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No student of history can escape the parallels between what is going on in Lebanon now and the start of World War I. The question is, do we have political will, and the sanity, to stop it. Those who are not interested in history are at the mercy of the present, so we might as well review.
In 1914, a relatively obscure member of the Austro-Hungarian royal family was assassinated by a bunch of bumbling Serbian extremists when, after the plot had already failed, one of them was given by fate the opportunity of an easy, close up shot. Weapons had been provided to them by a secret society calling itself Black Hand, some of whose members were part of the Serbian government.
Because of the various mutual defense commitments, Russia hurriedly mobilized in support of their ally Serbia, the Germans (backing Austria-Hungary) invaded Belgium to stage an attack on the French, who were Russian allies, and Great Britain declared war on Germany because of the violation of Belgian neutrality. Thus it was, within two weeks all of Europe was at war, though the United States did not enter the conflict until a German submarine sunk some of our ships in 1917.
It is pointless to bicker like five year old children about who "started" it, in a 50 year old conflict that has never stopped smouldering. As an immediate provocation, or excuse for one, members of Hezbollah attacked some Israeli soldiers and kidnapped two, taking them back to Lebanon. Other members of Hezbollah occupy positions in the Lebanese government, and the group has admittedly been supported by militants in Syria and Iran. There are strong parallels here with the Black Hand militants of pre-World War I and their tangential ties to the 1914 Serbian government.
But in response, Israel did not just THREATEN to invade and impose collective punishment, they ARE invading and have been bombing Lebanon for a week already. Already over 300 people have been killed there, mostly innocent civilians. Even more devastating have been attacks on civilian infrastructure. Most people in this country have no comprehension of the scale of the destruction. They are well on the way to leveling South Beirut already.
For its part Hezbollah has been firing wildly and mostly ineffective rockets at Israel, much like Saddam's willy-nilly anti-aircraft fire during the first Iraq war, though an Israeli ship was hit.
While this military distraction has been going on, violence in Iraq itself has continued to escalate, with reports of militants streaming into Baghdad as if to prepare for an even larger offensive.
The Bush administration, who is green lighting Israel's every action, is manipulating public opinion at home to escalate this into a nuclear first strike on Iran, to try to regain the dominance lost in Iraq.
Until you understand this nothing else will make sense.