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Rebuttal of Zbignew Brzezinski on Israel's war in Lebanon

Killing of hostages is a standard military tactics, no more condemnable than war itself.

Killing of hostages is normally defined as a much more direct action: all the intended hostages would be killed. That was not the case in Lebanon where Israeli Air Force dropped leaflets or announced the intended bombing through loudspeakers so that the population can flee. Such announcements were stupid and greatly hampered Israeli military efforts. In many cases Israel took a highly regrettable step of sending her soldiers into urban combat with entrenched guerrillas in order to minimize losses among enemy civilians rather than bombing the town.

Every other nation bombed civilian population centers during its wars. There is no way to stop a nationalist war without destroying the nation’s will to fight. In the case of Lebanon, local Arabs provided Hezbollah with cover, logistics, moral, and political support. Hezbollah is an elected party, the largest influence in Lebanese parliament. Based on the pre-war elections, Hezbollah controls the government today. Hezbollah’s war is to all practical purposes a war of the Lebanese people.

Israel killed not random Lebanese civilians, but those in the areas which houses Hezbollah installations. There was no practical way of fighting those installations without casualties among the supportive civilian population. The only alternative was to allow Hezbollah to continue killing Israeli civilians. The Lebanese civilians’ deaths occurred not in the vacuum, but on the background and as a direct consequence of Israeli civilian deaths.

Killing of Lebanese civilians, in this case, did not serve the purpose of intimidation because it clearly played into Hezbollah’s hands on the PR issue. That was one of the reasons Israel attempted to minimize the death tool. although the attitude was wrong as military necessities take precedence over the PR ones.

Lebanese people are the enemies of Israel regardless of us killing them. Still before the first Lebanon war, that country was hostile to Israel. The death toll from Israeli bombings is ridiculously small compared to the body count of brotherly clashes among various factions of Lebanese Arabs. Syria killed much more Lebanese Arabs in its operations there, and Lebanese Army killed much more Palestinians there.

International involvement might benefit Brzezinski and his likes, bringing them from obscurity onto the scene. Historically, international involvement never helped Israel. Nor is it clear what the involvement is all about besides talking when Hezbollah wants to liberate the Galilee from Israel. To imagine that international talkers would convince Iran to stop incorporating Lebanon into its sphere of influence is laughable, and Iran needs a military confrontation in Lebanon in order to make itself indispensable for the locals. Likewise, Syria.

An agreement which relies on moderates is doomed. Moderates constituted 99% in the 1917′ Russia, 85% in Wiemar Germany, and probably close to 90% in the Palestinian-occupied territories. Their number is irrelevant. What matter, is the radicals’ zeal. Moderates can sign any agreement they wish, but it is radicals who do all the fighting. Israel has a worthless peace treaty with Egypt, but Muslim Brotherhood through its Gazan proxies continues guerrilla war on pre-1967 scale. Lebanese parliament refused ratifying a peace treaty with Israel even when she controlled Lebanon. Today’s parliament, mostly under Syria/Hezbollah control, refused to engage even in pan-Arab peace talks with Israel. The moderates cannot afford a stance conciliatory to Israel because Hezbollah affiliates would immediately brand them as traitors on Israeli payroll. The very existence of moderates in Lebanon is questionable now after Israel’s traditional allies, the Christians, allied with Hezbollah under General Ayun.

The idea of pacification only exists in academic minds. Pacification efforts did not succeed in any country, and certainly not in Lebanon where decades ago Hezbollah had famously drove the American troops out of the country. The peacemaking troops must be prepared to fight vigorously, but have no incentive for risking their lives in the land irrelevant to them. Such fighting would also entail significant civilian losses, certainly more than Israel has inflicted – because the peacemakers would lack Israel’s considerable intelligence networks. UNIFIL proved notoriously worthless, unable to stop Hezbollah’s rearmament even in peacetime, and Italians, its major contingent, even concluded a separate agreement with Hezbollah to avoid attacking each other.

It would be odd for the US to lead any peacekeeping effort after it is entangled in two major conflicts, Afghanistan and Iraq, with massive civilian casualties. Other nations, whose token contingents fled Iraq, are unlikely to enter Lebanon. In any case, it is unclear why a few hundred dead Lebanese civilians should be of more concern to any country or individual than millions of civilians killed in myriad of other ongoing conflicts.

I hate to say this but I will say it. I think what the Israelis are doing today for example in Lebanon is in effect, in effect — maybe not in intent — the killing of hostages. The killing of hostages.”
“Because when you kill 300 people, 400 people, who have nothing to do with the provocations Hezbollah staged, but you do it in effect deliberately by being indifferent to the scale of collateral damage, you’re killing hostages in the hope of intimidating those that you want to intimidate. And more likely than not you will not intimidate them. You’ll simply outrage them and make them into permanent enemies with the number of such enemies increasing.”
“The solution can only come if there is a serious international involvement that supports the moderates from both sides, however numerous or non-numerous they are, but also creates the situation in which it becomes of greater interest to both parties to accommodate than to resist because both of the incentives and the capacity of the external intervention to impose costs. That means a deliberate peace effort led by the United States, which then doubtless would be supported by the international community, which defines openly in a semi-binding fashion how the United States and the international community envisages the outlines of the accommodation.”

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Lebanon news sound so simple while in fact everything is much more complicated. Lebanon news shows that if there’s war, you shouldn’t think about your enemy but only about yourself.

Zacharia Zanesville 24 May 2010

Israel prepares to occupy Gaza. Perhaps the mistakes they made in Lebanon would help it.

Aldo Zaragoza 24 May 2010

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