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The brutal truth

Hezbollah and Hamas, Iran and Syria — not Israel — are to blame for the unexpected war in the Middle East
By EDITORIAL  |  July 28, 2006

SYRIAN AND IRANIAN MISSILES have caused Israel to act justifiably in self-defense.
Like people of goodwill everywhere, we shudder at the images of death and destruction ravaging civilians in Lebanon, Israel, and Gaza.

But while our heart is engaged, our mind is clear: the carnage is due to the aggression — the terror — of Hamas and Hezbollah, groups that at best are dedicated to the destruction of Israel and at worst want to kill as many Jews in the Middle East as they can.

For some bizarre reason, in thoughtful company, in advanced intellectual circles, it is considered impolite and impolitic to recognize this reality.

By some perversion of even-handedness, Hamas and Hezbollah, because they are militarily weaker than the state of Israel, are given the benefit of the doubt — an emotional “get out of jail free” card — when it comes to assessing their responsibility for the blood that stains a sliver of the planet that is politically unstable beyond imagination.

It would be irresponsible folly to deny the historical complexities of the situation. But the tortuous big-picture realities should in no way obscure the facts.

If, in late June, Canadian forces had tunneled into the United States, killed two American soldiers, and kidnapped a third, what would this nation do? What would we think? If, in mid July, Mexican commandos kidnapped two more GIs, then killed eight others trying to rescue their comrades, what would we do?

The analogy is as improbable as the reality is impossible. But that’s what Hamas and Hezbollah did. They didn’t cry “fire” in a crowded theater; they threw lit matches into pools of gasoline. And then they had the nerve to cry “enough” when engulfed by the subsequent explosion of self-defense and the fury of retribution.

To those who understandably shudder at the havoc wreaked by Israeli air strikes and artillery bombardment in Lebanon, ask yourself this: how would you expect the US government to respond if Canada and Mexico, after stockpiling as many as 15,000 missiles supplied by hostile nations and secreted among civilian populations, launched them by the thousands into, say, Corpus Christi, Texas, or Buffalo, New York?

Again, that is improbable and impossible. But that is what Hezbollah has done and is doing. Hezbollah is a militarily weak — as well as morally bankrupt — terrorist militia that has for decades corroded all attempts to bring peace and democracy to Lebanon. For that reason, it chooses to sacrifice innocents on the altar of international public opinion in hopes of gaining in political backrooms what it cannot achieve on the battlefield. This is another truth too impolitic and too impolite for some to stomach.

At the moment, Hezbollah is a far greater danger than Hamas. Its terror is sponsored by Iran and sanctioned by Syria. Too many in the US — and beyond — seem to have forgotten that it was Hezbollah that introduced the modern world to suicide bombings and, in 1983, killed hundreds of US Marines trying to maintain a semblance of peace in the Reagan-era Levant.

Hezbollah’s blood lust knows few bounds, which is why our often fair-weather (though seemingly commonsensical, of late) allies, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, caution their fellow Muslims against allowing this to develop into a protracted war. This demonstration of prudence, a commodity never in great supply in the Middle East, is particularly welcome at this fraught and dangerous moment.

The fundamental imprudence, the overreaching hubris, of President Bush’s war on Iraq has never been so clear. The stateless forces of international terror as represented by Hezbollah and the irresponsible factions of Hamas have been emboldened by the regional instability Bush’s Iraqi adventure has visited on the Middle East. Thus, the irony that Bush’s war on terror begets even more terror now becomes painfully and tragically apparent.

Still, it is the craven stupidity of Hezbollah’s and Hamas’s miscalculation that is responsible for the blood that flows in Lebanon, Israel, and Gaza.

As we went to press, Israeli forces mistakenly hit a United Nations bunker, killing four observers from Finland, Austria, Canada, and China. Unsurprisingly, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the personification of polite and politically correct international opinion, immediately blamed Israel for a deliberate, murderous attack. Although Anan subsequently modified his statement, the fact that he initially made the accusation demonstrates that mendacity knows few boundaries. It is also worth noting that, according to CNN, a Hezbollah strafing just days before seriously wounded a UN observer. Where was the secretary general’s expression of outrage then?

Tragic and unacceptable as that action may be, America should not forget that in the fog of war that was Kosovo, the US mistakenly perpetrated an outrage of our own by bombing the Chinese embassy.

All of this underscores the peril of today’s situation in the Middle East, which threatens to spiral into a larger conflagration.

Our counsel to Israel is this: years ago you let your invasion of Lebanon turn into your own version of Vietnam. This time, don’t allow your understandable defense of your homeland and your people turn into your version of Iraq.

  • The face of war
    Hezbollah’s agenda is single-minded: destroy any hope for peace
  • What democracy wrought
    Hamas’s “surprise” victory offers sobering lessons about grounding US foreign policy in democratic elections
  • Taking sides
    Letters to the Boston editor: August 11, 2006
  • More more >
  Topics: The Editorial Page , Hamas , Hezbollah , George W. Bush ,  More more >
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