August 14, 2006

Paul & Carol & Ed & Alice

Hatched by Dafydd

Paul Mierengoff of Power Line and Captain Ed Morrissey of gee, guess where, are in the midst of a very polite and deferential public row over the American-brokered ceasefire agreement in Lebanon; and I'm torn. On the one hand, I've made no secret of the fact that Power Line is my all time favorite blog, the one that got me interested in blogging (reading and writing) in the first place. But Captain's Quarters is, along with Patterico's and Belmont Club, my second favorite blog.

And more to the point, Ed is completely right in this ruction and Paul is wrong... though I don't think Ed has deployed his best arguments yet.

But that's why I'm here! (And yes, the entire world does revolve around me, now that you ask....)

And In This Corner...

Here is the crux of Paul's argument (I'm re-paragraphing his points, because it's easier to focus on each component that way):

Without the administration's participation in the formulation and adoption of the U.N. resolution, there would have been more fighting in Lebanon. Thus, it seems indisputable that the administration didn't want more fighting in Lebanon, and Ed does not say otherwise.

The question then becomes why the administration wanted the fighting to end. Was it because more fighting would have been in Hezbollah's interest? Clearly not. With each day, Hezbollah's military capacity was being diminished, and the degradation would likely have accelerated now that Israel finally has boots on the ground in something like the ratio thought to be required to succeed in this type of action.

Had Israel made its way to the Litani River, as it had finally resolved to do, Hezbollah not only would have been further degraded, but would have lost its ability persuasively to claim that it successfully resisted the IDF.

Since we can still assume that administration wants to injure Hezbollah, it must be the case that some interest Bush deemed substantial caused him to take a major role in halting the IDF's drive against that entity. Ed does not identify that interest.

To me, it seems reasonable to believe that the U.S. was bowing to pressure from those who wanted hostilities to stop. It is no secret that Secretary Rice was communicating with the Egytians and the Saudis and that we were working closely with the French. Moreover, domestic critics were warning that with each passing day our status among "friendly" Arab governments and our European allies (including the folks upon whom we'll be relying in our efforts to sanction Iran) was declining.

It's not unfair for me to connect these dots.

Not "unfair" -- but flawed; Paul makes the classic mistake of what Wall Street Journal science writer Sharon Begley calls (in a very, very different context) "the argument from personal incredulity."

Several specific points to note before turning to the general argument:

Had Israel made its way to the Litani River, as it had finally resolved to do, Hezbollah not only would have been further degraded, but would have lost its ability persuasively to claim that it successfully resisted the IDF.

Israel may still do so. They're under no obligation to leave until there is an international force capable of replacing them, which itself will take some time. If Hezbollah breaks the ceasefire during that time (very likely), Israel can resume its march to the Litani, as Ed noted.

Moreover, I think Paul isn't really internalizing how Moslems think: if Israel were to drive Hezbollah back across the Litani, but Hezbollah survived more or less intact (even if severely "degraded"), Hezbollah would still argue victory. And when Israel finally withdrew, as they must eventually (no matter how long that may take), and if Hezbollah were then to reoccupy the same territory Israel had just driven them out of, then the ummah would declare it the greatest victory since Saladin drove the crusaders out of the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem 819 years ago.

It is impossible to win a game of Liar's Poker against Hezbollah.

To me, it seems reasonable to believe that the U.S. was bowing to pressure from those who wanted hostilities to stop. It is no secret that Secretary Rice was communicating with the Egytians and the Saudis and that we were working closely with the French....

Paul, like many other conservatives these days, seems too eager to ascribe the most disreputable motives to everything Bush does; and this tendency now evidently extends to Condoleezza Rice, too. Thus, when Bush nominated Harriet Miers, many conservatives who could not immediately verify her philosophy leapt at the speed of light to the conclusion that she must be a closet liberal. And when the Bush administration approved Dubai Ports World taking over cargo operations at a number of American ports, conservatives equally rapidly concluded that Bush was trying to hand "port security" over to the Arabs.

Each new unsupported accusation becomes "evidence" (smoke and more smoke) supporting the next accusation; and now Paul cannot even imagine any honorable reason for Bush and Rice to support this ceasefire agreement.

Therefore (the argument from personal incredulity), the president -- the most pro-Israeli president we've had since Lyndon Johnson -- must be so anxious to please the Arabs and the French that he's throwing Israel under the tank treads. Why, what other possible conclusion could one draw?

Actually, there are several more reasonable explanations for Bush's and Rice's support for this resolution than a sudden plague of Arabism. Let's find them.

And we can start with the most fitting analogy -- one that explains the administration's thinking and even supplies that mystery "interest" Paul alludes to: the battle of First Fallujah.

The Backward Glance

Remember First Fallujah, Operation Vigilant Resolve? In April of 2004, following the murder and mutilation of the four Blackwater contractors, our Marines were fighting against Zarqawi's Sunni terrorists in that city, and we were winning (even while simultaneously fighting Sadr's Mahdi Militia in Najaf); we were driving them back and back, inflicting huge casualties... and then abruptly we stopped.

We paused for a while, then we pulled back, allowing the terrorists to trickle back into Fallujah and forcing another gigantic fight (Operation Phantom Fury) seven months later in November.

At the time of First Fallujah, Bush took tremendous heat in the press, and also from the Right, especially including the "dextrosphere." I don't offhand recall whether Power Line lambasted him for not pushing on, but it seems likely they did. And he didn't really explain why he called off the fight. (This is the worst element of Bush's otherwise admirable presidency: he is the Great Confusicator, the anti-Reagan in terms of communicating with the American people).

But for me, the reason seemed obvious; after thinking and pondering and mulling it for a couple of months, burning up brain calories like coal in a furnace, I finally concluded that I was right: it was obvious.

To Have and to Hold

The problem lay not in militarily defeating the terrorists; we had it all over them (as the Israelis do over Hezbollah now). The problem was what to do with Fallujah after we had pacified it... and at that time, that problem was insoluble. Our choices were:

  1. Invest the city and hold it against all counterattack; but this would require an enormous number of troops, since the population was firmly behind the terrorists (whom they saw as liberators from the infidel crusaders).

