Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

What Did the Olmert Government Think It Was Doing?

Michael Yglesias writes:

How Bad Was It? | TPMCafe: By Matthew Yglesias: Via Hilzoy, a very interesting resource from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, namely a list of Hezbollah attacks along Israel's northern border from May 2000 to June 2006. I tried to tally it all up, and I came up with 13 soldiers and seven civilians killed, along with 27 soldiers and 7 civilians wounded, plus three IDF soldiers and two Israeli Arabs captured....

[T]his is what happened after Israel stopped occupying Lebanese land, it's all very unjustified. Clearly, given the consistent nature of these provocations, Israel had a legal and moral right to seek changes.

At the same time, the list puts some perspective on the practical size of the Hezbollah problem. Twenty dead over six years. Thirty-four wounded. A bad business. But clearly a low-intensity problem all things considered. Hezbollah, whatever its notional commitment to the destruction of Israel, was not a practical threat to the nation's survival....

The tit-for-tat retaliations appear to have succeeded in containing the conflict. Not in stopping Hezbollah from attacking, but in dissuading it from escalating. The resulting situation wasn't ideal by any means, but it was pretty good, all things considered. The odds that the current military action -- which has already cost Israel, to say nothing of Lebanon, more lives than six years worth of low-intensity conflict -- will alter the situation dramatically for the better strike me as very low.

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