The idea that there is some kind of moral equivalence between the state of Israel and Hezbollah is risible, and yet this is an idea that appears to underlie most of the thinking about what ought to happen next over there. The facts are rather simple: Israel, a sovereign state, was unjustly attacked by a radical group of terrorist thugs hiding behind human shields in foreign territory. That Israel should do nothing is not just silly, it is dangerous, since it only encourages further attacks. Much has been made of the disparity in the casualty rates in Lebanon and Israel, but it seems rather out of place to judge the ius in bello by such a measure. The Germans, after all, suffered far greater civilian losses during World War II than did the allies (though not for lack of trying on the part of the Germans), but it would be unreasonable to suggest that for that reason the allies were unjust in their prosecution of the war. This is not to suggest that civilian casualties are acceptable tout court, only that they must be balanced against the intentions of the agents who cause them and the proportionality with the end(s) sought. According to Humanae Vitae it is never acceptable intentionally to do a wrong, even in order to bring about some good; but when all courses of action have some negative effects, the principle of double effect can be invoked.
Calls for a cease-fire seem to presuppose that there is some good end to be gained either by negotiating with terrorists or by appeasing them. Since it is no secret that this war was underwritten by Iran, whose president has called for the "annihilation" of the state of Israel, the initial U.S. policy of giving Israel some time to inflict some damage on Hezbollah seems reasonable. But this policy, as reasonable as it is from the point of view of justification of tactics, will nevertheless backfire in the end. Mike puts it succinctly and well, as usual:
By adopting a military stance that interweaves combatants and their weapons among civilians as well as buildings designed for peaceful purposes, Hezbollah makes it impossible for Israel to fight for victory without killing civilians—many of whom are innocent—and destroying Lebanon's infrastructure. Israel has not let that stop her, of course; nor could she, if she is to achieve anything useful. The result: many innocent civilians are dying and Lebanon is being set back decades. That makes Israel, even more than Hezbollah, seem cruel and immoral—even though Israel would rather not kill civilians and uses precision bombs in an effort to avoid such deaths while Hezbollah, having no such scruples, fires volleys of rockets indiscriminately at Israeli civilian targets. Thus is Hezbollah winning the propaganda war among the constituencies it most cares about: the Arab "street" and the Left around the world, on whom it's counting to help bring the IDF to heel via the White House.It's too bad the Left is populated by so many suckers, but it's not all that surprising, given their track record.