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Wednesday, September 20 2006

Reading and Misreading Destruction

Beirut_3William Arkin, who blogs national security issues for the Washington Post just returned from a trip to Lebanon and Israel. His conclusions about the destruction he saw on both sides of the Blue Line are noteworthy because Arkin didn't see anything that other journalists can't see. Why haven't we seen this kind of assessment in the mainstream media?

What struck me about the bombing, in both countries, was that you could see the destruction and completely misread what it meant. In Beirut, the destruction in reality is efficient and impressive. The destruction in Israel, on the other hand, is random and scattered. When Hezbollah rockets were fired on Israel, landing meant success.

So here is the truth: Israel did not do anything close to what it was capable of doing. Hezbollah did all it could....

On the other hand, Lebanon is shocked. It is not just the destruction wrought but the powerlessness of the owners of the country. The Lebanese government complains of the destruction and the cluster bombs and the environmental devastation, exaggerating what happened to IT because it can not bear to say that most of what was destroyed was Hezbollah’s assets, assets that indeed resided and flourished inside their own country under their own noses with their consent....

Haifa_1Only a very short drive from the neighborhoods of southern Beirut though, you are back to bustling boulevards; a few neighborhoods over and there are luxury stores and five star hotels. Beyond the “Hezbollah” neighborhoods, the city is normal. Electricity flows just as it did before the fighting. The Lebanese sophisticates are glued to their cell phones. Even an international airport that was bombed is reopened....

But the fact that one can drive a short distance from Dresden-like south Beirut and return to modern life itself should signal that this is something very different: Israeli bombers did not fly over Beirut and unleash loads of bombs. Each individual building was the quarry; the intent was there, and the technology existed, to spare the rest.

See Arkin's follow up, Facts and Myths About the Israel-Hezbollah War.



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In Beirut, the destruction in reality is efficient and impressive.

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