Sunday, July 23, 2006

Disproportionate force

With the attack on Lebanon, everyone seems to have forgotten the collective punishment of Gaza. Only a couple of weeks ago they were in the throes of a major humanitarian crisis after a major power station had been bombed leaving many without electricty or water supplies. I dread to think what they're going through now. The Israeli air force has similarly attacked infrastructure in Lebanon.
More surprisingly they've hit quite a few civilian targets. No doubt unintentional, but they're using modern Western armaments; compare that to how little collatteral damage (horrific phrase) Nato or USUK claims to inflict in its wars. Hizbullah's rockets, of course, are totally indiscriminate, though apart from that awful hit on Haifa, they don't seem to have hit much at all.

The Palestinian Authority is already a cripple state, I believe Lebanon, which had emerged pretty healthily from the devastation of civil war and the last invasion, will go the same way. It seems to be the way our new semi-multipolar (can't think of a better word) world is going that you have a few powerful states and then devastated, warlord run hellholes. Occasionally these messes get a 'strong' government, e.g. the Taliban in Afghanistan or from an earlier era, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.
Is that what Israelis want? Apart from a few hardline crazies, I doubt it. Trouble is the hardline crazies on all sides seem to be calling the shots here. In the Palestinian Authority, the PLO was continually undermined by Israel (they helped it along by their own appalling record of corruption and nepotism) until Hamas, an extreme Islamic group got democratically elected. Lebanon, while throwing off Syrian influence was still a very weak state, and many saw Hizbullah as their only outlet.
The US's neo-cons seem quite happy with that, knowing the superior firepower they've supplied will get them the right outcome. Their only interest, it seems, is to use it as an excuse for a dig at Syria, and their ultimate bete noir, Iran.
The UK government, as usual, merely kow-tows to the neo-cons.
Pro-US Arab governments blame Hizbullah while their populations seeth with anger. Egypyt's Mubarak must be getting very nervous indeed.

Ultimately, the protagonists are only mere bit part players; the whole horrific story of the modern Middle East comes down to the West's demand for oil. Things can only intensify as the oil runs down and China and India try to secure their supply. Perhaps when at long last we manage to switch to alternative energy sources a real peace can start to be negotiated. By then though all the Arabic countries may well be run by warlords or fundamentalists.

Meantime, an awful lot of people are getting killed, maimed or displaced. One thing seems remarkable from every time I see a picture of a victim being pulled out of a pile of rubble, they look remarkably similar whether Arab or Israeli.


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