"Where there is no solution, there is no problem," geostrategist James Burnham once wryly observed.
Ex-Sen. George Mitchell, the latest U.S. negotiator to take up the Palestine portfolio, may discover what it was that Burnham meant.
For Israel's three-week war on Gaza, where Palestinians died at a rate of 100 to one to Israelis, appears to have been, like Israel's wars in Lebanon, another Pyrrhic victory for the Jewish state.
In 1982, after an attempted assassination of their ambassador in London, Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon drove through Lebanon to Beirut, shelling the city for weeks until Arafat agreed to pull out the PLO and depart for Tunisia.
The Israelis' triumph quickly turned to ashes in their mouths.
Weeks of bombarding Beirut turned world opinion against Israel. Defense Minister Sharon was savaged for enabling a massacre in the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps. Most critically, as future Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin ruefully observed, in invading a quiescent south Lebanon, Israel "let the Shia genie out of the bottle."
South Lebanon became Indian country. Hezbollah, born of Israel's invasion, would, 18 years later, force a bleeding Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and its Lebanese allies out of the country, turning Israel's once-friendly northern border into a new battlefront in the Arab-Israeli war.
Moreover, the Americans, persuaded to send Marines to train the Lebanese Army, were punished with terrorist bombings of the U.S. embassy and Marine barracks at Beirut airport, with 241 U.S. dead.
President Reagan would withdraw, and the Americans never came back.
In 2006, Ehud Olmert used the border ambush of an Israel patrol and the kidnapping of two soldiers to launch a second Lebanon war.
Hezbollah lost hundreds of fighters, but its stature soared as it became the first Arab force to fight Israel and emerge unbroken and unbeaten. And the thousands of Hezbollah rockets that rained down on the Galilee destroyed forever the myth of Israeli invulnerability.
Now, in the aftermath of the war on Gaza, which almost all in Israel supported, come the second thoughts. Of 1,400 dead from air strikes and invasion, one-third were Palestinian children. Al Jazeera video of the dead and dying civilians, juxtaposed with video of Barack Obama enjoying a round of golf in scenic Hawaii, were devastating for the U.S. image, as U.S. weapons had been used by Israel to deliver the death and destruction.
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