Mero and I do a fair amount of instant messaging during the day. Here's a brief exchange today highlighting how fucked up the Middle East is right now.

Buck: Israel is actually making me want to root for Hezbollah.

Mero: Is that right?

Buck: I can't see any justification for attacking Beirut. That's just too much.

Mero: Yeah, it is too much. Israelis figure they need to do that to really take out Hezbollah, since that's where all their coordination comes from. But by that logic, they should attack Damascus too.

Buck: Or Tehran.

Mero: That too.

Buck: They're dropping flyers telling people to clear out, but to where? Bombing is taking place all over the country.

Buck: Israel is literally creating dozens of life-long enemies by the minute.

Mero: Thousands.

Mero: It really sucks being an Israeli right now. Already sucked enough being an American. But I guess it beats being Lebanese...

Buck: [grim laugh]

Buck: Israel has always relied on the U.S. not just for support, but to hold them back for their own good...This is what happens when we no longer fulfill that role.

Mero: Yep.

Mero: We're at the cusp of a dark, dark time in history.

Mero: I would not be shocked if, in the next couple of years, events lead up to America pulling out of the UN (financially if not in reality).

Buck: Is there actually any stopping point for Israel's campaign, or are they just going to keep going until the world makes them quit? After all, they could probably keep this up for years and not get all of the Hezbollah infrastructure.

Mero: They believe that in another few weeks, they'll get Hezbollah to the point that it can't launch attacks anymore and they'll be at like 10 percent of their original strength.

Mero: And then they want a strong international force in southern Lebanon to make sure it can't do anything.

Buck: There's no way they've got another few weeks.

Buck: Did you hear Nasrallah threatened to hit Tel Aviv in retaliation for the Beirut attacks?

Mero: They'll try to hit Tel Aviv as soon as they're capable, threats or no threats.

Buck: Which is why Israel wants to destroy their capability, natch.

Mero: Tel Aviv is the ultimate target in the Middle East... the symbol of Jewish power in the Middle East.

Buck: Were there attacks there during the infitadas?

Mero: A couple, not many. It's the hardest place to hit by far.

Buck: So them saying they're going to hit it is nothing new.

Mero: Oh, not at all. But until they were able to hit Haifa a few weeks ago, nobody paid attention.

Buck: Did anyone know they had this many long-range rockets?

Mero: Nobody in Israel or the western world, no... Iran probably knew, Syria too.

Buck: Makes you wonder what else the vaunted Israeli and American intelligence services don't know.

Mero: No kidding. Israel has like no presence in Iran or Syria. But they should know better in Lebanon.

Buck: Steve Gilliard said anything less than a completely one-sided, smashing victory was a defeat for Israel. Do you agree?

Mero: Yes. it's like America in Iraq. Or even Vince Chase in "entourage"... You have to meet or beat expectations. Israel showing weakness at this point is like dripping a little blood in a shark tank... It doesn't take much.

Buck: So... what's the difference this time? Did Hezbollah get smarter, or is it just that they're better armed by Iran and Syria?

Mero: Better armed. It's Iran that got smarter.