14.8.06

On Winning

Hizballah did NOT win this round, and neither did Israel. Gloating would be foolish at this time. This last war was not a zero sum game. Actually it was a very costly game for everyone. Let's not forget that. I would rather this not have happened at all, so I don't see how it can be seen as a victory. Yes you can argue that we didn't start it (i.e. that they had planned to do it anyway). Assuming that, did we succeed in making sure they can not do this again? No. Did we create a deterrance to protect our sovreignty? No. Will we make them pay reparations for our loss of lives and property? No. Did we get the prisoners back? No. Are we safer??? No. The Israeli objective was to paralyze the operational ability of HA. They did not meet it through force, so they can't be considered to have won. HA is still alive, but the fact that Israel didn't win does not mean that we (or HA) won. Again, it's not a zero-sum game.

Looking back, I wonder what are our objective verifiable measures of success were? I think we need to define them before something like this happens again, so we can hold our leaders (and "defendors") accountable. Seriously, what ARE our defense objectives? Not being completely wiped out as a country? Not dying? Repelling an unprovoked attack? Responding with overwhelming force to create a deterrance? Repelling a provoked attack? Provoking an attack and holding our breath for a month? WHAT????

I'm writing this not in the spirit of defeatism, and certainly not of favoring Israelis over any Lebanese. I'm just trying to be rational, sober, inquisitive as I seek accountability... things that are usually absent from Lebanese political discourse.

These are my two cents. Keep the comments constructive and responsible. This is an open intra-Lebanese debate, please keep racist, bigoted, or blatantly pro-Israeli comments out. Also, please refrain from questioning my patriotism for not jumping on the celebration band-wagon.

22 Comments:

At Tuesday, August 15, 2006 12:24:00 AM, Blogger Enriqueta said...

I appreciate your not going the usual route, its actually refreshing.

I do have to say that personally I had no particlar interest in Lebonon's politics prior to this war. I will say that it is now not the case.

I hope many more will keep track and support you where they can.

I see that Lebonons future has great potentional to effect or infect the larger ME. It really will count on those in the trenches to not give up ground to work with and for freedom for all the different groups of Lebonon.


I will keep you and those working for real lasting peace and freedom in my prayers.

blessings,
Enriqueta

 
At Tuesday, August 15, 2006 12:37:00 AM, Blogger Lazarus said...

firas -

i agree.

 
At Tuesday, August 15, 2006 12:40:00 AM, Blogger Rimstalker said...

Firas;

I don't know if you will consider this a "blatant pro-Israeli" comment, but if it is, you can always make it go away by deleting it…

I am very curious to understand a point of view you casually mentioned in your post:
“(i.e. that they had planned to do it anyway)” – I guess many Lebanese believe it, since I see it mentioned many times.

I assume you can accept Israel is following a strategy that is at least loosly based on logic. But the above remark implies that Israel held on to South Lebanon for 18 years, retreted because of Hizballah resistance, let it prepare, equip and entrench for six years, only to come back to the same point we were in the first place! Do you really precieve us as so irrational?

I don’t know if this sounds convicing, but 99% of the Israelis would rather forget Lebanon (and palestiians, and Syrians) exist at all. I know that is part of the problem, not the solution. But even so – please consider that the possibility Israel felt “forced” to attack Lebanon no less than Lebanon was “forced” to repel Israel.

 
At Tuesday, August 15, 2006 12:47:00 AM, Blogger arch.memory said...

Firas, the questions that you raise are very valid, and I agree with you completely. Actually, no, I will go a step further to say not only did we not win, but we lost heavily. And no, I am not questioning the heroic resilience of the Lebanese people, or even that of HA. What I mean is that we have endured the heaviest damages, in terms of life as well as infrastructure. And that's not because we as a people are weaker; if anything I would argue the reverse. But it is because of the alighnment of global powers. The equation is simple: Israel has the US, the undeterred global power, on its side, and that is allowing it to get away with murder. Literally.

I am not saying that we don't have morality and right on our side; we do. But, as much as I hate to be a defeatist, I am saying that this is a very unjust world. Humanity and civility are useless extinct values. This war, amongst many others around us, is the biggest proof of that. And that is why I say the questions you raise are very valid.

