"Israel is powerful, yes. But not so invincible," read the headline in the Sunday New York Times. And the reporter wrote, "Central to the embattled nation's sense of survivability is the idea of its invincibility."
Isn't that scary, as Israel pounds civilian targets in Lebanon day after day in what can only be described as punishment for "hosting" Hezbollah, but Hezbollah missiles continue to rain on civilians in Israel, nonstop?
No question about it. Israel is more powerful than Lebanon or Hezbollah in a traditional battle, but these are not traditional times. The issue is whether this tiny nation can outlast and defeat a committed urban guerrilla movement by shock and awe. Should Israel depend on its powerful military force and potential use of weapons of mass destruction, or should Israel seek peace?
Whatever one thought about our tragic decision to invade Iraq, one had the feeling that the mistake would not endanger the survivability of our country. Israel does not have that luxury. If they make a mistake, the consequences are life-threatening.
Israel relies on the United States for economic aid, military assistance, and United Nations vetoes the most recent, as I write this, a veto of a cease-fire resolution. The U.S. will veto any resolution that imposes conditions on Israel even if the opposition to Israel is unanimous minus the U.S. And our country does not engage in debate over policy when Israel is involved. The U.S. Senate voted unanimously in support of Israeli attacks on Lebanon. There was no room for debate, as if debate would aid Hezbollah.
The No. 1 ally of Israel is bogged down in at least one certain disaster, Iraq; is looking pretty wobbly in Afghanistan; and is trumped in Iran. Israel's arrogant ally believed with certainty that it could bomb, invade and conquer Iraq in a few months and then rebuild while committing the thankful population to the cause of liberty. But shock and awe didn't work.
We have demonstrated we could bomb, invade and conquer but we have, in the process, demonstrated we cannot bring stability to a divided nation, rebuild the country, or convince the factions to get on board the American bandwagon.
In reality, Israel has been betrayed by the arrogance of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush, not to mention the pandering of politicians like Hillary Clinton who find absolutely no fault with our ally or its policies, no matter the impact on our relations with other Middle Eastern nations. If Israel says it needs another three weeks to defeat Hezbollah, the administration and the Congress concur, as if a three-week timetable makes any sense at all.
Instead of working for peace, economic development and stability in the Middle East, our country, Israel's best friend, told the Arab world that "we are in charge and will do as we please."
Our experience is not encouraging. We opted to bomb and sanction Iraq under Bush I and Bill Clinton; bomb and invade under Bush II; and have threatened to bomb Iran (possibly with nuclear weapons). We threatened Syria and cut off communications with the victors in the Palestinian elections, while we refused the world's cry for a cease-fire and provided smart bombs to Israel.
Then a building holding people trying to avoid the bombing was hit in the village of Qana. At least 34 children were killed, not to mention their parents and grandparents, when missiles from Israel hit the building. Suddenly most thinking people throughout the world said, "Stop! Stop now!"
The Bush administration has spent precious little time on diplomacy or problem solving in the Middle East because we are bogged down in Iraq fighting our own "Hezbollah." No time for shuttle diplomacy to avoid war. No time spent developing a long-term policy when our money, soldiers and attention are focused on conqueringIraq and protecting our oil hidden under its sand.
If we are really the best friend of Israel, we must treat it as a friend. That means candid discussion. It would mean a cease-fire resolution presented to the U.N.; a commitment to negotiations, not war.
Imagine Hezbollah or its equivalent in control of Pakistan with its nukes, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran with their oil. Limitless funds from oil, nuclear weapons, a populace determined to retaliate against Israel and the U.S.
We need an open and candid debate, not Blair-like sycophancy. Why? Because that is what true friends are for. They praise you when you are on the high ground, and they tell you to stop digging when you are in a hole. And if bombing doesn't work but alienates the world, they tell you to stop bombing.
Ed Garvey is a Madison lawyer, political activist and the editor of the fightingbob.com Web site. E-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2006 The Capital Times