Middle East peace hinges on disarming terrorist organization
While most Americans are lounging the summer heat away, going to baseball games and taking dives in the neighborhood pool, 6,000 miles away a conflict rages on in the Middle East. For the past three weeks, Israel and the militant Shiite group, Hezbollah, in southern Lebanon, have been engaged in fierce fighting. The daily headlines are grim: scores of innocent children killed in Lebanon, barrages of rocket fire raining on Israel. Hundreds of both Israeli and Lebanese civilians have been killed or wounded in the conflict, as well as four UN observers and a handful of foreign nationals. The United States needs to take a more active approach if we want to disarm a malicious terrorist organization and stop the horrific murder of Lebanese civilians.
Hezbollah was originally formed to fight the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon following the 1982 invasion. Yet, despite the withdrawal of Israeli troops in 2000, Hezbollah continues to encourage and carry out attacks on Israel, and is not the legitimate political party it claims to be. The democratic Lebanese government itself does not condone Hezbollah's actions and the United States and most other governments consider it a terrorist organization. According to U.S. intelligence, Iran supplies Hezbollah with an annual $100 million in cash and weapons, including approximately 13,000 rockets and missiles.
The lack of support for Israel by world leaders is appalling. After the September 11 attacks, countries all over the world helped the United States defeat the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. President Bush justified invading Iraq by claiming Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that were a serious threat to the United States. Israel is not acting on similar faulty evidence but the very real terrorism it faces everyday. If President Bush wants to practice what he preaches about his Global War on Terrorism, then he should assist our ally in its struggle with extremists.
No one benefits from a prolonged war, but an immediate ceasefire will not solve the problem either. Hezbollah must be disarmed and brought down from power. Lebanon is a fledgling, weak democracy that has to be given a chance to succeed. To start, the Lebanese government needs to once again control southern Lebanon.
The United States, already stretched thin between Afghanistan and Iraq, does not need to go in alone. A UN peacekeeping force should be sent, but not just to man the border between Israel and Lebanon. Attempting to keep the peace in such a fiery region is difficult, as Iraq has demonstrated. Instead peace talks must be initiated with all the countries in the region. The situation in Lebanon needs to be solved with a broader look at the Middle East as a whole.
As terrible as war is, Israel is justified in its actions. Its civilians live in great danger every day, anxiously awaiting the next suicide bomb attack. After dealing with extremists for its entire existence, Israel is striking back and defending itself, as it has every right to do. Unfortunately, Lebanese civilians are being killed, but it must be kept in mind that Hezbollah is a shameless organization that hides among its own civilian populations in order to protect itself. The world should lend humanitarian aid to help the Lebanese people, but the world can do greater good by helping the Lebanese people gain back their country from the control of Hezbollah.
Pia Nargundkar. Pia Nargundkar was Editor-in-Chief of Silver Chips Online during the 2007-2008 school year. More »