The above article along with the following from BBC outlining the problems Britian’s evacuation plans (which is blocked by the Chinese sensors by the way… tried to open it for 15 minutes and still noting more then a page can not be displayed error! And is 8 hrs old at this point) coupled with this BBC article outlining the same thing, British citizen evacuation (yes it was blocked by the Chinese infrastructure too, at least the same thing, no matter how I try to access the above 2 articles today I can’t even after 15 minutes) and even Italy and other EU nations performing citizen retrievals. However I was able to read it last night when the older one was fresh and from what I gathered this is the situation on the ground. There are thousands of foreign nationals on the ground in Lebanon who are their for business, work, study, and living, much like I am here in China now, and their governments have all announced immediate evacuation orders. The US is sending in a small Naval and Marine force to handle the situation, Britain on the other hand is taking a much stronger stance by sending in a carrier task force.
Friendly nations to Lebanon’s now and newly democratically elected government, without the aid of its Syrian advisors, are doing a huge injustice to this country. As much as an ally Israel is to the West, we are the ones who carved out the land they are now on, this time they have not only crossed the line, but have went so far beyond it the damage may take an additional 10 to 20 years to rectify. Calls for doing something are fine, but someone has to step up to the plate. Actions speak volumes and Israel will not attack Western nation’s forces if they go in and begin a clean up operation. One thing that has to be observed about this; anyone who goes in there can not just begin to beat up on Hezbollah and Hamas but have to also keep order of the region, that means getting the Israeli military forces out of sight and mind.
To anyone not familiar with the entire Middle East issue of why the current situation of the Israelis and Arabs is the way it is, please read this brief yet somewhat insightful Time.com article: Hate Thy Neighbor. In order to understand the importance and also the factors of and possible outcomes of this continuing conflict it is imperative to understand why it is happening, not only for diplomatic reasons but also human reasons. Only through knowing what and why will people be able to get to the how to part of getting past this current problem that has finally spun into all out war between militants and a nation.
American press coverage, from what I have been told and observed is pretty much siding with Israel, yes they are allies and Islamic militants seem to be enemies – at least in Afghanistan and Iraq – but remember that the press has a public responsibility and duty to be fair and balanced and as neutral as humanly possible when reporting about this. I feel many American papers are afraid of being labeled Anti-Semitic by the American Jewish League or other groups if they report the balanced truth about what is going on and why. If you read 5 or 6 articles about the why, then between the lines of these articles, and finally go back to the history of this region and its starting point, the 1950’s you will start to realize what is really going on.
With countries like Briton, Italy, and the US sending in full military forces to evacuate all its citizens while the UN has to go through its lengthy and bureaucratic process of sending in an impotent and ill commanded peace keepers (remember the Dufar crisis and its outcome just this year) the Lebanese government has to feel abandoned, ashamed, and rightly so pissed off! The western world has once again played favorites and abandoned a key alley and symbol of how we can care for and work with Arab countries by just sitting back and watching one nation carry out military strikes on another’s key infrastructure and even civilians. Now granted Hezbollah and Hamas are largely to blame here as they are using the civilian population to hide in and store military assets and caches of weapons in. The surrounding civilians are paying the price as Israeli bombs and missiles blow up their apartment buildings, usually with them inside. The problem with this tactic is the militants are using the civilians to demonstrate the cruelness and insensitivity of the Israeli government to their plight, livelihood, or even humanity, from their perspective. The civilians are being used and when they start dying they do not blame the militants for putting them in harms way, but rather the ones who are blowing up their buildings. The civilian population is now seeing what our silence in this conflict is begetting them and their neighbors, death and destruction and continued pain and suffering. By proxy we are just as bad as those dropping bombs on them therefore we are perpetuating the cycle of hate against the West and ourselves… playing right into the radical’s ideals and preaching.
Israel is feeling emboldened by only token calls for restraint from the West to stop its incursions into sovereign nation’s territories and killing of their citizens. Yes Israel is trying to get its military members back, this is understandable. Understandable is also their unwillingness to deal with Hexbollah as this will have a Columbian Effect (continuing taking of prisoners as this will ensure a reward of your demands). Hezbollah is desprate to get some of their leaders and members back, and in the process score good guy points with the Arab community by securing the release of 4,500 prisoners Israel has taken past 18 months. If either side gives in they seem weak and losing resolve. This is a stand off of ideals and principle. Mass evacuations are also a signal that Israel can continue such raids and tactics unimpeded. With out the potential outcry of the UK, EU, or the US because one of our citizens was unjustly killed Israel has been given a green light to escalate its operations to a new level once the news agencies report all foreign citizens are safely out of harms way. So goes another factor in this event that shows the importance of someone, anyone finally going into the region and stopping the conflict.
