It’s truly difficult to find much reason for optimism when surveying that ancient region of the world that the Big Three religions claim as home and that we casually refer to as The Middle East. Iraq has descended into full-blown civil war, even though Ken Burns has yet to do a documentary about it. Afghanistan could appear rosy only to a junkie. Gaza, already malnourished, thirsty and bombed out is getting another helping of the same. And now Lebanon.
Like most Americans still possessed of conscience and humanity, I find this latest invasion not only difficult to watch, but frightening. Although accustomed to Israel’s tit to the tenth power for tat, this seems even more disproportionate, response-wise, like a surgeon amputating a leg to the hip because of an ingrown toenail. Could it be that the cheerful Armageddonites are correct? Are we gazing down into the abyss of World War III? Is Jesus sharpening his sword and saddling his horse?
Yesterday, as I watched the half million Lebanese attempting to migrate to a less bomby area, and the thousands of Americans trapped there seeking a way out and back to the other homeland, Dearborn, I found myself sinking into a sort of gnawing despair. I went to my neighborhood bar. But three Stollies later I was still depressed.
Thank God for CNN.
As luck would have it, when I staggered into my living room and turned on the TV, there was the always penetrating Larry King interviewing a spokesperson for the IDF. The vivacious Amazon deftly parried King’s merciless jabs again and again, but then she made a statement that returned me to something akin to sobriety. She declared, in no uncertain terms, that Israel does not intentionally target civilians.
I felt the clouds lifting, and even glimpsed a ray of sunshine peeking through from the frowning heavens above. They are not intentionally targeting civilians. Relief washed over me like a cool summer rain. The people of Lebanon were safe. But the very butch spokeswoman did not stop there.
She went on to explain just how sorrowful it was that the Lebanese were experiencing so many casualties. But then, this is war, and these sort of things must happen, civilian casualties being the unappetizing side dish that war just habitually serves up, whether we’re hungry or not.
She went on to further explain, over King’s courageous and fervent protests, that the real problem was Hezbollah. Apparently, these rascals do not play fair, and being that they are a militia, tend to reside in the population centers where they live. In fact, they cannot be distinguished from non-militant, cuddly Lebanese, because they all look the same. Like Tony Shalhoub.
So this got me to thinking. Maybe we could do something about this.
First, we could send thousands of lime green leisure suits to Lebanon for Hezbollah to wear. This would differentiate them from the general population. If we could get them to wear those Cat in the Hat hats, too, that would lessen the confusion even more.
Next, we should insist Hezbollah paint big H’s on the roofs of all their houses, ammo dumps, delicatessens, etc., so the IDF would have a better idea of exactly who to drop a bomb on. If this doesn’t do the trick, then maybe standing in the street and shouting “Here I am!” would work.
I felt the weight of the world sliding off my shoulders, and the Stollies kicking in. But the relief was short-lived.
I couldn’t get out of my head that the stern but womanly IDF spokesperson/dominatrix had flatly stated that the IDF does not target civilians. It echoed in my head over and over. I felt a creeping nausea rising in my chest, and it wasn’t the Stollies. Fear seized me like a drunken, naked, sweaty linebacker.
The fourth most powerful military in the world, the terrifying IDF, Scourge of the Middle East, The Right Hand of Yahweh, armed to the teeth, cannot shoot straight.
Dear God in heaven.
That would explain the 500,000 Lebanese running from the destruction of their homes, the exploded power stations, the crater-pocked roads, the crumbling bridges, the charred airports, the blasted radio and TV stations. It would even explain the bullet-riddled corpses of civilians fleeing the carnage.
Israel can’t shoot straight. Can’t hit the broadside of a mosque. These calamities are all just the result of truly inferior shooting skills. These aren’t targets at all. They’re accidents. Somewhere, every time a bomb drops on an apartment house, a falafel stand or a ’79 Toyota Camry, there is an Israeli soldier saying, “Oops.”
And now it makes even more sense that we, the well-heeled and flush American taxpayers, must rush them even more bombs. Pronto. Obviously they’re going to run out if they keep going like this.
But that was not the cause of the fear that threatened to overwhelm me. It was the sudden realization that these well-armed forces, with all the weapons mastery of Barney Fife, also have nuclear missiles.
I need another drink.
Kona Lowell is the author of The Solid Green Birthday and Other Fables and runs the Dolphin Sky Foundation. He lives in Hawai'i and can be reached through his website: www.konalowell.com. Several of his political pieces have appeared at CounterPunch.