Choices

Monday, August 14, 2006


Dafydd at Big Lizards has what I think is the best analysis I have seen regarding the recent cease fire between Israel and Hezbellah. He makes some interesting points not only about the cease fire, but its critics.

Side excursion over; we're back to Lebanon. The Israelis find themselves in the same position: after driving to the Litani River and "winning the war," what do they do next?

Simply put, the population of southern Lebanon is not a captive one; they strongly support Hezbollah, and not out of fear; I suspect they see themselves as the same "tribe."

This is not just a Shia vs. Sunni distinction; Hezbollah in the South has made itself into "part of the family." Unemployment is rampant, as is true in most socialist states; and the Lebanese government is incapable of financially aiding the poor in the southern area, especially south of the Litani.

And truth be told, Beirut is probably somewhat reluctant to aid them since regaining control of the northern part of Lebanon, following the withdrawl of Syria's military. It's a vicious circle: the Shiite south buddies up with Hezbollah and Iran and Syria, leading the Sunni/Druze north to suspect their loyalty and neglect them; the neglect drives the Shia into tighter reliance upon Hezbollah and Iran/Syria.

So what could Israel do, once it had driven Hezbollah north of the river?

* If the Israelis themselves were to hold that area against Hezbollah reoccupation (once part of the ummah, always part of the ummah), they would need a massive and permanent occupation force -- which they don't have -- and which would be virtually identical to the endgame of the 1982 Lebanese invasion, something the Israeli public is not prepared to accept.

* Contrariwise, if they were simply to depopulate southern Lebanon, with trainloads of ethnic cleansing and the concommitent civilian deaths (that would be depicted as massacres, and not without some justice), the problems they would have with their Arab neighbors, with Iran, the international community -- and even America -- would reduce
any previous disagreements to mere squabbles.

*

In theory, they could expand the fight -- say by attacking Syria directly, cutting off Iran's conduit of arms, men, and materiel into Lebanon's Hezbollah. But the Israelis (government and citizenry) made it very clear early on and throughout the war that they had absolutely no intention of doing so.

This closed off the last escape from the box; but it's awfully hard for those of us who don't live there, in the crosshairs, to criticize their decision. It amounts to what my grandfather called playing "let's you and him fight."

* But if the Israelis simply withdrew after the fight, Hezbollah would just flow back... and the whole campaign would end up an exercise in utter futility.

The only solution that I can think of, at least, is some international force... something like UNIFIL with teeth and more of a committment to actually fulfill its duty, rather than being "neutral" between Israel and Hezbollah, or even tacitly supporting the latter.


The UN is very untrustworthy... but for all that, I would trust them more than the Lebanese Army under the control of Fuad Siniora!

Thus, Israel -- and the United States -- are put into the position by the facts on the ground of supporting an international force to stiffen the spine (and fix the moral compass) of the Lebanese Army. If this analysis is accurate, then contrary to Paul's position, we really do need a "ceasefire agreement" of some sort... if for no other reason to establish the size of the force, starting positions of the players, and the rules of engagement.


Read it all.

It seems to me that every since Harriet Miers there has been a tendency among certain people on the right to accuse Bush of treason. These accusations are often tinged with hysteria. Perhaps they have figured out that even with a Republican in the White House they don't get everything they want. But for conservative critics of Bush to worry over his poll numbers while they undermine him at every oppurtunity and demand he take policy stands that are not supported by the majority of the American people, not now and then but time and time again...leads me to wonder if the problem might be that some conservatives are having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that they are not the majority. They are not the majority anymore than the Lamont supporters are.

No, why deal with that, it is far better to attack Bush and Bolton and Rice.

47 comments:

David Thomson said...

The jury is out regarding the peace agreement in Lebanon. I strongly suspect that the Powerlineblog and National Review types are far too pessimistic. The Bush administration knows that the UN is a feckless organization. It must have guarantees of some sort that Hezbollah will be rendered impotent. Which nations are sending troops? Are the French, for instance, willing to send in their elite troops? Believe it or not, France does have some serious butt kickers at its disposal! Will the Israeli be permitted to effectively respond if Hezbollah opts to misbehave? Can Syria and Iran be prevented from rearming the Islamic thugs? We may not have a clear picture for a few months.

chuck said...

