Lebanese Gambit

We have been outmanoevred here, and the decisive move by our ‘opponent’ was made a long time ago. Our response has not been to ackowledge that we need to defend against these moves, but to try and change the rules by which we play.

Now something more sober. Browsing a post by Curious Hamster, I thought I would begin the week by reiterating a point I struggled to make (or rather, reposing a question I have yet to answer) in my first ‘proper’ post on this blog, about what we do when we’re constrained by our own rules.

In war, as in a game of chess, you are sometimes manoevred into positions where you have to take up counter-intuitive positions. In the classic board game, you might find your opponents Queen or rook open for the taking. In the short term, its a good move, and you award yourself a ‘!’. In the long term, however, your bold and decisive move leaves your peices in the wrong place. Ultimately you find yourself in a stalemate, and those examining the game mark your moves with a ‘?’.

This, it seems to me, is what is occurring in this current Lebanese crisis. Attacks on civilians are justified on the basis that the evil Hezbollah are hiding among them. Short term logic. Instead, how about admitting that if Hezbollah have hidden amongst the civilians, it means we can’t bomb them. We (well, the Israelis, but current analysis would put us as their ally) have been outmanoevred here, and the decisive move by our ‘opponent’ was made a long time ago. Our response has not been to ackowledge that we need to defend against these moves, but to try and change the rules by which we play. But we made those rules for ourselves because of well-founded humanitarian reasons. To change them now is to admit the defeat of those ideals. We might be taking a beating now, in the short term. But it is something we have to acknowledge if we want to emerge as ultimate victors over these cheaters.

There is more than one way to defend against Hezbollah’s rockets. Ditto the ways in which we might defend against the wider Al Q’aeda threat. I’m not sure what an alternative strategy might be, but do I know the current strategy is not working.

2 thoughts on “Lebanese Gambit”

  1. Rob,

    As I wrote in my reply to your post ‘An Eye for an Eye’, the argument that the grotesque level of Lebanese civilian casualties in the curren war can be attributed to Hezbollah’s tactics has been roundly rejected by Human Rights Watch, hardly Hezbollah sympathisers. I’m surprised that you ignore this fact and instead focus on the consideration of whether or not attacks against civilian population centres are effective. I agree that they are counterproductive if the aim is to break support for Hezbollah (and other Islamist movements), but that is a different point. As I wrote before:

    According to HRW, Israel’s attacks on civilians in Lebanon are “indiscriminate”. As HRW writes: “In some instances, Israeli forces appear to have deliberately targeted civilians.” (See: http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2006/08/02/lebano13902.htm)

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