The real problems here are not the key players involved, Israel, Hezbollah, Hamas, etc. but the real puppet masters pulling the strings behind the scenes. Most of the players on the Arab side are being used, and they are happy to be used. Syria, Iran, and radical Islamic organizations are all funding these groups, sending them weapons, training, encouragement, and resources to continue what they are doing. As this conflict escalates players like Syria have stated, in Arab news, they are going to protect their territories and interests if Israel escalates beyond Lebanon. Lebanon is now being given the cold shoulder from both the west, because it is Israel that is attacking them and the Arabs, because they have worked with and somewhat aligned themselves with western countries. Some in the region, mostly militants and radicals, want this to spin further out of control and have it spill out into the rest of the region… causing a final confrontation and showdown over who will live, control, and rule the region. To some this is the beginning of a prophecy that spells the end, to others it is the culmination of decades of suppression and agitation for meddling in affairs without invitation or provocation. The reality of this is it can easily get to the point no one wants to see.
The west needs to bite the bullet, reign in Israel, use the UN and the few remaining friendly countries in the immediate region and set up another DMZ, like the one in Korea, until these groups and calm the F down and go through the process of getting along. Israel needs to withdraw to its 1967 borders, the Palestinians need to put their militant attitudes into the past and the history books, Lebanon needs to get tough on Hezbollah and build an internal security force capable of maintaining law and order, the peace process at this point can be re-started for the umpteenth time. Israel wants security, Palestine wants land, and most of the people on the sidelines want the Jews out. A compromise has to be made and agreed upon, a reasonable and realistic one, and in order to do this it will take an indefinite amount of time for a security force to be in the region and prevent a well organized, highly independent, well funded, and fanatic group of people from detailing the process by committing any number of terrorists attacks (suicide bombers, mortar launchers, rocket batteries, car bombs, tunnel attacks, etc.)
The French are currently trying to calm the Jews down, leaders in the G-8 summit have finally issued a statement calling to calm and restraint in force, the UN is doing its best to get the ball rolling and in the mean time the EU is offering a multinational peace keeping force to intervene. The issue here is the force going in has to 1) be impartial, even if this means firing on Israeli artillery and aircraft 2) capable of stopping a highly motivated, well funded, and tightly knit group of individual terrorists cells capable of striking anywhere and at any time… sound familiar? 3) maintain some decorum in a civilian population that has sympathy for the terrorists, hatred for the Jews, distrust for all Westerners, and is living in poverty. This is why; up to this point no one was willing to get seriously involved. The Arabs can’t do this because they can not fight against them selves to protect Israel. The West will have a problem gaining enough trust in the area to combat the small and embedded terrorists’ cells that are part of the local population.
Issues like these have finally led to this, the worst fighting in the area in 20 years. Israel wants to been seen as tough on the radicals and capable of delivering large scale and painful reprisals. Many in the region are seeing Israel as weak and divided and the influence by the West at an all time low so they see the time to strike is now. The UN has proven it does not leverage enough authority via its charter or abilities to stop any offensive time and again, Bosnia, Dufar, etc. Basically it has now become such a mess it has to be cleaned up, and everyone knows it needs to be done, but are all unwilling to do it. This is a true test of the solidarity and ability of the international community to stop an aggression and settle a dispute in a positive manner. Iran and Korea are watching and taking notes, on response, reactions, and counter actions taken by both sides. Recent articles have stated that foreign affairs are at an all time level at the number of and complexity of problems confronting everyone. It does seem history is repeating itself and we are doomed to follow it time and time again. This problem is centuries old and can only be handled if one unified power goes in and settles the differences, because it will not happen otherwise. We don’t need analysis, think tanks, experts to debate this issue any more, we need real leadership to keep this from getting turned into what is potentially another wide scale and possibly global war. If the worst happens the US military is stuck in the middle with troops in an embattled Iraq, escalating Afghanistan, and small assets in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. We have Korea lobbing missiles into the Sea of Japan, demanding attention, Iran going back and forth on its decision to go nuclear, and the entire global terror thing to consider too. Our pull and reputation is at an all time low not only in the Middle East but the rest of the planet too. This is the problem with having only 1 super power and no really global force that is respected either diplomatically or militarily. I would like to see this settled peacefully in the next month or two but knowing my history I doubt it will.