Home/Daniel Larison/“Bleeding Lebanon”

“Bleeding Lebanon”

“Bleeding Lebanon” is the ripest fruit of the Bush administration’s catastrophic foreign policy. In similar crises, previous administrations at least pretended to make diplomatic efforts to arrange cease-fires and find grounds on which a tenuous peace might be maintained. As my friend Ron Hatchett points out, in a Dallas Blog article posted on this site, Ronald Reagan, though a strong supporter of Israel, took effective measures to discpline Israel during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. In the present case, however, both President Bush and his Secretary of State have openly supported Israel and chosen to treat the invasion of Lebanon as a morally responsible act of self-defense. It is only as an afterthought and in response to international criticism that Secretary Rice has seen fit to visit the region, but the best she can offer is a peace-keeping mission to be sent just after the nick of time, that is, after the IDF has accomplished its mission.

If there had ever been any doubts that the security of Israel was Bush’s primary motive for invading Iraq, those doubts have been dispelled by his unequivocal support for a war against Lebanese civilians that is being condemned around the world.  Our Iraqi “allies” seem to understand. A headline in the LA Times tells the story: “Iraqis find rare Unity in Condemning Israel.” Even some Iraqi Christians have joined with Sunni and Shiite Muslims in condemning Israel and her bullying big brother. Perhaps they have seen the news stories describing Israel’s inexplicable attacks on Christian neighborhoods.


The temptation, in any conflict that engages the attention of Americans, is to choose a side and believe the propaganda told about it. If we are Christian Zionists, then Israel is a righteous nation doing too little to defend its people from Islamic terrorists. If we are tired of our Zionist foreign policy, then we may conclude that Israel is a bellicose national socialist state, guilty of war crimes against the unoffending Lebanese. If truth be told, however, none of the sides (Israel, Hezbollah, Lebanon, Syria, Iran) is guiltless. Hezbollah, undoubtedly, incited the current conflict, with a manifest disregard for the lives of the Lebanese people. While Hezbollah is, from one point of view, a legitimate political organization and a recognized party in Lebanon, it also has a long history of violence and terrorism. I say “violence and terrorism,” because not all of Hezbollah’s violence can be described as terrorism. Killing or kidnapping Israeli soldiers is an act of war, not terrorism, while randomly shelling Israeli cities is terrorism.

But if Hezbollah’s initial missile strikes were acts of terrorism, so is the much greater Israeli campaign that has so far killed nearly 400 Lebanese, mostly civilians. This is ten times the number of Israelis who have died in the conflict. If sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, that makes Israel ten times more terrorist than Hezbollah. If the Muslim terrorists are recklessly sending missiles every which way into Israel, the IDF is deliberately targeting civilian neighborhoods. They say it is because they believe they have located missile launchers or military installations or vehicles carrying weapons. In many instances, this belief was mistaken. Everyone is now a target, whether they are residents of formerly peaceful neighborhoods or fleeing refugees. ~Thomas Fleming

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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