Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Dick Vitale’s Preseason Guide to the Middle East 2006-07

Hey everybody!!! It’s ME, DICKIE V., BABBYYY!!!! Here to run down my Top Ten choices for next year’s MIDDLE EAST!!! Now, I think this could be the BEST SEASON EVER, BABY!!! WE’RE TALKIN’ 1967, ISRAEL CUTTIN’ DOWN THE NETS, BABBYY!!! OR 1978 CAMP DAVID ACCORDS!!! I’M TALKIN’ ANWAR SADAT AND MENACHEM BEGIN BABBEEEEE!!!!

1) Israel/Duke—These guys have been powerhouses in the Middle East forever, baby!!! I mean, since 1948. Christian Laettner, Grant Hill, Elton Brand, David Ben-Gurion!!!! THESE ARE HOUSEHOLD NAMES, BABYY!!!! Now, they’ve got some major contenders for the first time in a long time!!! I’m not talkin’ 1990s Palestinian militant groups, we’re talkin’ IRAN, HEZBOLLAH, HAMAS, AL-QAEDA!!! IT’S GONNA BE EXCITING, BABY!!!! But, don’t count out the top dogs in the Middle East. The Blue Devils. They’ve got the best force in the Middle East: disciplined, advanced, technologically sound, and honed by years of practice. I’M TALKIN’ THE IDF, BABY!!!! But they also got some questions, some real diaper dandies they’re gonna have to lean on. I’m talkin’ Josh “Ehud Olmert” McRoberts and Defense Minister Amir “The Microwave” Peretz! They got all the TOOLS TO DOMINATE, BUT WILL THEY DO IT!!! WILL THEY FULFILL THEIR POTENTIAL??!!! AND WILL THEY BE ABLE TO MAKE UP FOR THE LOSS OF THEIR LEADER, JJ “ARIEL SHARON” REDDICK??!!! I mean, that guy could ball. He could crush A HOUSE AS EASILY AS HE COULD WRECK A CITY BLOCK. Terrorists had nothing on this guy, BABY!!!! He was a HORSE!!! But, let’s not forget they’re still coached by the best in the biz: I’m talkin’ Mike Kryzewski/THE JEWISH PEOPLE BABY!!! SMART, STRONG, SEASONED. THESE GUYS HAVE IT ALL AND THEY DOMINATE YEAR AFTER YEAR!!! BUT WE’LL JUST HAVE TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS ‘CAUSE THERE ARE SOME NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK….
3) Hezbollah/LSU—These guys have some major length, great guerilla athleticism, and have you seen their blowupability?! It’s EXPLOSIVE, BABY!!!! These guys are anchored by Glenn “Big Baby” Hassan Nasrallah underneath. And I mean UNDERNEATH!!! These guys have more down-low players than the Florida Gators, BABY!!! WE’RE TALKIN’ A NETWORK OF TUNNELS BABY!!! But, don’t believe that they’re just some athletic knuckleheads that can only dunk some bombs into Kiryat Shmona. THESE GUYS GOT SOME MAJOR RANGE, BABY!!! I’M TALKIN’ ROCKETS TO HAIFA, BABY!!!! Can they take down the Big Middle East powerhouses? I don’t think so. But, these DIAPER DANDIES are gonna MAKE SOME NO-OISSSEEE!!! BACK TO THE GLORY DAYS OF SHAQ O’NEAL AND BOMBIN’ THE MARINE BARRACKS FOR THESE LSU/HEZBOLLAH MILITANTS, BABY!!!!
4) Al-Qaeda/Villanova—Now, first, a bit of sorrow. You know, college basketball/the Middle East isn’t all about knockin’ up chicks and hittin’ bricks. There’s also some REAL LIFE DRAMA. I’M TALKIN’ THE DEATH OF ABU MUSAB ZARQAWI, BABY!!! AS THE SONG GOES, “YYYYY-ONNNNLLLEEE THE GOOD DIE YOUNG!” That’s a real shot to these up-and-comers. I mean, Zarqawi was a real PTPer. AND SO EXPLOSIVE!!! He could blow up a UN HQ in Baghdad as easily and whimsically as he could DEVASTATE A WEDDING IN JORDAN!!! I mean, range, explosiveness, we’re talkin’ THE TOTAL PACKAGE, BABY!!!! But, these guys still have some major IDEOLOGICAL HEADS, BABY!!! We’re talkin’ OSAMA BIN-LADEN: PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER 1. And some major SENIOR MUSCLE DOWN LOW WITH AYMAN ZAWAHIRI. Let’s not forget what they did to MADRID, LONDON, AND NEW YORK, NEW YORK, BABY!!! THESE GUYS ARE SOME MAJOR PTPERS!!! DON’T COUNT THEM OUT.
