I realized tonight that there exists a tenuous but disturbing parallel between the early years of the Cold War and the current situation in the Middle East.
Although there was never any direct (“hot”) military conflict between the United States and the then-USSR, there were two significant “hot” conflicts– the Korean War and the Vietnam War– which could be described as “puppet conflicts” (there’s another term the history books use, but it eludes me at the moment), in which the two competing world super powers engaged each other, by proximity rather than directly.
At the end of World War II, Korea was divided in to Northern and Southern zones: the north occupied by Soviet powers and the south by the United States. In 1949 both forces withdrew.
The Korean War began in June 1950, as a civil war between the northern provisional Communist government and the southern provisional Nationalist government. North Korea’s military was advised and supplied by the USSR. Similarly, (erroneoulsy) viewing North Korea as a Soviet Pawn, the United States provided the South with military equipment and advice. After the North’s invasion, President Truman sent American troops into South Korea, who narrowly prevented the success of the North in their drive to re-unite subcontinent.
Moving back to the present, tensions between Iran and the United States have been escalating (not to mention that the situation with North Korea is still a mess, although primarily dormant at the moment) since the War in Iraq. The Western powers have just recently decided to refer Iran to the UN Security Council due to concerns about Iran’s development of a nuclear programme.
Still pending Iran’s actual referral, Israel schizes and invades Hezbollah-controlled southern Lebanon.
But here’s the kicker: Israel is American “eqipped and advised.” Israel’s current military offensive would be largely impossible without the support of American money and military equipment. Although America hasn’t openly sanctioned the invasion (how could they?) they certainly haven’t condemned it, nor has America stopped the influx of American money and military technology into Israel.
Meanwhile, the general speculation seems to be that Hezbollah receives significant support and amounts of military equipment from Iran. The rockets being fired in to Israel (over 3,000 since the war began) by Hezbollah are primarily Iranian rockets (or at least, so I read) (just as the Israeli jets pounding Beirut are American made).
So the question becomes: Israel being a blatantly American sponsored military power, and Hezbollah being Iranian backed, it is entirely improbable that the invasion of Lebanon actually takes the form of a “puppet war” between America and Iran?