Holding the city would have required a permanent garrison of likely tens of thousands of Marines... and we could not spare such a huge chunk of our fighting force. We still needed them for fighting elsewhere. Since America has no specialized "occupation corps," as the British used to have during the days of the Empire -- and indeed, a non-imperial "empire" such as the United States could not have such a combined civilian and military force -- our only choice would be to use men trained for combat as cops, judges, and mediators; hence the large numbers needed and the strong possibility of violence spiraling out of our control.

  1. Reduce the city, leaving nothing behind to defend; but this would entail us killing tens of thousands of residents whose only crime was to support local Baathists and foreign Sunni terrorists... and neither the American people nor our allies were prepared to go the Carthage route.

It would have been like the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of 1572, in which probably more than 10,000 Huguenots were butchered throughout France over a three-month period. And we realized that even if we steeled ourselves to do something similar in Fallujah, it would likely have the same effect on the Sunni population of Iraq as the original did on the Huguenot population of France: not pacification but radicalization.

  1. Once we defeated the terrorists, have the Iraqi Army occupy the city; but of course, the New Iraqi Army was in no way capable of performing such a task in April of 2004, and not only we but they -- and the terrorists -- knew it.

The Iraqi Army would not be ready for such a task for many months; and indeed, that appears to be what we were waiting for: no Iraqi battalions are listed as having formally participated in First Fallujah (there were some Iraqis present, but they broke and ran); but in Second Fallujah (Phantom Fury), there were two complete battalions, four extra brigades, plus the Iraqi Counterterrorism Force. There was even an "Emergency Reponse Unit" from the Interior Ministry.

And in Second Fallujah, the Iraqi troops more or less held their lines. In the end, the Marines withdrew and left the Iraqi Army and Interior Ministry forces investing the city. This continued occupation was more or less successful; there is still terrorism emanating from Fallujah, but it never regained the intensity and brazenness of 2004.

Ceders of Lebanon

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

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

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

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

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

  • If the Israelis themselves were to hold that area against Hezbollah reoccupation (once part of the ummah, always part of the ummah), they would need a massive and permanent occupation force -- which they don't have -- and which would be virtually identical to the endgame of the 1982 Lebanese invasion, something the Israeli public is not prepared to accept.
  • Contrariwise, if they were simply to depopulate southern Lebanon, with trainloads of ethnic cleansing and the concommitent civilian deaths (that would be depicted as massacres, and not without some justice), the problems they would have with their Arab neighbors, with Iran, the international community -- and even America -- would reduce any previous disagreements to mere squabbles.
  • In theory, they could expand the fight -- say by attacking Syria directly, cutting off Iran's conduit of arms, men, and materiel into Lebanon's Hezbollah. But the Israelis (government and citizenry) made it very clear early on and throughout the war that they had absolutely no intention of doing so.

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

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

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

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

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

Vox Populi

One of Donald Rumsfeld's most famous observations, ridiculed by the illiterate Left, was this:

You go to war with the Army you have.

But the phrase is too profound to be stuck in a single subject. How about this: You go to war with the government you have, and you go to war with the people you have.

At the moment, Israel's government is a Frankenstein's monster of bits and pieces of Labor sewn together with bits and pieces of Kadima -- which was itself already a patchwork party that was actually the egoist extension of one man, Ariel Sharon -- who had the bad taste to fall into an irreversible coma shortly before Hezbollah attacked (and in fact, that was surely a major reason they did attack).

Why did Israel escalate the war so slowly? It wasn't because Ehud Olmert is just a dick; it was because the Israeli cabinet kept refusing to vote for a wider war. And why was that? Because the cabinet includes too many Laborites and ex-Laborites, including Defense Minister Amir Peretz.

Peretz seems to have wanted a larger war; but he could hardly argue as forcefully and effectively to other peaceniks in the cabinet as, say, Shaul Mofaz, the former defense minister could have.

Mofaz was the former Chief of Staff of the IDF, and he is an Iranian Jew who lived in Teheran until he was nine. It's hard to think of anyone better qualified to be a wartime defense minister in a proxy war against Iran; but although Sharon appointed him defense minister in 2002, Olmert -- trying to form his government after a very weak showing in the recent elections -- was forced to offer that position to the head of Labor, Peretz. Mofaz was demoted to minister of transport.

Peretz served honorably in the IDF and was wounded in action during the Yom Kippur War; but he never rose beyond the rank of captain. He had no strategic experience, no significant understanding of the nature of Iran, and no ability to argue from experience for a wider war from the start. Nor is it certain that it would have made any difference; the Israeli Left is nearly as bad on security issues as the American Left.

But even this isn't the root of the problem; the problem right now is the Israeli people. H.L. Menken once suggested -- or at least it's attributed to him -- that "If the government doesn't trust the people, why doesn't it dissolve them and elect a new people?" In my darkest days, I wish we could do it; except I wouldn't want to give that much power to Congress.

The reason that the Israeli government is so weak and conflicted is that the Israeli people are weak and conflicted, as evidenced by their last vote:

2006 Israeli Election Results
Party Vote % Seats
Kadima 22.0% 29
Labor 15.0% 19
Shas (Sephardic religious party) 9.5% 12
Likud 9.0% 12
Numerous other minor parties 44.4% 48

The Knesset has 120 seats; so the ruling coalition (Kadima and Labor) holds only 40% of the seats. It's a mess right now... but it's an elected mess. If you recall, Olmert had to scramble to find the 61 seats necessary even to form a government in the first place. (What Israel really needs is a new election.)

Why does this matter? Because neither the government nor the people of Israel were prepared for an actual shooting war with Hezbollah (which fact must have entered into Sheikh Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's calculations). When it was thrust upon them, they dithered and balked: at the moment, the Israeli people have the government they deserve; but the IDF deserves much better leadership than it has.

In particular, the Israeli people are still allergic to occupation, with all the brutality that necessarily entails in the post-1979 world. They are more afraid of the 18-year Lebanese occupation than they are of Hezbollah. Whether or not continued Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon would be the best solution, it's a solution that is unavailable to the government, given the current position of the civitas. It's as tantalizingly close but forever out of reach as would be an attack on Syria.

So it's a UN occupation or nothing.

