Sunday, July 16, 2006

So, why are we having this war, or rather - why NOW?

While the kidnapping of two Isrealy soldiers by Hizbullah was a MAJOR provocation, and one that nobody expected Israel to ignore - it was hardly the first time since the IDF's withdrawal fron southern Lebanon that Nasrallah's acts provided Israel with a casus belli.So again, why now?

I believe there are two major reasons:

1) The Syrian withdrawal: As long as Syrian troops were stationed in Lebanon, there would've been little hope of its goverment attempting to disarm Hizbullah and taking responsibility for the Southern border. Further - as long as the Syrian occupied Lebanon, it was implicitly understood that they would be held reponsible for any war-like acts coming from there.

The Syrian leadership stands to gain practically nothing from a war with Israel while standing to lose quite a lot, and that's why Israel - while not exactly happy to have Syrian troops stationed in Lebanon - prefered this state to the current one: While Syria controlled Lebanon, it was held accountable for it: Anything major coming out of Lebanon towards Israel would've entailed an Israely attack on Damascus, which they could ill afford. The accountibility of centeralized regimes to any war-acts coming from their terriotory is key to stopping and avoiding wars: A country surrenders and stops fighting when its army cannot protect it any more. A militant group like Hizbullah, that's probably more strongly allied with Iran that its native Lebanon, can keep fighting with little regard to the country crumbling around it. A no-man's-land situation like the one currently existing in Lebanon is simply an unacceptable risk to Israel, especailly now, which brings me to reason 2 for the war:

2) The approaching Iran-US war: Perhaps I'm overly pessimistic, but I believe all signs point to this war happening within a couple of years at most: I'd be happy to share my reasoning, if anyone wishes to hear it, but it's immaterial to my point; When this war happens, it's almost sure to involve Israel: The only realistic way for distant Iran to engage Israel is with rockets and missiles. Ballistic missiles can be shot down - at least with some degree of success - and the difficulty and expense of manufacturing them limits their usage. Short and medium range rockets - like the ones being fired by Hizbullah right now - cannot be shot down and can be produced and fired in huge numbers.

Simply put, Israel cannot afford a neighbouring country being used as a missile launching platform in the coming war - especially one that cannot be made to stop these launches by a standard military action (see above). Considering the possibillity of Iranian non-conventional warheads being provided to Hizbullah - the magnitude of the risk becomes one that no country will ever accept and will go to any lengths to neutralise.

For everyone's sake, I hope Lebanon's goverment will be able to survive and take full control of the country, and that the Israely goverment do its best to assist it after the shooting stops.

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