Friday, July 28, 2006

Countries with Walmarts don't go to war with one another

-Or "Why Israel is making a big mistake."

I was distressed to read a Salon article on the Beirut bombings this morning. It's not so much that 600 civilians are dead, though that, of course, sucks. (Too put it way too mildly.)

The Salon article talks about a film crew that had gone to Beirut to film a travel documentary about Beirut's developing culture and how that developing culture is effectively dead.

Now, I will be the first to admit that the moneyed Beirutis who keep drinking at the rooftop club while Israeli jets circle overhead suck. But they were the future of Beirut, and that's a future that cares about making money and having a good time, not ethnic hatred.

The moderates in Lebanon were the future of the place. Once people start watching Baywatch, radical Islam becomes a much harder sell.

In destroying all this infrastructure, and more importantly to my point, destroying all these restaurants and nightclubs showing Beirutis how much fun capitalism and sophistication could be, the Isrealis are really giving the radicals the upper hand in this region, IMHO. The bombings in South Lebanon were much more reasonable and arguably justifed. Bombing Beirut itself is punitive, and ultimately against Israel's interests, IMHO.

(TheCSO's theory is that Israel is trying to get NATO to move in to Israel's border so that anyone who tries to attack Israel from that direction will be attacking NATO. Even if that works, I don't think it was worth it.)



LinguistFriend said...

I do not see how NATO or anyone else sitting on the Lebanon-Israel border can guarantee that Hezbollah will not send rockets over their heads towards Israel.
I also do not see how the present Israeli invasion of south Lebanon can do it either. They can clear out munitions and Hezbollah militants from a limited area at great cost; Israel, with a small population base, suffers and is at risk in a war of attrition. If they are successful in clearing out one southern area, Hezbollah moves north into an unoccupied area, with loss of munitions which may or may not be replaced. Then repeat several times, as Israeli forces are drawn north into territory in which an infuriated populace joins forces with Hezbollah. This is not a good scene. Suggestions for an exit strategy are welcome.

Chalicechick said...

Bombing the south, then bombing it again anytime Hezbollah looked threatening, thus maintaining a buffer zone that would mostly keep Israel out of Hezbollah's rocket range without actually killing too many of the moderates who are trying to improve things sounds good to me.


TheCSO said...

The point is not that NATO on the border will prevent Hezbollah from firing rockets over their heads into Israel. The point is that if Hezbollah does that, especially with the fairly primitive guidance systems they have, sooner or later NATO peacekeepers will die. Europe isn't particularly fond of Israel, but they dislike casualties more - and losing troops to terrorist rockets, even by accident, would do a lot to turn European sentiment against Hezbollah and its sponsors.

Look at Ivory Coast and France's reaction when the government broke a ceasefire, bombed what they thought were rebels, and accidentially killed several French soldiers. France reacted by swiftly destroying the government's entire air force on the ground. And if that's all it took for France to react that strongly, I don't think that Europe would tolerate many casualties from Hezbollah either.

Steve Caldwell said...


Your blog posting title was a variation on Thomas Friedman's "countries with McDonald's franchises don't go to war with each other" theory.

This theory was disproved in the 1990s when the US went to war with parts of former Yugoslavia.

Chalicechick said...

It was a common political cliche before Freedman wrote about it.

I did change it to WalMart where it is still true.

Two truly economically developed countries going to war with one another is still very unusual.


LinguistFriend said...

It seems to me that in the main wars of the last century, WWI and WWII, it was exactly the most economically developed countries that went to war - Germany, Britain, France, the US. Germany was technically well ahead of the US in a number of respects, but the US economy won. That's why I got to go to elementary school with the children of German
aeronautical engineers.

Chalicechick said...

I think "economic development" means different things now than it meant then. To be more complete, I think money alone doesn't do it, but a certain level of economic interdependence with the world.

Germany has a lot to lose by going to war with the UK now. It had comparitively little to lose back in world war two, when the treaty of Versailles had left Germany so economically shattered that many say it gave Hitler the opportunity he needed.


Doug Muder said...

Whenever you start killing people, you make new enemies. So one of the things leaders should ask themselves before going to war is: "Even if I achieve my objectives and kill most of the enemies I have now, will I come out of this war with more enemies than I had at the beginning?"

Whenever our troops have a new offensive in Iraq, they report some number of insurgents killed. And I wonder, "But did the total insurgent population go down or up?"

Unless you're willing to commit genocide -- the only completely military solution to this problem -- military force can only work as a small part of a larger political strategy. I don't see that strategy in either Lebanon or Iraq.

BTW -- has anybody thought that the "word verification" tactic is filtering out dyslexics as well as spammers?

Joel Monka said...

"BTW -- has anybody thought that the "word verification" tactic is filtering out dyslexics as well as spammers?" I wouldn't be surprized if it did- it frequently takes me two or three tries to get it right. I like the one that asks you to add two numbers better.