Foreign Legions

But this is only a stopgap. Throughout history, occupation has always required the consent of the occupied, for the same reason that a government always requires the consent of the governed: it's not just a good idea, it's a law of human nature (see next post). And I think it very clear that the Lebanese, especially the southern Lebanese Shia, will never consent.

In the modern post-1979 revolutionary era, foreign occupation has become possible only for occupiers willing to go the route of, say, the Belgians in the Congo or Spain in the New World: brutal enslavement and mass reprisal executions. For a decent and moral democracy like Israel (or the United States), this is not an option; hence we are not able to carry out an occupation longer than a few weeks or months.

This didn't use to be the case; the conquered generally used to consent to occupation: what difference did it make whether you paid your taxes to a Saxon lord or a Norman lord? But the rules began to change here and there as armed groups discovered the Strategy of Relentless Resistance -- where they never surrender, never relent, and care absolutely nothing about how many of "their own people" die in the struggle; they're always willing to sacrifice martyrs, themselves or others, willingly or un-, to further "the cause;" and the cause never dies.

This strategy became de rigeur among resistance groups following the 1979 Iranian revolution, which for the first time opened up the possibility that a millenarian jihadi terrorist group could seize control of an entire country... and a rich, Westernized one at that. Now, every such group believes that if it struggles long enough, it can do the same; and from that platform, it can lead a holy crusade to destroy the unbelievers and institute a world caliphate (with, naturally, itself at the top).

Thus, even after Zarqawi's death, al-Qaeda In Iraq fights on; the Shiite militias fight on, massacring Sunnis -- and the Sunni militias fight on butchering Shia, world without end, amen. This will never cease; but under a native government with sufficient hegemony, it can be reduced to a manageable level.

Only an Iraqi government, not perceived as a sock puppet for America, would have such hegemony (see the next post for a discussion of hegemony, or "perceived fitness to rule"): hence the Bush Doctrine of destroying the old Baathist regime (done), removing its head (done), setting up an indigenous democracy (done), and giving that democracy the tools to enforce its hegemonic rule (still in progress)... whether instinctually or intellectually, President Bush recognized that only a democratic Iraqi government could eventually contain the extremists: a Hussein-style "strongman" government could not do it for long, and American cannot do it at all.

But by the same lemma, only an indigenous Lebanese government will have sufficient hegemony to hold the territory; but that does not mean that any old indigenous Lebanese government will do; alas, the one there now is not powerful enough.

Know When to Hold, Know When to Fold

It does mean, however, that Israel cannot do it... as they found out from 1982-2000, when the IDF occupied just a strip along the southern border of Lebanon: there were so many terrorist attacks and military assaults, escalating every year, that Israel was either going to have to get out or get extraordinarily brutal. They had not the stomach for the latter, so electoral revolution gave them a government that chose the former.

And now they find themselves in the same bind. If Americans have forgotten recent Israeli history, the leaders of Kadima, from Olmert to Peretz on down, have not. They know that holding southern Lebanon would require a degree of ruthlessness that is beyond the current civitas of Israel.

The only workable solution, per supra, is a Lebanese force; hence the component of the Lebanese Army that will (supposedly) hold that area. But the Lebanese Army is toothless... so another force is required, a force with more hegemony than Israel would have, even if it's less than a really powerful Lebanese force would have: that is where UNIFIL enters the picture.

Clearly, this will not work longterm. It may only last a year or even just a few months (or less -- but then Israel would still be there, poised to continue its offensive). But a lot can happen in a year.


The Sufi sage Nasrudin languished in prison, having been captured, along with his disciple, Noggi, by his enemy, the Emir of Jubukuua. The emir, furious that Nasrudin had flirted with the emir's first wife, had just pronounced the death penalty against both Nasrudin and Noggi.

"What will become of us!" wailed Noggi; but Nasrudin shushed him and bellowed for the guard.

"Guard, will you please inform the emir, may Allah preserve him, that if he postpones our sentences for a year and a day, then I will teach his royal horse to fly."

The startled guard rushed off to deliver the magical message. "But Hodja," cried the disciple when they were alone again in the cell, "why did you promise such a ridiculous thing? All that it means is that we'll spend a year and a day in vile captivity... and then be executed anyway when you fail!"

But Nasrudin only smiled. "A lot can happen in a year, Noggi: the Emir might be deposed by his brother, or he may even be dead. He may forget his rage over a couple of innocent kisses. He may even get religion and pardon us as an offering to Allah, the most high.

"And who knows?" he continued; "if all else fails, maybe that damned horse can learn to fly after all!"


Israel stands in such peril, and her government is so lame, that there is an excellent chance that it will fall and new elections be called. As it stands now, the government and people are out of harmony with each other and with themselves; they cannot sustain the war they should fight (as should be obvious by now).

But a lot can happen in a year. There might be new elections; the people may finally come to understand that peace with Hezbollah is impossible (probably after the terrorists break the ceasefire and start shooting missiles again). Iran might find itself under sanction, and the US may be interdicting arms transshipments across Syria. There might be civil unrest in Iran that distracts the mullahs and Ahmadinejad from Lebanon.

Or Lebanon itself may get a stronger government, one without Hezbollah sitting in the parliament (and the cabinet!), and one with a strong Army that can actually contest for all of Lebanon.

Like First Fallujah, I suspect the Bush Administration has concluded that the current feckless government and conflicted people of Israel cannot hold what they have. But like Second Fallujah, the next government may do considerably better -- at least in annihilating more of Hezbollah's strength; and a later Beirut government may well do a better job of driving Hezbollah out of Lebanon entirely and back into Syria.

Bush is one of the most patient men who ever sat at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. He rarely cares about the polls and he never lunges at the brass ring until he is sure he can grasp it. He awaits his moment, then seizes it. (If only he could stand up and tell us about it, he would be the second-greatest president in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.)

We and the Israelis had a weak hand; it's not unreasonable to fold, minimize the losses, and draw a new one.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 14, 2006, at the time of 4:34 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this hissing:


The following hissed in response by: Section9

Superb weaving of the fecklessness of Olmert as a product of the indecisiveness of the electorate as a whole. Powerline, the Doomsday people over at The American Spectator, and the strangely childish rantings in the wake of Condi Rice's efforts at The National Review completely ignore the impact of Israeli domestic politics on the conduct of the war.