5) Iraq/Michigan—The US/UConn came in here and they were like, WE’RE GONNA TAKE ANN ARBOR!!! AND NOT ONLY THAT, THEY’RE GONNA LIKE IT!!!!!! GUESS WHAT?! They got TOOK!!!! I mean, they’re still stuck in al/ann-ANBAR PROVINCE, BABY!!!! For all intents and purposes, THEY’RE OUT OF THE RUNNING!!!! NOW, THIS ISN’T THE IRAQ OF JALEN “TARIQ AZIZ” ROSE AND CHRIS “SADDAM” WEBBER. Not close. BUT, WE STILL GOT SOME MAJOR TERRORISTS HERE!!!! I’M TALKIN’ A 3-YEAR INSURGENCY VS. THE US AND STILL GOING STRONG!!!! Problem is, the country’s pretty unstable. Too many ILLEGAL OUTSIDE DONATIONS WRECKING THE PROGRAM. PLUS, HOW ABOUT THIS CRAZY SUNNI-SHI’ITE DIVIDE??? You can’t field a team that’s always AT EACH OTHER’S THROATS. Now, they could be a force, or they could just be enough TO NEUTRALIZE US/UCONN, WHICH IS MORE THAN ENOUGH!!!
6) Egypt/Texas—This ain’t your father’s Egypt, BABY!!! BUT, THEY STILL HAVE THE BIGGEST POPULATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND CAN DEFINITELY MAKE SOME NOISE!!! BUT, they’re not gonna sponsor terror or fight Israel. We’re talkin’ GOOD OLE’ FASHIONED DIPLOMACY, BABY!!! Problem is, these guys have some major problems. MUBARAK IS GETTIN’ OLD AND THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD IS STILL AROUND DESTABILIZING!!! Egypt could do some good for itself by using its connections, its veteran savvy to quell some Mideast tension, but they’re not gonna knock off Israel or Iran. AS I SAID, THE SHI’ITES ARE ASCENDANT BABBBBYYYY!!!!
7) Hamas/Gonzaga—THESE UP AND COMING DIAPER DANDIES HAVE THEIR OWN PARLIAMENT NOW, BABBYYY!!! I’M TALKIN’ DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED ISLAMIST GOODNESS. But, they’re not gonna be sneakin’ up on anyone anymore. The days of Turiaf, Morrison, and Yahya Ayyash are over, BABY!!!! SAD TO SAY!!! BUT, THIS HAS GONE FROM A MID-MAJOR IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE TO A REAL PROGRAM, BABY!!!! AND IT ALL STARTED WITH THE SWEET SIXTEEN!!! We’re talkin’ AL-AQSA INTIFADA, BABY!!! Problem is, with so many other players in the region, these guys are old news. BETTER LUCK NEXT YEAR, ZAGS!!!
8) Saudi Arabia/Syracuse—The days of ‘Melo, DC, and even Hakim Warrick are long gone. THE SAUDI DYNASTY IS WANING. BUT!!!! THEY STILL CAN MAKE A LOT OF NOISE WITH PETE CARRILL’S WAHHABI ISLAM SYSTEM. You see, these guys don’t have the athleticism, the length, or the hops of some of the other big programs. But, they’ve got the savvy. We saw Pete Carrill’s system work with Princeton to perfection, AND NOW IT’S WORKIN’ FOR THE SACRAMENTO/SAUDI KINGS!!! These guys have ideology/game plan up the wazoo. Problem is, they gotta use a lot of DIPLOMACY these days to beef up their tarnished image. They still got the money, and the system that fuels craziness EVERYWHERE, AND, OF COURSE, ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN. BUTT!!!! I DON’T SEE IT HAPPENING FOR THE SAUDIS THIS YEAR.
9) Syria/Indiana—The days of Bob Knight/Hafez al-Assad are over. SAD TO SEE HIM GO!!! LIKE LEN BIAS AND HANK GATHERS BEFORE HIM, HE DIED TOO YOUNG!!! HAFEZ, COME BACK!!! Now, we got Bashar Asad. He’s OK. A real 7-footer. BUT, HE’S ONE OF THESE SOFTIES THAT LIKES TO SHOOT FROM THE OUTSIDE!!! I’M TALKIN’ PROXY WAR WITH ISRAEL, BABY!!!! But, this could bite him in the ass. The folks in Bloomington may be in for a BIG SURPRISE IF THE DUKIES/ISRAELIS DECIDE TO BRING THE SMACKDOWN!!! I think Indy would be better off building back its program with solid (economic) fundamentals, rather than messin’ with the big boys quite yet!!!
10) Lebanon/Georgia Tech—THESE ARE SOME REAL DIAPER DANDIES: WE’RE TALKIN’ FLEDGLING DEMOCRACY, BABYYYY!!!! But, the Siniora government is in big trouble. This isn’t the Tech/Lebanon of Kenny Anderson, this is a much weaker but potentially hot team. Problem is, they let Hezbollah DESTABILIZE THEIR ENTIRE TEAM!!! Bad idea. Now, they have the Blue Devils to deal with. WILL THESE GUYS TURN OUT TO BE A BEACON TO A NEW DEMOCRATIC MIDDLE EAST???!!! OR WILL THEY FALL APART AGAIN??? AND WHAT ABOUT BEIRUT???!!!! IT’S THE NEW INDIANAPOLIS, WHERE THE FINAL FOUR WILL BE HELD!!!! OH, MAN, I’M TOO EXCITED!!! THIS YEAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST IS GONNA BE FAN-TASTIC, BABBYYY!!!

