WEEK TWO. I'm lacking in deep thoughts on the situation at the moment, but it occurs to me that folks defending recent Israeli attacks on Lebanon seem to me to be defending something that's happening in an alternate reality rather than the actual events on the ground. Repeating the mantra that Israel is aiming to crush Hezbollah doesn't change the fact that, in practice, this isn't what Israel is doing. For one thing, they're not just attacking armed Hezbollah personnel; they're dropping bombs on offices in urban areas with all the attendant devastation that entails. But more broadly, they're systematically targeting Lebanon's civilian infrastructure -- the airport, fuel depots, power plants, roads. The direct consequences of this have been a civilian death toll that's far higher than what Hezbollah's equally indefensible indiscriminate rocket attacks have done. Whatever the intent of all this is, the actual effect is going to be to kill a lot of people, make many more into refugees (some of whom will, consequently, die), wreck Lebanon's economy, and possibly cause that country's already rickety state to collapse.

Sebastian Mallaby has some smart things to say, though I agree with Kevin Drum's caveats. Suzanne Nossel, likewise, is making sense. Robert Farley's scattered observations seem valuable, especially the point that "If Israel could have destroyed Hezbollah, it would have done so at some point between 1982 and 2000. It's clear that the IDF can hurt, but equally as clear that it can't exterminate Hezbollah through military force alone."

Meanwhile, though I'll admit this is a somewhat eccentric view of mine, I think it's always worth reading Martin Peretz on Israel issues. As you'll see here, he basically sees this as a replay of the 1982 Lebanon intervention, which he considers to be a good thing -- about half of that analysis seems right. Elsewhere in The New Republic, Michael Oren says that in order to prevent a wider war, Israel needs to widen the war by attacking Syria.

--Matthew Yglesias

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