However, this does not excuse Olmert. It is my belief that a wide ranging, blitzkrieg campaign would have been supported by the Israeli population. The problem was that Olmert's coalition was not strategically minded so to do.

Not a Guderian in the bunch.

The above hissed in response by: Section9 [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 6:29 AM

The following hissed in response by: RattlerGator

Good post.

I think the initial attack on Fallujah was a well-planned trap that the Bush Administration wisely declined to gift-wrap to the opposition. Your points are good but far more important was the Jihadi requirement to flood al-Jazeera and the world media with images of civilian deaths. Think about it. And after flooding these images, then would come the massive "resistance" -- it's a very simple soap opera script with a ready-made audience ravenously waiting to eat and revel on the glory of the story.

Likewise, this conflict has been a well-planned trap. All those still bitching about a blitzkrieg by the IDF which was politically not allowed to happen are COMPLETELY underestimating the enemy. Which the enemy was counting on. Your points about the Israeli electorate is more on-point for me when discussing what appears to me the almost juvenile need to believe in the mythology of the IDF.

Those days are gone, and the sooner the Israeli population comes to terms with that fact the better.
That "blitzkrieg" IDF has been neutralized and is likely never to return. Great superiority, however, is still there.

Condoleezza Rice has worked her behind off trying to manage the slow but steady steps forward in this region. That so many in the center and on the right can't see this is extremely disappointing. Ultimately, thank God that neither the Israelis or the Bush Admin played into the hands of the enemy and gift-wrapped a United Nations victory for the Iranians when a much-needed spanking is about to be a fait accompli.

The above hissed in response by: RattlerGator [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 7:15 AM

The following hissed in response by: Steelhand

Great posting. One point I must have missed, for you are far wiser than I oh Scaly One, is that the proxy war is put on hold for Iran. The pretext for a "defensive strike" on Tel Aviv from Teheran is muted during the cease fire. Given the apocalyptic rantings of the Iranian Chief Kook, it sorta takes August 22nd off the table for response to Israel's on-going "assault."

I, too, love the gang at Powerline. They have been my primary blog of choice for a couple of years. But sometimes diplomacy is nuanced.

The above hissed in response by: Steelhand [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 8:45 AM

The following hissed in response by: jack

Sensational analysis. The best I've read so far. But you place too much emphasis on Israel remaining south of the Litani. Had Israel fought the war properly (i.e., followed the plan developed by the IDF general staff), it (almost certainly) would have won within two weeks a victory so decisive that no amount of spinning could have turned it into a Hezbollah victory.

The above hissed in response by: jack [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 9:28 AM

The following hissed in response by: Big D

Ah great lizard,

Right again as usual. People often think that because you are not pursuing the strategy they think you should pursue, you don't have any strategy at all.

Hezbollah wants Israel to occupy south Lebanon. The previous occupation was the source of their greatest victory. They are literally dieing to see it happen again.

Of course Israel could successfully occupy south Lebanon, if they were willing to resort to sufficiently brutal tactics. I always find it comical when Muslim terrorist groups claim victory, it isd often one that is based solely on the morality of their opponent.

Start the peace, but make it plain - one rocket = one big bomb of a Shiite Lebanese village.

The above hissed in response by: Big D [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 9:33 AM

The following hissed in response by: MTF

Those defending the terms of the cease-fire resolution seem to think it will somehow be "clear" to the world when Hezbollah next violates the cease fire, and Israel will somehow benefit in the court of world public opinion. Why do you think these things?

According to Caroline Glick (via Powerline), the official arbiter of compliance with the new resolution is going to be none other than Kofi Annan, of all people. It's his opinion-- not Olmerts, not Morrissey's and (sad to say) not yours-- that will set the tone for the next debate over compliance.

T]he resolution places responsibility for determining compliance in the hands of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Annan has distinguished himself as a man capable only of condemning Israel for its acts of self-defense while ignoring the fact that in attacking Israel, its enemies are guilty of war crimes.

Is she on target with this claim, or is she wrong? Quoting Frank Zappa, "It's the crux of the biscuit."

If Annan is in fact the "honest broker" the Security Council has agreed in advance to collectively believe, Israel is in deep doo-doo and so are we (as their main, and nearly only diplomatic support). The Hezbollah forces will certainly violate the ceasefire terms, by refusing to disarm (as just happened today) and in fact rearming and reoccupying southern Lebanon, but will achieve blaming Israel for the inevitable new firefight that results. Kofi has been and will continue to be a dependable friend.

The second issue is why should Israel place it's security (and we the success of our regional policy!) in the hands of "world political opinion", of all things, as the Israeli government seems to think they are doing, and Captain Ed seems to think is happening. Since when could Israel, the U.S. or any underdog count on world political opinion for anything other than indifference as the forces of genocide march on?

What really bothers me is that Israel had the opportunity to fight to a clear military success, and was forced to stop. That battle will have to be re-fought now, and probably at higher cost to all concerned.

The above hissed in response by: MTF [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 10:08 AM

The following hissed in response by: BigLeeH

It is still too early to know how the ramifications of the ceasefire will unfold. As you say, a lot can happen in a year and there is a not-too-unlikely sequence of events which, should things play out that way, would make Olmert's handling of the war appear just exactly right. I am not a fan of Olmert -- nor likely to become one -- but let's look at how he ran the war.

You do a good job, Dafydd, in laying out how few good options Olmert had at the beginning of the war -- the intersection of the sets of military and political possibilities was nearly empty -- and yet doing nothing was not an option either.

Early in the conflict the IDF relied on highly-targetted air stikes, plus a bit of artillery along the border to keep heads down on the other side, and a few commando raids when targets could be identified. More was possible from a military standpoint but it didn't burn the political capital too fast. Casualties were fairly low on both sides compared to a large-scale ground invasion.

By this method the IDF claimed to have reduced Hezbollah's supply of rockets by half. Given the understandable Israeli preference for this number to be as high as possible let's reduce that to about a third of the rockets. Then there is the other quarter of Hezbollah's rockets that are gone now because they have been fired in haste in the general direction of Israel. So that's one third gone plus another quarter, that's... umm fractions (I knew I should have paid more attention in fifth grade)... seven twelveths of Hezbollah's rockets gone. Scarcely a crusing defeat for the other side but, you know, progress none-the-less.

