Israel-Hezbollah: Threading the Needle
Allan J. Ashinoff | August 19, 2006 | 09:00 AM EST
When an American, or most any Westerner, thinks of ‘peace’ its perceived as the absence of war or other hostilities, or being in a state of tranquility, and/or possessing inner contentment. An American, or most any Westerner, concludes that a treaty of peace is one in which hostilities cease between the warring parties based on a promise that each combatant sincerely wishes to end the conflict.
The United Nations, by way of the United States and France, crafted a cease fire agreement – a peace treaty - and leveraged Israel into halting the destruction of the terrorist group Hezbollah. The United States has been at war against groups nearly identical to Hezbollah for three years. Yet when Israel has its heel on the serpents neck the world says ‘hold’ and Israel complied.
Just what was this war between Israel and Hezbollah? At face value, the likelihood that Israel would begin a bloody offensive over the capture of two Israeli soldiers when it has taken suicide bombings on its city streets and marketplaces seems remote. Yet that is exactly what the world sees as the cause for the latest flare-up in the Middle East. In fact many UN nations stated that Israel’s retaliation was disproportionate but it took weeks for those same members to agree to the wording of an equitable cease fire proposition.
Prior to the Israeli assault on Hezbollah, the scuttlebutt in the US media on Iran was when, or if, Israel would launch a strike against Iran’s nuclear program as it did against Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981. The United States, already openly involved in two theaters of operation, was vocally determined to stop Iran but physically unwilling to force Iran to halt its nuclear aspirations.
The Bush administration, whose justification for entering Iraq was that American could not rely on outside organizations when it came to US security or national defense, decided that the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia would be best suited to disarm a potentially nuclear Iran for the United States. Years have been wasted by European nations trying to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions. Russia tried it hand at negotiating a peaceful settlement to the US-Iran impasse but elected instead to sell arms, anti-aircraft, and guidance systems to the Iranians in the event of war. The US deferment of responsibility with Iran has resulted in Iran being better militarily equipped, better allied, and closer to its goal of attaining nuclear power.
A principal sponsor of Hezbollah is Iran. When Hezbollah formed in 1985, Iran sent 1500 of its Revolutionary Guard to supplement the Hezbollah terrorists. The Heritage Foundation estimates that Iran sends Hezbollah about $300 million a year, with $100 million earmarked for social programs. Iran has supplied Hezbollah with thousands of missiles and training. With such an investment in this ideological kindred spirit, would it not stand to reason that Iran would take seriously the probable annihilation of Hezbollah?
Could the Bush Administration have conspired with Israel to deliberately react with force to a terrorist action it would normally only respond in kind to? Was the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Israel gambling that Iran, with all its anti-Semitic hostile rhetoric, could be provoked into becoming directly involved in the Hezbollah conflict? If Iran fired a missile or openly joined the war it would have provided Israel the justification it needed to fly approximately 1000 miles in an attempt to destroy Iran’s nuclear capability. A grave local threat to Israel and a global threat to America and her interests would be eliminated or at the very least severely crippled.
A plan of this sort, had it worked, could have defused the Iranian crisis and made both the United States and Israel safer. An agreement such as this would explain Israel’s acceptance of UN resolution 1701 which stopped the destruction of Hezbollah. If the true objective of this conflict was to indirectly provoke Iran into aggression to protect its asset – Hezbollah – then it failed. Once Israel or the US realized that Tehran wasn’t going to spring its trap, there was really no purpose for Israel to continue pounding to dust an inferior adversary. Naturally, Israel would posture to only stand down with a favorable resolution to disarm Hezbollah and protect Israel from future aggression from the United Nations. It’s doubtful if anyone in the UN, Israel, or the United States government truly believes that the UN cease-fire will actually last. It’s obvious from the disregard for the UN mandated cease-fire that Hezbollah will not stand down regardless of what Israel does.
Israel’s acquiescence to the UN cease-fire resolution has strengthened Hezbollah politically on the world stage. The great gathering of world powers has shifted their attention from world affairs to stave off the destruction of a terrorist group who has deliberately targeted civilians to intimidate. Following in the footsteps of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Hezbollah using carnage and intimidation has been awarded legitimacy. Like the PLO, Hezbollah will seek to capitalize on the ruin which was Southern Lebanon - and the hatred of Israel for destroying Southern Lebanon- to sow more good will, at Iranian expense, among the Lebanese people. The end result would be the greater expansion of Hezbollah in the Lebanese government. Will Hezbollah proceed to, as the PLO did, achieve complete legitimacy and gain control of a sovereign nation?
The Bush Administration’s overture, if in fact true, into the manipulation of events and traditional hatreds of the Middle East was a wise, calculated, and a commendable course of action. Had this venture been successful the Iranian threat would be marginalized and Hezbollah, an arm of Iranian terror, would have been greatly diminished or perhaps destroyed. But the failure of Iran to spring the trap leaves Iran one month closer to it nuclear goal. When will the Bush Administration recall, as the President himself once said, that the United States of America can not rely on the United Nations or foreign powers for its national security?