From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neorealism

Neorealism eschews classical realism’s use of often essentialist
concepts such as “human nature” to explain international politics.
Instead, neorealist thinkers developed a theory that privileges
structural constraints over agents’ strategies and motivations.

The international structure is decentralized, having no central
authority and is anarchic, with states acting as independent sovereign
political units. States are assumed at a minimum to want to ensure
their own survival as this is a prerequisite to pursue other goals.
This driving force of survival is the primary factor influencing their
behaviour and in turn ensures states develop offensive military
capabilities, as a mean to increase their relative power. Neorealists
bring attention to a persistent lack of trust between states which
requires states to be on guard and act in an overtly aggressive manner.

States are deemed similar in terms of needs but not in capabilities for
achieving them. The positional placement of states in terms of
abilities primarily defines the structure. The structure then limits
cooperation among states through fears of relative gains made by other
states, and the possibility of dependence on other states. The desire
and relative abilities of each state to maximize power results in a
‘balance of power’, which shapes international relations. It also gives
rise to the ‘security dilemma’ that all nations face.

Neorealists conclude that because violence is part of the structure of
the international system it is likely to continue in the future.
Indeed, neorealists often argue that the international system has not
fundamentally changed from the time of Thucydides to the advent of
nuclear warfare. The view that long-lasting peace is not likely to be
achieved is described by other theorists as a largely pessimistic view
of international relations. One of the main challenges is the
democratic peace theory.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Never_at_War

http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/too_nice_to_win__israels_dilemma_opedcolumnists_john_podhoretz.htm

TOO NICE TO WIN?
ISRAEL’S DILEMMA

July 25, 2006 — WHAT if liberal democracies have now evolved to a
point where they can no longer wage war effectively because they have
achieved a level of humanitarian concern for others that dwarfs any
really cold-eyed pursuit of their own national interests?
What if the universalist idea of liberal democracy – the idea that all
people are created equal – has sunk in so deeply that we no longer
assign special value to the lives and interests of our own people as
opposed to those in other countries?

What if this triumph of universalism is demonstrated by the Left’s
insistence that American and Israeli military actions marked by an
extraordinary concern for preventing civilian casualties are in fact
unacceptably brutal? And is also apparent in the Right’s claim that a
war against a country has nothing to do with the people but only with
that country’s leaders?

Can any war be won when this is the nature of the discussion in the
countries fighting the war? Can any war be won when one of the
combatants voluntarily limits itself in this manner?

Could World War II have been won by Britain and the United States if
the two countries did not have it in them to firebomb Dresden and nuke
Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Didn’t the willingness of their leaders to inflict mass casualties on
civilians indicate a cold-eyed singleness of purpose that helped break
the will and the back of their enemies? Didn’t that singleness of
purpose extend down to the populations in those countries in those
days, who would have and did support almost any action at any time that
would lead to the deaths of Germans and Japanese?

What if the tactical mistake we made in Iraq was that we didn’t kill
enough Sunnis in the early going to intimidate them and make them so
afraid of us they would go along with anything? Wasn’t the survival of
Sunni men between the ages of 15 and 35 the reason there was an
insurgency and the basic cause of the sectarian violence now?

If you can’t imagine George W. Bush issuing such an order, is there any
American leader you could imagine doing so?

And if America can’t do it, can Israel? Could Israel – even hardy,
strong, universally conscripted Israel – possibly stomach the bloodshed
that would accompany the total destruction of Hezbollah?

If Lebanon’s 300-plus civilian casualties are already rocking the
world, what if it would take 10,000 civilian casualties to finish off
Hezbollah? Could Israel inflict that kind of damage on Lebanon – not
because of world opinion, but because of its own modern sensibilities
and its understanding of the value of every human life?

Where do these questions lead us?

What if Israel’s caution about casualties among its own soldiers and
Lebanese civilians has demonstrated to Hezbollah and Hamas that as long
as they can duck and cover when the missiles fly and the bombs fall,
they can survive and possibly even thrive?

What if Israel has every capability of achieving its aim, but cannot
unleash itself against a foe more dangerous, more unscrupulous, more
unprincipled and more barbaric than even the monstrous leaders of the
Intifada it managed to quell after years of suicide attacks?

And as for the United States, what if we have every tool at our
disposal to win a war – every weapons system we could want manned by
the most superbly trained military in history – except the ability to
match or exceed our antagonists in ruthlessness?

