Global Issues

Middle East escalations

For what it’s worth, here are some random bits and pieces from some of the blogs I frequent:

Jentleson argues that the conflict, as it has regularly since ‘48, requires external crisis management, and wonders whether the Bush Administration will/can play this role?

Marshall argues that the administration’s silence is born of over-extension and policy exhaustion.

Martin Peretz points out the, hmm, inconsistancy, in Siniora demanding that the United Nations and the United States impose a cease-fire on the combat between Israel and Hezbollah now, since Hezbollah have been lobbing rockets across Lebanon’s southern border into Israel for the entire time he has been PM.

Drezner clear-headedly remarks that the facts remain markedly fluid, with the NYT and WaPo reporting significantly different interpretations of how the Israeli attacks have affected Hezbollah’s political position in Lebanon?

Djerejian both worries of a major Israeli ground incursion and condemns the Secretary of State. Earlier in the week, he questioned, rightly in my mind, the foreseeable strategic effectiveness of a large scale Israeli military response to the kidnapping. (to which Frum scoffed, and Greg scoffed back)

Rosen has an interesting interview with Mark Perry, an American who has been hosting a dialogue with representatives of Hezbollah and former senior US and British policymakers for the past three years. He thinks this is a game of escalation that both sides will soon climb down from. (note: the interview was 3 days ago). Rosen also points out that Solana has just flown to Beirut for talks. As a fan of his EU foreign policy work, I think this is a positive development but obviously question his potential influence, particularly with Rice so conspicuously silent.

Jo-Anne Mort, in Israel, points out that the extent of the Hezbolla strikes have largely silenced the Arab League, because “Hezbollah has knowingly put the Lebanese gov’t –and people–at risk.” She then questions the US ability to serve as the needed diplomatic broker in each of ongoing the middle eastern crises – Lebanon, Palestine, Iran, Syria and Iraq.

Shadi Hamid, on Democracy Arsenal, in Egypt, points out the difference between ‘constructive instability’ and plain old instability.

Ygelsias maintains that the ‘real’ problem, when everything else is removed, is Palestinian anger.

Gandleman relays a note of thanks from a Lebanese Christian diaspora group to Israel.

Finally, I will quote from Clemmons’ argument because I both find it particularly interesting and would be curious what Oxbloggers think about it?:

Some in Israel viewed all three of these potential policy courses for the U.S. — a broad deal with the Arab Middle East, a new push on final status negotiations with the Palestinians, and a deal to actually negotiate directly with Iran — as negative for Israel.

The flamboyant, over the top reactions to attacks on Israel‘s miltiary check points and the abduction of soldiers — which I agree Israel must respond to — seem to be part establishing “bona fides” by Olmert — but far more important, REMOVING from the table important policy options that the U.S. might have pursued.

Israel is constraining American foreign policy in amazing and troubling ways by its actions. And a former senior CIA official and another senior Marine who are well-versed in both Israeli and broad Middle East affairs, agreed that serious strategists in Israel are more concerned about America tilting towards new bargains in the region than they are either about the challenge from Hamas or Hezbollah or showing that Olmert knows how to pull the trigger.

Another well respected and very serious national security public intellectual in the nation wrote this when I shared this thesis that Israeli actions were ultimately aimed at clipping American wings in the region. His response: “the thesis of your paper is right-on. whether intentional or coincidental, that is what is being done right now.”

Thoughts?

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