OUT OF ORDER. Here's some smart stuff on the burgeoning Israel-Lebanon war from Greg Djerejian. I have to say that I'm baffled as to why Israel is proceeding in this manner. I would have thought that between Hezbollah's attack on Israeli troops and Israel's decision to retaliate in such a large-scale manner, one would have seen an interim period of threats and diplomacy. After 9-11, after all, we didn't attack the Taliban right away, we first made a series of demands designed to either get what we wanted without war, or else garner larger amounts of international support for the war that eventually unfolded by demonstrating that we had no good options.

After all, it at least seems possible to me that the combination of threatened military action and international diplomatic pressure could have gotten the Lebanese government -- and possibly even the Hezbollah leadership -- to back down here, since at the end of the day Israel holds all the military cards. What's more, the Hezbollah issue is a relatively rare case of Israel having the upper-hand diplomatically since SCR-1583 passed unanimously in 2005 supports Israel's contention that it's already completely withdrawn from Lebanon and that Hezbollah must be disarmed. This became a low-priority topic for the international community, but since they were already on record backing Israel's position, Hezbollah´┐Żs attack should have made it easy to raise the salience of the issue and that at least might have gotten the job done on its own.

Instead, by striking first, Israel seems to have both muddied the waters somewhat as to what's at issue here and also made it much harder for the Lebanese government to do the right thing.

--Matthew Yglesias

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