Category ►►► Israel Matters
May 23, 2011
We pass lightly over the Obamic demand that a so-called state of "Palestine" be contiguous. I suspect that President Barack H. Obama doesn't even know what the adjective "contiguous" means (all parts connected to each other)... nor the impossibility of making the West Bank of the Jordan river and the Gaza Strip "contiguous" without either (a) bisecting Israel, or (b) creating a corridor -- comically thin, perhaps a dozen feet wide -- that runs the gauntlet around the southern borders of Israel to connect the two areas with a sort of geographical bicycle lane, snaking hundreds of miles between Israel and Jordan and Israel and Egypt.
(By the way, the name Palestine comes from "Philistine." It was a Roman poke in the eye of the rebellious Jews, renaming their homeland after their bitter ancient enemies. It has absolutely nothing to do with Islam... which didn't even exist until more than half a millennium after the Romans dubbed it with that insulting moniker.)
So forget the contiguity quandry; it requires a Dr. Seuss solution. I'm more interested in the borders controversy.
I wonder how many people understand what President Barack H. Obama really meant, whether he understood it or not, when he suggested -- pronounced is the better word -- that any final settlement of Israel's borders must be based upon the "1967 lines":
We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.
To begin with, he certainly didn't mean post-June 10th, 1967 "lines" (borders), as that would actually be larger than the land currently controlled by the Jewish state! In the years since the Six Day War, Israel withdrew from the Sinai peninsula and from the Gaza Strip. Clearly the Obamacle meant -- and Arab and Palestinian leaders certainly heard -- that the borders should be based upon the pre-Six Day War lines.
But what does that mean? If we're honest, that means Obama did not call for Israel to retreat to the "1967 lines," but rather the 1949 lines: The borders of Israel when the Arabs, losing badly, hastily offered an armistice to freeze Israel's borders in situ. That is, Barack Obama wants Israel to return to the indefensible borders it held a year after striking the Union Jack and hoisting the Israeli flag, declaring themselves an independent state.
It's hard to fathom, so here's an analogy: Suppose radical Aztlan boosters in Mexico were to demand that the United States readjust its borders... to where they were in 1788. Thirteen states, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean all the way to -- the Appalachians.
Yeah, that's what President B.O. proposes as his "peace plan."
Just bear it in mind: The only conclusions a reasonable person could draw from this declaration are that (a) Barack Obama hates Israel enough to want to see it buried, or (b) he is a complete nitwit. Or (c) both. Take your pick.
Any Jew who votes for Obama in 2012 must believe that the Jews, alone among all cultures on the planet, deserve no homeland, not a single country they can call theirs. Talk about the self-loathing...!
April 27, 2011
So That's Been the Problem All Along!
At long, long last, the key to true and lasting peace in the Middle East has been discovered:
Palestinians have reached initial agreement on reuniting their rival governments in the West Bank and Gaza, officials from both sides said Wednesday, a step that would remove a main obstacle in the way of peace efforts with Israel....
The internal rift has prevented the Palestinians from speaking in one voice. That, in turn, has made it next to impossible to move ahead with peace efforts with Israel. Talks have been stymied for months over a dispute about Israeli construction in West Bank settlements, but the unity issue has lurked prominently in the background.
As we know, a final solution to Palestinian victimization -- i.e., the withdrawal by Israel back to its pre-1948 borders -- is the magic wand that will end all these uprisings and mass murders throughout the Moslem Middle East. Yet Israel still seems a bit sulky, unless it's just Benjamin Netanyahu being a dadburned obstructionist again:
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a quick rejection of a Hamas role in a Palestinian unity government. Israel refuses to deal with Hamas, which does not recognize a place for a Jewish state in an Islamic Middle East and has sent dozens of suicide bombers and thousands of rockets into Israel.
"The Palestinian Authority must choose between peace with Israel and peace with Hamas," Netanyahu said in a statement. "Peace with both is impossible because of the Hamas goal of destroying the state of Israel, which it expresses openly," he said, pointing to the ongoing rocket attacks.
"I believe the whole concept of reconciliation shows the weakness of the Palestinian Authority," he said, raising the prospect of a Hamas takeover of the West Bank as well as Gaza.
Thankfully, our own Administration is neither so recalcitrant nor dewy-eyed about this monumental breakthrough in the annals of world brotherhood:
In Washington, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said the U.S. supports Palestinian reconciliation on terms that promote peace, while cautioning that "Hamas ... is a terrorist organization which targets civilians." He said any Palestinian government must recognize Israel and renounce violence.
As Vietor's boss might put it, the Hamas-led new "unity" government must recognize Israel; and if it doesn't, then the president might become downright testy and issue a sterner proclamation: Hamas must go!
That should wrap up any concerns on Israel's part, so the dismantling can proceed.
December 17, 2010
Proud of Mel, on the Occasion of Winona's Denunciation
Aaron Worthing at Patterico's Pontifications recently wrote a post about an interview in GQ with Winona Ryder -- who is Jewish; who knew? -- in which she offhandedly charged that, "like, fifteen years ago," she was at a Hollywood party, where she met a drunken Mel Gibson... and that, when she mentioned her religion, he jokingly referred to Jews as "oven dodgers." (Ryder also claims that Gibson "made a really horrible gay joke" to her gay friend.)
We couple this with the iconic antisemitic rant another drunken Mel Gibson made -- rather, the same Gibson during a different debauchery -- while being arrested for DUI, and the pattern is fairly clear: In his heart, Gibson is a raging antisemite.
And as a USDA-certified non-religious Jew, that makes me very, very proud of him.
We pause briefly to allow readers to finish caroming around the room, flapping their arms like emperor penguins trying to take to the air.
Settled again? Good; I can explain what in blazes I mean very concisely...
We all have demons; no one but a saint is so free of evil that he hasn't even a single moral blindness, a single skeleton in his skull. On those issues, the beast screams to be released to rend and eviscerate someone who, while he may be irritating or offensive or even thuggish, doesn't actually deserve the level of irrational vitriol or violence that we feel, in those moments, like dishing out.
How many of you -- be honest -- had flashes of rage following the 9/11attacks that induced fantasies of flattening the entire Arab world with nuclear Armageddon?
But wait, think a second time: Should we really kill hundreds of millions of people, the vast, vast majority innocent of that act of war, out of sick revenge at what, at most, half a hundred people plotted and maybe fifteen or twenty thousand actively applauded? All but the mad among us quickly suppressed that first idea and swallowed our rage, choosing instead to do as George W. Bush said: Find the people who knocked those buildings down and kill them personally, or capture them and hold them indefinitely, crushing every scrap of usable, actionable intel out of them. (Or at the very least, if we couldn't keep silent about our general fury at Arabs and Moslems in general, we confined those ravings of universal slaughter to close friends who wouldn't broadcast our intemperance to the world at large.)
And who here has never, ever, ever been so enraged by some nitwit driver that he hasn't screamed out loud, in his car, that he was going to ram the son of a bachelor and drive his car into a telephone poll? Sure, we yell it... but if we retain our sanity, we don't actually do it.
Civilization is largely a voluntary act of mass repression; and that's a good thing. An awful lot of thoughts and desires we experience throughout a given day should be repressed, jammed down so deep we barely feel them except for a burr in the brain -- notwithstanding that stupid sixties philosophy of "let it all hang out" and "never repress what you feel."
Sometimes it takes a heroic effort to suppress saying or doing something that Seems Like a Good Idea at the Time™, but upon sober reflection would be a horrific and life-destroying indulgence. But that's one of the prices we pay for living in a society, surrounded by other people.
I'd say that the definition of a civilized human being is the ability to look past anger to a later time, when we will have calmed down, and imagine ourselves saying, "My God, what have I done? My life is ended!"... then to return to present time and not do it in the first place.
Those with the loudest demons have the greatest struggle; and quite evidently, Mel Gibson's demons are very loud and vile indeed. But the point is, when not in the madness of strong drink, he does manage to suppress them. He suppresses them so well that until that videotaped, besotted rant during his arrest, I daresay the vast majority of us had no idea he struggled with such internal Hell.
Some Gibson critics have tried to claim that his movie the Passion of the Christ was antisemitic; I believe they do so precisely because they realize that to condemn Gibson, they must show that he indulges his demon even when stone cold sober... as when he is writing and directing a movie.
Yet I watched that movie as a Jew (having been "primed" to believe it would be antisemitic); and while I was unmoved by the story, I certainly felt no stirrings of anxiety over religious persecution, as I did when watching Leni Riefenstahl's the Triumph of the Will, glorifying Adolf Hitler's 1934 Nuremberg rally.
In fact, in the twenty-one Gibson movies I've seen, including Passion and Apocalypto, both of which he only wrote and directed, I've never seen anything to indicate he was a deliberate Jew hater or "homophobe." Knowing as I now do how he must struggle against the irrational illnesses of racism and xenophobia, I am astonished at what a great job he does.
Gibon's conscious, intelligent mind realizes one of two things, the first more creditable than the second but both being acceptable marks of civilization:
- Either that his "feelings" are simply wrong, as feelings frequently are; and there is nothing inherently inferior about Jews, gays, or any other human, even if he believes that some of the things they do -- deny Christ, engage in the "abomination" of homosexual acts -- are sins. He may honestly believe he must hate the sin but love the sinner.
- Or at the very least, he must believe that he cannot live in this American society and express such loathing that is rejected by nearly everybody else here (Europe and the Orient are friendlier to Jew hatred); and Gibson must believe that the benefits of living in the United States outweigh any personal satisfaction he might derive from venting venom at Jews and gays. And that, as I said, is practically the definition of a civilized man.
I don't know which, but either way, Mel Gibson "gets it" -- when he's sober. And he doesn't seem to be a habitual drunkard; such incidents are few enough and far enough apart that they still shock us.
Of course Gibson still has a drinking problem; anytime someone allows himself to get so drunk that he cannot control his inner demons, he is a menace to himself, and what is infinitely worse, to the rest of society. But I feel as proud (as a fellow civilized human being) of his personal achievement as I would of a kleptomaniac who controls himself and does not steal, or a drug addict who steers clear of the needle, or a believing Catholic who is gay, yet who lives a celebate life so as not to commit what he believes to be sin. It must take a mental effort of mind-over-glands more monumental than most of us can imagine -- a true "triumph of the will" -- for Gibson to bottle his imp of rage and hate and cast it into the sea, even if it does occasionally come bobbing back ashore when he's in his cups.
By contrast, I have heard many and many a man or woman of the Left openly, brazenly, almost tauntingly fling antisemitic, anti-gay, and racist ideas and epithets into the maelstrom of his political and ideological madness without having touched a drop of "the creature" all day. Which, by the way, is practically a textbook definition of barbaric savagery.
Even as a Jew, who would you rather luncheon with: Mel Gibson? Or Special Assistant to President Barack H. Obama Samantha Power, head of the Office of Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights?
The defense rests.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
August 3, 2010
Calling Madam Tussaud's
I read the headline --
"Helen Thomas may get statue in museum"
...And my first thought was, one more reason to steer clear of the wax museum's Chamber of Horrors!
Then I read on and discovered it was even worse, much worse -- but oh, so much more appropriate! -- than I originally envisioned:
Ahead of her 90th birthday, veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas, who resigned following her offensive remarks against Israel, may be getting a statue in her honor at the Arab American National Museum in Michigan....
But Thomas' remarks that Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home" to Poland and Germany, which abruptly ended her 67-year-career, are not helping the cause.
Or perhaps they are?
The real question is why the Arab American National Museum in Michigan wants to honor a woman who believes Israel is "occupied territory" and should commit national suicide, with all those dastardly Jews packing up and going back to Europe, where (she evidently believes) they all came from -- Jews never having lived in the Middle East until the nineteenth century Zionist invasion, as every Islamist knows by heart.
Of course, "Palestine" is, in fact, occupied territory... long before modern Israel existed, and quite a few times over:
- It was occupied by the British at the end of World War I, 1918.
- The Brits took it away from the Ottoman Empire, which occupied that land by defeating the Mamluks, of both Persian and Turkish ethnicity, in 1517.
- The Mamluks had got it away from the Ayyubid dynasty of Saladin in 1250; for the three-year period of 1244-1247, "Palestine" had been first sacked, then occupied by the fierce, Russian Tatars; but that doesn't really count, having been only three years.
- Saladin, a Persian Kurd, himself had wrested it away from the crusaders in 1187.
- Prior to that, the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem had lasted for 88 years, from the success of the First Crusade in 1099.
- The only time Arabs ruled "Palestine" was from 638, six years after the death of Mohammed, until the crusaders wrested it back to the West.
- Prior to the Arab conquest, the land was subject to a relentless tug-o-war between the Byzantine Empire (the Eastern Roman Empire) and pre-Islamic Persian Sassanids.
- The Roman Empire (first unified, then the eastern, Byzantine branch) ruled over that land from about 63 BC, following the invasion of Pompey.
- Before the Romans, the ethnically Greek Seleucid Empire ruled "Palestine" from 134 BC to 63 BC.
- The Seleucids took it back from the Maccabees, a Jewish dynasty that had wrested their homeland away from the Seleucids back in 168 BC.
- Before the brief interregnum of the Maccabees, the Seleucids had run the 'hood since taking it away from the Ptolemaic Greeks in 198 BC.
- The Ptolemys, who had conquered Egypt and ruled from there, controlled "Palestine" from sometime in the 300s BC, following the breakup of the empire of Alexander the Great.
- Before Alexander, it was the Persians again; they seized it from the Babylonians in 538 BC.
- Babylon had taken it from the Assyrians in 586 BC.
- And the Assyrians conquered the Kingdom of Israel in 722 BC.
- From 1020 BC up to 722, it was the Hebrew Kingdom of Israel -- Jews didn't become "Jews" until they returned from the Babylonian exile in 538 BC -- originally unified, but split in 930 BC. However, Hebrew tribes certainly controlled that land for centuries before 1020 BC.
I'm not sure at what point so-called Palestinians are supposed to have controlled what is now Israel; possibly they're referring to the 461 years from AD 638 to 1099, when the land was under Arab (not "Palestinian") rule. But it's rather self-serving that modern-day Palestinians pick that one period of control out of two or three thousand years of conquest, and try to leverage it into modern-day land ownership.
It's just that old devil of Islamic supremacism and "sacred space": Any land once occupied by the Umma, no matter how long or how short a time, remains forever part of the Umma; and whoever seemingly owns it today must vacate immediately and make room for the "return" of the World Caliphate... evidently a doctrine supported and espoused by the Motown Shrew herself.
We seem to have wandered far afield, into a concise concatenation of conquest of one tiny corner of the globe. Back to Helen "Harpy" Thomas and her wandering mouth, and why the Arab American National Museum is so keen on having her likeness grace, if that is the word I want, their illustrious museum -- if illustrious is the word I want. My deep suspicion is that... well, just what prominent Michigan Jew Richard Nodel suggests:
Despite the difficulties in raising funds, unexpected support [?] of the initiative came from President of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit Richard Nodel, who expressed "hope that the support for this memorial is there despite her anti-Israel and anti-Semitic views and not because of them."
Two quick observations:
- First, unless there's more to that Nodel quotation than meets the screen, I would hardly call it "support" for the termagant.
- And second, I believe Nodel put his nail on it: I believe Thomas is being honored precisely because of that statement and a slew of other similar ones that preceded it.
The Arab American National Museum honors Helen the Harridan for being an outspoken and usually unabashed Jew hater... a fact that the so-called mainstream media must have known for decades, yet which never deterred them from dubbing her "Doyenne of the White House press corps."
If true, that is deeply sad -- and goes a long way towards explaining, in Professor Bernard Lewis' immortal phrase, "what went wrong" with the Islam and the Islamic culture. At some point during the Middle Ages, I believe, perhaps in response to its humiliating defeat at the hands of crusading Christians, the religion of Submission became utterly defined not by what it loves -- but by who it hates. And by now, that list includes nigh everyone, including most of those who call themselves Moslems.
It's not for tendentious reasons that Dore Gold chose to call his book about Saudi Arabia Hatred's Kingdom; and that is likewise a good, functional description of the jackal's share of the Umma itself.
June 20, 2010
Obamic Shocker of the Day: U.S. Ships Sent Through Suez Canal, Evidently to Aid Israel Against Iranian Flotilla
Egypt has allowed a mini-fleet of twelve warships -- eleven American and one Israeli -- to pass south through the Suez Canal, transitioning from the U.S. Navy's Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea. The fleet includes the U.S.S. Harry S. Truman, a Nimitz class supercarrier with 90 aircraft, both fixed-wing and helos.
The Suez Canal cuts through Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean to the Red Sea
The only viable route for the Iranian flotilla is down the Persian Gulf, southwest around Oman and Yemen, up the Red Sea, and north through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean; thus the U.S./Israel fleet is forward-positioning itself in between the Iranian ships and the canal:
International agreements require Egypt to keep the Suez open even for warships, but the armada, led by the USS Truman with 5,000 sailors and marines, was the largest in years. Egypt closed the canal to fishing and other boats as the armada moved through the strategic passageway that connects the Red and Mediterranean Seas.
Despite Egypt’s reported refusal to block the canal to Iranian boats, the clearance for the American-Israeli fleet may be a warning to Iran it may face military opposition if the Iranian Red Crescent ship continues on course to Gaza.
I'm somewhat amazed that Barack H. Obama has evidently decided to side with the Israelis against the Iranians; but certainly it's a welcome shift. Although a shooting war is unlikely, the Israeli and American ships could board the Iranian vessels and search them. One hopes that this time, they won't bring paintball guns to a bludgeon fight.
In another strike obviously orchestrated by Iran, one or two Lebanese vessels have set out to attempt to break the Israeli blockade; the ships are doubtless controlled by Hezbollah, Iran's pet terrorist organization that also infests Syria, and through them Lebanon -- though of course Lebanon denies there are any Hezbollah aboard:
Israel has warned U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that Israel will use force, if necessary, to stop the boats, one of which is carrying approximately 70 women passengers and crew organized by Hizbullah support Samar al-Hajj. Her husband is one of several jailed suspects involved in the assassination for former Lebanese anti-Syrian Prime Rafik Hariri.
Hizbullah has denied it is connected with the Lebanese flotilla, but it has been reported that Al Hajj met with Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah last month.
As Matt Drudge likes to say, "developing..."
June 7, 2010
Bring It On, Mullah-Boy
Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards are ready to provide a military escort to cargo ships trying to break Israel's blockade of Gaza, a representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Sunday.
"Iran's Revolutionary Guards naval forces are fully prepared to escort the peace and freedom convoys to Gaza with all their powers and capabilities," Ali Shirazi, Khamenei's representative inside the Revolutionary Guards, was quoted as saying by the semi-official Mehr news agency.
John Hinderaker noted that, "[t]he prospect of a Revolutionary Guards escort tells you all you need to know about the "peace and freedom convoys." But I think we can go farther than that: If the Iranian Revolutionary Guard navy carries through on its threat, it would be the most catastrophic military blunder in the Middle East since Saddam Hussein's defiance.
At the moment, the Islamists in Turkey and Iran are squeezing some bad PR out of Israel by encouraging terrorists and their allies to send "peaceful" convoys of "peace activists" to break the Gaza blockade... in reality, to provoke some intemperate Israeli response to add another whiney complaint to the EU/U.N. grievance parade. It annoys Israel and could lead to some serious problems if, for example, Egypt decides to lift its side of the blockade along the Egypt-Gaza border.
But the bad PR depends upon the half-believable fantasty that Israel uses "disproportionate force" in attacking pacifist priests, politicians, and imams. While the videotape of the enforcement of the blockade belies this fiction, the left-stream media can always ignore the feed and tendentiously redefine reality:
Last Monday Israeli troops killed nine activists on board one ship in a convoy trying to deliver aid to Gaza, sparking international outrage, especially in Muslim countries.
But if the Iranian navy itself tries to run the blockade, guns blazing and missiles flying, that turns the entire world-view upside-down: No longer will it be a case of Israel the bully slaughtering a bunch of non-violent "peace activists;" now it will clearly be a brazen military attack by Iran upon another country, hundreds of miles away. Not even the Times could spin that as Israel again responding with "disproportionate force!"
But that's not all; consider the assault itself. Iran's last significant military encounter was the Iran-Iraq war -- which ended in stalemate a generation ago. Millions were immolated in both Iran and Iraq to no strategic purpose whatsoever; both countries still struggle to recover. Since 1988, Iran's primary military activity has been infiltration of the Qods Force here and there (mostly in Iraq) and financing terrorism by Hamas, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and of course Hezbollah.
Contrariwise, Israel has fought actual wars several times since then, primarily in Lebanon and Gaza; that's a lot of recent combat experience. Too, Israel's economy is in better shape than Iran's, which is almost entirely state-run.
I'm fairly certain that in a real shooting war so close to Israel, the Israeli navy and air force would swiftly send the Iranian fleet to Ali Jones' locker.
Such a defeat would shatter Iran's claim to be the "strong horse" in the Middle East. If the world gets a lucky break, the international embarassment of the almighty ayatollahs might foment uprisings against them, perhaps even the overthrow of the "revolutionary," theocratic government -- a faint hope, I'll grant, but pleasant to contemplate.
And the likely scenario just keeps getting better and better: In addition to the humiliation of Iran, Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's hand would be dramatically strengthened at home and abroad:
- A direct attack by Iran upon the Israeli fleet would drive even the putative peaceniks in Israel to support Likud's strong defense policy, and away from the usual paeans for the "peace process." Support for the Israeli Labor and Kadima parties would plummet, and Likud might control the Knesset for a generation.
- Supporters of the Palestinians, the Islamist Turks, and Iran would be emasculated, either by the attack itself -- proving that the "peace activists" were either dupes or the original aggressors -- or at the very least by the mortifying defeat of the Revolutionary Guard fleet at the hands of a bunch of Israelis. The strong horse/weak horse dynamic of Arabia and Persia would drive them to pull back in disarray, curbing imperial dreams for a long time.
I believe war between Israel and Iran is inevitable anyway; it's best to bring it on now, prematurely for the Iranians, rather than hold off and wait until Iran's economy improves and it becomes a full-fledged nuclear power.
So go ahead, Mullah-Boy; send your fleet to try to crack the Israeli blockade. It would be the best possible move you could make... for Israel, the United States, and the rest of the West, that is.
June 1, 2010
The Shape of Stings to Come
AP just can't bring itself to refer to either Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad as a terrorist organization. It's an open question, mustn't prejudge!
The strongest that the Associated Press can muster is to refer to Hamas "militants" and "fighters" from PIJ. And of course, the "news" agency uncritically repeats claims by Islamist Moslem nations and traditional Israel-haters in France that the Israelis violated "international law" with their "massacre" of innocents in the flotilla of "peace activists":
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [of Turkey], an outspoken critic of Israel, told lawmakers Tuesday that the Israeli raid was an attack "on international law, the conscience of humanity and world peace."
"This bloody massacre by Israel on ships that were taking humanitarian aid to Gaza deserves every kind of curse," he said, demanding that Israel immediately halt its "inhumane" blockade of Gaza.
Turkey demanded that the U.S. condemn the raid. The White House has reacted cautiously, calling for disclosure of all the facts.
Timidly would be the better word.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council voted to condemn the unspecified "use of force" and violent "acts;" the United States has veto authority within the Security Council, but the Barack H. Obama administration refused to exercise that right, instead pushing only for a wishy-washy, "on the one hand, on the other hand" statement that found guilt without deciding which side was guilty, or in what proportions:
“The Security Council deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries resulting from the use of force during the Israeli military operation in international waters against the convoy sailing to Gaza,” the statement said, adding that the 15-member body “in this context, condemns those acts which resulted in the loss” of lives.
The wording seemed designed to dilute demands for condemnation exclusively of Israel, which argues that its soldiers acted in self-defense in response to violent resistance to their interception of the vessels from passengers on board.
Unwilling to let the crisis go to waste, the Security Council also demanded -- with American acquiescence, probably passive -- that Israel essentially lift the blockade and allow the "sustained and regular flow of goods and people to Gaza":
“The Security Council requests the immediate release of the ships as well as the civilians held by Israel,” the United Nations statement said, calling for “a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards.”
It also said the situation in Gaza, under blockade by Israel, was “not sustainable” and called for a “sustained and regular flow of goods and people to Gaza, as well as unimpeded provision and distribution of humanitarian assistance throughout Gaza.”
On the broader Palestinian-Israeli confrontation, the Security Council renewed calls for a two-state solution and voiced concern that the raid on the flotilla took place while United States-sponsored so-called “proximity talks” were under way.
Presumably, the Israelis should allow any number of ships to pass directly to Gaza "unimpeded" for however long it takes for our "proximity talks" to bring about the desired "two-state solution." That is, so long as the Palestinians remain intransigent, Israel should not be allowed to defend itself; as soon as the Palestinians come to their senses and stop trying to exterminate all Jews, then Israel will be allowed to enforce its (then-unnecessary) blockade.
It's a position that makes perfect sense in the Era of Obamunism!
Two significant events occurred today: First, Egypt unexpectedly decided to lift its own land blockade of the border crossings between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, at least for a few days, allowing virtually unfettered movement of men and materials back and forth; there is no indication the Egyptian security officials are even making sure Iranian missiles are kept out of Gaza. They claim this is for humanitarian purposes, but I think it clear it's really designed to punish Israel.
Second, the peace activists of the religion of peace sent out another boat to try to run the blockade. Their plan should be clear by now:
- Three or four more "unarmed" vessels full of peaceniks (recreationally chanting "kill the Jews") will assail the blockade.
- Each attempt will provoke more "violence," other "massacres," more "raids." (And since when does enforcing a publicly announced blockade constitute a raid?)
- Every such use of "disproportionate force" will ratchet up world demand for an end to the blockade.
- Eventually (this part is mere wishful thinking on the part of Hamas and its sponsor, Iran -- I hope!) Israel will be forced by mounting world fury to withdraw its sea-based defense.
- Once that happens -- the next humanitarian aid ship to Gaza will transport thousands of advanced Scud missiles, the same type that Iran and Syria have been openly shipping to Hezbollah in recent months.
- Then all of Israel, including every major Israeli city, will fall within range of Hezbollah or Hamas missile attacks.
The U.N. should be pleased if Israel no longer commands disproportionate force but is matched by exterminationist terrorist organizations -- pardon me, I meant "militant" groups of "fighters." The endless series of complaints against Israel will have achieved their ultimate aim; when the inevitable, Iran-led, fourth holy war begins, no country will dare stand up for the Jews... lest Iran decide to seal off the Strait of Hormuz, blockading much of the world's oil.
Say -- perhaps StratFor's traditional conclusion that "doom is nigh" will turn out to be accurate after all!
Thank goodness we have such a strong Commander in Chief, such a great admirer of Israel; otherwise, we might have to worry that America may no longer exercise its veto authority in the UNSC to protect the Jewish state -- and might even join the world-wide movement to force Israel into a suicide-pact "peace treaty" with next-door neighbors who want nothing more than the obliteration of world Jewry and will not even take the most basic step of renouncing terrorism and jihad against Israel. We might pressure our beleagured, erstwhile ally into the existential error of "a treaty at any cost."
But I'm sure we can rely upon the strength of character and excellent primal instincts of President Barack Hussein Obama II to rescue us from such a fate. He saved us from health care, didn't he?
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
February 25, 2010
Why the Rush to Blame Mossad - Other Than Anti-Israel Paranoia?
The world still roils over the assassination of Hamas senior commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai; perhaps a better word would be "hyperventilates":
Last week, Israel's ambassador to Britain was called in for an official reprimand by the Foreign Office. In Dubai, Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim, the chief of police for the emirate, has said he is "99 percent" sure that operatives of the Israeli spy agency, Mossad, killed Mr. al-Mabhouh.
