Prague Twin

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Yea, that seems reasonable.

Lebanon is a country of about 3,000,000 people. It is religiously diverse. About 60% are Muslim (Shi'a, Sunni, Druze, Isma'ilite, Alawite or Nusayri) and most of the other 40% follow a form of Christianity. 17 religious sects are recognized.

As one would expect, there has been quite a lot of problems over the years. Lebanon's civil war from about 1975 to 1989 was one of the most confusing civil wars of all time. A web of alliances and betrayals eventually left 100,000 dead.

A large part of the problem are the Palestinian refugees (and their decendents) who fled northern Israel in 1982. Palestinian agression on Israel throughout that period is well documented. Lebanon was used as a base for attacks on Israel.

However, let us not forget that the Syrians originally dispached the Palestinians from Beirut in 1976, saving the Catholics in the process. Only one problem, the Syrians never left.

In fact, Lebanon had other company during the civil war. Israel occupied the south of the country from 1979 until 2000 when they finally complied with the UN resolution demanding their withdrawl from southern Lebanon. Since that time, Palestinian forces in the area have been in violation of UN Resolutions, it should be noted.

In the case of Lebanon, it is a country that has been torn apart not only by civil war, but occupation by two other countries. Despite this disadvantage, they have a unity government that shares power between Shi'a Sunni and Christian. It has problems, and was five years in the making, but anti-Syrian sentiment has solidified a strong coalition, and progress was starting to be made. It was about a year old, this government.

There was a long way to go, but it was a start. Christians and Muslims were living in peace. A democratic government was in place and free enterprise was flourishing. A post-war construction boom had just kept on going like a Marshall plan prodigy.

There was still the problem of Hezbollah in direct violation of UN resolutions calling for their disarming.
(Weren't there a bunch of scare rumors going on that the UN wanted to come and disarm Americans?)

Everyone has been dragging their feet on this one. The world community has ordered Lebanon to disarm palestinian forces in the south. This would be hard for anyone, but especially for a weak, nascent government such as the one in Lebanon.

Perhaps the Syrians could help?

No, it seems that Syria is helping this faction in the south (largely the Hezbollah militia). Of course the alliance has changed to one against Israel as result of the Israeli occupation. Some believe that although Syria helps the Hezbollah militia and others, their presence kept Hezbollah under control. (A dog on a leash?)

So the Syrians are helping Palestinian forces including Hezbollah. The Lebanese rejected the Syrian government (marginally) and after the Hariri assasination Syria left.

A little clunkly, but hey, progress.

Relative calm had pervailed, all things considered. The new anti-Syrian government, elected one year, is now in violation of a UN Resolution. Let us remember that Israel occupied the south of the country in violation of a UN Resolution for 11 years. I'm not saying it is okay, but not everyone just lock-snaps into compliance after all. The task of disarming Hezbollah is like the chore that no one wants to do.

So essentially, what Israel must have planned was to destroy the entire country at the next provacation by Hezbollah. They planned to punish the entire population of Lebanon for failing to disarm Hezbollah within one year.

Well, I think this is slightly unfair. I don't condone what Hezbollah did. (They probably wanted this to happen.) But I can assure you that a majority of the 3,000,000 people in that country do not condone these actions.

The Hezbollah problem is not only complex in that they are a fairly powerful faction in politics, but that many Lebanese believe that without the Hezbollah militia, Israel would still occupy southern Lebanon. For a party who plays on fear of Israel, the current action is only helping them.

I have no problem with Israel defending herself. But this action went well beyond defense from the beginning. The first attack was on a civilian facility. It could have been on Hezbollah headquarters but it was on Beirut International. It was a signal. Indeed, it was clear from the beginning that Hezbollah was a secondary target. It was the bridges, airports, seaports, roads, and general infrastructure that would be targeted. These are civilian targets irrespective if any civilians are killed in the process of them being bombed.

So forget about body counts for a second, and let us focus on one thing:

3,000,000 people, who democratically elected an anti-Syrian government, are now being punished for not disarming a powerful militia that was supported by Syria and possibly Iran. Both are countries which are much more powerful than Lebanon. They had roughly a year to complete this task from time that anything looking like an effective government could be formed.

Think about 3,000,000 people who have had roughly the same experience as the lady in the link below. Dead or alive, every single person who calls Lebanon their home has had their life as they know it destroyed.

Yea, that seems like a good way to combat the forces of extremism.

13 Comments:

  • Thank you PT

    By Blogger Cartledge, at 1:26 AM  

  • Yes, it certainly does seem like Israel was planning this now. And it's interesting that the push for peace seems to be coming from just about every side, except Israel's.

    By Blogger Stephanie, at 1:42 AM  

  • It IS slightly unfair - but the Lebanese government does nothing to stop Hezbollah from infiltrating into neighborhoods, causing Israel to launch attacks against Hezbollah, thereby unfortunately resulting in more collateral deaths of innocents.

    What else would be the best way to destroy Hezbollah then? They MUST be vanquished forever, as all Islamists should be.

    You ask if Syria can help? They are part of the cause of this war and there is unrefuted proof of that.

