Israel in Lebanon = Cheap(ish) Oil

Media reporting seems to be all Israel, all the time, and rightly so. As usual, the media reports what's happening without any sort of examination of why it's happening and what the events will lead to. As such, you will now be subjected to my analysis.

First, this is classic proxy war - as clearly as anything from the Cold War - with Israel as the US's proxy, Hezbollah as Iran's. It's important to remember that while Israel is doing what's best for their state's security (and Hezbollah what's best for them) it's the more powerful nations that are largely directing this chess game.

First Iran / Hezbollah:

Hezbollah was founded by and is supported by Iran. Many pundits and analysts have noted that the seizure was likely at the direction of Iran, possibly to distract the public from Iran's nuclear weapons program. The part about Iran directing this escalation is correct, but not the reason.

With the removal of Saddam's Iraq, Iran sees itself as the lone military 'power' in the Middle East. The only other nation in the region that can match Iran is Israel. As long as Israel is strong, Iran's dreams of being a sort of 'local hegemon' won't happen.

Hoping to keep Israel tied down with problems closer to their own borders, Iran, through Hezbollah, escalated what had been a relatively stable situation in Lebanon.
Ok. Now we know why the spark was set to the powder keg. Let's look at Israel's much criticized reaction.

The United States / Israel:
Yes, the Israelis are trying to recover their captured soldiers and root out Hezbollah militants, but Israel's actions in Lebanon are, at their root, designed to clear the way for a strike against Iran in an attempt to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state, something that the US, Europe, and Israel all agree would be a bad thing.

Should Iran become a nuclear state, Israel would probably attempt the same sort of airstrike against Iranian nuclear facilities that was carried out against Iraq years ago. Regardless of success, partial success, or failure, Iran's proxy (Hezbollah) is in a position to wreak havoc on Israeli population centers with their rockets.

Because a Nuclear Iran would be able to disrupt the flow of oil out of the Middle East without fear of military reprisal, the U.S. (and Europe) are allowing Israel to do a little bit of the heavy lifting for them.
(SIDE NOTE: The reason Russia and China are hesitant to put sanctions on Iran have nothing to do with those nations being 'bad guys' and everything to do with energy supplies. Should Middle East oil production be negatively impacted, the value of Russia's oil reserves would skyrocket overnight. China is hoping that by helping Iran, it can get a sweet-heart deal on Iranian to keep it's economy going.

Interestingly, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt have all issued statements condemning Hezbollah. President Bush and his apologists would love you to believe that this was due to the pressure he has exerted upon them to condemn terrorists. It has nothing to do with this. These nations are primarily Sunni and (with the exception of Egypt) Arab - putting them at odds with Shiite and Persian Iran. The Saudi Arabians, Jordanians and Egyptians are just trying to hedge against a rising Iranian power.)
Israel has little to loose and everything to gain by helping the US prevent a nuclear Iran. It has proven that it can withstand conventional attacks and invasions by it's neighbors. With the US's supports, Israel will not be 'wiped of the map.' Therefore, provoking the 'Arab Street' is an acceptable risk when weighed against being nuked by a nation who's leader has declared his desire that Israel be destroyed.

The US, already tied up in Iraq has the ability to conduct the airstrike on Iran's nuclear facilities, but not to survive the aftermath. Troops in Iraq would be at huge risk, the entire region would become more hostile and oil shipping coming through the Persian Gulf would be massacred.

Economic, Strategic and Political ramifications would be damning.

So of course the US is allowing Israel to operate freely. Expecting the US to reign in Israel is expecting the US to act against it's own self interest.

It won't happen. Of course that doesn't make it right.

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