“Yea, It is Written in the Book of Cyril…”

So what’s the worst that could happen? Let’s play the apocalypse game. Israel sends ground troops into Southern Lebanon. (In fact it already has, so let’s call it a major ground incursion.) Hizbollah does everything it can to bog Israel down in guerrilla warfare, its specialty. All of Southern Lebanon and Beirut get blown to smithereens in the ensuing street fighting, to a far greater extent than the Israeli pummeling by air has produced so far. The crisis drags on. Hizbollah lands a Zilzal or two on Haifa. Israel gets frustrated and attacks Syria and/or Iran as the backers of Hizbollah. Or, Syria and Iran attack Israel openly in solidarity with Hizbollah. There’s a chance Syria has chemical weapons, which it uses on Israeli cities. Israel answers with massive retaliation.

At the same time, Israel sends a major ground incursion into Gaza and the West Bank to fully reoccupy the Palestinian territories, causing considerable destruction and loss of life. As punishment for support of Israel, Iran imposes an oil boycott on the West and unleashes its Shia fundamentalist allies in Iraq to wreak havoc against American and coalition forces. Saudi Arabia and the other Arab members of OPEC join in the oil boycott in solidarity with their Palestinian, Arab and Muslim brothers and America and Europe slip into another oil crisis, causing global recession and perhaps depression. (Oh, and perhaps the Islamists rise up and overthrow Mubarak in Egypt and the Hashemites in Jordan.)

Holy flurking shnit indeed. But for various reasons, the scenario is unlikely to play out this way. First, Saudi Arabia actually led an initiative at the Arab League to condemn Hizbollah for its provocation, a rather unusual step. And Saudi Arabia is much more interested in checking the strategic power of rival Iran than joining in any oil boycott or war against Israel. Second, Iran and Syria are far too cowardly or cunning (or both) to attack Israel directly, which is why they use proxies like Hizbollah. Third, there seems to be a general tacit agreement between Israel and the powers that be to allow Israel a week or so to cripple Hizbollah as much as possible and then withdraw to let the Lebanese army or an international buffer force deploy on the border.

At best, this will be a short-term solution to the threat Israel faces from Hizbollah. Neither the Lebanese army or any international peacekeeping force will have the strength or the mandate to fight Hizbollah on the ground. (Israel bled for almost 20 years trying to do that. See how a bunch of Belgians or kids from Beirut like doing it.) But this disillusioned one-time Oslo supporter believes that’s about as good as it’s going to get. At the very least, it might put Hizbollah out of range of most Israeli targets, at least for a while.

But here’s an even more sobering thought. If, as seems likely, Iran sooner or later acquires nuclear weapons capability, its strategic deficit against Israel will be erased. Then there will be little holding Iran back from unleashing Hizbollah on Israelis – UN peacekeeping force, Lebanese army or Israeli retaliation be damned. I suppose this is one of the reasons Israeli military strategists consider an Iranian nuclear weapons program an existential threat (apart from the obvious madcap-mullah-with-visions-of mushroom clouds-and-an-irresistible-desire-to-press-the big-red-button scenario).

Then again, Mr. Cohen over at the Washington Post counsels Israel not to forget that its very existence is a “mistake.” Ouch. Not exactly sure what Cohen’s point is other than that the creation of a “nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims” was the ur-geopolitical flub that created all this war and terrorism (guess the Middle East would have been a real hug-fest if not for that dratted Balfour Declaration).

Cohen does say that it’s “a mistake for which no one is culpable.” Fair enough. But do we at least get to blame someone for the creation of an utterly artificial Iraqi state cobbled together from a Shiite majority, a Kurdish rump and a Sunni minority empowered to rule the rest with an iron fist? I suppose it doesn’t matter since that all turned out swimmingly.

How about the creation of a European settler state complete with African slaves among hostile American Indians. Any takers? No? Then how about jerry-rigging the historically Christian Mt. Lebanon region to historically distinct Sunni and Shia Muslim districts – populated by Sunnis and Shiites who not only hate each other’s guts, but really hate the Christians’ guts (who, by the way get to rule over everybody else for the first fifty years) – and calling it a modern nation state to suit your own colonial interests? (Not that such essential instability and ingrained hostility could ever lead to the rise of a fundamentalist Shiite terrorist militia of course.) Do we get to blame someone for that debacle? Ah, yes – but of course.

p.s. Bonus points to anyone who identifies what’s being referenced in the title of this post.

Explore posts in the same categories: Holy Flurking Shnit!, Israel/Palestine

2 Comments on ““Yea, It is Written in the Book of Cyril…””

  1. Magistra Says:

    Why, Life of Brian of Course.

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