Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Kaul: Luckily God is on everyone's side

By Donald Kaul

I'm shocked and awed by the stupidity of it all.

I'm speaking, of course, of the war in Lebanon. People seem to be focusing on whether Israel's response to Hezbollah's attacks from safe harbor across the Lebanese border is "disproportionate."

I'm afraid I don't understand the question. Since when is a response to repeated lethal attacks disproportionate? Was our dropping the atom bombs on Japan in 1945 a disproportionate way of ending World War II?

No it wasn't. God was on our side then and He's on the side of Israel now. Interestingly enough, He's also on Hezbollah's side.

It is a unique property of God that He is on the side of all combatants in every war. Just ask them. I'll bet Hitler thought God was on his side, and Stalin would have too, had he believed in God.

So let's not get too caught up in the morality of Israel's response. Wars are, by their very nature, amoral. The object of going to war is not to be named Miss Congeniality; it is to win.

And by that standard the Israeli effort is exceedingly dumb.

It, like our effort in Iraq, seeks to weaken its enemies and embolden its friends. Instead, like our effort in Iraq, it has emboldened its enemies and made impotent its friends.

Moderates in Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan have been rendered irrelevant by Israel's "collateral damage" to women and children while the murderous thugs of Hezbollah have become heroes to the Muslim world.

Nor---again, like our effort in Iraq---is there any easy way out of this for Israel.

As Yoel Marcus, an Israeli columnist, wrote recently: "It is unthinkable to walk away from the battlefield with the depressing sense that out of all the wars Israel has ever fought, only Hezbollah, a mere band of terrorists, was able to bombard the Israeli home front with thousands of missiles and get off scot-free. Israel must sound the last chord, launching a massive air and ground offensive that will end this mortifying war, not with a whimper but a thunderous roar."

That attitude is mirrored by Osama bin Laden's chief henchman, Ayman al-Zawahri, who has said: "War with Israel is not subject to a treaty, a cease-fire. It is a jihad for the cause of God until the entire religion is for him only. Jihad seeks the liberation of Palestine, the entire country of Palestine, and to liberate every land that used to be a territory of Islam from Spain to Iraq."

See, what did I tell you? God's on their side. And if I were Spain, I'd start worrying.

Our contribution to this fiasco has been laughingly inept. We've offered to hold Israel's coat while it cleans up on Hezbollah and refused to endorse an "immediate' cease fire, although we've clucked sympathetically at Lebanese deaths. This war is nothing more than the "birth pangs of democracy," Secretary of State Rice has said.

She has also sternly lectured Syria, a sponsor of Hezbollah, on the need to make that organization stop what it's doing. The lecture was indirect, of course; we don't talk to Syria or Iran directly. We don't like them. They're not nice people.

It sounds as though everything this administration learned about diplomacy it learned in kindergarten.

You want to know why this is important, besides the loss of life? Vali R. Nasr, a professor at the Navel Postgraduate School put it best when he told “The New York Times:”

"It potentially puts into question the entire rationale of whether overwhelming military force can shape the region. The bar for victory for the U.S. and Israel is growing every day and for Hezbollah it is lowering every day."

If this administration actually learned that, the mess would be worth something. But it won't. Its neo-con wing thinks the problem is that we've been too wimpy. Those people want to bomb Iran too.

If God were really on our side, Bush wouldn't be president.

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