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***Lebanon Redux

by DoDo Sat Jul 29th, 2006 at 03:42:47 AM EST

I collected together stuff -- most of it posted in recent threads, but here in logical order -- on two issues: on the nature of Israel's military campaign, and on the reasons that could have triggered the war.

From the front page - whataboutbob


The Israeli campaign

The New York Times quoted an unnamed Israeli official, likely the Chief of Staff himself, saying they:

...try to eliminate Hezbollah military assets and stockpiles, which the Israelis say are distributed and hidden through the civilian population, in houses, garages and apartments.

"We want the freedom to attack these places," the officer said. "I believe in air power. I believe in our ability to destroy Hezbollah without going into Lebanon again the way we did in 1982.

As for example Patrick Lang explains, air power is a military doctrine developed by an Italian fascist in the twenties -- one first put to use in the colonies, then the Spanish Civil War, but one which never really worked --, which holds that air superiority can trump ground forces if applied against the entire state, including destruction of the economy and terror against citizens. Do the Israeli leaders think along these lines?

' According to retired Israeli army Col. Gal Luft, the goal of the campaign is to "create a rift between the Lebanese population and Hezbollah supporters." The message to Lebanon's elite, he said, is this: "If you want your air conditioning to work and if you want to be able to fly to Paris for shopping, you must pull your head out of the sand and take action toward shutting down Hezbollah-land." ' [WaPo via Juan Cole]

But he is retired. What about the Chief of Staff?

' Brigadier General Dan Halutz, the Israeli Chief of Staff, emphasised that the offensive ... was open-ended. "Nothing is safe (in Lebanon), as simple as that," he said. ' [Times in London via Juan Cole]

But does this thinking translate into actual policy? For one there are the attacks on bridges, airports, ports, refugees who were previously urged to leave their homes, and ambulances:

But they say maybe Hezbollah hides in ambulances... What about some more unquestionably civilian targets? Well, let's look at some other uttering of General Halutz:

A high-ranking IAF officer caused a storm on Monday in an off-record briefing during which he told reporters that IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz had ordered the military to destroy 10 buildings in Beirut in retaliation to every Katyusha rocket strike on Haifa. [Jerusalewm Post, via Billmon]

While the NGO Civil Rights in Israel sent a letter of protest to the defense minister, in which they pointed out that Halutz's claimed order was in line with earlier statements by him, the IDF already issued a denial. On the other hand, if history is a pointer, that doesn't mean much -- here is part of Billmon's Flash From the Past, looking back 24 years:

To the media, Israel stressed its employment of precision weapons against military targets, but general bombing also took place. As described first-hand by retired British Major Derek Cooper ... the shelling and bombing was indiscriminate as building after building was destroyed from sea, land and air."

. . .Claiming a desire to minimize civilian casualties, Israeli spokesmen stressed precision bombing methods targeting only the PLO "terrorists" and denied the use of cluster bombs. Then the truth came out that the IDF was using them. In another case, the IDF blamed Lebanese Christians for the cutting off water and electricity to west Beirut until reporters discovered Israelis helping to man the pumping stations.

So how do surgical strikes look this time? Like levelled apartment blocks:

The second photo is via Lebanese blogger UrShalim, who tells of more building levelling in his non-Hezbollah neighbourhood, and of rumours of "sleeping bombs" dropped into the rubble.

It's not only Beirut -- it is also refugee camps:

...A Palestinian was killed and five others including a baby were  wounded in pre-dawn attacks on the refugee camp at Rashidiyeh,  medical sources said.

"I was able to pull out the bodies of my nine-year-old daughter  Zeinab and my son Mohammed, 11," Munzer Mwannes told AFP by telephone from Hallusiyeh as he called for help to try to dig his two other children out from the debris alive.

"The body of my brother-in-law has also been retrieved," added Mwannes, who was wounded along with his wife in the raids.

Sobbing, he told how Israeli aircraft swooped at least six times  on four three-storey apartment blocks, "the highest in the village". [AFP, via Juan Cole]

But maybe all of these buildings had to be levelled because there were Hezbollah bases in them? Doesn't appear so:

Ali Al-Akhrass, a pharmacist who had brought his family back to Lebanon to spend the summer with relatives, died, along with his wife, Amira, and their four children as a result of the July 16 attack. Residents of Aytaroun say a total of 11 people were killed because of the air strike, all of them members of the same extended family.

Just why the Al-Akhrass home was specifically targeted by the Israeli air force is about to become the subject of international scrutiny. The New York-based Human Rights Watch plans to highlight the incident in a forthcoming report about Israel's alleged targeting of innocent civilians during the 13-day-old conflict. "This case is of particular interest to us because this family came from Canada to Lebanon after 15 years away, just a few weeks before the bombing started," said Peter Bouckaert, director of emergencies for the rights group. "It's very clear that they had no Hezbollah links. It just shows how indiscriminate the attacks on villages are." [Globe and Mail]

But, well, levelling buildings makes some sense: if you level them all, Hezbollah guerillas have nowhere to hide. Nor chased-away civilians to return. Stories from the South:

...Kamal Mansour ...A farmer from the eastern village of Aaitaroun, which lies barely 2km from the Israeli border, he had been determined to stay in his home despite the increasing intensity of the air war.

But by yesterday morning he could take no more. "They hit us very aggressively," he said. "They didn't leave a single house standing, and there are still people there, buried under the rubble."

...Hala Abu Olaya, a dental secretary from Bent Jbail who lived with her mother and two sisters, also had no car. As the war wore on, the women were forced to flee to four different houses in succession in the besieged town. None offered any real safety. "First they destroyed our house. We left with only the clothes on our back," she said. "We ran to one house, and the bomb fell in front of the door, so we had to escape that house too. Then we ran away to another house. But then that house got bombed." [Guardian]

It helps of course if there are no witnesses (see for example the continuing case of killed peace activist Tom Hurndall) -- or that's how UN General Secretary Kofi Annan saw the death of four UN soldiers:

Annan said the "co-ordinated artillery and aerial attack on a long-established and clearly marked UN post at Khiam occurred despite personal assurances given to me by prime minister Ehud Olmert that UN positions would be spared Israeli fire." [The Independent/AP]

This was an attack with a guided missile -- and the Irish foreign ministry says:

"On six separate occasions he was in contact with the Israelis to warn them that their bombardment was endangering the lives of U.N. staff in South Lebanon," a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said.

"He warned: 'You have to address this problem or lives may be lost'," the spokesman said of comments by Lieutenant Colonel John Molloy, the chief liaison officer between U.N. forces in South Lebanon and the Israelis. [Reuters]


Now, Air Power never really worked, and some Isreli brass recognise that for the current attempt already:

"They really cannot be destroyed from the air," said Maj. Michael Oren of the Israeli Defense Forces. "There's really no alternative but to send in ground forces." [ABC News]

But can any improvement be expected of the ground forces? Well, make up your mind:

Now more Israeli soldiers are on the way, including an armored unit being transferred from Gaza to Lebanon. They have been told civilians have left the region where they will fight.

"Over here, everybody is the army," one soldier said. "Everybody is Hezbollah. There's no kids, women, nothing."