But I still haven't seen a single shred of evidence that Mossad, Israel's premier agency for intelligence, covert ops, and counter-terrorism, was behind the bizarre scheme... and several tantalizing bits indicating that they weren't:
- In general, the hit job was too elaborate, too complex, too Byzantine. Gas? Guns? Electrocutions? This is silly.
- The 26-member hit squad was far too large for the job; that scrum was almost guaranteed to be found out!
- The killers were clumsy enough to be caught on surveillance video, which seems very unlike the highly professional Mossad.
- They stole the identities of real Israeli citizens. Far from pointing the finger at Mossad, I believe this curious fact points firmly away from that agency; why would they intentionally implicate their own citizens?
And a new piece of intel I'd not seen until today: According to Dubai intelligence, one of the best in the Middle East, two of the assassins chose a peculiar refuge to flee after the hit:Nonetheless, some details have emerged that do not track with traditional Israeli intelligence tradecraft. The Dubai authorities this week said two of the operatives fled to Iran.
Let's do a little detecting. We need a suspect group that (a) kills Hamas members; (b) doesn't mind implicating Israel; and (c) has some sort of affinity with Iran. Hm... that's a toughie; unless, just possibly, the hit was actually carried out by Hezbollah.
- Hezbollah is fighting Hamas for control of Gaza and the West Bank; they have ample reason to want to assassinate al-Mabhouh.
- Hezbollah takes its cue from Iran, and no country on Earth hates Israel more than Iran. Killing al-Mabhouh -- and ensuring that Israel would get the blame in the international community, which is always eager to blame the Jews for everything bad in the world, anyway -- would send a tingle down Hassan Nasrallah's leg.
- Hezbollah is Iran's private terrorist group, which they send out to other countries and regions, notably Syria and the Palestinian Authority, to enforce Iran's will. It makes perfect sense for Hezbollah assassins to flee to Iran for sanctuary.
To my thoughts, all signs point to Hezbollah, not Mossad, as the author of this plot. It seems that even the Devil can do a good deed now and again, albeit for his own nefarious reasons.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
October 17, 2009
General Jones Flipped Here
Consider this post an addendum to our last, Gen. Jones Scoffs at Afghanistan "Surge" - Just Like Failed Iraq "Surge!".
Scott Johnson at Power Line points us to a Michael Goldfarb post on the Weekly Standard blog revealing an astonishing decision by our ancient enemy, President Barack H. Obama's National Security Advisor, Gen. Jim Jones.
As a tiny handful of you may recall, towards the end of our previous post, we noted a disturbing tendency of the top brass in all branches of the military; this trend may become determinative in Jones' final decision whether to support or oppose the recommendation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal that we switch to a counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy in Afghanistan, which would require adding 40,000 troops. We wrote:
It's not clear whether Jones is himself an anti-war leftist, but it's not uncommon for top generals to drift left as they progress up the heirarchy. It often seems that the bigger the command, the more the commandant "grows in office;" cf. Eric Shinseki, Anthony Zinni, and of course the ultimate recent example, Colin Powell. It's not hard to explain; at the highest levels of command, a general or admiral is less like a military leader and more like a cabinet secretary. Those who head up gargantuan bureaucracies tend to believe in big-bureaucracy solutions to all problems... witness Powell insisting that we could not depose Saddam Hussein without a buildup of half a million troops.
Powell must have known that was impossible; thus, had his advice been accepted, we could not have invaded Iraq at all -- which would have suited Powell (and Shinseki and Zinni, and probably Jones) just fine.
Then we asked and partially answered the critical question:
Does that make such a general a leftist? In the limited sense of having a more Eurocentric (or even more European) viewpoint, yes it does. The reason that European armies typically refuse to fight is that they can't risk their soldiers' lives on anything smaller than the tank battles of the North-Africa campaign. This fits well with the so-called Powell Doctrine: Never send troops unless it's worth refighting World War II... which of course it never seems to be.
In addition to the other strands of evidence we presented, we now have a new piece of the puzzle, via the Weekly Standard blogpost linked above.
There exists a group that calls itself "J Street;" J Street claims to be pro-peace and pro-Israel but is easily demonstrated to be just the opposite: It's pro-Palestinian and very, very anti-Israel, to the point of being antisemitic, in my opinion -- notwithstanding the fact that most members are ethnically Jewish and many are religious Jews as well.
(How can that be? In my worldview, one kind of antisemitism is to insist that of all the peoples in the world, only the Jews have no right to a homeland and must remain nervous, barely tolerated guests in other people's countries. This definition holds no matter the cultural or religious affiliation of the bigot doing the insisting. There are self-hating Jews, just as there are self-hating blacks, gays, and conservatives.)
As Power Line reported, J Street is holding its first annual feast and gabfest soon, and a great many Democratic senators and representatives have signed aboard as "hosts." Alas, so did a couple of Republicans; but it was clear from the outset that many of these sponsors, even many of the Democrats, were fooled by the seemingly pro-Israel rhetoric of J Street: These hosts weren't Israel or Jew haters; they were just useful idiots.
In the last few days, as word hit the street about J Street, their "Gala Dinner" has been shedding sponsors like my old Alaskan Husky used to shed fleas. From the Weekly Standard blogpost:
The anti-Israel organization J Street has been hemorraghing sponsors for its conference as Senators and Congressmen learned of its true agenda. Just in the last few hours, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Reps. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Leonard Boswell (D-IA), have asked to have their names removed from the host committee. [Sen. Thad Cochran, R-MS, 68%, demanded yesterday that J Street withdraw his name as well. -- DaH]
And then comes the kicker, which is the point of this post that you are reading now...
So J Street has played its hole card: Obama national security advisor Jim Jones has accepted an invitation to participate.
And we now have not just a squabble over J Street. We now have a "teachable moment" about the Obama White House.
To tote up some of the positions of J Street, I must combine information dug up by Michael Goldfarb, Paul Mirengoff, and Scott Johnson:
- Avrum Burg, former speaker of Israel's Knesset (parliament), is closely associated with J Street; he declared that "to define the State of Israel as a Jewish state is the key to its end," then went on to compare Israel to "pre-Nazi Germany."
- Prominent J Street member Henry Siegman compared Israel to South Africa under apartheid; he also appears to support the Walt and Mearsheimer conspiracy theory about a "Jewish lobby" that controls the American government (search on Power Line for many posts about this offensive and antisemitic absurdity -- enthusiastically and monetarily endorsed by Israel's great friend, former President Jimmy Carter);
- J Street receives much of its funding from Arab-American and Moslem-American organizations, as well as from Palestinian and Iranian lobbying groups;
- J Street is "bitterly hostile to the democratically-elected government of Israel" (especially now, under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu);
- Another luminary invited to speak at the Gala Dinner is "poet" Josh Healey, who suggests that Israel is at least metaphorically "writing numbers on the wrists of babies born in the ghetto called Gaza," yet another equation of Israel to the Nazis; Healy extols a march he joined for "Palestinian solidarity."
With the notable exception of the Obamacle's high priest, Chief of Staff Rahm Israel Emanuel (yes that's his full name), the most consistently leftist members of Obama's cabinet and administration have adopted anti-Israelism as a core element of their leftist foreign policy: That is, they blame Israel, not Iran, for nearly all the violence in the Middle East and demand "concessions" that would, in fact, be an Israeli suicide pact.
Gen. Jones eagerness to participate in the Gala Dinner of such a group as J Street is a very strong indicator that, at least with regard to foreign policy, he is indeed a leftist, aligning himself much more with antisemites Samantha Power, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Jimmy Carter than with Israel supporters like Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT, 85% liberal) or Charles "Chuck" Schumer (D-NY, 100%).
Is it too hard to believe that if Jones is in bed with Power -- policywise, I mean; get your rmind out of the gutter! -- on the demonization of Israel, that he's likely to agree with her position, and that of the others in Obama's leftist bloc (including the One Himself), on Afghanistan?
Asked and answered.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
October 14, 2009
Su Gaza es Mi Gaza
In a new wrinkle -- at least, I haven't heard of it before -- several European and Moslem countries are attempting to use the "universal jurisdiction" clause of so-called international law to arrest top Israeli government officials who unwisely travel in Europe or the Middle East.
On what charge? Why, for "targeting civilians" in the Gaza war of last December and January -- as claimed in the thoroughly biased (to the point of being antisemitic) Goldstone Report, commissioned by the U.N. Human Rights Council:
One of the report's recommendations is that countries that have signed the Geneva Conventions "start criminal investigations in national courts, using universal jurisdiction, where there is sufficient evidence of the commission of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Where so warranted following investigation, alleged perpetrators should be arrested and prosecuted in accordance with internationally recognized standards of justice."
This concept was tested last month when 16 Palestinians in Britain asked a London court to issue an arrest warrant for Ehud Barak, the Israeli defense minister who also served in that position during the Gaza war in December and January. Deputy District Judge Daphne Wickham ruled that Mr. Barak had diplomatic immunity.
Nevertheless, Mr. Ya'alon last month "decided not to go to Britain because he learned that there was an attempt in the United Kingdom to try to press charges against him for war crimes following the attempt with Defense Minister Ehud Barak a week earlier," Mr. Peled said.
The practical upshot of such prosecutions is to criminalize self-defense -- but only when practiced by Israel, not when practiced by any other country, no matter how brutal, how violent, or how steeped in depraved indifference to human life (or death). The members of the United Nations Human Rights Council can be found here; not a single friend of Israel in the bunch but more than a few vicious enemies -- including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, China, and Russia -- along with several rogue states, including Chile, Cuba, Nicaragua, Angola, and Pakistan.
If the only Jewish state in the world is singled out for a special denial of the right of self-defense, this is antisemitic by definition... no matter what the religion of Richard Goldstone.
This is the sort of nuttery that arises from the grotesque concept of "universal jurisdiction," by which an ordinary person can simply walk into court in Spain or the United Kingdome or many other venues -- and charge some other person halfway 'round the globe with "human-rights" violations committed against someone else!
That's like a court in Vermont issuing an arrest warrant for some guy in California, charging him with turning back the odometer on a car he sold to some other California resident. The insanity boggles the mind.
According to the Washington Times story linked above, the U.N. Security Council is supposed to meet Wednesday to "discuss the [Goldstone] report." If President Barack H. Obama does not instruct our ambassador to the U.N. to firmly and unequivocally support Israel's right to self defense, then that will be the clearest signal yet that the One plots to throw the entire nation of Israel under the bullet-riddled Obamnibus.
June 8, 2009
His Master's Voice
When speaketh the man to whom Barack H. Obama prostrated himself the first time they met, does the president listen? Worse -- does he obey?
In the most recent demonstration of the respect and deference the rest of the world displays for the One They Have Been Laughing At, the King of Saudi Arabia has laid down the law to BO:
King Abdullah told Obama during his visit to Riyadh last week that Arab patience was wearing thin and that a solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict would be the "magic key" to all issues in the region, al-Hayat said, quoting what it called informed sources.
"We want from you a serious participation to solve the Palestinian issue and impose the solution if necessary," the Saudi monarch told Obama, according to the paper, which is owned by a nephew of the monarch. It did not elaborate.
It didn't need to; it's patently obvious that Abdullah refers to the "peace plan" enunciated by Saudi Arabia seven years ago, when Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud was king, and half-brother Abdullah (bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud) a mere princeling.
The plan is brutally simple: The Palestinians get everything they (and the Arab states) want -- a return to the pre-1967 border, full recognition of a contiguous Palestinian state comprising the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (necessitating cutting Israel in twain, of course), complete control of East Jerusalem (including the Temple Mount), the retreat of Israel's capital from Jerusalem back to Tel Aviv, and of course the right of "return" for millions of radicalized Moslems -- who have lived their entire lives in so-called "refugee" camps outside Israel, as did their fathers and grandfathers before them.
In fair exchange, Israel gets grudging recognition as a state, though not a Jewish state -- for ten full years, if Fatah can be believed. Which they can't.
King Abdullah explained exactly why Obama should stick a shiv into our most reliable ally in the Middle East, one of only two democracies in the region (the other is the one we created in Iraq): "We (Arabs) want to devote our time... to build a generation capable of confronting the future with science and work."
Well! Who can argue with that? Clearly, Israel deleda est.
This is yet another test for a president who hasn't a very good track record on such examinations: After Abdullah witnessed -- to his evident startlement -- Barack Obama bowing deeply at the waist upon meeting the real-sounding but fabricated monarch of a manufactured country of nomadic goat herders, whose chief export after petroleum products is probably animal hides, the king could be excused for thinking we had a patsy for president. The question is whether Mr. Abdullah is right.
So far there has been no response from the White House to the abrupt order issued to our president by the "king" of Saudi Arabia. If the administration means to snub the man (and they should), it needs to do so explicitly, publicly -- and posthaste. The longer it and Obama himself hesitate, the more uncertain, nervous, rattled, and agitated they appear... so much the worse for the country.
Tick tick tick tick...
May 7, 2009
Jew Hatred and Other EuroLeft In-Jokes
I cannot more strongly urge everyone to read Mark Steyn's piece Israel Today, the West Tomorrow. A few snippets:
"Israel is unfashionable," a Continental foreign minister said to me a decade back. "But maybe Israel will change, and then fashions will change." Fashions do change. But however Israel changes, this fashion won’t. The shift of most (non-American) Western opinion against the Jewish state that began in the 1970s was, as my Continental politician had it, simply a reflection of casting: Israel was no longer the underdog but the overdog, and why would that appeal to a post-war polytechnic Euro Left unburdened by Holocaust guilt?
Fair enough. Fashions change. But the new Judenhass is not a fashion, simply a stark reality that will metastasize in the years ahead and leave Israel isolated in the international "community" in ways that will make the first decade of this century seem like the good old days.
The problem is not simply European boredom with Holocaust haranguing but a combination of three trends:
- The demographic expansion of the Arab and Moslem populations, coupled with the decline of the population of (Old World) Christendom. (Christendom is expanding in Latin America, Asia, and Africa; but so far, they have not entered the lists in the battle of civilizations.)
- The aggressive expansion of radical, militant Islamism -- whether of the Salafist, Wahhabist Sunni variety or the Iranian-controlled Qom Shia flavor: Recently, both strains of terrorism-wielding militancy have allied in a war against the "Dar al-Harb," or "House of War" (also called Dar al-Garb, House of the West)... meaning any country that is not run as a sharia state; Shiite Iran now controls Sunni Hamas, for an example of such ecumenicalism.
- The recent suicidal alliance between the atheist, intellectual Left and radical Islamism: The former seem to believe that they can temporarily team up with the Moslem militants to overthrow democracy, Capitalism, and Christendom (and Judaism); then they'll quickly brush the mullahs and caliphs aside, so that the New Marxism -- that is, liberal fascism -- can reign supreme.
The reality of point 3 above, of course, is that the opposite will happen: It is the Islamists who will fall upon their secularist "allies" and rend them to pieces, leaving only the former to reign over the ruins. The Left, especially the EuroLeft, whose "intellectual" ideology still rules the roost over Chinese and Latin American strains, is in fact intellectually bankrupt and enervated. All the passion, energy, and revolutionary fervor comes from the Moslem militants (hence the name).
Back to Steyn... who is, in case you've forgotten in all the excitement, the actual subject of this post...
Brussels has a Socialist mayor, which isn’t that surprising, but he presides over a caucus a majority of whose members are Muslim, which might yet surprise those who think we’re dealing with some slow, gradual, way-off-in-the-future process here. But so goes Christendom at the dawn of the third millennium: the ruling party of the capital city of the European Union is mostly Muslim.
I find this astonishing; not because I was unaware of the trend, but just as Steyn anticipates, because I had no idea we were so far along the trendline. This goes beyond "disturbing" to "time to push the Panic Button." But there's more to come:
One Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago, a group wearing "BOYCOTT ISRAEL" T-shirts entered a French branch of Carrefour, the world’s largest supermarket chain, and announced themselves. They then systematically advanced down every aisle examining every product, seizing all the items made in Israel and piling them into carts to take away and destroy. Judging from the video they made, the protesters were mostly Muslim immigrants and a few French leftists. But more relevant was the passivity of everyone else in the store, both staff and shoppers, all of whom stood idly by as private property was ransacked and smashed, and many of whom when invited to comment expressed support for the destruction. "South Africa started to shake once all countries started to boycott their products," one elderly lady customer said. "So what you’re doing, I find it good."
Others may find Germany in the ‘30s the more instructive comparison. "It isn’t silent majorities that drive things, but vocal minorities," the Canadian public intellectual George Jonas recently wrote. "Don’t count heads; count decibels. All entities -- the United States, the Western world, the Arab street -- have prevailing moods, and it’s prevailing moods that define aggregates at any given time." Last December, in a well-planned attack on iconic Bombay landmarks symbolizing power and wealth, Pakistani terrorists nevertheless found time to divert one-fifth of their manpower to torturing and killing a handful of obscure Jews helping the city’s poor in a nondescript building. If this was a territorial dispute over Kashmir, why kill the only rabbi in Bombay? Because Pakistani Islam has been in effect Arabized. Demographically, in Europe and elsewhere, Islam has the numbers. But ideologically, radical Islam has the decibels -- in Turkey, in the Balkans, in Western Europe.
How long before Europe's liberal-fascist rulers seize upon such "boycotts" as government policy, to placate (appease) the rampaging "Asian youths" in their cities -- and to distract the rest of their population away from the EuroLeft's own abysmal economic, social, and police failures? How long before the "boycott" extends from Israel to "unregistered Israeli agents"... that is, Jews? Please pardon me if I don't have much faith in the ability (or willingness) of leftist intellectuals to take the high road, and not blame some convenient minority group for all of the Left's incompetencies.
(Note the sarcasm-quotes around boycott. A real boycott is voluntary: Charles Parnell did not force anyone to shun landlord Charles C. Boycott. But these Carrefour rioters, which is what they actually are, prevent other people from buying Israeli products.)
I think I can only quote one more passage and remain within the "fair use" exemption to copyright infringement, so I shall choose carefully. Consider this; Steyn postulates :
So it will go. British, European, and even American troops will withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan, and a bomb will go off in Madrid or Hamburg or Manchester, and there will be nothing left to blame except Israeli "disproportion." For the remnants of European Jewry, the already discernible migration of French Jews to Quebec, Florida, and elsewhere will accelerate. There are about 150,000 Jews in London today -- it’s the thirteenth biggest Jewish city in the world. But there are approximately one million Muslims. The highest number of Jews is found in the 50-54 age group; the highest number of Muslims are found in the four-years-and-under category. By 2025, there will be Jews in Israel, and Jews in America, but not in many other places. Even as the legitimacy of a Jewish state is rejected, the Jewish diaspora -- the Jewish presence in the wider world -- will shrivel.
And then, to modify Richard Ingrams, who will dare not to damn Israel? There’ll still be a Holocaust Memorial Day, mainly for the pleasures it affords to chastise the new Nazis. As Anthony Lipmann, the Anglican son of an Auschwitz survivor, wrote in 2005: “When on 27 January I take my mother’s arm -- tattoo number A-25466 -- I will think not just of the crematoria and the cattle trucks but of Darfur, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Jenin, Fallujah.” Jenin?
Jenin, you will all recall, is the fake massacre that many accused Israeli forces (without a shred of evidence) of committing in April 2002, during an incursion into the West Bank called Operation Defensive Shield. Despite wild allegations that Israeli Defense Force (IDF) soldiers wantonly slaughtered civilians and machine-gunned prisoners, bulldozed houses and entire apartment buildings with families inside, and tied Palestinians to the front of Israeli tanks as human shields (!), subsequent investigations by the United Nations and even Israel-hating Amnesty International debunked all the claims except two:
- There was indeed a battle in Jenin; but it was between the IDF on the one hand and Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Yassir Arafat's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades on the other. Nearly everyone killed on both sides during the Battle of Jenin (and in the larger operation) was an armed soldier or militant.
- When Israel took control of Jenin, they followed their longstanding and pretty effective policy of bulldozing houses of the families of suicide bombers -- but specifically, only those houses that had been granted to those families by the PLO or Fatah or Hamas (depending on the era) as a reward for the suicide bombing (eras may go and come, but Jew hatred abides).
Palestinian "leaders" hope to encourage even more suicide bombings, as sons kill themselves so that their fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters can live in a nice house that otherwise the bomber could never afford. By bulldozing such houses, Israel removes that incentive. Amnesty International, however, considers any bulldozing of "civilian" housing to be a "war crime," no matter the provenance of said house.
War crime it may be, in the technical sense. But to lump Jenin in with the real genocides in Darfur and Rwanda is utter madness, especially for a man whose mother is a Jewish Holocaust survivor. Perhaps when the sharia court comes to hang Mr. Lippman, he will lend them the rope, in an effort to show his "interfaith multiculturalism."
Israel is vitally important to the West not only because it's the Jewish homeland, not only because it's one of only two democracies in the Middle East (the other being the rather recently democratized nation of Iraq), but because Israel is a bellwether, the "canary in a coal mine" that previews what is to come for the rest of the non-Moslem world. As Israel goes, so goeth Dar al-Harb.
Israel is going -- going under for the second time, though not yet the third. An increasing portion of the world sees Israel as the greatest threat to world peace... not because anyone expects Israel to attack Antwerp or Brussels, but rather because the very existence of Israel so enrages Dar al-Islam (the "House of Peace") that they can think of nothing but war and bloody human sacrifice.
The non-American world (plus the Barack H. Obama administration) thinks of Israel as a threat to world peace because of how Moslems insist upon reacting to Israel: "Look what you made me do!"
And they see world peace arising from Israel's suicide as an act of spiritual propitiation, rendering it consistent for militant Moslems to allow everyone else to live in relative peace, as dhimmi, second-class citizens in a sharia state. Thus, secular leftists around the globe argue, we bring about world peace by joining in violent attacks upon the only peaceful culture in the most violent part of the world.
Welcome to the monkey house.
May 4, 2009
Sacrificial Lamb: Obamacle Sets Up Israel as Fall Guy
This was so unexpected, so out of the blue, that when I read it, you could have knocked me over with a 2,000-lb anvil:
Israel is concerned about remarks White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel made during a closed-door meeting Sunday with 300 major donors of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington.
While expressing unwavering U.S. support for Israel, Israeli media reported that Emanuel also said confronting Iran depends on making progress in negotiations seeking to create a Palestinian state.
Does Emanuel believe that such an implied threat will actually cause Israel to reverse course, with newly elected (for the second time) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abruptly transmaugrifying into former Prime Minister Ehud Barak? No; say what you will about Rahm Emanuel, he is not one of the pie-eyed fantasists with which the president has surrounded himself.
Nor does anyone else expect such a result... not even CBS:
Israel's hawkish new government flatly rejects that linkage. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sees the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran as a threat to the existence of the State of Israel -- a separate and far more pressing threat than that of the Palestinians. Netanyahu will make that clear when he meets President Obama in two weeks at the White House....
Netanyahu has also said "Israel will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons -- with all the implications." In other words, Israel would consider a unilateral, preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities as a last resort.
And the citizens of the state of Israel would never permit Netanyahu to go "wobbly" on them; they elected Likud over Kadima's Tzipi Livni for precisely that reason:
The Israeli public at large is also skeptical about U.S. talks with Iran. A poll by Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv shows that, while 60 percent of Israelis have a favorable opinion of President Obama, only 32 percent approve of his policy regarding Israel.
So what on earth is going on here? Why does the Chief of Staff to President Barack H. Obama make such a point of publicly linking the two issues? I can think of only one reason: Emanuel believes that his boss' attempt to bully Israel into caving to Palestinian demands (pushed not only by Obama but also the raft of brazenly anti-Israel and antisemitic members of his administration) is doomed to failure... so Rahm Emanuel is already setting Israel up as the scapegoat.
When talks to create a "two-state solution" collapse again -- as they invariably do, given that only one side has any interest at all in there being two sovereign states west of the Jordan River -- the administration plans to blame Israel for Barack Obama's failure. The One the Palestinians and Eurolefties Have Been Waiting For may even lead a crusade against Israel in the court of world opinion, perhaps even refusing to veto some of the continuous anti-Israel resolutions that splash into the U.N. like sewage into a septic-tank.
That will serve three purposes:
- It will overjoy the Jew-hating Left in both the United States and in Europe, leading to an outpouring of money and electoral support for B.O.;
- It will make it easier for Obama to hold his unconditional-appeasement talks with Iran, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda;
- And it will give the president someone to point his finger at in respose to all the bloody horrors that will befall the Middle East (and the rest of the world) when Iran tests its first working nuclear missile.
With one cold-blooded, narcissistic set up, Emanuel could bring about a Middle-East war the likes of which the world has never seen before, possibly resulting in the complete destruction of Israel and the energy and economic collapse of the rest of us. Interesting, considering the Chief of Staff's last name.
April 6, 2009
Obamunism - Through the Eyes of a Child
Well, I think we all knew, somewhere in the back of our collective minds, that Barack H. Obama was planning it; most of us just thought it was so ludicrous, so retro, that he would never really propose it.
But now he has. Great leaping horny toads, it's Dr. Helen Caldicott's unilateral nuclear disarmament all over again:
Just hours after North Korea launched a long-range rocket, President Barack Obama called for "a world without nuclear weapons" and said the United States has a “moral responsibility ” to lead the way, as the only nation ever to use them....
The president directly addressed the Cold War history of this former Soviet bloc city, calling the remaining nuclear weapons “the most dangerous legacy” of that era.
He again pointed to history to say that America must lead. “As a nuclear power -- as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon -- the United States has a moral responsibility to act,” he said.
Obama proposed doing so by reducing America’s arsenal, if not altogether eliminating it; hosting a summit on nuclear security; seeking ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; and pursuing a new agreement aimed at stopping the production of fissile materials.
Also, he proposes gathering up all vulnerable nuclear material -- or “loose nukes” -- within four years. That’s an issue Obama also worked on in the Senate, with Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.).
As we all know, the only reason that Russia, Red China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and soon to be North Korea and Iran have nuclear weapons is self defense against the United States... and if only we would unilaterally eliminate our nuclear arsenal -- ¡ Si, su puede! -- these other countries would no longer fear us -- and they will surely follow suit. As the New York Times succinctly sums up the theory:
Mr. Obama said that his administration would “reduce the role of nuclear weapons” in its national security strategy, and would urge other countries to do the same. He pointed to the agreement he reached last week with President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia to begin negotiations on reducing warheads and stockpiles, and said the two countries would try to reach an agreement by the end of the year. He also promised to aggressively pursue American ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which in the past has faced strong opposition in Congress.
It is a strategy based on the idea that if the United States shows it is willing to greatly shrink the size of its atomic arsenal, ban nuclear testing and cut off the worldwide production of bomb material, reluctant allies and partners around the world will be more likely to rewrite nuclear treaties and enforce sanctions against North Korea and Iran.
That is, if America weakens itself by unilaterally dumping its nuclear weapons, then other nations will feel more empowered to aggressively enforce already existing sanctions against rogue nations. But why? By definition, "already existing sanctions" already exist; if our allies are not willing to enforce them now, why would they be more willing if we become weaker? Does Obama truly believe that the world defies us because we're too powerful? Does he believe that we're evil, imperialist warmongers oppressing the world, causing them to resist us the way that the Jedi knights resisted the imperial storm troopers of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader?
This is magical thinking at its most emblematic: There is no obvious connection between the United States eliminating its nuclear arsenal and Pakistan following suit -- the latter is far more concerned about India (and vice versa) than about us -- or North Korea and Iran abandoning their own nuke hunt; they see nuclear weapons as their route to power in their own regions or protection against their own enemies. It's silly storytelling, jaw-dropping narcissism, and childish "wishing on a star" to imagine that every other country in the world that has or wants nuclear weapons is only driven by fear of America's nuclear arsenal.
