Obviously, the easiest solution would be a return of the soldiers to Israel. Force, however, is a disincentive for either Hamas or Hezbollah to comply. Since both these militaries rely on the commodity of martyrdom, they would rather be destroyed, perhaps taking the soldiers with them.
As the FT reports,
In this new chapter, Syria and Iran may not be directly involved in the fighting but they are active strategic players, hoping to exploit the conflict and strengthen their regional position.
Analysts say Damascus and Tehran see clear benefits from the
confrontation – and from Israel’s harsh response – particularly at a
time when they perceive the Bush administration to be severely weakened
by the conflict in Iraq and lacking the will to confront more trouble
in the region. But they are also engaged in a high-stakes gamble with
unpredictable consequences for them.
Edward Walker, a former US assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs and now head of the Middle East Institute in Washington, says the Hizbollah incursion also gives the world a taste of the havoc Iran could wreak if the US were to push for sanctions or military strikes on nuclear facilities.
Israel has, unfortunately, contributed to the escalation by holding Lebanon responsible.
If an end to the conflict is what people truly want, then direct negotiations between the parties must happen. One does not negotiate with one's friends. One negotiates with one's enemies. The alternative is perpetual war. Bush's disengagement and hostility in the region has only proved to Syria and Iran that their own hardliners are correct - the US cannot be trusted.
What Israel is looking for is total victory and complete submission. The Islamicists won't offer this. And if they offer it now, it is merely a matter of time until they attack again.
Holding Iran and Syria responsible might be correct in some sense, but only mutual engagement and respect will bring peace. Calling our enemies names might make us feel better, but it won't end the war. We should open up direct talks with these countries.
Alas, that would require leadership that is clearly absent - leadership against the wealthy hawks who run AIPAC, and the neoconservatives [or rather, "liberals idealogues with guns."]
Or as an economist friend said to me, "look on the bright side of things. Oil prices will go through the roof, and It might mean we have to develop alternative energy."