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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

why are we picking sides?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to take the position of strongly backing Israel in the current Israel-Hezbollah ( -Lebanon? -Syria? -Iran?) conflict is startling to me. Why is the Canadian Government picking sides in this conflict?

I agree that Israel, like any state has the right to defend itself, but why on Earth would Harper want Canada to get involved in such a long-standing conflict like this one?

A long-standing conflict in which everyone involved is in the wrong to some degree.

And a conflict that has the potential to escalate very quickly.

I believe Harper made the wrong decision - the Canadian Government should be calling for a ceasefire on all sides.

Not surprisingly, Harper's stand strongly echo's the right-wing party line from Washington D.C. where U.S. President George W. Bush is backing the Israeli attack on Lebanon. The Bush administration is also refusing to call for any sort of ceasefire in the conflict.


Lord Kitchener's Own said...

The reason we're taking sides is that Israel is not attacking Lebanon, they're attacking Hezbollah. Hezbollah has basically occupied Southern Lebanon, the Lebanese government is clearly unable to do anything about it, so the Israelis have decided to finally do something themselves.

Keep in mind that when Israel ended their occupation of Lebanon in 2000, the Lebanese promised to control the South, and not allow Hezbollah to control the border lands. Six years later, Hezbollah has complete control over the South, Lebanon won't (can't) do anything about it, and there are 10-15 THOUSAND rockets pointed at Israel, many of which can hit residential areas in Israel that have never been hit by missles from Lebanon before. Terrorists routinely cross the border into Israel from Southern Lebanon and occassionally kidnap and/or murder Israeli citizens in the process.

We're taking sides because this is a democratic state attacking a terrorist group on their own border. We invaded Afghanistan to take out al Qaeda, and Israel is invading Lebanon to take out Hezbollah. The only difference is, unlike the Taliban, the Lebanese government isn't the enemy as well. In fact, CNN analysits were even daydreaming the other day of the Lebanese army actually taking a stand in the North and catching Hezbollah in a pincer movement, driving them to the Israelis in the South.

Never happen of course, but I'd bet there are members of the Lebanese government who wish it could.

Anyway, as far as I'm concerned, when Jordan Egypt and Saudi Arabia are critical of Hezbollah's action recently, it's not so shocking that ACTUAL democracies would come out in favour of Israel. Not that those three countries support Israel, but they'll all be awfully glad if the Israelis actually take out Hezbollah. They just won't hold a press conference to announce it.

ottlib said...

Israel is attacking Lebanon, not just Hezbollah. Hezbollah is in the south of Lebanon and yet most of Israel's attacks have been outside of the southern marches of Lebanon. Since there are no Hezbollah in, say Tripoli, which is in the North near the Turkish border, why has Israel hit targets their at least four time? Grievous navigational errors perhaps?

Israel ended their occupation in 2000 but Syria ended theirs only last year. And you may remember what prompted that withdrawel was the public outcry over the assassination of the then anti-Syrian PM. In short, since the Israeli withdrawel, the Lebanese government has been dominated by pro-Syrian factions answering to Damascus, who you may remember supports Hezbollah.

See my first paragraph for my response regarding your statement about Israel taking out Hezbollah. That appears to be a secondary objective and since the Israeli attacks have begun Hezbollah has actually been making stronger attacks against Israel. As strange development considering Israel is supposedly pounding them into submission. So either the Israelis are not as competent as everybody believes or they are pursuing some other goal besides the elimination of the Hezbollah threat and using that same threat as a cover for something else.

Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are all siding against Hezbollah because its key backer is Iran. And Iran has slowly but surely increased both its power within the region much to the chagrin of these three states. Oh yes, Iran's strengthening is thanks partly to the Americans doing them the favour of taking out their chief rival and threat, Saddam Hussein.

steephill said...

great summary - you echoed my thoughts over the past few days.

Saskboy said...

Canada's position has been clear for years - Hezbollah is a terrorist organization that is thus an enemy of our state. He was simply reaffirming that position, not endorsing Israel's violence in Lebanon.

c-lo said...

How is Israel in the wrong? If memory serves it was hezbollah who initiated this round of violence... true?

c-lo said...

I should also add that to me, I cannot for the life of me see how Harper's stand is somehow a right-wing Bush position. Israel was attacked by a terrorist organization, are they supposed to keep waiting for Hezbollah attacks, or should they defend their citizenry.

Furthermore, I do not believe it is good policy to negotiate ceasefires with terrorist organizations, especially one's that do not feel your state should exist.

