Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Israel may be sending ground troops into Lebanon.

Update: It has started. Whether this is the precursor to an invasion/occupation is not yet determined, but I am leaning towards, "of course it is."

Unless Lebanon somehow manages to stop Hezbollah from attacking Israel with missiles, this seems inevitable to me. Unless Israel intends to lay waste to all of southern Lebanon, its airstrikes are unlikely to be very effective, unless Hezbollah has very few centralized headquarters where they keep all of their missiles. At best, air strikes are reactive, and blowing up a site being used to lob missiles at Israel is not very effective if the Hezbollah terrorists put only a very few resources into each of a large number of sites. Ground forces are needed for real preventive measures.

If it is necessary for Israeli ground troops to go into Lebanon, as I suspect it will be, it will likely not be a good thing. Lebanon was awfully hard to occupy for Israel last time, and I am not certain that in the two decades they were there that they were able to make any real progress toward leaving Lebanon less dangerous than they found it. Or put another way, I don't think there is a way to fix Lebanon; Israel can only keep it relatively pacified (i.e. not a threat to Israel; I doubt that they can prevent civil strife from breaking out) as long as they stay there.

I seriously doubt that most Israelis are looking forward to the prospect of another long slog in Lebanon. But I'm not certain that there are any alternatives, short of either nuking Lebanon or evacuating Israel.

Despite the neoconservative attempt to blame all of this on Iran and Syria, I wonder if this would be happening were Syria still in charge of Lebanon. I'll find the link later but I believe that last year I predicted a civil war as the consequence of the removal of the syrian presence. I appear to have been a bit off, but the re-emergence of an unstable Lebanon that drags Israel into a conflict with it (which seems to be the result) is not only just as bad, it is much worse. And it will likely bring the civil war back as well, unless the Druze and the Christians just leave.

The neoconservative need to blame Syria and Iran for this is, I think, in large part due to an inability to admit that the "cedar revolution" could not work because the Lebanese, in their current demographics, are unable to produce the type of society that the "cedar revolution" promised. The situation is much the same as in Iraq, with Israel playing our role and Lebanon Iraq's (the big difference being that unlike the case of Israel and Lebanon, we do not border Iraq and can actually leave). As with Iraq, the neocons suffer an inability to admit that some of the people there are just not our (or Israel's) friends, do not think that we are wonderful liberators, do not love the west, do not love Israel, and want to kill us (or Israelis)*. Therefore, to cover up the fact that things are not going to plan, they have to find an outside party to blame: "No, no, the Lebanese are wonderful! They aren't doing this! Democratization of Lebanon is an eminently workable idea! It's just that darn Assad and those darn mullahs stirring up trouble!"

Of course, it will be interesting to see what they do if their dreams come true and we do topple Syria and Iran and then they have to explain why ou "allies" in the populace are trying to kill us. Probably we'll start hearing about how the insurgents are really Chinese.

That is all.

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