It was also exactly enough warfare to catch the attention of the international community and the news media. Remember that Israel had a problem that it couldn't solve by itself -- it needed help to deal with Hezbollah -- and Israel's best allies, the US and the Brits, had their own problems to deal with. So, since desperate times call for desperate measures, Israel's best shot was to get help from the UN.

Simply asking the UN for help was simply not an option. The UN, on balance, may or may not be an antisemitic organization, but they are clearly an anti-Israeli organization. Israel needed a different approach which they found by exploiting the other great vice of the UN -- it's irresistable impulse to appease aggressors. "Grrrr..." said Israel "Look, I am bombing the devil out of poor Lebanon and I need someone to help me stop."

Israel maintained the measured tempo of military operations, calulated to make some useful gains with minimal casualties until the eve of the ceasefire, and only then did they launch their ground offensive. The purpose of the ground offensive was not to root out Hezbollah but to go around them and set up a line between Hezbollah's forward forces and the north, cutting off their retreat to the main body of Lebanon. This leaves Israel with long, difficult-to-defend supply lines but in control of key territory. Hezbollah cannot attack those supply lines without violating the terms of the ceasefire. The Hezbollah forces can retire to the north but they will need to leave most of their arms behind to get through the Israelis without, again, violating the terms.

Sooner or later the ceasefire will break down. Hezbollah is trying to claim victory right now because they are still there after the smoke has cleared. This will work briefly but sooner or later people will start to notice that Israel is still there too -- still there in southern Lebanon -- and the people will begin to wonder, if Israel is still on sacred Lebabese soil, why isn't Hezbollah shooting at them? The longer the ceasefire lasts the more Hezbollah's popular support will fade.

It would be in Hezbollah's long-term interest to abide by the ceasefire, ride out the political backlash and wait for the international attention-span to run out so they can start to rebuild. I doubt that they have the patience for it and, even if they did, Iran won't let them do so. The real reason for the whole war was to distract international attention from Iran and its nuclear weapons program and it has worked very well indeed. Just as soon as international attention is once again focused on Iran we can expect their proxy, Hezbollah, to start shooting again.

The tricky part moving forward is the timing. The best chance for a good outcome from an Israeli point of view is for the ceasefire to hold until the UN and Lebanese forces have been deployed. The IDF should then fall all over themselves in their eagerness to cooperate -- sharing intellegence, helping set up positions, generally cuddling up to the UN so Hezbollah has as little opportunity as possible to stage provocative attacks on the IDF where there is no UN presence.

As the UN and Lebanese forces build up in southern Lebanon the IDF should drag its feet -- oh so politely -- about withdrawal. Not that they should refuse to withdraw, mind you, they should just make sure that all the i's are dotted and each and every t is crossed before they go, all the while singing chorus afer chorus of Gilbert and Sullivan's Yes, but you don't go.

During this phased, deliberate and prolonged IDF withdrawal the US and the Brits should once again turn up the heat on Iran about its nuclear program. This will once again precipitate a Hezbollah attack but this time it is the IDF, and not Hezbollah, that will have the UN forces as a human shield. At that point it will be hard to ignore who is doing the shooting, even for the UN. What the UN forces do about the fact that Hezbollah is shooting at them will depend on how far they are willing to go to ignore their mandate to keep the peace. The UN itself is incapable of shame, as they have proven over and over in recent years, but the Turks and the Italians are not and even the French are sometimes capable of martial spirit when sufficiently provoked.

The above hissed in response by: BigLeeH [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 10:09 AM

The following hissed in response by: Papa Ray

It's early in the morning and I'm tired out just from reading this post.

Your praise is forthcoming as witnessed in the comments o' great one.

But...there is always a but, so as you do not get your head so swelled up that your eyes can't open to see, or to type, I will say this.

You forgot (or forget) that in conflicts between men, there is the all great, all seeing, all determined Murphy. It is he that moves in between, and behind all the great planners, predictors and predators in war, tripping them up, pushing them down and generally screwing up their plans and hopes. It is he that sees to it that plans never work, that bad decisions are made and that results are never as intended.

So, without factoring Murphy in, you, o' great one, have made the same mistakes all of the great planners, warriors and politicians have made over history.

But, you are in good company, indeed.

Now to bed, to rest my eyes and my mind.

Papa Ray

The above hissed in response by: Papa Ray [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 10:09 AM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye

This is a good post.

The other day I read an interview in the WSJ of John Podhoretz and he made that point that the constant whining of certain people was "unseemly" and he referred to them as "right wing utopians". I think this is true.

Bush is a democratically elected leader and so is Olmert, there is only so much such leaders can do at a given time and remain in the realms of political viability. In truth the guys at powerline complain about Bush's poll numbers but very rarely support popular decisions, in fact just the opposite. Well what do they want? A president that every now and then does something people want, like work with the UN and bring about a cease fire in the ME, or sticks it to Kofi for the sheer nasty fun of it whatever the outcome might be. God knows I hate Hezbellah but the alternatives here are somewhat limited.

It is also true that Hezbellah will claim victory no matter what. Those people could be standing on a pile of rubble, competely dependent on charity for food, and they would be still be screaming We Won. It is after all the Arab way, just remember Baghdad Bob.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 11:52 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Is [Caroline Glick] on target with this claim, or is she wrong?

She is wrong.

MTF, go back to Gramsci and hegemony. It is the single inescapable fact of governance: at all times, the governors are vastly outnumbered by the governed; they're even outnumbered by their own palace guard; the only fragile thread binding the latter to the former is hegemony.

Here is an extreme example. Suppose George W. Bush -- arguably the most powerful man in the world -- were to order the Marines to arrest and hold Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, two people the Marines probably despise, on charges of "mopery with intent to gawk" and "boorish behavior."

Would they obey the order? Without a doubt, no, they would not.

In fact, it would result in the swiftest impeachment resolution you've ever seen... which would be supported by 435 representatives.

If the trial showed that there was no real charge other than political rivalry, the final vote in the Senate would be 100 to 0 to remove Bush from office.

But why? The Republicans hate Reid and Pelosi! Ah, but deeper than any political hatred is a common understanding that hegemony requires adherence to the Constitution and a belief in limited government.

