Friday, July 14, 2006

Elephant Times

American Future has a solid post up bringing together four pieces of analysis about Israel and the evolving situation in the Middle East. I think this approach makes the most sense, because I'm struck, in reading through (and listening to) news coverage and commentary at how often the old tale of the blind men and the elephant*** seems to apply. It's Iran's war! It's Syria's war! This is the real catalyst; no, that was the last straw. And so forth. But of course the point is that it's a whole lot of everything combined into a well-nigh intractable mess. My approach is to read widely, and deliberately in contradiction, keeping in mind the idea expressed in the linked version of the elephant parable:
Now you yourself consider whether such proofs they can ever penetrate to the object of demonstrations, the elephant, and whether with such proofs they can ever arrive at the correct conclusion. Every rational man knows that the more proofs of this sort they advance, the farther they will be from knowledge of the elephant[.] [T]hey can never arrive at the object of their demonstrations, the elephant, and consequently that the conflict in opinions will never be relieved, [b]ut will become more and more pronounced.

All that said, I do think it's important to take note of something that Michael Young points out in his New York Time's op-ed piece today:
A second line that Hezbollah crossed was its evident coordination of strategy with Hamas; this went well beyond its stated aim of simply defending Lebanon and left Israel feeling it was fighting a war on two fronts.

Unholy alliances and active collaboration of that sort, assuming it's true, do indeed pose a real threat (especially when the groups involved are backed by state actors, which they most assuredly are), as all thinking people should be able to understand, even if they don't agree with the reaction. In this case, the devil may not be so much in the details, but in the connections.

***(This was before I went searching for a link and was reminded that this legend has some significance in Islamic thought. Funny, the things you forget that you knew at one time that then stealthily sneak out of your unconscious mind at opportune times.)

Note: I (reader_iam) won't be doing a lot of updating on the Middle East situation, as I'm preparing for the first of several out-of-town, overnight roadtrips. If you haven't seen it, I did provide some links in this post, which I updated last night. Though the specific articles/blog posts/etc. may be overtaken by events, the sources themselves might be useful as the situation progresses.

Update: After publishing, I read this piece from Real Clear Politics, which surely reflects the views of key influential people in the U.S.