America .... Fuck Yeah!!!

Being in Europe made me appreciate America a hell of a lot more. First of all, we have a huge and beautiful country with high-class amenities, the greatest universities in the world and fucking reasonable people (yes, compared to Euro-nationalists, we're generally reasonable). Americans are more open-minded than Europeans. And, further, all Euros do is bitch and complain about how we give ourselves the "license" to bomB (a hard "b" there) places. It made me mutter, "Amerrrrrrickkkkaaa ... fuck yeah" a lot under my breath.

First of all, if they weren't such righteous douchebags who went around mass-murdering each other and then crying to the press about it, we wouldn't have to bomB their sorry countries. Second, America is a convenient enemy. We're not around. We have The Power. We're the Evil Ones. Convenient beliefs considering that Europe has given us a few healthy spasms that could all be dubbed "holocaust." It, finally, came to my attention that America has it bad both ways. Either we stay out (Sudan, Rwanda, etc.) and people hate us for not intruding in their affairs. Or we intrude (Bosnia, Kosovo, etc.), and people hate us for being imperial invaders. One note: I think its hard to see the subtleties of realpolitik when you're being bombed and easy to say "can't you see the strategy here people!" when you're sitting in your living room watching Jets-Giants and eating a whole goddammed bag of Lay's BBQ chips.

But, I don't intend on this Blog being political only because America has two great things that Eastern Europe apparently doesn't.

1. Toilet paper
2. Fruit

And, you can easily see how the two go hand-in-hand or mouth-to-ass to be more correct. First of all, I don't know 'bout London or Berlin or Paris, but Athens and Greece in general has the most god-awful toilet paper this side of Zanzibar. In sum: they use paper towels as toilet paper. No joke. Literally, it's just a mini-sized roll of paper towel. You'd have to go to a San Francisco S&M party on Halloween to do as much damage to your ass as this shit does. I mean, seriously, it's fucking horrible. It made my number one reason why I don't wanna go to prison far more immediate and visceral.

Secondly, the fruit thing. My Serbian roommate related to me that when he gets sick he just "eats a lot of lemons." I was like, "whuh?" He was like, "you know, for the Vitamin C." I didn't have the heart to tell him about oranges. Even in Germany, real fruit juice is rare. I know that we Americans are used to drinking Snapple and Minute Maid and calling it juice, but we also have actual juice. Tropicana, for one, is a staple of every household. In Greece, I saw people pouring powdered Vitamin C into water. In Germany, I bought a 12 oz. of OJ that advertised its Vitamin C content like a whore advertises her wares. I think the closest thing to juice I drank in Greece was, and I'm not kidding, Fanta. No joke. Seriously.

Yes, they had watermelon there and shitty little apricots. And, sure, they had fresh veggies aplenty and nice olive oil. But the lack of oranges and apples really made me miss the good ole' US of A. People can fucking eat good, healthy fruit in America. In Greece, its bottled water and watermelon: basically the same shit.