But if there is any other reason why they want to be members of the nuclear club, then our reduction or even complete nuclear disarmament will have no effect upon them at all... except perhaps to encourage them tenfold: It's easy for third-world countries to believe that if they have nukes and we don't, they will no longer be third world -- they will be the first world; they will be the masters!
The childishness of this Obamic policy betokens an equally childish worldview, full of good guys (who are always good) and bad guys (eternally bad), superficial understandings, a view of history based more upon melodrama than reality, and magical thinking.
Heroes and villains as world actors
The One is the Lightbringer, whose devoted acolytes are trying to spread the "good news" around the globe (America alone is too small a stage). There is no "in-between," only a vast sea of unenlightened souls awaiting but a touch, a glance from the Obamacle to fall into the rapture.
The Bad Guy in Chief is George W. Bush, of course; and all Republicans are his henchmen. We are consciously evil, in that we sit around and cackle about our latest evil plans, perhaps chewing on the odd pinky or two. (Note that there is another shadowy group of conspirators who may be the real villains in this piece, "working the machinations behind the scenes," as Louis Farrakhan put it; we'll get to them in a moment.)
The great advantage of such hero-villain thinking is that it forces an automatic devaluing of opposing viewpoints: Of course you don't think government should take over the economy... you're a Republican! You want to kill and eat the poor anyway.
Superficiality as a guiding principle
Obamunism is centrally focused on a series of superficial and (upon analysis) meaningless catch phrases, slogans, and jingoisms: hope, change, the One we have been waiting for, audacity, coming together, post-partisan, post-racial, diplomacy, an end to torture, and so forth. While each of these words or phrases could impart meaning in other contexts, as Barack Obama and his apostles use them, we have no earthly idea what he means. Hope for what? Change from what to what? The One we have been waiting for -- to do what?
Even "diplomacy" is an empty concept by itself: Gandhi practiced diplomacy; so did Hitler.
Bear in mind, the more superficial a policy, the more ill-defined and vague, the less able critics are to attack it. It assumes radically different dimensions in the mind of each person who hears about it... and each tends to envision it in a way that resonates with him, personally, satisfying that specific individual's wish-fulfillment fantasies. It's very, very tough to tell someone that his dreams are unrealistic and unattainable; he tends to react emotionally -- and sometimes violently.
The heroic epic as public policy
When Obama and his fellow Democrats recount history (particularly the economic history of the United States and the history of the conflict in the Middle East), it's clear their "understanding" is based not upon what actually happened but upon what should have happened to make things more coherent and plot-driven, like a novel.
We didn't have a financial crash because of foolhardy (and bipartisan) government policy to encourage poor people to buy houses they couldn't afford, regulation and oversight that was badly written by Congress and poorly implemented by several administrations, and increasingly complex financial instruments that few people understand, including those who invented them. No, it's much more gripping if there is a vast banking conspiracy -- or as a disturbingly large number of Obama appointees would see it, a vast Jew-banker conspiracy). The conspiracy (or "lobby") controls everything behind the scenes, like a bad John Grisham melodrama (sorry for the redundancy).
This reductionism is signalled by the use of capitalized terms beginning with "Big," personalizing the enemy without actually naming them: Big Tobacco, Big Carbon, Big Business, Big Money.
And the continual conflict among Arab countries is not driven by a religious interpretation of Islam that demands constant "jihad;" that's boring... and it smacks of racism, too. But if everything bad in the entire region is driven by a single rogue villain (Israel) which causes all the problems for the sole purpose of "taking over" -- an alien presence that exploits the traditional peoples of the region -- well then we have an enemy we can focus upon, a much tighter plot to follow, somebody we can actually defeat!
Conspiracy mongering is always based, at core, on a sense that the universe should really be more coherent, more linear, and more dramatic than it actually is. It should follow literary rules of plot development, causality, a climax, and a satisfying denoument. Here is where Obama's man-crush on Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers becomes the synecdoche of his worldview. It's not very satisfying if blacks are doing badly because they have a lousy culture, or if kids aren't being educated because they have egregious work habits and have never enjoyed thinking. It's much more thrilling if Republican big business has busily been suppressing children's education because they need more worker-drones for capitalist imperialism -- and Whitey has been holding down "people of color" for a thousand years.
(By a curious coincidence, among much of Obama's inner circle, it appears that both plots have the same conspirators, the same villains: Jews. As antisemitism rises across the rest of the globe, it now finds a sympathetic ear at the highest levels of the American government.)
The Childe Left hate and fear complexity and constructive chaos more than anything in the world (just as literal children do); they also project this fear onto the Right, pretending that it is conservatives who embody "black and white" thinking, and liberals are the ones who understand shades of gray... but the Left's actions and policies belie the proclamations of maturity and wisdom.
Waiting for a miracle as grand strategy
Obamunism, and its larger parent New Leftism, deeply believe in the "magic bullet" theory of governance: For every intractable problem, there is a single, simple solution that will solve everything -- which has been missed by generations of previous, unenlightened souls, leaving its discovery to the hero of the saga. Some hitherto unsuspected connection exists between (seemingly unrelated) events A and B; Doing A will, as if by miracle, bring about B:
- Many times in our past, and currently in the rest of the world, governments tightly control the economy via wage and price controls, overtaxation, heavy-handed regulation, union boosterism, and "five-year plans." This has never resulted in an economic renaissance, but generally recession and depression. But wait -- that's because it wasn't done by the One! This time, under the encyclical circulated by Barack Obama, when the government seizes control of the economy, it will cause the greatest economic boom in American, nay world, history... and the world will forever revere Obama as its champion eternal. (Don't ask how; it just will. And of course you're skeptical... you're a capitalist.)
- Unlike all previous diplomatic overtures, when the great man just sits down and talks to his fellow world leaders (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong-Il, Raul Castro, Ayman Zawahiri) -- when he explains to them that, unlike the previous regime, the current administration doesn't want to conquer and annex their lands, kill their children, and violate their women -- then the light from his heart will shine through, and these national leaders will realize that they need fear America no longer. They will all fall into each other's arms (in a manly way, I mean), have a good cry and a wonderful laugh, and all will be well. Nuclear warheads will be beaten into solar-power plants, war will be obsolete, the Jews will be driven into the sea, and all will live happily ever after. "And guns and swords and uniforms lay scattered on the ground." Barack Hussein Obama is, quite simply, the One that Ahmadinejad has been waiting for.
- Due to stubborn resistance and ignorance, generations have closed their ears and stopped their eyes to the deadly, global peril of man-made climate change. But as soon as Congress enacts the divine vision of the Obamacle -- instantly, the world will cool, the seas will subside, the harvest will be bountiful, and disease and famine will be driven into the void. The word of the king is the blood of the land. We won't even have to wait for the policies to take effect... directly the word is uttered, the Earth will shake, the sky will brighten, and peace and plenty will rain upon all -- equally -- like manna from heaven.
Achievement without effort; success without setback or disappointment; like a Michael Jackson video, Captain Eo points his finger and a bolt of lightning obliterates the bad guy in a puff of CGI. It's magic!
Obamunism - through the eyes of a lizard
It took me a while to realize it, but it's the childishness of Obamunism that irritates me more than any other element... its reduction to heroes and villains, its soap-bubble superficiality, its melodramatic story telling, and the magical thinking that underpins all the rest. Our country is ruled by the inmates of an excessively permissive and progressive preschool.
The entire Obama administration needs a long time-out. Alas, what we're more likely to see is a time-out from history for the entire country... followed by a very rude and deadly awakening.
February 27, 2009
Samantha Power, Chas Freeman, and Now - Hillary?
First, Samantha Power -- the anti-Israel, antisemitic Palestinian supporter and former advisor to Barack H. Obama during his campaign (until she was exiled for calling Hillary Clinton a "monster") -- is resurrected from the political graveyard to serve the administration of Barack H. Obama as "senior director for multilateral affairs at the National Security Council."
Then anti-Israel, antisemitic sock puppet of the House of Saud (and apologist for Palestinian terrorism and the Tiananmen Square massacre), Charles "Chas" Freeman, is tapped to be the chairman of the National Intelligence Council, which takes the lead in crafting the National Intelligence Estimates that are presented directly to the President of the United States.
And now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, previously thought to be a supporter of Israel, is pressuring Israel to allow nearly $1 billion of "humanitarian aid" to flow to Hamas for Gaza "reconstruction."
I wonder what they'll do with their billion bucks? They might:
- Feed the starving refugees in Gaza;
- Eliminate the putative "refugee camps" and settle the residents in permanent locations throughout the PA;
- Open schools to teach literacy to girls;
- Construct courts of genuine justice that would prosecute parents for talking their children into being suicide bombers and fathers for murdering their daughters for being seen talking to a boy;
- Engage the Arab world to help the Palestinian economy enter the 21st century;
- Buy rockets, missiles, suicide belts, and explosively formed projectiles and use them to slaughter innocent Jewish children, women, and old men.
I wonder which choice they will pick?
Clinton has relayed messages to Israel about the aid issue in the past week, and senior aides have made it clear the question would be central to her visit to Israel on Tuesday. [I suppose that means the question of continual Hamas rocket fire into Israel will be peripheral -- if she raises it at all.]
Influential Senator John Kerry last week witnessed first-hand the difficulties involved in delivering key supplies to Gaza, which has been under an Israeli blockade since Hamas seized power in June 2007, and is struggling to recover from Israel's devastating 22-day war. [Recovering from Israel's war? Great leaping horny toads.]
So why are the Israelis being so hard hearted and mean spirited?
Israel insists it will not reopen its crossing points into Gaza until Hamas releases Gilad Shalit, a soldier captured by Palestinian militants in a deadly cross-border raid from Gaza in June 2006.
How petty. What is the value of a single Jew, when weighed against all those Palestinian victims of genocidal Israeli tyranny? Just ask Chas Freeman.
But we needn't worry; this is just another example of "Jewish leaders overreact[ing]," as Atlantic Monthly columnist Jeffrey Goldberg assures us.
July 28, 2008
Fauxtonement: "Prayergate" Takes a Weird, New Turn
The bizarre "scandal" of Barack H. Obama's "stolen prayer" took a strange twist today, as the Jerusalem Post reported that the "Yeshiva student" (still no sign that there is any independent verification of his status) tearfully apologized on Israel's Channel 2 for "stealing" Obama's prayer from the Wailing Wall and returned it (to the TV station); but the putative thief was still not identified -- Channel 2 coyly revealed only his initial, Aleph, and "obscured" his face. And Mr. Aleph made a statement during his interview which makes it fairly clear that he is an Obama supporter, as Big Lizards predicted yesterday:
"I'm sorry. It was a kind of prank," Aleph said, his hands shaking as he fingered the tightly wadded-up sheet of King David Hotel letterhead. "I hope he wasn't hurt. We all believe he will take the presidency."
So if we can take Mr. Aleph at his word, then instead of a militant, right-wing Jew violating Obama's right to have a "private communication between him and God," we have a still-anonymous person, still with no evidence that he is a yeshiva student, who certainly appears to support Obama for president, and who claims it was all a "prank."
A prank? Let's review the bidding:
- Apparently, Mr. Aleph stole Obama's Wailing Wall prayer -- unprecedented in Israel -- and handed it to at least two media outlets, one of which printed it.
- Our point that the Secret Service guarding Obama did not take Mr. Aleph to have hostile intent, or they wouldn't have allowed him to get close enough to see where Obama tucked the prayer, also appears to have been correct: Mr. Aleph is either a juvenile jokester or else in collaboration with the Obama campaign itself.
- Mr. Aleph hopes this didn't hurt Obama and believes, along with all his friends, that Obama will win the election.
- The media outlet that printed the prayer, Maariv, claims that the Obama campaign itself earlier released the text of the prayer.
- And I still cannot find a single news source who will either confirm or deny that the campaign released the text for publication -- though every reporter traveling with the presumptive nominee would of course know whether he, personally, had been given the text by the campaign.
But we should shortly find out more: Shahar Alon, a Jerusalem attorney, has demanded that the Attorney General of Israel investigate the incident with an eye towards criminal prosecution of Maariv -- and Alon has also initiated a boycott of the newspaper:
Attorney Shahar Alon asked attorney General Menachem Mazuz to launch an investigation against the editor of Israeli daily Ma'ariv, who published the content of the note last week....
"By making the note public," Alon wrote to Mazuz, "the newspaper violated the law protecting holy sites, several clauses in the penal code and also infringed upon the basic rights of a person's honor and freedom."
Alongside his petition, Alon also initiated a boycott of the newspaper. In a letter he published, Alon called on all those who felt that the newspaper offended them by desecrating the holiness of the Western Wall, or felt that Obama had been personally disrespected, to refrain from purchasing the newspaper or cancel their subscriptions.
Maariv will either have to defend itself or else plead guilty. Assuming they do the former, they will of course repeat the defense that the so-called "leak" was authorized even before Obama arrived at the wall.
But this time, as part of a criminal probe, the elite media will not be able to stand silent... at least not without cost, as such a brazen attempt to kill the story they started would severely damage their credibilty and make clear just what I personally believe they are trying to avoid making clear: That this entire event was orchestrated by the Obama campaign.
So let's keep our fingers crossed that Attorney General Mazuz does authorize an investigation; we need to know whether Barack Obama truly was victimized by an angry Jew (or juvenile jokester)... or whether the presumptive Democratic nominee is a cynical, manipulative, Chicago pol who has just done what no other American politician has ever dared do: Thuggishly politicize the holiest and most sacred site of world Jewry, the only surviving wall of the great temple in Jerusalem.
Jews especially, but Christians as well, need to know what Obama truly thinks is the purpose of religion: to make oneself into "an instrument of [God's] will," or to mold into a campaign commercial that plays on victimhood and implies a religiosity that evidence indicates the candidate does not actually attain.
June 29, 2008
Olmert On a Nutshell: Yesterday's Dead Outweigh Tomorrow's Victims
In a "prisoner" swap stunning in its pointlessness and inhumanity, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his cabinet have agreed to release several live terrorists -- including a notorious Lebanese killer of Jews, whose crimes include one of the most horrific murders of the long Palestinian war against Israel -- in exchange for the bodies of two dead Israeli soldiers:
Israel’s government voted on Sunday to trade one of the most notorious convicts in its prisons, a Lebanese murderer, for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers whose cross-border capture led to and partly motivated its month-long war with the Lebanese militia Hezbollah in the summer of 2006.
After a wrenching national debate which served to drive hesitant officials, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, into accepting the deal, the cabinet voted 22 to 3 to trade the prisoner, Samir Kuntar, along with four other Lebanese, for Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, the two Israeli soldiers....
Mr. Kuntar was part of a cell that in 1979 raided the northern Israeli town of Nahariya, shooting dead Danny Haran while his daughter Einat, 4, watched, then smashing the girl’s head, killing her as well. Mr. Haran’s wife, Smadar, hid with their 2-year-old daughter and accidentally suffocated her to death in an effort to stop her from crying out.
Thus, Olmert signals that he is willing to sacrifice future generations of Israeli Jews in order to comfort the families of the dead.
While I understand the anguish that must enshroud those families, as much as can a person who has not personally experienced such tragedy, I have enough clarity of mind to realize that, as important as it is to retrieve the remains for proper burial, it's far more important to protect future innocent lives.
Goldwasser and Regev were captured alive; the terrorists bestially butchered them, even while they continued negotiating with Israel for their "release." The negotiation by Hezbollah was a farce of utter mendacity, and Olmert now insures that this pattern will happen again and again: Terrorists now have a green light to kill their cake and sell it, too.
This deal is a perscription for disaster; make no mistake, by releasing Kuntar and the other Palestinian terrorists, Olmert has made the world a more dangerous place:
- Olmert and his coalition have condemned an indeterminate number of innocent Israelis to death; Kuntar and his fellow butchers will see their release as a reward from Allah, and they will instantly dive into yet another murderous plot, and another and another.
- The Olmert government has prolonged the war with Iran and its proxies; the release will embolden Hamas and Hezbollah, and through them Iran, giving them heart to redouble their efforts to "cancel" the "Zionist project."
- The deal has handed a huge propaganda and morale coup to Hamas and Hezbollah, while endangering America and the West; the rest of the Moslem world will once again start to see radical Islamic terrorism as the "strong horse;" Israel will be weakened in the eyes of the world; it will be so much harder for the West to sustain the fight, knowing that we no longer have a reliable ally in Israel.
- And Olmert and his cabinet have declared open season on capturing or kidnapping Israeli soldiers and civilians, even making bodysnatching into a viable Palestinian military strategy: The more dead Israelis Iran's puppets hold, the more of their most brutal and effective terrorist serial killers the Israelis will release. Hamas now understand that they can kill their own prisoner, Gilad Shalit, knowing his death will not diminish his value in trade.
Even the Israeli government seems to realize that this deal is a dreadful mistake that they will never be able to justify to Israelis:
“Despite all hesitations, after weighing the pros and the cons, I support the agreement,” Mr. Olmert was quoted by his spokesman as telling his cabinet at the start of the meeting. “Our initial theory was that the soldiers were alive... Now we know with certainty there is no chance that that is the case.” He added, “There will be much sadness in Israel, much humiliation considering the celebrations that will be held on the other side.”
So why did he accept it? Very simply, he hadn't even enough spine to stand up to the families of Goldwasser and Regev.
Olmert hadn't enough courage to look the families in the eye and say, "I feel your loss, as I feel the losses of all the men who died during the war in 2006. But we cannot jeopardize everything that Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev fought and died for. Of all people in the world, those two brave heroes would not have asked what you are asking, and they would never have accepted such a trade. I'm sorry."
The celebrations will be boisterous and sustained in Gaza City... and in Ramallah, Beirut, Damascus, and Tehran. Palestinians and Israelis alike will see this as capitulation by Israel. More attacks will follow, more rockets and greater destruction will rain down upon Sderot and other cities.
It's hard to imagine a stupider and more self-destructive strategy; if Iran threatens to desecrate and cremate the bodies of Israeli soldiers, will Olmert agree not to attack Iran's nuclear facilities? Is that all it takes to ensure a nuclear-armed Iran? If he has insufficient courage to say No to the Goldwasser and Regev families, has he even a prayer of standing up to Hassan Nasrallah, Mahmoud Zahar, Bashar Assad, or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?
Perhaps Ehud Olmert can make things better by proclaiming that by trading a half-dozen live terrorist murderers, hands still dripping blood, for two dead Israeli soldiers, he has secured "peace in our time." Though I doubt this peace will last as long as did the Munich Agreement of 1938.
May 28, 2008
A Tale of "Two" Parties
One of the reasons I hate Breitbart.com -- the internet "news" website founded by Andrew Brietbart, developer of the Huffington Post -- is that it's more than biased; it's clumsily and stubbornly leftist, often not even pretending that the right might have a point. Or even exist!
In this piece on embattled Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, we learn that Olmert's defense minister -- former Prime Minister Ehud Barak -- has called upon Olmert to resign in the wake of numerous credible allegations of bribery and four separate and ongoing police investigations of the PM. If Olmert refuses to quit, Barak says that he will pull Labor out of the coalition and force early elections.
It's the most serious career crisis Olmert has faced since becoming prime minister, after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon -- founder of the Kadima party, which won a plurality in the last elections -- lapsed into a coma following a stroke.
But one fascinating omission struck me as I read the article: Nowhere in the piece does Brietbart even so much as mention the right-wing Likud party... which is notable because every, single poll in Israel indicates that, in the event of elections anytime soon, Likud will be the new plurality party -- and might even become Israel's first ever majority government.
(The Alignment party, a.k.a. the Labour Alignment, held an absolute majority of seats in the Knesset for a year or so after the 1967 Six Day War. But Alignment was itself a coalition party, formed by the merger of Mapai, Labour Unity, Rafi, and Mapam -- and the majority came from the seats formerly held by the latter two parties. So the claim that Alignment was a "majority party" deserves at least an asterisk: It never actually won a majority of seats in an election as itself.
(If Likud were to win a majority of the Knesset seats, it would be the first time in Israeli history that a single party actually won a majority of seats in an election.)
In fact, it almost appears that Breitbart is unaware that there are three major parties in Israel, not just two: Kadima, Labor, and Likud. (Plus a host of minor parties that come into play whenever one of the majors seeks a ruling coalition, which is after every single election.)
For example, here is Brietbart on the potential effects of the threat:
Labour secretary-general Eitan Cabel said that if Kadima does not oust Olmert and elect a new party leader, Labour would move to set a date for early elections within two months.
Without the support of Labour's 17 MPs, Olmert's coalition government would lose its parliamentary majority in the 120-member Knesset....
Several members of Olmert's Kadima party have already let it be known they would be willing to accept the premier's job, including Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz and Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter.
This rather makes it sound as if either another member of Kadima will take Olmert's place -- or else new elections will put Labor firmly in charge!
The odd thing is that, by so studiously ignoring Likud as if they didn't exist, Brietbart manages to avoid telling its readers a critical point that changes everything about this story: Since Barak knows that new elections would mean a Likud government (not Labor) headed by his old archrival, Benjamin Netanyahu, he is extremely unlikely actually to do what he threatens... and since Olmert also knows that, he is equally unlikely to take the threat seriously and resign.
By contrast, here is the AP article on the same threat:
If Labor Party leader Ehud Barak carries out his promise to withdraw from Olmert's fragile coalition, new elections could usher in a government opposed to current peace talks with the Palestinians and Syria....
He promised to consider cooperating with a new leader from Olmert's Kadima Party, but vowed to pull Labor out of the government "soon" if Olmert doesn't step aside. Without Labor, Olmert would lose his parliamentary majority, and new elections would probably be forced two years ahead of schedule.
Polls forecast a poor performance for Labor if elections are held now. Polls have signaled that hard-line opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, a fierce critic of Olmert's peace overtures, would win. That could deter Barak from following through on his threat to bring down the government.
Before posting this, I gave Breitbart another chance: I went to the main site, found the newest article on this news item, and read it. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that they had actually updated the story to include discussion of other parties. They added these two paragraphs:
The premier also faced pressure from leftist parties even though in the past they have supported governments involved in the peace process.
"I am fully in favour of negotiations with Palestinians and Syria, but Olmert cannot from a moral point of view carry out such discussions following the damaging testimony by Morris Talansky," said Ran Cohen of the Meretz party.
Well, I'm glad we've got that sorted out! So now we know that, in the event of early elections, Ehud Olmert will be followed by Tzipi Livni, Shaul Mofaz, or Avi Dichter of Kadima; Ehud Barak of Labor -- or perhaps Ran Cohen of Meretz-Yachad (or one of the other four Members of the Knesset from that party).
Reason number 523 why we should not treat Breitbart as a real news source.
January 25, 2008
Hamas Invades Egypt; Israel Blamed
For what I believe is the third time in as many days, Hamas militants breached the wall separating Egypt from the Gaza Strip, this time using bulldozers in full view of the Egyptian national police:
There were small clashes throughout the day, with short episodes of rock-throwing. Egyptians fired guns into the air and aimed water cannons above the heads of the those in the crowd to keep them back. The new breaches in the wall were large enough for cars and trucks to drive through, and some Egyptian guards then retreated.
But why is this peculiar thing happening at this moment in time? Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has the explanation:
Egypt is under pressure from Israel and the United States to restore the international border and regulate it, but does not want to use excessive force against the Gazans, whom the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, has insisted are starving under the pressure of Israeli restrictions on imports and travel.
Darn those Jews! For no reason at all -- other than a few thousand rockets fired from Gaza into Israeli cities -- the wicked Zionist Entity has ceased donating food, fuel, and medical supplies to the utterly helpless and impoverished Palestinian people who are currently attacking Israeli cities.
Therefore, Hamas has no choice but to bomb, tear down, or drive bulldozers through the border wall... so that the helpless, starving, impoverished Palestinians, with not a pair of shekels to rub together, can race through the gap by the hundreds of thousands... to bazaars in Egypt, where they buy millions of dollars worth of necessities, comforts, and luxuries.
If somebody can offer a better explanation to me than the obvious one -- that Gaza, led by its Hamas government, has noisily invaded Egypt, while the corrupt Egyptian police stood by and did nothing (and Mubarak blamed the Jews) -- I should like to see it.
But such a non-response on Egypt's part is likewise fraught with peril; as the Times asks, at what point does Mubarak worry that...
- Inviting Hamas to visit is altogether a different thing than inviting them to leave;
- Palestinians, around whom human sacrifice flows like water around a fish, are not exactly the most stable group to grant permanent right of access;
- And at what point, by simple custom and propinquity, does the "responsibility" for feeding, fueling, and treating millions of Palestinians -- who cannot ever seem to feed, fuel, or treat themselves -- devolve from Israeli shoulders to Egyptian?
Of course, Israel is no happier about these repeated breachings of the wall than are the Egyptians:
Hamas is trying to push Egypt into an agreement to regulate the border without having it sealed, as it had been from the time Hamas took over Gaza in early June. A Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said, “The gaps shouldn’t be closed because they provide urgent assistance to the Palestinians.”
Israeli officials have expressed increasing concern to the Egyptian and United States governments that Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups are using the border breach to import military supplies and to send out fighters for training or terrorism.
Israel has raised its security alert for the Sinai and warned its citizens not to travel to the region’s popular beaches, fearing attacks there, and is saying it has credible reports of new efforts to smuggle gunmen and suicide bombers through the Sinai into Israel. The last suicide bombing in Israel, in the southern resort town of Eilat a year ago, was carried out by a militant who had traveled there through the Sinai.
There is, of course, no wall along the border between Egypt and Israel; the two countries have been at peace since the 1978 signing of the Camp David Accords, the only treaty ever signed between Israel and an Arab state that has actually worked... oddly enough, pushed through by President Jimmy Carter, the worst American president of the twentieth century. Thus, if Hamas terrorists can freely travel into Egypt, they can bypass the walls between "Hamastan" (Gaza) and Israel to carry out murderous bombings.
The precarious Israeli government led by Ehud Olmert of the Kadima Party is widely believed to be already fallen in all but name; an election today would very likely bring Likud to power, possibly even in the first majority government in Israel's history. And one major reason for this is the government's relentlessly ham-fisted policy towards the Palestinians; at the moment, for the latest outrageous example, Olmert is toying the with idea of handing over control of the crossings between Israel and Gaza itself -- to Hamas:
Mr. Olmert is expected to discuss the Gaza crisis along with peace talks in his Sunday meeting with Mr. Abbas. Israel is considering the possibility of granting the request of Mr. Abbas and the prime minister based in Ramallah, Salam Fayyad, to let the Palestinian Authority [Hamas] control the crossings between Israel and Gaza, allowing them to reopen. [I suspect that we should read "Olmert and his Kadima-led coalition is considering," not all of Israel.]
Israel had previously rejected the idea, because it would loosen the economic squeeze on Hamas, which intensified last week when Israel decided to cut off shipments into Gaza, including fuel for the local power plant, in response to rocket attacks from Gaza. That move produced international protests and the Hamas decision to breach the border with Egypt.
When Israel says "let the Palestinian Authority" control the crossings, that means Hamas; Fatah has no toehold left in the Gaza government, so any PA soldiers would actually be Hamas militants.
It may be worth noting that Hamas was founded in 1987 by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who led the Gaza branch of the Muslim Brotherhood... the parent organization of many other terrorist groups, including not only Hamas but Egyptian Islamic Jihad (whence came Ayman Zawahiri, al-Qaeda number two), al-Qaeda, and many others. It's difficult to determine whether the MB is itself a terrorist organization on the same scale as Hamas or EIJ, or whether it simply serves as a "gateway drug," a way station through which prototerrorists pass en route to forming their own, much more violent terrorist organizations.
