Monday, August 07, 2006

Nuclear policy and Hezbollah

Some threats are more dangerous than others. Much more dangerous.

Today we see the consequences of Israel's actions to confront a relatively minor threat: Hezbollah and its store of rockets. Although Hezbollah certainly has the capacity to cause damage, that damage has never been particularly severe. It can kill, at most, a few hundred Israelis -- I don't want to minimize that, but it certainly doesn't amount to an existential threat. Meanwhile, the campaign to expunge Hezbollah has already killed and maimed perhaps a thousand Lebanese civilians.

But the continued radicalization of the Islamic world poses far more destructive consequences. As I mentioned in the preceding post, Pakistan has a dangerous and growing nuclear arsenal. You simply can't have those weapons fall into the hands of Muslim extremists. They could cause hundreds of thousands, even millions of deaths. Luckily, we're safe as long as Musharraf stays in power -- so shouldn't Israel be crafting its policy to avoid any fundamentalist revolt?

Absolutely. But at the moment, it's following the worst possible strategy. Israel's campaign to eject Hezbollah is both incapable of achieving its aim (an 18-year ground occupation didn't work) and a powerful catalyst for further Islamic radicalization.

The Lebanese government plans to deploy 15,000 soldiers to the south of the country as soon as Israel withdraws. I can't see any better deal on the horizon -- the United States and France should alter their Security Council resolution to demand an Israeli pullout and end this horrible war.

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