I am to the point where I just skip over Paul's stuff at powerline. Paul is becoming another Andrew Sullivan: hysterical, crazy pessimistic, and convinced that Condi (and Bush) are total screwups. And all over a single issue. Frankly, I don't see where Paul gets off speaking for Israel.

terrye said...

chuck:

You read my mind.

They forget that Israel occupied Lebanon for 18 years and Hezbellah was not only wiped out, it grew.

Rick Ballard said...

I wonder why the Israeli's are being so slow to figure out how well they did? I suppose they are too close to the situation - that and maybe they're still worrying about the two kidnapped soldiers. One might think that Olmert's support was slipping.

terrye said...

rick:

I think it is because Bibi and his supporters are doing everything they can to undermine support for Kadima.

terrye said...

I read at Vital Perspectives that the return of the soldiers is part of the agreement.

terrye said...

Rick:

They can always get rid of Olmert if they want and start killing Lebanese again. But that is up to them, not us.

And btw, if all they wanted was a return of the soldiers then the smart thing to do was a swap. They could wipe out 90% of the population of Lebanon and not get those soldiers back.

lurker said...

Two things that sicken me are: 1) Nasrallah declaring victory. and 2) Nasrallah offering to help the Lebanese civilians.

I can only hope at this point that USA will make absolutely sure that 1701 is strictly enforced.

terrye's got a good point that even wiping out Hizbollah didn't solve the problem. Perhaps enforcing an example of democracy like Attaturk did with his country would help. Attaturk's efforts took YEARS, though.

I read that Mahmoud Ahminidahid's transcript with Mike Wallace over at Vital Perspectives and where does this maniac get these ideas that UN is under USA control? And that he called Kofi with an offer to promote peace in the ME but saying to someone else that the only way to bring peace to ME is to destroy Israel?

chuck said...

Rick,

I would take it more seriously if an overwhelming majority felt the ceasefire was wrong, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Israel is divided and I don't think even Israelis know what they think at this moment, except that their self-image as supermen seems to have gone missing. You go to war with the Israel you have.

The next moves in this game are up to Israel, really. Do they want to upgrade the military, modernize it, and make the training more rigorous? Do they continue to rely on citizen soldiers who are probably never going to be as competent as the professionals? Will more left wingers join the defence forces? The left have been avoiding it recently. Can the Israeli left cuts its ties with the European left?

We can all sit here and opine as to what the Israelis should have done. But the fact is that they didn't do that. Nor is the fault all Olmert's, he is just representative of a widespread attitude in the country. Israel's problem is a more acute version of the western problem: how to defend yourself when you don't believe in yourself. The left is at the base of this disease and the Israeli left has got a lot of hard thinking to do.

terrye said...

lurker:

I know what you meanabout Nasrallha but it is the nature of the beast. Look at Gaza. Look at Baghdad Bob. They could be neck deep in cow manure with a gun to their heads and they would be claiming victory.

We need to get past responding to those taunts. It is propaganda, just like the doctored pictures.

Skookumchuk said...

chuck:

and the Israeli left has got a lot of hard thinking to do.

In an interview with Caroline Glick, maybe I heard it on PJM, she said she had spoken with the mayor of Haifa, a hard-line lefty, who used almost the exact words when giving his reaction to the current situation.

But the hour is late. Cut the self-loathing and recognize who your friends are. The days of Golda addressing international Socialist conventions are long gone.

Rick Ballard said...

Chuck,

I agree. This is Israel's problem and responsibility. Right now it's Labor not Likud screaming for Olmert's head. Likud will probably wind up screaming louder in a week or so.

I'm sure that a majority of Israeli's don't oppose the cease fire.

Luther McLeod said...

I of course cannot vouch for its validity.

At Yoni's

Rick Ballard said...

Luther,

That's the same article that I cited. If a majority believe that the IDF wasn't performing well and 66% believe that the agreement reached wasn't good then there is a bit of a quandary. The kicker is the apparent phrasing of the agreement question, "and achieves most of Israel's objections" kills the validity of the response.

