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A useful pretext

by ThatBritGuy Tue Jul 18th, 2006 at 05:51:18 PM EST

The BBC says

Hezbollah's capture of two Israeli soldiers last week was timed to divert attention from Tehran's nuclear programme, the Israeli PM has claimed.

Ehud Olmert said that the cross-border raid in which the two soldiers were taken and eight others killed was co-ordinated with Tehran.

Aside from the obvious question of how exactly a tiny border raid is supposed to divert attention from a nuclear program - Olmert apparently thinks that a kidnapping without any retaliation would have been enough to move the Iran problem from the top of the G8 agenda, where it wasn't anyway - this suggests, that just as many people have been thinking, this is really a convenient way to drum up support for an attack on Iran.

The original nukulaar weaponz gambit from March and April clearly didn't work. So this would seem to be Plan B.

I think we can guess from this that neither Israel nor the US have any interest in a ceasefire. In fact a continuing escalation will do nicely, thank you.

Blair is also happy to play his part by accusing the Iranians of arms supply, and - right on cue - suggesting ties to events in Iraq.

I don't know about anyone else, but this level of naked propagandising is beginning to be insulting. It's not only 100% evil, it's also an insult to anyone's intelligence that we should be expected to believe such clumsy stupidity and deceit.

Juan Cole may or may not be right that Lebanon is officially screwed. But I think we'll see a lot more media attention on Iran in the next few days - I'd be willing to open a book that sooner or later someone is going to start talking about mushroom clouds and WMDs - and probably more crisis and bad news just to keep the pressure cooker boiling.

So - good news for arms dealers and oil barons. Not so good for the civilians caught in the cross fire. But as non-billionaires they don't really figure anyway.

And once again (with a nod to Drew and dKos)

reality outstrips satire.

this level of naked propagandising is beginning to be insulting

I'm surprised that anyone gives a moment's notice to the words of politicians rather than their actions - by doing so we are, IMO, just wasting our time proving what we already know to be true based on said actions. I'll admit it is tough to remove yourself from the framework of the media and what they produce as they're the only real connection we have to the world outside our extremely limited personal scope.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Tue Jul 18th, 2006 at 06:18:34 PM EST
I think the attention will not be only on Iran, but also on Syria - everything that detracts from the actions of Israel in Gaza. I wonder what is happening right now in Gaza and the West Bank, very few headlines at present - I have a sinking feeling about what might be going on there.
by Fran on Wed Jul 19th, 2006 at 02:01:00 AM EST
Personally, the best analysis of the situation I have seen is here:

The Agonist

The suggestion being made by France (Chirac ?) to put troops from Europe into south Lebanon is the thing I understandable least. Let me be clear, I am not make any judgment on what is the 'moral' or 'principled' position to take here, and it doesn't matter which side is doing the sinning. I am only considering cold, hard reality. Putting western troops into Lebanon is on the same level of sanity as putting them into Iraq, and the same consequences would follow. The only way it might work is if it was done with the explicit approval of both Israel and Hezbollah. Otherwise, you would be lucky if you ended up being shot at by one side only.

The approach of the US, Israel and Hezbollah, to date, has been entirely consistent with past behaviour. Only the French suggestion seems like a 180 degree turn. The French political establishment was smart enough to stay out of Iraq, even though it cost them in terms of relations with the US. Are they too blinded by historic ties to Lebanon to see that this is the same folly with different actors?

HEALTH WARNING: I have seen very little detail on what exactly France/Chirac has suggested, so maybe what is proposed is actually rational and I do them a disservice. If so, please enlighten me, because the last thing we need is another advocate of the "benevolent" use of military might.

by det on Wed Jul 19th, 2006 at 05:20:39 AM EST
Lebanon is a former French colony, and Iraq a former British colony. That might explain some things.

As Juan Cole said, blue helmets shouldn't be sent to Southern Lebanon unless they are authorised to shoot back.

I have also said before that there is a difference between peacekeepers and peacemakers. There has to be a peace to keep to send in peacekeepers. Otherwise you have to come in ready to beat the warring parties into a ceasefire. Quite a different proposition.

