A rational discussion about the latest crisis in the middle east?

For once I would like to read a great debate involving Israel that doesn’t develop in a train crash in the first couple of posts. Thank God I am mostly a lurker.

The situation in the middle east is a bit complicated. That’s why automatic siding in this crisis is foolish.

Let’s try to consider the facts. Please correct them if you think they are wrong but DON’T give your personal opinion about them:

1.- Lebanon didn’t attack Israel. Hezbollah did.-
2.- Lebanon is a democracy, (albeit a very weak one), Hezbollah has minority in the government.-
3.- Hezbollah controls, (or controlled till this crisis), a large part of the south of the country. It is highly organized and has access to “heavy weapons” like missiles and rockets.-
4.- Lebanon is incapable of disarming Hezbollah. The government is weak and Hezbollah has popular support. Exactly how much support is something to be taken into account, (I am sure one doper can give the exact figure).-

The first thing to consider, is if Israel has the right to wage a war against Lebanon because of the actions of Hezbollah.

My answer is no: there is in the world another example of a terrorist organization that effectively controls a large part of a country.-
Almost 40% of Colombian territory is not under the control of the colombian government.-
The FARCS have made incursions into Brazil, Ecuador and Venezuela and those countries haven’t attacked Colombia and didn’t make the colombian government, accountable for those incursions
I know the situation is a bit more complicated in the middle east, (the farcs don’t state that their objective is the annihilation of Brazilians), but I think it’s a good example.-

More facts:

5.- Hezbollah is funded by Syria and Iran.
6.- Hezbollah actions are dictated, (in some degree at least), by those countries.-
7.- Syria would like nothing more than chaos in Lebanon.-
8.- Iran would like nothing more than chaos in the whole middle east.-

The second thing to consider is if Israel is doing the smart thing by effectively destroying Lebanon?

My answer is again no: Simply put they are doing what Syria and Iran want them to do. For me this is foolish.-

More facts:

1.- Israel is a democracy. It’s government has to answer to it’s people. Therefore it’s leaders have to do something or else it will be voted out of office.-
2.- The military option is not a very good one when it comes to dealing with a terrorist organization, (are you reading this Osama?),

The question: Which other option does Israel has? How would you solve this crisis if you were Israel’s leaders?

My answer: I don’t know. Not every problem has a solution.-

Before finishing a warning: certain dopers have ruined various threads on the subject because they don’t want to debate. If you want to preach for or against Israel do it somewhere else.-

I don’t know if it would be better to open three threads for the three questions I asked:

a) Can Israel hold Lebanon responsible for the actions of Hezbollah?
b) Is Israel doing the smart thing by attacking Lebanon?
c) Are there any better options for Israel.-

I already tried that. Results so far have been . . . mixed.

I don’t want to offend you Brainglutton but the result has been a disaster. I’ve read your thread and that is why I opened this new one.
Besides the op is, I think, more broad.-

See, you’ve built a self-destruct mechanism into the thread right there. Anyone who disagrees with that will insist and explain at length, over several posts, why that statement is wrong as a matter of fact and not opinion.

The problem is that if Hezbollah chooses to attack Israel from its enclave in Lebanon and the Lebanese government is unable to stop these attacks, then what are Israel’s options? They can either ignore the attacks and let them continue or they can decide that if Lebanon is unable to assert control over its own territory then Israel will step in and do so.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but from waht I’ve heard Israel has been trying to direct their attacks mostly at Hezbollah rather than at the rest of Lebanon.

Your first premise is wrong, as I’m sure you know if you’ve been lurking in all those other threads. The Lebanese government and Lebanese military have both supported and done their part to provide weapons to Hezbollah. The Lebanese government has said that Hezbollah is a valid tool in their war with Israel. All of this means that, yes, Lebanon did indeed attack Israel.

All of these are factual, and not matters of opinion. But you know that, having lurked in other threads.

Also factually incorrect. Lebanon is perfectly capable of stopping Syrian shipments of ordinance at the border, but according to their Defense Minister and government, they -choose- not to. Lebanon may not be able to take away Hezbollah’s guns (but we don’t know, as they’re not only not tried, but have said they support Hezbollah), but the weapons that are hitting Israel are well within Lebanon’s sphere of influence.