I don't see a lot of support for keeping the IDF in the field under current leadership. The support for the soldiers remains excellent - this is a leadership issue.

chuck said...

The days of Golda addressing international Socialist conventions are long gone.

The international left sold out the Iranian left, then the Iraqi left. I remember representatives from Iraq attending an international meeting in Italy after the takedown of Sadaam. No one paid them any attention, everyone was decrying the crimes of the Americans. Pshaw, at least the old left believed in something recognizably progressive, misguided though it was.

According to the survey, 58 percent of the public believes Israel achieved few if any objectives in the war,...

What exactly were the objectives, anyway? The only ones I recall were:

1) stop the missle attacks,

2) the return of the captives.

There were various other objectives that surfaced in the course of the conflict: destroying Hizballah's command and control, destroying the border fortifications, etc. But these were just phases. Were there any other objectives set forth at the beginning of the conflict that anyone knows of?

Peter UK said...

If it comes down to a choice between survival and politics in Israel,politics will come a poor second.
In the US the insecurity is nowhere near as great,thus the opposition feel free to dissent.

BTW a huge,perhaps insurmountable, problem in the region is tribalism and consanguineous marriages,simply put,too many of the local populations are related.

Peter UK said...

Chuck,
3) Kill as many of Hizbollah as possible.

terrye said...

chuck:

If I remember correctly it was about the soldiers and pushing back Hezbellah far enough to stop missile attacks. At first they said a couple of miles might be enough buffer. Olmert himself never promised to destroy Hezbellah etc, that was something that a lot of other people came up with later. The man making the decisions never made any such promises.

Rick Ballard said...

From July 17

Prodi acting as go between for Olmert and Siniora -

"Prodi told me that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert informed him of two demands for a cease-fire - handing over the two captive Israeli soldiers and a Hizbullah pullback to behind the Litani River," a government statement quoted Siniora as telling the cabinet.

Of course, that's just the Lebanese understanding of Olmert's objectives. The "real" objectives will only be revealed when Israeli forces are back in Israel and will be based upon extensive polling for plausibility.

Coisty said...

This is a good entry (despite the usual Bush-swooning).

As the article says what else can Israel do at this stage? Typical of the hysterical responses was Jonathan Hoenig (sp?) on Cavuto who in recent weeks has been calling for a full-scale levelling of half the Middle East openly contemptuous of how many would die. Today he said Olmert and Bush had sold Israel out. Had Israel continued bombing and invading Lebanon for many more weeks or even months imagine how this could've possibly impacted US and British soldiers in mostly Shia Iraq. As for world opinion Israel is already seen by millions as the new South Africa without another Qana per week for the forseeable future.

Like militant Irish-American IRA supporters some Americans (mostly neocons and "rapture" freaks) along with many members of the Jewish diaspora elsewhere would have Israel fight to the last Israeli. It's easy to be a warmonger when you are safe thousands of miles away.

vnjagvet said...

While I understand Paul's frustration, I suspect it is as much caused by frustration and disappointment with Israel's strategic and tactical setbacks (or the appearance of them) as by the failure of US policy and diplomacy.

In reality, the US must defer to Israel's strategic and tactical decisions, as it is the "client".

To let a twit like Nasrullah gloat is tough medicine indeed.

But I think the collective wisdom here is the right approach.

Let's see what develops.

terrye said...

vnjagvet:

Yes, all we can do is wait and see. All will be plain eventually.

I wonder if the Isrealis will go after Nasrallah? I bet he wonders too.

Luther McLeod said...

Sorry Rick, I saw this;

"I'm sure that a majority of Israeli's don't oppose the cease fire"

which led me to link Yoni. And yes, this is a leadership issue. I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall at the cabinet meeting approving the cease fire. How much autonomy do the member's have? As well, the results of that poll tell me that Olmert has not been successful at communicating his reasons for the cease fire to the general populace. Or, he has, and they disagree with his reasoning. Either way it would appear there will be changes in the near future.


Those were the only objectives I remember Chuck. I don't believe either was realized. Even with the agreement the return of the prisoners was not directed, only recommended.

OT but Ace has upped the ante. Don't bother Terrye, you won't like it. Not saying I do either, necessarily, but I certainly empathize.

