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Tuesday, August 01, 2006



This very thoughtful editorial by Paul Krugman appeared yesterday (7/31) in the NY Times.

Here are some excerpts:

one of the truly nightmarish things about the war in Lebanon has been watching Israel repeat the same mistakes the U.S. made in Iraq...

The most compelling argument against an invasion of Iraq...was their belief that if the U.S. used its military might to "hit someone" in the Arab world, never mind exactly who, it would shock and awe Islamic radicals into giving up terrorism - (this) was, all too obviously, a childish fantasy.

The results ... of that fantasy were all too predictably disastrous: the fiasco in Iraq has demonstrated the limits of U.S. power, strengthening radical Islam - especially radical Shiites allied with Iran, a group that includes Hezbollah - and losing America the moral high ground.

What I never expected was that Israel...would be susceptable to the same fantasies.

The actual course that Israel has chosen - a bombing campaign that clearly isn't crippling Hezbollah, but is destroying Lebanon's infrastructure and killing lots of civilians - achieves the worst of both worlds.

Israel's decision to rely on shock and awe rather than either diplomacy or boots on the ground, like the U.S. decision to... invade Iraq without sufficient troops or a plan to stabilize the country, is having the opposite of its intended effect. Hezbollah has acquired heroic status, while Israel has both damaged its reputation as a regional superpower and made itself a villain in the eyes of the world...

And what about the role of the U.S., which should be trying to contain the crisis? Our response has been both hapless and malign.

For the moment, U.S. policy seems to be to stall and divert efforts to negotiate a cease-fire as long as possible, so as to give Israel a chance to dig its hole even deeper. Also, we aren't talking to Syria, which might hold the key to resolving the crisis, because President Bush doesn't believe in talking to bad people, and anyway that's the kind of thing Bill Clinton did. Did I mention that these people are childish?


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