If France and Russia both pledge troops to the UN force in Southern Lebanon things might get interesting.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 19th, 2006 at 05:26:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Algeria was also a former French colony. Hence, I would put a French intervention in Lebanon in the category of "lessons not learnt". I can appreciate why the French would feel more strongly about intervening in Lebanon. I would even be willing to imagine that it would be done with the very best of intentions. But then I remember what the road to hell is paved with.
by det on Wed Jul 19th, 2006 at 06:08:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Algeria IS also a former French colony - my bad.
by det on Wed Jul 19th, 2006 at 06:19:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lebanon was peacefully decolonised.

The issue here is that Israel once occupied Lebanon up to 20 Km from the border because that was the range of the PLO's missiles. Today they are demanding about a 45Km buffer zone because of Hezbollah's missiles. Israel won't stop until they have achieved that buffer zone (all the talk of destroying Hezbollah is just that, talk), be it by Israeli occupation, Lebanese army control, or a foreign peacekeeping force.

One possible solution to this problem might be for the UN to impose a demilitarised zone within 45 Km of the Israel/Lebanon border. On the one hand I think if someone should bear the brunt of policing southern Lebanon, angering the local population, and attracting insurgent attacks, it should be the IDF. But, on the other hand, a UN force would be best for the local population.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 19th, 2006 at 06:22:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Since this is about "policing" the Shia Lebonese, we really bump up against my level of ignorance. So, if you'll forgive the Q&A:

What was the Shia attitude to France during and after colonization?
What was France's approach during the civil war?
What is current Shia opinion of France's role in the removal of Syrian troops from Lebanon?

I figure that whatever is the local attitude to France will pretty much be the local attitude to most of the rest of Europe also.

by det on Wed Jul 19th, 2006 at 06:55:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good questions. We've also bumped against my level of ignorance.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 19th, 2006 at 07:03:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Any French and/or Lebonese around to enlighten us?
by det on Wed Jul 19th, 2006 at 10:49:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I love this "same armnaments being used by shia in Hezbollah and Iraq, so both came from Iran" idea.

What same armnaments would this be ? Katushkya rockets ? Ummm no. No rockets fired by shia in Iraq whatsoever.

AK-47 ? Possibly, but hardly clinching evidence. They ain't rare in any conflict, especially when ya "gots to kiyl every muthafucka in the room"

Oh, of course, it's those IED things that they use to blow up jeeps. Except that even the British military have said that these weapons are using a standard WWII design and using explosives that are locally sourced. Even the Daily Telegraph admitted as much.

But hey, B-liar is a politician, so any opportunity to smear an opponent is a good one. I just find it sad that our fearless and interpid corps of journalists didn't call him out on this one. It's not like it's a surprise, he uses it about once a month and it was a lie when he started and it's still a lie nowadays.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jul 19th, 2006 at 06:42:40 AM EST
Blair is also happy to play his part  by accusing the Iranians of arms supply, and - right on cue - suggesting ties to events in Iraq.

looking at this particular politicians history of claims about weapons, should he not be providing a little more proof?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jul 19th, 2006 at 08:03:41 AM EST

Goebbels would see Blair as part of a tradition:

" The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous."

"Aus Churchills Lügenfabrik" ("Churchill's Lie Factory"), 12 January 1941, Die Zeit ohne Beispiel (Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP., 1941), pp. 364-369
Often misquoted as: "The bigger the lie, the more it will be believed."


Blair clearly doesn't care about looking ridiculous, e.g. continuing to claim that the London bombings had nothing to do with Iraq, despite all the evidence which has since emerged, and statements by various intelligeence agencies to the contrary.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed Jul 19th, 2006 at 08:14:48 AM EST
by Torres on Wed Jul 19th, 2006 at 11:01:55 AM EST
today in Finland (5000+ online voters so far)

To the question "Do you approve of Israel's actions in Lebanon?"

71% voted no.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Jul 19th, 2006 at 11:21:18 AM EST

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