Another soldier put it plainly: "We're going to shoot anything we see." [ABC News]

Finally, Angry Arab brings us evidence of yet another aspect of the failure of such tactics -- a shift of Lebanese public opinion:

It was conducted by the reliable Markaz Bayrut li-l-Abhath (and I thank `Abduh and Amal for sharing the unpublished results with me). These are some of the highlights: 70% support the capture of the two Israeli soldiers (73.1 among Sunnis, 96.3 among Shi`ites, 40% among Druzes, and 55 among Christians); 87% support that "the resistance fight Israeli aggression on Lebanon" (88.9 among Sunnis, 96.3 among Shi`ites, 80% among Druzes, and 80% among Christians); 8% think that America adopted a positive position toward Lebanon during this war (7.9% among Sunnis, 4 among Shi`ites, 13.6 among Druzes, and 15 among Christians).
PS Sample size is 800. The overwhelming majority were face-to-face interviews (including all displaced individuals).

(I think Israel would have had more success at fostering Hezbollah's isolation and discrediting in Lebanon had they chosen negotiations for the two soldiers' release and a media campaign. Which would have been better for both Lebanese and Israelis.)


Bonus: Gaza

How should one army respond to such a positive development?

Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have agreed to stop firing rockets at Israel and to free a captured Israeli soldier in a deal brokered by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.

The deal, agreed on Sunday, is to halt the rocket attacks in return for a cessation of Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, and to release Corporal Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured on June 25, in exchange for the freeing of Palestinian prisoners at some point in the future...

"The problem is that both Islamic Jihad and Hamas have to seek the advice of their political bureaux in Damascus and we are waiting for their response," he said.

Ibrahim al-Naja, a Hamas minister in Ramallah, told the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz: "This initiative was presented in an attempt to alleviate Palestinian suffering, but now it depends on Israel, which is showing no indication yet of its willingness for a ceasefire." [Guardian]

This way:

In the Gaza Strip, scene of another Israeli offensive, Israeli forces killed 24 Palestinians, including at least 12 militants, two children and their mother, and a handicapped man, during fighting.

Israel has killed 141 Palestinians in a month-long campaign to recover a captured soldier and stop rocket fire from Gaza. [Reuters]



What triggered the war?

The short answer is: we don't know for sure and probably won't for years.

It's a given that both sides are heavy on serious propaganda lies. Israel, say, managed to paint its 1967 attack on its neighbours as self-defense and in 1982 Begin blamed an attack ordered by Saddam and executed by the Abu Nidal group on the PLO; while Hezbollah's al-Manar TV was the originator of the notorious "4000 Jews didn't show up for work at the WTC on the morning of 9/11" fake news.

Longer answer: we now have at least three versions.

  1. The first starts of course with Hezbollah's original version regarding which side of the border they captured two soldiers [here from DPA], which was released before the Israeli version (attack on border patrol by Hezbollah commando that came through a tunnel and then blowing up a tank entering Lebanon on hot pursuit):

    'Implementing our promise to free Arab prisoners in Israeli jails, our strugglers have captured two Israeli soldiers in southern Lebanon,' a statement by Hezbollah said.

    'The two soldiers have already been moved to a safe place,' it added.

    The Lebanese police said that the two soldiers were captured as they 'infiltrated' into the town of Aitaa al-Chaab inside the Lebanese border.

    Now the San Francisco Chronicle reported (and Juan Cole commented) that

    ...By 2004, the military campaign scheduled to last about three weeks that we're seeing now had already been blocked out and, in the last year or two, it's been simulated and rehearsed across the board."

    More than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving PowerPoint presentations, on an off-the-record basis, to U.S. and other diplomats, journalists and think tanks, setting out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail.

    So version one would have Israel seizing an opportunity to execute a well-prepared plan of war of aggression. However, the official version of the circumstances of capture is bolstered by the fact that the two captured weren't members of some elite commando, but two reservists on the last day of their service.

  2. Helen called our attention to an analysis at Liberal Oasis, which focuses on the Shebaa Farms. This small strip of land is important because it is a water source. And it is a thorny issue because it originally belonged to Syria and was recognised so by the UN, was later bilaterally recognised as part of Lebanon, but Israel kept it as part of the Golan Heights. But as Naharnet reported, there were moves for diplomatic solution:

    Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has told French President Jacques Chirac that Israel would pull out of the Shabaa Farms border region after the area officially comes under Lebanese sovereignty, An Nahar newspaper reported Thursday.

    Incidentally, it is also Hezbollah's main excuse for maintaining its militia after Israel's 2000 pullout from the rest of Southern Lebanon. This was not lost on Olmert, and he pushed for Lebanon establishing its sovereignity militarily:

    Olmert asked Chirac to exert pressure on the Lebanese government to deploy troops along the border with Israel when Tel Aviv pulls out of the last remaining region it still occupies in Lebanon, the paper said.

    So in this version, Hezbollah triggered the war precisely to prevent a peaceful solution that would have forced it to give up its militia and thus semi-sovereignity). But against this version speaks that the diplomatic move over the Shebaa Farms was stillborn, because of the third player:

    ...the Israeli premier also offered to pull his army out of the Shabaa Farms after Lebanon delineates its border with Syria and declares Lebanese sovereignty over the region.

    ...In May, the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1680 urging Syria to respond to the Lebanese government's request to demarcate the frontier and establish diplomatic relations with Beirut.

    Syria rejected the resolution saying it was unprecedented international interference in bilateral relations.

  3. From Hezbollah leader Nasrallah's latest speech, another version arises -- in Angry Arab's paraphrasing:
    He said that the plan--if the timing was giving to Israel to execute in September or October--aims at destroying the command and leadership of the party, to cause paralysis in its rank. He said that the capture of the soldiers gave Hizbullah a tactical advantage--my words. That if the timing was left to Israel to determine, the Party would have been caught by surprise... He also said that the timing of the war was determined by the US: he said that the US has been sending one military delegation after another in the last year, trying to determine the ability and willingness of the Lebanese Army to fight against Hizbullah.

    That is, Hezbollah now wants to imply that they pre-empted an Israeli attack, so that Israel had to start it not fully prepared. But in this case, they'll have PR problems at home, to say the least, for as Angry Arab points out:

    ...you get the impression that the party was prepared for this assault, although it is not likely that Hizbullah expected his scale of aggression. But the party canít go very far with that argument: that the party was prepared for this massively violent eventuality will lead many displaced Lebanese to ask why they too were not prepared, or made to be prepared, for this eventuality.

Display:
Any additions?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jul 26th, 2006 at 03:13:45 PM EST
Now updated with massive amounts of extra material.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jul 26th, 2006 at 06:23:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You've done a brilliant job. I can't think of anything to add for the time being. What I'm going to be following with interest is what happens with the Lebanese government in the next few weeks. The Lebanese seem remarkably united at this point, but I think there will be recriminations eventually. The seemingly warm reception they gave Rice was a huge tactical error. They should have insisted she tour South Beirut and actually see all the dead children and other innocent civilians.
by Matt in NYC on Wed Jul 26th, 2006 at 10:40:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To whataboutbob: I edited back the title, because this is not a complete overview (see for example what rg asks for), it only focuses on two themes.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 07:38:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I added another snippet at the end, about a way Hezbollah disregarded their own civilians.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 08:08:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Following some of your links, I came upon this:
http://www.leb.org/v3/lebanon

Take a minute to read the note below: it's a summary of the main points of the lebanese government legitimate sensible call for a cease-fire. Print it out and send it by post, by fax, by email to western embassies, to international newspapers, to international TV stations, to the UN headquarters and missions around the world.

