27 July 2006

Israel attacks Hezbollah in Lebanon

The recent flare-up in the Middle East highlights the problem of militias and the gulf between Arab governments and their people. The failure of statesmanship on both the Israeli and Arab sides has prolonged the Middle East conflict unecessarily. Full essay.


Anonymous said...

No one is giving any comment?

Yes, I am also surprise by this long war.. what gives them the strength to continue for so long...

And I wonder if we, Singaporean will give in if we are either of them...

Anonymous said...

I agree with the essay, for the most part.

The key decisions that led to the current predicament were a result of many factors, not least of which include personal circumstance, lack of information and domestic politics. Basically, I am saying that even if we could assume that each person who made a decision which led down this road acted in rational self-interest, it would still be very difficult to understand what that individual had perceived that interest to be.

I also agree with Alex's point that whether the response was disproportionate or not should not be a judgement made by those with obviously insufficient information. It could be the case that a particularly deadly strike killing many innocent Muslims also destroyed a stockpile of weapons which would have destroyed equally many innocent Israelis. Unfortunately, I fear it could be rather pointless to state this since most who cannot recognise this fact on their own would likely also not be able to accept this point.

Anonymous said...

Who are the aggressor in this fight btw the IDF and the Hizbollah? (maybe apply for all mideast crisis as well...)
But I must say i am touched by the response and support the IDF boys are getting from their countrymen and women in the streets...that sense of ownership and belonging...in singapore? the big question is that sense of ownership,does it exists?.

Anonymous said...

Contrary to what a poster said above, I think Alex did not touch on any point as to whether Israel's response was disproportionate or not. (Correct me if I'm wrong.) I have no other disagreements over the rest of that poster's views, and only want to start with the record straight.

I'm in fact going to comment on that very thing that Alex did not say.

First off, I think it was wise of Alex not to talk of that point of proportionate response. "Walk a mile in my shoes" - this is a good motto to live by. Unless any of us have lived in a country where the neighbours have vowed to wipe us from the face of the earth, it would be hollow for us to make any judgement on what is a proportionate response to an attack. I do not know what is the proportionate response to be.

Another point for thought - Hezbollah has launched reportedly 1200 rockets into Israel. The newspapers do not show pictures of Israel children killed or injured by those rockets. Remember that the moment any of those rockets is launched, Israel population would take shelter in their civil defence shelters. Now, Israel had built these shelters into all their homes, do we then turn around and say that, since their population are not suffering casualties, then their response against Hezbollah is disproportionate? A very complicated moral issue, again I don't know the answer.

We all know that Singapore also built many of these shelters, largely through the know-how learnt from the Israelis. In theory, we might one day be taking refuge inside our shelters and we have to ponder whether we can retaliate against our attackers when we have not suffered any casualties - will our counter-attack be called disproportionate?

Robert L

Azmodeus said...

We have no doubts as to whom had started the violence, with the deaths and capture of Israeli troops and having hundreds Katyusha rockets striking numerous civilian targets within the Israeli border. And we all know the amount of bloodshed that had been caused to Lebanese or Israeli lives is simply unacceptable.

Yet, from the moment the Israeli leadership had decided to authorise strong retaliatory strikes, they've played into the hands of Hezbollah. The apparent disparation of military strength between the Militia wing of Hezbollah pitted against the numerical and technologically superior IDF forces. From all observer accounts, everyone had expected the battle to be swift and collateral damage minimal. But the Israeli leadership had underestimated the level of penetration that Hezbollah had within the civilian infrastructure of Southern Lebanon. The longer this conflict lasted, more civilian lives lost, would ultimately result in a world wide condemnation of Israeli actions and sway the internation public opinon towards Lebanese suffering.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Azmodeus is right, the Hezbollah is winning the war of international opinion.

There is something I'll like to express, and yet words fail me. There is irony, and there is elegance in it. Perhaps Alex, with his noted eloquence, could put it in a more meaningful way.

For, you see, on the one hand, you have the Hezbollah rocket attacks on Israel soil, and the Israelis emerge from their shelters unscathed. Then you have the Israeli attack against Lebanon, and there is much death and injury to civilian women and children. Guess which pictures the world press will show? Of course the death and injury of women and children will sell more newspapers and capture more viewers. Surely survivors emerging from their shelters do not make good press.

Then, on the other hand, you have the pictures of the Israeli planes and tanks firing at Lebanon targets. Do we get to see pictures of Hezbollah launching their rockets? Of course not, it's understandable and natural that Hezbollah need to hide the locations of their rockets, so we don't get to see pictures.

See what I'm getting at, in my own clumsy way?

We get to see Israeli planes and tanks firing at Lebanon, we get to see Lebanese women and children dead or injured.

