Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Israel-Hezbollah war

First of all, I don't consider the current Israel-Hezbollah war a Middle East "crisis". There is no "crisis" situation, where, there's a 50-50 chance that Hezbollah will win in oblitaring Israel; or 50-50 chance that the whole of Lebanon will be invaded and occupied by Israel. Not a bit of that. If we have to use the term "crisis", the more appropriate term I think should be a "Hezbollah crisis" because there is a 50-50 chance, or even higher probability, that Hezbollah will be wiped out in southern Lebanon, at least temporarily. But if we refer to the whole of Mid-East, I'd prefer to call it a Middle East "conflict", one of those dozens of conflicts in the region, dating back from the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Or if you want a longer view, dating back thousands of years ago, before Jesus Christ, where conflict among the Jews, Palestines, other groups have been on-going.

In the first 2 weeks of Israel invasion of Hezbollah territories in southern Lebanon, I noticed the absence of loud condemnation in the same level as the anti-Iraq war prior and during the invasion, even among the Arab countries. I think there is general recognition (with denial by the minority) in the world that Hezbollah has only 1 strategic goal: the destruction of Israeli state, and reclaim the land where the Israelis now settle, give the land to the Palestinians and other Arabs. The song "this land is mine" seems to be the common song of both Israelis and anti-Israeli Arabs.

I think the Hezbollah and its back-up force, Iranian government, know pretty well that they have very little chance of ever achieving their goal of "vaporizing" Israel. What they hoped perhaps, is large-scale sympathy by the Arab citizens and pressure their own governments (Saudi, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, others) to send in their own armies, fighter planes and tanks to square off with Israel's armed forces once more. But the lesson of the past wars (especially '67, '73, and early 80s wars) was still very clear: invading troops meet their deaths on Israeli lands, and Israel will have the option of further expanding its territory if it wants to. But then people are entitled to their dreams.

For the leaders of Hamas, Fatah, Hezbollah, other militants, even if their dreams will take 100 years, 200 years, even longer to materialize, they will pursue their dreams. My modest estimate is that the Mid-east conflict will be with us for at least another 100 years. What all those ceasefire talks and resolutions can achieve is only to mitigate the conflict, say instead of 10,000 possible deaths on both sides, occassional ceasefires will reduce the casualties to only 2,000 or less. But the deep-seated hatred by the militant Palestininans and Arabs against Israel will remain in their hearts, and in the hearts of their children 3 or more generations away. So is in the hearts of Israelis, of their deep-seated beliefs that the lands they currently settle is theirs, and no foreigner has the right to uproot them from their lands.

Relating the current conflict in the literature of free market and limited government movement around the world, this highlights the important function of government -- to protect lives and properties, to assert territorial rights of citizens to their lands. And all the other welfare functions (subsidies for education, health care, housing, pension, credit, farming, etc.) become secondary. Because citizens can secure for themselves those social and welfare services on their own, if they will only assume greater personal responsibility of their lives and rely less on government responsibilities. Because the bigger government responsibility, is the protection of citizens' lives, properties, and individual liberties.