Saturday, August 07, 2010

After the Skirmish: Israeli Stupidity

Following this week's deadly border skirmish between Israel and Lebanon, the Israeli government is now demanding that the officer in charge of the Lebanese unit involved in the shooting be fired. If no steps are taken against him, my genius government says, Israel will treat the Lebanese Army as an enemy army.

First of all, aren't we already treating it like an enemy? After all, it is. We may prefer the Lebanese Army to control Southern Lebanon rather than Hizbullah, but Lebanon is still our enemy, just like Syria. It doesn't mean we should attack them or go to war, but it means we should be much more vigilant on their border than on the borders with Egypt and Jordan, with whom we have peace agreements. Hopefully, one day we'll have peace with Lebanon as well, but until then, it is our enemy.

Second of all, does anybody in their right mind think Lebanon will do something just because Israel demands it? In fact, if Israel wants the Lebanese to do something and says so publicly, the chances of our wishes being fullfilled is much lower than if we had kept our mouths shut. We'd never fire one of our own officers if Lebanon demanded it. We probably wouldn't do it even if it was our closest ally, the United States, that made the request. Why should we expect the Lebanese to be any different?

So, in this case, is the government just stupid or belligerent (or both)? If they realize nobody on the other side is going to fire the officer, then this demand is tantamount to a declaration of the Lebanese Army is our enemy. As I said before, I think it's our enemy anyway, but making a special declaration about it just sounds like a needless and dangerous provocation. The international tribunal investingating former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's murder is expected to announce indictments against top Hizbullah operatives next week. Do we really want to give Hizbullah a way to avoid the internal turmoil that would stem from the charges by providing them with some external turmoil instead?

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