Hammer And Anvil

Not too long ago, Jonah Goldberg at NRO and Kevin Drum had a brief squabble over ‘unsolvable problems.’ I’m paraphrasing recklessly here, but Drum’s position was basically that the Left has a morally and practically superior position over the Right because the Left doesn’t believe that problems are unsolvable, while the Right will metaphorically throw up its hand and not try to fix things it perceives as permanently unfixable. Goldberg responded that liberals unrealistically expect the “next” government program or initiative to fix problems that just don’t have reasonable real-world solutions.

That discussion was largely on a philosophical level, and to be fair to both participants, dealt with issues related to the human condition, as opposed to specifics of geography and warfare, but it still sprang to my mind when I look at news reports from the last week. Right now we’re all looking at a textbook definition of an unsolvable problem in Lebanon, and whether you believe in a “fixable” human condition or not, it’s hard to see how the issues on the ground are going to be settled in any kind of ‘best’ ending.

On the one hand, you’ve got the Israelis, who have had enough of being attacked by Iranian-funded and Syrian-supported Hezbollah terrorists acting from Lebanese territory. They’re apparently finished dealing with a “peace process” that has produced no peace, and it’s hard to blame them for that. Certainly, Hezbollah is a barbaric terrorist army that deserves to be destroyed, but the problem is, Hezbollah lives in somebody else’s neighborhood.

The non-Hezbollah Lebanese, who like Syria and Iran only microscopically more than they like Israel, are caught in the middle and getting clobbered. The Lebanese army is outgunned and hugely outfinanced by Hezbollah, and the Lebanese people are understandably horrified at the idea of fighting another civil war.

It’s a terrible situation. If the current war (and let’s not kid ourselves with proxies, that’s what it is) pitting Israel on one side with Syria and Iran on the other destroys the nascent Lebanese democracy along the way, that’s an awful, awful outcome–but it’s also an awful outcome if Iran is able to maintain its proxy terrorist army attacking Israel from Lebanese soil. Maybe worst of all for the Lebanese, it looks like this one is going to be fought out to a military conclusion. “Diplomacy” is a joke in this case. The Israelis don’t trust any of the international organizations, and for good reason. Iran holds those organizations (and the non-radicalized Lebanese) in contempt, and is only interested in using them to further the mullahs’ various ends.

Hammer and anvil, and the Lebanese in between. There is not a good solution.

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16 Responses to “Hammer And Anvil”

  1. Brad Says:

    In my mind, there’s never truly been a peace process in the ME b/c the “peace” has never been “won” or “established” in order for a process to conduct itself. The Islamists who desire the elimination of Israel are not going to quit until they achieve just that. They are not reasonable and they leave Israel with no choice but to vanquish them. The only solution, and the one that in the long run will be the best one, is for the civilized world to join and back Israel to the hilt until the Islamists are destroyed. THAT WAR has been coming for a long time. The Western powers have tried to quell it for years, have tried to appease each side, encourage concessions, treat terrorists like Arafart as statemen, but the Islamists have always been bent on making it explode. It’s time to take a stand on the right side, once and for all, and destroy the Islamo-fascist movement in all its manifestations. It will be a global war and it will be hard. But I just don’t see it being avoided–the Islamists, as always, will continue to push for it. They stop when they cease to exist.

  2. Mark Eichenlaub Says:

    Nice site and nice breakdown of the limited favorable options on crushing Hezbollah.

  3. JD Says:

    IMHO, the only way to “crush” Hizboallah is to kill off its source of financing and intellectual/emotional backbone.

    And yes, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, that means bumping off Syria and Iran, preferably in that order. For Syria’s case, I’m not talking about de-Baathification either. Damascus must be destroyed, like Berlin, like Tokyo.

    I have more hope for a revolution in Teheran if the Israelis come out on top with this current conflict in Syria and Lebanon.

    It is regrettable that two countries must fight out their conflict on a third nation’s territory, but as long as Lebanon is in thrall to Syria, that’s basically the way it’s going to be.

