July 12, 2006

The Battle Is Joined

I seriously wonder if this is the beginning of the great battle of our time...

The simmering war that has never truly been settled in Israel between Jew and Muslim has erupted anew.

A bloodletting was inevitable once the Palestinians let their lust for violence and revenge lead them to elect a war party to lead them. Even if the Palestinians themselves didn't quite grasp what they were voting for, the Israelis heard loud and clear. Israel took the first opportunity presented to them to bring matters to a head, a single soldier captured has led to is a low-intensity war between Hamas and Israel. I say low-intensity because Israel has yet to dial the conflict up past the low end of the dial. Make no mistake - the cards are Israel's to play, for all of the Intifada's bluster and racket making, Israel can crush resistance in Gaza at any time. Their only decision is how messy to make it.

Now, Hizbollah, terrorist group proxy of Iran and its compatriot Syria, the shadow puppetmaster of Lebanon, have invited an expansion of the conflict by launching attacks against Israel proper along the Israel's northern frontier with Lebanon. Perhaps the goal was to create concern in the West of a widening conflict, and inspire Western governments to call to rein in Israel. Well, that isn't going to work.

The Israeli/Palestinian conflict continues, and will continue forever, as long as both parties have what they feel are genuine grievances that have been unresolved by agreement or war. Neither party will agree. Therefore - war remains.

Peace through victory is axiomatic. The problem in Israel is that the problem festers, and like leaves and brush piling upon the forest floor, the longer before it burns, the worse it will be when it does. And believe me, it WILL burn. Perhaps the current flames are the start of it. But until one side loses, and one side wins, there will be no peace. The greatest massacre of human lives in history, World War II, ignited because in Europe, there were unresolved war aims and a sense that neither side had really won, or lost. Germany got hung with reparations, but they felt these were unfair terms considering that the Great War ended in roughly a stalemate. Now, after World War II, and the utter destruction of the German state, reconciliation and peace were finally possible.

Israel is at relative peace with two of it's neighbors - Egypt and Jordan. Both nations, after two destructive losing wars against Israel, reconciled with Tel Aviv and came to an understanding of co-existence. They did this both because they lost militarily quite badly to Israel, and because they directly border Israel. Countries that lose wars to direct neighbors can usually come to an accomodation. Of course, it is on the victors terms, but unless the terms of defeat are worse than the spoils of the war, they are gratefully accepted.

In the case of Syria, Syria was also manhandled repeatedly by Israel. But with Lebanon acting as a barrier, Syria remains much more belligerent, certainly moreso than if Israeli divisions were sitting on the county line. Hence, there hasn't been the same reckoning that has occurred with Jordan and Egypt. Those regimes recognized they could not defeat Israel, and rather than be defeated, they reached satisfactory terms. But those terms weren't the result of negotiation, they were the result of military defeat.

Nothing in the Israeli/Palestinian debate will be settled until both sides, both spoiling for conflict, have it out. Palestinians will never be happy with Gaza and autonomy until they are faced with the alternative - potential destruction. Unless Syria's government falls, Syria will continue to use Lebanon as a violent proxy against Israel, allow Iran to support anti-Israeli groups such as Hizbollah, and this will go on, and on, and on, until one side is defeated.

The only question is - will this conflicy bring any other actors on board? Believe it or not, the US invasion of Iraq greatly reduces this chance. Iraq, under Hussein, was a willing sponsor of anti-Israeli terror, and prior to 1991, would have been a potential threat to Israel. But with US troops occupying the country, and the country just trying to create a self-sustaining government, Iraq is both a non-participant but also much harder to use as a point of transport from Iran. The materiel of terrorism is harder to move through Iraq now.

Still, actions in Iran bode ill - Iran clearly has a hand in the new activity in the North, and Ahmadinejad's reckless rhetoric about Israel and their pursuit of nuclear technology should send a clear signal that while Iran right now poses little direct threat for widening the conflict, a nuclearized Iran would be much harder to contain.

For now, the conflict seems destined to bring the Israeli/Palestinian/Syrian issue to a head, and no more. But if Iraq turns into an unstable state, and Iran continues it's nuclear pursuits and reckless posture toward Israel, the next firestorm may engulf far more than just the regional actors.

Posted by MEC2 at July 12, 2006 08:51 PM
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