Friday, July 21, 2006

Making Enemies in Lebanon (again)

These images are spreading via internet around the world. As the war in Lebanon continues, several of them will become as iconographic for Israel's war for hegemony as the famous pictures from Abu Ghraib. To imagine, as the governments in Israel and the United States apparently do, that they can crush a broadly based Islamist group like Hizballah is probably a profound error. As I watch the war unfold I cannot helped but marvel at the degree to which the war resembles the horrendously misconceived 1982 war, which was intended by Ariel Sharon to crush the PLO and then implant a puppet government in Beirut that would make peace with Israel. The war was launched in woeful ignorance of political developments in Lebanon, especially in the Shi'i community. As a result of the war, the U.S. found its foreign policy preoccuped for nearly a decade with Lebanon and the violence and terrorism that ensued from 1982.
Of course, it bears remembering that the 1982 created Hizballah, as former Prime Minister Ehud Barak noted recently. Barak: "When we entered Lebanon … there was no Hizbullah. We were accepted with perfumed rice and flowers by the Shia in the south. It was our presence there that created Hizbullah." The late Yitzhak Rabin said more or less the same thing. Israel new Lebanon war is less likely to subdue its victims than to enflame them.
Readers may find it useful to consult some of my publications from two decades ago. My 1984 article, which attracted a lot of attention in Israel, but did not deter Israel from making the fatal mistake of staying in Lebanon for sixteen more years, was titled "Making Enemies in South Lebanon." I will make it available again soon.

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