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Weekend reflections

A freezing cold day in Melbourne today. After taking my son to a music lesson I spent the rest of the day reading the Weekend Australian and the biography of Harry Harlow, Love at Goon Park by Deborah Blum. During Harlow’s life the ‘animal rights’ movement didn’t have much of an impact so the sorts of criticisms I discussed in an earlier post were not relevant. It was his pioneering work as a psychologist in understanding the ‘science of affection’ (‘love’) that stand out. Harlow was a curious, cranky, imperfect human being who was obviously quite brilliant.

The newspapers today had some excellent articles on the conflict between Israel and Iran’s representatives in Lebanon. The initial killings and murders by Hezbollah were clearly designed to initiate a conflict that had been long planned and engineered by Iran. Hezbollah has got the outcome it wants and the unfortunate people of Lebanon are paying a terrible price. The Australian’s editorial says it all – Israel’s foes must understand that Israel will defend its existence. The article by Alan Dershowitz ‘When innocents are in the firing in’ makes the point that Hezbollah launch anti-personnel rockets from heavily-populated civilian areas seeking Israeli death gains and propaganda gains from Israeli responses which fall on civilians. The chorus of condemnation of Israel then serves the terrorist interest.

Israel is planning a limited ground offensive in Lebanon to weaken Hezbollah and presumably to attempt to provide strength to the Lebanese Government. The latter has said it will fight alongside Hezbollah against the Israelis (it has mentioned previously trying to disarm Hezbollah) so it is unclear what will happen. Israel’s objective is obviously to inflict heavy damage on Hezbollah that will weaken Iran’s capacity to operate via proxy in Lebanon.

Finally, I noticed via several blogs that the neocon William Kristol advocates the US attacking Iran now. Writing of Hezbollah’s Iranian-backed fight with Israel:

‘…..For that matter, we might consider countering this act of Iranian aggression with a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Why wait? Does anyone think a nuclear Iran can be contained? That the current regime will negotiate in good faith? It would be easier to act sooner rather than later. Yes, there would be epercussions–and they would be healthy ones, showing a strong America that has rejected further appeasement’.

Paul Krugman ridicules this notion but argues this is probably driving current official US thinking. If it is driving US thinking it islikely that the US would be behaving now just as it is. It is giving Israel time to clean up Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon, then nominally seeking a negotiated settlement by sending Dr Rice to end that conflict and then suddenly striking Iran’s nuclear facilities. The US must now be thinking about how this type of conflict would be played out if Iran had nuclear weapons. He must also be thinking that a peace deal which leaves Hezbollah intact and leaving Iran and Syria in their current strategic position will be almost worthless – some short-term gains in reduced civilian casualties but the type of problems being experienced now repeating as the terrorists regroup.

The US have already speeded up the delivery of refined missiles to Israel. Meanwhile savage critiques of the neocon ‘attack Iran’ position are being posted.

Fairly gloomy thoughts on a gloomy Saturday. If you have anything brighter to contribute I would welcome hearing about it. Feel free to contribute your views on anything.

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