Same Shiite Different Day

And so it continues… the insane Israeli bombardment of Lebanon continues with attacks against Christian-dominated areas north of Beirut, following over 100 Hizbollah rockets fired into Israel (killing at least 8), and for good measure, a rather large protest against Israel and the United States took place in Baghdad.
I realize that not merely as an American Jew, but as an American, neither I, nor anyone, is to question the actions of Israel (or of course, the United States). But things have gone way too far now: the ordinarily savvy Israelis (say what you will, but up to now, their actions have always seemed to have a purpose) have begun behaving like the George W. Bush led United States– acting as if inflicting violence on people steeped in a revenge based culture is somehow desirable in its own right. It’s as if Ehud Olmert is trying to show the Israeli public that his pair is every bit as large as Sharon’s (it’s not, of course) just as George Dubya is trying to show us that his pair is every bit as large– or larger– than his Poppy’s (and it’s not, of course, either).
Strange as it may seem to us, there were rules to the game as played between Israel and Hezbollah. (There are less rigid rules governing the interaction between Israel and Hamas and Israel and other Palestinian terror groups, the reality is that Israel– like the United States– invariably negotiates with terrorists— usually reaching deals when things have quieted down.) The fact is, the party that wildly escalated here was Israel, which didn’t play the game as expected (i.e. bomb limited Hizbollah targets in southern Lebanon, and then quickly undertake negotiations.) Playing it this way had resulted in the successful defense of Israel for decades, by managing the scope of conflicts… there seemed no compelling reason to change it, other than either panic or a desire to implement some preexisting and unrealistic plan designed to magically destroy Hizbollah.
While Hizbollah might have read the immediate response (insane overkill) that Israel took against Gaza after the kidnapping of a soldier there by Hamas, Hizbollah also had a fair amount of experience on its own that it would be treated somewhat differently than Hamas (Hamas now somewhat hamstrung by actually being the de jure Palestinian government, whereas Hizbollah is only part of the Lebanese government, and frankly, autonomous and probably stronger than the Lebanese state.) Instead, Israel attacked Beirut, and the Lebanese state writ large.
And so here we are. Hundreds dead on both sides… the Israeli penchant for accepting civilian casualties but not military casualties continues, resulting in the current raining of Hizbollah rockets on northern Israel, with threatened strikes on Tel Aviv.
Secretary Rice, who only has her job in the first place because of her unfettered and unquestioning loyalty to the President, has proven as ineffective as we all feared she might should actual trouble emerge; this would be a really good time for someone with actual international credibility, like Colin Powell for example. But that’s neither here nor there: the situation has been allowed (quite frankly, by an excessively long green light from Washington, where our own government also believed in the fantasy that Hizbollah could be taken out by a few days of air strikes) to spin way, way out of control, and so here we are. It is unclear how many hundreds more will die (on both sides) while the players ponder just who will occupy “the security zone” in northern Lebanon that the range of Hizbollah rockets seems to make less important in reality than in Israeli opinion.
The reality is that… reality bites. While intractable problems may look easily solved to four year old children… somehow, when we hand the reins over to those four year old children to try their hand at solving them… we get situations like we are in now… the intractable problems remain unsolved, only we add still further problems (which end up making the previous ones look somehow less troubling, if not even less daunting.) In the last five years, we’ve grown used to that sort of thing here, of course. That we now see that situation apparently applies to the usually savvy Israeli leadership as well is a change. And not a welcome one.