Thursday, August 03, 2006

Thoughts on the Middle East

In war there is no substitute for victory. - General Douglas MacArthur

Since the war started between Israel and the Hezbollah, I have a hard time writing about things. The current war in the Middle East is occupying most of my thoughts, and the topic on talk radio is mostly about the war too.

The following is part of an article by Michael Rubin that first appeared on National Review. I totally agree with his view on how/when peace is achieved, and what the role of diplomacy is in the context of any conflict, more so in the Middle East.

When academics and commentators decry disproportionate force as an obstacle to peace, they replace analysis with platitude. Lasting peace is seldom made between equals, but rather between strong and weak. The United States ended World War II precisely because it was willing to use disproportionate force. In doing so, it allowed Japan to rebuild and thrive. England and France did not pull back from Germany and allow the Nazi regime to re-arm and try again. Wars are fought until they are won. Among Israel’s neighbors, only Egypt and Jordan have accepted peace with the Jewish state. In 1977, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat sought peace only after a disastrous attempt at war. King Hussein of Jordan also accepted peace — not as formally at first — after understanding the price of war. Negotiations between Jerusalem, Cairo, and Amman succeeded because they accepted that violence could not achieve their aims, an epiphany still lost upon many in the Arab world and Iran. The irony of the Oslo Accords was that those that fought the first intifada were not those handed the reins of leadership. Both U.S. and Israeli leaders enabled the Tunisia-based faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization to take control. Arafat viewed his chairmanship over the Palestinian Authority as an entitlement, without understanding his responsibility.

Diplomacy that preserves a status quo in which terrorists win concession through violence ensures future bloodshed. Hezbollah is not a movement whose existence diplomats should intercede to preserve. While world leaders condemned Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial and threats to eradicate Israel from the map, they ignore that on April 9, 2000, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah declared, “The Jews invented the legend of the Nazi atrocities,” and argued, “Anyone who reads the Koran and the holy writings of the monotheistic religions sees what they did to the prophets, and what acts of madness and slaughter the Jews carried out throughout history... Anyone who reads these texts cannot think of co-existence with them, of peace with them, or about accepting their presence, not only in Palestine of 1948 but even in a small village in Palestine, because they are a cancer which is liable to spread again at any moment.” Nasrallah has made his aims clear. That anyone would intercede to enable someone whose goal is genocide to continue is irresponsible, if not hateful. Nasrallah later provided an answer to those progressive tempted to argue the problem to be Israel’s existence. To the Hezbollah leader, Israel is just one part of the fight. On October 22, 2002, Hassan Nasrallah told Lebanon’s Daily Star, “If they [the Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them world wide.”

There will be a role for diplomacy in the Middle East, but it will only be successful if it commences both after the eradication of Hezbollah and Hamas, and after their paymasters pay a terrible cost for their support. This does not mean that Israel is without blame. Lebanese politicians may have been cowardly in their failure to exert sovereignty following Israel’s May 2000 withdrawal from southern Lebanon. The State Department and European foreign ministries were negligent in their failure to keep up the pressure on Hezbollah, Damascus, and Tehran following the Cedar Revolution. But there will never be peace if Syria and Iran are allowed to use Lebanon as a proxy battlefield safe and secure in the knowledge that they will not pay directly. If the peace is the aim, it is imperative to punish the Syrian and Iranian leadership. Most Lebanese are victims, too.

— Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is editor of Middle East Quarterly.


  1. In order to get peace you have to go to war( some sort of it from the previous US president.

    for me, let the terrorist(Hezbollah) died

  2. In War - no body wins, even the Victors. War is technically won if the other side surrenders - but the loss of innocent people's lives is a loss to all.

  3. War is ugly. Yes, lives are lost during wars but sometimes war is a necessary evil to prevent further loss of lives.

    War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. -- John Stuart Mill


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