Is this the horrifying paradox of 21st century warfare? If Israel and
the United States cannot be defeated militarily in any conventional
sense, have our foes discovered a new way to win? Are they seeking
victory through demoralization alone – by daring us to match them in
barbarity and knowing we will fail?

Are we becoming unwitting participants in their victory and our defeat?
Can it be that the moral greatness of our civilization – its
astonishing focus on the value of the individual above all – is
endangering the future of our civilization as well?

jpodhoretz [at] gmail [dot] com

http://www.ngo-monitor.org/archives/infofile/hrw_avibell_230706.html

Getting It Straight

By AVI BELL
July 25, 2006

On July 17, 2006, Human Rights Watch issued a document entitled
“Questions and Answers on Hostilities Between Israel and Hezbollah”
with the stated purpose of “provid[ing] analytic guidance for those who
are examining the fighting as well as for the parties to the conflict
and those with the capacity to influence them.”

The piece purports to be a neutral guide setting out the legal rules
governing the current hostilities in Lebanon. However, the authors’
distorted views of the underlying facts, selective omission of crucial
legal issues, and insistent characterization of Hezbollah and Israel as
the primary legal actors – with the attendant implied denial of legal
responsibility of Lebanon, Syria, and Iran to end their support for
Hezbollah – all mislead readers and betray the bias of the piece.
This is a consistent pattern followed by HRW in activities related to
the Middle East.

The most outstanding example of HRW’s approach is provided by its
question “What is Hezbollah’s status in relation to the conflict?” and
the answer:

“Hezbollah is an organized political Islamist group based in Lebanon,
with a military arm and a civilian arm, and is represented in the
Lebanese parliament and government. As such a group, and as a party to
the conflict with Israel, it is bound to conduct hostilities in
compliance with customary international humanitarian law and common
Article 3.”

This description completely omits several legally important facts about
Hezbollah. International law precedents such as decisions of the
International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia make it clear
that militias like Hezbollah, given de facto authority by the
government of Lebanon (in which Hezbollah has ministerial
representation) and acting on behalf of Lebanon, are bound to follow
the legal commitments of the state of Lebanon, which extend well beyond
common Article 3 and customary law. Moreover, Lebanon itself has the
legal responsibility to ensure that Hezbollah abide by international
humanitarian law and other bodies of international law.

Furthermore, under Security Council resolution 1373, adopted under
Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, Lebanon is legally required to take a
host of actions against international terrorist groups. Hezbollah is a
group that has deliberately targeted and murdered civilians in Israel,
Argentina, and elsewhere in order to intimidate the population of
Israel, and thereby clearly falls into the definition of an
international terrorist group. Lebanon is therefore required to end
even passive support of Hezbollah; freeze Hezbollah funds; suppress
Hezbollah recruitment; eliminate the supply of weapons to Hezbollah;
deny safe haven to all Hezbollah persons who finance, plan, support, or
commit terrorist acts and bring all such persons to justice; and
prevent Lebanese territory being used for the commission of such acts.
Similarly, Syria and Iran are forbidden to supply arms to Hezbollah,
supply funding or supply safe haven. Shockingly, the only reference to
legal obligations related to terrorism in HRW’s document is an
accusation that the “logic” of alleged Israeli actions “opens the door
to … terrorism,” followed by a warning to Israel (!) that
“international humanitarian law explicitly prohibits attacks of which
the primary purpose is to intimidate or instill terror in the civilian
population.”

Additionally, under article 1 of the Convention on the Prevention and
Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Lebanon and all other signatories
of the Convention are required to prevent further killings of Jews by
Hezbollah and punish Hezbollah for past killings. Article 2 of the
Convention defines genocide as killings committed with intent to
destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious
group, as such. Hezbollah has expressed its intent to destroy Jews as
such a number of times, as reported, for example, by Badih Chayban in
the October 23, 2002 Lebanese Daily Star, where Hezbollah leader,
Hassan Nasrallah, was quoted as saying “if they (Jews) all gather in
Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.”
Each incident in which Jews are killed by Hezbollah is therefore an act
of genocide, which countries like Lebanon and Israel (as signatories to
the Convention) are legally required to punish and prevent. HRW makes
no mention of the parties’ legal duties under the Convention.

