Two Good Reads
A couple of good opinion pieces I just read.
First, Amir Taheri makes the point that interrupted wars can be worse than the alternative, by prolonging the conflict for years.
Full article: The Myth of Hezbollah Victory. Excerpts:
One British newspaper speaks of "a convincing victory" for Hezbollah while another claims that Israel "won by achieving most of its objectives."The most pain in this last war was, of course, inflicted on the Lebanese. I am still hoping that somehow that pain will be translated into a debate on the madness of the internal situation in Lebanon and on resolving it. However I must say my hope hangs on little, if any, evidence so far.
When all is said and done, however, such claims and counter-claims are irrelevant. The reason that the protagonists know in the heart of their hearts, what the real situation is. Even those who are delusional genetically know, deep down, whether they have won or lost.
The first point that merits consideration is that the world today seldom allows war to do its job to the full.
War occurs when two or more adversaries realize that there are no other means of resolving a political conflict. The task of war is to help the adversaries discover each other's threshold of pain. Once one adversary is pushed to that threshold he would surrender, allowing the war to end with a clear winner and a clear loser.
Nowadays, however, war is not allowed to continue until that threshold of pain is discovered. In most cases, the so-called "international community", symbolized by the UN, intervenes to stop war before it has done its job. As a result, in the past five or six decades, the world has become full of inconclusive wars each of which has bred an even bigger conflict. The mini-war fought between Israel and Hezbollah is no exception.
That, however, is not the case with the people of Lebanon who will have to pay the price of the conflicting claims of victory made by the various protagonists. They did come close to their threshold of pain and were clearly not prepared to see the war continue much longer.
That may well be the only good news to come out of this tragedy. Those who wish to plunge Lebanon in another war for whatever reason may have to think twice before they pull the trigger.
Ralph Peters has a good summary of where we are now in the Middle East and in the war on terror, and what to expect next. New York Post piece: Moment Of Truth, some excerpts:
Lebanon, the region's other "almost" democracy, is in shambles, thanks to Hezbollah's ruthlessness and Israel's misjudgments. By failing to take Lebanon's complex group psychologies into account, Israel's air campaign converted Hezbollah opponents into Hezbollah supporters.
Syria escaped the recent fighting with just a few tactical nicks. Now Bashar Assad appears stunningly unaware of his odious regime's vulnerability. And over-confident dictatorships do very stupid things.
[Paging Ammar Abdul-Hamid, you there?]
The region's Sunni- Arab autocracies - on which we have relied, to our great shame - are terrified and unstable. Egypt, the Gulf city-states and even Saudi Arabia expected Israel to make short work of the Shia-Hezbollah problem. Instead, Hezbollah won - and the subjects of those sheiks and kings and eternal presidents have been cheering.
Crucial oil producers on the Arab side of the Persian Gulf grow more vulnerable each day. Iran intends to exert hegemony over the region through nuclear threats and the exploitation of Shia discontents. The world's worst real-estate investment is luxury property in Dubai.
Both articles are worth a full read.