Foreign Policy Blogs

Birthday Wish

When I was a young, bubbly lad my mom used to do something for me on my birthday every year. I was an only child, and she enjoyed indulging me I think. She would give me one wish.

Happy Birthday, to me!

Happy Birthday, to me!

Her only rule was that my wish had to reasonable, something within the realm of possibility. Sometimes I would use the wish on doing things I liked. Going to the batting cages was always popular. Sometimes I would go for food, I remember a string of grilled cheese sandwich wishes. The point is, my mom is awesome and found a pretty simple way to make her son feel like the coolest kid on planet earth every year on his birthday.

I’m all grown up now, but I still want my wishes. This is my day and it’s all about me. So Hasan Nasrallah, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Bashar Assad…time to pay up and grant my 28th birthday wish. I know, I know reasonable reader. I do. You’re thinking to yourself “none of those guys would ever grant YOU a wish, this totally kills your mom’s rule about wishes having to be plausible.” Well reasonable reader, you MIGHT be right, but I say my wish is so simple and so easy that it’s sitting right there on the plausibility fence. Bear with me, oh reader who is reasonable.

My wish is this: I want all three of you to take a deep breath on all this war talk.

I’ll put it another way. Ever since the news hit that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) would be blaming Hezbollah for the Hariri assassination everyone has been in a bit of a huff. Whispers of the next war are on everyone’s lips. Can we all just agree this will be bad for everyone and stop talking about it? Please?

While Hezbollah, and Hasan Nasrallah, might well have emerged from the 2006 encounter with Israel as strong as ever, stronger maybe, but they can’t just go around starting these things willy nilly. The reason Hezbollah is the strongest political and military force in Lebanon is because it can count on the support of the Lebanese people, at least a good chunk of them. Those that don’t support the party at least respect it for it’s resistance to Israel. Something that gets forgotten about the summer of 2006 is that a lot of Lebanese were hit hard in that last war. This was not an army fighting an army in the traditional sense, and the Lebanese population paid the price. Homes, roads, bridges, and most importantly families, were torn apart. If Hezbollah provokes another fight it can count on taking even more heat from within Lebanon, something it is unwilling and unable to deal with.

Israel, and Mr. Netanyahu, are coming off perhaps their worst public relations gaff…ever. The flotilla raid has brought the Jewish State more international criticism than it can handle, as evidenced by Israel’s lightning quick relaxation of the Gaza blockade in the aftermath of the raid. How would ANOTHER pulverization of Lebanon look? In spite of Netanyahu’s recent trip to Washington the US-Israeli relationship is still on thin ice, one more unpopular incident would only deepen mistrust between the recently uneasy allies. Not to mention the potential domestic political price the current Israeli government would pay for allowing Hezbollah rockets to hit Tel Aviv & Jerusalem, as they are now most likely able to do.

And what about Syria and President Assad? Well, unlike Hezbollah, Syria has stuff Israel can easily destroy that will cost. Syria cannot hide in bunkers to avoid Israeli bombing runs. There are significant infrastructure targets here that if destroyed would hamstring the economic growth President Assad is trying so hard to achieve. Hezbollah is an asymmetric enemy, no matter what you destroy you can’t really hurt them. Syria is a conventional enemy, one that Israel has proven quite capable of being able to defeat. See War, 1967.

So, lets step back from the ledge guys if for no other reason than to make me happy on my birthday. Lets stop with the threats and the saber rattling and all this nonsense. Let me say it again, no more talk of war. Not hard. Not too much to ask. Totally passes the mom “plausibility” test. Everyone knows there’s nothing better than a little grilled cheese…I mean peace.



Walter Raubeson

Walter spent the last two years living and working in Damascus, reporting on the Syrian social, political, and cultural scene. Recently returned to the US, Walter continues to monitor Middle Eastern events with verve, and also gusto.

Having graduated from New York University's Masters Program in Political Science- International Relations-in September 2008, Walter's MA thesis analyzed the Lebanese political system; focusing on the impact of foreign intervention within Lebanon, particularly the roles of Iran, Israel, Syria, and the US.