Tuesday, July 25, 2006

friends don't let friends bomb beirut

Andrew Sullivan is totally right to name an award after Matt Yglesias of the American Prospect. Except, that award needs to be my height and made of solid gold to compensate him for making some of the best analogies ever (in bold):
It's usually best in the American context to keep one's criticisms of Israel polite and measured, but there are times when it's better to be blunt in the hopes of achieving clarity. Israel's current war in Lebanon is strategically blinkered and morally obtuse. The idea that the United States or American Jews like me should support it out of friendship is akin to the notion that a real friend would lend a car to a drunk buddy after the bartender confiscates his keys. I understand why the Israeli government and public think this war is a good idea, but they're simply mistaken.
Here's Matt's point: talk of 'proportionality' is a blind alley of just war theorizing. Since the objective of this war is counterproductive and misguided, the war is a priori unjust. The problem for Israel is not so much Hezbollah, but the public support for Hezbollah in Lebanon. He goes on to dissect the two main motivations: the rocket attacks which, while despicable, posed little existential threat in contrast with the hail of rockets resulting from efforts to remove the Katyushas by force; and the kidnapping, which could have been resolved through a prisoner exchange or a targeted retaliatory strike but instead were cause for a low-intensity border conflict of expanding size. Some people have been cheered by the autocrats in Jordan, Saudi and Egypt taking an anti-Hezbollah position, but Matt points out that this collusion just plays into the Bin Laden narrative, alienating the Arab world yet more from America. A laser-guided missile, however precise, cannot persuade someone that you are right. Ultimately, Matt not only diagnoses the symptoms but prescribes the cure:
Israel and its friends abroad need to face reality -- the problem that needs solving is the Palestinian problem. Were Israel's conflict with the Palestinians resolved, other challenges like Hezbollah would soon melt away. The idea of firing rockets into Israeli towns would appear absurd. Iran and Syria would have nothing to gain from supporting groups that behaved in that manner. Arab public opinion would no longer applaud the firing of rockets at random into Israeli cities.

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