Monday, July 17, 2006

When One War Is Not Enough

Over the course of the past week, events have made a precipitous slide within and without the borders of Israel. It began with the capture of Cpl. Gilad Shalit on June 25th, 2006. Militants within the borders of the Gaza strip were able to capture the corporal after slipping through the border via an underground tunnel. Almost immediately, Israel put the group responsible and Hamas as a whole on notice that it was not going to negotiate an exchange. Not only were the Israelis not going to negotiate, they moved militarily back into the Gaza strip where the kidnappers were understood to be hiding the soldier.

A mess quite serious in itself.

Adding the events of July 12th and things are moving quite quickly with very few prognosticators guessing where things end.

Hizbullah militants set up and detonated an explosive against an Israeli tank beyond the border of Lebanon - i.e. an incursion into Israeli territory. Two Israeli soldiers were then taken hostage by the attackers back into Lebanon. The incursion was followed by an announcement by Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah of Hizbullah that a "prisoner" exchange would be in order for the safe return of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

Israel again replied that under no circumstances were they going to negotiate a trade. The demands of Israel as it stands today are:
  1. Return of the two soldiers

  2. Pushing Hizbullah north of the Litani River (further away from the Israeli border)

  3. A halt to rocket attacks on Israel

While each of these particular events involves a smoldering fire from the past, the fear is that the escalation in military tit-for-tat fighting will embroil further nations in the Middle East to join in the fray. Syria and Iran head that list, but at the moment it looks less likely that this entrée will come to pass. This won't stop Iranian officials from expressing rhetorical statements that sympathize with Hizbullah and the Palestinians. It hasn't prevented the Iraqi Parliament from condemning Israel either for the invasion of southern Lebanon.

At some point there will be a cooling off period (just not very soon) and all sides will pick up the pieces.

It should go without saying that what is not needed now is another step by the United States to conduct a military operation in hopes of further securing a country that is not our own. Over the past weekend, many conservative voices on the far right concluded that to not strike back at Iran (and to a lesser extent Syria) with our military is to be seen as weak. William Kristol of the Weekly Standard led the charge on the weekend political talk show circuit, as well in his editorial titled, "It Is Our War".

Beyond the assertion that America is now tightly in the grasp of an imagined war with radical Islam, Kristol envisions a world bathed in conflagrations as far as the eye can see. Bombing Iran now is a must. Accepting the wrath of world condemnation a necessary price for "showing a strong America," will be a certainty. Siding strictly with Israel making things more difficult in Iraq (with a predominantly Shi'ia population), well, the U.S. was tiring of propping that place up anyway.

War, war, and more war. Some neoconservative principles are best left to the historical dustbin where they belong.

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