Sunday, August 06, 2006

Middle-East Conflict

Watching more television here in Canada than I do in India, because I am at office by 7.30am and am out between 5 and 6pm. So the evening is long enough. I catch most of the TV while I am at the gym or while having dinner in the room. Mostly watch the news pertaining to the Israel Hezbollah conflict. CNN coverage is quite comprehensive, with their correspondent Anderson Cooper, Amanpour, along with their military analyst Gen "Spider" Marks and few others. Larry King Live also makes for some engrossing viewing. Nothing boosts TRPs more than a proper war. Started with the 91 Gulf War, after that for every war or even minor skirmishes there has been a surfeit of coverage.
CNN image was somewhat tarnished by their so-called biased reporting of the Iraq conflict. Al-Jazeera was the most sought after channel then. But CNN will always remain synonymous with the First Gulf War.

In this conflict the CNN reports have been balanced giving as much importance to the humanitarian crisis as they are giving to the actual fighting. Plus they are giving air time to all the stakeholders. My heart goes out to the ordinary Lebanese who are really caught between the Devil and the Deep sea.

This conflict has really dragged out surprisingly, I thought Israel would silence the Hezbollah rockets in a few days and also take out Hezbollah's leadership and find out about their abducted soldiers either dead or alive. Given that its army is supposed to be the most battle-hardy and efficient in the world and enemy is not sophisticated enough, also the terrain was relatively familiar and quite modest in size, say compared to Afghanistan. Though nothing of that sort has happened, Hezbollah has shown lots of guts and gumption, its gone top of my list as the most capable terrorist organization, upstaging the good old Tamil Tigers. Sri Lankan army and a one-leg tied IPKF are no comparison to the famed IDF (Israeli Defence Forces). Al-Qaida is too cowardly for me.

My sympathies traditionally have been with the Israelis, I always admired them as a nation. This admiration was shaped in no small way by reading books such as O Jerusalem by Lapierre, Exodus and Haj by Leon Uris, Eagle in the Sky by Wilbur Smith, also accounts of Raid At Entebbe, The six day war, the Nazi and Black September search operations. I admired the great general Moshe Dayan, Golda Meir. Was in awe of Mossad and the way Israelis have managed to bring fertility to a barren land and made themselves into a economically prosperous nation inspite of so many hurdles. Hats off to them.

But somehow from being the world's most famous underdog they became a big bully. Not satisfied with their existing land, they usurped more land from the hapless Palestinians, responded brutally to even minor provocations and agitations from them. Leading the Palestinians to more desperation like suicide bombings, even then if they killed 10 then Israelis came back and killed double plus destroying property and other infrastructure,humiliating them, it was a deadly spiral, more the Palestinians got desperate more vengeful the Israeli reprisals.This led to rise of Hamas, and the right-wing of Israel politics.
Israel also treated Lebanon and Syria harshly in the past, they could have been more pragmatic and yielding one may argue, but then that would have been construed as a sign of weakness. Also the implacable anger on the Arab side makes any concession seems worthless.

So in a gist my viewpoint is that though in principle I mostly support Israel in this war, not just against Hezbollah but even against other Arab states and Hamas, but the other side has also got legitimate grouses against Israel and are well within their rights to fight for it in whatever way they can. No side is either right or wrong. As with most things in life there are various shades of grey and I can't think of any ready solutions to this crisis.


Anonymous Anupam said...

Nice post samrat. As usual the midas touch from u on anything

8:44 PM  

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