On to the Bekaa?

Saturday, August 12, 2006
Seneca has made very cogent arguments concerning commentary (including mine) ridiculing Olmert's one foot on the boat, one foot on the dock indecisiveness in conducting what is, after all, his war. The IDF has made public the fact that they had a jim-dandy plan for a decisive attack which would have accomplished a greater level of degradation of hezzie abilities in less time than it took Olmert to gauge initial reaction to his stumble out of the gate. If Olmert's vivid portrayal of Hamlet is a ruse, then he deserves both an Oscar and a Tony for his performance. He has thoroughly convinced me that a peek in his closet at home would reveal a row of identical brown suits, for if there were any choice to be made he would never be able to get dressed, let alone leave the house.

If it is a ruse, what does it cover? Do the Israeli's believe that Ahmanutter is planning to keep his promise on the 22nd with something tucked away up in the Bekaa? The Israeli's were surprised (or have feigned surprise) regarding the missile attack on their ship and about the existence of several types of longer range missiles that were not generally thought to be in the hezzies hands. The recent news concerning Iranian's being found among the hezzies killed is not surprising but it does suggest a high level of interest on Iran's part in maintaining solidarity with the hezzies. If Iran intends to launch from the Bekaa then having a well dug in blocking force in southern Lebanon makes good sense. If Israeli armor could be slowed down in reaching the Bekaa then Ahmanutter would be able to put on a show that could last for a bit. It's true that Israel has total dominance of the air space but if the launch sites are well hidden, that dominance will not stop rocket launches from the Bekaa any more effectively than they do from southern Lebanon.

Israel continues to ferry troops up to the Litani via helicopter even as the Israeli government leaks that 7AM Monday will be the hour and date certain for cessation of offensive activity. The move makes no tactical sense in a situation where all the hezzies have to do is hunker down to wait for the arrival of their UNIFIL allies. As long as they don't shoot, they are at least theoretically safe. It does make sense if the effort was taken in order to ensure fresh troops on the ground a third of the way to the Bekaa. Bringing the troop carriers up empty from Israel has some definite advantages - as does bringing up the Merkavas seemingly haphazardly.

There are other conjectural scenarios to explain Olmert's actions but dropping troops at the Litani with the idea that they will sweep up all the hezzies as they pull back to Israel is just silly. The hezzie rabbits have only to sit snug in their burrows in order to be safe until UNIFIL help arrives.

So, is Olmert Sir Laurence Olivier giving an outstanding performance of Hamlet or did Shakespeare have foreknowledge of Olmert in developing the charactor?


terrye said...


A couple of things, shocking as it may be to some American bloggers Olmert and Rice may have access to information that the rest of us do not possess, so yes there may be more to this.

It is also true that the Isreali people have the job of deciding whether or not Olmert survives, not us.

It is also true that the UN Resolution gave Israel what it asked for. I think that some of us have forgotten what Israel wanted.

Vital perspective gives a brief synopsis of this.

Israel maintains the right to defend itself and while it is easy for us to assume before hand that the whole thing is a farce and doomed for failure, I don't think there is much chance of the American people wanting the Marines to go in there and apparently the Israelis who occupied Lebanon for 18 years don't want to go down that road again.

I have no idea how this will work out in the long run, but I think that perhaps we need to wait and see what happens.

Peter UK said...

It would appear that everybody is puzzled.My guess is that Qana so so stunned the leaders of Israel that Olmert,at least faltered in any resolve that he might have had.Military casualties are one thing,civilian another,but children are beyond the stomach of most.
The propaganda coup by Hezbollah obviouslsy caught Israel off guard,they have been unable to defend or rebut the tragedy,the event lost Israel a great deal of International goodwill.
Let us hope Olmert is confusing the enemy as much as he is confusing the rest of us.

JB said...

I'll reserve judgement till the 22nd.

vnjagvet said...

jb's point seems well taken. This is one situation that has more angles than a sidewinder.

Four concentrated weeks that may be one of the major turning points in the middle east -- or not.

There is a lot of tooth gnashing and this time it is coming from the right of the political spectrum. My first reaction was pretty close to the gang at PowerLine as well. That Olmert screwed up big time by not decisively committing his forces as recommended by his military staff.

But I am now thinking my counsel should be the same is it is when the left seems to be going off on incomplete information: Cool it. Let's see how it plays out.

