Premature Peace?

Passing through Heathrow airport on my way back from the US, I try to get updated on the latest on the wars in the Middle East.

In an overview of the state of the diplomatic game at the moment in Financial Times, an anonymous US official let it be known to the world that ”we don’t want a premature peace.”

Premature peace? It’s a concept that could easily become infamous.

It’s certainly true that US policy in recent times has not been interested in any ”premature peace” in the region. But in its success in avoiding a ”premature peace”, it has stumbled into what in every respect is a serious conflict.

The idea now seems to be to give the Israeli Air Force and the heavy guns of the IDF another week or so to hammer Hezbollah in particular and Lebanon in general. The belief is – I guess – that this will make everything better thereafter.

I doubt. Damage to the physical, economic and political fabric and infrastructure of Lebanon is already massive. A country that was in the early stages of a gradual comeback after its past wars is now more than 20 years back in time. Another week of bombs falling will make things even worse.

A stable Lebanon will not emerge easily out of this carnage.

And the pictures of this carnage in Lebanon will not increase the standing of the Western world throughout the Muslim world.

Whether Hezbollah can be decimated enough to take them out of the picture is highly debatable. They will certainly see their military capability reduced, but their anger is highly likely to increase, and when the bombs start falling they might well initiate some sort of new phase.

It should not be forgotten that Hezbollah are masters in the art of terrorism. Many techniques of terror we have later seen elsewhere in the region and in the world originated with Hezbollah.

But – so far – they have not operated their terrorism outside their immediate area.

To stop the fighting and bombing is imperative. No cease-fire can be seen as premature.

Immediately, it will be the residents of Haifa and Beirut who will be paying the peace for Tel Aviv’s and Washington’s resistance to a ”premature peace”.

But in the longer term we all will.

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