Pundits, talking heads, and Israeli government officials have stated that they regret the civilian suffering that middle east conflict has cause, but they lament, Israel was left with no other choice. However, Israel does have a choice, and peace (first as a cease fire, and perhaps even a lasting peace) is still possible. While the following measures will take great restraint, exceptional political will, and patience, they will at the very least lead to less death and suffering for all involved. Lasting peace can not be achieved without the cessasion of hostilities on both sides.
Israel should take greater care with its air-strikes. If it knows where a Hezbollah rocket launcher is, or where Hezbollah troops are stationed, go ahead and bomb those areas. But do not bomb the airport, or roads, or set up naval blockades. The US is having to evacuate its citizens because they are in danger from Israeli air strikes, and Israel is our ally!
The most effective way of dealing with this situation is limited ground incursions to known missile sites. Because of the rugged territory, dropping bombs is not going to work. One must remember that Israel’s Vietnam war was in Lebanon in the 80’s and 90’s. The limited ground incursions will stop the rockets in the short term, and this is a legitimate goal. This would also limit hardships to civilians, preventing terrorist organizations from gaining support. Hezbollah can not be defeated by military action. It is impossible to blow up an idea.
The key to defeating an ideology is to take away reasons for its support . Hezbollah blames Israel for all the problems of the world. Israel then swoops in, blows up half the county, makes electricity and fresh water impossible to find, and creates food shortages. Most Lebanese (and a surprisingly large contingent of the Arab World) blame Hezbollah for starting the war. Most Lebanese don’t want Hezbollah there. However, the key is that the average Lebanese hasn’t been harmed by Hezbollah, and in the South where they have the most support, they have set up schools, hospitals, provide food and water, and act much the way a government does, except for that nasty fact that they are a terrorist organization. Not all support for terrorist organization comes from hate. Instead it comes from the concrete things terrorist organization can do for them. So you put this all together and Israel’s air-strikes will actually benefit Hezbollah, and encourage another generation to be anti-Israel.
Limited ground incursions, limited air-strikes, and harming the terrorists without harming a country that has the political culture most likely to support Israel in the middle east will end this before it is too late. If anything, Israel should have been providing aid to the Lebanese government so it could compete militarily with Hezbollah, and provide those services which Hezbollah provides that give it support.
If Israel actually wants to defend itself, it should go attack Iran and Syria. However, these countries are able to defend themselves, and Israel does not want its soldiers to die enmasse. Instead they bomb Lebanon so they can look like they are doing something. However, this will not make Israel safer and will actually make their situation worse in the long term. In the short term, judging by the latest rocket attacks on Northern Israel, the Israeli military has not made Israel safer.
Finally, Israel should have agreed to a prisoner exchange right away. Prisoner exchanges have been a part of the culture in the middle east for the last few thousand years. Some may argue that this only encourages further capturing of soldiers. This may be so. However, the occasional ceremonial prisoner exchange is much better for Israel’s security than rockets raining down on Northern Israel, the further involvement of Syria and Iran, and an enraged population in a formerly Democratic country. A prisoner exchange would at the very least lead to a cease fire, and from there at least some progress could be made. Lasting peace cannot occur during an all out war.
Frankly, I do not think Israel wants peace. They want to win, and the only way for them to win militarily is to kill everyone who is opposed to Israel. A much better solution would b to get people on their side instead of the side of the terrorist groups through acts of good will, not good weapons. Their latest actions do the opposite