What does Israel seek to gain?
Saturday, July 22, 2006
The coverage of the latest Middle East conflict has been plastered with cheesy sensationalism, like the bolded all-caps CNN.com headline of "Bombs and Tears" that persisted for a few days and the focus on the great nail-biting escape of Westerners from Lebanon. But there doesn't seem to be much said about what Israel hopes to accomplish...
Are they trying to disarm Hezbollah and Hamas? Their official line and their sending of ground forces would suggest this. But recall that Israel had occupied southern Lebanon for many years (it is even the reason why Hezbollah was founded) and during those years, they have failed to destroy Hezbollah. Do they seriously expect that re-occupying that area would allow them to accomplish what they have been unable to do in the past? Likewise, do they think that ground forces in Gaza would stop Hamas, considering that Hamas prospered through the Israeli occupation of Gaza?
Are they trying to get local governments to disarm these groups? The Lebanese government is, at best, weak, following the end of the Syrian occupation and the end of the long Lebanese civil war. They are in no shape to do anything about Hezbollah. Israel seems to acknowledge this, however, as they have made it clear that they do not expect the Lebanese government to be of much help in disarming Hezbollah. As for Hamas, when Arafat was in power, he was unable to control Hamas and their militias. Israel had tried many of the same tactics: sending in troops, punishing the government, etc., but the end result has always been the same: the Palestinian government remains impotent in dealing with the militias, and Israel is unable to stem the violence. Now that the Palestinian authority has a relatively weaker and more divided leadership and government, they are in an even worse position to deal with these mostly independent militiamen; it has been reported in the news that even Hamas itself is divided and that not all of its elements heed the words of its political leadership.
Are they trying to drum up international support and get pressure placed against Hezbollah and Hamas? The international community had long ago called for the disarmament of Hezbollah (complete with a UN Resolution and what little good that did) and there was already pressure on Hamas to moderate. If anything, the recent conflict is turning international opinion against them. The leaders of the Arab world have condemned Hezbollah, but these are mere words, and the people still overwhelmingly support Hezbollah.
Are they trying to send a message that they will not stand by and let themselves be attacked? If so, when has such a gesture ever deterred an irrational people who are willing to die for their cause?
In the end, the thing that bothers me about all this is the bleakness of the outlook, as I'm not sure that what they are doing will bring them any bit closer to neutralizing Hezbollah, and at the same time, it is destabilizing a fledging moderate democracy (a rarity in the Middle East), and we all know what destabilized Middle Eastern governments will produce... Did they learn anything from their 1982 invasion of Lebanon?
This entry was edited on 2006/07/22 at 23:03:43 GMT -0400.