Monday, August 07, 2006

Israel and Lebanon: let's play dominoes

To some, the war in Lebanon and Israel may look like just another skirmish in that long-running "cycle-of-violence" film. To others--and I count myself among them--something quite different is going on. And it's a different "something" than has been going on until now in that region, and that "something" is the growing power and reach of Iran.

Those who support Israel have always seen the Mideast wars as fights for Israel's existence against those ranged to destroy it. But Israel always prevailed. Its enemies seemed unable to fight effectively, or to be in disarray, despite periodic help from powers such as the once-mighty USSR. Those who prefer to think Israel culpable--and even evil--still saw it as powerful compared to its enemies. In fact, that's one of the reasons those people supported those enemies--in sympathy for what was perceived as their weakness and downtroddenness. It certainly couldn't have been their glorious devotion to human rights.

At the beginning of this war many people (including myself) wrote of the Lebanese people as being held hostage by Hezbollah, as having been reluctantly dragged into this fight against their will. But, although that is certainly true for many Lebanese, it's become more apparent that there are a vast number of Hezbollah supporters in that country.

What else has become apparent? The extent to which the Lebanese government has been coopted by Hezbollah, and by its masters Syria and especially Iran.

Take a look at Alexandra's an excellent post on the subject. Iran is behind a great deal of the turmoil in Iraq, via al Sadr; it is behind Hezbollah. And Iran has declared itself boldly: it is dedicated to the destruction of the great and little Satans, the US and Israel.

So here's another domino theory for you, updated: Iran is bent on hegemony, and Lebanon is a pawn in the game. Take a stand here, and it might help stop Iran. Give in, and more than Lebanon may be lost. Think Czechslovakia in World War II.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that we are now in an atomic age. Previous tyrants never had access to destructive means of this magnitude. But now they do. This particular marriage of tyranny, religious megalomania, and nuclear physics has never been consummated before. But get ready: that horrific menage a trois is about to take its vows.

At the moment, Israel is fighting for its life. Some care about that, some don't. Some would cheer if the entire country were wiped off the face of the earth. But make no mistake. The words of Eric Hoffer, written in 1968, resonate with eerie prescience:

I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel, so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish, the holocaust will be upon us.

Is this another siege of Vienna, one of those pivot points in history? If so, let's fervently hope it pivots in the right direction.

And the first step towards that goal is recognition that this is not a minor skirmish. Israel is fighting for its life, but not only for its life. It's fighting for the West and the Enlightenment against formidable and implacable forces of darkness and religious tyranny.

Language like that is easy to mock in our postmodern world. So very apocalyptic, so over-the-top, so un-PC! But ignore and minimize this situation at your peril. Some day, the bell may toll for thee.

[ADDENDUM: Siniora, a man without a country.]

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