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Understanding Hezbollah and Avoiding World War III July 16, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in international, iraq, middle east, politics, terrorism, violence.
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Courtesy New York Times

The Lebanese extremist group that may be credited with starting a Middle Eastern war is a powerful organization, but one without overwhelming support from most Lebanese. The mainstream media has made it clear that Hezbollah, not the Lebanese government, kidnapped two Israeli soldiers in what Israel now calls “an act of war”. But many Americans, perhaps with the help of bloggers, have confused the Lebanese people with supporters of Hezbollah. There are some Lebanese that support Hezbollah, but those numbers are marginal… at least before these recent events in the Middle East.

In the 2005 Lebanese election, Hezbollah won 23 seats out of 128 in parliament.** A little less than 18 percent of elected Lebanese officials are from Hezbollah’s political wing. This is not a majority party and does not have majority support. You could likely find 18 U.S. Senators that believe we should bomb North Korea, but that does not mean the U.S. government believes North Korea should be bombed. There are radicals in every government, but it is a disservice to the government and to democracy to characterize an entire country by its radicals. Does America really want to be known by its radicals, like Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.), who talks more about bestiality than health care?

That said, Israel cannot stand idly by while a militant group attacks its people. Hezbollah is dedicated to destroying Israel and establishing a non-democratic Islamic rule in Lebanon… it should not exist. The problem is, Israel has treated Hezbollah’s aggression as if it was the will of the Lebanese government and people. All 23 Hezbollah government members were elected from Southern Lebanon… not one from the North. To keep public opinion against Hezbollah while trying to root it out, Israel should be attacking Southern Lebanon, not northern urban areas like Beirut.

If people in Beirut, who have not supported Hezbollah, watch a relative die in an Israeli air-strike… will these people continue to oppose Hezbollah or will the radical group gain sympathy with the Lebanese people? I believe the latter, which is a scary scenario for Israel, the Middle East and the world.

Newt Gingrich, ever the optimist, told Tim Russert on Meet the Press this morning that we are heading towards World War III. Although Tim Russert’s other guest, Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), disagreed with Gingrich’s analogy, the events of the past week could easily lead to a war of gigantic proportions in the Middle East.

I won’t pretend to have the solution that avoids all out war. However, it seems relatively obvious that the United States and other potential negotiators should be throwing its support behind Israel and the Lebanese government, while working cooperatively to destroy the militant wing of Hezbollah. But this is not happening. Lebanon is a democracy that depends on public opinion. Just as would happen in other democracies, if innocent Lebanese continue to die, the general public will become more radicalized and the government will be quick to follow.

A crisis that could potentially involve Israel, Palestinians, Lebanon, Iran and Syria will also have a tremendous impact on the Iraq war. Some Iraqis have protested Israel’s offensive into Lebanon, which they believe is supported by the U.S. government (picture above). America is already losing the public relations war in Iraq, and its refusal to take a strong stand against excessive Israeli force will only make the situation worse.

I have tremendous sympathy for Israel and believe it needs to fight Hezbollah and its militants. Israel just has to remember that it is fighting Hezbollah, not the Lebanese government, and that the vast majority of Hezbollah supporters are in Southern Lebanon. Leave Beirut and other northern areas alone so the military can concentrate forces and air-power on the terrorist group that started this whole mess in the first place.

**CNN reports that there are only 14 Hezbollah members in the Lebanese parliament (11 percent). I have yet to determine for sure which of the two reported numbers are correct.

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Comments»

1. Darrel S. - July 16, 2006

I agree that Israel needs to control its attacks against Lebanon. The U.S. did not attack Saudi Arabia just because many of the 9/11 attackers happened to be Saudi Arabian. The Israeli government needs to distinguish between Hezbollah and the Lebanese people… to not do so shows a blatant disregard for democracy and humanity.

2. LongshotX - July 18, 2006

Do you think Islamic extremist care about Democracy and humanity. No everyone who is not Muslim is considered an Infidel. They totally disregard the Western Worlds ideas of fredom of expression and religion. If they had their way the whole western world would be completely and utterly destroyed. Do not be naive. Already they are working to root people out who enjoy freedoms such as posting comments on blogs. The time is nearing. If we don’t act quickly we will be blindsided. Islam is not a peaceful religion. Do not be Fooled.

