Monday, May 21, 2007

Kochin vs. Sivan on Outcome of the Second Lebanon War

Went last Wednesday night to the IDC in Herziliya to hear a panel on the Winograd report.

The presentation that really struck me was Emmanuel Sivan's. Sivan is generally regarded as Israel's leading Arabist.

Sivan argued that the Olmert government failed to appreciate the nature of the changes in Lebanon since 2005, that these changes were favorable to Israel, and that by going to war last summer Israel had put a brake on these changes.

When I got a chance to ask a question, I asked Sivan that since Nasrallah was trying to put a brake on these changes himself, would it be more accurate to say that Halutz et al. were trying to speed them up? And weren't they successful in speeding them up?

Sivan proceeded to agree with me. It is true, Sivan said, that Hezbollah was much weaker because its independent armed struggle has been delegitimated in Lebanese public opinion, and the Lebanese Army and (now-reinforced) UNIFIL are deployed in Southern Lebanon. But, Sivan claimed, all this had been accomplished by accident, through no design of Olmert and Halutz.

Amnon Rubinstein, who was also on the panel, agreed with Sivan's claim that the beneficial consequences of the war had nothing to do with the Olmert Government's attempt to bring about these consequences.

Personally, I think that if somebody sets out to bring about a certain state of affairs, and then that state of affairs comes about, one needs some actual evidence to refute the presumption of causality.

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