August 2, 2006

Airport Blogging: At Last!

Hatched by Dafydd

Having missed our plane out of Buffalo to La Guardia (customs, navigational difficulties, don't ask), we've got plenty of time to blog while we wait for the next flight.

At long last, the Israelis have done what they should have done in the first place: a solid invasion force of one full division into Lebanon. (Actually, I'd rather see two divisions; but I never spent even one day in the Army, and my Navy experience is less than nothing in a situation like this... so what do I know?)

Israel pressed the first full day of a massive new ground attack, sending 8,000 troops into southern Lebanon on Wednesday and seizing five people it said were Hezbollah fighters in a dramatic airborne raid on a northeastern town. Hezbollah retaliated with its deepest strikes yet into Israel, firing a record number of more than 160 rockets.

Many moons ago, when I blogged on the Gaza pullout (it was back on Captain's Quarters); a, I supported it... but not on the silly grounds that all the other supporters cited. I never had any illusions about a "peace process." Rather, I saw the pullout as an opportunity to make clear that Gaza -- well, the entire Palestinian Authority (PA) -- was a separate country... and as such would be held to the same standards as any other sovereign nation.

In particular, if they engaged in the "normal" sort of terrorist attacks against Israel, the Jewish state would no longer be constrained by the peculiarity of being an occupier; they could respond with the full force of a nation responding to violent attack by another nation... with a war.

Now I was always opposed to the pullout from Lebanon, since Israel never claimed to be or acted as an occupier; it held only a security zone, and only to prevent Hezbollah from getting close enough to attack Israel. They ignored my advice (oddly enough) and pulled out under Labor Prime Minister Ehud Barak in 2000... worse, Barak kept accelerating the pullout until at the end, it resembled a panicked rout -- despite the fact that Israel never suffered any military defeat.

Ne'ertheless, they departed so precipitously that they left armor behind. They actually had to send Israeli helicopters back into Lebanon to destroy the abandoned Israeli tanks, so as not to hand them over to the Party of God (Hezbollah).

It was the most inexplicable rout in military history, and it set the stage for the current conflict: Hezbollah, not being very bright, concluded from the panicky withdrawal that they must somehow have "defeated the Zionist entity"... and that primed them to attack again, while Israel's attention (they thought) was occupied by Hamas, which had kidnapped an Israeli soldier.

Whew! Thus endeth the history lesson.

The point of this dreary recounting is that, even though I opposed the Lebanon pullout, the same logic that applies in Gaza applies in Lebanon: since Israel departed six years ago, they should have no hesitation treating an attack from Hezbollah (in Lebanon) as an attack from a separate, sovereign country (which technically Lebanon was even before the pullout)... and they can respond with a full-scale invasion.

It took them a long time dithering. Paul Mirengoff over at Power Line basically predicted that the Israelis would not so respond; and for a while, I began to fear he was right. Ehud Olmert, despite being a former Likudnik before helping Ariel Sharon found Kadima, engaged his country in a perfect Kabuki dance of what I would call "pussyfooting": he accepted the advice of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) over that of the Israeli Army (IDF) that Israel could achieve its aim against Hezbollah merely by bombing them sufficiently.

(Yoni the Blogger believes that Olmert is escalating as fast as he thinks the Israeli public will accept... though Yoni wishes it were faster, as do I.)

But Olmert appears, at long last, to have realized that only boots on the ground -- and enough of them -- will be able to "disarm" (that is, kill, mutilate, and destroy) Hezbollah fighters, annihilate the rocket launchers, and drive any survivors across into Syria, where they can fester until such time as that slithery nation becomes enough of a problem that either Israel from the west or American forces from the East makes Syria an offer it cannot refuse.

In addition to simply sending in a division of the IDF, Israel has also sent a commando raid into the Bekaa Valley, Hezbollah's main stronghold in Lebanon, into the town of Baalbek, and seized five specific Hezbollah commanders they wanted:

Israeli commandos flew in by helicopter before dawn into the northern town of Baalbek, on the border with Syria, capturing five Hezbollah guerrillas and killing at least 10, said Israel's army chief, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz.

Witnesses said Israeli forces partially destroyed the Dar al-Hikma hospital in Baalbek, where chief Hezbollah spokesman Hussein Rahal said fierce fighting raged for more than one hour.

Israel has not yet released the identity of those captured. When asked by The Associated Press whether any were "big fish," Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said: "They are tasty fishes...."

Olmert said that, although the scene of the fighting is called a hospital, "there are no patients there and there is no hospital, this is a base of the Hezbollah in disguise."

Interestingly, Hezbollah admits that last fact -- albeit between the lines:

A Hezbollah official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give official statements to the media, said that Israeli troops captured "four or five" people, but not at the hospital.

He denied they were Hezbollah fighters, saying one was a 60-year-old grocery store owner and two relatives who work in construction.

The hospital, which residents said is financed by an Iranian charity that is close to Hezbollah, was empty of patients at the time of the raid, the guerrilla group said.

