Now that the guns in
In many ways, this was a strange war. It begun with a fairly routine incursion by Hizbolla into northern
A closer look, though, reveals that things were not always as they seemed. Seymour Hersh, in an article in the NewYorker magazine, alleges that prior to the start of the war, the Israelis had drawn up, and shared with the US, plans to attack and destroy Hizbolla, who were amassing a huge arsenal of rockets on the Jewish nation’s northern border. The article, which quotes current and former White House officials, alleges that the Bush Administration considered an attack on Hizbolla to be a dry run for a contemplated military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities and that the US Air Force was ordered to help polish up the plan which eventually called for “strategic bombing” or air strikes on civilian infrastructure designed to turn the Lebanese population against the militants. Apparently, this was to provide a pattern for the bombing of
In an earlier posting I argued that this was a war of choice. It is now clear that the capture of the two soldiers was simply used as a pretext for the implementation of the preconceived military plan. This explains the reluctance of the
Who will emerge as the winners in this conflict? Certainly not the Israelis who have not only failed in their declared aims of crippling Hizbolla and rescuing the soldiers but have also had their image of invincibility severely undermined. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has in a speech today described them as the laughing stock of the
So what are we to expect of the coming days? There has been a lot of speculation regarding this. The UN Security Council resolution 1701 provides the framework for a “cessation of hostilities” and not for a long-term ceasefire. Many in the region regard it as temporary postponement of the fight.
Here’s my take. In southern
In the short term,
The new military self-confidence of the Arab world, and the dysfunctional peace process (Assad has already declared it a failure), will continue to marginalize the moderates who advocate an accommodation with
The Neo-Conservatives in
There is however another path. The Israelis may come to accept, as they evidently did following the Yom Kippur War, that their poltical objectives are unlikely to be achieved through military means. The 1973 war laid the ground for the Camp David Accords in which Egypt and Jordan repudiated the "Three No's" of the Khartoum conference ("no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it") that had been the bedrock policy of the Arab world since 1967 and signed peace treaties with the Jewish states. It seems clear that Israel, which had suffered a military shock in the beginning stages of the war, lost its cocky assurance borne of the Six-Day War and acknowledged the resurgent power and morale of the Arabs. They were thus more amenable to a peace process. Similarly, though boosted by a string of early victories, the Arab eventually states lost the war (and more land) and had to finally accept that they would have to come to an accommodation with the Jewish entity. While war still lay in the future, it would be accurate to say (as Fouad Ajami wrote a year after Anwar Sadat's famous trip to Jerusalem to address Israel's parliament) that the Middle East conflict was "no longer about Israel's existence, but about its boundaries."
The aftermath of the present conlict presents a similar opportunity for a full, final and comprehensive peace process which may well lead to a full, final and comprehensive peace. This, however, calls for what Fouad Siniora, the Lebanese PM, described as "historic men". It would mean the abandoning of Washington's current policy, which is heavily biased towards Israel, and negotiations with all parties to the conflict, including the unsavoury regimes of Iran and Syria, during which all issues would be placed on the table. Such an eventuality would not justify the death, suffering and destruction of the last few weeks. but it would surely mean it had not been in vain.