    This war has been in hibernation since 1973. It should be allowed to follow its course.

  4. Purple Avenger Says:

    The “solvability” of problems is constrained by people’s preconceptions of the extent of the solution set.

    The real solution set is always larger than what people think it is.

    ex. Your neighbor’s dog is an intractable lawn pooper. Negotiations have been unsatisfactory, and the local legal/law enforcement authorities unresponsive. Killing the dog IS part of the solution set, but a lot of people won’t consider it because they have other internal limits that prevent it.

  5. michael parker Says:

    Besides, a cork and superglue is a much more entertaining solution.

  6. J Says:

    There is a good solution. Take out Hizbollah, bomb Syria, incite a revolution in Iran, and while you’re at it convince the Chinese to go along with starving the North Koreans. You could take out the axis of terror in a couple weeks. Simple as pie!

  7. JEM Says:

    Unfortunately there is no stomach for the correct resolution to the problem. Israel should be wiping out Syria now. And Iran should understand that if they intercede we will finish off Syria, including any Iranian units that are there to help them.

    Then you give Iran 48 hours to turn out all the nuclear material they have, with no exceptions, no delays, while at the same time you loudly encourage the populace to revolt. See what happens on the ground to determine next steps. Tell Saudi to round up all their Islamofascist supporters and have them all summarily shot. You then state publically you will hunt down every Islamofascist terrorist in the middle east and kill them, without regard to collateral damage. You warn NK if they launch anything we will firebomb their 10 largest cities, if they nuke someone, they will cease to exist.

    Now do you think anyone has the stomach to do this? You need utter destruction, abject defeat. Otherwise the diplo-dicks will keep peace just enough so a few less citizens die than we are willing to accept. That is the state of things.

  8. Matt Says:

    I think it’s abundantly clear to everyone in the world that there will be no peaceful solution to this battle. Lebanon is going to get the living shit kicked out of it in the next couple of weeks, for no better reason than being in a really bad place at a really bad time. It is my hope that the US (and the rest of the international community) begin to work on an aid package to help rebuild Lebanon. The last thing anyone needs is another disaffected, war-torn nation in the middle east.

  9. aaron Says:

    I think that the better solutions for some of these situations are often stigmatized to the point that they aren’t considered solutions by some and are viewed as giving up.

  10. Aaron Says:

    The lack of political will to take care of Hezbullah BEFORE they attacked Israel…i.e. we should’ve had a serious UN force there years ago and support the Lebanese army enough so they could disarm Hezbullah.

  11. JD Says:

    Aaron – I would encourage you to look up on wikipedia or elsewhere the history of UNIFIL – United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon, and to see how effective it has been at keeping the peace.

    UNIFIL was mandated in 1978, took the field in 1979. During that time, UNIFIL allowed the Israeli army to pass it up (IOW, UNIFIL was behind Israeli lines) in the 1982 invasion. The Marine barracks bombing occurred in 1983, in an area whose security responsibility was that of UNIFIL.

    Etc., Etc.

    The UN was in Rwanda BEFORE the Hutu-Tutsi genocide got into high gear. The UN is still in Serbia and Kosovo.

    Anyone looking to the United Nothing as a “solution” to this problem is merely hoping that the vaunted “blue helmets” will arrive to take the temperature down a bit, but is secure in the knowledge that when confronted with a hostile situation, the only force that turns tail and runs faster than the fwench is the vaunted “blue helmets.”

  12. limes Says:

    Let the war follow its course. At some time a line will be drawn and will need to be enforced.

    I despise the United Nations, but they have a use here. Have UN ‘peacekeepers’ man the posts througout the de-militarized zone, however wide it is.

    But this time…

    Have Israel volunteer to ‘augment’ the UN forces, with small units empowered to enforce the Resolution in cases where the UN is unwilling or unable.

    Beat the enemy at his own game. He will hesitate to kill ‘nice’ UN forces (or at least get bad press when he does). All the while, lethal special forces units, capable of handling anything Hezbollah can bring to bear, will do the heavy lifting.

