The current fighting in the Middle East between Israel on the one side, and Hamas and Hezbollah on the other, is not just another example of the so-called “cycle of violence” that periodically erupts in that troubled region from time to time. It is the opening stage of a more general war wherein the West’s, including Canada’s, vital interests are at stake.
To understand this, one must understand both the history and present context of the battle now being waged.
Since its revolution in 1979 Iran has emerged as a dominant strategic reality, not just in the Middle East, but in central Asia as well. A non-Arab (Persian) powerhouse, Iran has been at the forefront of aggressive and fanatical militancy in the Moslem world for almost 30 years. In that time, it has fomented unrest in southern Russia where much of the population is Moslem, organized direct attacks against both Israel and the United States, and orchestrated attacks against Jews around the world, the most notorious of which was the bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in July of 1994 that killed 86 people.
Iran has prevented the development of democracy in Lebanon and has actively undermined the stability of moderate Arab countries by encouraging and supporting fundamentalist Islamic movements throughout the region.
Beginning in the early 1980s, Iran has been nurturing Hezbollah, a well organized, financed, trained and equipped organization designed to wage war by proxy on behalf of the Islamic Republic. The ultimate objective of Iran is the eradication of all vestiges of Jewish and Christian communal life in the Middle East and the creation of a pan-Islamic republic. This objective can never be accomplished through peaceful means though.
The strategy of Iran, therefore, is to wage – and win – a war of annihilation. This is an important point to grasp, because it means that they will engage in diplomacy only if they detect an opportunity to strengthen their ability to attain that strategic goal. The opposite is true for us – diplomacy only makes sense if it will prevent – not dissuade, but prevent – them from doing so.
Taking on Hezbollah now, therefore, makes good strategic sense, regardless of the cost. Hezbollah is an important strategic asset of Iran. Intelligence experts estimate moreover, that the group, which is now the virtual government in southern Lebanon, possesses in excess of 10,000 missiles, including powerful medium range ones that can strike deep into the heart of Israel. Events of the past week have now confirmed the accuracy of these reports.
These missiles serve no defensive purpose whatsoever. They are offensive weapons that have been stockpiled for a reason – to be used in support of malevolent Iranian actions. By eliminating Hezbollah, Israel is denying Iran the free use of this asset at the time and place of its choosing, a fact that could prove to be invaluable as events unfold in the coming weeks and months.
Furthermore, by taking the attack to its enemies and destroying Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel is sending a clear and important message to both Damascus – as sponsors Hamas terrorism – and Teheran, that the Jewish state is no longer prepared to allow countries to wage aggressive war against it by proxy with impunity. In short, Israel is indicating that it will no longer be deterred from defending itself by the fear of escalation.
Ironically, Palestinians and Lebanese stand to benefit from this policy as much as Israelis. There will be no Israel if Iran is successful in achieving its vision, but there will no free and democratic Lebanon or Palestine either. Palestinians and Lebanese have both demonstrated a thirst for freedom and democracy in recent years, but while this has manifested itself in relatively free elections insofar as process goes, foreign interests, through the use of proxies, have prevented the emergence of real democracy by imposing a stranglehold on the civil society of these populations and its institutions.
This is the untold story of the past decade in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. This stranglehold has been maintained by the brutal suppression of any dissent. It may be that Hezbollah and Hamas deliver some basic social services to the populations they control, but it is also true that beatings, extortion and murder are the norm for those who dare to stray from the party line. And by controlling education and media, the warlords have indoctrinated the youth into their malignant culture of hate, thus ensuring, not just a ready reserve of fodder for their bloodthirsty plans today, but a steady supply for the future.
There are those, especially on the left, who argue that by speaking truthfully about Hezbollah, Stephen Harper is jeopardizing Canada’s traditional role as a so-called ‘honest broker’ in the region. This is silly. Does anyone really believe that terrorists think highly of us when we equate their actions with those of Israel? On the contrary, they regard us, and treat us, as naïve and gullible fools, and use us to shield themselves from the consequences of their own violent agenda. In short, the sort of contrived neutrality that has characterized Canada’s Middle-East policy in recent years does not promote peace – it prolongs the conflict.
If Canada is to play the role of honest broker it must first be honest. There may be times when right and wrong are not at issue, but there are also times when they are. This is one such time, and it’s refreshing to hear our Prime Minister acknowledge this.