Monday, July 17, 2006

Hezbollah, Lebanon, Israel and a Clear Failure of International Society

Yes, I know that I’ve been avoiding commenting on the fire being exchanged in the Middle East between Israel and Hezbollah. I know I haven’t commented on Hezbollah forces in Lebanon attacking Israel and kidnapping two Israeli soldiers along with the inevitability that Israel would answer back by lobbing artillery and air strikes into Lebanon.

Yes, I’m studying international studies, particularly diplomacy and security. However, what a fine mess this is. I think I’ve chosen not to address it thus far simply because as soon as I heard the news, I knew which way this was going to go. I silently hoped that the big powers like the U.S. would immediately urge Israel to show some restraint lest this spiral out of control. Initially, that didn’t happen.

“Diplomats”! That term is in quotes because, outside of the diplomats themselves, does anyone truly see them as diplomats?

My definition of a diplomat is someone who is educated and armed with the skill and determination to resolve disagreements and conflict before rounds are fired and people start evacuating. Also, diplomats snap into place if, like in this current crisis, they aren’t called upon initially to work things out. I don’t see that happening at all. This is all political where you have the people on the international scene giving not two cents about resolving conflict and caring more about keeping the masses happy thereby keeping themselves in power. No one wants to be the first to slash his or her political wrists.

When I tune into CNN International I turn the sound off until the World Sport segment comes on. It’s so incredibly depressing and both sides are acting, unfortunately, in such a knee jerk and predictable fashion that I really don’t see this resolving itself anytime soon or in an amicable manner. When I do ante up and turn the sound on it’s rant after rant from the various sides which is then juxtaposed with the heart wrenching stories of weepy to livid civilians caught in the middle fleeing to Syria.

One theory as to why the Palestinians in Gaza as well as Hezbollah in Lebanon are much feistier is because of Israel’s new leader Ehud Olmert. Olmert, unlike his predecessor Ariel Sharon, doesn’t have a military background. Maybe this is the reason for Olmert’s baptism by fire, but that means Olmert has an interest in being a hard-liner in this crisis. That gives him very little room to move. Hezbollah believes they’re fighting a great enemy, and we all know it’s near impossible to argue with someone tied deeply into their faith and their religion.

Various organizations and governments from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to the G8 are calling for Israel to exercise restraint. Israel, of course, is saying the attack and subsequent kidnappings were an act of war which technically they are. But if politicians conducted all foreign policy based on the rules of engagement we would have had a war during the Cuban Missile Crisis as well as war a few times over here in Korea. It just seems that if your solution is being a hardliner then war is your only option because answering back with air assaults and artillery you know it’s going to escalate.

Again, it seems hopeless, unless someone who is a visionary can step in and try to get both sides to calm down and come to the table. This has all the markings of getting worse before it gets better.

I guess that’s why I haven’t said anything about it until now. It’s pretty much a done deal unless something astounding happens.

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