This further speaks to the food choices there. There was a good Italian meal eaten on my last night, but generally Greece is not a place that I would tout for its great food. I had a decent Greek salad there, some very good but repetitive veggie gyros, and some decent fish and tzatziki sauce. But, I'm used to eating Chinese for lunch, Italian for dinner, and American staples throughout the day. The variety wasn't there. And the exorbitant prices (everything cost at least the same price as in America, only in euros), kinda put a damper on gorging your face with dry cheese pies, subpar pizza, and $2 11oz. Cokes.

In conclusion, if Euros want to diss on America, I don't mind. After all, their countries are lacking in a few creature comforts that Americans will never let go of: toilet paper, fruit, and, oh yeah, jobs.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Things I Learned About (Eastern) Europeans

1. They don't find Communism funny. They find it very strange that Americans think Communism is hip and cool, after Communists destroyed their countries and killed so many of their people.

2. They all fucking hate each other. They all have an enemy country/archrival that they explicitly or implicitly hate.

3. They're all very nationalistic, and all have their own nationalistic narratives of history. To this end, you can't dis their countries at all.

4. They see Jews as Americans see Native Americans: never there, always stereotyped, sometimes romanticized. I was the only Jew on the program. Generally, people treated me with respect, but I was called "Jew" and Jew jokes were made with frequency. Nothing blatantly anti-Semitic, but I could tell some people had their, let's say, predispositions.

5. They generally dislike/hate America, but love American corporations (which is the opposite of how Americans feel about America). Their love of and veneration for McDonald's must be seen to be believed. They even lauded Arby's. My only explanation: the only time I felt full in Greece was after eating a Filet-o-Fish.

6. They don't understand marriage or commitment. This could have to do with the young age of my program's participants. But, in general, they don't understand marriage or breeding as Americans do. They see life as one endless party wherein they crave the day when they'll get to throw their granny panties on stage at a Bon Jovi concert at age 65. They don't realize that life is about being a corporate drone, working hard, raising at least 3 kids, and making some sort of meaningful contribution to society. I think they're in a post-responsibility, hyper-individualistic phase. They don't see the point of dedicating your life to raising a family and being a respectable, monied individual. Then again, their arcane tax systems take being monied out of the equation at birth. Life is more about having fun, then making a difference. What they don't realize is that Americans give lip service to making a difference, have a little bit of fun, watch A LOT of TV, then derive their pleasure from naming their kids with weird names like JaRon and Dakota. I think the pleasures of maturity/responsibility outweigh the fleeting joys of youth, but that may just be what we have to keep telling ourselves. Either way, it's a wonder that these people breed at all. In 20 years, their populations will be so small that Baskin Robbins could conquer their lands with a few well-placed ice cream trucks. Who am I kidding? They already have.

Who are we fighting and why?

The "war on terror" is increasingly being linked to Sam Huntington's Clash of Civilizations. This was the case right after 9/11, and now the book isn't mentioned but a certain Islam vs. the West, or as Daniel Benjamin put it, Jihad vs. McWorld, dynamic is increasingly being touted. The calls today are that World War III is upon us. A war fought between Western powers and terror groups. Trouble is, that though most of the Western world has suffered terrorist attacks (most recently Mumbai, India), the West is not united in its fight.

The fact is that though the bin-Ladens, Ahmadinejads, and Nasrallahs of the world may see this as an apocalyptic battle between good and evil few on the other side--outside of the US and Israel--agree with that assessment. Europe and the rest of the world still are operating under the perspective that terrorism is a regional phenomena rooted in occupation.

Now that wrath of the occupied narrative is a hard one to shake. It's been around for so long that it's part of my common sense framework for looking at these phenomena. For a long time too it was understood that suicide terror emanating from Palestine was the outcome of individuals being fed up with their daily conditions and deciding to kill in response. It wasn't until Arafat's archives were confiscated by the IDF that Israel's left learned what the right had been telling them all along: terrorism was simply a means of the PA fighting Israel. The pop-psychology explanations ceased once the documents authorizing terror with Arafat's signature were found. But, the narrative of occupied peoples struggle persists. It does so b/c it makes a lot of sense: most terrorist groups claim lands and inhabit "occupied" (whatever that means) lands.

Yet, now Israel has left Gaza and Lebanon--well, they're back now--and yet the fighting persists. The general explanation from the Israeli side is that this is an existential conflict. That is one of the new explanations that came out of the second intifada. It holds that this isn't just about territory or occupation or what have you, it's about an us-versus-them struggle wherein only one people can inhabit this land (meaning Israel and Palestine). The conflict won't end until either the Arabs recognize Israel, the Jews leave or are killed, the Arabs leave or are killed, or the Arabs or Jews are able to conquer and hold all the land.