Even were the roles reversed -- if President Mark Warner ordered the arrest of minority leaders Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. Denny Hastert -- Warner too would be speedily impeached and removed (though in my cynicism, I believe there would be some dissenting Democratic votes).

We all have an innate sense of what powers the president has, and they do not include imprisoning his political rivals. That would sever the tie of hegemony, and he would no longer be seen as fit for office. By nearly anyone, including the people.

What does this have to do with your question? Hegemony works too for international agreements, of which recognition of the UN is one such.

There are actually only two players inside the combat zone whose opinions matter: Hezbollah and Israel.

(Outside the zone, there are two additional players whose opinions are critical: the United States and Iran; well, two and a half players, if you want to count Syria -- which could, in theory, refuse to transship materiel to Hezbollah.)

If the two primary players decide to return to war, the mandate of the international force is not to stand in between them.

If small raiding parties try to go one way or another, there is at least some chance the French will interdict them; but if Israel sends five divisions screaming across the Blue Line, the French are not going to throw themselves in front and play "speed bump."

Neither, for that matter, would the Lebanese Army; they might retreat under covering fire, but they would not try to pit their puny, 15,000-man security force against 40,000-50,000 IDF with tanks and air support.

So what stops Israel from doing so? Only hegemony: the perception that UNIFIL and the UN are fairly administering the ceasefire. Break that thread -- for example, by claiming that a missile barrage from Hezbollah was not a violation and denying Israel the right to respond -- and the perception of authority vanishes beneath a wave of rage.

And not only for Israel but for its chief patron in the world, the United States: Caroline Glick is wrong in that she thinks the US and Israel would continue to abide by a treaty even if we believed it had been shattered by the enemy... merely because Kofi Annan brazenly refused to declare it shattered.

That is like believing the entire American population would turn in their guns if Congress passed a law: once the thread of hegemony is cut -- in this case, by the very act of demanding compliance to an unconscionable decision -- the governed no longer consent to the governors, and the latter suddenly discover that nobody obeys their orders.

If Hezbollah's violation is egregious and obvious enough that Israel is convinced there is no more ceasefire, then they will respond, no matter what Kofi says. And if the U.S. is similarly persuaded, we will back them, and to hell with the U.N.'s pronouncements.

For heaven's sake, both George Bush and Bill Clinton before him have gone to war in despite of the U.N.'s unambiguous refusal to sanction it... and that for offenses far less than a brutal attack on Israel in total defiance of a ceasefire.

Glick does not understand hegemony (probably because she refuses to read the writings of Communists <g>), and she does not realize that no matter what the agreement says, it only remains in force so long as both sides agree to regard it as such.

It can be broken by either or both at any time -- by the simple expedient of no longer consenting to abide by it.

And Kofi Annan has no say over that decision.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 11:54 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Papa Ray:

Ah, but Murphy works against Hezbollah, as well: he is an equal-opportunity despoiler.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 12:03 PM

The following hissed in response by: FredTownWard

Excellent analysis, Dafydd. My only caveat is that I am not as sanguine as you and Captain Ed are about this working out the way you think it will, but even in that event, Bush and Rice and Bolton deserve credit for forging the best possible UN resolution with the weak hand available in the form of a weak Israeli government that certainly appeared to me to be BEGGING the US to find them a face-saving excuse for not going through with the full-scale invasion required. In that case it's actually a GOOD idea to bring to a halt the half-assed Israeli assault, give the UN, the French, the Lebanese government, and Hezbollah a chance to utterly disgrace themselves when this falls apart while in the meantime the Israelis elect themselves a government with some backbone. It would be different if we were talking about asking the Israelis to get the !@#$ out of our way so WE could go in and "finish the job", but we aren't. If the Israelis aren't yet ready to wage war, we cannot in good conscience push them into it by refusing to produce a UN ceasefire the Israelis WANT even if we believe (correctly IMHO) that it is a mistake. In short I believe this UN ceasefire to be a mistake but a mistake the current Israeli government WANTS to make.

The above hissed in response by: FredTownWard [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 1:27 PM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye


The Isrealis have lived with this threat for their entire existence. We as Ameircans can not really understand what that is like. It is not fair to say they lack backbone when it is their cities and towns ablaze.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 2:42 PM

The following hissed in response by: FredTownWard

Terrye, perhaps I didn't make myself as clear as I should have. It is the current Israeli GOVERNMENT not the Israeli PEOPLE that I am accusing of lacking backbone, and part of my reasoning is the criticism of its conduct already starting to come from ISRAELIS who you must admit DO "understand what that is like."

The above hissed in response by: FredTownWard [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 3:34 PM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye


Maybe I did not make myself plain. The Israeli government is elected by the Israeli people who are right now very divided on all this. It is difficult to seperate the two.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 4:12 PM

The following hissed in response by: MTF

Dafydd, you talk about how a future “brutal attack” on Israel, in “total defiance” of the ceasefire terms must motivate the U.N. to act-- at the cost of lost hegemony-- as if those things had never happened before. The world will understand if Israel fights back under those circumstances, you believe. But, did the world understand this time? No, of course not, and despite July's brutal attack on Israel by the illegitimate Hezbollah and in total defiance of 1559.

Why will the next time be different than the last time?

The above hissed in response by: MTF [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 4:15 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Each time, the ratchet moves further towards Israel's side. UNSR 1701 (I think that's the number) is the most pro-Israeli resolution of the last 35 years.

And I don't care what "the world" thinks, except insofar as that affects what Israel and America think. I care most of all that the Israeli people, who actually elected Kadima and put Likud into fourth place (not even third!), will come to their senses and realize that, as Gandalf says in the novel Lord of the Rings (Aragorn says it in the move), "open war is upon you, whether you would risk it or not."

You go to war with the government and the people you have... and the IDF had a very weak political hand this time. Consider it a single hand in a long game, a battle in a larger war: sometimes, the best thing to do is fold a bad hand and wait for a better one.

I think this ceasefire resolution managed to keep the damage to a minimum. And remember, for all of Hassan Nasrallah's whoopin' and a-shoutin', and regardless of Jed Babbin's defeatism, Hezbollah lost as well.

