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Deo volente.

How Proportionate is the American Response?

William Bennett and Seth Leibsohn on Israel‘s response to Hezbollah:

In some respects it is unnecessary to ask whether Lebanon “harbors” or “harbored” Hezbollah; but one definition of “harbor” is “to provide refuge” and there is no question that at the bare minimum, Lebanon allowed Hezbollah to operate in its country — gave it ministerial portfolios in the cabinet and allowed the seating of its elected officials in parliament. It may, as a fragile, burgeoning, democracy have had no choice but to do this. But the question remains: Was that fragile democracy slowly moving to eradicate Hezbollah from its midst or was Hezbollah growing stronger and stronger?

So given the size and scope of the enemy, Bennett argues that Israel can pretty much do whatever it needs to do to survive. Proportion is determined by history.
The real battle in the clash of civilizations is the issue of self-determination. Israel is a democracy, and in spite of 6 years of asymmetric war is thriving. Lebanon is a fledgling democracy that ceded 20% of its infrastructure and self-governance to a venomous puppet organization.

So the next time the question is asked about the Middle East democracy project in light of Israel, Lebanon, and the Middle East — the reminder needs to be made: Israel is a democracy and it is in the Middle East. And one final point: If Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran were to be victorious in their military actions and ideology, two things would not exist: 1) Israel and 2) Lebanese democracy of any kind.

OK. Does anyone really doubt that?

I think that Bennett gets this part right: The larger issue of self-determination is the whole crux of our presence in the Middle East. We remain in Iraq to instill stability and our sense of values to a fledgling democracy. We support Israel as a bastion of democracy in the Middle East. We give aid an comfort (not enough) to the dissenters within Iran as they seek to overthrow the backwards, 7th century ruling class that oppresses and represses. Not to mention Egypt, Afghanistan, Kurdistan, &c.
Without the burden of supporting self-determination, there is no doubt that we would have fought swifter and more viciously. But what choice is there? It is not in us to simply salt the earth over the graves of our enemies. From the beginning of America’s brief existence, we have sought to befriend the vanquished and renew relations with old enemies. We were back on speaking terms with England within months of the end of the Revolution. Germany and Japan, the targets of our wrath for 4 straight years, were the benefactors of our benevolence for the following 10.

And yet … some / most of the Middle Eastern “democracies” are very much in the wait and see mode. They buy time by pretending to be our friends while internally, fanatical Islam continues to foment rebellion and anti_American sentiment. Our goading of Israel has been effective, but haven’t we also put the breaks on? Afghanistan and Iraq are successes by any evaluative measure, but wouldn’t they be more so if we would use them as military bases instead of just islands of democracy? Iran clearly is manufacturing the Lebanese crisis to deflect criticism of its nuclear program – a program that endangers all of our gentle and peaceful intentions that have caused us to use restraint and diplomacy when a more aggressive response could clearly have saved American lives.

So the appropriate question is not whether Israel is responding appropriately to Hezbollah and Lebanon, but whether the US is responding proportionately to the 25 year war of which we are finally aware. Iran continues to bluster and offer battle, even though it is through their proxies. Isn’t it time to proportionately respond to them, with the Israelis by our side?

Making a bad decision now means not having to make a worse decision tomorrow.

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July 28, 2006 - Posted by | Battle of Israel

1 Comment »

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