The 2016 Middle Eastern terrorism recruitment campaign is in full swing
There’s been plenty of analysis of the current crises around Israel, both in the Gaza strip and Lebanon, surely many of them more meaningful than anything I can write myself
That said, in my not so humble opinion (also, as a student of International Relations) I can see multiple games being played, and multiple strategies on several fronts, including the international media and public opinion at local, regional and global level.
This is seldom if ever talked about on TV and in print. I find the vast majority of interviews misleading at best.
And any comment blaming the crisis on one or the other side is pea-brained, or misinformed, and even dishonest
I’ll simply list then a few ideas and issues I am mostly concerned about:
• It is apparent that nobody cares about civilian lives, especially Lebanese lives
• We have yet more confirmation that lives have different values. That looks like something everybody agrees on. During the 2000-2005 Intifada, one Israeli dead every 3.4 Palestinians. Nowadays it’s one Israeli dead every 10 Lebanese. This is supported by the fact that the freedom of one Israeli soldier has been bargained for the freedom of around 133 “Palestinian” prisoners
• We are a few lives away from the “Perfect XXI Century War”, with no military casualties at all (thus completing a trend started hundreds of years ago, when most of the dead and injured were instead military personnel)
In fact, classic military infrastructure is hardly being touched
• The phrase “disproportionate response” is disingenuous when pronounced by politicians and experts. Everybody’s response is perfectly rational and proportionate from their point of view.
The key to their “rationality” is lack of care for civilian casualties especially if Lebanese
• Israel had been preparing this for years. No major military intervention, especially when being fought on the second front, can be organised overnight. One may hazard the buildup started at least one year ago, as an alternative fighting front to keep “warm”.after the Gaza pullout
• Hizbullah had been preparing this for years too. Instead of the usual short-of-target missiles (the kind wasted around by Hamas nowadays) they have a truly impressive set of different rockets, with an underground transportation, collection and distribution network that does not care of the existence of roads and bridges. All wonders helped a lot by plenty of oil money from Iran
• Before the current crisis, Hamas was in a weak position: a failure as a Government, a failure economically, a failure politically with the Jul 26 referendum risking to delegitimise its very Charter, if the Palestinians had recognised Israel’s right to exist. Now that referendum is postponed indefinitely
• Israel was in a weak position too: blatantly unable to defend (and find) his own soldiers, sitting lamely watching Hizbullah arming itself perhaps for an invasion, and in danger of being outmaneuvered by the Jul 26 Palestinian referendum too.
The new Prime Minister, lacking military credentials, can only show himself ruthless and militaristic, giving free hand to the Generals. The difficult promise to get out of some West Bank settlements was quite risky to fulfill, so it is much easier now as it can be shelved for a long time.
The weakness of Israel’s position is confirmed every time an Israeli utters the overused words “Israel cannot do otherwise”. Hardly the stuff of a regional Power: why and when did it let itself get cornered like this?
• And Hizbullah was not in a strong position either: not yet ready for a full-scale war, with the threat of UN Resolution 1680 calling for its disarmament, always on the edge of being cancelled out by a political crisis in Tehran or Damascus, or even in a nuclear deal between Iran and the rest of the world
All in all, military and political commanders on all sides have no interest in ending the conflict in the short term. Or even medium
• Stock traders may think the same as the markets in Israel and Lebanon are not suffering as one would expect in a time of war
• Sadly this is not an intifada, fought to get oneself in best position for an upcoming permanent peace settlement. This is a war of political annihilation
• First to be annihilated is Lebanon as a State. There is no effort to defend its own citizens, for example. And Hizbullah, in theory part of Beirut’s Government, launched on a campaign on its own without agreeing or alerting anybody. In other times we could have called it a Hizbullah Protectorate, but as they have no intention to protect anything in Lebanon, the nearest similarity may be Germany during the Thirty Years’ War: a playground for somebody else’s wars
• Negotiations cannot go anywhere. There is nothing to negotiate between Hamas and Hizbullah., and Israel. One can only see them negotiating about the others’ embarking on a one-way trip to the moons of Saturn
• Anybody not directly touched by this war has little to worry about. Witness the US’s sluggish reaction: Condi Rice may go there as “early” as next week
• The fact that Iran is behind Hizbullah means not one of the states around Lebanon and Siria will want to be involved in any conflict. They would all have very little if anything to gain by intervening, and a lot to lose
• Much easier for the whole world to let the fighters pummel each other into stupidity, and get ready to make the most of whatever the outcome.
• It is hard to conceive any ending that will not see Israel getting the upper hand once again, as in every war from 1946 apart from 1956 and 1973 (perhaps!)
• On the other hand, just like the 1982 invasion helped create Hizbullah, the 2006 war will mean yet another terrorist recruitment campaign “supported” by Israel
The terrorists of 2016 that is.
In an alternate, happier reality, Israel is showing the strength of its democracy by actually caring at least a iota about civilian Lebanese (not just in words; but then, in this universe the UK and USA have taught the lesson, with their disregard for Iraqi lives). Hizbullah is showing the strength of its Islamic credentials by allowing compassion to all civilians, rather than none.
Hamas and Hizbullah have learnt that there is no point complaining if the lion living next door starts mauling your children, after you hurt him, poke him and finally woke him up. And at least one Leader of non-violent attitude is helping all the inhabitants of Historical Palestine to learn to live together.
In a different alternate reality, also happier than ours, the international community is going to stop the unstoppable war by drying up its financial resources. Nobody can shoot if they don’t have the money to buy the bullets. And enough people are thinking there, how idiotic is to pass one’s hate down to their innocent offsprings
But this is what we’ve got. As Steve Hackett wrote and Phil Collins sang for Genesis 30 years ago:
Let’s skip the news boy (I’ll make some tea)
Arabs and the Jews boy (too much for me)
They get me confused boy (puts me off to sleep)
And the thing I hate – oh lord!
Is staying up late, to watch some debate, on some nation’s fate.