Calling for a cease-fire
July 26th, 2006
http://www.leb.org/v3/lebanon

Israel is destroying Lebanon. It has no right to do so.

Children, women, innocent civilians are being killed by the Israeli attacks. Entire families are being chased out of their home villages. Bridges, roads, airports, ports, highways, energy plants and communication networks are being pounded to the ground. The whole country has been cut off from the rest of the world.

We, Lebanese people, are sad, we are suffering, we are angry, we are determined and mobilized to work together towards saving our nation.

Israel's initiative is an unfair disproportionate collective punishment inflicted upon Lebanon for the wrong reasons: what is happening today goes beyond the issue of a prisoners exchange.

Neither the government nor the innocent people of Lebanon had been informed or agreed on the kidnapping of the two Israeli soldiers.

Lebanon is in despair: it's a humanitarian and economic disaster.

We call for an immediate cease-fire under the auspices of the UN,

We call for the establishment of the government's sovereignty on all Lebanese territory in cooperation with the UN,

We call for your help to pressure Israel to stop its attacks.
Help us achieve it as soon as possible.
So that Lebanon will survive. Lebanon will survive.

They also have links to the Red Cross & such.

As an American, I'm 100% positive my own government is a lost cause on this issue, but maybe the Europeans can put up a fight?  Call your reps & UN people.  I heard the UNSC will vote on (sending in troops?) next week.  I really don't know if there would be any way to override any US veto, but please let your leaders know you demand a ceasefire and aid to Lebanon.  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Wed Jul 26th, 2006 at 03:35:26 PM EST
Beirut blogging here:

http://www.bloggingbeirut.com/

by das monde on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 06:51:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Inspired by that blog, I did Google News searches on "UN killed" (the old July 11 story is still on top), and on "lebanon oil spill" (so far only one story).

Does it look like the first time in the world history that environmental catastrophe is used in warfare? That would be so sick...  Welcome to the age of real eco-terrorism, Mr Crichton?!

by das monde on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 07:11:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, no, there was the burning of Iraq's oid fields during the 1991 Gulf War.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 07:14:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Kuweit's?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 07:26:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, Kuwait's.

Weren't there also oil spills in the Persian gulf?

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 07:29:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is this "practise" so recent, anyway?..
by das monde on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 10:56:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: International Conference for Lebanon (Rome, July 26)
Co-Chairman Statement

Representatives of Italy and the United States, the United Nations, Canada, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Jordan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the European Union (High Representative, Finnish Presidency, Commission), and the World Bank met today in Rome along with representatives of Lebanon. Building on the September 19, 2005 ministerial-level Lebanon Core Group meeting in New York, the Lebanon Core Group and other countries concerned for the fate of Lebanon met today to express the international community's deep concern about the situation in Lebanon and the violence in the Middle East, to enjoin urgent and substantial humanitarian assistance, and to discuss concrete steps that would allow a free, independent and democratic Lebanon to exercise effective control over all of its territory. The Lebanon Core Group and the other participants to the Rome Conference are committed to helping the Lebanese government to address the political, economic and security challenges that it faces.

The participants pledged their united determination to work in partnership with the international community to provide immediate humanitarian relief to the people of Lebanon, expressing deep concern for civilian casualties and suffering, the destruction of civil infrastructures and the rising number of internally displaced people. Calling Israel to exercise its utmost restraint, they welcomed Israel's announcement of humanitarian corridors to Lebanon, including for humanitarian flights into Beirut International Airport, and within Lebanon that can allow for the rapid delivery of relief aid, and called for their immediate operation.

The Rome Conference participants expressed their determination to work immediately to reach with the utmost urgency a cease-fire that put an end to the current violence and hostilities. That cease-fire must be lasting, permanent and sustainable.

The Rome Conference affirmed that the fundamental condition for lasting security in Lebanon is the Government's full ability to exercise its authority over all its territory. The participants noted that a framework of international decisions, including the G-8 statement of July 16, United Nations Security Council Resolutions 425, 1559 and 1680, the Lebanese national framework embodied in the Taif Accords, and the 1949 Armistice Agreement represent the principles that govern the international community's efforts and responsibilities to help support the Government and people of Lebanon.

The participants called for the full implementation of these relevant UN Security Council Resolutions and the Taif Accords, which provide for the deployment of Lebanese Armed Forces to all parts of the country and the disarming of all militias.

An International Force in Lebanon should urgently be authorized under a UN mandate to support the Lebanese Armed Forces in providing a secure environment. The Rome Conference pledged its support for Lebanon's revival and reconstruction. The participants today agreed to the convening of an international donor conference to assist with the revival of Lebanon's economy and called for the provision of reconstruction assistance to the Lebanese Government, with special emphasis on the southern part of the country. In addition, the need for a meeting of partner countries to discuss a joint approach to security assistance for the Lebanese Armed Forces and security services was widely supported.

Participants agreed that any lasting solution to Middle East tensions must be regional. They expressed their full commitment to the people of Lebanon, Israel and throughout the region to act immediately with the international community toward the goal of a comprehensive and sustainable peace.



Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 26th, 2006 at 05:22:44 PM EST
How many words can politicians string together and say absolutely nothing?  They could have saved themselves all the trouble of shuttling around and just asked me to be a consultant-while staying in my apartment-and type up some meaningless but lengthy statement signifying nothing.  I could pretend I was the 'Lebanon Core Group'..makes as much sense as the group meeting in Rome.

Of course then Condi wouldn't have gotten her PR photo ops designed to be pushed on American audiences to show she is supposedly doing something.  Apparently also the public here is buying this bullshit thanks to our craven media who all seem to be versions of mouthpieces now for the White House and Israel.

"People never do evil so throughly and happily as when they do it from moral conviction."-Blaise Pascal

by chocolate ink on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 03:21:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The worst part is that Bush pre-empted Blair's suggestion to send a mission to the middle east (or go himself, would have been the highest-ranking politician to do so) for this. And, of course, after that happened Blair instructed Beckett to just support whatever Rice said in Rome.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 03:46:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dodo, thanks for putting this together.

Can I say that I was hoping you were going to publish two diarys: one called The Israeli Campaign (very well put together above) and another called The Hezbollah Campaign (or somesuch)?

You see, I can imagine any supporter of the israeli action would read the above and go pshh, propaganda.  What about the rockets they're firing at us, I mean them, I mean...?

They are on their heels, rocking.  They have no arguments, they have to listen...so who is saying what on the other side?

(To give you an idea of what I mean: the conformist western attitude I come across thinks something like, "They hate the jews, want to kill all westerners, and believe in covering women in black, making us pray to Allah, etc..."  This needs counteracting by voices from...the other side.)

I'm sorry if I'm not making much sense.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed Jul 26th, 2006 at 08:01:23 PM EST
By "the other side" I mean the side that does NOT have Israel on it.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed Jul 26th, 2006 at 08:02:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the short version would be, they believe in the deterrence of terror bombing, treating the other state as a whole too, and that doesn't work either.

