Like many people, I’ve been watching events unfold in Lebanon and northern Israel with growing disquiet. It’s been hard to say much so far because the world-weary part of me just takes over; saying “here we go again” doesn’t add a lot to the discourse.
I’ve also not had the benefit of considering other viewpoints, as our internet connection has been decidedly shaky and slow1, and there are better things to do than stare at slowly-loading webpages, like work in the garden, play ball with the dogs, explore our little patch of the bush.
But the thing that strikes me about this current excursion into war is the sheer willfulness of it all. The almost-palpable thirst for war, and killing, and death and destruction that permeates both sides — all sides — of the current conflict. Israel, Lebanon, Hezbollah, Fatah, Syria, Iran, the US and Australia (and, to some extent the UK, although I picked up some sense of dissent emerging there, as it did before Iraq) are all so thirsty for war, blood and death.
They couch their excuses carefully — Israel says it is acting in self-defence (by bombing busloads of escaping women and children, it seems) and Lebanon says it is being unfairly blamed for Hezbollah’s actions. Kofi Annan suggests that diplomatic efforts be made to prevent all-out war, and George Bush says no: Israel has the right to defend itself. John Howard parrots Bush, of course2. Australia’s only concern (and it took a rather long time to establish itself) is the evacuation of Australian citizens from Lebanon3, after which time we’ll presumably be happy to sit back and watch the Israelis obliterate the country, while the evacuees are gratefully returned to the land of “Fuck off Lebs“.
The G8 summit, conveniently meeting as the war breaks out, finds time to remind Israel to “be mindful of the strategic and humanitarian consequences of its actions”. It sounded like “don’t kill them too harshly” to me.
Today, after 13 days of tit-for-tat (mostly tit, as one side is infinitely better armed, more belligerent, and quick to anger than the other) it looks like this war won’t be over soon, and that many more will die — mostly Lebanese women and children, if the toll so far is any indication. If it expands to the stage that Syria becomes directly involved, I suppose all-out-war in the middle east is a real possibility, and from there any number of scenarios can be drawn. Israel’s true intent, however, probably isn’t war on that scale — they just want to use Hezbollah’s recent actions to justify bombing Lebanon back to the state of destruction, despair and hopeless subjugation it was in 20 years ago. This will increase the power of extremist groups such as Hezbollah and open Lebanon further to Syrian influence. And from there the cycle will start again.
War breeds war, hatred breeds hate, and willfulness breeds greater willfulness. It doesn’t stop until somebody on one side stops playing the game that way. And it won’t stop soon.
- Satellite installer man is due to arrive on Thursday to broaden my band. Frabjous!
- Howard, born into a different world which he steadfastly clings to even today, actually said “Israel has the right to defend herself.”
- Unlike other countries, Australia has only agreed to pay for the evacuation of Australian citizens who usually live in Australia; other citizens who join the convoy potentially face a hefty bill. Even those who qualify for free evacuations will be required to pay if they can claim the cost on the travel insurance. Cheap bastards!