Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Next Year's Wars

Foreign Policy has put up a list of the 16 possible conflicts for next year. We made it to conflict # 14 before Israel gets mentioned - as part of a possible war with Lebanon. 

In addition to Lebanon's internal political unraveling, the country risks sliding back into war with Israel. Nearly five years after the 2006 war, relations between the two countries are both exceptionally quiet and uniquely dangerous -- for the same reason: On both sides of Israel's northern border, the build-up in military forces and threats of an all-out war that would spare neither civilians nor civilian infrastructure, together with the worrisome prospect of its regionalization, have had a deterrent effect on all. Today, none of the parties can soberly contemplate the prospect of a conflict that would come at greater cost to themselves, be more difficult to contain, and be less predictable in outcome than anything they witnessed in the past.

But that is only the better half of the story. Beneath the surface, tensions are mounting with no obvious safety valve. The deterrence regime has helped keep the peace, but the process it perpetuates -- mutually reinforcing military preparations, Hezbollah's growing and more sophisticated arsenal, escalating Israeli threats -- pulls in the opposite direction and could trigger the very result it has averted so far.
All things considered this seems quite optimistic. Only one conflict? No war with Iran? No war with Gaza or Syria?

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