I may pull together some quotes later, for now some bullet points:

  • one Nasrallah speech talked both about effecting evacuation on the other side, and fear everywhere when longer-range rockets are available;

  • Nasrallah gave a half-assed apology to a family of Palestinian Israelis for killing their children -- I wonder how long before the terror strategy will start damaging the home audience not just the Western one;

  • on Janus-faced Hezbollah's strange role in Lebanon (which is less known than its role in the conflict with Israel), Helen Cobban's article is a must-read.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 05:16:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've just finished reading Helen Cobban's article.  Very detailed, very in-depth.  Thanks for the link, DoDo.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 06:20:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As for example Patrick Lang explains, air power is a military doctrine developed by an Italian fascist in the twenties -- one first put to use in the colonies, then the Spanish Civil War, but one which never really worked --, which holds that air superiority can trump ground forces if applied against the entire state, including destruction of the economy and terror against citizens.

I recently reread HG Wells great "The war in the air" where he in 1908 let the German air fleet defeat the US forces defending New York only to find that you can not occupy a city with only air force. So when the insurgency got to effective, the German air fleet bombed New York as punishment and continued to the next town. A good prediction of both the power of bombing and its weaknesses. And that when airplanes were only a rumour.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Jul 26th, 2006 at 09:40:52 PM EST
So, this bombing is "strategic" in the sense that it is designed to inflict damages on civilian (strategic) targets and destroy their will to continue fighting. America did this rather successfully in WWII with overwhelming air power.

If so, this may be a "total war" in which Israel is attempting to alter the power structure of Lebanon completely, as in the case of the World War. Their ground troop's "no mercy" strategy appears to confirm this interpretation.

Then I wonder: has Israel signed up on Bush/Rice's aggressive regime change? To them, the cedar revolution is no good, as long as the Hezbollah has representation in the parliament and the executive branch. This needed to be "addressed" somehow, before it is too late (as in Germany of the 1920s?).

Bush must have been informed of the Israeli plan, judging from the consistency of the message Rice is sending after the war started. Maybe this war is the reason why Bush aborted his plan to nuke Iran this summer. If Israel is willing to fight a proxy war of domino with consequences in Syria and Iran, why bother to nuke them?

I will become a patissier, God willing.

by tuasfait on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 04:19:36 AM EST
So, this bombing is "strategic" in the sense that it is designed to inflict damages on civilian (strategic) targets and destroy their will to continue fighting.

Unless I'm missing something, the civilians aren't fighting, so it's going to be hard for them to stop.

If so, this may be a "total war" in which Israel is attempting to alter the power structure of Lebanon completely, as in the case of the World War. Their ground troop's "no mercy" strategy appears to confirm this interpretation.

I'm not seeing much in the way of a coherent long term strategy here. Israel can't win an air war, and it can't win a ground war. If it occupies Lebanon, it will have a nasty extended insurgency on its hands. If it destroys and depopulates large areas of Lebanon, it's going to offer enthusiastic recruitment opportunities for the next generation of Hezbollah fighters.

All of this is just fine with Bush, who likes blowing shit up. And it's another chance to hand the MilInd complex a big fat welfare cheque.

It's not so smart for Israel which isn't winning itself any friends and is making a lot of enemies.

Syria and Iran are watching with interest. But considering that Israel has failed in its objectives - this was supposed to be a quick war, and it shows every sign of turning into a very long one unless a ceasefire is agreed - this hasn't made Israel any more convincing militarily.

And spasming, flailing and blowing shit up because it happens to be in the way isn't a recipe for long-term diplomatic stability.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Jul 29th, 2006 at 07:45:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it is naive to assume Israel is after civilian targets. If that were really the case, there would be thousands of deaths by now. You are forgetting that Israel has made at least SOME effort (dropping leaflets, allowing humanitarian convoys, letting people know ahead of time) to spare civilian life. Whether it is genuine or not is up for debate. What is not up for debate, however, is the fact that Hizbollah has made NO such efforts whatsoever. We can throw around statistics all day long about the number of dead Lebanese vs. Israelis. Neither number is acceptable. Hell, one person dead from this shit is unacceptable. But I wonder how many people have considered that the only reason Israel's number of dead is relatively small is because Hizbollah doesn't have the technology Israel has. What do you think would happen if Hizbollah had better guidance, more long-range weapons, aviation? Do you think they would be dropping leaflets?

Mikhail from SF
by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Sat Jul 29th, 2006 at 11:58:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That if they were technological equals, we'd all shut up and not worry about hundreds of dead children?

There is absolutely no question that both Israel and Hezbollah couldn't care less about killing civilians. If the world were a better place -- if the U.S. were a more competent super-power -- all the leaders of both Hezbollah and Israel would be tried for murder and incarcerated for the rest of their lives. The fact that that isn't going to happen doesn't excuse either party.

by Matt in NYC on Sat Jul 29th, 2006 at 11:55:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
what Israeli plan? If there was an Israeli plan, the war would have been over by now.
by messy on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 12:50:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The following advertisement in last Thursday's Le Monde (July 20th), by the Crif (Representative Council of the Jewish Insitutions of France) and the European Jewish Congress:

Hezbollah is a menace for peace

Israel, retired from Lebanon since 2000, has been attacked on its territory by the Hezbollah terrorist movement.

Hezbollah, manipulated by Iran, who calls for the destruction of Israel, constitutes a permanent vital danger for Israel and its citizens. Israel exerces its auto-defence right and leads a military campaign proportionate to this threat.

For several days missiles are being fired at civilian populations in Israel, and menace Tel Aviv. They have caused numerous casualties.

If Marseille, town twinned to Haifa, in which several inhabitants have been killed, was bombarded by terrorists, would France remain passive?

Jacques Chirac declared on January 19th 2006: "The integrity of our territory, the protection of our population, the free exercice of our sovereignty will always constitute the heart of our vital interests ... The leaders of states that would use terrorist means against us must understand that they expose themselves to a firm and adapted response from us".

The Lebanese people, taken hostage by the Hezbollah, must regain its sovereignty. The 1559 UN Security Council resolution, that requires the dissolution and disarmement of lebanese militias, must be applied durably.

We deplore the death of innocent victims on both sides. We reaffirm our solidarity to the Israeli people.


by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 06:11:57 AM EST
Now I've been away for 3 weeks, but I seem to recall that this all started when 2 soldiers were captured. And that the missile attacks intensified after Israel attacked.

But maybe I'm biased and I read the news upside down, including the advertisements.

by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 06:14:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Problem is that you've got several (many?) packs of maniacs in the area constantly provoking each other. This time I'm increasingly getting the feeling that the Israeli military were running the show and decided that this provocation was a good time to deal with the Lebanon problem. Turns out that they're no smarter than any other military.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 06:22:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Israel is beginning to look like the Turkey of a few years ago: a democracy under military tutelage. It's Dan Halutz calling the shots, not Ehud Olmert. Then again, there's the timeless wisdom brought to us by rg:
If fighting is sure to result in victory, then you must fight, even though the ruler forbid it; if fighting will not result in victory, then you must not fight even at the ruler's bidding.
Now, if Dan Halutz was wrong to believe fighting would surely result in victory, he can expect a world of trouble.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 06:29:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Lebanese people are hostage to Israel.
According to retired Israeli army Col. Gal Luft, the goal of the campaign is to "create a rift between the Lebanese population and Hezbollah supporters." The message to Lebanon's elite, he said, is this: "If you want your air conditioning to work and if you want to be able to fly to Paris for shopping, you must pull your head out of the sand and take action toward shutting down Hezbollah-land."
(see DoDo's diary)

Other than that, nothing to see here.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 06:25:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Circular link :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 07:39:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I get those wrong with worrying regularity.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 07:42:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I really thought I was in the breakfast.