We do not get to see Hezbollah firing their rockets, we do not get to see Israelis hiding and emerging from their shelters.

And it's all so natural, we can't blame the press for not showing us things that are not exciting or things that they are not allowed to film. There is an irony in all this that is downright elegant.

Robert L

Anonymous said...

This war between Israel and the Palestinians have been going on for 51 years. At the time, there was no Hamas, no Hezbollah.
President George Bush sees himself as carrying out the Bible's prophecies. Whe Bush attacked Iraq, all of which was based on a pack of lies, the situation in Iraq has now turned into a civil war. With Iraq weakened, it has had a chain-reaction to the power build up of Iran.
Hezbollah is a group, that functions out of Southern Lebanon.it has a seat in the Lebansese parliament.
Hezbollah has gained a great following among the Muslim community.
Hezbollah realizes that dealing with Irael, ( which is a 'sub colony' of America...more Jews live in New York City than Israel- 4 million odd)..is no deal.
Hezbollah has nothing to lose.
Israel will never negotiate with the Palestinians or any Arab country.
With Syria, and Iran backing Hezbollah, perhaps the tide is turning against Israel?
Israel did not realize that this was going to be stretched out, not a walk-over for them.
As of now- many Israelis are leaving Israel.

Anonymous said...

Bush and Condi Rice talk about 'democracies' and 'liberties'? The Palestinians voted for Hamas, but it is Bush's definition of 'democracy, not that of the Palestinians. The Syrian Foreign Minister has spoken of his allegiance to Hezbollah. The UN Resolution which Bush is talking about has no effect on Hezbollah, Syria and Lebanon. Why? The Arab countries know that America is all for Israel. Brazil has yanked its UN ambassador home.
The Israeli ground troops are afraid to enter Lebanon, they are aware of Hezbollahs' skilled warfare of IEDs, and suicide bombers...people who's lives have nothing to loze.
Israel had bombed Hana, with their guided missle, killing women and children. Hezbollah uses Katyusha rockets, which are similar to the Chinese New Year fireworks rockets, which we as children use to lit, fire, and run away. That is same way the Katyusha rockets work. Simple and effective, as we can see what Haifa looks like.
Israel is the only country in the middle east, that is allowed to have nukes, Iran, which is working on its nuclear power, is considered a threat. The balance of power is and has always been to Israel. We are witnessing what repressed people of the Middle East are doing now. When there is nothing to lose, and Israel is "King"? why bother with talks. Addressing the issue of sheltars- they were built in Israel a long time ago, during the early wars. Israel's response was highly disproportionate to have triggered this war.This was agreed by UN Kofi Annan, King Abdullah of Jordan. Hezbollah wanted to trade the two captured Israeli soldiers, giving Israel an opening for attacking Lebanon.
This is a turning point in middle East History, where Israel, proud of its military force and US supplied artillary, is realizing that just maybe that they have 'bitten of more than they can chew'. The tables are turned.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I have to talk about a troubling point in a post above (07 Aug 2006 23:34). That post said, "Hezbollah wanted to trade the two captured Israeli soldiers, giving Israel an opening for attacking Lebanon."

This is the current norm of the majority interpretation of the situation, but it is wrong. I, myself, had been deluded for many weeks, until I read a speech made by Tony Blair this week.

Then I asked myself, why the h*ll indeed did Hezbollah capture those two Israeli soldiers? Was it for an exchange of prisoners? It dawned on me that only about 3 days before Hezbollah did that, Hamas had already captured an Israeli soldier. Israel's response to that earlier kidnap was immediate and deadly and the whole world saw it. After 3 days, Hezbollah did essentially the same thing that Hamas did.

So when Hezbollah captured the two Israeli soldiers, they were repeating what Hamas did. They had already seen Israel's deadly response towards Hamas' kidnap, so is it possible that Hezbollah's motive was really a prisoner exchange? The sequence of events made this highly doubtful. Indeed, Tony Blair's analysis of the events is that Hezbollah wanted Israel to respond the same way Israel had already responded towards Hamas 3 days earlier. Having seen Israel attack Hamas 3 days earlier, Hezbollah wanted to set up a chain of events such that Israel would attack them in the same way - Hezbollah wanted to get the same sympathy and support from the world as that given to Hamas. Hezbollah wanted the same worldwide hatred against Israel that was generated when Israel attacked Hamas for a similar kidnap 3 days earlier.

And it appears that Hezbollah succeeded in both their objectives - worldwide condemnation of Israel, and Muslim nations rallying to their support.

So if you're trying to analyse why Hezbollah captured the two soldiers, don't fall for the common misconception that their motive is an exchange of prisoners. Look for a wiser answer.

Robert L