However, the spiritual and political center of the Muslim Brotherhood is Egypt... which is yet another reason to be worried at the recent chumminess between that country and Hamas-controlled Gaza.
November 29, 2007
JoshuaPundit Sounds the Horn...
Wall fails to tumble; film at 11:00.
I can understand JoshuaPundit devoting an entire, long blogpost to arguing with a recent Big Lizards post; the only wonder is that more bloggers don't do it! After all, if our actual impact on the 'sphere matched our colossal ego, why, the whole wide web would be bristling with pro- and con-lizardly bloguations.
What's a bit puzzling is that he would choose to nominate that particular post for the Watcher's Council award. I think it a bit odd, considering how many of his points against us are not simply wrong but so easily proven wrong by past posting. Seems like such a waste.
After all, regardless of my irritation whenever he goes on a tear after George W. Bush and American foreign policy for being insufficiently pro-Israel and anti-Arab, in fact, I am perfectly capable of voting for JoshuaPundit's posts in first place... even when I'm the only one to do so.
Back to the blog-bate. Let's start with JP's basic, flawed premise... that I think Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is morally wrong, and that's why they should give them up. Says he:
If the Arabs made the choice to attack and lost some territory as a result, it's hardly an injustice or an `occupation'.
But I've never said there was anything wrong with Israel occuping those territories. It's perfectly fine with me. "Occupation" is descriptive, not disparaging.
True, Israeli Jews have no "claim on history" for those territories... but neither do Arab Moslems. I don't support the very idea of historical land claims; I believe land ownership is decided by possession, defense, and development.
Israel possesses those territories now; it has successfully defended them from all comers; and it developed them far beyond what the Arabs ever did (which was, as JP points out, virtually nothing). Ergo, those territories belong, morally and politically, to Israel, to do with as they please.
I suggest they let them go -- not because the world, the Arabs, the Arab-Palestinians, or U.N. Secretary General Nanki-Poo have any say in the matter, but because it's in Israel's best interest to rid themselves of such pestiferous hellholes.
In the same piece in which I recommended pulling out of Gaza and the West Bank (this is more than two years ago, back when I was a guest blogger on Captain's Quarters), I also recommended treating any further aggression from either place -- under Arab rule -- as one would treat similar military attack from Syria, Egypt, Iran, or any other country: With overwhelming retaliation.
In fact, I predicted that's what Israel would do after Hamas took over and launched an attack. I was right on 2/3rds of that prediction: Hamas took over; they, in concert with Hezbollah, launched an attack; but Israel fought a lousy, half-hearted war and -- while they didn't lose, exactly, they certainly didn't win, exactly, either. (In my defense, I had no idea Ariel Sharon would go and have a stroke, leaving a buffoon like Ehud Olmert in charge.)
I can only quote Larry Niven again: "Not responsible for advice not taken."
Somehow, this doesn't seem to jibe with JoshuaPundit's analysis of my psyche:
The main premise of people like Big Lizards is that appeasement of the Arabs and enfranchising the Palestinians will lead to peace in the region. The sad reality is that the Arabs are mainly concerned with weakening Israel so as to speed its demise...and what's more, they've never made a secret of it.
I blink and wonder if we have a deranged, blogospheric identity-thief slithering around using the name Bum Gizzards or somesuch.
But no; the most likely explanation is that, like many who take an extreme position, JoshuaPundit simply cannot imagine a person disagreeing with him -- unless that person is a mendacious villain or the dupe of mendacious villains. It never occurs to him that I may have a unique position on the Israeli-"Palestinian" situation, one that doesn't fit into the standard range somewhere between that of Mier Kahane and Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
Had Israel chosen to formally annex Gaza and the West Bank, then ethnically cleanse all the Arabs out and encourage Israeli Jews to flood the lands... I would have had no problem with that. That, at least, would have been a workable solution. But given the fecklessness of what they have done (or rather, failed to do), it's completely unworkable to maintain an occupation of a hostile population with access to outside agencies who can arm them... as the Brits discovered to their chagrin in India and elsewhere. Since there is now no option of annexation and repopulation, best let them go -- but defend the bloody borders a hell of lot better than we've seen so far.
Another major faux pas was committed by "Freedom Fighter" (aside from his studied refusal to use my name, Dafydd ab Hugh, despite the fact that it's easily discoverable from (a) reading the top and bottom byline on every post, and (b) clicking the "Who are these 'Big Lizards' guys anyway?" link found in the right sidebar of every page on Big Lizards). Steadily, and throughout, FF mistakenly assumes that I also want Israel to give up East Jerusalem:
This blogger [he means us] goes on and makes the point that Israel never annexed Judea, Samaria or East Jerusalem and therefore has no claim. He's incorrect when it comes to East Jerusalem....
Well, that blogger is incorrect when he claims I said Israel has no claim on East Jerusalem. The full annexation of East Jerusalem would not only be the most easily justifiable annexation Israel could make, I actually think it would be a good idea. It would make it clear to the world that Jerusalem would never be divided, nor would ever become the capital of a second Palestinian state.
But he keeps throwing East Jerusalem into the mix, perhaps to make us look like Israel-haters or even worse... Mearsheimerites; e.g.:
He then further states that Jews were never a majority of the population in Judea, Samaria or East Jerusalem and that these areas always had a majority Arab population....
As we never said a word about East Jerusalem (or West, South, or North Jerusalem; read our post), this seems a bit thick. I have no idea where he got such a notion; I certainly never said any such a thing; nor do I believe it. And not only do I think Israel should annex East Jerusalem, I also totally opposed the withdrawal from the Lebanon security zone north of the border... and I still think it was a bad idea. And Israel should hang onto the Golan Heights until the cows come home to roost.
(That grinding noise you hear is the sound of Freedom Fighter's head spinning around like Linda Blair's in the Exorcist, as he tries to squeeze the Lizardly white paper on Israel into the narrow confines of his imaginative suitcase.)
Of course, none of JoshuaPundit's claims about my ignorance of Israel's history are accurate; but that's just my assertion... I can't prove it. Though I'm sure I've made references here and there through the years that would demonstrate at least a grasp of the main points -- for example, that Jews had purchased a lot of land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem prior to the establishment of the modern nation of Israel... which Freedom Fighter seems to believe is news to me.
Then there are some claims of his that are simply tedious in their attempt to divert the debate from what we actually wrote to a cockamamie caricature of what we wrote. For one example (among many), we published the following:
As you may have guessed by now, "Freedom Fighter" at JP is one of those Israel boosters (I don't know where he posts from, here or there) who is so wrought up in the battle that he considers George W. Bush -- the most pro-Israeli president America has ever had -- to be Israel's enemy.
JP seizes upon one line there and twists it to make us sound like Borat-style "throw the Jew down the well" antisemites:
Big Lizards starts out by referring to me as `one of those Israel boosters' and wonders whether I'm posting `from here ( meaning the US) or there'(meaning Israel). I hate to disillusion anyone, but this site does not originate from Mossad headquarters, and there's no `dual loyalty' or question of my patriotism involved here.
Freedom Fighter... just as a frolic, perhaps you could try -- taking me literally? Dude, there is nothing on your blog indicating your nationality or where you post from. Perhaps if I read every post assiduously, I would spot something... but for all I know, you could be the heir to the principality of Monaco and posting from your winter castle in the island of Fernando Póo (now called Bioko Equatorial Guinea). You have a Blogger blog; you don't seem to list your real name anywhere (or perhaps I just haven't found it); I don't recall you mentioning identifying information in any of the posts of yours I've read.
The only clue I see is that your main banner includes an American bald eagle nibbling on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's ear... but that might just be political commentary -- a Swiftian "modest proposal" for simultaneously ridding the world of its number-one terrorist and also providing a meal for an endangered species.
Regardless of one's position on the disposition of the West Bank (of the Jordan River) and the Gaza Strip -- or as Freedom Fighter would say, Judea, Samaria, and, ah, the Gaza Strip, I guess -- the central analogy of the JoshuaPundit post, that Gaza and the West Bank are to Israel as California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas are to the United States, is inappropriate and silly. The distinctions far overwhelm any superficial similarities.
The most basic one is easy to spot: The United States does not rule over any hostile populace. No seething, terrorist populations that hate us with a passion. No territories held by force, when the majority living there would rather die to kill an American than live with the thought that we live as well.
In reality, the Palestinian-flavored Arabs hate Jews and love death more than they love life, even the lives of their children. And that's not my prejudice talking... they proudly announce it themselves.
Americans are sensitive plants. The moment there is any hint of disharmony among even 30% of the population of some territory we frequent, we immediately saddle the campfire, pee on the horses, and up stakes for warmer climes. We know when we're not wanted! The only exceptions I can think of are Afghanistan, Iraq, and of course, the Civil War... though the first two are short-term fights that we'll soon win, ending with far less than the magic 30% figure; and in the last, there was a moral principle involved: abolishing slavery.
One cannot find 30% of the population in the four American border states demanding to be returned to Mexico. One cannot fine 3%. One cannot even find 0.03%. In fact, not even 0.03% of the Hispanic population of those states. The entire membership of MeCHA that really wants those states to be swallowed up by Mexico as the state of "Aztlan" would probably fit into the Whiskey A-Go-Go nightclub.
While in the Israeli-occupied territories, the percent of the population that wants to be free of Israel and judenrein is, oh, about 100%. That's a pretty significant distinction between the analogy and the analogized!
That was the point of our earlier post; I have no idea what was the point of Freedom Fighter's post, other than a cri de cœur arising from generalized angst. But what the heck; read what we wrote, then read the JoshuaPundit post, and form your own opinion which of us is more convincing.
I'm all eyes...
November 7, 2007
David Samuels Speaks Out
David Samuels has done us the kindness of responding with a comment to our most recent post on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and what she did or did not say to someone who raced to pass it along to Aluf Benn for condemnation. Our two recent posts on this topic were:
Given Mr. Samuels' respected position in the journalistic community -- and the relatively obscure state of things here at Big Lizards -- we are of course rather flattered. Despite my rather colossal ego and preening narcissism, I attribute his response to a desire to set the record straight, as he sees it, about what he said, rather than concluding that he is a regular Big Lizards reader.
But surely his dogged defense of his column deserves an equally thoughtful response; and it's a good excuse for another post, anyway. As Samuels offered his response as a public comment (under the handle "DS"), I feel free to quote big chunks of it in this post, for ready reference. (Throughout, I accept that this is the authentic David Samuels, which I believe because of diverse tests.)
His first point is one that I thought I myself made in the previous post; but Samuels would like to stress it:
In the space alloted me in the article that was republished in FrontPage, I am careful to distinguish between two distinct possibilities:
A. Condoleezza Rice has said things -- either directly to Aluf Benn or to a political source he trusts -- that cite her own personal experience as a black girl in the South as a proof of her empathy for Palestinian suffering in the West Bank and Gaza.
B. Condoleezza Rice means what she says, in a heartfelt, deeply personal way.
I strongly believe that A is true, while I think that B is nonsense. I think the reasons are quite clear from the text of my article, which was intended as a commentary on Rice rather than a close reading of Aluf Benn's column in Haaretz.
I certainly understood that point; Samuels' article is well and clearly written. That is what I sought to convey by dividing my own response into two phases:
- Phase 1, in which I praised Samuels for his rejection of point (B) above, and especially for his rejection of the standard conservative theme that Rice is freelancing, and that she has somehow bullied or bamboozled President Bush into going along against his better judgment.
- Phase 2, in which I noted that he nevertheless unreservedly accepts part (A), that she said what Benn claims she said -- comparing PA President Mahmoud Abbas to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, jr. -- despite the fact that neither Benn nor anybody else has presented the least bit of evidence that she did -- other than hearsay evidence from an anonymous source.
I will make one caveat: Unlike David Samuels, I am agnostic about whether she actually said it; but having a scientific frame of mind, I am unwilling to accept claims that have no evidence behind them, requiring me to believe a person I don't know, who says he correctly heard what another person that none of us knows (and who goes nameless, to boot), about what the second chap thinks he heard from Condoleezza Rice.
I can state with some assurance that I have never heard Dr. Rice say what Benn says she said (to someone else, not him); and that it doesn't seem likely that she would say it (she's not an ass). Benn himself says she never says such things in public... so why should we believe she says them in private?
But let us sail on...
1. Aluf Benn is a very reputable Israeli journalist who operates at a very high level in his profession, has interviewed Rice a number of times and has never been accused of fabricating a story before.
Nor has he been now; and I'm perfectly willing to accept that Aluf Benn is very reputable.
But so too was Dan Rather... and yet he broadcast an obvious fabrication. Nevertheless, I don't accuse Rather of fabricating the story: I am utterly certain he believed the "Killian memos" were authentic when he broadcast them. I suggest rather that Rather was fooled by his own biases into believing something silly... and that he dug in his heels when confronted with evidence of his own wild error. And that is also what I suggest may be the case with Aluf Benn (the first part; I have no idea whether he would double down if somehow confronted with evidence that his claim was wrong).
Again, I thought I was fairly clear that I was not claiming that Benn made the whole thing up, as Samuels seems to think I said. (Samuels writes, "From your post, you appear to believe in an entirely different possibility -- Possibility C -- namely, that Aluf Benn made up his entire column and the sources behind it as part of a left-wing plot to make Condoleezza Rice look bad.") In fact, I took no position on that, merely noting the possibilities (in the earlier post, the first one linked above, not the most recent):
Finally, we have convincing evidence that either somebody, God knows who, told Mr. Benn that Rice in private says Abbas is like Dr. King; or else that Benn himself made it up. We certainly have no evidence whatsoever that she actually did say such a thing... and by now, you'd think we would have, wouldn't you?
Again, I did not say he fabricated it; I said that either he fabricated it, or else someone told him that she said that (the latter being Benn's claim). I expressed no opinion on which was the case -- not knowing Aluf from Adam -- but those really are the only two options, aren't they? But in neither case do we have even the remotest evidence of accuracy.
Let's assume that Benn did not fabricate the story:
- His source could have misheard or misunderstood what Rice said (is Benn's source a careful listener?)
- Benn himself could have misheard or misunderstood what his source said (do we know whether his anonymous source is a careful speaker?)
Condoleezza Rice could have been tired and said something she doesn't believe and didn't mean to say (do we know -- well, yes, we do know she is a human being, for all that).
My grandmother use to do it all the time. She was the first among her set to buy a couch with a hide-away bed (this was in the 1940s, I think); she brought her club over to see it... and then proudly informed them, "And the nicest thing about this couch is that if you pull off the cushions and tug on this strap, it opens up into a full-course dinner!" Needless to repeat, that was not what Grandma meant to say.
Any one of these three strong possibilities utterly undercuts the claim that she intentionally said what Benn claims she said, and what Samuels ends by accepting uncritically -- after first treating it skeptically.
I think Samuels also shoots a bit wide with this point:
It is not at all clear to me that causing a fuss about Rice among fervent right-wingers would in any way further Benn's own political agenda. I am inclined to believe that the opposite is true. Benn's story is confirmed by the right-wing journalist David Bedein -- which argues against the idea that this story was fabricated to serve a left-wing agenda. Undermining Rice at this moment seems like the agenda of the hard right.
First, it should be fairly clear that "undermining the Bush administration" is rather high on the agenda of all left-wingers, no matter what country they inhabit; they hope it will lead to President Hillary.
That it also happens to play into the hands of the Israeli Right (they malign Bush and especially Rice with great frequency) is unsurprising... because we see that same pseudo-alliance here in America, where the internationalist Left joins with the isolationist Right to attack Bush's foreign policy -- usually dumping on the black chick in the process.
Again, Samuels barks up the wrong tree by believing I'm trying to prove Benn made it all up; I think it far more likely that Benn believed what he was told precisely because it fit his preexisting bias against Condoleezza Rice, and indeed against many "right wingers".
I have noticed that a lot of Israeli lefties still think that conservatives hate Jews and side with the Arabs every chance they get. Thus it would be unsurprising for an Israeli leftist to readily believe it when a source tells him that the "hard right" Condoleezza Rice is an antisemite who sees Israeli Jews as Jim-Crow Klansmen oppressing the innocent-as-a-lamb Palestinian minority.
In the same way, Dan Rather was poised to readily believe it when Mary Mapes told him that light Col. Jerry Killian said he was being "pressured" to give Lt. George Bush better marks than he had earned and to pretend Bush had been present when he was AWOL. Rather didn't set out to lie; he simply accepted a fraudulent set of documents because nothing in them raised alarm bells... they perfectly fit what Rather already believed about Bush.
That is my best guess about Aluf Benn: His source told him something he already believed... and now he had the "proof" of what he'd known all along! So he ran with it.
And even you admit he is reckless -- which rather conflicts with your near-simultaneous claim that he "operates at a very high level in his profession;" I assume you mean more than that Benn is successful... you mean that he's a good and careful reporter, right? Yet you yourself write:
2. Benn himself clearly distinguishes the nugget of reporting that he presents as fact (Rice made a comparison between Palestine and the American South), and his further "guesses" about Rice's "personal feelings" -- which I label as "incendiary," and which are probably unsupported by anything besides Benn's imagination (although its always possible that Rice said those things, too).
While I hate to judge before all the facts are in, I tend to think that a careful reporter operating at a very high level -- one whose very word we should accept, even when his only source is anonymous -- shouldn't be making "incendiary" claims that are "probably unsupported by anything besides [his own] imagination." Call it a quirk of mine.
3. I have interviewed Rice several times and she made a point of discussing the subject of race or the experience of her girlhood in Alabama each time, without my prompting her.
Yes, I've heard her do that, too... but that's not the point, is it? The point is whether she compared Israeli Jews to the Bull Connorses and Sheriff Clarks of her youth... and compared Mahmoud Abbas to Martin Luther King.
And Mr. Samuels still has not responded to my basic point, which I supported with four examples from his FrontPage piece. I quote myself, as I am wont to do at the drop of a hatpin:
This is an old bugaboo of mine: The interlocutor begins with "it mighta happened," soon talks himself into "it prob'ly happened," and ends by working himself into a veritable frenzy of "it rilly did happen!" -- while never presenting a scrap of evidence beyond the sonorous sounds of his own sweet soliloquy.
I still want to know how Samuels gets from noting that Benn "never cited any source" to Samuels' virtual certainly that Benn correctly understood what his source was saying, that Benn's anonymous source was accurate, and that Rice really did say what Benn claimed she said -- that Abbas was like King. Was Samuels truly impressed, as a journalist himself (which I am not), by "I cannot name my sources.... But I rely on firm ground?"
After all, Samuels wrote in his comment:
While I am confident that Rice did say something similar to what Benn suggests that she said [i.e., that Abbas is like Dr. King], I also see no reason to believe that ANYTHING Rice says as Secretary of State... has any necessary relation to how Condoleezza Rice actually feels inside.
All right, I understand he believes she was lying when she "said" that. But again, what makes him think she even said that? Do we even know that Aluf Benn's source wasn't Emily Litella?
I would encourage you to read more carefully in the future, to avoid logic-chopping, and to be more judicious in your citations of other people's work.
If I may speak directly to Mr. Samuels... thank you; I do always strive to rise to the level of the elite media, even if I sometimes fall short. But never for lack of trying! I hope to always read carefully; I would be ashamed of my math background if I caught myself "logic-chopping" (I'm not sure what that means, exactly, but it sounds pretty bad); and I try to exercise judgment whenever I cite other people's work.
I very much appreciate your comment... and I hope you will respond once more to answer the burning question above: What, besides Aluf Benn's say-so, causes you to believe that Condoleezza Rice compared Mahmoud Abbas to the Rev. Martin Luther King, jr.? Have you ever heard her specifically make such a comparison?
November 6, 2007
Some Respect for the Lady
This David Samuels article from FrontPage Magazine takes a couple of small steps forward to rein in the hysterical Condi-bashing by so many conservatives; but it takes one giant leap backwards by perpetuating the most irritating part of the media charade: Accepting as uncontested fact an anti-Condi whispering campaign orchestrated by a "respected left-wing [Israeli] journalist" with a class interest in portraying Condoleezza Rice as biased towards Palestinians.
Here is the part that is reasonable and perceptive:
At the same time, it is also important to remember that Condoleezza Rice is not a talk show host but the U.S. secretary of state -- which is not a job that leaves very much room for personal moments. Her private rhetoric (if “off the record” conversations with foreign politicians and journalists can even remotely be considered private) is simply rhetoric -- that is to say, words intended for a purpose. Every word she speaks embodies the political will of the most powerful nation in the history of the planet – a nation currently having a bit of trouble in the Middle East.
Rice is a skilled political tactician who is fantastically loyal to President Bush, who has repeatedly declared his intention to create a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza before he leaves office.
This echoes the point we ourselves made three days earlier:
Honestly, we don't know what Condoleezza Rice thinks about, e.g., the Israeli-Palestinian "roadmap" nonsense, except that clearly it doesn't bother her enough to cause her to resign from the administration. It's possible she's 113% in synch with President George W. Bush's enthusiasm about a Palestinian state living "side by side" with Israel and at peace. But it's likewise possible that she thinks it's doomed to failure... but since that's the foreign policy the president wants, she may believe strongly enough in the unitary executive that she's willing to push hard even for something she opposes.
To put this as bluntly as I can, this is not Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's personal foreign policy. She is not a latter-day Svengali, mesmerizing George Bush (playing Trilby O'Ferrall?) with her eyes; she's not a zuvembie, casting a voodoo spell to suborn the president's will to her own, turning him into the walking dead.
She is ably and honestly representing the foreign policy of President George W. Bush, which is precisely the duty of every cabinet member; if a secretary can no longer represent and further the president's policies, because he (or she) disagrees so strongly on a moral or political level -- then he has the duty to resign.
Those are the only two choices... be the mouthpiece of the president, or go find another job. The only thing we know about Dr. Rice's personal position on the Israeli-Palestinian issue is that she doesn't disagree with Bush so strongly that she feels compelled to resign. Nothing more. As we also said, sometime after January 20th, 2009, we will likely find out her own position on a whole host of issues -- when she runs for office, writes a book, and/or gives post-administration interviews.
But here, illustrated better by this David Samuels article in FrontPage than I've ever before seen, is the essentially absurd dichotomy of all this speculation. How does the vague and unsourced Benn accusation here:
Though Benn never cited any source for his description of Rice’s deep personal identification with the Palestinian national cause, he has interviewed Secretary Rice before and obviously felt his source was good enough for print. He went on to "guess" that Rice’s feelings were based on the similarity between the separation fence and checkpoints in the West Bank and the Jim Crow laws that prohibited blacks from exercising their most basic civil rights. For good measure Benn also threw in the suggestion that Rice often confuses Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with Martin Luther King...
Benn’s off-the-record/on-the-record “hint” that Rice might be personally sympathetic to Palestinians has naturally excited Jewish right-wingers, who fear a sell-out at the upcoming peace conference in Annapolis, just as it pains left-wingers, who worry that she might think that they, too, are racists, the worst sin in the liberal “Al Cheyt...
...Abruptly transmaugrify, without visible evidentiary means of support, into the utter certainty of this:
While the intent of Aluf Benn’s “guesses” about Rice’s innermost feelings about the Palestinian cause is clearly incendiary, I have little doubt the secretary and her aides have whispered sweet nothings into the ears of Israeli and Palestinian politicians and even to Aluf Benn himself, suggesting that she can empathize with the Palestinian sufferings under Israeli occupation by virtue of having been born black in Alabama...
At the same time, it seems highly unlikely that Secretary Rice’s sudden empathy for the Palestinian cause is anything more than a tactical maneuver....
The paradox of Rice’s conduct...
Yet there is still something disturbing about the remarks Rice is reported to have made, however direct or vague they might have been, and however tactically clever they might seem to their author. Offhand analogies between Palestinians and Southern blacks or Israelis and Southern whites make a mockery of real pain and suffering by ignoring the specificity of actual historical experience. Comparisons of Palestinian “freedom fighters” with the American civil rights movement would merely seem ridiculous (imagine the membership of Hamas and Fatah joining hands and singing “We Shall Overcome”) if they were not also part of a bullying assault on historical specificity that has come to characterize much recent political discourse in America....
Condoleezza Rice, the political science professor and provost of Stanford University, would likely judge such bullying and divisive rhetoric harshly, as the product of a second-rate mind afraid to engage in reasoned discussion and debate. When she returns to private life, she will feel ashamed of herself.
This is an old bugaboo of mine: The interlocutor begins with "it mighta happened," soon talks himself into "it prob'ly happened," and ends by working himself into a veritable frenzy of "it rilly did happen!" -- while never presenting a scrap of evidence beyond the sonorous sounds of his own sweet soliloquy.
And then to cap off this eye-popping extravaganza of phantasmapalooza, the Samuels piece thuds back to earth with this final and self-referential awakening from the dream:
That said, I don’t see the slightest bit of evidence that the secretary of state actually believes Mahmoud Abbas is Martin Luther King in disguise, or that she has flashbacks to her childhood in Birmingham every time she sees the Separation Fence on her way to Ramallah. But a whisper or two can’t hurt, right?
No, Mr. S., it can't; nor is there any way that a put-upon Secretary of State -- "an accomplished black woman with a Ph.D. in political science, who plays the piano, who grew up as a little girl in the South and lost a friend when the Ku Klux Klan bombed the churches in Birmingham" -- can respond to such churlish insolence and impudence, such an attack on her basic honor, integrity, and decency, without seeming the fool for getting into a literal "he said, she said" back and forth with some lefty reporter about who knows better what is really in Condoleezza Rice's heart.
Good Lord, everyone; get a grip: We do not have any believable evidence that Dr. Rice ever said any such a thing. So let's stop the show trial and confine ourselves to complaining about what we do know... which is that the president's policy (not Condi Rice's policy) on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has shifted from demanding that the Palestinian-Arabs live up to their earlier agreements -- an essential component of Bush's own "Roadmap to Peace" -- to now offering them inducements and enticements, compromises and concessions merely to blight Annapolis with their presence.
But that is Bush's fall from grace, not Condoleezza Rice's.
November 2, 2007
Time to Fisk - er - Power Line?
My favorite blog, Power Line, has spent the last few years firing rockets and mortars at Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, seemingly blaming her for every State Department initiative they dislike -- and by and large dismissing the possibility that Rice might not be a Col. Kurtz-like rogue agent but actually representing the foreign policy of the president. I have said several times that I think they're theorizing beyond the evidence, which Sherlock Holmes dubbed a cardinal sin.
Honestly, we don't know what Condoleezza Rice thinks about, e.g., the Israeli-Palestinian "roadmap" nonsense, except that clearly it doesn't bother her enough to cause her to resign from the administration. It's possible she's 113% in synch with President George W. Bush's enthusiasm about a Palestinian state living "side by side" with Israel and at peace. But it's likewise possible that she thinks it's doomed to failure... but since that's the foreign policy the president wants, she may believe strongly enough in the unitary executive that she's willing to push hard even for something she opposes.
(Such selfless advocacy is hardly unprecedented, even in Foggy Bottom; Colin Powell pushed very hard to bring our allies along for the Iraq ride, even though he personally abhored the policy.)
My point is this: We won't know what Condi Rice thinks until, like John Alden, she can speak for herself. In 2009 and later, when the Bush administration has run its course, Rice may run for public office (perhaps governor of California when Arnold Schwarzenegger's term expires in 2010). Even if she doesn't, she would be a fool not to write a book and cash in on her (relatively) low-paid years in government service and at Stanford (low-paid compared to what she could have earned in private industry).