Now is not the time to gloat; now is the time to mourn, and then question. I said when this is over I will go and dance and drink the night away; but I am not in a jubillant mood. Far from it. All I want to do right now is cry, cry all the people that no one in the world seems to give a shit about, all those people rotting under the rubble still...

But my worst fear about this whole thing, that aside from the utter devastation to the country and the massacres, that what happened will further radicalize people and risk another civil war. People were relatively united during the crisis, but my fear is that now that it is over (hopefully), that people would completely split within Lebanon. Yes, perhaps one could blame HA for provocation and an utter miscalculation, but Israel's response has been beyond the disproportionate; it has been outright vicious, atrocious and absolutely unjustifiable. And that could explain why people in Lebanon were mostly faulting Israel. But I think that will quickly change for many. The scale of the devastation is just utterly astounding, if not outright incomprehensible. So, I would not be surprised that people would be further radicalized; I just hope it will not precipitate into a civil war. I read this very disturbing article recently, and I just hope it's way off...

I just hope that this is over, and I hope that this is the worst of it (which god knows is bad enough)...

 
At Tuesday, August 15, 2006 1:45:00 AM, Blogger Ghassan said...

Firas,
I am glad that you are asking these questions because these are the issues that ultimately need to be dealt with. Introspection is a sign of maturity and in our present circumstances even courage.
Make no mistake about it, mindless cheerleading often indicate a closed mind at best while critical analysis implies reason and moral values.
No one wins in war because booth sides use the conflict as a pretext to commit shameful acts that they normally would oppose. You are right, there are no winners in wars but at times one side looses much more than the other. My real concern is not only a body count or even the severity of the physical destruction but as Arch.memory stated we might, just might, if we are not careful wind up in loosing a republic. And that my friend is a cery dear price to pay.That loss is irreplacable.

 
At Tuesday, August 15, 2006 1:59:00 AM, Blogger Delirious said...

http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/060821fa_fact

 
At Tuesday, August 15, 2006 2:14:00 AM, Blogger arch.memory said...

RimStalker (very disturbing username, by the way):
Since it seems you're the only one who's not aware that Israel had this in the planning for a while and was just waiting for an excuse, here's an article from the San Francisco Chronicle revealing that "Israel set war plan more than a year ago: Strategy was put in motion as Hezbollah began gaining military strength in Lebanon". And I am sure there has been many articles since stating the same (such as the one mentioned by Delirious above). I am sure you can find the rest if you wish.

 
At Tuesday, August 15, 2006 3:39:00 AM, Blogger hillz said...

http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/993


http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/912

 
At Tuesday, August 15, 2006 4:06:00 AM, Blogger Fadi said...

Firas,

Of course the war was not necessary. There are no winners and losers in the war, only losers. A "moral cause" for a war is in my opinion, a contradictory term.

It is unfortunate that people are almost always dragged into a war, then have to be dragged out of it - due to sustained injuries.

Since we are introspecting, I have a grudge against the world - maybe hatred. I cannot believe that the US & UK were seeking a "lasting ceasefire" when they knew a ceasefire of any kind will save lives- I can't look at the faces of Bush, Rice or Blair anymore. I cannot believe that Iran and Syria were cowardly cheering the war, each trying to gain something out of the Lebanese people's resistence, blood, and courage. I cannot believe that apathy was the name of the game for the Arab countries on the political level. I can never forgive them either.

How can they wash the blood off their hands?

One last thing, I cannot believe a country builds the third army in the world [so they say] - only to stow it away. Countries build armies to fight wars; A combination of great military strenght, no heart, and a "small mind" result into a blast of the kind we say. Only a fool would use an F-16 to go raid a "victory arch" near Baalbeck, a dairy factory in Bekaa, and a biscuit factory in Chweifat. They say that Fairuz had to go underground because Jisr Lawziyyeh - no more than a tune, was a potential target for the Israeli death machine.

I don't know if such an enemy should be ignored or fought. I just know war brings destruction.

