I really don’t like the direction this conflict is going. Josh Marshall points out that being a lifelong civilian Israeli PM Olmert doesn’t have the freedom to downplay things that an old war horse like Sharon did. Kidnapping a foreign soldier is pretty obviously an act of war so I have precisely zero sympathy for the people who did it, but on the other hand provoking a wider conflict is precisely the point of what they did. Hezbollah had their big day when they kicked Israel out of Lebanon (in their own minds at least) and clearly they want a chance to do it again, plus bloodletting with Syria and Lebanon proper if they can finagle it. Bringing Iran into the fray would practically kill them with glee.
Needless to say the US very much does not need Israel in a shooting war right now and we really don’t want Iran in the mix. The latter case would pretty much precipitate our fast, bloody exit from Iraq and its fiercely Iran-friendly Shiite population.
So what now? I have no idea. Our leaders cannot very well ask Israel to measure its reaction to blatant terrrorist provocations while an unmeasured response pushes the entire middle east still farther towards chaos. Somewhere the old, marginalized bin Laden is rubbing his hands together and laughing hysterically.
A brief sample of the most recent headlines:
Israel hits Beirut airport for 2nd time