As the anyone-but-Israel crowd (I’m looking at you, Adam, Eddie, and John) heats up its demonization of the Dawlat Israil, some context is needed. Particularly, an understand of the levels of power. These are essentially the levels of anlaysis that were devised by Waltz in his book Man, the State, and War, and since elucidated elsewhere.
In general, a power on one level can meaningful effect those on lower levels, win or lose “fairly” against those on the same level, and very weakly influence the level above.
To understand the Israel-Hizbullah conflict, we must understand where the actors are:
Knowing this, most criticisms are blown away (they were already hot air).
The most important thing to remember about the Israel-Hezbollah War is this: Israel is a State, not the System, not an Alliance of major powers, but a state. Because most of the blogosphere’s criticism is directed against the Jewish State, I will spend this post on the implications of the Levels of Power on it. (Bloggers apparently have a more nuanced or sympathetic inclination toward Hezbollah).
Israel is not The System. She does not have the power to change rulesets in regions, and this means that she is unable to choose which rulesets she fights under. Israel cannot shrink the Gap to fight the war she wants, and cannot shrink the Gap to make problems go away.
The world-system provided over by the United States is composed of the Core and the Gap, The Core of the “developed world” and the Gap of the “developing world,” with finer grades running from the Old Core of North America, Europe, and Japan to the Non-Integrating Gap of the African and Islamic worlds. The system is pleasant for New Core states and unpleasant for Gap states. The greatest project of our time, which is sometimes called “Shrinking the Gap,” current means pulling up the Seam to the New Core and not letting it fall back to the Gap.
Intervention within the old Core is relatively easy (the Katrina “debacle” did not lead to a single loyalty militia or terrorist-group attack, though much smaller things routinely do so throughout the Gap). However, intervention in the Gap opens eyes to the sadness of that world. It doesn’t create the sadness — life was bad in Somalia before the Rangers walked Mogadishu, and life was bad in Rwanda before UN peacekeepers fired on refugees.
Many of the attacks on the Democratic State come from a belief that Jews should spill blood and treasure to move Hizbollah’s territory up to the New Core. The absurdity and futility of a State spending its resources to change the Systemic nature of another is clear: it violates a simple understand of the levels of power, but functionally equivalent states are common in the anti-Israeli press. As Eddie of Life from the FDNF says
There is no honor in bad intelligence taking lives over and over again in a short period, no honor in killing children and blaming it on the other guy. You shouldn’t have bombed the shelter then. Send some troops, if you have the courage (which is increasingly in question among Israel’s political leadership), and take Hezbollah out.
This is in an atmosphere where Hizbullah hides among the human population. Must one then respond to Hizbullah’s use of human shields with surrender, as apparently any action that could lead Hizbullah to kill civilians?. That belief, which attempts to export New Core-level rules of hostage rescue to the Gap, is insane.
Changing local rulesets through force is extremely hard. The United States failed doing in so Vietnam, Lebanon, and Somalia, yet here bloggers advocate a State knowingly apply an inappropriate rule-set — New Core hostage rescue tactics — to an inappropriate theatre– the Gap.. The same level of moral sophistication would demand Core-level rulesets of triage for hospital-shacks in the Savannah, or Old Core-level minimum wages in the New Core, for that mater. The alternative, we are told, is lack of “courage.”
Attempting the impossible is not courageous. It is suicide. That’s why newspapers don’t talk about courageous attempts by teen-agers to live with lacerated wrists. They talk about suicides.
Pundits who demand that Israel apply inappropriate rulesets to a fight in the Gap do not understand resilience. Pundits who demand that a single state try to change System-level rulesets do not understand resilience. They desire an unresilient Israel, which applies inappropriate rulesets in an inappropriate theatre.
An Israel that used hostage-rescue techniques in Lebanon would be fighting the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time. But Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, his government, and his Israeli Defense Forces are wiser than that. They are wisely applying the right rulesets in the right fight. That’s why they are winning.