Another example of bias may be found in HRW’s insinuation that Israel
is not permitted to target the Beirut airport because, according to
HRW, it is “at best debatable” that the Beirut airport “constitutes a
station for the transport of arms and infrastructure used by Hezbollah”
and a possible means of transporting kidnapped Israeli soldiers to
another country. Contrary to HRW’s suggestion, it is indisputable –
except perhaps by HRW – that Hezbollah has no capability within
Lebanon for fashioning weapons such as Katyusha rockets, Raad and
Zilzal longer-range missiles, and anti-ship Silkworm missiles that have
been used in the fighting of the last few weeks. Since this weaponry
cannot be spontaneously generated, the airport is without doubt an
important potential way station for transport of war materiel and also
hostages. Indeed, Western (including Israeli) intelligence suggests
that the airport has already been used in the past for such purposes.
If HRW has any contrary evidence, or even any ability to obtain
contrary evidence, HRW has yet to identify it. Airports and other ports
of entry, as well as other means of transportation like roads and
bridges are well-recognized in customary international law as
legitimate targets in war.

Further bias may be seen in the selection of issues. Eight questions
are posed regarding Israeli military activity, and seven of the eight
answers provided by HRW imply Israeli wrongdoing, often without legal
or factual basis. By contrast, only three questions regard Hezbollah
activity, with only one of HRW’s answers directly acknowledging
Hezbollah wrongdoing. HRW treats superficially Hezbollah’s repeated
violations of the laws of war in targeting civilians, using
indiscriminate weaponry designed to needlessly enhance suffering,
threatening the civilian population, using civilian shields and the
like. Indeed, while Hezbollah’s use of civilian shields and deliberate
placement of military assets in civilian areas are gross violations of
the laws of war, HRW refers to such acts only in passing.

HRW amplifies the image of Israeli wrongdoing by speculating as to the
existence of improper Israeli motives and then sternly warning Israel
against the speculated thought. HRW engages in no similar speculation
regarding Hezbollah motives. Thus, for example, HRW speculates that the
“real, unstated reason for Israel’s attack on the airport may be
precisely to impose a cost on Lebanese civilians.”

Similarly, HRW issues a number of warnings about possible future
actions of the parties that might constitute war crimes – such as a
possible Israeli failure to permit free passage of food or medical
supplies. Here again, HRW’s speculations are limited to imagined future
Israeli wrongdoing, rather than imagined future Hezbollah wrongdoing.

Numerous sections of the piece mislead. Consider, for instance, HRW’s
discussion of the illegality of Hezbollah’s cross-border attack on July
12 against an Israeli patrol (killing eight) and kidnapping of two
Israeli soldiers. HRW asks “was Hezbollah’s capture of Israeli soldiers
lawful?” and answers “[t]he targeting and capture of enemy soldiers is
allowed under international humanitarian law[; h]owever captured
combatants must in all circumstances be treated humanely.”

This answer is extremely deceptive. It is true that this one of the few
Hezbollah attacks that actually abides by the “distinction” rule in
international humanitarian law that requires that military actions be
aimed at military rather than civilian targets. However, the rule of
“distinction” is not the only relevant rule of international law.
International laws of war forbid Hezbollah and other Lebanese-Iranian
militias from violating Israeli sovereignty with a military attack
unless justified by factors not available in this case to Hezbollah
(such as self-defense). Thus, a complete answer would say that this
attack was probably a crime of aggression, although it is one of the
few Hezbollah attacks that is not, in addition, a violation of the
legal rules of distinction.

HRW buries Hezbollah’s crime of aggression under jargon in a different
place in the document where it alludes obliquely to the illegality of
the attack, equally obliquely suggests (contrary to international law)
that Israel has no right to self-defense and concludes, bizarrely, that
“[i]n accordance with its institutional mandate, Human Rights Watch
maintains a position of strict neutrality on these issues of jus ad
bellum because we find it the best way to promote our primary goal of
encouraging both sides in the course of the conflict to respect
international humanitarian law”

Crimes of aggression are serious violations of the law of war that were
prosecuted at Nuremburg, and are prosecutable under a number of
international legal instruments today. How HRW fulfills its
institutional mandate or promotes respect for the law by whitewashing
Hezbollah’s crimes of aggression – and by hiding Lebanon’s, Syria’s,
and Iran’s legal responsibilities, diminishing other Hezbollah war
crimes, and amplifying imagined Israeli wrongdoing – is not clear.

