I haven't blogged much recently, not because there's a war on, but because the new member of the family, Sheleg (Snowy) the Samoyed seems to take up a disproportionate amount of my time. In addition to requiring lots of grooming, he seems to be excessively fond of locating anything in the kitchen with chocolate in it, and maneuvering me into a corner so he can lick all my body lotion off me, or at least the parts he can reach. Arguing with a dog who weighs fifty kilos and looks like he's perpetually smiling is not easy.
The war, the war...I am seized with an extreme weariness and sense of deja vu. The weariness comes from trying to explain, over and over again, that Israel isn't the aggressor, and that we aren't trashing Lebanon because we want "revenge", and that we don't want to "reoccupy" the country. I'm also tired of trying to make people see that Lebanon, as a real country, is a fantasy, and that the Hezbollah could not have been taken care of by a Lebanese "police force". The "disproportionate force" theory, as well as the "it's nobler not to descend to their level" garbage, and the usual assertions that Israel should be morally above such things as fighting for its survival (and anyway what kind of threat can a rag-tag guerrilla group be to the Famous and Invincible IDF?), and that the Islamic extremists (remember, Islam is a religion of peace!) are really interested in a worldwide jihad to end the Infidel Menace once and for all is silly Israeli hysteria to justify our "barbaric" actions makes me just want to spit. Bernard Henri Levy had a marvellous article in the NY Times in which he compared the Hezbollah provocation and the resulting war to the Spanish Civil War, which is a very good point. Islam is getting ready for its all-out assault on The Infidel. This has just been an early rehearsal.
The deja vu comes firstly because of the similarities in the "a plague on both your houses but especially Israel" that excuses just about everything Hezbollah does as being reaction to Israeli aggression, remind me a great deal of the attitude of many Europeans, and particularly the British, in the Thirties. Hitler wasn't serious, of course--what he was proposing was just too silly. In fact the man LOOKED silly, flailing his arms around and shrieking his speeches. So, by extension, the Clown of Tehran today is just ranting nonsense when he goes into one of his anti-Israel, anti-Western tirades.
The second feeling of deja vu has to do with the ceasefire that is supposed to come into effect in a few hours. We've been here before. Lebanon took on itself the responsibility for filling the vacuum left in southern Lebanon by our withdrawal, and look what happened. It will happen again. The UN won't do anything either to prevent it, lest they incur accusations of being "biased" and a tool of the US and Israel--in other words, the current crisis has solved nothing. Even a dimwit like the current Prime Minister of Australia has seen that.
The IDF has a lot to set right, but so does the Israeli government. But the biggest culprits, in my most humble opinion, for this "victory of defeat" is us. Six years ago four mothers, through their crocodile tears and whining, brought about a withdrawal from Lebanon that was actually a rout, and gave the Hezbollah an outright victory. The consequences of the manner of withdrawal from Lebanon--not the actual leaving of Lebanon, which was sensible, at least strategically--was to provoke the second intifada since our enemies concluded we were on the ropes, and now the Hezbollah's thumbing its collective nose at us. We are weak, we don't want to endanger our soldiers' lives. We don't want to go mano-a-mano with real men, Allah's chosen ones.
And to a certain point, this is true. PM Olmert is not a military man. The current IDF Chief of Staff is from the Air Force. It was probably not too difficult to convince Olmert that the war could be conducted exclusively from the air, with no Israeli casualties and, due to precision bombing, reduce the Hezbollah to a few glowing cinders. All the evidence from the Second World War onwards shows that air attacks generally have the opposite effect: they don't reduce resistance, they concentrate it. And it certainly gave the news media a lovely stick to beat us with--all those poor, innocent Lebanese in the rubble! Let's face it: Israelis in bomb shelters just get rather boring after a while.
Olmert is a politician--he doesn't want to have to justify body counts (although he will now) if he could have avoided it, and so, against a lot of military advice, he put the ground offensive off as long as possible and kept it as small as possible. And, to be honest, most Israelis wanted this. We have borne the brunt for so long that we just don't have much stomach for lists of dead soldiers on the nightly news and video footage of distraught mothers and wives collapsing during the funerals of their loved ones. This is the most dangerous thing of all--and Israel ultimately may not be able to survive it, if we suffer a loss of will.
Also, for years, each new budget cut defense spending, on the grounds that the army could thin down a bit; we now had a "partner for peace" and a new war was unlikely, and the draft was now so big that the top age for reserve service could be lessened and the length of yearly reserve duty cut. It has all come home to roost with this crisis in Lebanon. Reservists were being called up and there was inadequate equipment to issue them, or what there was was old. Some accidents are inevitable, but there have been too many this time: too many "friendly fire" injuries and fatalities, and just yesterday a tank, backing up, ran over two soldiers by mistake. Not enough training. There have also been two unexplained Apache helicopter crashes which may have been caused by insufficient maintenance.
All in all, We Are Not Amused. Nor are we, as a people, feeling very good about ourselves or our situation. We didn't even get our hostages back (I doubt they are alive, actually) It's not much fun being the world's guinea pig in a global battle of civilizations; it was bad enough just trying to hang on to our own little corner. Now we've got to convince the West that Islam means business, and I don't really see how it can be done. None So Blind, and all that.