/Japan point?

Dr. Clam said...

Nope. :P