I follow world events with great apprehension, specifically speaking now of the situation in Israel and Lebanon. Some say that Hezbollah is justified, or that it may in some sense at least have legitimate grievances and that its methods are all that is open to it. Others claim that the barrage of rockets, combined with the last fifty years of difficulties, more than justifies Israel's actions, no matter how high the body count may rise. It is a difficult issue. The only certainty I have reached for myself is that anyone peddling easy answers has no idea what they're talking about.
Conservative pundits and news services have followed the rising cost of the conflict with something akin to glee. Each demolished building or broken person another portion of righteous vengeance. Begininning from the sound position that Israel has a right to defend itself, they enlarge within the notion of defense acts of questionable scope and terrible violence. For many of them, Isreal is the opportunity to live their bloody fantasies vicariously, the chance to inflict damage on terrorists without worrying about US public opinion. For some, the worst of them, the fulfilment of their ugly anti-arab, anti-islamic convictions.
I question the wisdom of Israel's actions, and also the morality. But I also realize that it is possible that they are taking the only option open to them. If this be true it is regretable, and even if necessary, does not warrant the joyful reception it has recieved in the conservative world. For my own part, I speak from a position of limited understanding. However, merely from what can be gleamed through sources available to me, I do not believe Israel is any longer in the right.
I begin my own analysis by stating my belief in Israel's certain right of self-defense. If someone attacks you, you certainly have the right to defend yourself. But the purpose of such defense is to maintain and ensure your own safety, not to punish your aggressor. The idea of proportionality has recently come under much criticsm in conservative circles, but the reality is that it may be the only responsible and (possible) solution.
Israel certainly has the means to demolish Lebanon or Syria. But the dismemberment of nation-states will not result in the destruction of Hezbollah. Additionally, in its attempt to disable certain assets of some utility to its terrorist enemies, Israel has flattened many of the utilities used by Lebanese non-combatants. If an israeli missile hits a building and kills five terrorists, that's fine. But if that same missile flattens a block and kills or wounds dozens, not only have you harmed innocents, increased the strain on Lebanon's fragile government, but you have also likely just created more terrorists than you ever killed.
The fact of the matter is that Israel has some of the best intelligence and covert operations assets in the world. Well versed through years of anti-terrorist operations, they have managed actions of far more precision than arial bombardment. Wrath of God, Spring of Youth, the capture of Adolf Eichmann, these are just a few examples of paitent, focused, and (in some cases perhaps only relatively) proportional responses. They had little collateral damage, fewer complications, and achieved greater success. Special operations, combined with paitent diplomacy provides better prospects than messy air raids.
It is the easiest thing in the world to call for blood. It is a much harder thing to inquire into necessity, to require justification, and to aspire towards a more perfect world. "Shoot them all and let God sort them out", the official motto of FOX news, is not a position of moral integrity, nor is it the words of statesmen or people living in the real world. It is a petulent notion, the first reaction of a hurt child, and we are better than that.