This existential narrative--just like the Islam v. the West one--explains broad sweeps of activity and is intellectually attractive for that reason, but it doesn't explain day-to-day activity. Hamas and Hezbollah may claim that they want to destroy the West, but for now they aren't capable and, like the Arab socialists before them, market themselves with over-inflated rhetoric (see Ajami's The Arab Predicament).

The strategy may be an existential one, but what is happening strategically looks more like the Cold War than anything else. Replace Vietnam with Iraq and then look at all the proxy wars in the Phillipines, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Palestine and you see that the war on terror is a war between great powers. The powers that the US are fighting are North Korea, Iran, and the Islamists. But, since these powers are far less powerful than the USSR, they use guerilla and terrorist tactics: tactics which have proven incredibly effective against large armies.

A few broad theories are now on the table: 1) it's all about occupation; 2) it's Islam vs. the West; 3) a variant of 2: it's a Cold War; 4) there's the US part of the fight, then there's the existential battle between Arabs and Jews.

I don't think it's all about occupation. Ending the occupation of Palestine would help assuage some of the issues, but groups interested in destabilizing the region and harming Israel would still remain. These groups may or may not have been formed due to occupation, but like the military-industrial complex in the West, they remain on the scene looking for fights well after their initial goals have been achieved.

Further, occupation may simply be an excuse. After all, when Israel left Lebanon and Gaza (or when US left Lebanon for that matter), Hamas and Hezbollah didn't say, "good, now time for peace." They said, "See, violence works against these oppressors. Let's keep committing violence against them and see where that goes. With violence, we can control an ever-increasing amount of land." Israel and the US were slow to realize this logic. It took them a while to understand that they couldn't cave in the face of terrorism. But, you either cave (negotiate) or you commit atrocities (fight). The terrorists know how to spin it to their advantage either way.

A sidebar: that's what I love about terrorists. When you fight them, they cry about proportionality and fighting fair. When it's peace time, they kill your people and label you Occupiers so it's all legit. I think if people wanna have a more fair fight in the Mideast, they should donate some F16s to Hezbollah and Hamas, and let's throw in an A-bomb for Iran and some biological weapons for bin-Laden. I think that's the fair, proportional thing to do, and I'm confident that they'll all use their weapons responsibly--ie, destroy Israel.

So, is that what it's all about? Destroying Israel. Arab rhetoric seems to say so. A pan-Arab utopia will be ushered in once the Jews are all dead. I was just in Europe and, let me tell you, the Jews are dead and no Utopia. They found new people to hate: each other. Oh yeah, they hated each other all along.

Occupation describes a lot of the story especially if you add the fact that the mercenary/revolutionary/terrorist/militia forces that formed to fight occupation stick around and require military goals to justify their existence after the fight. That said, al-Qaeda's "lands" are not occupied, unless you're willing to grant that Islam deserves all the land from Indonesia to Spain. The extremists may want it to become an existential conflict, but that doesn't ring 100% true to me. Islam vs. the West works only to a certain level too. After all, the terrorists are fighting to destabilize Turkey, Morocco, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia and all for different reasons ranging from religious fanaticism to fighting dictatorship to regime support of the West to nationalist independence.

Terrorist tactics unite all of these groups, but not all of the groups are united. Nor is it correct to bag all of Islam into one sack--whatever that means. I think that there are two phenomena.

1) Israel vs. Arabs/Palestine. That issue is one mainly of occupation, though you have more extremist forces (Jihad Islami, Hamas) that desire it to be an existential conflict.

2) Islamists v. the West. Hezbollah and al-Qaeda with support from Taliban and Iran and Syria fighting for power in the region, to destabilize regimes, and to knock down the US.

This distinction explains why Hamas is fucking terrified of being grouped with Hezbollah. It also explains why Hezbollah isn't afraid to make it a regional/global conflict, but Hamas wants to keep it quaint and nationalist. Now, these two conflicts intersect over Israel and, thus, you have two fronts. Of course, Israel and the West will want to link them, but there's actually two different fights--one nationalist, one religious--going on. These fights overlap.

So, who are "we" fighting? A messy group of people in Palestine and a more organized group in Lebanon. A messy group of people in Iraq and a more organized group in Afghanistan. The Taliban/al-Qaeda fighters are both religious and nationalist, but mainly the former. The Iraqi groups are all over the map, just as the Palestinian groups are. And, Hezbollah is a religious group seeking to rid the Mideast of Israel, its a proxy army of Iran and Syria (witness their Asad posters during the "Cedar Revolution"), it has roots in anti-occupation fighting, and it may have some pan-Arab elements.

