Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Israel and Quneitra

(Note: I'm back from vacation, will post about the glaciers soon.)

My view of Israel is generally the most left-wing stance of any of my political views besides population control - I think Israel's treatment of Palestinians is abominable and an affront to Judaism, and a cause of many of Israel's current problems. The current crisis is different though. Cross-border attacks on Israel after the country bugged out of Gaza and Lebanon are clear acts of war. Regardless of whether Israel is using the captured soldiers as an excuse, the refusal to return them gives Israel a reason to continue its actions. Israel is showing little concern for civilian life, but in practice warfare hasn't cared too much about that. It's acts are probably well within typical just war theories.

Whether they're good policy is a totally different question though. The weekend NYTimes argued this helps Hezbollah preseve its military identity as something separate from the fragile Lebanese state. Israel is unlikely to permanently occupy Lebanon again, and Hezbolloah would benefit if it does. Other than temporarily destroying Hez missile supplies, I see only a small chance of gain that would depend on whether the Lebanese believe that the Palestinian fight isn't theirs also, and that Hez stuck its nose in something not its business.

Jonathan Zasloff has a different idea - that Israel should take take a tiny slice of Syria in retribution for what its client, Hezbollah, is doing. I like innovative ideas, and this avoids the traditional civilian bloodshed. Whether it's in Israel's interest isn't clear though to me - that would depend on the countermeasures Syria has. Not military countermeasures, of course, but whether Syria is holding back Hez or other terrorist groups, and can make things even worse in retribution for losing territory.

What IS clear is that it's not in America's interest for the Quneitra option to happen. If Israel can go after the patron of the enemy that attacked it, Syria should have the same option and go after us. Syria's middling cooperation on terrorism issues could change in a far worse direction.

It's important to keep the different interests straight.

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