Help! I need a vacation! [just 3 weeks to go for that]

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 07:43:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Funny, no one says that Lebanon has the right to defend themselves do they?..

Anyway if I remember the sequence of events right from my reading it was this:  Hizbollah attacks army border post and captures a few soldiers.  Israel sends a tank into Lebanon in pursuit, tank hits land mine blowing up and killing  soldiers inside..Israeli soldiers still in Lebanon pursue Hizbollah fighters.

Nasrallah believes with the Israeli soldiers captured he can negotiate for Palestian/Lebanese people that Israel has in prison.

Instead Israel starts bombing Lebanon and does so for a day and half before Hizbollah shoot off some rockets towards Haifa  seemingly as warning that they can...killing no one.  Israel continues to bomb to shit out of Lebanon for 3 days before Hizbollah gets more serious and starts to send lots of rockets into Israel starting with Haifa.

"People never do evil so throughly and happily as when they do it from moral conviction."-Blaise Pascal

by chocolate ink on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 03:09:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Funny, no one says that Lebanon has the right to defend themselves do they?...

Actually, everyone except Syria does, even the Israelis.
The problem is that Hizbullah decided to attack Israel for the following racist reason:

Nasrallah believes with the Israeli soldiers captured he can negotiate for Palestian/Lebanese people that Israel has in prison.

In other words, the leadership of Hizbullah think that as craven, inferior cowards [like all Jews], the Israeli government would come calling "hat in hand" to beg the superior Muslim supermen to get it's people back.

AFAIK, Hizbullah had been fireing rockets as soon as the whole thing started, except that they were small ones with no guiding device inside.

by messy on Fri Jul 28th, 2006 at 09:37:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who do you think Lebanon needs to defend itself from, just to be sure?

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 28th, 2006 at 09:42:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't put words in my mouth..that is not what I stated or implied at all.  My understanding from reading is that the captured Israeli soldiers were going to be used to negotiate as has been done before except Olmert choose not to do so.

I wasn't even trying to be particularly pro/con just stated the facts as I seen them but as always 'facts' can be open to interpretation depending on a persons viewpoint.

As for Lebanon defending itself-I was speaking to that basically from the viewpoint in the US...and US news.  I seldom listen to the news but when I have turned it on it seems that is what I've heard over/over-'that Israel has the right to defend itself'...nothing said about Lebanon.

"People never do evil so throughly and happily as when they do it from moral conviction."-Blaise Pascal

by chocolate ink on Fri Jul 28th, 2006 at 12:53:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
my above post was in response to messy not Migeru....although if you are asking me about Lebanon defending itself I simply meant every country has a right to defend itself.  In this particular context of course it does mean between Israel and Lebanon. Although being a pacifist this whole escalating mess is horrifying.

"People never do evil so throughly and happily as when they do it from moral conviction."-Blaise Pascal
by chocolate ink on Fri Jul 28th, 2006 at 12:59:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was asking Messy, not you. Because if Messy tries to argue that Lebanon needs to defend itself from Hezbollah, I have some news for him.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 28th, 2006 at 01:08:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Kinda thought so but it didn't hurt to make my position more clear either.

"People never do evil so throughly and happily as when they do it from moral conviction."-Blaise Pascal
by chocolate ink on Fri Jul 28th, 2006 at 04:13:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ahh...how quickly we all forget. I encourage you to read this The link:

Hezbollah

    * Hezbollah launches Katyusha rockets across the Lebanese border with Israel, targeting the town of Shlomi and outposts in the Shebaa Farms area in the Golan Heights which has been a part of Israel since Israel was attacked by various Arab nations in the 1967 Six-Day War.[1]
    * Hezbollah's military wing staged a cross-border attack from Lebanon on two Israeli Humvees, as well as rocket and mortar attacks on northern Israel. Three Israeli soldiers were killed and two were kidnapped, with several civilians injured. "Fulfilling its pledge to liberate the Arab prisoners and detainees, the Islamic Resistance... captured two Israeli soldiers (Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev) at the border with occupied Palestine," Hezbollah said in a statement.[2]

IDF

    * In attempt to pursue the Hezbollah force and release the captured soldiers, an Israeli Merkava Mark II tank is hit by a 300 kilogram improvised explosive device. All 4 crew members are killed.
    * In attempt to recover the bodies of the soldiers from the burnt tank, another Israeli soldier is hit by Hezbollah fire and killed.

Not only did Hizbollah provoke Israel, they did so at a pre-determined time. It should not be a surprise for anybody that the soldier in Gaza, and the two soldiers in the north were kidnapped within a few days apart. The assertion that Hizbollah's bombing of Israel didn't begin until later is also untrue. Not only did they fire Katyusha rockets on the 12th, they did so on the 13th bombing Nahariya and Safed killing 2 people and wounding 29.

I understand we would all love for Israel to just keep negotiating with Hizbollah every time they kidnap somebody, but why should they? Is that a right discourse to conduct diplomacy? An organization whose political wing is in the Lebanese government engages in kidnapping people across the border, and there is no outrage with that?

I am sorry, I never support excessive use of force anywhere in the world for any reason, but some of our expectations of how Israel should act are completely unreasonable. They have received zero relief since they left the northern part of Lebanon and Gaza either from Hizbollah or Hamas / Islamic Jihad. I would be pretty pissed off too.


Mikhail from SF

by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Sat Jul 29th, 2006 at 12:10:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman, do you agree that Belfast should have been extensively shelled after the IRA took prisoners?
by Alex in Toulouse on Sat Jul 29th, 2006 at 12:31:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
While Colman composes his reply, the Royal Navy is now positioning itself around Belfast, shelling suspected Republican strongholds. Fighter planes roam overhead, dropping bombs here and there (precision bombing only). The electric supply has been cut throughout town, and the civil population is being told that it's up to itself to get rid of the IRA if it wants its heaters to work.
by Alex in Toulouse on Sat Jul 29th, 2006 at 12:38:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The international press is divided. Some intellectuals argue that the IRA actually blew up bombs before taking prisoners, making the shelling of Belfast legitimate. Other intellectuals meanwhile recognize that being the UK is not easy, that negotiation with the IRA is near to impossible, but that neither of those two things justify the shelling of Belfast.
by Alex in Toulouse on Sat Jul 29th, 2006 at 12:59:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, it would have been more approprate for the British (in this fictional instance) to attack IRA stongholds near Dublin.
by messy on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 12:58:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Belfast is a part of Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom. Lebanon is not a part of Israel. I don't see how the comparison here can be made.
I doubt that if Israel has internal terrorist groups, it would be bombing its own cities, just like Britain didn't bomb its own. But responding to provocation from another country is another issue.

Mikhail from SF
by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Sat Jul 29th, 2006 at 01:43:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right, but did Lebanon attack Israel? Are you equating Hezbollah with the Lebanese government?
But I agree even less. I don't think nation states get to destroy civilian infrastructure of another nation to retaliate against the aggression of some group operating from its territory. This kind violence against a people for something they have little control over is inexcusable. And yes, Hezbollah's aggression is also inexcusable. And I don't see how subjecting the people of another nation to this kind of violence is any more acceptable than if it were to occur within a nation state.
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Sat Jul 29th, 2006 at 02:08:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
While Lebanon did not itself attack Israel, you have to recognize the complexity of this matter, considering Hizbollah is now a part of the Lebanese government, and Lebanon has made very little (if any) effort to involve the international community to re-occupy its own southern borders with regular military. Hizbollah attacking Israel from Lebanon is not the same as the ETA or IRA. They are a militia force with intelligence units, soldiers, modern weapons, bunkers, and other elements of a huge infrastructure.