3. Anonymous - July 19, 2006

I believe that Israel should contain their aggression against northern Lebanon as much as possible. There are going to be extremist who are going to try to use the people of Beirut as human shields, but Israel should leave the Lebanese Army to take care of them. In the meantime, the UN should not turn a blind eye towards Iran right now. Iran is whole-heartedly supporting Hezbollah, and is building a Nuclear program that near everyone believes is NOT for peaceful purposes only. The UN needs to keep pressure on Iran and order them to stand down their troops or face the reprecussions of sanctions or force.

4. newsfittopost - July 19, 2006

To respond to the past two comments…

I agree that the UN should keep putting pressure on Iran and Syria, but as an international “peace-keeping” body, the UN needs to be forceful with Israel as well. The Hezbollah rocket attacks have decreased in recent days (probably because Israel launched an effective – but destructive- campaign in the south). Despite the slowing attacks from Hezbollah, Israel has not let up on its bombardment. I never expected an “eye for an eye” response from Israel, but I do believe it has been taken too far. My concern is with the Lebanese and Israeli civilians.

To respond to LongShotX: I believe I am more optimistic than naive, although my optimism has faded even since I originally wrote this post. But Islam is a peaceful religion… at least by scripture. It is important to remember we are fighting extremists, not true Muslims.

5. Anonymous - July 19, 2006

Please. Let us avoid narrow-minded comments such as “Islam is not a peaceful religion”. That kind of talk is about as bigoted as you can get. Right now Israel is culpable for the events that are transpiring. I in no way sympathize with Israel. The reason why it is being attacked is because it has HUNDREDS of Lebanese, Iranian and Palestinan prisoners. Israel also continues to illegally occupy Palestine, this is illegal by international law. Until Israel discontinues these abuses they will remain at fault.

6. Kent Rittenhouse - July 22, 2006

Here’s what I understand about the war: (1) Hezbollah became fat and complacent while Syria occupied Lebanon; (2) Israel loved Syria being in Lebanon – the Syrians were keeping Hezbollah quiet and subdued; (3) The STUPID U.S. asked Syria to leave Lebanon – we wanted more of a democratic society there; (4) So Syria left Lebanon; (5) With Syria out of the way, Hezbollah now had to wake up and stop being complacent – the more radical memebers were frustrated by the sleepy, upper eschelon of Hezbollah; (6) Iran noticed that it could take control over Hezbollah by providing support to Hezbollah. Iran wanted to become the leader of Islamic extremists. So, it was in Irans best interest to stir up trouble with Hezbollah –to give hezbollah more clout in middle east politics. But, the other gain – more power and influence against the US. When will we learn to STOP being pawns in the politics of the mid east??????

7. Ananymous - July 24, 2006

I agree with Kent because the U.S. needs to stay out of this. We already have North Korea hating us and pretty soon countries like Iran and Syria won’t be the best of friends and thats not good especially if Iran is establishing there nuclear program. I agree with anyone who wants the U.S. to stay out of the Middle East.

8. Amore - December 7, 2006

Luogo interessante, buon disegno, lo gradisco, signore! =)

9. OldWalerus - April 16, 2007
10. ftpwfree - April 17, 2007
11. moe - June 11, 2007

so why can isreal kill innoscent civillians and say they are defending themselves, but when hezbollah aims at millitary targets in isreal and some rocks miss at hit civillians, its terrorism? isreal started the war by infiltrating lebanon.

12. dervalol - June 12, 2007
13. Aldrin - September 11, 2007

why we always say muslims are terrorists why dont we say israel is the terrorist israel attacked lebanon from the first place israel attacked palaestine from the first place israel want to attack syria israel attacked egypt Israel is the evil terrorist and hezbollah is defending of lebanon hezbollah isnt a terrorist they defend of they country U.S shoulnd stand with israel israel is evil dictator want to take the whole middle east and the whole world.

14. Andreina Cecilio - September 19, 2007

i’m losing my mind, and i don’t think it’s cleve. Andreina Cecilio.

15. Frederik Kyleigh - October 21, 2007

they only wanna do you dir. Frederik Kyleigh.

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