At that point, we'll finally learn what she really thinks about this; I can't imagine a campaign or memoir that didn't address what has occupied much of the time she has been at State and before that as National Security Advisor. But until then... well, what we have is a lot of rumor and inuendo by people who have a class interest in shiving her, such as the folks at Haaretz and self-proclaimed Zionists such as Boker tov, Boulder! (the clock on the blog shows Jerusalem time, though the blog presumably emanates from Colorado).
Sadly, the lads at Power Line often seize hold of such iffy, flakey "evidence" as more ammunition for their artillery barrage -- as today:
The latest round of diplomatic buffoonery includes a recurrence of Seceretary Rice's characterization of the Palestinian cause as a civil rights issue in the image of the one she grew up with in Birmingham, Alabama. As Joel Fishman recently reported:Last week in Jerusalem, U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, articulated some of her personal views which ultimately found their way into the press. For Dr. Rice the struggle of the Palestinians is analogous to that of the Afro-Americans for civil rights and she identifies with the Palestinians. She recalled what it meant to travel in segregated buses as a little girl in Alabama. She also compared the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, to Reverend Martin Luther King, because, in her mind, both were committed to peace. According to reporter Aluf Benn, Rice views Abbas as committed to the struggle for Palestinian independence and, like Martin Luther King, opposed to terror and violence (Haaretz, October 16, 2007). Independently, David Bedein reported Rice's statements in The Bulletin (Philadelphia, October 17, 2007).
At the end of the post, Scott Johnson notes finally received a link to the Haaretz piece itself from a reader, and he links to it. Let's turn to the original to see what evidence "respected left-wing Israeli reporter" Aluf Benn actually cites:
When Condoleezza Rice talks about the establishment of a Palestinian state next to Israel, she sees in her mind's eye the struggle of African Americans for equal rights, which culminated in the period of her Alabama childhood.
Rice is very aware of political sensitivity, and avoids making such comparisons in public speeches and interviews, where she keeps to the official list of talking points. But in private, she talks about the
[Sic; the paragraph actually ends hanging with this sentence fragment]....
Now, Rice is comparing Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his prime minister, Salam Fayad, to Martin Luther King. Abbas is committed to the struggle for Palestinian independence, and like Abbas he is opposed to terror and violence. Just as Tony Blair, the Quartet envoy and former British prime minister, compares the Israeli-Palestinian conflict tothe conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, so does Rice recall the struggle for civil rights in the United States when she speaks about the Palestinian boy who needs new hope instead of aspiring to commit a suicide attack. Rice's current visit to the Middle East is one of the most important in her term as secretary of state, perhaps the most important.
Please pardon my bluntness, but what the hell kind of evidence is this? Benn simply asserts, without even hinting at his sources, that Rice equates Abbas with Martin Luther King and the Palestinian conflict with "the struggle for civil rights in the United States" -- and Scott accepts the assertion uncritically. Why? I believe because it fits his preconceived storyline on Condoleezza Rice.
I cannot help but suspect that if Aluf Benn published a piece where he asserted, equally unsourced, that Rice had forcefully demanded that the Palestinians live up to their previous agreements before she would offer a new one, Scott Johnson would be very skeptical and demand to see something more substantive; he is convinced of the opposite. Thus doth conviction make convicts of us all.
At least one anti-Rice blogger, Boker tov, Boulder!, who is favorably linked by the Power Line post, thought the sourcing was thin enough that he (or she) e-mailed Benn to inquire what he actually had. BtB appears to find the following response very reassuring:
UPDATE: I wrote to Aluf Benn and asked for any substantiation of his comments on Secretary Rice. He very kindly responded immediately:I cannot name my sources, and as I have written, Rice did not speak in public about these matters. But I rely on firm ground.
Well! Who could argue with that? "Firm ground," indeed.
But come now; if a leftist reporter at, say, the New Republic offered his reliance on firm ground as sole authority for the flat claim that Bush told friends "in private" that he wanted to launch a ground invasion of Pakistan -- would Power Line accept it? Would any of us?
Scott uses a rhetorical trick to try to further discredit the Secretary of State:
These themes have become a motif in Secretary Rice's discussion of Palestinian statehood. She articulated them most egregiously last year in an astonishing speech before an American-Palestinian group. In that speech Rice likened the Palestinian struggle to the American struggle for independence and to the American civil rights movement. Rice said:I know that sometimes a Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel must seem like a very distant dream. But I know too, as a student of international history, that there are so many things that once seemed impossible that, after they happened, simply seemed inevitable. I've read over the last summer the biographies of America's Founding Fathers. By all rights, America, the United States of America, should never have come into being. We should never have survived our civil war. I should never have grown up in segregated Birmingham, Alabama to become the Secretary of State of the United States of America.
But what "themes" does Scott mean? The theme in the previous attack was that Rice thinks Mahmoud Abbas is like Martin Luther King; but this theme is that she still has hope that rationality can prevail and a peaceful Palestinian state could eventually emerge.
First, I don't know about you guys, but those seem awfully different "themes" to me. But second, what of Scott's characterization that the passage "likened the Palestinian struggle to the American struggle for independence and to the American civil rights movement"? There is no question she compares them; but "compare" needn't mean "equate." I can compare elections in Iran to elections in the United States without likening them or saying they're the same.
In the sense that, if such a peaceful Palestinian state comes into being, it might be seen as something that "seemed impossible" right up until it "seemed inevitable," such a circumstance would be very much like the United States; but that's a far cry from saying Yassir Arafat was like George Washington or that Mahmoud Abbas is like Martin Luther King. I can say that many people thought it would have been impossible for the United States to lose a war (or a peace) to primitive North Vietnam; but by the time it happened, it sure seemed inevitable to me. Yet surely this doesn't mean I equate Ho Chi Minh to George Washington or even Martin Luther King, jr.
Like Anne Frank in her last days, Condoleezza Rice still has hope in the future and in people. What is Scott Johnson's hope? Does he not hope that the Palestinians can eventually come to their senses?
What are the alternatives? I see only two: that Israel runs the entire Arab population out of Gaza and the West Bank and annexes them as "Judea and Samaria," or that Hamas eventually expunges Israel. I think the first would so enrage the Arab world -- heck, the entire Moslem world -- that the war on global hirabah would become vastly more dangerous to us.
And of course the last is unthinkable. So honestly, I have great sympathy for Dr. Rice's hope that the Palestinians return to the land of sanity sometime, because it's really the only solution.
And for heavens sake, Rice was speaking "at the American Task Force on Palestine Inaugural Gala." She was talking to an audience of Palestinian-Americans! She called upon them to help in the task of liberating the PA from terrorist violence and the "humiliation" of being just a territory or "authority," not quite a state. What is she supposed to do -- tell that audience that Israel should annex the territories and expel all the Arabs?
So which of Power Line's claims have convincing evidence behind them?
- That Condoleezza Rice hopes for Palestinians to reject violence and create a peaceful state;
- That she considers Mahmoud Abbas a "moderate leader" -- which, since moderate is a comparative, means "moderate compared to his rivals in Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (which appears to despise Abbas, despite being part of Fatah, Abbas's party), Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and al-Qaeda;"
- And that she wants to persuade Palestinian-Americans to join in the effort to nudge the PA in a more democratic and peaceful direction.
Finally, we have convincing evidence that either somebody, God knows who, told Mr. Benn that Rice in private says Abbas is like Dr. King; or else that Benn himself made it up. We certainly have no evidence whatsoever that she actually did say such a thing... and by now, you'd think we would have, wouldn't you?
That gruel of truth seems a bit thin to make the big buffet breakfast of Condoleezza bashing Power Line serves us.
They're still my favorite blog, of course; I will always aspire to their pinnacle of posting (near) perfection. But decades ago, I became pathologically obsessed with truth; and in this case, I must point out a few "inconvenient truths" about the animus that so many conservatives have against Condoleezza Rice.
Besides, she is a true lady (and a hottie), and I must therefore rise in defense of her honor.
September 19, 2007
Israel Finally Listening to Big Lizards' Advice
A long time ago (in blog years -- June 2005), I wrote a piece on Patterico's Pontifications called "Words of Wall," which I later reposted here on Big Lizards. As I wrote in the introduction to the repost:
This is the post where I first laid out the Lizard Doctrine: Israel should withdraw from Gaza and the West Bank, not because it will pacify the Palestinians (which I correctly predicted it would not), but because it would allow Israel at last to "give war a chance."
The Doctrine requires two steps; without both steps being undertaken, it is not the Lizard Doctrine, and I disclaim all accountability for problems that result from implementing only one or the other step: "Not responsible for advice not taken," as Larry Niven likes to say at the drop of a space helmet. The stages are:
- That Israel fully withdraw all soldiers and settlers from Gaza and the West Bank;
- That Israel subsequently treat Gaza and the West Bank as if they were separate, independent countries -- and respond accordingly to any future military aggression.
Step 2 is just as important as step 1, and it boils down to this: If Syria fired missiles from Syrian territory at Israel, or even if it allowed Hezbollah or Hamas to shoot missiles from Syrian territory, how would Israel respond? I think it would brush aside any considerations of how thoroughly Bashar Assad controls the Syrian frontier... and it would simply bomb the Baathist state in retaliation. And the bombing would cause far more damage to Syria than Syria had caused to Israel, as a deterrant (which may or may not deter).
Thus, under the Lizard Doctrine step 2, when the government of Gaza or the West Bank fires rockets or missiles or launches any other attack against Israel, or allows any other group to do so, from Gazan or West Bankian territory, Israel must respond by bombing them or taking some equivalently harsh military action against them: tit for tat, with the response being much more severe than the provocation.
Alas, this is the part where Israel, in the person of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his cronies, has fallen asleep at the switch: The only military action they launched in response to literally hundreds of rockets and missiles fired into Israel by Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Fatah-controlled al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade, and from Palestinian-controlled territory (without the least attempt by the Palestinian Authority to punish the attackers, thus proving complicity), was a feckless and ultimately stalemated invasion that destroyed a lot of the terrorist groups' weaponry -- but ultimately did nothing to punish the PA itself for giving the terrorists safe haven.
And of course, ever since the last elections in the PA, the government itself has been controlled by a known terrorist organization, Hamas. Again, as the rocketry continued during and after the war, Israel has made no move to punish the PA as it would Syria, Egypt, or Jordan, were the shoe on that hand.
Rather, Israel has carried out "airstrike assassinations" only against specific individuals. While I think they're a great idea -- keep it up! -- this, too, fails to punish Gaza and the West Bank as if they were enemy states, which is what the Lizard Doctrine requires.
But today, for the first time, I have hope that Israel is finally getting around to implementing step 2:
Israel declared the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip an "enemy entity" on Wednesday and said it would cut utilities to the territory, complicating the U.S. plan to relaunch peace talks aimed at establishing a separate Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank.
Israel made the provocative decision hours before Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived for talks setting up what President Bush hopes will be a pivotal international Mideast peace conference this fall. Rice neither endorsed nor criticized Israel's move.
First of all, it's outrageous that evidently, all this time, Israel has been supplying electricity, water, and other utilities to a geographic entity that has been at open war with Israel. What imbecile made that decision? For that matter, even were the PA at peace with Israel, why would it be Israel's duty to give them free electricity and water, build roads for them, give them cash money, or perform any other infrastructure improvements? Do we give free electrical power and drinking water to Mexico and Canada?
But it's absurdity on a bagel that they continue doing so while Gaza busily gnaws away at the hand that's feeding it. It's no wonder that the Olmert government polls about as low as the Democrat-controlled Congress in America!
Still, better late than not at all; and I welcome Israel's sudden awakening to its own idiocy... "light dawns on marblehead," and all that. Thank goodness Ehud Olmert is finally listening to the Lizard's advice:
The Israeli designation covers all of Gaza, not just Hamas militants who took control of the territory in June. The United States and Israel regard Hamas as a terrorist organization and refuse to deal with it.
[Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi] Livni said Israel was not obliged to deliver anything to Gaza beyond humanitarian aid.
"When it comes to the humanitarian needs, we have our own responsibilities," Livni said. "All the needs which are more than humanitarian needs will not be supplied by Israel to Gaza Strip."
Perhaps I'm a bit cold-hearted and harsh; I've been called that plenty of times before. But I dispute that Israel has even the most minimal humanitarian obligations to a country or other geopolitical entity with which it is at war. This changes if Israel, or any other nation, occupies a territory; when you take over, you assume certain duties... and this was the major reason the Lizard Doctrine called for Israel to divest itself of the occupied territories: so that any such moral obligation would cease, and the PA could be let alone to sink or swim as it will.
I'm irked and distressed that even this minimal bit of common sense eludes the Israeli leadership. Israel no longer occupies Gaza by even the most expansive definition; and even the West Bank is by and large independent; why was Israel still paying money to keep either entity afloat? Surely that is the responsibility of the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians.
And until they are forced, life or death, to shoulder those responsibilities, they will remain in the infantile stage that allows them to consider the cessation of welfare a violation of their human rights:
Israel did not announce a date for cutoff of services. The decision is likely to reinforce perceptions among Palestinians and their Arab backers that Israel will do as it sees fit regardless of the cost to civilians, and that the U.S. will not block Israel's hand....
Livni said the decision is legal, but international aid groups called it unacceptable to blame civilians for the actions of rogue militants.
Gisha, a human rights group that works for greater freedom of movement in Gaza, called the action "immoral and illegal, constituting prohibited collective punishment of civilians."
Sorry, Gisha; "punishment," as used in the legal phrase "collective punishment," means violent assault or the seizure of property; it does not include the decision not to continue giving gifts to the enemy. See, for example, this vigorously anti-Israel article in Counterpunch, objecting to last year's invasion of Gaza:
Attacks on a civilian population as a form of collective punishment violate article 50 of the Hague Regulations, which provides: "No general penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, shall be inflicted upon the population on account of the acts of individuals for which they cannot be regarded as jointly and severally responsible."
The Fourth Geneva Convention also prohibits collective punishment. Article 33 says: "No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed." The Convention requires all states party to it to search for and ensure the prosecution of perpetrators of the war crime of "causing extensive destruction ... not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly." Amnesty International called the deliberate attacks by Israeli forces against civilian property and infrastructure war crimes.
Collective punishment is likewise forbidden by Article 75 of Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions. As four US Supreme Court justices agreed in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld last week, Article 75 is "indisputably part of the customary international law."
Protocol I (which Israel, the United States, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan have never ratified), Article 75 does not explicitly define "collective punishments;" but the examples it cites of prohibited actions are all obvious violent assaults or the theft of property.
Again, "prohibited collective punishment of civilians" has never, in all of human history, been defined so expansively as to include the refusal to give humanitarian aid to an enemy entity that is attacking you.
My hopes are still low for the current administration, and I hope that some parliamentary maneuver can be carried out to force elections soon. Such elections would certainly spell the doom of the Kadima Party of Olmert and, most likely, the election of Likud (possibly even a pure Likud majority), making Binyamin Netanyahu the prime minister once more.
But until then, at least Ehud Olmert is shaking himself partially awake and beginning, just beginning, to assume the most basic responsibility of any government leader: to preserve, protect, and defend from violent attack the very country he leads, whether from other countries or even external quasi-governmental entities.
December 21, 2006
Jihadis With Yarmulkes
If this story is true, Israel should strip these males (they're not men) of their Jewish identity and exile them from Israel. The "law of return" does not apply to a herd of swine. Not even swine with yarmulkes:
Miriam Shear says she was traveling to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City early on November 24 when a group of ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) men attacked her for refusing to move to the back of the Egged No. 2 bus....
Shear says that on the bus three weeks ago, she was slapped, kicked, punched and pushed by a group of men who demanded that she sit in the back of the bus with the other women. The bus driver, in response to a media inquiry, denied that violence was used against her, but Shear's account has been substantiated by an unrelated eyewitness on the bus who confirmed that she sustained an unprovoked "severe beating."
If, contrariwise, this didn't really happen, then it's the most despicable libel against Jews yet to bubble out the pens of the drive-by media (in this case, the vaguely left-libertarian Haaretz). But I believe that in this one special case, the elites are blameless, and the real villains are the animals who actually did beat that middle-aged woman, Miriam Shear.
I really like Ms. Shear:
Shear, a 50-year-old religious woman, says that on the morning of the 24th, a man got onto the bus and demanded her seat - even though there were a number of other seats available in the front of the bus.
"I said, I'm not moving and he said, 'I'm not asking you, I'm telling you.' Then he spat in my face and at that point, I was in high adrenaline mode and called him a son-of-a-bitch, which I am not proud of. Then I spat back. At that point, he pushed me down and people on the bus were screaming that I was crazy. Four men surrounded me and slapped my face, punched me in the chest, pulled at my clothes, beat me, kicked me. My snood [hair covering] came off. I was fighting back and kicked one of the men in his privates. I will never forget the look on his face."
Shear says that when she bent down in the aisle to retrieve her hair covering, "one of the men kicked me in the face. Thank God he missed my eye. I got up and punched him. I said, 'I want my hair covering back' but he wouldn't give it to me, so I took his black hat and threw it in the aisle."
Really, what is the difference between these particular Jews and the jihadis and radical Shia in Iraq, Iran, Saudia Arabia -- or Great Britain and France? Israelis must not allow animals like these to become the face of Judaism. These ultra-Orthodox (not all ultra-Orthodox; I refer only to those who commit unprovoked and fathomless acts of violence) are living just as much in a pre-modern world as are the Ayatollahs, the Taliban, and al-Qaeda.
Worse than a crime, such reprehensible behavior is a terrible blunder. It gives jihadis leave to argue, "what is the big deal with the way we treat women? You Jews are just as bad as we!"
It's not strictly true; there is no equivalent to "honor killings" among Jews, not even among the ultra-Orthodox sects. But how long before there is? How long until the transformation of Judaism into a strange sect of Salafism is complete?
To me, these criminals have fallen out of the worship of God and into the worship of graven images: the sterile rituals they practice, devoid of the underlying humanist ethic of Judaism, so lucidly espoused by Moses Maimonides and Rabbi Gershon. In this, they are every inch as apostate as Osama bin Laden or Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
To elevate "righteousness" so far above "the right" that they truly believe God commands them to kick and punch a 50 year old woman for not groveling when they bark brings tears to the eyes of God. What next -- will some ultra-Orthodox Jew on the Egged No. 2 bus throw acid in Miriam Shear's face?
May as well go whole hog: prate on about the Twelfth Imam to their forty wives and sacrifice their middle-school daughter to Moloch for holding hands with a boy. They're on the road to Hell already, so why do things by half measures?
Israelis should rise up and take back their public places and public buses from the jihadis with yarmulkes, before there is no Israel worth defending.
December 14, 2006
In a magnanimous gesture sure to send Israelis to their knees in thanksgiving prayers, a three-justice panel of the Israeli Supreme Court has graciously decided to allow the Israeli Defense Force to continue suppressing terrorist attacks on Israel... subject to individual, case-by-case injunctions, of course:
The Israeli Supreme Court decided Thursday not to issue a blanket ban against the targeted killing of Palestinian militants, ruling that some of the killings were legal under international law.
The ruling gave legal legitimacy to a practice Israeli forces have routinely used against militants during the past six years of violence. The Israeli human rights organization B'tselem estimates that 339 Palestinians have been killed in the targeted operations over the past six years. Of those, 210 were the targets and the rest were bystanders. [Or, presumably, byriders in the same car as the targets.]
Thus, even taking the estimate of a "human rights organization," that means that 210 suicide bombers and suicide-bomber recruiters, trainers, and equipers -- enablers, let's call them -- are no longer with us; sadly, their practice of hiding among (relatively) innocent civilians means that 129 of the latter have also died.
Let's assume that a suicide bomber or bomber-enabler would otherwise have taken out an average of, oh, just five innocents: children in preschool, teens in a Sbarro's pizzeria, worshippers at a synogogue, Jew and Moslem, Arab and European -- that lot. That is probably a lowball guess, considering that some of the targets (such as several successive leaders of Hamas) would be responsible, all by themselves, for hundreds of murders.
Even so, that would mean that, due directly to the IDF's "targeted killing of Palestinian militants," over a thousand innocents were not splattered across the sidewalk like Jackson Pollack paintings.
A thousand innocent lives were spared; 129 somewhat innocent lives were taken (many of those non-targets killed by the Hellfire missile were nevertheless terrorists themselves traveling in the same car -- but who had not specifically been targeted; I would be surprised if even as much as 20% of the "collateral damage" comprised actual innocents). In the twisted and grotesque calculus that Islamic jihadism has forced upon the rest of the world... I'd say we got a bargain.
Yet evidently, the Israeli Supreme Court believes that it has the authority, the mandate, and the jurisdiction to decide what measures Israel may take to ensure its own existence, its own survival as a nation. Now, I realize that many "supreme" courts (including our own) like to imagine that they are the absolute final last say in all matters they choose to take up. To put it as gently and politely as I can, this is a load of oysters; oysters I said, and oysters I meant.
Suppose, for supposing's sake, that a United States Supreme Court consisting of nine Dennis Kuciniches were suddenly to rule -- never mind how unlikely this is, it's a hypothetical -- that the United States armed services did not have the authority to kill anyone, even in defense of the nation; and the Court therefore ordered the American military to stand down, disband, and destroy all their weapons of mass and individual destruction.
Would any president of the United States obey this ruling? Should he? Or should he take the Andy Jackson route and say, the Supreme Court has made its decision, now let's see them enforce it? I believe that I am in a solid majority of Americans who believe that, were the Court to descend into such utter madness, it would be the duty of the Commander in Chief to ignore their insane commands (and probably take them into protective custody to stave off a lynching).
We are not in so dire a circumstance and likely never will be; but the Israelis are. They live with exactly such an existential threat every day.
It would have been more fitting and proper for the Israeli Supreme Court to rule instead that they did not have jurisdiction to tell the elected prime minister and his cabinet how to fight a war for Israel's very existence and to stop the mass slaughter of Israeli citizens... which if allowed to continue unchecked would surely lead to mutiny, revolution, and possibly the destruction of Israel by Iran, Syria, Egypt, and even Jordan... nations who have attacked Israel before (the first by proxy) and could easily do so again, were the country to fly apart at the seams.
The arrogance of the judiciary -- we alone shall decide whether the Israeli Defense Force is allowed to defend the country! -- is absolutely breathtaking. Alas, like boiling the frog degree by degree, unnoticed and little remarked, we in the West have allowed courts to assume super powers and supernatural abilities far beyond those of mortal men; and far beyond what any rational constitutionalist would imagine be left to them.
The purpose of the courts is to resolve disputes and enforce criminal justice -- not to run the whole blooming country. They do not sit in loco parentis for the legislature and the commander in chief.
Were I the prime minister of Israel, I would announce coldly that I was glad the Israeli Supreme Court ruled as it did; but had it ruled that Israel could not target terrorists for assassination -- the only offensive tactic that has actually worked to dramatically curtail suicide bombings, even before the wall was built -- I, as chief executive and commander in chief of the IDF, would have told them to go boil an owl: that the survival of the nation would not be held hostage to a sub-panel of three wrinkley, amphibious ancients who believe it's still 1975, out of a pool of fourteen exalted creatures, each of whom believes the sun rises and sets for the sake of Warty Bliggens (each justice is his own toad, of course).
a little more
that warty bliggens
considers himself to be
the center of the same
the earth exists
to grow toadstools for him
to sit under
the sun to give him light
by day and the moon
and wheeling constellations
to make beautiful
the night for the sake of
to what act of yours
do you impute
this interest on the part
of the creator
of the universe
i asked him
why is it that you
are so greatly favored
said warty bliggens
what the universe
has done to deserve me
December 7, 2006
Dear Hugh: ISG Report Doesn't Claim "Right" of Return
Just a quick note responding to something Hugh Hewitt just said on his radio show, during the interview with Sen. and presidential perspirant Sam Brownback (R-KS, 100%).
(But first, a quick note to Sen. Brownback: Sam, "terrorism" is a noun, not a verb.)
Back to Hugh. Hugh Hewitt asked what Brownback thought about the ISG report -- I'm paraphrasing from memory, but this is the gist -- 'claiming a right of return' of Palestinians to Israel.
Fortunately, the ISG report says no such thing.
Here is the relevant section, the only time the term "right of return" is mentioned:
RECOMMENDATION 17: Concerning the Palestinian issue, elements of that negotiated peace should include....Sustainable negotiations leading to a final peace settlement along the lines of President Bush’s two-state solution, which would address the key final status issues of borders, settlements, Jerusalem, the right of return, and the end of conflict.
Now maybe James Baker had in mind that the Israelis should give the Palestinians that right, so that millions of Arabs calling themselves Palestinians can move "back" to the land they never lived in a day of their lives (nor their fathers or mothers either), become the majority, and vote Israel out of existence.
I don't know. But it's irrelevant, because that is not what he and the other commissioners actually wrote in the document. They say only that the putative "right of return" must be addressed. And of course it must, because it's regularly raised by Arab countries and by Palestinians who hope to win via negotiation everything they've been unable to seize by war.
But the Iraq Study Group's final report says absolutely nothing about how it must be addressed. That question is left up to Israel. And in any event, as I wrote in the Big Lizards analysis of the report:
This entire section is imminently ignorable, as the five recommendations it contains all boil down to nothing beyond "the unconditional calling and holding of meetings."
October 13, 2006
On Provoking Ponderous Ponderings of Pyongyang and Palestine
Paul Mirengoff of Power Line has a great post up, "On Talking With the Enemy." Paul takes up the question of whether "I believe in talking to your enemies," as James A. Baker III, co-chair of the newly formed Iraq Study Group, likes to say, is a workable policy -- or just a mindless liberal slogan. Sorry for the redundancy. Paul's conclusion:
We should, of course, make an effort to find out the real views of our enemies. And if those views indicate the possibility of negotiations that hold a reasonable promise of a beneficial outcome for us, we ordinarily should hold such negotiations. But it's pointless at best, and dangerous at worst, to hold publicized negotiations when we know that the enemy's bottom line is one that we cannot accept. Indeed, while critics of the Bush administration like to remind us that we talked with the "evil empire" Soviet Union, we actually learned through bitter experience to avoid holding major summit-style talks unless there was reason to believe they would succeed in advancing our interests.
Paul considers this point in the context of the bilateral talks with North Korea that many Democrats, including Republican Baker, demand the Bush administration undertake, hoping for the same wonderful outcome we had when the Clinton-Carter team agreed upon the Agreed Framework (hence the name) with Kim Jong-Il in 1994. The net effect of the Agreed Framework, along with South Korea's Sunshine Policy of "engaging" North Korea, was described in the Washington Times by Dr. Yearn Hong Choi (and quoted in yet another Power Line post) thus:
North Korea kidnapped South Korean fishermen from the open sea and Japanese citizens from the seashore of Japan, and bombed a South Korean plane. The DPRK sold opium and produced counterfeit U.S. dollars. It has been starving its own people. But it has produced nuclear bomb(s) and long-distance missiles in order to threaten South Korea, Japan and the United States....
The appeasement policy and Sunshine policy just helped the North Korean dictator sustain his power, rather than have his country go bankrupt.
I really like Paul's criterion: no negotiations with the enemy if his bottom line is utterly unacceptable. It leads to quick resolution of a lot of thorny issues. Here's one:
- The bottom-line position of both ruling Hamas and opposition Fatah in the Palestinian Authority is the destruction of Israel and expulsion of the Jews;
- This is clearly unacceptable to Israel and to the United States;
- Therefore, negotiations between Israel and the PA, or between the United States and the PA, are utterly pointless and should be broken off.