Rick Ballard said...

Terrye,

If you consider the last five years in terms of relative "peace" in Israel the period that sticks out is immediately after the fall of Baghdad (and cessation of Saddam's splodeydope checks) coupled with the targeted killing of Hamas leadership. The Israelis took two good shots at Nasrallah and if either had been successful then the "war" outcome would look completely different.

I hope that they do continue to try and kill him and that they are successful but they may have burned their humint resources (if they weren't doubled) already.

What I would hate to see now is Olmert asserting a claim that it was the US administration that forced the ceasefire. It would be a lie but he is a pol with his neck on the block. Israel could have had troops on the Litani two weeks ago.

Peter UK said...

Am interesting analysis of the campaign in Lebanon,victories are not military,they are political.
I agree that Israel was done in by the press amongst other things,Qana was certainly the tipping point.

Coisty said...

BTW a huge,perhaps insurmountable, problem in the region is tribalism and consanguineous marriages,simply put,too many of the local populations are related.


PeterUK, I've tried to tell Iraq War supporters that since 2002. Unfortunately they are, at heart, left wing universalists who think all peoples are the same. Witness how Bush and Condoleeza smear those guilty of "the racism of low expectations" because we think the idea of bringing democracy to the Arab world is doomed to fail. It doesn't matter if we draw our conclusion from knowledge of the Arab world. If we don't toe the ideological line we have to be racists. There's no other possible explanation. Sound familiar?

What the pro-war liberals (and that's what neocons are) don't understand is that there is nothing abnormal about people preferring tradition (religion, family, clan, etc.) to a deracinated secular consumer society.

Peter UK said...

Coisty,
The only problem is,these "traditional societies" wish to impose their traditions on us.

Seneca the Younger said...

Unfortunately they are, at heart, left wing universalists who think all peoples are the same.

Just like Thomas Jefferson and Voltaire and Ben Franklin and Tom Paine.

Coisty said...

Peter, since they don't have the power to do so from their part of the world immigration control followed by repatriation* - initially encouraged and voluntary - should be the West's main focus. As much separation between the West and the Islamic world is desirable.

* The Parapundit site you linked to earlier has some repatriation discussions.

Peter UK said...

Coisty,
They are here and they are here to stay,where do those born here get repatriated too?.But they are influencing and changing our countries from within,whether we will it or no,the culturak and demographic change wrought on Britain in the last four decades is huge,it is irreversable.
A rrealistic view of Europe shows the same pattern,and it is not slowing down.We have to stand by the elements of our culture we want to retain,not them be Granscied away by tranzis.
I suggest you read up on the Arab way of conquest,the big battalions come last.

Syl said...

The Jacksonian days are over, folks. We have to face it.

Nobody wins or loses wars anymore.

It's all political.

I think the Hawks have to cool it a bit--though mocking anti-war types is still acceptable of course.

The Reps are going to lose big in November. And it's social issues, not war, that will do it. Americans seem to have accepted that we're at war. We don't have to pound it into their brains anymore. But if Americans hear one more word about the marriage amendment or stem cells or the FCC fines they're going to scream.

(And in 2008 if the Reps put up another social conservative they'll lose.)

Luther McLeod said...

You may be right Syl. Though I rue the day. I like A. Jackson. He got things done. His wife had good taste in wallpaper. Still shining at the Hermitage, 146 years later. If you ever visit Nashville go see it.

chuck said...

But if Americans hear one more word about the marriage amendment...

Maybe on the federal level. But I read that, what, 40+ states have now written the male/female definition of marriage into their constitutions? Unbelievable. I would sure like to see some confirmation of this because I haven't heard much reportage about it. If true, I can't think of anything else that has swept through the country like that in recent times.

Rick Ballard said...

UN Peacekeeping Farce to begin deployment within 24-48 hours. Quick work.

Rick Ballard said...

Chuck,

"Forty-three states have statutes defining marriage to two persons of the opposite-sex." From Wikipedia. I haven't come accross a single competitive House race where contrast on social issues are a major consideration. 'Course the actual campaign doesn't start for a couple of weeks.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

Nobody wins or loses wars anymore.

It's all political.