AP reports 540 "Lebanese" killed since all the fighting began; but they don't break this down into Hezbollah fighters, Hezbollah supporters (a huge number of Lebanese Shia in southern Lebanon actively support Hezbollah, which they see as their "tribe"), and ordinary Lebanese patriots, whether Moslem or Christian, who oppose Hezbollah (and still continue to give the Israelis intelligence information); the latter constitute a majority in that country, and they were the impetus behind the "Cedar Revolution" that drove Syrian troops out of Lebanon. As usual, the antique media is less than useless: they're actively helping the terrorists by reprinting their propaganda as if it were verified news.

According to Haaretz, at least nine Hezbollah fighters have been killed Wednesday alone (what a wonderful world we live in, where a war that kills a few hundred people is treated as a "massive" conflict!)

Keep watching the skies; I suspect that this latest escalation to a division is just the first. We shall see...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 2, 2006, at the time of 11:15 AM

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The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 2, 2006 11:32 AM

The following hissed in response by: exDemo

I am glad the Israel has decided half measures do not work.

But there is another lesson that above all else needs to be taught and reinforced.

Sponsoring Proxy Wars by sub national entities is neither CHEAP nor SAFE to the State sponsoring the Proxy War.

Syria needs to needs to be PUNISHED for it sponsorship. Tipping over the Syrian Baathist regime in a short invasion would be appropriate.

The Israeli need to be cautious not to get sucked into a Syrian "Nation building" or occupation, though. In and quickly out.

Let the Syrian's sort things out. It will keep them occupied for lots of years and a "front line" State is defanged and cut down to size, so it can't interfere in Lebanon.

The method is simple. I can suggest tearing off the Syrian Kurdish provinces and granting them either freedom, or merger with the Iraqi Kurds would cut Syria down to Lebanese size, and also give the Iraqi government an image boost.

You could even do that also for the Syrian Druze if they are of a mind to reinforce Lebanon's Walid Jumblatt faction and help counter the HezbAllah numbers, as well.

The tiny minority of the ruling Baathists Alewite's can't be popular in Syria.

The above hissed in response by: exDemo [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 2, 2006 12:27 PM

The following hissed in response by: MTF

I don't think the entire Syrian nation needs to be dragged into this problem.

For the life of me I can't figure out why we don't set up a meeting with Assad, and explain to him that we will see him and his cabinet assassinated if within a week he doesn't: (a) cease weapons transhipments, and (b) turns over Nasrallah and the top Hezbollah cohort. If he fails, so what? We can make the same offer to the next "President" of Syria. Sooner or later one of the President's will figure out how to make these things happen. It seems a much simpler, far more effective and less destructive approach.

By the way, over which country are Iranian flights being given air clearance to get to Damascus anyway. Better not be Iraq.

The above hissed in response by: MTF [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 2, 2006 12:42 PM

The following hissed in response by: Papa Ray

You did a good job explaining yourself and agreeing that bad decisions beget bad results.

Back when they were kicking settlers out of Gaza, I remarked that the only thing that would result from it, would be clearing out an area to be used for a "Killing Ground". So far I have been proven right.

But then you said: "But Olmert appears, at long last, to have realized that only boots on the ground -- and enough of them" and lost me. One division of Infantry and Armor is a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed to clear the area up to the river, not even to mention what is needed for the Bekka Valley (which would be a nightmare). And I do have some expertice to say the above. My buds and I (all retired military, from E5s to Lt. Cols.) have been talking this over on the net and at the local coffee shops.

All of us have combat experience and have seen the stupidiy of "highers" and "politicians" when it comes to fighting a war.

Also,exdemo said: "Syria needs to needs to be PUNISHED for it sponsorship". Well don't expect Israel to do that unless, Syria's military (not their "militants that want to help the Hizbolla) gets into the fight. Maybe later, maybe it will be left up to the U.S. But now, Israel has it's hands full big time. Most people forget that Israel has a limited professional military, that most of it's soldiers are really part time soldiers. Also, Even if Israel does have nearly two thousand tanks, this is not a tank war. This is an Infantry and Engineer war.

MTF said: "For the life of me I can't figure out why we don't set up a meeting with Assad, and explain to him that we will see him and his cabinet assassinated if within a week he doesn't:..."

Well IMHO, Bushhitlerhalliburton knows that Assad is just hanging on by his manicured fingernails and that the Islamic hordes within Syria are looking for a way every day and night to get rid of him and install their own brand of Syrian government. His chances of "convincing" anyone are about the same as you wining the lottery.

The only people that have any say so in this fight are the Iranians, the Persians that want to rule the whole ME and beyond. They are not about to help stop this mess, it's exactly what they planned and the plan is going as expected.

Don't forget you guys about August 22nd. It is less than a month away, and it is part of the Persian plan as well.

Papa Ray
West Texas

The above hissed in response by: Papa Ray [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 2, 2006 2:48 PM

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