Not too long ago, Jonah Goldberg at NRO and Kevin Drum had a brief squabble over ‘unsolvable problems.’ I’m paraphrasing recklessly here, but Drum’s position was basically that the Left has a morally and practically superior position over the Right because the Left doesn’t believe that problems are unsolvable, while the Right will metaphorically throw up its hand and not try to fix things it perceives as permanently unfixable. Goldberg responded that liberals unrealistically expect the “next” government program or initiative to fix problems that just don’t have reasonable real-world solutions.
That discussion was largely on a philosophical level, and to be fair to both participants, dealt with issues related to the human condition, as opposed to specifics of geography and warfare, but it still sprang to my mind when I look at news reports from the last week. Right now we’re all looking at a textbook definition of an unsolvable problem in Lebanon, and whether you believe in a “fixable” human condition or not, it’s hard to see how the issues on the ground are going to be settled in any kind of ‘best’ ending.
On the one hand, you’ve got the Israelis, who have had enough of being attacked by Iranian-funded and Syrian-supported Hezbollah terrorists acting from Lebanese territory. They’re apparently finished dealing with a “peace process” that has produced no peace, and it’s hard to blame them for that. Certainly, Hezbollah is a barbaric terrorist army that deserves to be destroyed, but the problem is, Hezbollah lives in somebody else’s neighborhood.
The non-Hezbollah Lebanese, who like Syria and Iran only microscopically more than they like Israel, are caught in the middle and getting clobbered. The Lebanese army is outgunned and hugely outfinanced by Hezbollah, and the Lebanese people are understandably horrified at the idea of fighting another civil war.
It’s a terrible situation. If the current war (and let’s not kid ourselves with proxies, that’s what it is) pitting Israel on one side with Syria and Iran on the other destroys the nascent Lebanese democracy along the way, that’s an awful, awful outcome–but it’s also an awful outcome if Iran is able to maintain its proxy terrorist army attacking Israel from Lebanese soil. Maybe worst of all for the Lebanese, it looks like this one is going to be fought out to a military conclusion. “Diplomacy” is a joke in this case. The Israelis don’t trust any of the international organizations, and for good reason. Iran holds those organizations (and the non-radicalized Lebanese) in contempt, and is only interested in using them to further the mullahs’ various ends.
Hammer and anvil, and the Lebanese in between. There is not a good solution.