Mr. Bell is a law professor at Bar Ilan University and a visiting
professor at Fordham University Law School. This piece originally
appeared at http://www.ngo-monitor.org.

http://www.nysun.com/article/36692

War Elephant

By JOHN BATCHELOR
July 25, 2006

Europe will chastise Jerusalem and beseech Beirut and excoriate
Washington and aggrandize Kofi Annan, but it will not fight in Lebanon
to support Israel and America in suppressing Hezbollah.

Why? Europe is not ignorant or cowardly; rather, Europe is collectively
suffering what savants call the double wall of denial, or what is
drolly known as the Elephant-in-the-Room syndrome.

The elephant is Iran. The double wall is that not only can Europe not
talk about Iran as the command and control of Hezbollah in Lebanon, but
also Europe won’t let the United Nations Security Council talk about
the facts that those are Iranian missiles with Iranian agents with
Iranian war aims to destroy Israel and defeat America in Iraq, the
Gulf, the ummah.

Europe is most guileful at hushing elephant-mention, even to the point
of permitting whole continents to burn while maintaining silence. This
month is the 70th anniversary of the start of the most catastrophic
double wall of denial in the 20th century, which is remembered as the
Spanish Civil War.

When the nationalist generals launched their coup in July 1936, with
Franco flying to Morocco to raise an army, the coup was supposed to end
quickly with a nationalist junta. Instead, the Communist Party in
Madrid threw its support to the flimsy government, and the so-called
Republican militias of workers and peasants formed up to blunt the
first rush of the coupmasters. Civil war ignited. The major European
governments conferred in private in order to impose a policy of
nonintervention. Foreign Minister Eden of England counted on Prime
Minister Blum of France, and they together counted on Berlin and Rome,
to avoid choosing sides. Whatever promises they made in public were
betrayed by their motives in secret. England’s fear of the communists
made it favor the coup-plotting generals. Hitler, thinking
strategically to the future, chose the generals because he wanted a
second front at France’ s flank as well as a threat to British sea
routes to Suez. Mussolini just obeyed Hitler.

Meanwhile, Stalin, who cared nothing for the Spanish, was intimidated
by the exiled Trotsky’s propaganda claiming Stalin was a stooge not to
fight for worldwide revolution with the Madrid Communists; and so
Stalin supported the Republicans in a minimal fashion – to stymie
Trotsky but not to provoke London or Berlin.

The result of this treachery was three years of mass murder and famine
that closed in May 1939 with an operatic victory parade of 120,000
soldiers in Madrid, along the Castellana, renamed the Avenida del
Generalissimo, with combat aircraft above forming the initials of “Viva
Franco.” The German contingent, chiefly the war criminals of the Condor
Legion, was led by Lt. Col. Wolfram von Richthofen, who wrote in his
diary, “I am driving at the front. The spectators go wild.”

It is ours to see now that the Elephant in Madrid that day was the
Luftwaffe officer at the front, von Richthofen, a man who would later
burn Rotterdam; and that the double wall of denial had made it possible
for London, Paris, Brussels, and FDR, as well as the League of Nations,
not to talk about Hitler’s motives for his steadfast support of the
generals. More, it made it possible for Europe not to talk about what
Hitler was preparing in Madrid to launch on the whole continent as soon
as Spain was secure – the sneak attack on Poland and Belgium four
months later that began the incineration of Europe, especially the
Jews. (See Antony Beevor’s pounding “The Battle for Spain” just
reprinted. Also see Eviatar Zerubavel’s lucid “The Elephant in the
Room: Silence and Denial in Everyday Life.”)

Today, Iran can go forward in its war on Israel while secure in the
knowledge that Europe will not bring up the truth or even comment when
the new Condor Legions salvo tactical rockets against the border region
and when, soon enough, the new von Richthofen launches a strategic
missile against Tel Aviv or Jerusalem or the nuclear power plant in the
Negev.

Europe will not speak, for if it did, it would first be forced to
confront the truth that when it silenced itself about Spain, it
destroyed its own 20th century.

In the 21st century, America is the unsilent voice. We speak of the
Republican militia those weeks in Madrid, in November 1936, facing the
overwhelming coupmasters. We speak of Major Rivière, who, with 115
volunteers, fought off tanks until the Moroccan attackers set the house
ablaze. Rivière lit his last cigarette from the flames and died with
an ironic observation, “Nobody will ever know everything that we have
done.”