It does not look to me like the US forced Israel into anything this time.

ambisinistral said...

As tangled up as the IDF and Hezb'Allah appear to be in Southern Lebanon, I can't imagine any one things this cease fire will catch and hold.

I think it is more of an attempt to limit the size of the battle field -- no rockets fired into northern Israel in exchange for no air strikes north of the Litani.

In southern Lebanon, I expect Israel's right to respond to attacks will mean the fighting will go on, with both sides pointing fingers at each other over breaking the 'truce'.

I read a comment somewhere, alas no link, that the Hezb'Allah, expecting a quick and overwhelming Israeli attack, had stocked up far more ammunition than food in their bunkers. If so, seige warfare makes sense. Cap 'em when they bolt for a drink of water.

ambisinistral said...

ooops, should read... "I can't imagine anyone thinks"

Rick Ballard said...


Why would the hezzies keep fighting? Why wouldn't they just amble off over the hills without weapons? How do you tell a hezzie from a goatherd?

In a month they can come back and start playing with the 8,000 remaining Katyushas.

I wonder if the kidnapped Israelis are being treated well.

Peter UK said...

Lates news is that the IDF is swamping souther lebanon probably to make up ground before any ceasefire.

Seneca the Younger said...

It is said that kzinti always attack before they are ready.

Peter UK said...

Rocket attacks are down to 64.

Peter UK said...

"There are no Israeli infidels in Beirut. Never!"

"My feelings - as usual - we will slaughter them all"

"Our initial assessment is that they will all die"

"I blame Al-Jazeera - they are marketing for the Israelis!"

"God will roast their stomachs in hell at the hands of Hezbollah."

"They're coming to surrender or be burned in their tanks."

"No I am not scared, and neither should you be!"

"Be assured. Beirut is safe, protected"

Sheik Hassan Nasrallah

Seneca the Younger said...

Actually, there is another explanation, one that doesn't require Olmert to be an amazing actor. (I have to admit I don't share the adoration of Olivier, but pick anoter one, whatever.)

What if the impression we're getting of Olmert isn't correct? I don't recall him ever saying anything that could be interpreted as backing down, not directly. He's said a number of times that they'd love a cease-fire --- but that hasn't appaently stopped much.

What we're responding to is a bunch of thigns other people have said about Olmert, including a lot of anonymous sources who might well be on Benny Netanyahu's campaign for all we know. If Democrats will undercut the current President during wartime, why wouldn't Likudniks?

But try this: if you didn't read ANY commentary about what Olmert is doing, or not doing, and instead looked at what has actually happened on the ground, you've got

- a massive air campaign directed at logistics (including communications) and hardened military sites

- a massive psychwar campaign to go with it (how many leaflets have they dropped? How many bouncy "Nasrallah is a coward" music videos have been hacked into Lebanese TV?)

- some ground incursions against hardened sites

- and now, a massive ground invasion into southern Lebanon.

To me, that looks like preparing the battlefield, followed by a reconaissance in force, followed by an actual ground campaign.

Am I "right"? Who the hell knows? I just haev been noticing that if I ignore what all the pundits say, and look at what the Israelis are doing on the ground, it makes sense to me.

lurker said...

Rockets down 64 or 65 today?

Well, we'll see.

Will the Hezzies fire any rockets tomorrow?

We'll see.

The devils will be in the details of the second resolution. USA had better stay on top of their toes to make sure Lebanon government and army are not infiltrated by the Hezbollah.

We'll see.

This resolution calls for Israeli army to pull back as soon as the Lebanon army begins to step in.

Bad call.

Crosspatch had a good long post over at Blue Crab Boulevard but I am not as confident as crosspatch.

barry rubin believes that this may be a temporary peace.

Dan Gillerman's speech given last night may represent the opinion of many Israeli, USA Republicans, and Blair supporters.

USA and UN now needs to push Iran under sanctions for the odds of Iran agreeing to the UN resolution approved against Iran are very low.

The next few weeks and months may determine the future.

Fortunately, Israel is allowed to rearm itself and USA will agree to resupplying Israel.

Sweetness and Light just had a post about AP reporting that Bush isn't doing enough to protect our country (re: liquid-detection machines).

When will they give Bush a huge break????

Seneca the Younger said...

Now --- where do I recall a major air campaign to shape the battlespace, followed by a recon in force, followed by a major ground campaign.