Nobody won this round, not even Iran.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 4:38 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

Personally, i think that both Paul and Cap’n Ed are missing the bigger picture here:

Hizbullah won the war and in doing so has given hope to the Arab and Muslim world that where there is faith, will and preparation, nothing is impossible. The army that was thought to be too powerful for the 250 million Arabs combined has been put in check by a group of less than 10,000 men. That is indeed legendary and has many implications.

OK...enough of my thoughts on what Paul and Cap’n Ed said or missed, humble Low and Ignorant Insane hermit me would rather focus on what Dafydd has to say or thinks, since he is part owner of this Blog/website/ to speak.

Dafydd brings up some interesting points in this thread, and i shall address them:

1) The Backward Glance - First Fallujah

In my humble opinion, Fallujah was the first show of America’s weakness in Iraq, and it lasted for a year. Forget “First” or second or third Fallujah, Fallujah was a show of weakness that basically lasted for a year, and at the end of the the end of the year, America’s “US military gave a 48 hour warning to civilians to leave”. Instead of using something like the MOAB to raze the city of Fallujah (after the “48 hour warning” had ran out), Boots were sent in instead!?! OK, i can understand wanting to keep the Military’s Boots fine-tuned with some live action house to house training, but why waste money on a MOAB if it will never be used on a city like Fallujah?!?

2) To Have and to Hold - “insoluble”

Merriam-Webster defines “insoluble”...thusly: “having or admitting of no solution or explanation”. puuuUULLEEEEASE!!! MOAB was the solution...simple as that. Why warn civilians to leave a city, with a “48 hour warning” or leaflets (Think Israel), if you don’t plan on razing the city that they are being warned too leave?!?

Life on Earth is a *LOT* like Life in a Prison... Well, in Prison, warnings are just talk, and are basically to speak of the simplicity of Prison Life.

Well...the rest of the *HONORABLE* Dafydd’s post here is basically about showing more weakness, and/or more talk...thus, i shall pass on replying to such.

The radical Arabs, Muslims, Persians, and/or Islamists have spend decades fighting this *WAR*, and the so-called “Moderate” ones have gotten away by “sitting on the sidelines” whilst trying not to be caught in a photo that shows them cheering. They’ve been caught cheering many times, and we all know it; however, they (*AND* MSM) have recently been caught...caught....caught in the act of tampering with evidence, by doctoring and/or staging such evidence. Which, BTW, is part of their plan to to speak of their actual combatants and “sideline” sitters.

The radical Arabs, Muslims, Persians, and/or Islamists have made their plans for winning. Exceptionally well...BTW. Flexibility is probably a main key to it. No set date for winning is another key. Their propaganda blows the Nazi’s attempts at propaganda, “out of the water”...just look at who supports them, as in 99.9% of their planned *VICTIMS*!!!

One does not win ‘Ones’ survival with talk and inaction...simple as that, and enough said...


The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 5:02 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist


One does not win ‘Ones’ survival with talk and inaction...simple as that, and enough said...

Just ask a newborn, if you don't believe gentle me...


The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 5:27 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist


Well, perhaps Power Line doesn't miss the point at all, and since "Sledgehammer" John has just stepped in with this:

Bennett and Dershowitz on Lebanon

Cap'n Ed...try to keep up.


Look at us...Terrorists are kicking American and Israeli buttocks, and humble me is finally winking, whilst we debate if another silly UN Resolution will work or not!?! BS on our part...simple as that, huh.


The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 6:00 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist


The Sound of Silence

One of my favorite sounds ever!!!

Goes something like this:

Hello darkness, my old friend, I've come to talk with you again, because a vision softly creeping left its seeds while I was sleeping and the vision that was planted in my brain still remains

within the sound of silence.

i promise to be gentle...

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 6:52 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 14, 2006 7:42 PM

The following hissed in response by: Calarato

I'm not buying it. (going back to the original post)

It was a mistake for the U.S. not to have completed First Fallujah. Killing more terrorists sooner would, I think, have spared the Coalition any number of IEDs. More important, it would have impressed the Iraqi people with the Coalition's resolve. It could have sped up the entire "schedule of progress" in Iraq by a year.

And the Coalition needn't have occupied Fallujah (if it completed the First battle). It could have simply pulled out and left the Fallujah people to their own devices. If the people immediately brought back terrorists, well, at least the Coalition would have known where the terrorists were, and could take them out in a Second Fallujah - which is what happened anyway.

Likewise with Israel and Lebanon. They should have annihilated Hezbollah's current force while they had the chance. They needn't have occupied Lebanon - they could have simply pulled out again.

I blame Olmert. He seems to lack resolve, strategic vision, and a willingness to let his military do their jobs.

The original post is right about a few things:

(1) The Israeli Left has been confused about the nature of the threat Israel faces, at least up to now. And yeah, that right there is the whole reason they got an Olmert and blew this chance.

(2) There will be other chances, unfortunately. It's not as if the threat is going away.

(3) Yes, you can only go to war with the people and government you have. The Bush Administration wanted Israel to attack Syria (by some reports), thus dealing with the root of the problem. For reasons given above, Israel balked. They also balked, as we've seen, at destroying Hezbollah directly. Now what is Bush supposed to do, after that??

So, I blame Israel. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

By the way - Someone else said, "Likewise, this conflict has been a well-planned trap..." That I definitely do not buy! Remember: Hezbollah was shocked and completely caught off guard by Israel's (over?)reaction at the kidnapping of 2 soldiers.

The above hissed in response by: Calarato [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 15, 2006 8:51 AM

The following hissed in response by: Calarato

Likewise with the person who said, "Hezbollah wants Israel to occupy south Lebanon. The previous occupation was the source of their greatest victory."

That's the type of thinking that would say "Osama bin Ladin WANTS the U.S. to occupy Iraq". It says, in other words, that if only we didn't fight the enemy, then the enemy would go away and be defeated magically (or by our inattention). Pish.

The above hissed in response by: Calarato [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 15, 2006 8:55 AM

The following hissed in response by: mbnyan

Another aspect to Falluja is that the US decided to wait for an Iraqi government to form which could give consent to the operation. This was needed because of the damage to property and risk of civilian casualties.