America does know now, Rivière, and speaks. There’s a Persian war
elephant in the room.

Mr. Batchelor is host of “The John Batchelor Show” on the ABC radio
network. The show airs in New York on 770 AM from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.

http://www.nysun.com/article/36678?page_no=1

Ray Of Hope

By HILLEL HALKIN
July 25, 2006

Is Ehud Olmert’s “convergence plan” dead? This may not seem the most
pressing thing to ask while the fighting in Lebanon is going on, but
since the fighting has a great deal to do with this plan, the question
is not irrelevant.

It is doubtful indeed whether, were the Olmert government not so
committed to the idea of a unilateral withdrawal from most of the West
Bank to borders determined by Israel, it would have reacted to
Hezbollah’s abduction of two Israeli soldiers with the fury that it
did. Since the withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon in
2000, Israel has responded to numerous Hezbollah provocations and
threats far more mildly than it did now, and the feeling that “this
time they’ve gone too far,” although certainly part of it, cannot by
itself explain the launching of such a major operation.

But “convergence” is in deep trouble, and was so long before the
fighting in Lebanon began. The unceasing Kassam rocket attacks from
Hamas-controlled Gaza had already done the job. What was the point of
Ariel Sharon’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the Israeli
public was increasingly asking in the months after Mr. Olmert’s
election last March, if it was followed, not by peace and quiet, but by
daily shelling? And if this was what happened when the army left Gaza
– which is not, given the range of the weapons the Palestinians
possess, currently within striking distance of major Israeli cities and
strategic installations – what would happen if it pulled out of the
West Bank, from which Kassams, let alone longer-ranged missiles, could
easily hit Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ben-Gurion Airport, and major army
bases?

Israeli public opinion has, in recent months, turned more and more
against “convergence.” Whereas a narrow majority of the country’s
population might have supported it at the time of Mr. Olmert’s election
victory, a clear majority today opposes it. And yet as practically the
sole campaign plank on which he and his Kadima Party ran, and as the
linchpin to his strategic vision of Israel’s future, it is not a plan
that he can give up without losing the raison-d’etre of his prime
ministership.

The Hezbollah border raid that triggered the fighting in Lebanon needs
to be seen against this background. On the one hand, it added yet
another argument to the anti-“convergence” camp’s arsenal: Here was yet
one more reminder of what Israel can expect when it withdraws
unilaterally from territory in which hostile forces are allowed to
remain, as Hezbollah was allowed to remain in southern Lebanon in 2000.

On the other hand, it also presented the Olmert government with an
opportunity to show both Israelis and the world what Israel’s enemies
can expect if they attack it from an evacuated West Bank. What we are
doing to Hezbollah, the message went, we will also do to West Bank
Palestinians who attack us across the border we establish.

In a very real sense, therefore, the future of “convergence” depends on
the outcome of the fighting in Lebanon. If Israel manages to crush
Hezbollah, or to pave the way for a political settlement as a part of
which Hezbollah will be disarmed and forced to abandon its military
positions along Israel’s northern border, unilateral West Bank
withdrawal may still seem a viable option. If the results are less than
that – if, say, Hezbollah emerges from the weeks of combat and its
negotiated aftermath with its fighting units still intact –
“convergence” can be kissed goodbye, at least for the foreseeable
future.

The Olmert government is thus now fighting in Lebanon for its own
political future. If its war aims are not met, Mr. Olmert will in
effect be a lame-duck prime minister with nearly four years of office
still ahead of him. This to a great extent explains his determination
to “go for broke” in Lebanon and order all-out military action.

One wishes him well, not only because crushing Hezbollah is a worthy
aim in its own right, and an important part of the war against Islamic
terror and the Iranian-Syrian-jihadist axis, but also because
“convergence,” for all its problematic aspects, remains the only game
in town. Those who criticize it and point to the southern Lebanon and
Gaza withdrawals as dire precedents have a serious argument to make.
What they do not have, however, is a serious alternative.

The fact is that the Kassam rocket attacks from Gaza, and the thousands
of Katyusha and Ra’ad missiles that Hezbollah has fired into Israel in
the past two weeks, have certainly strengthened the case against
“convergence,” but they have not weakened the case for it.
“Convergence” remains one of three possible ways in which Israel can
deal with its Palestinians problem – and the other two continue to be
far worse. They are: Either continuing the Israeli occupation of the
entire West Bank forever, or else capitulating to the Palestinians’
terms for a peace settlement, which would mean withdrawing all the way
to the 1967 borders and admitting into Israel large numbers of 1948
Palestinian refugees and their descendants – and that, too, without
the slightest guarantee that the peace agreed on would be durable.

