I remember reading a particular Fantastic Four story when I was younger. The Fabulous Foursome have been trapped by the enemy (can't remember who - probably Doc Doom) inside a force field, a bubble. The Thing hurls himself against it, and just bounces back - the field reflects the force used against it. Reed and Sue Storm are helpless - Johnny is in an even worse situation because if he flames on then all the oxygen within the bubble will get used up and they'll all die. Then Reed figures that there must be a 'threshold' level at which the field is activated. So then Ben starts tapping the field ever so gently, and slowly he forms a 'gap' in the field, through which they escape.
This story is on my mind at the moment, because it is about the futility of force in certain circumstances - and Israel is in precisely such a circumstance at the moment, and cannot win by main force (see here). Worse, it is inevitably morally compromised, and the bombing of Qana is terrible in every respect. (I would want to maintain a difference between terrible things done from fear and terrible things done from hate - and exulting in the terror - but such words seem more than usually vacuous in this context).
The thing is, Israel sees itself as in significant danger; it takes Hezbollah at its word in believing it to pose an existential threat to Israel's continued existence - rationally so, in my view; and it is resorting to the methods which have served it well in the past, ie main force. Yet they cannot win in this way. So either they are forced to accept a ceasefire, which doesn't disarm Hezbollah - which will hand Hezbollah a huge moral and propaganda victory, merely postponing a continuing conflict - or else they will be forced escalate the conflict, to start addressing some of the logistical roots - possibly even the spiritual roots? In other words, Israel is now in a corner. If it backs down, it is handing power to enemies who are irrevocably committed to the destruction of Israel - I can't see that happening. Yet if it continues fighting in the way it has been, it will destroy any remaining moral capital it possesses, without any significant benefit on the ground. Israel cannot win this fight with Hezbollah. This would eventually mean an Israeli defeat, ie withdrawal and cessation of attacks, but for one thing - the support of Israel from the United States (and UK etc). This gives Israel strength and a longer time frame within which to work.
Thus we should expect an escalation - presumably an attack by Israel upon Syria, which would be justified by Israel on the basis of logistical support for Hezbollah being channelled through that country. At which point, the implicit war between Israel and Iran becomes explicit. First steps in World War Three? See here, here and here for my previous thoughts on the subject. August 22nd seems to be looming as the key date - see here.
IF - and it remains IF - TSHTF then we can expect a quite rapid collapse of our usual patterns of life. This is precisely why such a consequence will be taken as evidence for divine favour on the Islamists (see this and follow the link) because God has never been content with our injustice, and he _will_ bring it down.
Given this, I wonder about Bush and Blair. I was recently mulling over with our confirmation class the phenomenon of God hardening the heart of Pharaoh, something which is consistent in the Old Testament (consider 1 Sam 2.25: "His sons did not listen to their father's rebuke, for it was the Lord's will to put them to death.") I remain persuaded that the removal of Saddam Hussein from power was a right and necessary act (however many qualms and criticisms I could make of timing and tactics). Yet it seems to me that the West is walking nonchalantly towards a cliff edge, unaware of how things are about to change.