Now that the border between Lebanon and Israel has changed from war zone to twilight zone — an eerie landscape where the potential for renewed fighting hangs heavily in the air — history’s pundits can review their recent pronouncements on the conflict to see just how useful they proved. They can examine what they wrote to see how much it really helped us understand what just transpired in the Middle East and how effectively they guided the peacemakers in their search for a solution. A close look, I’m afraid, will show that history’s lessons have proven confusing, contradictory and even […]

NEW DELHI, India – Amid mixed reports of a rebel withdrawal and relative calm, there continue to be fierce and bloody clashes on the island nation of Sri Lanka between military forces of the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), commonly known as the Tamil Tigers. Some analysts have begun dubbing the ongoing violence the beginning of ‘Eelam War IV’ — a reference to the repeated failure of peace talks in the 20-year-old civil war in the tiny country off India’s southern tip. But Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa continues to deny such, saying instead […]

Lebanon War Bolsters Emerging Law-of-War Consensus

As the proverbial dust settles over the battlefields of southern Lebanon, a major change in the landscape of legal regulation of warfare is taking hold. This change, first exposed by the military operations launched by the United States against Al Qaeda, has led to the widespread expectation that conflicts between states and transnational non-state entities must be governed by the laws of war, a body of international law historically applied to conflicts between states. While the extent of combat and associated destruction witnessed by the world in the recent conflict between Israel and Hezbollah may suggest that such a proposition […]

To better prepare its troops for tough counterinsurgency warfare, the U.S. military is investing in super-realistic exercises that combine traditional live-fire training with sophisticated cultural instruction and Hollywood-style special effects that blur the lines between training and combat. At the start of the so-called Global War on Terrorism, the military’s combat training infrastructure reflected an entrenched Cold War mentality. At the sprawling National Training Center (NTC) in California’s Mojave Desert, armored brigades maneuvered against an Opposing Force equipped with mock Soviet tanks. At the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) in the Louisiana bayou, light infantry battalions trained on simulated battlefields […]

French Reticence Slows Down U.N. Force Effort

The United States has no plans to join the U.N. stabilization force destined for southern Lebanon, but the Bush administration is pressing the international community to speed up troop deployment if the fragile cessation of hostilities has any chance of becoming durable. Technically, it is the U.N.’s responsibility to recruit and shape the 15,000-strong force, but World Politics Review has learned that on Wednesday foreign ambassadors in Washington were called to the State Department where a senior U.S. official called for more haste in pledging and sending contingents. Diplomats who attended the meeting, which was not publicly reported, said the […]

Israel: After the War, a Political Earthquake

Israelis take very seriously the admonition that during the life-and-death times of warfare, criticism of the government and the military must wait until the guns have gone quiet. This time, the effort to refrain from second-guessing proved particularly challenging. That’s because the results proved frustrating, painful and frightening in the 34-day war against Hezbollah. The rumbles of a political earthquake are now following the conflict that destroyed Israel’s aura of invincibility. Now that the soldiers are returning home, the shakeup will begin and the careers of respected politicians and military men will be changed forever. This conflict lasted longer than […]

Bosnia-Herzegovina at a Crossroads

SARAJEVO — Campaign rhetoric and political infighting are heating up as Bosnia and Herzegovina heads toward general elections this fall, the sixth such vote since the war-torn nation bloodily seceded from the former Yugoslavia in 1992. With the May secession of tiny Montenegro from what’s left of Yugoslavia — now known simply as Serbia — the challenge of staying united has never been so great for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s two entities, the Serb-leaning Republika Srpska (RS), and the predominantly Muslim-Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBH). One need only listen to Milorad Dodik, the man leading in the polls and […]

The Middle East Conflict: Birth Pangs or a Miscarriage?

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice drew many raised eyebrows when she predicted that the battle between Israel and Hezbollah marked the ‘birth pangs’ of a new Middle East. Maybe she was showing extraordinary prescience; maybe foolhardy optimism. Several weeks and hundreds of deaths after the conflict erupted, the path to a ‘new’ Middle East looks as treacherous as it has for a generation. The deck seems stacked against Secretary Rice’s hopeful forecast. The government of Israel is determined – and is solidly backed by public opinion at home – to put an end to the Hezbollah threat and thereby […]

Is a West Bank Withdrawal Still Possible?

Time moves at a different pace in the Middle East. Believe it or not, it was only last March that Israeli voters elected Ehud Olmert and his new party, Kadima (Forward), to lead the country. During the campaign, Olmert, the heir apparent to the ailing former prime minister and army general Ariel Sharon, had spelled out his promise to pull most Israelis from the West Bank and draw the country’s permanent borders, without waiting for Palestinians to decide if they were ready to accept Israel’s right to exist. Since then, thousands of rockets have smashed into Israel, and the country’s […]