I'm forced to -- reluctantly -- side with our PM: Israel's response has been measured, and in a unexpected way it is also proportional, and that's the problem. Let me explain.
Israel and its IDF had every reason to respond to the kidnappings and rocket bombardment with an uncompromising and ferocious massed counter-attack. That it didn't is the very definition of "measured".
Instead, Israel took the aerial superiority route and employed various standoff munitions to target Hezbollah's positions and supply chain. The Americans had already refined this technique in Iraq, with equally disastrous results, borne in the main by the civilian population.
So what we're left with is two opposing forces, lobbing weapons back and forth over the Blue Line. In this sense alone, Israel's response is proportional. I think this parallel leads world opinion toward the notion that both parties are similarly aggrieved.
But the power of Israel's weaponry is completely out of proportion with the unguided rockets that are flung southward. So now Israel takes on the -- not unfamiliar -- role of the regional bully, driving world opinion toward a censure of the "oppressor" nation.
I'm led to believe that the only way Israel could have defended herself from both the rockets and the frowns of world opinion would have been through a very costly infantry-led house-by-house purging of the Hezbollah militia. The Lebanese army would then have had to move in, perhaps with international assistance, to restore order as the Israelis withdrew.
Okay, that last paragraph was a real work of fantasy. Apparently my harebrained ideas are just as harebrained as those of others.
These are some well-written articles that helped me better understand the situation (free registration required in some cases):
- Wikipedia's timeline of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict.
- What is Hizbullah? by Juan Cole.
- Israel Is Losing This War by Bret Stephens, The Wall Street Journal.
- Watching Beirut Die by Anthony Bourdain, Salon.
- The "hiding among civilians" Myth by Mitch Prothero, Salon
- What Is Hezbollah Up To? by Fred Kaplan, Slate Magazine.
- 'Disproportionate' in What Moral Universe? by Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post
- The Battle for Lebanon by Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker.