Beyond the war in Lebanon
… The big question is how much time Israel will have to accomplish its goals. Much depends on three factors: First, the ability of the Israeli military to avoid the slaughter of large numbers of civilians – events such as the 1996 Qana massacre, in which Israel shelled a UN base and killed some 100 civilians. It takes a long time for thirst, deprivation, and hunger to register with outside observers, but bloody and dismembered bodies, especially those of children, ring all the alarm bells.
Second, the ability of Hizbullah to sustain itself as a lethal, coherent paramilitary force.
Third, the ability of the Bush administration to withstand pressure to act. When it comes to Israel, Bush has been willing to give a freer hand than any American president, but the pressure for the US to act more assertively is growing, especially from Europe and US allies in the Middle East.
Beyond the tragedy that now confronts Lebanese, Palestinians, and Israelis, it should be a matter of deep concern that the Israeli response to Hizbullah will be understood in anti-Shiite terms. Given the civil war already under way in Iraq, Israel’s offensive has already exacerbated sectarian tensions there. The Shiite-Sunni sectarian conflict inside Iraq is already a major concern in Tehran. …[Click for more]