Perhaps a lasting peace accord would mean disarming Israel for a starter or landing UN peacekeeping troops in Israel itself as well.. This time Israel used 20 tonne bombs, next time they will use a nuclear or a chemical weapon, with the same immoral justification, while nations of the world scurry around in search for "another lasting ceasefire."

By then, it would have been too late. By then, the cycle of violence would have spun out of control that it doesn't matter who started, and who is right.

 
At Tuesday, August 15, 2006 5:33:00 AM, Blogger arch.memory said...

Fadi, I share your anger at the world... I have lost faith in humanity. It is a corrupt world where massacres are whitewashed, or simply relegated to second page for makeshift explosive toothpaste. It is so absurd, it would have been comical, if it weren't so tragic. How morally bankrupt is this world we live in!

But disarming Israel? Are you kidding? I used to believe in a prospect of peace with Israel. Right now, I have degraded that to live and let live. No normative relations, none of that bullshit where we pretend they didn't butcher thousands of our people in the last half century just for the taste of blood, or a reason that is equally feign. Don't want to visit them, don't want them to visit me. And I certainly would never trust this entity next door ever again. Not after this.

Yes, we need deterrance, as Firas suggested; but HA can't be it. We're not Iran; a militant Islamic army is not for Lebanon. I used to laugh at the idea of a Lebanese Army; now I see the necessity for some kind of effective deterrance, even if it's an alliance with the devil. (The only problem is that Israel already has exclusivity on the Almighty Devil.) The global community cannot be trusted to have a "conscience"; it has none. It has the pretense of one, the pretense of civilization, of humanity. Shame on a world that parades its religiosity and can't seem to remember its ethics. Bush championing the "unborn" and not giving a flying fuck about the born... I'd better stop.

 
At Tuesday, August 15, 2006 11:15:00 AM, Blogger todd said...

Hi Firas,

I just stumbled onto the blog..via a search engine(really! Search terms: 'blogger forum')..and found your post to be both dispassionate and very true.

I am an American, but very critical of my country's foreign policy(our domestic policy isn't exactly prizeworthy either).

Where the US is screwing up the worst in the world changes regularly, but 'our' middle-east policy has been broken for roughly a century.

I essentially agree with arch.memory(1st reply in this thread) save for the point that Israel is a client state of the US. Arch.memory states my emotional sense of the crisis as well or better than I would have done..(good show!) I can add nothing to any effect.

Again, this applies to arch.memory's first reply in this thread.

I see no distinction between Israeli and US policy, and furthermore, it is by no means certain that Israel is the 'junior partner' in this union.

The Mearsheimer/Walt paper really removes any doubt of the breadth and depth of the Israel lobbies' remarkable amount of influence over US affairs; up to and including subversion of US interests in favor of policies favoring Israel.

There is a lot more that could be said about US policy, but in the interest of brevity I'll stop here.

You really seem a voice of reason amongst the reflexive hordes on all sides of this issue.

I bid you peace.

todd

 
At Tuesday, August 15, 2006 12:05:00 PM, Blogger KamalMusaf said...

Today I spoke to my family in the south and I understood that whatever happened, and whatever will happen, Lebanon will lose.
In no more than 10 years from now the shiite people will be the majority in lebanon and out country will become a second Iran/Syria.

No more the beautiful peaceful, rational, modern country I have always known.

 
At Tuesday, August 15, 2006 3:38:00 PM, Blogger imad said...

kamal, that's the most racist thing I've ever heard.

 
At Tuesday, August 15, 2006 4:13:00 PM, Blogger KamalMusaf said...

imad -
racist? call me whatever you want.
but I cry when I see Beirut turns into Teheran.

I know you know it deep in your heart.

It is just a matter of time.
I'm not racist. I don't hate anyone, I'm just afraid that we will wake one day and see asrrala rule lebanon and my wife will have to wear burqa like they do in iran.

 
At Tuesday, August 15, 2006 4:28:00 PM, Blogger hillz said...

imad, r u new to kamal's comments? u missed alot ;)

 
At Tuesday, August 15, 2006 4:38:00 PM, Blogger arch.memory said...