Can you picture Canada, the US, or Europe negotiating with al Qaeda? God, I hope not...

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

There are no Hezbollah in the North? Oh, I didn't realize that. I kinda figured they wouldn't have all their bases and hideouts right next to Israel, or at the very least that their leaders wouldn't stay in the south once the bombing began, but would flee to the North. But I could be wrong.

I also realize that the Lebanese government was basically a puppet of Syria for a long time, which is also why I think the Israelis gave them a pass for the first four years of not living up to their commitments to confront Hezbollah and secure the South. Now we're in year six though, and I for one can understand why the Israelis feel that year six will become year 10, which will become year 20...

I'd also like to say that I love that you argue that destorying Hezbollah can't be the objective of Israel, because the Israelis aren't "pounding them into submission" just yet. Well, I for one am pretty sure the reason the Israelis aren't "pounding them" as much as they could be is because they've surrounded themselves with civilians and the Israelis are trying to avoid as many civilian casualities as they can. I just don't think the Israelis are using Hezbollah as "cover" to take over all of Lebanon, as you imply. Frankly, if that were the Israeli's goal I think casualties would be much higher by now. In fact, I rather believe Lebanon would basically belong to Israel right now.

As for the reasoning behind Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia siding against Hezbollah, there you and I are in agreement. You're absolutely right. My point was rather that Syria and Iran are basically the only countries on the planet that want Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Jordanians don't want it, the Egyptians don't want it, the Saudi's don't want it, the U.S. doesn't want it, the Lebanese don't want it...

My point is that condemnation of Israel would be much stronger, and much more one sided, if the Israelis weren't doing what everyone else (Iran and Syria excepted) wish they could do. So, while I abhor the civilian casualties on both sides, I have trouble not backing an action whose goal I beleive is desired by everyone on the planet outside of Iran and Syria (or, I should say outside of the GOVERNMENTS of Iran and Syria). Because frankly, I don't care what Iran and Syria want. In fact, I think on most issues I rather want the opposite of what they want. And that's the case here.

Anonymous said...

Canada has taken sides in many conflicts over the years. We took sides in the Boer War, World War I, World War II and Korea. My knowledge of the Boer War is a little shaky but in the other cases we chose the correct side. In this case we have chosen the correct side as well.

Hezbollah and Hamas want to use violence to destroy Israel. They don't want to talk. This makes it difficult for Canada to be an "honest broker".

Israel simply wants to exist. I don't see the rest of the world dealing with Hezbollah and Hamas. Both groups have commited acts of war against Israel. They must now deal with the consequences of their actions.

I applaud Prime Minister Harper for taking the stand he has.

daveberta said...

" How is Israel in the wrong? If memory serves it was hezbollah who initiated this round of violence... true?"

As per our conversation 9 minutes ago now, I never said Israel was in the wrong. I just don't think the Canadian Government should be getting involved in this conflict.

Anonymous said...

"How is Israel in the wrong? If memory serves it was hezbollah who initiated this round of violence... true?"

I agree with c-lo! damn right! Israel, just the George W. Bush and the United States has EVERY right to go after Arab terror wherever it may be!

Go getm! String 'em up!

WillBlog said...

Well Dave, I'm not normally one to throw in a Hitler-analogy, as generally they are used improperly, but I think it's apt.

Nations of good conscience sat back while Hitler and Germany re-armed, and that refusal to pick sides ended up costing millions of lives.

Now, of course the situations aren't identical (thank God) - but if we sit back when the only nation committed to the peace process in the middle east (Iran, Syria, and Lebanon sure aren't), and the only democratic nation in the region is attacked, then we run the risk of repeating history.

Canada isn't sending troops or fighting with Israel in this conflict, we are expressing an opinion that there is one side in this conflict that should be supported - and that is Israel.

As so many people seem to have forgotten (not you Dave, but others), Iran, Syria, Hamas, and Hezzbollah have called for the "destruction" of Israel - or to be more blunt - to drive the Jews into the sea. In a conflict between Isreal and these other groups, why would we not choose the side that represents the values of freedom and democracy?

Prime Minister Harper's comments are not at all out of line with the G8 Communique - if anything, France has decided to move off the speaking points, and demand that Israel ceasefire before the other necessary conditions are met.

-canuck- said...

canada is right to pick sides.

hezbollah is targetting citizens..and israel is targetting hezabollah. hezbollah is a terrorist organization. how do you broker peace with a terrorist organization?

what is israel to do?

given the same set of circumstances canada would be FORCED to act in a similar way.