I have long agreed with the Power Line crew that President Bush's "Roadmap to Peace" is a farce, his worst foreign-policy program... and not coincidentally, completely at odds with his stance on all other terrorist organizations, including, oddly enough, Iran's proxy, Hezbollah: Bush does not demand Israel commence negotiations with Hassan Nasrallah on how much of northern Israel should be ceded to Hezbollah.
What could change the climate on negotiations with the PA? Only a change in their bottom line. If something forces the PA to drop the idea that they will ever be able to destroy Israel -- perhaps a horrific war, such as the civil war now looming in Gaza -- and they truly accept the inevitability of a two-state solution, then and only then would negotiations be feasible.
But you cannot negotiate your way to useful negotiations. You cannot negotiate your enemy's unacceptable bottom line into being acceptable, thus permitting negotiations. They have to change the goals first; and they will certainly need an external event to do so.
Until then, let the Palestinians stew in their own juices.
September 14, 2006
The Topology of Lincoln
(Chafee, not Abraham)
Scott Johnson of Power Line posted the letter that Sen. Lincoln "12%" Chafee of Rhode Island sent to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on September 7th. It includes two amusing lines. First, this one:
Chairman Lugar decided to hold the vote over to a later date, and I support that decision.
As Friend Lee pointed out, it's hardly a shock that Chafee supported this delay... since Dick Lugar (R-IN, 88%) was simply acceding to Lincoln Chafee's own request! Thus, this sentence translates to, "Chairman Lugar granted my request to hold the vote over, and I support his decision in my favor."
But the more ominous passage comes two paragraphs later:
One of the key issues with many of our allies is the situation with the Palestinians. I support the creation of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace with its neighbor Israel. I believe progress on this front would be beneficial for the Palestinians, and futher America's, and Israel's security.
With Dr. Rice's PhD, she is probably better able to read a map than is Mr. Phillips Academy. But it's really not hard. Here, take a look-see:
Map of Israel
I believe I already explained this in Contiguationness, on Captain's Quarters... but as we can plainly see, there are only two ways to make the Palestinian Authority "contiguous":
- You can create a weird, narrow corridor of land that hugs the southern "V-cut" along the Israeli borders with Egypt and Jordan, connecting Gaza to the West Bank. But this is silly -- how wide should it be, just enough for a north-going Zax and a south-going Zax to pass without having to turn sideways?
- You can create an aggressive spit of land that cuts straight across Israel to connect Gaza and the West Bank. In that case, "Palestine" would be contiguous, but Israel wouldn't be. You would have sliced it neatly in half.
I'm not exactly sure how chopping Israel in half would "further Israel's security," but maybe Chafee can explain it to me someday.
A simple glance at the map shows why a "contiguous" Palestinian authority won't fly. Not to beat a dead hearse, but when Lincoln drives, who is the navigator?
Former Top General Demands Resignation...
...Of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Army Chief of Staff Dan Halutz. (Did you think I was talking about Donald Rumsfeld? Tsk-tsk!)
According to an interview in Haaretz, former Army Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon has demanded the resignations because of their scandalous handling of the brief war against Hezbollah:
Does the prime minister have to resign?
"Yes. He can't say he didn't know. He can't say that. Even if he was not an army person in the past and was not prime minister or defense minister, he knows how one goes to war. This is not the way to go to war. And he knows how a war is managed. This is not the way a war is managed.
Going to war was scandalous, and he is directly responsible for that. The war's management was a failure, and he is responsible for that. The final operation was particularly problematic, and he was directly involved in that. He was warned and did not heed the warnings. Therefore, he must resign."
The "bombshell" demand is actually not as momentous as it would ordinarily be; Ya'alon was Chief of Staff from 2002 until June 1st, 2005 -- when Olmert relieved him of command and installed his own man in the job: Dan Halutz.
But until that moment, Halutz had been Ya'alon's Deputy Chief of Staff; and I'm sure Ya'alon feels betrayed, believing, and not without good reason, that Halutz was probably working assiduously that whole time to undermine Ya'alon. Ya'alon has no cause to love either Halutz or Olmert.
In addition, although Lt.Gen. Moshe Ya'alon still (weakly) denies being interested in politics, many Israeli sources have cited him as the likely pick for Defense Minister in a possible second Benjamin Netanyahu government, or any other Likud government. So he does have a political agenda.
But having an agenda doesn't itself make one wrong; Winston Churchill had an agenda for many years to make Britain strong enough to resist the Nazis -- and thank goodness such an agenda-driven man became British prime minister!
Here is Ya'alon's bill of particulars against Halutz:
"The chief of staff failed in the management of the war. He gave the political echelon the feeling that he had the capability, which in practice he did not have, to bring about a political achievement by means of an extremely aggressive military operation.
"He entered the war without defining it as a war, and maybe without understanding that it was a war. He did not understand the implications of the measures he himself adopted. He did not mobilize the reserves in time, and did not open the emergency depots in time, and did not activate the high-command base.
"He managed the war from his office. He imposed missions such as Bint Jbail without any discussion and without consulting with the command about the consequences and implications. He created lack of clarity that rattled the forces in the field, caused a loss of trust and generated chaos. He did not give the commanders in the North backing. He did not build a structure that would help him overcome his weakness in the land sphere. He managed the campaign arrogantly and shallowly."
This doubtless raises a nagging question in your minds. Readers probably recall that I am adamant that Donald Rumsfeld remain as Secretary of Defense, despite the fact that a former Commander in Chief of CENTCOM, Gen. Anthony Zinni, demands his resignation. What's the difference between the two cases?
The difference is that Zinni was wrong and Ya'alon is right. In the actual warfighting, Rumsfeld did fine; we conquered the Taliban and deposed Saddam at astonishing speed and with virtually no casualties. And he is finally undertaking the Herculean labor of reforming our grand military strategy so that we can stop refighting World War II (which we've done five times since 1945) and finally begin confronting 3rd-millennium threats by looking forward, not back over our shoulders.
All the angst of Zinni and his yes-men centers on the post-Saddam insurgency and terrorist war; but in that war, Rumsfeld is trying to do what no one has ever done: impose modern democracy and self-sufficiency upon a tribal people who are, in many ways, still living in the demon-haunted world of the seventh century.
Zinni's pronunciamentos notwithstanding, nobody else has any better ideas than Rumsfeld about how to carry out the Commander in Chief's orders: turn Iraq into a reasonable facsimile of a modern liberal democracy... just enough so that it will not become a safe harbor for al-Qaeda and other terrorists in the forseeable future. Given the breadth and sheer audacity of the task, Donald Rumsfeld is doing extraordinarily well indeed. Anyone who smugly asserts he could do it better than the secretary is just blowing hot air through his hat.
Contrariwise, the war that Israel fought was as conventional as could be: their task was to invade neighboring Lebanon, drive the Hezbollah guerillas across the Litani River (and preferably out of Lebanon entirely), kill as many as they could and disarm the rest, and hunt for the two kidnapped soldiers.
But Halutz, Defense Minister Amir Peretz (who also comes in for some fisticuffs from Lt. Gen. Ya'alon), and Olmert failed at each of these tasks save one (they did kill a lot of terrorists); they were only saved from ruination by the fact that Hezbollah was even more incompetent than Israel.
So I applaud Ya'alon's "j'accuse" in Haaretz, I dismiss as nonsensical Zinni's and other Democrats' foot-stamping demand that Rumsfeld resign, and I here demonstrate that there is absolutely no contradiction between those two positions.
September 4, 2006
Debunking the Rebunking of the Debunking
UPDATE Sep. 6th, 2006: Just found out (by reading Power Line) that Zombie is a female... so I changed all the "Mr. Zombies" to "Ms. Zombies."
All right, let's see if we can follow the machinations of the Lebanese ambulance attack hoax of 2006...
On July 23rd, during the late war between Israel and Hezbollah, the latter claimed that the perfidious Jews deliberately shot missiles at two ambulances toting the wounded in Qana, Lebanon -- presumably out of sheer ornery cussedness. You know what Jews are like: when they're not poisoning wells and eating Christian babies at Passover, they can generally be found shooting at hospitals, orphanges, and ambulances.
To prove Hezbollah's claim, they sent a shaky, amateur video of two ambulances to the U.K.'s ITV the next day, the 24th. One had a neat, round hole in the top -- exactly where the crosshairs of the red cross met. This was touted as proof that the attacks were "deliberate;" after all, you couldn't expect such a precise shot by sheer accident, could you?
Of course, this begs the point that you couldn't expect such a precise shot at night from a moving platform, even if the Israelis were deliberately aiming at the red cross, either. But what the hey.
The second ambulance shows some damage in the rear: some of the metal appears to be peeled back a bit.
Here's an International Red Cross press release:
The latest of these incidents occurred on 23 July, at 11.15 pm in Cana, a village in southern Lebanon. According to Lebanese Red Cross reports, two of its ambulances were struck by munitions, although both vehicles were clearly marked by the red cross emblem and flashing lights that were visible at a great distance. The incident happened while first-aid workers were transferring wounded patients from one ambulance to another. As a result, nine people including six Red Cross volunteers were wounded.
Showing their usual flair for independent reporting and expert analysis, AP swiftly followed with a story that was essentially a dramatic rewrite of the press release:
The rocket attack on the two vehicles wounded six ambulance workers and three civilians - an 11-year-old boy, an elderly woman and a man, Deebe said.
"One of the rockets hit right in the middle of the big red cross that was painted on top of the ambulance," he said. "This is a clear violation of humanitarian law, of international law. We are neutral and we should not be targeted."
Kassem Shalan, one of the ambulance workers, told AP Television News that nine people were injured. "We were transferring the wounded into our vehicle and something fell and I dropped to the floor," he said.
Amateur video provided by an ambulance worker confirmed Deebe's account of damage to the vehicles, showing one large hole and several smaller ones in the roof of one ambulance and a large hole in the roof of the second. Both were destroyed.
The only original line of reporting here was the last one, saying that both vehicles "were destroyed." Which was a flat lie, of course, since both vehicles still exist today -- completely intact, exterior and interior. Either an AP reporter saw the extant ambulances and decided to enhance the story by pretending they were obliterated (in which case he's a liar)... or else some AP editor let someone make a fool of him.
An Australian newspaper, the Age of Melbourne (I believe), was the first to report that the ambulance attack was on purpose:
Then the roar and smash of the missiles shattered the night. Both ambulances were hit, directly and systematically, by Israeli bombs, the medics said.
Remember this newspaper; this will be on the test.
Enter a blog called Zombietime. Ms. Zombie was the first that I saw who raised serious objections to the "evidence" in a systematic and convincing way. He noted several points:
The hole in the roof of ambulance 782 was clearly not made by a missile... not unless we live in a Tex Avery cartoon, where missiles make perfectly circular holes, surrounded by screwholes -- and in the exact spot that such ambulances ordinarily have circular vent covers.
Circular hole in ambulance 782
is most likely from a vent cover
In fact, the hole looks unmistakably like a pre-existing circular hole in the roof, to which some feature -- such as a light or a vent cover -- was attached, and then removed....
Lo and behold, when we look at other pictures of undamaged Lebanese Red Cross ambulances, we see that many of them just happen to have a ventilation cover of the exact same diameter as the "missile" hole right in the center of the cross on the roof. [Emphasis in original]
The holes in the roof of ambulance 782 are heavily rusted... which means they could not possibly have been made on July 23rd, since pictures of the roof (with the rusted holes) appeared as early as August 1st.
Feeble attempts were made to claim that it was "flash rust" that completely rusted metal in a desert in a few days, but metallurgy experts scoffed at the claim.
- The damage on display in the photographs of both ambulances is completely inconsistent with a missile attack.
- There is no sign of a fire inside either ambulance.
- The supposedly "wounded" ambulance driver, shown in hospital with huge bandages on his chin and right ear, turned up in photographs a few days later with no injuries at all.
Now the Age has come out of its corner swinging (remember I warned you they would pop up in this story again?) They've raised the bet and gone all-in, still gamely insisting that those wicked Jews attack ambulances for the sheer joy of it, once a day and twice on Saturday Sabbath. (Hat tip Riehl World View, via Power Line.) In a story attributed to one "Sarah Smiles," they write:
The attack on two ambulances ferrying mildly injured people from the village of Tibnin to Tyre was widely reported by international media, including The Age.
But [Australian] Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has condemned press coverage of the incident, suggesting it was a hoax. He appears to have drawn his conclusions from right-wing US website zombietime.com that debunks all reporting on the incident using available press photos and television footage as "evidence".
Oh. "Right wing" is evidently Gregg shorthand for "no need to offer counter-evidence to Zombietime's points when an all-purpose sneer will serve nicely." (And note the scare-quotes surrounding the word evidence.) Here is how Ms. Smiles responds to some of Ms. Zombie's strongest evidence:
While some reporters wrote that an Israeli missile ripped a hole in the roof of one ambulance that was directly hit, the zombietime.com site argues a missile would have caused much wider damage. It argues the hole appears to be where there was an existing circular vent, with rust on some of the exposed metal showing that damage to vehicle happened before the reported time of the attack.
However, Red Cross volunteers manning the ambulances and Mr Fawaz insist the hit was caused by small weapons fired from unmanned drones that they heard circling above after the attack.
Well, if you insist! Who can argue with that?
The Age visited the yard where the bombed out ambulances are now parked.
One presumes those would be the two ambulances that "were destroyed," according to AP. Actually, one must presume... because despite sending a reporter to view these ambulances, the Age did not post a single photograph -- pictures that would allow us to see whether they're even the same two vehicles as the shaky, amateurish video footage shot immediately after the supposed incident and broadcast on ITV... let alone whether, even if they are the same ambulances, they're in the same condition now that they were on July 23rd.
In other words, Smiles has failed at the most basic task of any investigator: establishing a "chain of custody" of the evidence. How difficult would it have been to fire an RPG or anti-tank weapon at the stern of the Potempkin ambulance, to be subsequently observed and duly noted by the strangely incurious reporter for the Age?
When Ahmed Fawaz's leg was supposedly blown off by the Israeli missile, why no blood? Ah, the Age can explain that: evidently, the same missile that severed Fawaz's leg also cauterized it! (And how exactly did it do that? By the extreme heat of the explosion? Then why is nothing burnt inside either ambulance?)
Mr. Downer -- remember him? -- says the Israeli-airstrike-on-a-pair-of-ambulances story is a hoax. But it's not a hoax, says the Age, because Fawaz has only one leg.
Yeesh. It's beyond Sarah Smiles' limited visualization abilities to imagine that perhaps, just perhaps, Ahmed Fawaz might have lost his leg by some other means... since we have only his word, and that of the Lebanese drivers, that he was ever in that ambulance in the first place.
Everything in the Age story is "eyewitness" testimony by witnesses Ms. Smiles never bothers to qualify: she makes no attempt, other than asking the witnesses themselves, to verify whether any of them was even present; and if present, in a position to see; and if in a position to see, whether any had an interest in promoting the story that Israel was shooting at ambulances. She never even checked -- or doesn't tell us if she did -- whether any of the "witnesses" is a member of Hezbollah.
The ineptness of the Age's response -- amounting, more or less, to "it did so happen!" -- beggars the imagination. But this particular bit of testimony is priceless:
When [Fawaz] came to after the blast, he remembers reaching for his glasses that were knocked to the back of his head, adjusting them and then feeling a sense of malaise.
So this Hellfire or Viper Strike missile, with 20 lbs of high-explosives, blows Fawaz's leg off... but it doesn't even break his eyeglasses, merely knocking them askew! Yep; that's Tex Avery, all right. All we need is for Fawaz's eyes to telescope out when he sees his leg missing, and his jaw to literally drop all the way down to the floor and bounce.
In Riehl World View's post discussing the newest counteroffensive by the antique media, Dan Riehl incongruously seems taken in, to some extent, by the zeal of the Age:
Images of both ambulances do exist and I've edited a section of video, playing it back below at half speed to show the two ambulances together. In all honesty, I had set out to debunk claims by The Age that the photos we've been looking at were the wrong ones; however, careful analysis appears to depict what looks like a hit from something on a second ambulance and the location of it does line up with other basic elements of the story.
However, Riehl should realize that "a hit from something" is not the same as a missile strike by an Israeli warplane -- or even a drone, which carries a smaller missile: our Predator UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) come equipped with two Hellfire missiles; the same missile is also used on our Cobra, Apache, Commanche, Blackhawk, and Kiowa attack helos.
And the damage depicted in the video that Riehl finds so persuasive is simply nothing like what you would expect from a missile impact... even from a missile with a dummy warhead (as some apologists have suggested). Inside both ambulances, I see undamaged seats and gurneys, intact plastic or thin-metal cans, and door seals hanging loosely instead of being shredded. I see windows more or less intact... and both ambulances shown in the video still have operable rear doors -- both doors are open, held up by their own door piston supports.
Even a small Hellfire missile flies at 950 miles per hour (425 meters per second); with a mass of 46kg, that gives it a kinetic energy of 4.2 million joules; by contrast, even a .50 calliber BMG round fired from an M82 sniper rifle produces only between 13558 and 17625 joules -- less than 1/235th of the energy of the Hellfire. And the Hellfire has a larger cross-section, flying at a similar velocity... so it probably imparts more of its energy to the target than the .50 BMG would. And this is still not considering the warhead.
You would see a gigantic hole in the back, through everything in between, and an even bigger exit hole out the front, probably knocking the entire engine block out through the grillwork. Either that, or else the missile would have remained in the ambulance, absolutely wrecking it but leaving its own deformed body for the drivers to display (assuming they survived by some miracle).
And of course, if you add a 9kg warhead -- all "witnesses" describe explosions -- there would simply be nothing left but a twisted frame and some fire-scorched shards of metal.
Certainly, nobody inside either ambulance would have walked away unscathed from an impact that would be the equivalent of driving the ambulance into a brick wall at over a hundred miles per hour; with a warhead, nobody would even survive.
I'm sorry to contradict Dan Riehl, who seems to have been one of the first people to analyze this claim, but neither of the two ambulances depicted in the original video, which he has posted on his site slowed down for easier viewing, could possibly have been hit even by a smaller Hellfire missile -- let alone a big, huge AGM-65 Maverick, the standard missile found on an F-16 Fighting Falcon or F-15 Strike Eagle (the mainstays of the Israeli Air Force). A Maverick masses more than five times a Hellfire and flies at 2.7 times the velocity, giving it 36 times as much kinetic energy... plus a warhead containing from 6 to 15 times as much explosive power as a Hellfire.
If an ambulance were hit by a Maverick, I doubt anything would be left but a charred impact crater.
Three conclusions are immediately clear, despite the Australian newspaper the Age's attempt to resuscitate the story:
- No matter how you slice it, neither ambulance depicted in the video (shot the day after the supposed incident) could possibly have been hit by a missile and still be as intact as it is.
- We have no idea whether the Age reporter, Sarah Smiles, was shown the actual vehicles involved, and neither does she. And there is no chain of custody of the ambulances: we have no idea what was done to them afterward, and the Age gives us no photographs to compare to earlier pictures.
- None of the news reports has even bothered trying to "qualify" the supposed eyewitnesses, meaning their testimony is worthless. How about if an American soldier in Iraq is picked at random, and he testifies that he absolutely saw those ambulances not get hit by any missiles on that day? For all the Age can tell, our random testifier has no less of a chance of being a valid witness than those they actually interviewed!
This puts paid to the claim that the Israelis shot any ambulance at all on July 23rd: if there had actually been such an incident, Hezbollah and the International Red Cross would not have had to stage a fake one. They would have an actual destroyed ambulance to display.
Israel has not "admitted" the charge, contrary to early reports. And it seems most unlikely that they ever will, simply because all of the available evidence indicates it never happened.
The Lebanese ambulance attack hoax of 2006 joins the Jenin "massacre" as Great Fictional Israeli War Crimes of the Twenty-First Century; both stand as stark reminders that many Moslems see nothing at all immoral about lying, so long as the "lie" advances the world caliphate (just as Communists saw lies in the furtherance of world Socialism simply as "higher-level" truth).
Journalists know this; Anderson Cooper himself remarked upon Arabs staging "ambulance runs" for the camera, with journalists eagerly cooperating to get exciting "action" shots that they knew were as fake as a three-dollar bill. But the fakery goes beyond a desire for a cool shot; a close working relationship has developed between terrorists eager to spread their propaganda and reporters desperate to destroy Republicans and George W. Bush in particular.
The latter receive and pass along the propaganda with no trace of skepticism: if Hassan Nasrallah were to announce tomorrow morning that IDF soldiers had been seen poisoning Lebanese wells, the elite media would all report it in their afternoon editions.
Thus doth jihadism and leftism conspire to thwart "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind." I do not question the media's patriotism; I nakedly observe that they have none.
September 3, 2006
Paul Mirengoff Clarifies and Extends His Remarks
Perhaps my lapse (if any) was less in my logic than in the clarity of my writing. I did not mean to suggest that Olmert could not have bungled even if Hezbollah got much the worse of things, but rather that he may not have bungled under that scenario....
In essence, I'm saying that if Hezbollah didn't suffer a defeat, then Olmert clearly bungled, and bungled monumentally. If Hezbollah suffered a defeat to the point that it will not attack Israel again, then the issue with respect to Olmert becomes more complicated, such that one at least "can defend" the approach he took.
I so much appreciate it when a thinker clarifies his remarks, because (like Dennis Prager) I'm much more interested in clarity than agreement. Though in this case, in the clearer version of Paul's argument, I think it's not only logical and accurate but a thought-provoking point: is it possible that Olmert realized that even the seemingly half-hearted version of a war that he conducted was enough to thrash Hezbollah? That he didn't need to do any more, so why risk more Israeli lives?
I don't really think so, because I don't think Olmert is that bright. Intelligent people like Paul Mirengoff sometimes tend to implicitly assume others are as smart as they, attributing deeper thinking to a political gefilte fish like Olmert than Olmert is capable of achieving -- the polar opposite of what Democrats to do George W. Bush.
(In my own case, I'm saved from this sin by regarding most mere mortals with the amused contempt that is a natural byproduct of me having an ego the size of the Greater Magellanic Cloud.)
Paul is unquestionably correct that it could be true, and also that it deserves consideration; I like this version much better than what I mistakenly read into the earlier. But upon reflection, the degree of perspicacity such a balancing act would require of Ehud Olmert is prohibitively high, I think.
I did not, by the way, say that Israel could have "obliterated" Hezbollah, and I don't believe they could have; I said this:
What it really means is that Hezbollah was stronger than we thought but weaker than we feared. It certainly doesn't meant that, with more effort and brainpower on Israel's part, Hezbollah couldn't have been wiped out. In fact, recognition, however delayed, of Hezbollah's true weakness should fuel the idea that, if Israel had just tried a little harder, it could have obliterated that awful terrorist group.
That is, seeing Hezbollah's weakness makes it somewhat more likely in my mind that they could have been wiped out, root and branch; but that's up from a very low percentage to a moderately low percentage.
I think it probable that, with somewhat more effort, Hezbollah could have been driven out of Lebanon and back up into Syria -- which would have been a Godsend to Israel, a far better result than what Olmert at least appears to have achieved.
And one I still think will happen; I'm a "Round Two"-er: I believe the dynamics are such that another go between Israel and Hezbollah is almost inevitable. Note that Olmert still (rightly) refuses to withdraw the IDF, refuses to lift the blockade, refuses to act as if it never happened. He realizes that if he were to acquiesce to allowing Hezbollah to stay in south Lebanon with its weaponry, and to be rearmed by Iran and Syria, he may as well sign the withdrawal orders -- and then resign as prime minister, getting out before folks can find a rail, a goose, and some tar.
So yes, it's an intriguing suggestion -- Ehud Olmert as Cesare Borgia. And I must confess the suggestion must be confronted and seriously considered. But doing so, I think the evidence indicates he was just being feckless -- and that Hezbollah was just weaker than we were afraid it might be.
It's like finding out that David was really aiming at Goliath's gonads, but he missed... and just happened to hit Goliath's head, his Achilles heel. Turns out David was just a lucky putz -- but Goliath is still room temperature.
September 2, 2006
The Slow Motion Collapse Has Begun
Everyone on all sides in Israel now agrees that if new elections are held anytime soon -- as opposed to 2010, the next scheduled date -- Ehud Olmert and his Kadima party will lose big, along with their coalition partner Labor; the big winners will be Likud and other conservative parties. Thus, Olmert will do anything to delay new elections.
Alas for him, new elections can be triggered anytime the Knesset reports a vote of "no confidence" in the current government. As we all learned from Captain Ed's reporting on the equally slow-motion collapse of Canada's Liberal Party and its erstwhile leader, Paul Martin, there are several kinds of bills whose rejection would be considered a vote of no confidence, including the budget. I assume (without really knowing) that the same is true for Israel's Knesset: which means that Olmert must avoid any and all bills that could be considered votes on confidence in the government.
Which means that he can only stay in power if nothing at all happens, nothing important is proposed, and Israel simply drifts along like a log floating in a stream. Which would be fine... except that there are excited Arabs shooting at the log.
In particular, Olmert must avoid at all costs any independent inquiry into Israel's conduct during the recent Lebanon war... lest a serious condemnation lead to the very kind of vote he's desperate to avoid.
That means he can only allow an inquiry into his conduct that he, himself controls -- an utterly corrupt kangaroo court that will rubberstamp any conclusion that comes from Ehud Olmert's office. He has steadfastly refused to allow any independent inquiry for solid political reasons (though it seriously undercuts Israel itself not to let everyone know what went wrong).
Enter Amir Peretz, the minister of defense.
Peretz is the head of Labor; and as Kadima's partner in the current government, Peretz is in the same leaky rowboat with Olmert. However, Peretz has rival Labor leaders nipping at his heels... and were he to be replaced as head of Labor, which would take only an internal vote, he would become the forgotten man of Israel.
Those rivals, as well as the Labor chisel and file, are demanding an independent investigation... probably (I cynically aver) more to embarass and diminish Peretz than because they really want to know what actually happened. But the amazing result is that now, Peretz himself has joined the chorus demanding an independent inquiry:
Bowing to rebels in his own Labor Party, Defense Minister Amir Peretz of Israel called today for a full independent inquiry into the recent war in Lebanon, changing his previous position and putting him publicly at odds with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Olmert has so far prevented any independent inquiry; but the excuses are wearing thin, as more and more Israelis demand an investigation that is not controlled by the very person being investigated. Peretz is in a far weaker position, as the junior partner of a minority government... and he was unable to get away with the Olmert option:
Mr. Peretz, elected head of the Labor Party not long before the March 28 elections, was considered an unlikely defense minister, and his own performance during the war has been widely criticized, with many calling for his resignation. He himself appointed a panel, headed by an aide and former general, to look into the military’s performance, and was widely criticized again for trying to control the inquiry.
Mr. Peretz then halted the work of his own commission and appeared to back Mr. Olmert. With 19 seats in the 120-seat Parliament, Labor is a junior partner in the government with Kadima, which as 29 seats. But senior members of Labor, some of whom opposed Mr. Peretz, a former trade-union leader, have seen a chance to tame him or even pull him down. They have pressed him to support a full state inquiry, which he has now done.
The political dynamics of this are fascinatingly complex:
- If there is an independent inquiry, it will likely find that both Olmert and Peretz behaved incompetently and insouciantly; this would probably crack the government wide open, forcing new elections that both Kadima and Labor would lose;
- But if Peretz opposes an independent commission to investigate the war, he will be branded cowardly and corrupt (charges of corruption are endemic in Israel and often successful -- because too often accurate); he would likely lose his position as head of Labor even if the Olmert government managed to hang on;
- So the only hope for Peretz is to call for an independent inquiry, but hope to hell that Olmert is able to stop it; that way, Peretz can shrug his shoulders and say, "Oh well, I tried;"
- But this depends upon Olmert being able to hold the line against an independent commission... which is made vastly harder by his own defense minister calling for exactly the sort of inquiry that Olmert is blocking;
- So in essence, Peretz must pray that he is so weak and powerless that Olmert is easily able to overcome Peretz's apostasy; but if this is true, then that makes it ever so much easier for Peretz's political rivals within Labor to oust him -- as a weak, ineffectual leader who cannot even persuade his own coalition partner to launch an independent investigation of their conduct during the war!
