Why does peace so elude the Middle East? A recent MSNBC.com news report provides the answer:
“Hezbollah [whose attacks on Israel triggered Israel's recent retaliation in Lebanon] is an Iranian-backed militant Shiite faction which has a free hand in southern Lebanon and also holds seats in parliament. The Lebanese government has no control over Hezbollah but has long resisted international pressure to forcibly disarm the group for fears of igniting sectarian conflict.”
Note these words: “for fears of igniting sectarian conflict.”
In order to avoid conflict, to achieve “peace at any price,” the terrorist group Hezbollah has been pacified–by the U.N., by Israel (to a point) and at least indirectly by the United States, who, while always supporting Israel’s right to defend itself “in principle,” rarely does so in practice.
The key here lies in understanding the avoidance of conflict. When you seek to avoid conflict with a person or group who is already clearly committed to conflict (specifically violence), you are engaging in the worst kind of contradiction.
The attitude of ignoring physical threats and attacks by another is known as appeasement. Hiding under the shroud of “peace,” appeasement is nothing more than an excuse for the attitude, “I’m simply going to pretend this violence isn’t happening.”
Israel’s enemies, most particularly Iran, clearly have nothing to lose through appeasement. The United States thinks it doesn’t, but actually we do, because by ignoring the actions of openly violent thugs against Israel (an imperfect, but far from terrorist nation), we in effect send a message to any and all other terrorists that they can do what they want to us. Note that Hezbollah is backed by Iran, arguably the greatest threat to the United States and its interests today.
To an amazing degree, Israel engages in appeasement too. But since Israel is the one taking all the hits, sooner or later it takes a few shots to defend itself.
So here’s why we never see peace in the Middle East: because appeasement doesn’t work. The occasional outbursts of self-defense by Israel do something, for a time; but in the end we’re back to the same old pretense that avowedly terrorist groups like Hezbollah are really no different in stature from, say, Israel and the United States–two nations whose governments actually do quite a lot to protect the individual rights of real human beings. Hezbollah, on the other hand, is nothing more than a very dangerous gang of thugs who delight in blowing up anyone who disagrees with their primitive religious beliefs and customs.
In short: you do not achieve peace by pretending that the openly violent really want peace. They don’t. The only solution is to give them what they want, not once or twice every couple of years–but totally and consistently, until they either surrender or, better yet, disappear from the planet altogether.