They started it.
In remarks made this morning following a cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah after weeks of bombing and destruction in southern Lebanon and northern Israel that has left hundreds of thousands homeless and almost a thousand people dead, President Bush declared that the “responsibility for this suffering lies with Hezbollah.”
He continued, saying: “Hezbollah attacked Israel, Hezbollah started the crisis, and Hezbollah suffered a defeat in this crisis.”
Like a four-year-old, Bush falls back on a “well, they started it” argument. This is not about who started it. This situation is more complex than that. What has happened over the last several weeks has to do with the larger Arab-Israeli conflict in which Israel is by no means an innocent bystander.
His administration’s typically one-sided analysis made no reference to the fact that Israel responded with disproportionate force to the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah militants. If the United States had chosen to nuke Afghanistan in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks, would we have been justified because Al-Qaeda (in Afghanistan) attacked us and started the crisis?
There is such a thing as disproportionate force. However, those of us who expected Bush to acknowledge Israel’s use of disproportionate force were disappointed, fools that we are. Still, we’re not as foolish as those who think that Israel’s heavy-handedness, whether it be in southern Lebanon or Gaza—and especially when it results in heavy civilian casualties—will contribute to peace in the Middle East. What solves problems in the short term can often create larger problems in the long term.
The situation in the Middle East has become much more dangerous and volatile as a result of Israel’s recent shortsightedness. When moderate Arabs who were once critical of Hezbollah begin fundraising for Hezbollah, can anyone (other than Hezbollah) really claim victory?