Israel and Lebanon

Tom G. Palmer, for whom I have tremendous respect, posted the other day about the Israeli response to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

He wrote “The Israeli attacks on civilian infrastructure throughout the country and the destruction of the lives of innocents are simply unconscionable.” and went on to suggest that the Israelis had blundered into an Iranian trap that takes international attention away from its nuclear ambitions and builds Arab hatred for Israel and the US.

I think the comment thread has been interesting and I’ve entered a few myself. Here’s my latest comment:

Tom,

It’s easy to say that there are problems with the Israeli response because there have been tragic effects. But, it’s not a real argument until you propose a better response.

What would a better Israeli response look like?

Would they permanently hover over, rather than bomb, every access point for supplies?

Would there be no innocents killed?

Would there be no buildings bombed that have civilian uses?

I’m not saying that the Israeli response is perfect. But, I’m not seeing you describe what a better response would look like..

The situation is indeed very sad, but it’s important to remember who is trying to maximize the sadness, and who is trying to minimize it.

There is no victimless option that I can see.

It may be true that the Israeli response appears to be what Hezbollah and its benefactors wanted. But, that doesn’t mean they had a better alternative.

Tom promises to respond to my challenge if he can.

I’m quite sympathetic to people who view the media and wonder if Israel has over-reacted. But, as my comment above indicates, I don’t know what a better response would look like. Doing nothing is not tolerable. There are going to be mistakes, and there are going to be tragedies. But, what will lead to the best long-term outcome? I’m no military strategist, but it seems reasonable to me that trying to use overwhelming force to seriously degrade Hezbollah’s capabilities, while trying to avoid unnecessary harm to innocents, is a likely candidate for the best option available.

For a little personal background, I remember getting into quite uncomfortable situations with my parents and their friends when I criticized some of Israel’s tactics in Lebanon in the 80s. I am a strong supporter of Israel, in general. But, I’m not a knee-jerk supporter of everything Israel might ever do.

In this situation, though, I’m not ready to condemn any of their actions until I hear of better alternatives.

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