Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Attention bedwetters: Israel did better than you think

With headlines like this, and right wingers having fear-based baby tantrums, it is important to get some perspective and move forward.

First, let's recognize the bad news. As myself and so many others pointed out, the Israeli invasion into Lebanon, which was in fact disproportionate in response to Hezbollah's late June 2006 raid into Israel, strengthened the political position of Hezbollah in Lebanon and in the eyes of the "street" of the Arab world. See here (second paragraph of post), here (scroll down to "Concluding Thoughts") and here for three of my several posts in recent weeks.

Second, let's recall that the Arab League's initial reaction to Hezbollah's initial act was largely negative and against Hezbollah. Getting into a war united, at least for the time being, Hezbollah, Sunnis, other nations' Shi'as, and militants throughout the Arab world. And, to use a Hollywood movie metaphor, Hezbollah fought not so differently than the fictional Americans did in "Red Dawn" and received help from a foreign nation (Iran), the way movements tend to get outside help from someone--just ask your history teacher about French help during the US Revolutionary War.

However, as I noted a few days ago in this post, Israel has now salvaged some victory from the last thirty days in this ceasefire. Why? Because Hezbollah is no longer as firmly at its border with thousands of rockets and UN troops are coming into the area as a buffer force. Yes, Hezbollah has the capability to strike Israel from the middle of Lebanon, but let's not panic about that, either.

Whether this cease-fire holds up is always a question, but, considering where Israel was before the cease-fire--bogged down in a foreign country and still getting attacked with rockets--this is a fairly good result from a bad war which should not have been fought. What commentators are missing is that Israel's war (a war it had planned for a year and just needed a pretext) was a failure from the perspective of what the Israeli government stated was its purpose (destroy Hezbollah as a force in Lebanon). However, it at least got Hezbollah's military equipment and weapons off the Lebanese border with Israel.

The bedwetting, mostly Republican war-mongers need to step back a moment and realize that, out of the ashes of this ridiculous fighting for the past forty days, the Israelis now have an opportunity to again pursue peace, first with President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. Then, the Israeli leadership (whoever that may be) should go in a different direction and at least tacitly support the referendum for Palestinians that called for a two state solution (the referendum includes Jerusalem as an international city and reparations for Palestinians, but these are things to be negotiated). This could have been done in the spring of this year, of course, but it can still be pursued after all this horrible nonsense.

And, folks, the USA could use some restored confidence, too. The bedwetting war mongers must be replaced this November. And impeachment proceedings must begin to pressure Bush and Cheney to resign--or at least wake up and smell the coffee. When even a hack like George Will begins to understand why John Kerry's stated approach wasn't weak, but smart and strong, and that Kerry's policy prescription makes more sense than anything the Busheviks have done or proposed, it is indeed time to put the bedwetters to bed in their plastic sheets and let more confident and intelligent (and stronger) people lead our nation.

First, let's get out of Iraq and give our troops a rest while we conduct honest diplomacy in the Middle East. An honest diplomacy is one that recognizes Israel's need for security and that Israel is, in fact, the only relatively open society in the Middle East. However, honesty also requires recognition that the Palestinian people have legitimate aspirations that must be met. And second, we need to use our heads to announce weaning our nation off Middle East oil through electric vehicles and other alternative fuel sources for everything else, and offer economic aid to poor nations, including those in the Middle East. If we get back the solidarity the world felt with us on 9/11/01, we should not be too surprised at how much more effective we can be.

So, while the Worst President dissolves into tears while reading "The Stranger," and right wing pundits and politicians like Joe Lieberman show their abject fear and fangs, the rest of us must dust ourselves off from the tumult and move our nation forward with confidence and inner strength. Ironically, the hope expressed in that last sentence is the most optimistic and probably naive--though maybe enough people will finally vote out the Republican Congress at least.

(Edited)

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