Wednesday, August 16, 2006

It's a hearts and minds thing

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has vowed to rebuild those parts of Lebanon destroyed by Israeli bombing.

Oh, perfect. So those Lebanese citizens will be indebted to Hezbollah.

Do we really not see the wisdom of pledging to rebuild Lebanon ourselves? Does Israel not see it?


Megan said...

Did you just say we (as in the US) and wisdom in the same sentence?!

Excellent point, by the way.

michael said...

This Administration shoots its friends. In the face! Where enemies are concerned, I wouldn't hope for a whole lot.

Ok, people guilty by geographic association with agents of an enemy in a different country who don't like one of our "my way or highway" allies that we actually haven't been treating all that well recently.

They were about to become enemies, though.

david said...

Hezbollah is well funded, and so much better than Israel (and the US) at the PR game, that at this point the US/Israel could go in there and promise to pave the streets with gold bricks, and give everyone a million bucks, and they'd say "Piss off. Our heroes are the guys who've hidden missiles under our living rooms."

vikkitikkitavi said...

Megan: I'll never learn. I share that quality with our president, apparently.

Michael: I know! My head is spinning - and it's not just all the crank, either.

David: I'm not equipped to argue particulars with you on this, and I won't pretend otherwise. But...we could try to come in and help. And so could Israel. Wouldn't it be the right thing to do to try? What I see is that a whole bunch of people's lives are fucked up, and their basic crime is that they sympathize with a group of thugs who are the only ones who have ever given them the things they think they need in this life. And until someone breaks that cycle this same fucking passion play will continue to run again and again and again.

In other words (and you could apply this same oversimplification throughout the region), nothing will change until the US and Israel can demonstrate to the Lebanese that they are WRONG about us.

david said...


1) In principle, you're right.
2) But: The antipathy and distrust -- not to say loathing -- of Israel and the West in the Middle East is **so deep** (much deeper than even since, say, 2003; and, no the loathing is not mutual, in my experience, but the distrust is) that it may have sounded like I was exaggerating, but I wasn't: gold bricks and a million bucks, and they'd still tell us to piss off. In fact, they'd probably shoot us and then tell our corpses to piss off.

But, as Sidney Blumenthal points out in your post above, that never would have occurred to this administration (nor to the Olmert administration).

A Marshall Plan might begin to change it, but Hezbollah has beaten us to it, and put "Made in the U.S.A." banners on top of buildings reduced to rubble. Good luck getting in there now.

A better plan would only have been possible if massive cuts in the Israeli military hadn't been made, and if the Hezbollah threat had been more of a concern to Israeli military intelligence. Then they could have prepared pinpoint strikes and guerrilla-war confrontations with the Hezbollah militia, taken out most rocket launchers, and combined that with diplomatic efforts with Jordan and Syria: "See what a pain the ass Hezbollah is?!," Israel could've said. "They're making you look like idiots. And we're kicking their asses."

Then the Lebanese would've thrown them out. Instead, the exact opposite has happened.

I think Israel has won an advantage that noone has talked about so far, though: their infrastructure is still intact. Their military just got schooled, and now they're a lot smarter. They know that this isn't an end to the war, but an intermission. They absolutely have to be using this opportunity to get smarter, and prepare better, for what's ahead, while Hezbollah is congratulating itself and figuring they've got the Israeli military on its heels.

If I'm anywhere close to right, then maybe the second time around, Israel will have figured out what you're talking about, and be in a position to help make it a real possibility.

vikkitikkitavi said...

You know, David, I really respect your knowledge of Israel and the conflict, but I think you're wrong about this. If the US and Israel gave money to the government of Lebanon specifically for the rebuilding, do you really think it would be refused? I don't. If the government came into bombed-out neighborhoods, and used our money to start programs to get money to those who suffered damage, to do you think it would be refused?

I just don't think so.