The above hissed in response by: mbnyan [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 15, 2006 2:58 PM

The following hissed in response by: mbnyan

You make a lot of good arguments about why Israel should not stay in Lebanon. However Israel could have done a lot more to destroy Hezbullah before bringing in the UN. The same resolution with a lot more destruction of Hezbullah would be a much better outcome for Israel, Lebanon, and the US.

A more complete distruction of Hezballah would discredit similar movements in other countries including but not limited to Iraq. This would have been an important loss to Iran. Syria should also have been made to paid a price. If not by defeat in battle, then by being seen to stand by doing nothing while Hezbullah was destroyed in south lebanon and in the bekka valley.

By leaving Hezbullah intact and not extracting a price from Iran and Syria, Israel has done more to weaken the deterrence it that it bought with blood during the 67 and 73 wars. A more complete distruction of hezbullah would make it much easier for the legitimate government of Lebanon to regain control of its territory.

It is hard to understand why Israel did not do more damage to Hezbullah. It may be that Olmert does not like fighting, or there may be other reasons that are not public.

The above hissed in response by: mbnyan [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 15, 2006 3:14 PM

The following hissed in response by: mbnyan

It seems to me that part of your argument is that since Israel had a weak government the correct thing for it to do was to act weakly. There is a sort of Zen truth to that but I don't see how it would convince anyone that it was to Israel's advantage. Waiting for a strong government only allows Hezbullah to get stronger, and adapt to Israel's tactics.

Israel should have fought Hezbullah up through South Lebanon and into the Bekka Valley to the border with Syria. If Syria had reacted militarily to this, Israel could have defeated them easily even while fighting Hezballah.

Once Hezballah was defeated in detail the exact same UN resolution that was passed would have a great chance to be successful since with out an intact Hezbullah military force the Lebanese army would be able to control the country and borders and UN forces would not be afraid to confront a few remaining bands of disorganized armed terrorists.

Spectators at first thought Israel would infact attempt to destroy Hezballah. Later they thought Israel would restart the combat once the resolution was broken by Hezballah. These mistakes are seen for what they are by examining Isreal's stated strategy.

Israel's strategy from the beginning was to react militarily in order to create conditions for a diplomatic solution.

This is explained by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs faq see questions 1 and 2.

This strategy was executed brilliantly with a last minute escalation of the ground war to generate favorable terms but the strategy seems to have been misguided as now Hezballah refuses to disarm or evacuate South Lebanon and the Lebanese government refuses to use force to implement the UN resolution, and the UN forces refuse to use force to implement UN resolutions.

Part of the reason for this strategy is that Israel is a small country and doesn't like to fight long wars because of humanitarian and economic concerns at home. This is all the more reason why Israel should have started a large scale ground invasion weeks earlier.

As it is now, Hezbullah is in a position to dictate to the Lebanese government and the result of the war is that it speeded up the inevetable take over of Lebanon by Hezballah. Syria and Iran are emboldened with Iran becoming an even bigger threat to other countries in the region. We don't have status quo anti as Condi promised, unfortunately we have something worse.

The above hissed in response by: mbnyan [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 17, 2006 5:18 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


It seems to me that part of your argument is that since Israel had a weak government the correct thing for it to do was to act weakly.

Then you misread; I made no such argument. I discuss what we should have done, not what the Israelis should have done; to the extent I even mentioned it, I have heaped scorn upon Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz for their fecklessness in pursuing this war.

Waiting for a strong government only allows Hezbullah to get stronger, and adapt to Israel's tactics.

Your statement is logically flawed. Israel "waiting for a strong government" by definition allows Israel, as well as Hezbollah, to "get stronger." Your phrase "only allows Hezbollah to get stronger" is exaggeration to the point of farce.

Israel should have fought Hezbullah up through South Lebanon and into the Bekka Valley to the border with Syria. If Syria had reacted militarily to this, Israel could have defeated them easily even while fighting Hezballah.

Possibly so; but that has nothing to do with my post, which is about what we did and what we could have done.

And the fact that we had to deal with, in crafting this ceasefire agreement, was that Israel had already loudly and emphatically taken this option off the table.

They had flatly announced, for all the world (including Hezbollah) to hear, that they would do nothing more than push up to the Litani River -- and then began broadly hinting that an international force and/or the Lebanese Army would be very acceptable to them, so long as it sat between the Litani and the Blue Line and disarmed Hezbollah.

Let's focus like a laser beam on what my country, the United States of America (not Israel), could do... given that Israel had previously announced that they had no intention of winning the war -- despite the extraordinary latitude and forbearance that President Bush gave them, certainly in the expectation that they would seize the day and severely damage Hezbollah.

Because Israel has a weak government, it acted weakly. This is not to argue that they should have... rather, since we already knew that is what they had decided to do, and there was no way we could force them to continue the fight to the end, then I maintain that this agreement, UNSCR 1701, was the best we could salvage from Olmert's poltroonery -- which itself flowed from the conflicted and torn response of the Israeli voters to Ariel Sharon's incapacitation.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 17, 2006 12:52 PM

The following hissed in response by: MTF

Dafydd, Caroline Glick got it right.

Todays news is that Kofi Annan has unilaterally declared it the responsibility of ...ummm...sombody else to disarm Hezbollah.

Kofi Annan stressed Friday it was not the peacekeepers' task to strip the guerrillas of their weapons, saying that was an issue for Lebanon's government and "cannot be done by force."

"The troops are not going there to disarm Hezbollah. Let's be clear about that," he said.

So silly of us to think the terms of the ceasefire required the disarming of Hezbollah!

Almost immediately after signing the deal, the Lebanese government announced that there would not be a disarming at their hands, only that Hezbollah agreed to do their best not to "display" their weapons. The U.N. decided to walk away from that unpleasant task too.

Why, you ask, is that not a violation of the deal? Because Kofi said so, that's why.

This deal stinks to high heaven. The U.N. cannot be depended upon. How often do we need to learn that simple fact?

The above hissed in response by: MTF [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 27, 2006 12:47 PM

Post a comment

Thanks for hissing in, . Now you can slither in with a comment, o wise. (sign out)

(If you haven't hissed a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Hang loose; don't shed your skin!)

Remember me unto the end of days?

© 2005-2009 by Dafydd ab Hugh - All Rights Reserved