Wars - especially one potentially with religious underpinnings - can get quite nasty.
Especially wars in the Middle East. Throughout history, the Levant (most of which is currently occupied by Israel) has been the seat of much bloodshed and outright exterminations of people, particularly "civilian assets".
As a former member of the military, my analysis of Israel’s current aggression would tend to support Israel’s case against the Hizbollah: while Israeli foreign policy over the past 10 years has been largely concilatory and actually quite accomodating to the Palestinians (allowing them to attempt to form thier own nation within the 1967 "disputed" borders) and the Lebanese (withdrawing from occupied territory held for nearly 20 years)… they still allow terrorists to operate from within thier territories.
This also include several peace treaties with nations that were formerly quite hostile to Israel’s existence in the Levant, such as Egypt and Jordan. Perhaps a significant plurality of the citizens in those countries are still hostile, but the autocratic governments of those countries ably suppress popular dissent for the sake of "peace".
Not so with Syria and most likely Iran (which recently has repeated made calls for the annihilation of Israel) - they keep pipelining all of those $3.59/gal. gasoline windfalls into Hizbollah Zelzab missiles and bomb parts to kill people with.
I say that Israel has been more than conciliatory, given the abundance of several rather hawkish factions (the least of which is Likud) that would likely take the approach I am about to detail in the next few paragraphs below… they have rolled back many of the Jewish settlers that were planning to rapidly develop thier stakes in the Disputed areas, granted the PA a large measure of autonomy in thier "authority", and have been much more tolerant (as compared to the USA) of belligerents operating close to thier borders, lobbing in rockets and deploying IEDs in civilian Israeli areas (read: terrorist bombs and the "martyrs" that wield them).
The USA for its part, would quickly operate against a terrorist cell hiding out in Mexico (for example) if it was routinely attacking civilian points inside US borders. Perhaps not to a massive degree (involving cruise missiles or carrier operations) - although we have definitely landed occupation forces as far into the Mexican south as Veracruz, a long time ago.
The (Israeli) bombing of Qana is indeed a terrible thing. 54 people - 37 of them children - having to pay the price of thier lives for the actions of the Hizbollah terrorist is an awful thing.
Yet, if it is true that the Israelis had given them warning, then that calamity could have been avoided with the timely evacuation of that building. Thus far, Israeli has been largely very specific with its attacks, allowing for a certain margin of error in accuracy.
Which is better than what I would have recommended from the outset of hostilities (either in Gaza or in Lebanon)… my tactic would be not to send in ground forces, but to offer a suspected target site 24 hours notice to evacuate.
Then, reduce that city (and a 10km radius around its city limits) into a dust pile… carpet-bombing into the stone age in the Dresden style of WW2. No city, no infrastructure, no mass of people to invisibly blend into after rocketing the Israelis.
I think that should Israeli have done something like this from the start (with the 24 hour notice), the first few cities that got flattened (ideally the ones launching the Zelzab missiles) should leave a decent and uninhabitable buffer that can be more easily reconned and controlled by Israeli air forces.
Undoubtedly, this would create a humanitarian crisis of nightmare proportions… and stir Arab hatred of Israel all the more. But this would probably be not much more than what has already been done. Yet, perhaps Olmert’s handling of this campaign is much more shrewd than my utilitarian (and arguably quite horrific) notion of how to deal with an enemy attacking your nation.
Now, why have I titled this entry the "Samson Approach" ?
I read an interesting essay on something Samson was famous for - smiting (killing) heaps of people:
But it came to pass within a while after, in the time of wheat harvest, that Samson visited his wife with a kid (young goat) and he said, I will go in to my wife into the chamber. But her father would not suffer him to go in. And her father said, I verily thought that thou hadst utterly hated her; therefore I gave her to thy companion: is not her younger sister fairer than she? Take her, I pray thee, instead of her.
And Samson said concerning them, Now shall I be more blameless than the Philistines, though I do them a displeasure. And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails. And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives.
Then the Philistines said, Who hath done this? And they answered, Samson, the son in law of the Timnite, because he had taken his wife, and given her to his companion. And the Philistines came up, and burnt her and her father with fire. And Samson said unto them, Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease. And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter: and he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam.
Here may well be a perfect illustration of the dealings between Israel and its neighbours, especially the PA and the Lebanese government in trying to control its proxies (Hamas terrorists
and Hizbollah terrorists). By failing to actively police thier own people for the terrorists within thier cities, they show a form of complicity with those terrorists organizations.
Though they had repeatedly promised Israel that they would police up thier own, they give the appearance of being deceitful (and certainly neglectful) whilest the terrorist lob missiles and bombs and IEDs that shred Israeli children and women. Therefore, Israel in its defence, must be proactive to engage the threats to its security.
The USA has been rather quiet about restraining Israel’s aggression (which is probably just as well, since we really haven’t much right to speak against any nation’s extraterritorial activities given our own raging imperialism at the moment).
According to this entry at the Matthew Henry Commentary, Samson generally kept his escalation of hostility commensurate with the harm the Phillistines inflicted upon him. It did escalate up to several thousand Phillistines being killed (by one man!) before some semblance of normal relations were restored.
Perhaps we should give Israel a little more time to deal with things its own way.
I’d sure hate to see more of our young men and women get deployed to some new hellish Middle East war.