Israel has a right to wage war against Lebanon for the actions of Lebanon, (ie. giving weapons to Hezbollah).

Analogy is always suspect, here it’s useless. Does the Columbian government fund and equip the rebels with rockets? Does it officially support them as a tool in their war with other countries? Has the UN been called in to deal with the rebels, and instead ended up having tea parties with them and turning a blind eye to their actions?

A non-insignificant distinction you’re glossed over. It also ignores that Colbumia hasn’t said that the rebels are part of their plan to annihilate Brazil.

And Lebanon.

That’s a cop out. If taking military action against the nation which has just attacked you via its proxy force is the ‘least bad’ solution, then people saying something else should happen have to at least make the effort to define that ‘something else’. All that’s been suggested is nothing. That’s not a reaction.

See what I mean, Caparazon?

[sob]

I’m sorry, I misread the title of the thread being about a ‘rational debate’.
Maybe a mod should change the title to ‘echo chamber’?

Or, of course, you can continue sobbing over the fact that the OP deliberately glosses over the fact that Lebanon itself has said that Hezbollah is one of its tools against Israel, and that they have provided weapons for it.

But I guess that if facts get in the way of a good screed, they’re not rational, eh?

Ok Finnagain. In order to prevent the trainwreck we will eliminate the first question and, for argument sake, we’ll asume that Israel has the right to attack Lebanon, (maybe you could open another thread where you provide all the cites that prove that the present goverment of Lebanon supports Hezbollah, I am sorry If I didn’t find them in the other threads but sometimes it’s difficult to find facts in such a passionate debate).
The second question still stands though. Is it smart to attack Lebanon considering that by doing so Israel is playing Iran and Syria’s game?
My third question Finnagain is an honest one. The situation is so complex, (and has confused people smarter than me), that ther is not a simple answer.-
In order to keep the debate honest I propose that those that answer the second question in the afirmative provide their reason for thinking so. Those that answer in the negative provide an alternative. Do you agree Finnagain?

Caparazon:

I’ll join the rational discussion.

Yes. For the last twenty years, the proxy force in southern Lebanon has been Iran’s and Syria’s primary weapon against Israel. Disabling that weapon, and forcing them to either desist hostilities or choose modes of attack that are less advantageous to them, is a smart move.

No, there is not a simple answer. But the bottom line is that there will be no peace until whatever countries are involved feel they have more to gain from peace with Israel than from war with Israel. Israel tried to prove it the friendly way by pulling out of southern Lebanon in 2000. Clearly, that didn’t work.

Fair enough.

I’ll be happy to email them to you if you’d like. I apologize if you actually haven’t seen them. It’s just that your comments implied you’d been watching the debates closely.

Judging by the fact that many Lebanese, and the governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan are all condemning Hezbollah and Iran’s involvement, then yes, it does seem to be a smart move. And, if it gets Lebanon to stop helping Hezbollah get weapons and stops Lebanon from protecting Hezbollah, then it is a major success.

Which is your third question? Are you refering to the question of whether there are any smarter actions for Israel to take?

If so, then I agree that not only is it a valid question, but a necesary one. If that’s what you’re referring to, I applaud you.

Personally, I would -love- to see a discussion of other actions Israel could take. As of yet, all the discussions have pretty much ended up with people who support the current actions (like myself), and people who oppose any actions. I’d love for someone to champion a middle ground, I might even be convinced.

However, we should keep in mind that diplomacy does not and has not worked, and that the UN has proven totally impotent in this situation.

I’m up for other options. One, for instance, might be international sanctions on Iran, Syria, and Lebanon. But that is about as likely as the UN actually making a positive contribution to the region. And it also wouldn’t stop the attacks, at least not any time soon. Perhaps sanctions coupled with creating a US led enforcement of a DMZ.

Perhaps America could protect its ally and use our more advanced weaponry to better pin-point Hezbollah targets and Lebanese military posts which aid Hezbollah as well as valid dual-use targets. But that, of course, carries its own objections.

Personally I cannot figure out a better solution than going to war with the country that started a war with you, but I’m open to any solutions that involve anything other than doing nothing. Doesn’t mean I’ll agree with them, but I’ll at least debate them and see where it goes.

And, heck, if people are going to say that Israel should do nothing to defend itself, I can accept that as long as it’s somehow tied to a conclusion that it will stop the terrorism targeted against Israel. If, for instance, Israel not defending itself was tied in with sanctions and/or another country taking out Hezbollah.

But as the problem is “what should Israel do to protect itself” the answer of “nothing” is a refusal to answer the question, not an answer to it.

If I understand your third question properly, then yes, it’s more than fair to run your thread that way.

After Israel gets bored blowing up Lebanon, Hezbollah will feed the refugees, provide them with water and help to rebuild. How will this improve Israels standing in the area. It is counterproductive. hezbollah will reap love and recruits from this .Israel ,like the USA ,causes grief with their agressive stances.
Seems the US would like nothing more than chaos in the middle east.
The option is an honest peace process with a safe and legitimate Palestine.

This is of course strictly true. Hezbollah, not any official Lebonese group, attacked Israel. Probably the more relevent question is “Does/did Lebanon give Hezbollah enough support to consider them complicent in Hezbollah’s actions”.

Incapable? No, I think that they were capable of doing so with sufficient motivation. If they are still capable after Israel’s strikes on the Lebanese army, and the boon in popular support that I believe Hezbollah will reap from the strikes remains to be seen. Certainly it would be silly not to offer them international aid if they commited to destroy Hezbollah.

I don’t think this is true to any large extent. Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria’s interests coincide more so than one party dictating policy to another.

I disagree. I think Iran wants Israel gone and to increase its influence in the region along with its overall power. Chaos is the byproduct of those aims.

This is based on the premise that Isreal is the only party that has an agressive stance, which is ridiculously untrue. There are plenty of Muslim groups, including Hezbollah, that would attack Israel if they have an opportunity without any provocation on Israel’s part.

I agree that a peaceful Palestine is a desirable goal. I’m sure most Israelis would agree with that as well. But history has shown that a peaceful Palestine is not easily achieved. Whenever a Palestinian population has control of some area, anti-Israeli Palestinian groups have established bases in that population and used these bases to attack Israel. This has made Israel understandably reluctant to support the establishment of Palestinian controlled areas.

Do, do you honestly believe Hezbollah is in favor of an honest peace process? Exactly how should the peace process that led to a Palestinian state and the withdrawal from Gaza be changed to make it “honest?”

Hezbollah is part of the government. The stickling point is the militia. The current administration may support Focus on the Family, but I trust that would change if Focus on the Family started acquiring weapons.

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Incapable? No, I think that they were capable of doing so with sufficient motivation. If they are still capable after Israel’s strikes on the Lebanese army, and the boon in popular support that I believe Hezbollah will reap from the strikes remains to be seen. Certainly it would be silly not to offer them international aid if they commited to destroy Hezbollah.

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The Times yesterday said that while the Lebanese army is indeed larger than Hezbollah, half of it consists of men from the South who are sympathizers, so the government’s ability to put down Hezbollah by itself is uncertain. Plus there is the Syria problem. Remember that Lebanon had a Syrian dominated government not that long ago - I’m sure that arms are flowing in now, but even if they weren’t there would be a large stockpile.

The aim of the intervention is to weaken Hezbollah enough for the Lebanese government to actually regain control of the South - and to send a message about what will happen after future attacks. You may disagree with the tactics, but the goals seem pretty reasonable to me.

As reported in Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (The leading Arab International Daily - English Edition), 28 July, 2005: [

](http://aawsat.com/english/news.asp?section=1&id=1004)

When did they say that?

Not if most Hezbollah members are dead or in Israeli jails by then, which is supposed to be the point of this invasion, isn’t it?

Or do you think that’s an impossible goal in military terms?

[QUOTE=Voyager]
Hezbollah is part of the government.

Hezbollah has 14 seats in parliament and two ministers in the cabinet, who often butt heads with the other ministers. That does not automatically make the government as such complicit in Hezbollah’s military actions.