Sunday, August 13, 2006

Lebanon: An International Wake-up Call


While the naysayers are out in force, it is important to recognize that Israel has accomplished a lot toward restoring its deterrence in this conflict against Hezbollah.

Menachem Begin used to say that it's not so terrible if the world thinks Israel is a little crazy. While Israel has actually taken great care in this struggle to limit civilian casualties in Lebanon, the world chooses to see Israel's actions as out of control and disproportionate. This has a major down side in terms of Israel's image in the world, which we combat. On the other hand, it reinforces the message to Israel's enemies than when the country's basic security is at stake, Israel will do what it has to do to protect itself. Or as Golda Meir once said, "better a critical editorial than a praiseworthy obituary."

Furthermore, it woke up the international community which two years ago passed UN Security Council Resolution 1559, demanding the dismantlement of Hezbollah. The world, however, did absolutely nothing to implement it while Hezbollah was accumulating a huge arsenal of rockets now raining down on Israel's cities. Now, however, to a large extent because they see that Israel is indeed serious about defending itself, the security council has drafted a new resolution , which while having some weak spots, does provide a mechanism to implement 1559. By providing for a multi-national force with authority, together with the prevention of the redeployment and rearming of Hezbollah, the resolution creates the framework for a different dynamic in southern Lebanon.

The challenge for the US and others who understand what this conflict is about is to make sure that the goals of the resolution are lived up to. If they are, then southern Lebanon will no longer be a terrorist state within a state, Israel's cities will be secure and Iran will know that its efforts to threaten Israel with Hezbollah did not succeed, nor will their nuclear ambitions.
It is therefore important, while not ignoring the problems and sadness of this conflict, to recognize and commend the strides, at great cost, that Israel has made. That recognition itself is part and parcel of the deterrence that makes Israel a safe place in a dangerous neighborhood.