It is absolutely inexcusable to destroy any civilian infrastructure. And I wish Israel would stop being so goddamn stupid when it comes to that. But if a road or a bridge is being used by Hizbollah to carry weapons, does this now become a military target or still a civilian infrastructure? These are not easy questions to answer, but I think you have to appreciate this thought process.

Mikhail from SF

by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Sat Jul 29th, 2006 at 04:16:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If Hezbollah symphatizers started clubbing Israeli soldiers to death with frozen baguettes, should all bakeries and freezer retailers in Lebanon become military targets and be destroyed?
by Alex in Toulouse on Sat Jul 29th, 2006 at 08:46:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you are making ridicule of a very serious issue. You are describing something that is completely not realistic to try to make a point about something that is happening all the time. There are things that are reasonable and things that are unreasonable. I'm not defending Israel's actions (at least not all the time), but if I was getting bombed, you bet your ass I would want to cut off the supply of those bombs and communications infrastructure that makes it possible. It was Hizbollah's choice to use civilian roads, just like it is Hizbollah's choice to put rocket launchers inside mosques, hide inside civilian buildings all the while aiming their rockets not at the Israeli military but civilian targets inside the country.

Mikhail from SF
by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Sat Jul 29th, 2006 at 11:45:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm making ridicule about it because it is ridiculous, Let's look at it more closely and see if there really is an intruder in the following examples:

"They're using roads, let's destroy the roads.", "They're using frozen baguettes, let's destroy bakeries". , "They're hiding inside coal cellars, let's put fire to all coal cellars", "They're using a UNESCO world heritage 3rd century minaret to spot for their mortar, let's destroy the minaret". "They're hiding inside ambulances, let's destroy ambulances". , "They're using olive oil to make munitions, let's burn olive oil depots".

Your initial example was a bridge being used to carry weapons ... well let me tell you, if the same bridge is being used to carry bread to civilians, then blowing it up is heartless, not "militarily useful". Even with no bridge, weapons can be ferried across, for instance on inflated rubber ducks (or inflatable Pamela Andersons, or using ropes and pulleys). But there always will be a far greater need for bread than for weapons, and since rubber ducks are limited, the civilians will get screwed ...

Military "tactics" are just things that idiotic officers learn from former idiotic officers, they serve little purpose but to make it harder for civilians. Look at all the bridges the US blew up when invading Iraq, what difference has it made on the long term? Fortunately these were rebuilt, but who's going to rebuild Lebanon this time? Winning idiotic wars is about quantity of firepower, not about blowing up bridges. Leave the bridges alone.

This was a message from the Mostar Bridge Fan Club Association.

by Alex in Toulouse on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 04:52:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Note to self: on second thought I doubt there is such a thing as a 3rd century minaret.
by Alex in Toulouse on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 05:11:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The UK did deploy army units in Belfast for a number of years. Think the occupied territories.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 29th, 2006 at 04:28:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Arguably a more apt comparison would have been a UK attack on the Republic of Ireland, and especially Sinn Fein offices in Dublin.

Even though the UK troops were supposedly there for peace keeping, and even though there were occasional atrocities like Bloody Sunday it's hard to imagine anyone in the UK thinking that a full scale attack on the infrastructure of Ireland would have been anything other than pointless, barbaric, and stupid.

And yes, the IRA were using rockets, bombs, snipers and all kinds of other paramilitary nastiness in the North and sometimes also in London.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 09:59:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I remember when the IRA sent a rocket into #10. Imagine if it actually hit the mark, or if Maggie Thatcher died in Brighton!
by messy on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 01:01:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean Hamas is entitled to retaliate massively for Yassin's assassination by Israeli rocket?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 31st, 2006 at 05:43:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The IRA, an organisation whose political wing sits in the Irish parliament, engages in the kidnapping of Brits across the border, and there is no outrage with that?

I am sorry, I never support excessive use of force anywhere in the world for any reason -except maybe in the following case- but some of our expectations of how the UK should act are completely unreasonable. They have received zero relief since they left the northern part of Ireland from the IRA. I would be pretty pissed off too.

Let's bomb the Irish infrastructure to smithereens. Level Dublin!

Commander Alex in Toulouse

by Alex in Toulouse on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 01:58:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And while we're at it, let's level Madrid and San Sebastian.

Commander Alex in Toulouse

by Alex in Toulouse on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 02:03:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Okay.

But can we wait till Colman and Sam are on holiday again?

We're still going to need someone to run the servers after Dublin has been reduced to radioactive slag.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 04:05:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well I suppose we could make martyrs out of them and promot international outrage, namely by stating that IRA fighters were using their garden to fire rockets into the UK. Then we could outsource server handling to Asia.

Commander Alex in Toulouse.

by Alex in Toulouse on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 04:34:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If that statement holds, then Israel shouldn't retaliate to rocket attacks on the Golan Heights, as they aren't part of Israel.
by Alex in Toulouse on Sat Jul 29th, 2006 at 07:26:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The two soldiers were kidnapped from the Israeli territory.

Mikhail from SF
by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Sat Jul 29th, 2006 at 11:46:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Neither the Golan Heights nor the Shebaa Farms is internationally recognised Israeli territory.

Besides, Israel kidnapped several Lebanese from Lebanon territory. Some Israelis can see the immorality of the situation much better than you.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 06:27:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The soldiers were not kidnapped in the Golan Heights or Sheeba Farms.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 07:00:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Correct - sorry.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 07:52:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, just read it, Ran HaCohen's news analysis buries the version that the kidnap was on the Lebanese side.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 09:40:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure, but do we agree that the rocket attacks are irrelevant, since they landed outside of Israel?
by Alex in Toulouse on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 02:07:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rocket attacks landed outside of Israel on the first day :) And they are not irrelevant, considering the Golan Heights and Shebaa Farms have absolutely no relation to Lebanon or this particular problem. It is an excuse that is being used by Hizbollah to justify its existence. They knew exactly what they were doing sending rockets to Golan Heights even though it is not technically Israeli territory.

Mikhail from SF
by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 08:21:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have no inclination to further counter what yxou write. However, whoever added the first line to what you quote from Wiki is historically uncorrect (it was Israel that attacked its neighours in 1967, not vice versa) and ignores the complexities of whom belongs the Shebaa Farms.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jul 29th, 2006 at 07:08:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems to me that all of the discussion and fighting will not make progress until there is some broad agreement in the Middle East about who should be living where, and where the boundaries are. This has to include all the players, including Israel, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, etc., and there has to be the willingness to control "troublemakers" of all sorts, including rogue elements in national security forces and also independent groups. Without border security there will continue to be rockets and bombings on the one hand and overenergetic military responses on the other.

A good first step would be a cease fire, but it has to be a cease fire where there is no more cross-border activity. If a rocket comes from country X's territory, then country X has broken the cease fire. If an intelligence agency of country Y kidnaps somebody across the border, then country Y has broken the cease fire.

So far, none of the participants has been willing to sign up for this sort of arrangement...

by asdf on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 09:48:27 AM EST
ISRAEL'S SECURITY TO SUFFER

Serving senior and former U.S. intelligence officials said that this

latest Israeli onslaught against the Hizballah will work to further

undermine Tel Aviv's security in the near future.

