Friday, August 04, 2006

Hezbollah, Lebanon & Israel

I’ll admit up front that I am not a great student of the situation in the Middle East. I’ve done some reading, but the issue is immense, as long in time as history itself, and emotionally complex for all involved. There continues to be a turf war that has gone on for millennia, and faith in a common God does little to solve it.

Present times show the conflict to be heating up again, and that is putting it mildly. Rockets blazing across the skies, tanks rumbling through towns, and innocents dieing on all sides bodes sadly for the people in the affected countries. I maintain that many people in these countries want no part of war. They want to live their lives peacefully, work at their jobs, raise their children, and prosper as they might. As is often the case, it is the extremists that bring harm where none is desired.

I deplore religious extremism on any front. I believe most people of the Arab world to be faithful as most of the Christian world is – some more faithful than others but most caught up in the secular society and much that it offers, living at times outside of their faiths’ calling and succumbing to selfishness, pride, and greed. In this one instance a bit of secularism is a good thing: people that want to prosper and raise families usually don’t want war in their back yard.

I doubt that all the citizens of the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, for instance, fully support the concepts the Hezbollah puts forth. Although there are many banners in that town showing support and it is known as a Hezbollah stronghold, it is not the entire population that puts up those banners, but a small team. There may well be support for Hezbollah there, as they do a great deal of good public works, but that an entire nation, or even an entire city, could be for exterminating a neighboring country is beyond my belief.

There is a time for peaceful negotiation. When large groups of people have well-defined leaders that can come to the table and speak openly of a desire for an end to conflict, with the willingness to give and take as the situation requires. That’s what negotiation is, a willingness to change the status quo for the betterment of both sides. In the case of Israel and Lebanon (or Hezbollah which seems in control of much of Lebanon) it seems there is no room for negotiation, that both sides want what they want (or what they have) and won’t take anything less.

Is Israel willing to negotiate? No. I’ll support the validity of the armistice agreements of 1949 that created Israel and wonder aloud about the intelligence of the Israeli incursions into Arab lands in subsequent years. I don’t know the situations and thinking behind those additional turf wars and won’t comment further on them here. I will say that when armed soldiers cross into Israel to kill and kidnap, Israel has the right to get those kidnapped back by whatever means seem reasonable. If Israel takes this time in history to make more lasting changes to secure their safety, consider Hezbollah the fools for giving them the opportunity.

I will also say that when a government allows a political party (Hezbollah) to create an army of it’s own, that army has that governments implied approval. Further, when that army is allowed to house itself among the general population, things are particularly twisted. Using non-combatants as a shield will work for a while, but at some point they become combatants simply by proximity.

Unfortunately, the Islamist extremists have no desire for any negotiation either. Further, in the here-and-now of today, they call for the all-out destruction of Israel and once that is done, death to all infidels. If you aren’t strictly fundamentalist within the faith of Islam, that means they want you to die, too.

So much for choosing sides.

Israel is in a fight for it’s very life. Our government supports Israel and, in the eyes of every Islamist extremist, by proxy every citizen of the United States supports Israel. My understanding is that it isn’t just our support of Israel that brings the wrath of these Islamic fundamentalists upon us, although that is a large part, but also that we don’t share their faith and therefore are part of a world ungodly in their eyes. They want a world of Islam that we don’t fit into. They want us to die so that their perception of a Godly world can be fulfilled. As I said, so much for choosing sides.

I support a war against anyone or any party that has death of others as their primary purpose, their stated goal. If someone is stupid enough to say in public that they want us dead, and they seem intent on it and capable of it, I say kill them first. I say this more on secular grounds than religious. I believe the God I worship wants us to be peaceful people and to spread the Word of His Son, our Savior. I don’t know the Koran well enough to relay what it says about this but have read words calling for peace in the Koran, and have also been told that there is a call for death to the infidels there, too.

Fatawa (plural of “fatwa” or legal pronouncement of Islamic law) have been given that call against Al Qaeda and other extremist groups, but little seems to come from them. Actions do speak louder than words and there are no apparent actions by any of the Arab governments or religious groups to put an end to the violence brought in the name of Islam.

So, we are in tricky times! Heavily armed forces, including missiles and more, hidden in with the general population and coming out to fight fiercely at every opportunity. True urban guerilla warfare with all the dangers to soldiers trying to route it out and to civilians without the means to leave the vicinity. Sadly, I say we must support the fight against those that claim to be against us.

Governments, ours included along with Saudi Arabia et al, are more about prosperity and the continuation of the growing of their businesses on a global basis than they are about stopping skirmishes that they profit from. If the Arab nations wanted an end to Islamic extremist actions, they could easily make that happen. Dictatorships and pseudo democracies work well that way. By not taking action, they are condoning the behavior of the few (tens-of or hundreds-of thousands?).

So at this point I say hands off of Israel. Let them fight their war as it is, in the long term, our war as well. The Islamic extremists have great reserves of weapons, are well supported by several of the governments, and sadly, the wars give them more fighters. America does not need to send troops and should not be part of the mediation at the border. Our money and weapons speak our support in this instance.

Other nations should be involved if they have a sense of the real intent. One of my least favorite people in American politics and most hypocritical, Newt Gingrich, said that this may be World War III and he may be right. The lack of action against extremists by the various Arab and Muslim governments implicates those governments as much as their public support would. I call out against the extremists, not the general population of those countries and not against those that are peaceful of any faith. But I do call against those that have declared war on us.

Pray for peace, but be ready to fight for your life.