I'll leave with one other aspect of this fight that is extremely interesting. The Shi'a v. Sunni conflict. This conflict played out in previous decades as Iraq v. Iran, now the main stage is within Iraq. But, with Iran now pulling the strings in Iraq and southern Lebanon, the Saudis, Egyptians and Jordanians actually came out against an anti-Israel terror group (Hezbollah) even in the face of Israel's most drastic reaction in decades. The Shi'a v. Sunni aspect of this conflict could become a pro-Western v. anti-Western dynamic, wherein Jordan and Egypt team with Israel and Turkey v. Syria, Iran, and the terror groups. I don't think a war could play out along those lines, but it is along these axes that power is being jockeyed for.

Now, if this is a Cold War, can the US win? I think so. We saw in the first Cold War that the US had the economic might to both fight a war and still innovate and be strong at home. I don't think that Iran or Palestine or Hezbollah have that fall back. All they can do is fight. Further, Iran and Palestine have a strong chance of being deterred through waiting it out--ie, there govts could change through democratic processes. The only big problem is that, unlike the USSR, terror groups have no population to answer to, nothing to live for other than fighting.

I think, however, that the Cold War dynamic is one that is either nascent or only present at this time due to Iran's power play in Lebanon. Either Iran is playing all its cards before it starts getting its balls twisted on the nuclear issue, or Iran and North Korea and Syria have major destabilization goals for the region/world. I think that it's more likely that the Iranian govt is playing a game of brinksmanship. The possibility of a US-Syria and/or US-Iran war is getting higher by the second. It will happen in the next decade if all trends continue in their current direction. I say the next decade b/c domestically, the US cannot get into another conflict now and probably not in the foreseeable future due to Iraq.

So, who are we fighting?

1) Nationalist fighters who see us as Occupiers.
2) Religious fanatics who desire a new Islamic caliphate, or at least an Islamist Middle East.
3) Iran, North Korea, and Syria. That's the IR/realpolitik dimension here, and it could mean that a Cold War is in the offing.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Disproportionate Use of Force?

Today Israel is bombing Lebanon for I believe the eighth straight day. Let me be clear at the outset, civilian deaths are not my thing. I don't hand out candies or play loud music or wave my flag when I hear that Lebanese innocents are killed. It pains me deeply that such things are happening.

That said, let me touch on the issue that the Arab side keeps bandying: disproportionate use of force. To put it bluntly, when you tickle a doberman's balls, you shouldn't be surprised when you get your arm bit off. The terrorist groups are basically saying, "fight us on our terms with our weapons, tit-for-tat like we're used to." That's not how it has to happen. When you fuck with the big dog, don't be surprised if you get bit.

Further, I love how the Arabs preach peace in times of war and war in times of peace. They spend peace time gathering weapons and inciting hatred against Israel. Then when, lo and behold, the evil Israel attacks them, they start crying to their mommies about how they are peace-loving people that just want coexistence. People should be smart enough to see this rouse for what it is.

These terrorists are the worst cowards on the planet. They will only fight when its civilians that die. They, in fact, celebrate the deaths of Israelis. Then, when Israel uses its might against them, they cry about how poor and destitute they are. If they're so poor and destitute, why don't they do what other poor people do around the world: refrain from shooting at countries with large standing armies.

Hezbollah may claim that there are tons of prisoners that Israel is holding. But, according to Time magazine the grand total of Lebanese prisoners that Israel holds is 3. Yes, 3. Sure, it holds 9,000 Palestinian prisoners, but that's Hamas' problem.

Now, the question remains: was bombing all of the Lebanese infrastructure necessary? From an Israeli military standpoint, it made attacking Hezbollah fighters easier. However, from a humanitarian and long-term perspective it was a bad idea. This could lead to deeper ties with Iran. Still, the Lebanese govt has done nothing--even in the face of destruction--to help bring an honest solution to this conflict. That is, no pressure on Hezbollah from them.

In conclusion, I asked a Lebanese friend that had participated in the "Cedar Revolution" about whether Hezbollah could derail Lebanon's sovereignty. He giddily said, "Hezbollah will not be an issue." I think in the post-occupation euphoria, the Lebanese truly believed that a terrorist group controlling the south wouldn't be too big a deal. It's a sad irony what's happening today, after so many Lebanese fought and prayed for a sovereign, peaceful Lebanon.