They said that the American public and especially officials in the Bush

administration appear to be laboring under several potentially disastrous

illusions regarding the Israeli-Hizballah fighting.

One of the first of these is that Hizballah can be uprooted and destroyed.

On the contrary, they insisted that it is an integral part of Lebanese society and an authentic

representative of the Shia population and cannot be gotten rid of by

bombing installations or capturing some strong points.

They also insisted that HIzballah is NOT a puppet of Iran. One former very

senior CIA official told me that Iran did NOT want this current upsurge in

violence, nor had Iran given any previous green light for the kidnapping

of the Israeli soldiers' Magnus Ranstorp, a British expert on Hizballah

said in an e-mail to me that Nasserallah (sic) made the decision himself, an

opinion which four former or serving U.S. government officials agreed

with. Ranstorp said there are two Iranian representatives from the Iranian

Embassy in Beirut that provide a direct link for matters that require

strategic guidance but said Nasserallah was the source of the kidnap

decision.Both Ranstorp and U.S. officials believe the notorious Imad

Mughniyeh who belongs both to the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and

Security (MOIS) and HIzballah, had a part in the implementation of the

decision but was not the author of it.

Israel and U.S. intelligence on HIzballah has displayed some shocking

failures, especially with Tel Aviv and Washington apparently ignorant that

Iran had supplied Hizballah with an upgraded Silkworm antis-hip missile which severely damaged an

Israeli warship. In addtion, intelligence about Hizballah installations on the ground

has also been inadequate in many cases, they said.

The destruction of Lebanon's infrastructure has incredibly damaged the

image of the United States in the Arab world. In fact, the popular hatred

of the United States in such moderate Arab countries such as Egypt and Jordan

resulted in the leaders of those countries informing Condi Rice that she

was not welcome there, which was why the summit took place in Rome.


...

Richard Sale

[Sic Semper Tyrannis 2005]
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jul 27th, 2006 at 01:17:45 PM EST
 In the "Polis" =(state) of Aristotle political life and decisions on war are taken by the citizenry.

 In the case of Israel and the US we have a peculiar relationship which can only be described as incest.

 America uses Israel to do its dirty work in the middle east and Israel uses the US in similar fashion:
  Since the US is too weak to take on Syria and Iran it
thinks (erroneously) that Israel will do it for them.
Hence its ferocious attitude concerning a cease fire
(Incidentally read the last paragraph of Ze'ev Sternhell's article in Haaretz of 7/29 on exactly this point). The IDF is there to do our "job on terror"

 Secondly a war by the israelis is inconceivable without the explicit and constant support of the american elites and its political class (including the congress).
Who provides the narrative and the ideological justification for this sort of behaviour in the US?

 Let me name a few:
 The American Enterprise Instiute
 THe Heritage Foundation
 The Hudson Instiute
 The Hoover Institute
 The CFR
 For the 'hoi polloi' look at the media.

 What is the role of AIPAC?
 In short without the Israel Lobby we would have another kind of Congress: (See John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt: The Israel Lobby in LRB Vol 28 no 6 (23/3/2006)

 Incidentally no publication in the US dared publish the work of these very respectable academics.

 So on this very important issue of the US foreign policy democracy is completely vitiated.

What is happening elsewhere?
In a nutshell europe is making pious noices about humanitarian issues whereas Russia has said absolutely nothing. With respect to this issue they are following the Chinese paradigm. "We are sellers of anything we can sell to anybody. If I do not see a direct gain in some act i am not going to get involved."

 In other words the decision context invoves only two actors. The US and Israel both of which say "to hell with enybody else"

 The way I see it the war will continue or sputter for as long as the combatants can sustain it in their own national space

 

by antithetos (xama226@yahoo.com) on Sat Jul 29th, 2006 at 03:48:40 PM EST
It seems someone much better positioned to judge the situation arrived at the same conclusion regarding Israel's bold campaign against apartment blocks (which just yesterday killed 40, of this 27 children in a single operation). The political affairs officer of the UN South Lebanon peacekeeping mission (UNIFIL), Ryszard Morczynski, said on Friday:

"I have no doubt that Israel will flatten Tyre if civilian casualties continue in Haifa. Tyre will be taken off neighborhood by neighborhood," Morczynski said. "I think Israel is contemplating flattening villages, flattening every single house to deny Hizbullah any advantage of urban fighting in the streets."


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 08:30:52 AM EST
This is why witnesses aren't needed.

As a reminder, in the same village (Qana) where those 40+ civilians were killed, when Shimon Perez ordered one of the prequels of the current attack in 1996 ('Operation Grapes of Wrath') as part of his election campaign, 106 civilians were killed in a direct hit on a UN shelter.

The Israeli government and IDF then claimed that they were shot at by Hezbollah from beside the UN compound. But the closest position was 220 meters away. They then claimed shooting off target (targeting two Hezbollah firing positions), and then blamed incorrect targeting based on erroneous data.

However, the UN investigation found that shells fell fairly concentrated in two distinct areas: a couple of houses 75 metres from the closest Hezbollah mortar-firing position (no shells landed even close to the second Hezbollah position 350 metres away that the IDF claimed to have targeted), and the centre of the UN compound. Possibly intended for potential hiding places, regardless of who else might be there and not caring to check whether the guerillas even went there. And all but one of the shells that were meant to detonate above ground to kill people in a wide area ("proximity fuses") fell on the UN compound. Israel also denied the presence of aerial vehicles that could have corrected any trargeting errors, but several eyewinesses the UN asked saw both a drone and helicopters further away -- and two of them were even filmed.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 08:57:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mweanwhile: are Hezbollah fighters really 'hiding among civilians'? Not according to US News and World Report reporter on the ground Mitch Prothero, writing for Salon:

Throughout this now 16-day-old war, Israeli planes high above civilian areas make decisions on what to bomb. They send huge bombs capable of killing things for hundreds of meters around their targets, and then blame the inevitable civilian deaths -- the Lebanese government says 600 civilians have been killed so far -- on "terrorists" who callously use the civilian infrastructure for protection.

But this claim is almost always false. My own reporting and that of other journalists reveals that in fact Hezbollah fighters -- as opposed to the much more numerous Hezbollah political members, and the vastly more numerous Hezbollah sympathizers -- avoid civilians. Much smarter and better trained than the PLO and Hamas fighters, they know that if they mingle with civilians, they will sooner or later be betrayed by collaborators -- as so many Palestinian militants have been.

In the south, where Shiites dominate, just about everyone supports Hezbollah. Does mere support for Hezbollah, or even participation in Hezbollah activities, mean your house and family are fair game? Do you need to fire rockets from your front yard? Or is it enough to be a political activist?

The Israelis are consistent: They bomb everyone and everything remotely associated with Hezbollah, including noncombatants. In effect, that means punishing Lebanon. The nation is 40 percent Shiite, and of that 40 percent, tens of thousands are employed by Hezbollah's social services, political operations, schools, and other nonmilitary functions. The "terrorist" organization Hezbollah is Lebanon's second-biggest employer.