    Iran is the next question. I just wish Israel would stop this silly nonsense and bring the fight to both Iran and Syria at the same time, and let either one react - the US SHOULD provide a swift and decisive response - but don't expect Bush to pull that one off, he is too worried right now about what his enemies think about him.

    Bush is just another Neville Chamberlain and I feel cheated for voting for him (there was no one else effective at the time). Don't get me started!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:10 AM  

  • Good History lesson, thanks Mike :)

    By Blogger dusty, at 4:12 AM  

  • anonymous, you can't vanquish an idea. Certainly not by bombing people.

    By Blogger Elizabeth, at 4:16 AM  

  • I want to echo the comments of praise, praguetwin. A fantastic history and analysis. Thanks.

    By Blogger reality-based educator, at 4:57 AM  

  • PT

    Great summation with a few exceptions.

    Possibly supported by Iran? You are far too generous.

    As you noted, “It was the bridges, airports, seaports, roads, and general infrastructure that would be targeted” (I don’t think you can actually support the “general infrastructure” claim). These are not all civilian targets as you suggest, as they have logistical relevance. These were targeted for no other reason than to hinder an Iranian re-supply of Hezbollah by way of Syria. Did you really think they just got their rocks-off by hitting these targets?

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 7:19 AM  

  • Thanks all for the praise.

    Anon. I think it is a little more than "slightly" unfair. Final solutions and turning to war only accelerate the problems. By your logic we would have to invade Iran, Iraq (done), Syria, Jordan, Pakistan, North Korea, Indonesia, Somalia, and Sudan just to name a few.

    All have their own domestic problems with "Islamists" and none have done much to stop them. Most, like Pakistan for example, have a much greater ability to do so than the extremely weak Lebanese government. I thought I made the point about the Lebanese being weak pretty well but I guess it was lost on you.

    I'm not sure what the best way would be to "destroy Hezbollah", but destroying the country of Lebanon, mark my words, will not be end of extremsim or of Hezbollah. Quite the contrary in fact.

    You seem to want a world war. Looks like you may get it. Be patient. Enjoy your life while you still can.

    Arch,

    I realize that I left Iran out of it largely. There are always players behind the action. I didn't mention that Russia supplies the rockets that Hezbollah uses either. Why not call me out on that?

    What you will see is that this campaign will have a devastating effect on the good citizens of Lebanon, but very little on Hezbollah, with the possibilty of a wider war erupting.

    Our only hope is diplomacy. Too bad America has given up on that.

    I don't know if Israel is "getting their rocks off" although I expect plenty people (including yourself) are.

    I don't think that bombing jammed roads of people trying to get to Damascus is anything less than murder.

    Shouldn't the same thing be done to Pakistan by your logic?

    Just some thoughts here.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 8:02 AM  

  • PT

    That Hezbollah uses rockets of Russian origin does not mean there is an ongoing relationship between the two. As you well know there have been many failed attempts by both Russia and America to sway support of Middle-Eastern countries by providing military hardware. As such there is a great deal of hardware floating around that does not necessarily substantiate any current alliance, and that is why I made no mention of Russia

    I do not get my "rocks-off" at the prospect of war. It is necessary sometimes to try and stop the people who would cut your throat given half the chance.

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 3:27 PM  

  • Are you saying that Russia no longer sells weapons to Syria?

    Be careful.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 4:46 PM  

  • PT

    Are you saying that Syria IS Hezbollah? Perhaps it is you who should be careful here.

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 10:30 PM  

  • No, I didn't say it. But GWB is blaming Syria for being the go between and for supporting Hezbollah. Therefore, anyone supplying Syria with arms who has this knowledge is culpable. The same goes for Iran.

    Please answer the question.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 12:46 PM  

  • PT

    I said:

    "That Hezbollah uses rockets of Russian origin does not mean there is an ongoing relationship between the two"

    I think you must have somehow interpreted that into:

    "That there are rockets of Russian origin in the Middle-East does not mean there is an on going relationship between the two"

    In the future it would do us both well if during an exchange you were to focus on what it is that I actually said, and pay less attention to what G.W.B. said.

    My main concern is who is providing the primary assistance - both financial and military (Those peace loving mullahs of that historically non aggressive country Iran, and of course Syria) - and not secondary of tertiary relationships as they relate to arms. That the Russians are selling weapons to the Syrians is evocative of a more regional situation and is beyond the scope of the conversation at hand. (Unless of course you are willing to make the claim that Russia supports Hezbollah, which would be laughable in light of its own problems with the Chechens) At this point in time (post communist Russia) The Russian decision to sell military armaments to Syria probably has more to do with internal Russian economics than it does any ideological similarities.

    So in answer to your question: No, I am not saying that Russia no longer sells weapons to Syria. I am glad however that you acknowledge an operational relationship between Syria & Hezbollah, as it will now be more difficult for you to squirm out of this position should Hezbollah start using chemical weapons (it has alluded to this) that were obtained from Syria (more than likely having Iraqi origins) should its back be put against a wall.

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 12:20 AM  

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