Sunday, August 06, 2006

Back in Seattle

Hawaii is now simply a memory (but the pounds gained from the loco moco and to be gained from the chocolate covered macadamia nuts are my destiny). The time away gave me some time to reflect on matters and receive feedback on this blog, particularly on my discussion of the situation in Lebanon.

First, I'd like to respond to a bit of misunderstanding. What Hezbollah does when it indiscriminately targets Israeli civilians is morally reprehensible. The reason I spend less time discussing this point is that there is little disagreement that this is wrong. My point here is to persuade and if we agree, that is a subject I needn't spend my time on. Instead I write about the actions of Israel, which have taken the lives of hundreds Lebanese civilians and yet there is disagreement as to whether or not that is acceptable. (Keeping everything in perspective, where Hezbollah claims it is trying to kill civilians and the Israeli military claims it is trying not to, the Israeli military has killed somewhere to the effect of ten times as many.)

Should Hezbollah be disarmed? Absolutely. But Israel is not the power to do that. Israel cannot militarily stop foreign organizations, terrorist or otherwise - only the people of Lebanon can do so in the long term. And here's the kicker, as Israel invades Lebanon and wreaks havoc on its infrastructure, killing hundreds of civilians, to the Lebanese people Israel appears as exactly the threat that Hezbollah has always claimed it was. Such a situation only serves to marginalize centrist voices, the very centrist voices necessary to marginalize extremist voices.

Obviously many things have gone wrong to this point, but that's no excuse to make it worse. What we need to begin with is a ceasefire. Hezbollah said it would cease its rocket attacks if Israel were to cease its aerial bombardments on Lebanese cities (aerial bombardments killing hundreds of civilians which should cease anyway). In the long-run the Lebanese military will need to assert control over the south of Lebanon - everyone agrees on that. In the meantime a truly international force must take over. Wwhat cannot happen is for a U.S., NATO, or, heaven forbid, Israeli force to lead peacekeeping efforts - any of those options would not be seen as legitimate. Israel and the U.S. must immediately and publicly commit to completely rebuilding the Lebanese infrastructure. They must also provide military assistance to the Lebanese government that it will be possible for it to disarm Hezbollah. Israel must demonstrate, not simply articulate, its desire to see Lebanon prosper as a democratic state. Once Israel appears as a symbol of regional humanitarian assistance, economic development, and stability extremist voices in the region can be marginalized, but so long as it appears as a symbol of occupation and regional instability, the extremists can flourish.

For now, U.S. policy is key. If the U.S. were to call for a ceasefire, Israel would agree to a ceasefire. Key to U.S. policy is the will of the American public, and that is what we are here to address. Stay tuned for information about upcoming events.

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