If Hezbollah cannot be dismantled as a terrorist threat, and if this
cannot serve as a precedent either for doing the same to Hamas or for
intimidating it into better behavior, “convergence” can be forgotten
about. But Israel will then be in a worse situation than ever, without
a ray of hope for extricating itself from an endless conflict. That’s
another reason to pray for its success in Lebanon.

Mr. Halkin is a contributing editor of The New York Sun.

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=N2E0MzY2NTJiOGViNjRlNWY1ZGU4NThmNjg5M2Y5ZTA=

Do-Nothing Diplomacy
Armchair diplomats in a 1970s time warp

By Rich Lowry

When Condoleezza Rice is in her well-appointed suite on the seventh
floor of the State Department, we now know what she does – nothing.
At least such was the premise of much of the coverage of the run-up to
her trip to the Middle East. It was assumed that if Rice weren’t
shuttling from capital to capital in the region, she must have been
sitting idle, watching the coverage of the crisis on cable TV.

Now that Rice has departed Washington, she will be portrayed again as
doing nothing, although in a different venue, so long as she doesn’t
join the calls for an immediate Israeli ceasefire. For much of the
media and the foreign-policy establishment, the only U.S. posture that
constitutes real action in the Middle East is “evenhanded” pressure
leading to the immediate cessation of whatever hostilities happen to
have broken out.

Such commentators are caught in a 1970s time warp where the only
template for U.S. Middle East diplomacy is Henry Kissinger shuttling
around the region in the wake of the 1973 war, negotiating the
disengagement of the Israeli and Arab forces. But what might have made
sense more than 30 years ago – when it was nation-states clashing,
with the dangerous Cold War competition between rival superpowers in
the background – needn’t apply to an Israeli fight with a terror
group acting as a proxy of an Iran bent on regional hegemony. Those who
criticize the Bush administration for its lack of diplomacy are missing
a diplomatic strategy notable both for its boldness and its subtlety.

It is bold because the U.S. doesn’t just want to freeze the Lebanese
status quo in place again, but see Hezbollah diminished so that the
democratic government in Lebanon is strengthened and Iran’s influence
in the Arab world weakened. Allowing Israel more time to pound
Hezbollah, therefore, isn’t heedless warmongering, but a step toward
a well-considered endgame. It is a version of the Clinton
administration’s Balkan gambit in the summer of 1995 of quietly
encouraging the Croats to pursue an offensive against the Serbs, on the
(correct) theory that it would create the conditions for a sustainable
settlement. War is always politics by other means, and the current
Israeli attacks have an ultimate political and diplomatic purpose.

The subtlety of the administration’s strategy is its attempt to
exploit an Arab split against the Iranian-allied, Hezbollah-enabler
Syria. The Saudis and other key Arab states have denounced
Hezbollah’s initial cross-border attack, and a Saudi cleric has
issued an anti-Hezbollah fatwa. The idea is to have the Arabs threaten
to isolate Syria, and thus turn it away from its alliance with a Shiite
Iran distrusted and feared by the other Sunni-majority Arab states.
Whether this play can work is open to doubt, but its status as complex
international diplomacy is not: It involves a classic diplomatic tactic
of divide and conquer in the service of enforcing a United Nations
resolution (1559, calling for the disarming of Hezbollah) and creating
a meaningful international force in Southern Lebanon.

All sides can pick at this strategy. Liberals can rue the damage to
Lebanon and doubt that the Arab coalition against Syria will hold in
light of it. Neoconservatives can denounce the folly of trying to turn
a recalcitrant Syria and agitate for the straightforward bombing of
Iran instead. The current please-no-one Bush approach is a neorealist
synthesis that takes the ambition of changing the Middle East of the
neocons and combines it with the appreciation for diplomacy and of
small steps toward larger goals of the realists. It is a strategy that
makes sense in theory, but as the Iraq War has demonstrated during the
past four years, the Middle East is a graveyard for finely wrought
theories.

Whether this theory has an unhappy end or gives the Bush administration
a major Middle Eastern diplomatic triumph will be known soon enough.
But anyone who suggests that the administration is doing nothing is
simply blinded by anachronisms.