...Unlike the fighters in the half dozen other countries where I have covered insurgencies, Hezbollah fighters do not like to show off for the cameras. In Iraq, with some risk taking, you can meet with and even watch the resistance guys in action. (At least you could during my last time there.) In Afghanistan, you can lunch with Taliban fighters if you're willing to walk a day or so in the mountains. In Gaza and the West Bank, the Fatah or Hamas fighter is almost ubiquitous with his mask, gun and sloganeering to convince the Western journalist of the justice of his cause.

The Hezbollah guys, on the other hand, know that letting their fighters near outsiders of any kind -- journalists or Lebanese, even Hezbollah supporters -- is stupid. In three trips over the last week to the south, where I came near enough to the fighting to hear Israeli artillery, and not just airstrikes, I saw exactly no fighters.

So the analysts talking on cable news about Hezbollah "hiding within the civilian population" clearly have spent little time if any in the south Lebanon war zone and don't know what they're talking about. Hezbollah doesn't trust the civilian population and has worked very hard to evacuate as much of it as possible from the battlefield. And this is why they fight so well -- with no one to spy on them, they have lots of chances to take the Israel Defense Forces by surprise, as they have by continuing to fire rockets and punish every Israeli ground incursion.

And the civilians? They see themselves as targeted regardless of their affiliation. They are enraged at Israel and at the United States, the only two countries on earth not calling for an immediate cease-fire. Lebanese of all persuasions think the United States and Israel believe that Lebanese lives are cheaper than Israeli ones. And many are now saying that they want to fight.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 09:27:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The UN says they are. There have also been several reports by journalists based on conversations with refugees saying that Hezbollah fires its rockets from civilian areas. And Chris Albritton has suggested that journalists in southern Lebanon can't write freely about that if they want to avoid problems with Hezbollah.
by MarekNYC on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 11:53:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I want you to read this little piece and tell me what you think:


The words of a Canadian United Nations observer written just days before he was killed in an Israeli bombing of a UN post in Lebanon are evidence Hezbollah was using the post as a "shield" to fire rockets into Israel, says a former UN commander in Bosnia.


Just last week, Maj. Hess-von Kruedener wrote an e-mail about his experiences after nine months in the area, words Maj.-Gen. MacKenzie said are an obvious allusion to Hezbollah tactics.

"What I can tell you is this," he wrote in an e-mail to CTV dated July 18. "We have on a daily basis had numerous occasions where our position has come under direct or indirect fire from both (Israeli) artillery and aerial bombing.

"The closest artillery has landed within 2 meters (sic) of our position and the closest 1000 lb aerial bomb has landed 100 meters (sic) from our patrol base. This has not been deliberate targeting, but rather due to tactical necessity."



Mikhail from SF
by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 01:15:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the Hezbollah uses a UN post to fire rockets into Israel, then Israel must destroy that UN post.

If the Hezbollah uses a primary school to fire rockets into Israel, then Israel must level the school (sorry kids).

If the Hezbollah is firing rockets at other parts of Israel from Tel Aviv, then Israel must destroy Tel Aviv.

Hey come to think of it, military tactics are actually quite simmple, I'd make a great officer!

by Alex in Toulouse on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 01:47:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well no, another solution is for Israel to continue appealing to the international community. The same international community that passed Resolution 1559 and has done absolutely nothing to make it come to life. Or maybe Israel could just let the rockets just keep raining down until Hizbollah runs out...you know, seeing that they can't really retaliate.

Mikhail from SF
by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 08:23:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you want me to list the UN Resolutions ignored by Israel?...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 31st, 2006 at 05:45:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I want you to read this little piece and tell me what you think

First of all, I think you try to explain the particular with the general, e.g. claim that Qana massacres I and II must have been due to Hezbollah firing next to them because there are cases of Hezbollah firing next to UN or civilian positions. Even though at least in the first case, evidence clearly contradicts Israeli claims.

Second, the article later continues:

A senior UN official, asked about the information contained in Maj. Hess-von Kruedener's e-mail concerning Hezbollah presence in the vicinity of the Khiam base, denied the world body had been caught in a contradiction.

"At the time, there had been no Hezbollah activity reported in the area," he said. "So it was quite clear they were not going after other targets; that, for whatever reason, our position was being fired upon.

"Whether or not they thought they were going after something else, we don't know. The fact was, we told them where we were. They knew where we were. The position was clearly marked, and they pounded the hell out of us."

As a reminder, the email is from a week before the murder by the IDF.

Third, in the article one retired Maj.-Gen. Lewis McKenzie goes further in interpretations, which seem far-fetched given what's said in point (4) of the full email, and which seem more explained by the retired general's biases. (Also read what Hess-von Kruedener's wife thinks.)

Finally, this whole argument stinks, it is a non-sequitur, for reasons Alex pointed at and you try to dismiss as 'simplistic'.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jul 31st, 2006 at 05:40:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe Peres stated he deeply regretted this loss. How many times has Nasrallah stated he regretted the loss of innocent Israeli life?

Mikhail from SF
by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 01:00:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah. Hizubullah was trying to help elect Netanyahu to the premiership in order to get the moral high ground and it worked beautifully.

Remember, this was just after the Rabin assasination and most Israelis were very much pro-Oslo. Netanyahu was going around saying that Hamas and Hizbullah were going to attack as the Israeli government was acting like a bunch of wimps.

Just then, what did Hizbullah do? They started bombing northern Israel: Opperation Grapes of Wrath was the response. Netanyahu was vindicated and won the election.

Hizbullah WANTED Lebanese civilians to die.

by messy on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 01:10:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So if I kill an innocent bystander and then say I'm sorry, this gives me the moral high ground and allows me to kill more innocent bystanders.

I'm getting good at military tactics.

Commander Alex in Toulouse.

by Alex in Toulouse on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 01:48:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think your analogies are very simplistic, and therefore, wrong. A more logical analogy would be this: a guy kills innocent people, and takes an innocent person hostage. You shoot the guy, but accidently shoot the innocent person who is being held hostage. Yes, obviously these are two horrible things that cause the loss of innocent human life, but they have different moral and ethical levels.
Another issue is when you shoot 1000 people trying to chase one down, and that I do not support. Frankly, I am quite disappointed in Israel because I expected much more out of them. I encourage you to visit there some day and meet the locals, because you will understand that none of them really want war, but most of them usually support their government. There has to be some reason for that. Even in the States, the support for Iraq only lasted 2 years. There are obviously conditions which have created this level of support for Olmert and Sharon before him.

Mikhail from SF
by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Sun Jul 30th, 2006 at 08:28:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't see how "simplistic" and "therefore wrong" go together. "1 + 1 = 2" is simplistic, and following a certain standard is always right. Just being picky.

Ok so your logical analogies are 1 innocent person gets killed and 1000 people get killed. Anything in between? In Qana it was, what, 54 people, including 34 children. Where does that fit in your logical analogies? Nearer to the 1 or to the 1000 mark?

I encourage you to visit there some day and meet the locals, because you will understand that none of them really want war

I don't want to go to Israel, but I have met my share of Israelis, all of whom were very nice. But that changes nothing. I've met a lot of Le Pen voters and racists here in France and it doesn't change my opinion that my country isn't so bad. And I've also had my share of a country at war ... there none of the locals wanted war but many were happy to call for blood at times. It's just as trendy to be against war as it is to crave war. People just follow the flow.

Overall if Israel finds it useful to attack the only other democracy in the region hoping this will work wonders, then they're the ones being simplistic.

by Alex in Toulouse on Mon Jul 31st, 2006 at 03:56:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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