  13. IanLondon Says:

    The Saudi Peace Plan of 2002 is the closest the region ever came to peace in decades, it was endorsed by all members of the Arab League, including Syria, and was a huge coup for Saudi to establish itself as the crown prince of all the Muslim Arab world.

    Israel has gone a long way to forfilling their side of the Saudi plan, although not strictly because of it, and in turn it was a tacit approval of Israel’s right to exist by every Arab nation that marked the turning point. Although the Saudi plan was extensively derailed by the Iraq War, it still exists underneath, despite the best efforts of groups like Hamas and Hizbollah.

    Hizbollah and Iran have other ideas outside the plan, specifically the parts that recognise Israel, and this time they’ve bypassed the Arab nations, so it really is a war being fought by proxy by a wannabe-superpower with no-one elses interests, I doubt very much that Arab countries apart from Syria will approve of this ongoing situation, even endorsing Israel’s actions, Saudi Arabia has already been very critical of Hizbollah.

    Lebanon may have to pay the price, but I would predict the long term effect of this would be a huge turnaround in Israel’s favour, with added Arab support, it could actually result in a solution, which can benefit Lebanon long term too.

  14. narciso Says:

    The irony, is that Lebanon is making the same mistake that
    led to the sundering of the
    Cedar Nation, a quarter century
    ago. Back around 1969, a Cairo
    declaration, proposed by a Leb.
    presidential candidate, gave
    the PLO’s militias autonomous
    status. Subsequently, another
    candidate, and subsequent
    president, Franjieh, known as
    “the Squirrel” in Ignatius’s
    roman a clef, Agents of Influence,
    extended this process, disbanding
    the security services oversight of
    such groups; this ultimately led
    to a power vacuum where every type
    of militia, from the Druze to the
    Maronite Christians, came to pass;
    and the real Civil War, came to
    pass. Subsequently, Fatah, under the able direction of security
    chief,Ali Salameh, who was also
    a CIA asset, pursued campaigns
    against Israel, which ultimately
    led to the Invasion. Certain circumstances have let Hb repeat
    this path, with the consequences we see today.

  15. Colonel Nikolai Says:

    I find it interesting so many on this particular subject endorse expanding violence to solve the problem. I respectfully don’t think that will work. The Islamofacist mind set wants more war, because it will incite greater, more entrenched resistance. These are people who have little to do except exercise the brainwashing of radical Islam. By engaging them in a full scale war, you will likely be putting out fire with gasoline. The trick is to break through the brainwashing, and time is not on our side. If things continue the way they are going today, Isreal will cease to exist by demographics alone in less than a century. In less than a generation, Isreal will be facing a Intefada from within, with 40% of the children in Israeli schools being Hebrew-speaking arab muslims today.

    History supports my theory. The Anglo-Saxons once lived in an Apartheid-like England centuries ago, with the Welsh and Britons the ruling groups. This changed because the Anglos simply bred faster. Now all of England is essentially Anglo-Saxon. This is the fate of Isreael, and likely the fate of the west, too. So, it is important to keep in mind that changing the hearts and minds is the real battle. Killing enemies (that are growing faster than they can be killed) is a distraction.

  16. JD Says:

    Colonel – “Winning hearts and minds” can work only when the counter part has both a heart and a mind. As soon as someone demonstrates to me that the Splodeydopes have either hearts or minds, I might advocate changing the current approach that Israel is taking. Any takers on that bet?

    If we were to take your thesis and put it into play in the Pacific Theater in the Second World War, then Hawaii would be in all likelihood at this time a Japanese protectorate, and Australia would not exist as it does today. It took raw, naked force to subdue the Japanese bushido mindset into the reasonable culture it is today.

    When you are dealing with an adversary that knows only violence and bloodshed, the only way you can communicate with that individual is in the language that he understands best – and to do it bigger, badder, and more painful then he could even consider being able to do it himself.

    You can shriek at a brick wall all you wish; it will neither understand or respect you, nor will it change its designed behavior. There are times where a sledgehammer is necessasry to break through.

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