WHO IS ISRAEL FIGHTING?….Tony Blair continues to support Israel’s right to respond to Hezbollah’s rocket attacks, but “Downing Street sources” say that Blair also agrees with Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells’ “scathing denunciation of Israel’s military tactics”:

Speaking to a BBC reporter before travelling on for talks in Israel, where he will also visit the missile-hit areas of Haifa and meet his Israeli opposite number, Howells said: ‘The destruction of the infrastructure, the death of so many children and so many people: these have not been surgical strikes. If they are chasing Hizbollah, then go for Hizbollah. You don’t go for the entire Lebanese nation.’

The French Defense Minister, Michele Alliot-Marie, said much the same thing today:

“One cannot ask the Lebanese national army to disarm the militias and at the same time bomb the main Lebanese barracks.” Alliot-Marie also raised doubts about the strategic sense of bombing factories that produce powdered milk for infants.

“And unfortunately, more and more, we are seeing a number of bombardments that are hitting civilians, even convoys of people who were simply seeking to reach Beirut to find shelter have been hit by bombs.”

Israel’s military strategy continues to baffle me. As Gideon Levy puts it, Israel “claims it has declared war on Hezbollah but, in practice, it is destroying Lebanon.”

It remains unclear whether this was part of the plan all along or merely the all-too-predictable result of lofty political promises leading to improvised escalation, but it’s quickly beginning not to matter. A war against Hezbollah is justifiable, whether wise or not, but a war against Lebanon isn’t. Israel will gain nothing from continuing it.