Hmm, sorry, no, I think that's a misunderstanding of the essence of war. War is not about killing your enemy. It is about willpower. It is about breaking the will of your enemy. Sherman understood this well. War is a battle of wills.

I believe that, by fetishizing World War II, for that is exactly what has happened during our lifetimes, those of us who were born after that event have come to completely misunderstand the nature of war. In our mythology, there were clear good and bad guys in that war and when there was never any doubt that the bad guys would lose, and when their armies were physically destroyed, the war was over.

All three of these assertions are wrong to some degree or other.

And if war is about the breaking of wills, then it should be understood that the essence of war is entirely political, and it should further be understood that all wars since Vietnam will be fought under the glare of the cameras from the Western news agencies, so all wars will be fought first and foremost in the press.

If the enemy press can be turned, as the New York Times has been turned, one is well on one's way to winning.

Syl said...

MHA

You attempted to refute me, then you proved my point.

Nobody's will will be broken in this day and age...the fighting will all be halted before that point.

Besides, in the Arab world, their will isn't broken by destruction and devastation. Declaring victory instead of admitting defeat is their only defense mechanism and they've used it for centuries.

When death is something to celebrate rather than avoid, the idea of breaking their will takes on a different, impossible, dimension.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

Syl,

I believe that America's will was clearly broken in Vietnam.

I believe that we are in serious danger now of having our will broken in the Middle East.

I did not try to refute you. I disagreed with my understanding of what I thought you were saying.

When death is something to celebrate rather than avoid, the idea of breaking their will takes on a different, impossible, dimension.

Impossible for us, maybe. If so, we lose. Very simple.

Syl said...

One could say that the more moderate muslims wish to avoid death. It is their will that can be broken.

But what good is that if the Nasrallah's of the world hold them hostage?

And we can't destroy Hezbollah unless we destroy Lebanon. And that should only be plan B.

The political is plan A. Help the Lebanese to disarm Hezbollah.

I doubt it will work, but it must be tried.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

Syl,

Yes, I agree.

lurker said...

Today's agreement was reached between Siniora and Nasrallah: Hezbollah will not disarm but hide their arms.

Nasrallah's argument of defending Lebanon against Israel is bizarre.

It's Lebanon, not Hezbollah, that NEEDS to defend its country.

Hope USA will jump all over Lebanon and UN to enforce this point.

The Israeli soldiers know that they have to finish the fight against Hezbollah but they wonder when. At least, they are glad to be coming home.

Israel found proof in the Hezbollah arms of Syria connections.

At least, this prepares Israel, UK, USA, and allies for the next war. They know what Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah are capable of and have.

Good lessons for all of us.

lurker said...

As expected

IF Debka is right.

lurker said...

Hezbollah lost alot of assets

Syl said...

Yeah--the assets. Israel destroyed their financial system. Their 'banks' were in six buildings--all gone.

But I also heard (CNN, I think) that the Hezzies are going around south Beirut with clipboards asking people to tell them what damage they have that needs repairing and promising to fix everything.

LOL, the poor people surely believe them.

Let's say the ceasefire holds for now. And money starts pouring in from other countries to help Lebanon rebuild. Gotta make sure none of it gets in the hands of the Hezzies. Fat chance.

And I'm sure Iran will pony up plenty directly.

The porverty stricken shia depend on the Hezzies. That's how it works.

The Saudis do the same thing--doing it now especially in Africa. They pour money in to help people then build madrassas and mosques too.

They do it directly--don't go through the corrupt governments and their agencies. Much smarter than we and our NGO's are.

Skookumchuk said...

MHA:

I believe that America's will was clearly broken in Vietnam.

The will of the Boomer elite was broken in Vietnam. To the extent that this generation clings to power, such will be the extent of this failure of will. Otherwise, the will may still be there.

lurker said...



Hizbullah: UN decision doesn't obligate us


Boy, did they lie! They agreed to the ceasefire before they realized how 1701 did not favor them.

They must be under pressure and didn't like what they are required to do.

So ow what?

lurker said...

Wonder what Saudi Arabia is telling Iran:



Iranian foreign minister discusses Mideast cease-fire with Saudi Arabian king