Ah, there we go, and there goes the country... Kamal, I pray thee, what do you recommend? Obligatory castration to all Shia males? I see where you're coming from, and my family is Shia, and I don't want my mother wearing a hijab (it makes every woman looks like a washing machine!). But one unfortunate (minor) result of this war was that my cute interior designer aunt started wearing a hijab... (Sigh!) And that's what I meant by my fear of radicalization. But any (realistic) solutions?

 
At Tuesday, August 15, 2006 11:39:00 PM, Blogger KamalMusaf said...

arch:
If I had solutions I would give them to you. Maybe the current position of our gov is the best - we are not a democracy as we pretend to, since you know what is the % of the shiite in the country and in our gov. For now it is good, but until when the shiite will aggree to be the majority in lebanon and to have much less seats in the government?

I support siniora, and loved hariri, but as things go now, it will take a few years until there will be a revolution and the good wil lose to the fundamentals.

hilal, imad-

I know it is hard to hear what I say. but i know deep in your hearts you know im right. even by just not arguing with me it is a way to say that.

 
At Thursday, August 17, 2006 2:39:00 AM, Blogger Sad american said...

Hello all. I am an American, so take what you will of this. Not a usual poster here, but I would like to say that I feel terrible about all that has happened in Lebanon in the past months, perhaps years. It seems to me that the Lebanese people will be the big losers in the end. Iran has created Hezbolah, and it's main purpose is to destroy Israel. Iran's leader has repeatedly said that.
The United States does in fact, no question, support Isreal's right to exist. In order for Isreal to exist in a region where the majority of it's neighbors want to exterminate them, it must have a powerful military. This is facts, not opinion.
This next bit may surprise you. The Americans I know all support Lebanon, and hope truely that Lebanon would become a strong democracy. In terms of logic, a free, stable, and democratic Lebanon would be an enormous boost to US interests.
Hezbolah, the extension of Iran, has used Lebanese people to empower itself. Hezbolah did not defend Lebanon at all, it defended Iranian interests, at the expense of Lebanese. Hezbolah, and Iran were very glad every time Israel hit civilian targets. Hezbolah is helped politically when civilians die, Israel is hurt politically. It is in Hezbolahs best interest for Lebanese people to die at the hands of Israeli bombs. Now that civilians have died, who is stronger politically? Hezbolah was strengthened by Lebanese people dying. Israel was weakened. Hezbolah knows that civilian deaths strengthens thier cause. Think about that, and tell me it's not true.
In my opinion, what Israel did to Lebanon was also as unjust as what Hezbolah did. It fell for Hezbolahs tactics, and did just what Hezbolah wanted, killed civilians. I dont think that they did this with the intent of killing civilians, that would be self defeating, but none the less they killed many civilians. This is why Israel is guilty. In fact, the prime minister of Israel may be removed from power for it. Hezbolah on the other hand is celebrating that Lebanese people died. Who is your friend in this? You have only yourselves.
But worse is yet to come. Because Hezbolah was not defeated, and Iran swears to destroy Isreal, there 100% is going to be another war. And Lebanese will be the first to die.
The only way for a major war to be avoided is if Lebanons leaders have the courage and support to stand up for the Lebanese people. Lebanon needs, for it's survival, to get foreign interests off it's soil. Israel, Syria, Iran(Hezbollah) have to be out of Lebanon.
The United States can only support a democratic and free Lebanon. We were there in the 80's, in an attempt to end violence, but the suicide bombers hit our troops, and, in a cowardly fashion, we abandoned the people of Lebanon. I entirely understand your mistrust of the US, particularly in this regard.
If Lebanon thinks that Hezbolah can protect it, it will be dead wrong. The only way for Lebanons people to be safe is to protect themselves. Relying on any other puppet masters will be fatal.
I wish things were better. I wish people could live their lives in peace. I wish I wish I wish.

 
At Thursday, December 28, 2006 1:07:00 AM, Blogger Nightstudies said...

Since it seems you're the only one who's not aware that Israel had this in the planning for a while and was just waiting for an excuse, here's an article from the San Francisco Chronicle revealing that "Israel set war plan more than a year ago: Strategy was put in motion as Hezbollah began gaining military strength in Lebanon".

Uhm, all competent militaries make plans for all concievable contingencies. You are unbelievably ignorant if you don't realize that.

 
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