Along with regular announcements by pundits that all was lost, and a continuing litany of threats of the sort Peter just pointed out.

Seneca the Younger said...

barry rubin believes that this may be a temporary peace.

Aren't they all?

lurker said...

Syria still transferring supply of rockets, missiles to Hezbollah

Guess come Monday, the odds of seeing a ceasefire are not that good.

11 IDF soldiers killed today. The Hezbollah is still defending itself

Peter UK said...

Not so much a peace as a temperory ceasefire,next time however the IDF will be on the Litani River.
Has Robert Fisq done his toilet roll line yet? Always a good sign.
The more the left commentators,lick their wet lefty lips at an Israeli defeat,the more it is guarenteed that Hezbollah are getting its clock cleaned.

Rick Ballard said...

IDF Chief of Staff "There are things that need to be inspected," he said. "Including the question of how we got to this situation [war with Hizbullah] six years [after the withdrawal from Lebanon] and how the defense budget reached the point that it cannot provide for Israel's basic defensive needs."

Truly inspiring.

Seneca the Younger said...

Golly, Rick. You've found a general who thinks the defense budget should be bigger.

Who'd'a thunk it?

Rick Ballard said...

Pre-mortem analysis by chiefs of staff with men in the field is just a tad unusual. It is good of him to invite the intencsive investigation that he knows can't be avoided. And he was the first to get his finger pointed (while placing his butt cover firmly in place).

A helluva leader.

loner said...

I first picked up The Stranger, the Albert Camus novel we're being told the President made short work of this week, while on a family vacation (I'm the oldest of eight) when I was 15. Interestingly enough, I've a vague memory of also reading something having to do with Ulysses, and most particularly with Molly, during that sojourn among redwoods and like in a trailer outside a cabin on a mountainside. I was bored in a Longview sort of way and I can report that I also made short work of The Stranger.

At the moment, it's sometime after two in the afternoon on June 16, 1904 in the National Library in Dublin where I read. Stephen is holding forth on Shakespeare, the man, and theorizing on the life history inspirations for some of his work and for Hamlet in particular.

I've a decided preference for the movie version of Hamlet inwhich Mel Gibson plays the title role. I'd put this down to low expectations, but that I've always gone into movie adaptations of Hamlet with low expectations. This version is relatively short and ungimmicky and has its moments. I still recall Gibson's reading of more honoured in the breach than in the observance... and Stephen Dillane's of Now cracks a noble heart....

That it should come to this—

As to Olmert not being able to make up his mind being, perhaps, a piece of theater, I think it more than unlikely though it's hard to account for how recklessly free with bizarre commentary both the military and the government were from day one on. Can do? The question mark has replaced the explanation point when it comes to Israel and that is a loss in my uninformed view.

What I'd really like to know is why we know the President read The Stranger.

terrye said...

Gale does not read the blogs, he has no idea who powerline is, his opinion? When and if the dust settles we will be amazed at how much damage Isreal has done to Lebanon and a great many of the Hezbellah will do what these kinds of fighters always do, melt away into the population. At least for awhile.

I read on some blog that a commenter called Olmert a left wing pussy and I thought to myself the internet is turning into a bar with a bunch of loud obnoxious drunks insulting each other.

How about we wait and see what happens before we pass judgment? Radical concept of course, but it can't hurt.

lurker said...

I understand that Israel has agreed to halt its war at 7 am Monday Israel / Lebanon time. Has Hizbollah agreed to the time?

Last I read was that Hizbollah agreed but the war is not over.


So if Hizbollah still fires rockets towards Israel after 7 am tomorrow, then that calls off ceasefire entirely?

Syria is still supplying Hizbollah.

Peter UK said...

A report from the front by Michael Totten.
A Israeli spokesman says that Hezbollah has been seriuosly degraded,with some 550 fighters killed and the infrastructure destroyed.This is no an invasion of occupation but one of annihilation.My guess is the hammer of the ground invasion is to crush Hezbollah against to air mobile force on the Litani

terrye said...


Israel maintians the right to defend itself so if Hezbellah keeps firing rockets, the Isrealis keep fighting.

terrye said...


I think so too.

Peter UK said...

Not a very encouraging statement from Olmert a while back,understandable,but what are the options?

"We are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies, we want that we will be able to live in an entirely different environment of relations with our enemies."