Thus, every way Amir Peretz turns, he's up to his yarmulke in alligators. But that's not his only problem; Olmert, unwilling to be Peretz's whipping boy, is fighting back:
Mr. Olmert, needless to say, was reported by Israeli media to be less than happy with Mr. Peretz’s latest change of position. Olmert aides, without being named, were quoted as saying that Mr. Peretz had caved in to political pressure and was again showing his inexperience.
Olmert is also trying to woo Avigdor Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu ("Our Home Israel") party. Yisrael Beiteinu got 11 seats in the Knesset in the March 2006 elections... so the threat is obvious to Labor (which got 19 seats): if Yisrael Beiteinu were to join the coalition, and if a smaller party were also to join (such as the ultra-orthodox Torah Judaism Party, 6 seats, or Meretz, 5 seats, or Balad or Hadash, 3 seats each -- it's not hard to construct a 61+ seat majority without the Labor Party.
Kadima's current coalition comprises:
|Political Party||Seats in Knesset|
(61 is a majority)
But the other parties that got seats in the Knesset, and who theoretically could replace Labor, are:
|Political Party||Seats in Knesset|
National Religious Party
|United Torah Judaism||6|
|United Arab List||4|
(13+ needed to replace Labor)
However, once the shaky Kadima coalition breaks apart, there is no guarantee that Olmert will be able to hold them together long enough to put a new coalition in place; parties might decide to wait for new elections, thinking that with Kadima and Labor diminished, some of the smaller parties might pick up seats and become more important. Thus, Olmert's implicit theat to dump Labor and replace it with some more complicated coalition of other parties is, while not exactly empty, at least problematical.
So any way you slice the kosher bologna, there are interesting times ahead for Israel. But Big Lizards sticks by its prediction that the Olmert government cannot stand long: as Lincoln (Abraham, not Chafee) said, "you can't fool all the people all the time." Or even a majority of them.
Olmert's government will fall because it has proven to be dangerously incompetent in warfare... and war is the natural state of the state of Israel.
September 1, 2006
Rare Logical Lapse From My Favorite Blog
It's well known that Big Lizards strongly disagrees with Power Line about the effect and consequences of the recent Israeli-Lebanese war: Power Line believes it was an unalloyed, ringing victory for Hezbollah and an unparalleled catastrophe for Israel; while Big Lizards believes that it was a lose-lose scenario, where both sides lost -- but Hezbollah lost worse:
This is why I say that overall, neither Hezbollah nor Israel won this war; both lost. Hezbollah lost the actual ground war worse than Israel did; but Israel lost the PR war worse than did Hezbollah. Iran/Syria and the United States both had slight wins; and Europe showed itself to be, once again, feckless and unreliable....
I agree that Israel did not do anywhere near as well as it could have, had it a different government. But it's just plain irresponsible to don sackcloth, roll in ashes, and proclaim a total and complete victory by the forces of darkness. For heaven's sake, results were mixed on all sides.
The former notes that:
True, under the inept and indecisive leadership of Ehud Olmert, Israel did miss the opportunity to militarily destroy Hezbollah and make it a non-factor in Israel's security, Lebanon's politics and Iran's foreign policy. Nonetheless, Hezbollah was seriously hurt. It lost hundreds of its best fighters. A deeply entrenched infrastructure on Israel's border is in ruins. The great hero has had to go so deep into hiding that Nasrallah has been called "the underground mullah.''
Most importantly, Hezbollah's political gains within Lebanon during the war have proved illusory. As the dust settles, the Lebanese are furious at Hezbollah for provoking a war that brought them nothing but devastation -- and then crowing about victory amid the ruins.
Paul of Power Line finds some logical disconnect between these two sentiments. He believes that if the latter idea is true, that Hezbollah also suffered defeat, then this casts doubt on the idea that Olmert's leadership was "inept":
If Hezbollah has suffered a major defeat and if, as Krauthammer claims, Hezbollah will not attack Israel again, then one can defend Olmert's decision not to sacrifice the lives of hundreds of additional Israeli soldiers in order to accomplish more.
I'm puzzled; typically, Paul Mirengoff is the most logical of the three (John Hinderaker is the passionate Power Liner, especially when it comes to female beauty pageants; while Scott Johnson, with his emphasis on music, is the mystic). But of course, there is no conflict between the following two statements:
- Ehud Olmert is an inept clod who mismanaged the war;
- Nevertheless, Hassan Nasrallah still had his butt handed to him.
What it really means is that Hezbollah was stronger than we thought but weaker than we feared. It certainly doesn't meant that, with more effort and brainpower on Israel's part, Hezbollah couldn't have been wiped out. In fact, recognition, however delayed, of Hezbollah's true weakness should fuel the idea that, if Israel had just tried a little harder, it could have obliterated that awful terrorist group.
No illogicality at all, Paul; the two ideas go together like Michael Moore and a box of jelly donuts.
(By the way, just to sharpen Big Lizards' own nosehorn, here is what Austin Bay said on Strategy Page:
But the emerging "big picture" suggests the War of the Rockets physically punished and politically damaged Hezbollah, despite its media touts of victory.
On the other hand, Israel cannot claim a victory -- at least, not yet.
Heh; Col. Bay could have saved some time by simply reading our previous post!)
August 25, 2006
Run Silent, Run Kosher
MAJOR UPDATE: Commenter Jay Tea of WhizBang notes that the German Dolphin submarines are not boomers at all but fast-attack subs; they can fire torpedo-tube launched Popeye Turbo cruise missiles that can carry nuclear warheads. So ignore all the poetic gunk about boomers (which I don't want to delete, as I kind of like it); but the rest of the post, including the point about nuclear second-strike capability, still stands, I believe!
Israel, alone among all the civilized nations in really taking Iran as seriously as it deserves, has just ordered two more nuclear-capable Dolphin submarines from the Germans.
I do not except even the United States. I believe that George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Donald Rumsfeld truly take Iran as seriously as they ought; but they're not the whole government or even the whole of the Executive. In particular, Congress does not really grasp the enormity of the threat from Iran. And since we are not a dictatorship, the president cannot simply decree an appropriate response.
But Israel lies under such immediate and obvious existential threat, that there is likely not a single member of the Israeli cabinet who does not feel Persian fear in the pit of his stomach. They may disagree over what to do, but that is for the same reason that different bomb-squad members may disagree over which wire to cut: everybody understands how dangerous a bomb is, but nobody wants to snip the wrong wire.
However, there are some things everyone in Israel can agree upon; and one of those is that they desperately need a "second strike" capability. To the extent that the Iranians have any rational survival instinct left, if they believe they would be wiped out by Israeli retaliation, they might think a second time about launching a first nuclear strike, should they manage to obtain (by cyclotron or A.Q. Khan) nuclear weapons.
Hence the Dolphins. You will hear a lot about the "first strike" capability of the German subs; but that's not important. The Israelis already have a first-strike ability via land-based missiles. But under an Iranian nuclear strike, all known or even vaguely suspected Israeli missile silos will be hit many times.
Now the "temple weapons" are buried deep and hard; but it's still possible that several nuclear warheads dropped atop them would crack or seal off the top of the silos, rendering the Israeli weapons completely useless. In fact, it doesn't even need to be true: it's a catastrophe even if the Iranians just falsely think it's true.
But even the most powerful nuclear weapon, hundreds of megatons, has one terrible flaw that spoils everything: you must have at least some idea of where your target is in order to shoot at it! That, of course, is precisely the point of a nuclear submarine.
Subs come in two basic flavors: fast-attack and boomers. The former are tactical weapons: you use them to attack surface shipping, other subs, and maybe even aircraft, depending on their armament. They move quickly, and they spend a lot of time at the surface.
A boomer has but one mission: to get lost. It finds a nice, shady, well-protected spot, then sinks to the ocean floor... and stays there, silent, still, waiting with a terrible patience for the end of the world.
Every so often, it will raise a wire antenna just far enough to be able to communicate in short burst-transmissions with the high command, to find out if they still exist. If they do, off to Davy Jones' locker goes the boomer once more, hibernating until the next contact.
If contact is lost, the captain of the sub has to make a decision that spells life or death not just for the sub (a trivial concern) but for potentially hundreds of thousands or millions of other people.
God forbid a captain guesses wrong -- in either direction.
While the rest of the world plays diplomatic footsie with the mad mullahs, Israel, at least, is trying to drag them forward in time. Not to the present; nobody thinks the Iranians are ready for a twenty-first century world. But at least into the era of modernity... the days of MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction, the geomilitary theory which prevented the West and the Soviet Bloc (and later Red China) from engaging in actual nuclear warfare.
MAD is a deterrant strategy: no bloc can launch a nuclear attack against any of the others, because the attack is certain not to be 100% successful... and the survivors will still have a robust and functional retaliatory capability. Thus, the only certainty is that the attacker will be counterattacked by nukes from a country he just nuked. A country which has already suffered the worst has no reason to shrink from killing tens of millions of the enemy... including as many of the Dear Leaders as they can get.
But MAD is also a quintessentially 20th century strategy; thus, a secondary effect of Israel's move towards a fleet of boomers is that Iran may be dragged, against the will of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his sock puppet, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, at least into the last century... which would be a heck of an improvement from its current 7th-century worldview.
(That has always been my biggest objection to the term "Islamofascist": it fools us into believing the jihadis are more sophisticated than they really are, mistaking them for a 20th-century socialist perversion. We mislead ourselves into thinking that they think like we, when in fact they think like bloodthirsty satraps from the Dark Ages.
(The error may be fatal to our civilization. After "know thyself," the second most important dictum in warfare is "know thine enemy like thyself.")
Let's hope the Israelis have the right idea, and that Persia can be delivered, headfirst and screaming, into modernity, like a squawling newborn shoved from the dark womb into the bright light of the outside world. If so, that's more than half the battle -- because we already know how to deal with a modern, totalitarian dictatorship.
Oh, for the good old days of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union!
August 22, 2006
The "Curious Omission" Gets Curiouser and Curiouser
Three days ago, we noted a curious omission from the New York Times and the Associated Press stories about Israel's commando raid deep into the Bekaa Valley Saturday: while both of those two media sources, as well as the Reuters account, all found occasion to quote chief U.N. envoy to Beirut Terje Roed-Larsen pronouncing Israel's raid "a clear violation of the ceasefire," only Reuters added a second quotation from Mr. Roed-Larsen: that if it were true, as the evidence clearly demonstrates, that Hezbollah were attempting to rearm in Lebanon... then that too would be a violation:
Israel said the operation, in which commandos were airlifted into the area by helicopter, was defensive and was designed to disrupt weapons supplies to Hizbollah from Syria and Iran.
It denied it had violated the resolution, which allows it to act in self-defense, and accused Hizbollah of doing so by smuggling weapons. Roed-Larsen said that if the guerrilla group was [sic] found to have smuggled weapons, it would indeed be in breach of the truce.
Well, here it is, 72 hours later... and now it appears that even Reuters has forgotten that vital piece of information. In a new article, Reuters -- perhaps having been teased unmercifully by its playmates for its unseemly faux pas -- repeats the point that the UN condemned Israel's raid as a violation... but they make no reference whatsoever to the fact that the same UN representative likewise condemned Hezbollah's provocation. Exhibit A:
"From Israel, we expect a renewed effort, this time truly binding, to respect the ceasefire," [Italian] Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema told La Repubblica newspaper.
"It's fair to expect that Hizbollah put down their weapons, but we cannot send our troops to Lebanon if the (Israeli) army keeps shooting."
The U.N.-backed truce was shaken by an Israeli commando raid in eastern Lebanon's Bekaa Valley on Saturday, which the U.N. deemed a ceasefire violation.
Israel says Saturday's raid was a defensive action and, as such, does not constitute a breach of U.N. Security Council resolution 1701, which brought the war to an end.
The Jewish state has accused Hizbollah of violating the resolution by smuggling arms from Syria and has said its jets need to fly over Lebanon to counter such activities.
So on the left hand, we have the fact that "the U.N. deemed" Israel's raid violated the ceasefire; while on the right hand, we are told only that "Israel says" they were responding to an earlier violation by Hezbollah, which is merely an "assus[ation]" by (of course) "the Jewish state." Darn those Jews! Cheating again!
But on the third hand, Reuters itself, in the earlier article, admitted that it was not just Israel that considered rearming a violation; the U.N. itself agreed (conditionally), in the person of the rude Mr. Larsen -- I'm sorry, I meant Mr. Roed-Larsen -- an official U.N. spokesman. (The condition was that if Hezbollah tried to rearm, then that would be a violation; Roed-Larsen had not personally investigated whether that was true or not.)
As Sgt. Garcia says in yet another episode of Zorro -- see what I mean about that television show being the font of all wisdom? -- "have you not heard it said, never let your right hand know what your left hand is doing?"
(Cpl. Reyes: My left hand isn't doing anything.
Sgt. Garcia: Neither is your head, baboso!)
So the omission just got, to quote Alice in Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland, "curiouser and curiouser."
August 19, 2006
Israeli Commando Raid: the Case of the Curious Omission
It's clear from reading the accounts in various antique-media sources what the Israeli raid into the Bekaa was all about: Iran has been trying to rearm Hezbollah through Syria; the Israeli commando raid sought to disrupt that rearming, and in addition, capture a high-value Hezbollah target.
The raid took place in "the village of Boudai west of Baalbek in eastern Lebanon, about 17 miles from the Syrian border," according to AP. It was disrupted by Hezbollah fighters -- whether before or after it achieved its objectives depends upon whether you believe Israel or Hezbollah -- and a firefight ended up killing one Israeli soldier and three Hezbollah, and wounding a further two Israelis and three Hezbollah soldiers.
Beyond that much, the details are murky. But a couple of interesting tidbits remain. First, for those who insist that George W. Bush, the most pro-Israel president since Lyndon Johnson, threw Israel under the bus, here is an interesting counter-argument: according to every news account, we've still got Israel's back even now. Associated Press:
The White House declined to criticize the raid, noting that Israel said it acted in reaction to arms smuggling into Lebanon and that the U.N. resolution calls for the prevention of resupplying Hezbollah with weapons.
"The incident underscores the importance of quickly deploying the enhanced UNIFIL," White House spokeswoman Jeanie Mamo said.
Washington, Israel's chief ally, said it had noted the Jewish state's position.
"The prevention of the resupply of weapons to Hizbollah by Syria and Iran is a key provision of the U.N. Security Council resolution 1701," a White House official said.
Whether we encouraged Israel until it flaked out on us, or whether we prevented the Jewish state from finally securing its own defense, is actually a very important question. The commentariat, both in the blogosphere and in the news media, divides neatly into two groups:
- Those who think Israel ran a feckless and infantile "pseudowar," and that the United States salvaged what little it could with UN Security Council Resolution 1701, the ceasefire agreement;
- Those who think Israel was right on the brink of annihilating Hezbollah, when the US stuck out an invisible foot to trip them up, then dragged them, kicking and screaming, to the ceasefire.
Big Lizards is in Camp 1; the Center for Security Policy is clearly in Camp 2. But groups in the latter camp have never quite explained why, given a month of latitude, Israel itself didn't simply send in a strong enough force to get the job done (Camp-2 spokesfolks tend to mutter darkly about Israel being held back and prevented from fighting by mystery orders from Washington that are, alas, so secret that nobody has seen them).
The fact that we are still, today, championing Israel's right to conduct this commando raid while the ceasefire is in effect, that we refuse to characterize it as a violation, speaks volumes about which camp is correct: it seems rather unlikely to me that we would "force" Israel to stop and force them to agree to a ceasefire that leaves Hezbollah intact -- and then blithely tell them they can go ahead and raid deep into the Bekaa Valley against Hezbollah. Frank Gaffney will have to explain that one to me.
But there is a more interesting (to me, at least) media point: the fact that, while the Bush administration still backs Israel in this war against Hezbollah, some of the elite media definitely seem to have shifted to their more usual support for the terrorists. In discussing the legality of the raid, vis-à-vis the ceasefire agreement that Israel signed, all three stories above quote the senior United Nations envoy in Beirut, Terje Roed-Larsen:
The New York Times:
A high-ranking United Nations official, Terje Roed-Larsen, told Lebanese television that he could not independently confirm the details of the raid. “But if wat has been reported is correct,” he said, “it is of course a clear violation of the ceasefire.”
Before departing for Israel, Roed-Larsen said if the report about the Israeli commando raid was true, the incident would be "a clear violation" of the U.N.-imposed cease-fire agreement.
"And it is also unhelpful in a very complex and very fragile situation," he said in an interview with the Lebanese Broadcasting Corp.
"We had no independent means to verify...what has happened," envoy Terje Roed-Larsen told Lebanon's LBC television. "But if what has been reported is correct, it is of course a clear violation of the cease-fire."
This makes it quite clear that the United Nations officially considers such raids to violate the ceasefire: Israel is cheating -- again!
But only the last source, Reuters, added a second quotation from Mr. Roed-Larsen, one that responds to the Israeli claim that they were trying to prevent Hezbollah from being rearmed by Iran:
Israel said the operation, in which commandos were airlifted into the area by helicopter, was defensive and was designed to disrupt weapons supplies to Hizbollah from Syria and Iran.
It denied it had violated the resolution, which allows it to act in self-defense, and accused Hizbollah of doing so by smuggling weapons. Roed-Larsen said that if the guerrilla group was [sic] found to have smuggled weapons, it would indeed be in breach of the truce.
Neither AP nor the Times noted that the very same UN envoy they all quoted condemning Israel likewise condemned Hezbollah... incidentally buttressing Israel's position that the raid was not a violation, since Israel was responding to a flagrant violation by Hezbollah.
To show that this is no accident, consider this comic exchange in the New York Times story:
The success of the effort was a matter of dispute. One Israeli special operations officer was killed and two commandos were wounded, one seriously, but an Israeli Army spokesman in Jerusalem said the mission’s “objectives had been attained in full.”
Villagers said otherwise. “They failed completely,” said Sadiq Hamdi, 36, a scrap-iron dealer. “They were still on the road when the Hezbollah came upon them. They did not take 1 percent of what they were trying to do.”
Ah -- so according to the Times, a "scrap-iron dealer" has the same credibility as an Israeli Army spokesman! Actually more; recall what I wrote in The Simple Art of Propaganda (I warned you to take careful notes, as this would be on the test):
I changed the font sizes above to indicate the propagandistic effect of "call and response." This occurs (in both print and broadcast media) when Party A makes a point, and the writer (or host) then allows Party B to have the resounding response.
You see it in operation here... and again, as in the Propaganda post, Israel gets the short end of the horse: the Israelis insist the raid was successful; but our resident expert, a scrap-iron dealer and Hezbollah supporter, puts the lie to that absurd claim!
We do know (via AP) that the Israelis destroyed a bridge; if that were a major bridge on a road used by arms smugglers, then the raid indeed may have been at least partially successful; and if the Israelis seized Sheik Mohammed Yazbeck, who lives in Boudai, then it may have been completely successful.
So don't ever forget and please always remember: the subtext between the lines is often more interesting and informative than the printed words themselves. The United States still backs Israel in its actual warfare against Hezbollah (contrary to those folks in Camp 2, who cannot let go their charming fantasies about almighty Israel) -- and the mainstream media still supports the other side.
August 18, 2006
Threat, or Menace, Part Deux
So Scott Johnson finally dropped the other slipper in his continuing bad analogy comparing the US-brokered, UN-supported ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hezbollah to the 1938 Munich agreement, brokered by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, among others. In our last episode, Scott stated that the Munich agreement resulted in a delay of World War II by about a year -- during which time, Scott asserted, Germany got stronger relative to the UK -- hence, it was a terrible agreement from Britain's perspective:
Like the UN resolution, the Munich Agreement assured that war, when it came, would be on terms more favorable to the fascists than they otherwise would have been.
At the end of the post, he added an update, in which a historian, John Steele Gordon, countered that the RAF had dramatically increased its strength relative to the German Luftwaffe... thus, that there is a good argument, at least, that the Munich agreement was actually good for Britain:
But had the Battle of Britain been fought in the summer of 1939 instead of a year later, those few to whom so much is owed would not have been able to save the many.
(Gordon refers, of course, to Winston Churchill's famous aphorism about the Royal Air Force: "Never have so many owed so much to so few".)
Now, this seemed a rather damning claim; if true, it completely undercuts Scott's analogy. But this was Scott's response to this point:
The first point I leave to pursue another day.
I suggested in my previous post that surely that other day had better be soon; I don't imagine that Scott was responding to me -- I highly doubt he reads Big Lizards! -- but evidently, sundry other readers responded via e-mail, rather than a blog entry, and Scott has realized he needs to address the argument directly.
Well... more or less. He still talks around the core question, which is (if you haven't forgotten in all the excitement) whether the 1938 Munich agreement was good or bad for the civilized world.
"Common sense" says it was bad; but common sense is what tells us that the world is flat, so it doesn't have much of a track record. We need some uncommon sense, which is another word for actual analysis. This he attempts to provide by a series of quotations, largely unanalyzed themselves (except by their selection).
From a biography of Churchill by William Manchester, Scott notes that, while it's true that the RAF increased from five to 47 squadrons during that time, and also dramatically increased its anti-aircraft batteries, the ground and naval forces remained static. In fact, Chamberlain refused to increase the army budget from 1938-1939, nor did he order a military draft; quoting Manchester, Scott writes:
In every other category--artillery, tanks, and equipped divisions--Nazi gains were overwhelming...The number of Nazi divisions jumped from seven to fifty-one...
But of course, as we all know from history, Germany never invaded the British Isles -- precisely because they could never win the air war against the RAF, and likely for that reason, could never win the sea battle against the Royal Navy. A reasonable person might conclude that Chamberlain deliberately chose a strategy of interdicting the Nazis before they landed, rather than a strategy where:
[W]e shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills....
Of course, with the benefit of hindsight, it seems to have worked -- provided Chamberlain was ousted (forced to resign) in May of 1940, on the eve of Germany's Netherlands campaign, to be replaced by Churchill... an almost miraculous turn of events in Great Britain. (Perhaps that was part of Chamberlain's grand strategy!)
Still, many people believe that Hitler might have been more stoppable if the eventual Allies had been able to launch a massive assault in mid-1938 or early-1939; but there's really no way they could have done that. France's army, thought to be the most powerful in Europe, turned out to be made of papier-mâché; had Great Britain relied upon their historical allies, the French, to keep their backs while they charged into the valley of death, the Brits might have found themselves "Paris"-ed.
Scott quotes also from Winston Churchill's own account of that period, the Gathering Storm, in service of the point that Chamberlain should have considered what might happen to France and Czechoslovakia, not merely what happened to Great Britain -- mostly, I think Scott means, because after falling, they could not help fight the Nazis:
The subjugation of Czechosloviakia robbed the Allies of the Czech Army of twenty-one regular divisions, fifteen or sixteen second-line divisions already mobilised, and also their mountain fortress line which, in the days of Munich, had required the deployment of thirty German divisions, or the main strength of the mobile and fully trained German Army.... We certainly suffered a loss through the fall of Czechoslovakia equivalent to some thirty-five divisions. Besides this the Skoda Works, the second most important arsenal in Central Europe, was made to change sides adversely....
Even more disastrous was the alteration in the relative strength of the French and German Armies. With every month that passed, from 1938 onwards the German Army was not only increased in numbers and formations, and in the accumulation of reserves, but in quality and maturity....
Far be it from me to argue with Winston Churchill, my favorite hero of World War II. But -- well, what at the odds that, absent the Munich agreement, the Nazis would have decided not to attack Czechoslovakia? And had they attacked, does any historian argue that they would have lost and been sent reeling backwards by the Czechs and Slovaks?
Clearly, whatever state the Allied armies were in at the time of the Munich agreement, they would have been in the same state during a Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia in the alternative history we postulate, since that invasion would probably have happened within weeks of an Allied refusal at Munich. And having watched the reduction of Czechoslovakia -- and the certainty that the Nazis would have treated that country the way Rome treated Carthage -- does anybody believe this would have stiffened the French spines, causing them to have more courage?
In my completely untrained and uninformed opinion, the French collapsed in 44 days not because they didn't have a big enough army, but because they didn't have a big enough will to fight. There is no reason to believe that their already shaky intestinal fortitude would have been increased by watching a horrific, bloody, futile defense of Czechoslovakia.
Finally, Scott quotes from Telford Taylor's Munich: The Price of Peace:
[O]ne can safely say that that the possibility of establishing an allied front in France that would hold would have been far better than it was when the war actually began--both because France and especially Britain would have had more time to strengthen the front, and because Germany could not have denuded her eastern frontiers and concentrated virtually all her forces in the west, as she was able to do after the Nazi-Soviet pact and the destruction of Poland.
But what makes Taylor think that if the war had come a year sooner, the Hitler-Stalin Pact, and the accompanying dismemberment of Finland, Poland, Romania, and the Baltics, wouldn't also have come a year sooner? Does he even address that question?
Taylor appears, in this passage, to think of the Pact as if it were an uncontrollable and external force of nature, like a volcanic eruption or a solar flare. But in reality, it was Stalin's attempt to forestall war with the Nazis either forever, if Hitler had kept his part of it, or at least until the Red Army could be strengthened enough to be up to the fight, in Uncle Joe's opinion. If open war with the USSR had loomed earlier than it did, doesn't it make sense that Stalin would have agreed to a Pact then?
It was certainly in Hitler's best interest to secure his eastern border before embarking upon a war in the West; and Stalin surely had no great reason to love the Allies any more than he loved the Nazis... less, in fact, as National Socialism was less intrinsically antithetical to Soviet Communism than was Western capitalism. (Hitler railed against Communism -- but he railed just as much against capitalism. Of course, his hatred of the Jews overmatched both, but that's irrelevant to this specific point.)
Thus, as always happens in alternative history, we're left with a hundred question marks for every exclamation point. Even Scott admits as such:
The variables that must be taken into account of course make it difficult to reach any conclusion with absolute certainty.
Truer words are rarely spoken... and now I find that the analogy between the Munich agreement and United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, the Israeli-Hezbollah ceasefire agreement, is not so "atrocious" afterall, for they share a critical element: in neither case do we have enough information now to say whether it was good or bad for the civilized world.
August 17, 2006
U.N. Ceasefire Agreement - Threat, or Menace?
In a very puzzling passage from yet another Scott Johnson post comparing the Israeli-Hezbollah ceasefire agreement to Neville Chamberlain's Munich Agreement ("Peace in our time!"), we find the following exchange:
Like the UN resolution, the Munich Agreement assured that war, when it came, would be on terms more favorable to the fascists than they otherwise would have been.
Historian John Steele Gordon (who Scott quotes in an update):
First, Munich, signed September 30th, gave Britain eleven months to rearm before war broke out, which it did with increasing vigor, as Chamberlain greatly accelerated rearmament immediately after Munich. The Royal Air Force was relatively stronger vis-a-vis the Luftwaffe in September, 1939, than in September, 1938. It was still miserably weak, to be sure. But had the Battle of Britain been fought in the summer of 1939 instead of a year later, those few to whom so much is owed would not have been able to save the many.
The first point I leave to pursue another day.
But great Scot, Scott, doesn't this completely blow your analogy out of the water? If in fact the Munich Agreement meant that the war, when it came, was actually fought on terms more favorable to the RAF than the Luftwaffe, and if you're correct that Munich is analogous to the current ceasefire agreement, then....
Well, perhaps "another day" should come pretty darned quick, if it's to save your argument from complete collapse!
August 15, 2006
Avoiding the patriotic chest-thumping of the Bush administration; dismissing the self-serving doubletalk of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz; brushing off the triumphalist squawking of Sheikh Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah; and shunning the tantrum of defeatism by Jed Babbin and his ilk, let's take a moment to tally up, in as unbiased a fashion as we can, who won, who lost, and in what ways, in the recent dustup between Israel and Hezbollah.
Alas, much of the result is opaque, depending still on future events. But I'll try my best to make predictions.
Let's go through each player in turn, starting with...
Israel and Hezbollah
The war clearly was not a "win" for Israel; but that does not necessarily mean it was a "loss," either.
The Israeli hostages: Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev remain as hostages in Hezbollah's hands, though securing their release was a major reason that Israel went to war in the first place (not the major reason; that was to decimate -- not obliterate -- the threat posed to Israel by Hezbollah's proximity to the Blue Line border). On this goal, Israel was utterly thwarted.
However, Hezbollah itself was also thwarted on this issue. When Hezbollah sent an 80-man raiding party into Israel to kill some Israeli soldiers and capture hostages, they were slightly successful: they only netted two "bargaining chips," despite a very strong incursion; two, however, is better for Hezbollah than none, so this has to be accounted a minor victory.
However, they didn't seize the hostages simply for fun. They intended to exchange them for duly convicted Hezbollah criminals serving their sentences in Israeli jails for various horrific crimes against Israelis. And on that larger goal, so far Hezbollah appears to have lost, and lost badly.
During the upcoming prisoner exchange, there is every indication that Israel will only offer some of the high muckety-mucks of Hezbollah captured during the war, which isn't at all what Hassan Nasrallah had in mind when he ordered Israeli soldiers grabbed in the first place. In fact, at the end of the war, Israel holds considerably more Hezbollah prisoners of war than Hezbollah holds hostages.
On this issue, far from being a big win for Hezbollah, the terrorists lost big time: they managed to capture two Israeli IDF members, but only at the cost of a much larger number of higher ranking Hezbollah members. I would have to rate this issue either a draw or, if anything, a slight advantage to Israel (I'll discuss the PR damage later).
The Katyusha and other rocket forces: not enough were destroyed, and too many (nearly 4,000) were launched into Israel; Israel did not shoot down any of these missiles; they were never able to stop the launches.
On the other hand, the rockets proved far more effective at scaring Israelis than killing them. On the whole, Hezbollah achieved a minor victory on this issue.
Actual combat at arms: Israel won hands down. At the beginning of the war, there was a boatload of chatter about how much tougher and stronger Hezbollah was than anyone had anticipated. Iran had heavily trained Hezbollah -- the forward-deployed SpecOps branch of the mullah's military -- and they were armed with much more effective anti-personnel, anti-tank, and anti-aircraft weapons. The implication was clear: this time, the Israelis would blunt their swords against the stone wall of Hezbollah resistance.
In reality, Hezbollah was beaten like a bass drum in every face-to-face encounter with Israel. On those few occasions where Olmert actually consented to allow the IDF to fight, they killed the highly trained Hezbollah "soldiers" at a ratio of about 7:1 or 8:1, sometimes much higher. Many of the IDF deaths resulted from sniper fire and rocketry; remove those, and the overall ratio of kills is probably more than 6:1 in Israel's favor.
Hezbollah killed a few Israeli Merkava tanks; but Israel overran numerous Hezbollah "strongholds" and destroyed many rocket launchers (not enough of the latter, however). And Hezbollah, for all its fighting and Israel's hesitation, was nevertheless driven back relentlessly.
Israel gets points for their actual combat victories on the ground.
Hezbollah proximity to the border: prior to the war, Hezbollah enjoyed clear and unchallenged control of all Lebanese territory from somewhat north of the Litani River all the way down to the border, plus the entirety of the Bekaa Valley and large portions of Beirut. To Israel, the most immediately threatening Hezbollah position was that between the Litani and the Blue Line (the internationally accepted border between Israel and Lebanon).
At the moment, Hezbollah no longer controls that portion of Lebanon; but their hold over the rest of their territory further north is undiminished. For Hezbollah to reclaim south Lebanon, the Lebanese Army and the UNIFIL force would both have to abdicate their joint central mission. While that is certainly not outside the realm of possibility, it hasn't happened yet.
And it's unlikely to happen in the next couple of months; as we've said a number of times on Big Lizards, a lot can happen in that time -- including perhaps the collapse of Olmert's Monster and the election of a more stable government with a prime minister and defense minister who will actually fight next time (see infra).
At this point, I must take the data as they currently exist, not a blind guess about what might happen months from now. At the moment, Israel succeeded in pushing Hezbollah back by and large across the Litani. Those ten Katyushas that were fired at Israeli forces last night were fired from central Lebanon -- north of the Litani -- not from the south. This is a major military victory for Israel.
Public relations: this is the point on which Hezbollah achieved its greatest victory, accompanied by Israel's most substantial loss. The world -- not just the Arab world -- is not looking at this war in the nuanced fashion found on this site: they see only that "tiny" Hezbollah stood up to "giant" Israel, toe to toe... and that it was Israel who blinked and begged for a ceasefire.
It's not true' but Hezbollah has been as brilliant at spinning straw into gold as Rumplestiltskin. The world has bought into Nasrallah's fantasy.
Of course, it's the outcome that most of the world (including most of antisemitic Europe) desperately wanted to see; and it's arguable that no matter what happened on the ground, that's the result that Hezbollah would declare and much of the world would believe: Israel could have slaughtered 9,000 Hezbollah fighters and driven the organization all the way back up into Syria, and Nasrallah would still have declared a historic victory while the ummah cheered and shot fireworks.
Nevertheless, Israel badly lost the PR war. The loss was inevitable; but Israel managed to lose it worse than they needed to do.
Political fallout: the stature of Hezbollah has been dramatically enhanced, not only throughout Lebanon but the entire ummah.
But in Lebanon in particular, Hezbollah went from being distrusted invaders from Iran and Syria -- to being national heroes of Lebanese sovereignty and religious heroes of rising Islamic power. If elections are held anytime soon in Lebanon, Hezbollah will surely do much better than they did in the May-June 2005 elections.
In the 2005 race, the Rafik Hariri Martyr List won a clear majority of 72 of the 128 seats in the Lebanese parliament; Hezbollah won 14 seats and were offered two positions in the cabinet. However, if elections were held today, it would not be surprising if Hezbollah nearly reversed that result.
Of course, the Hariri bloc will do everything it can to prevent elections from being held anytime soon; and given a cooling-off period -- and especially if the war resumes later with more positive results for Israel in round two -- it's probable that Hezbollah's actual electoral gains will be kept to a minimum.
Still, I cannot see a situation where they would not pick up seats, no matter how long the ruling bloc manages to delay. Thus, it's a political victory for Hezbollah, but not as much as many might expect.
Contrariwise, the war was little short of electoral disaster for the Olmert government. Already shaky -- a weak coalition between Kadima and Labor with a lot of minor parties needed to make even a bare majority of the Knesset -- the conduct of the war by the two coalition partners, Prime Minister Olmert of Kadima and Defense Minister Peretz, the head of Labor, is widely seen by Israelis across the political spectrum as incompetent to the point of imbecility.
The Israeli Defense Force, the only universally respected institution in Israel, has become open and vocal in their scorn for the political "leadership." I do not see how Olmert's Monster can survive the next few months; a quick vote of no-confidence, followed by general elections 90 days later, will completely change the scene in Israel, one way or another.
Likud is likely the big political winner: they came in only fourth in the last election, running not only behind Kadima and Labor but also the radical Sephardic religious party Shas. Over the next couple of months, I suspect anger at both Kadima and Labor will only deepen, as will the fear of terrorism and Hezbollah on the part of Israeli citizens, no matter what their party. If new elections are held in the next four months, I predict that Likud will win an outright majority, or at least so close to one that they need only ally with other right-leaning parties and can exclude Labor and the Israeli Left altogether.
Kadima will not survive this political catastrophe; I think everyone in Israel now understands that it was a creature entirely of Ariel Sharon, and it should have died with his his permanent incapacitation.
But Likud's victory does not necessarily mean Binyamin Netanyahu's victory. It's hard to tell. Netanyahu may manage to resuscitate a career that many had written off as dead, but it's not certain. I suspect it will definitely lead to the restoration of Shaul Mofaz, demoted to make way for Peretz, to his previous position as Defense Minister (unless he becomes PM).
So the political winners will be Hezbollah in Lebanon and Likud in Israel -- and Israel itself, in my opinion, because I have always hated Labor and I never believed in Kadima's existence for a moment; the losers are the Hariri bloc in Lebanon and Kadima and Labor in Israel.
Iran and Syria
Iran fomented a war between Israel and Hezbollah ("let's you and him fight!"), gained in international prestige as the only Moslem power to successful stand up to Israel, briefly distracted some attention from its own nuclear program, and managed to damage the "Little Satan"... all this while paying only a very small price:
- Iran was not directly attacked;
- Its catspaw Syria was not directly attacked;
Iran's Hezbollah was cut up some; but the mullahs and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad don't care if Hezbollah members are captured or even killed.
They're like the cockroach army eternally battling Fat Freddy's Cat in the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers underground comic: break another 1,221,785 soldiers out of egg storage!
The only price they paid was in the poor performance of Hezbollah in the field; this casts much doubt on Hezbollah's ability to serve as a devastating counterattack in the event the United States attacks Iran.
On balance, Iran is a winner in this conflict, as is its sock puppet, Syria, but not huge winners.
The United States
The United States demonstrated that it is willing to give Israel every opportunity to defeat our common enemies; the fact that Israel squandered that opportunity doesn't turn us into losers.
We showed that we could negotiate an agreement through the UN that was considerably more pro-Israel than such agreements usually end up being. UNSCR 1701 clearly ascribed blame for starting the war entirely to Hezbollah, and Hezbollah is held to much harsher terms than is Israel. The agreement is supposed to lock in a number of gains made by Israel -- though whether it will succeed in doing so is doubtful (because of the toothless nature of the United Nations).
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and UN Ambassador John Bolton proved in particular considerably more adroit than previous diplomats (Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright) at eliciting pro-Israeli clauses and killing off anti-Israeli, pro-terrorist clauses; they work very well as a team, and Condi showed that she was neither a lightweight nor an "Arabist."
From what I can tell, Israelis recognize the extraordinary latitude President Bush gave to Olmert, and they are very grateful; their anger seems to be directed entirely at Olmert and Peretz -- and, per Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.Gen. Dan Halutz of the Israeli Air Force -- for not taking advantage of America's defense to press the offensive and really chew up Hezbollah -- Israelis don't blame us for Olmert's ineptness.
On the whole, except insofar as the entire civilized world loses whenever barbarity is not soundly trounced, the United States probably won slightly in this conflict: we proved we had the willingness and the ability to guard the backs of our friends.
The Big Picture
This is why I say that overall, neither Hezbollah nor Israel won this war; both lost. Hezbollah lost the actual ground war worse than Israel did; but Israel lost the PR war worse than did Hezbollah. Iran/Syria and the United States both had slight wins; and Europe showed itself to be, once again, feckless and unreliable.
The result will probably be an emboldened Hezbollah and an increase in morale for radical Islam, but a turn by Israel towards the right and a hardening of attitudes by the Israeli citizenry. Hezbollah's power within the government of Lebanon will probably increase, while Likud will rise quickly within Israel.
Round two of the Clash of the Titans will probably come before the year is out.
I agree that Israel did not do anywhere near as well as it could have, had it a different government. But it's just plain irresponsible to don sackcloth, roll in ashes, and proclaim a total and complete victory by the forces of darkness. For heaven's sake, results were mixed on all sides.
Let's all just get a grip, evaluate all aspects of the war results, and rationally decide on a future course of action.
August 14, 2006
Hezbollah Attacks; "Ceasefire" Crumbling
Tonight, with the ink still drying on the "ceasefire" agreement, Hezbollah fired at least ten Katyusha rockets at Israeli forces in Lebanese territory between the Blue Line and the Litani River. This flagrantly violates clause OP1 of the agreement resolution.
Israel responded with a small amount of artillery fire; no Israelis were injured and none of the rockets landed in Israeli territory.
However, it's quite clear that Hezbollah has no intention of abiding by the agreement. As soon as they become brazen enough, that will free Israel from following their own part of the agreement, and they can resume their advance -- the "Mulligan" I spoke of before.
The typically anemic and antisemitic UN, which still tries to maintain a veneer of justice and decency, will be stymied trying to blame Israel for Hezbollah's continuing rocket fire. Whatever they may want to say, they'll pretty much have to hold their official tongues. And even if they do not, the Bush administration will be quite justified, in the eyes of the American people, to say, "well, it didn't work -- terrorist organizations have no honor or honesty and we cannot make agreements with them."
In addition, Hezbollah has already announced that they refuse to disarm or allow themselves to be disarmed, which violates clauses OP3, OP8, and OP10.
This is precisely as Big Lizards predicted:
Here is my take: there is no way that Hezbollah can hold its water even long enough for Lebanese and UNIFIL forces to take Israel's place. They will either reject the proposal outright, or more likely accept it -- but with no intention of actually obeying it.
[Sheikh Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary General of Hezbollah] will be overconfident that the UN has his back; he will think that he can resume shooting missiles at Israel before the ink even dries on the agreement, and that Israel will be stymied by UNIFIL and prevented from responding in kind....
But [Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert will want to hang on as long as he can, because he's obviously finished in Likud, even when Kadima evaporates. So he will almost certainly be looking for a solid reason to declare the ceasefire broken and restart the offensive... but this time with the vigor and the ground forces it really needs, rather than trying to do it by airstrikes alone -- which everybody now agrees was a miserable failure.
Well, as to that last part, we'll see; I still believe that Israel will be forced to restart the offensive -- but this time not quite so inoffensively. Here is the "promised land" I predicted in that last post:
So sometime in the next year or so, Israel will be back in Lebanon (possibly under a new prime minister); and this time, there will be no ceasefire. They will finish off Hezbollah as an effective military or terrorist organization in that country. And without either the Syrian Army or Hezbollah, the Syrian intelligence officers will quickly head back home, just ahead of the mobs of angry northern Lebanese with torches and pitchforks.
During that time, Iran will only be able to partially resupply Hezbollah; but when Israel attacks next time, they will no longer rely exclusively on bombs and missiles: next time, the IDF generals get their licks from the git-go. And that is the moment we're waiting for.
I'm not so sanguine about that part... not after watching the fecklessness with which Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz "fought' the war so far. But I have not given up hope (unlike Nancy-boy Jed Babbin), and we'll see how far Hezbollah goes and at what point Israel declares them in violation and repudiates the UN-brokered agreement.
At some point, perhaps Olmert and Peretz will each grow a spine. Stranger things have happened!
Jed Babbin Has Become Nancy Pelosi
Jed Babbin is now guest-hosting on Hugh Hewitt's show -- and he just flatly declared this war a total victory for Hezbollah and a catastrophic defeat for Israel. He pronounced that Lebanon is now "Hezbollahstan," and that there is now no possible way ever to remove them from their complete control of Lebanon. He as much as said that it's all gone, all lost, and we shouldn't bother even fighting anymore.
Babbin said we were back to the "status quo ante," as if Hezbollah were still in their dug-in positions, still had all their missiles, hadn't lost thousands of fighters, and weren't about to have the complication of 30,000 "neutral" troops that they would have to shoot around for their next aggression -- which will still come.
George W. Bush famously said "you're either with us or with the terrorists." Jed Babbin is now with the terrorists.
Oh, I'm sure he would go ballistic if he ever read this post (which he wouldn't, of course; I'm not up there with Instapundit, Power Line, or Hugh Hewitt, and I doubt he drills down any deeper into the blogosphere than sites with that level of popularity). He would insist that no, he's not with the terrorists; he's just being a "realist"... which is why he keeps saying "there are only two winners in this ceasefire: Hezbollah and Iran."
But how does this differ in any way from what John Murtha, John F. Kerry, Harry Reid, and yes, Nancy Pelosi relentlessly intone about Iraq? Don't they say that due to Bush's incompetence, Iraq is completely lost, that it's a total victory for al-Qaeda, that there is nothing we can do now, and that we might as well declare failure and go home?
I see no distinction. In fact, any unbiased analyst -- that is, one who is not such a radical, mindless Likudnik -- would say the results in Lebanon were mixed: Israel certainly did not win; they did not achieve their primary goal, to wipe out Hezbollah, nor their secondary goal of returning the two kidnapped soldiers, though that is still possible; but neither did Hezbollah win: Israel achieved some secondary goals, such as killing a lot of Hezbollah members (several thousand of them) and destroying a large percentage of their missiles, all of which will certainly set Hezbollah back a year or two.
A lot can happen in that time; I sincerely hope that there are new elections quickly, and that this time, Likud wins decisively -- as the polls indicate is likely, though I don't know how long that will last. And I pray that there is another war soon (rather, the continuation of this one)... and that with a more experienced, wartime leadership, including perhaps the restoration of Shaul Mofaz, Israel deals a much more severe and lasting blow to Hezbollah... and also burns Bashar Assad's fingers, making him think twice about toadying up to Iran (and hiding Iraqi WMD and giving sanctuary to high-value Baathist targets).
Hezbollah lost position and operational tempo. They lost their dug-in, heavily tunnelled base in southern Lebanon, and they lost a lot of top leaders to capture and killing. And regardless of how they spin the fight, their Shiite supporters in Lebanon must notice that Israel is still present in south Lebanon, but Hezbollah isn't -- at least in nowhere near the numbers they had.
Too, Israel has shown that in actual ground combat, they can mow down even the New! Improved! Hezbollah fighters, with all their Iranian training and arming. That has to give pause to Hassan Nasrallah, who must have thought that Israel would pay a much higher price for taking as much territory as they did: nearly all the way to the Litani and several ground-forces raids deep into the Bekaa Valley. But Israel lost only about 115 soldiers, while terminating thousands of Hezbollah.
Nasrallah has declared the war a tremendous victory for Hezbollah; but of course, Saddam Hussein declared that Gulf War I was a tremendous victory for Iraq... and as Michael Medved points out, Egypt actually celebrates their "victory" over Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War as a national holiday. In reality, Egypt was crushed, and their entire Third Army was trapped by the Israelis after the ceasefire went into effect (Egypt breached it first).
However, if Nasrallah has any functioning brain cells -- "never attribute to stupidity what can adequately be explained by malice" -- he must realize that on those few occasions when the Israeli government actually allowed the IDF to fight, they rolled through the forward-deployed SpecOps branch of the Iranian military like a scimitar through a casaba melon.
Yet when a caller noted that to Babbin, the guest host literally said that "it doesn't matter how many Hezbollah were killed"... as if it were such a trivial matter that it was absurd even to raise it. I recall the Democrats making similarly dismissive comments when Saddam Hussein was captured and when Musab Zarqawi was killed.
There is another parallel: Babbin is a Likudnik (as am I); but Babbin is so focused on the return of Likud, that he is willing to talk Israel into a massive defeat on the chance that this will bring Bibi Netanyahu back to power.
Every, single guest he has had on so far (half way through his 3-hour stint) has backed him to the hilt, agreeing, following highly leading interrogation, that this is a complete, total, and unalloyed victory for Hezbollah; what an astounding consensus! It reminds me of Saddam Hussein's second election, where he literally got 100% of the vote... isn't that remarkable? Not a single Iraqi but loved the Beloved Leader! Match that, Bush.
(There is, I reckon, the faint possibility that Babbin might have picked his guests using a litmus test. But let's not quibble.)
I cannot get away from the fact that Babbin is now following the Pelosi Playbook down to the last page: if he can make Israelis believe that they have suffered a disasterous defeat, rather than a disappointing draw, then that might boost Likud's chances of new elections -- and who cares whether that also encourages Hezbollah to slaughter more Jews? Can't make an omlet without breaking a few heads.
Does anybody else think we on the Right deserve better analysts than Jed Babbin, with his agenda-driven defeatism? A neoconservative is a person who thinks like a liberal but arrives at conservative conclusions.
There is a reason I am always wary of neoconservatives.
Paul & Carol & Ed & Alice
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
|Shas (Sephardic religious party)||9.5%||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.
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.
August 11, 2006
Hey, Mulligan Man!
I was going to blog on the American-French ceasefire agreement offered for the Israel-Hezbollah war, but Captain Ed beat me to it; he is nothing if not prolific! In any event, I would have said more or less what he says here:
Everything hinges on Nasrallah. If he accepts the terms and allows Siniora to dislodge them from southern Lebanon, Hezbollah is finished regardless of their public claims. Their raison d'etre is the defense of the southern border against Israel -- and if the Lebanese Army takes that responsibility, then their militia serves no purpose in the middle of Lebanon. If Nasrallah balks, then Israel will have a green light and a wide window to finish the job, and they will have lost very little in the hours it will take for the gambit to play to its conclusion.
But allow me to go over this a little more thoroughly and show why Ed and I are right, and the boys at Power Line are wrong, wrong, wrong.
First, here is a summary of the main points of the agreement:
Israel is not required to withdraw immediately; instead, Israel will withdraw "in parallel" with the deployment of the Lebanese Army and UNIFIL (the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon)... which I believe means that as brigades of LANDFILL, er, UNIFIL and the Lebanese deploy, corresponding units of the IDF withdraw.
That means there will be no moment when Israel is gone and there is no international or Lebanese force present, allowing Hezbollah simply to sneak back to where they were before.
Israel is not required to cease all military operations, just all offensive military operations; this is in contrast to Hezbollah, which is required to cease "all attacks." That means that if Hezbollah attacks Israel and the latter responds with military force, Hezbollah is in breach of the agreement -- but Israel is not.
Thus, Israel can legally, under this agreement, remain in situ as the replacement forces deploy, and they can continue attacking rocket launchers and terrorist units that launch attacks either against the IDF invasion force or against Israel itself. Far from protecting Hezbollah from the consequences of its own actions, as Hassan Nasrallah, the jerky-looking head of Hezbollah, demanded and expected, this agreement actually gives legal backing to Israel to defend itself from attack.
- Requires all Hezbollah personnel immediately to move north of the Litani River -- or if they stay, to be disarmed. If they do not, then Lebanon as well as Hezbollah is in breach, and Israel can return to its postponed offensive.
Requires full eventual implementation of UNSC resolutions, including 1559, requiring complete disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon except for the Lebanese Army and UNIFIL.
Of course, this was already requred (by UN resolution, duh), and it wasn't happening; so this probably is a pie-crust promise ("easily made, easily broken"). However, this demand now has teeth, because if it's broken, then the cease-fire is rendered null and void; and, as before, Israel can always return -- preferably with a much better managed offensive that time.
Expands the rules of engagement for UNIFIL to allow it to take aggressive military actions against Hezbollah, if they fail to leave or to disarm:Acting in support of a request from the government of Lebanon to deploy an international force to assist it to exercise its authority throughout the territory, authorizes UNIFIL to take all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind, to resist attempts by forceful means to prevent it from discharging its duties under the mandate of the Security Council, and to protect United Nations personnel, facilities, installations and equipment, ensure the security and freedom of movement of United Nations personnel, humanitarian workers, and, without prejudice to the responsibility of the government of Lebanon, to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence.
This is hardly perfect; but neither has been Israel's "offensive," which so far is about the most inoffensive offensive I think I've ever seen.
Here is my take: there is no way that Hezbollah can hold its water even long enough for Lebanese and UNIFIL forces to take Israel's place. They will either reject the proposal outright, or more likely accept it -- but with no intention of actually obeying it.
Nasrallah will be overconfident that the UN has his back; he will think that he can resume shooting missiles at Israel before the ink even dries on the agreement, and that Israel will be stymied by UNIFIL and prevented from responding in kind. Arabs typically make straight-line projections, and they're utterly asea if anything changes. Recall that Nasrallah himself said he was stunned by Israel's aggressive response to a few murders and kidnappings; the response was all out of character, and he was outraged.
And he would be right, except that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is sitting atop a powderkeg, and he knows it.
Israelis are seething at the government, which they see as having given them the worst of both worlds, Likud and Labor: they swore that they would destroy Hezbollah, riling up the entire world against Israel... and then didn't really even try to do so, thus turning the Israeli Defense Force into a laughingstock.
I predict that the Kadima government under Olmert will collapse within four months of this ceasefire agreement, no matter how it comes out; at least, clear signs will be readily visible that they're on their way out. There will be new elections, and most of Kadima's vote will just split between Likud and Labor, with a strong edge to the party that is serious about national defense. Kadima-niks will drift back to their parties of origin, and Israel's flirtation with a third major party (as opposed to the raft of tiny parties) will be abandoned -- and not a minute too soon.
After all, Kadima was Ariel Sharon, and he was Kadima; it will not survive him.
But Olmert will want to hang on as long as he can, because he's obviously finished in Likud, even when Kadima evaporates. So he will almost certainly be looking for a solid reason to declare the ceasefire broken and restart the offensive... but this time with the vigor and the ground forces it really needs, rather than trying to do it by airstrikes alone -- which everybody now agrees was a miserable failure.
So sometime in the next year or so, Israel will be back in Lebanon (possibly under a new prime minister); and this time, there will be no ceasefire. They will finish off Hezbollah as an effective military or terrorist organization in that country. And without either the Syrian Army or Hezbollah, the Syrian intelligence officers will quickly head back home, just ahead of the mobs of angry northern Lebanese with torches and pitchforks.
During that time, Iran will only be able to partially resupply Hezbollah; but when Israel attacks next time, they will no longer rely exclusively on bombs and missiles: next time, the IDF generals get their licks from the git-go. And that is the moment we're waiting for.
In other words, this ceasefire agreement is a "Mulligan," allowing Israel to restart the war somewhat later, with a still-weakened Hezbollah and with a much better military campaign planned. It's their chance finally to do what they should have done in the first place: treat this war as a real war, not as a spanking.
August 10, 2006
The Grey Lady Vs. the Stately Lady
In an utterly predictable (and very offensive) news offensive, the New York Times now treats Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as an empty vessel, buffeted by the waves of passion from the right and diplomacy from the left. As the Times puts it:
As Ms. Rice has struggled with the Middle East crisis over the last four weeks, she has found herself trying to be not only a peacemaker abroad but also a mediator among contending parties at home.
Washington’s resistance to an immediate cease-fire and its staunch support of Israel have made it more difficult for Ms. Rice to work with other nations, including some American allies, as they search for a formula that will end the violence and produce a durable cease-fire.
The overall tone of the story paints Condi Rice as having no ideas or principles of her own; she merely tries to balance the traditional State Department's orientation of America as a "neutral broker" between Israel and Hezbollah -- and the tilt of the "neoconservatives" towards Israel:
On her recent trips to the Middle East, Ms. Rice was accompanied by two men with very different outlooks on the conflict: Elliott Abrams, senior director at the National Security Council, and C. David Welch, a career diplomat and former ambassador to Egypt who is assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs.
Mr. Welch represents the traditional State Department view that the United States should serve as a neutral broker in the Middle East. Mr. Abrams, a neoconservative with strong ties to Mr. Cheney, has pushed the administration to throw its support behind Israel. During Ms. Rice’s travels, he kept in direct contact with Mr. Cheney’s office.
One administration official described how during the trip — including a July 29 discussion in Ms. Rice’s Rabin suite at the David Citadel Hotel, with its panoramic view of Jerusalem’s Old City — Mr. Welch and Mr. Abrams served as counterfoils, with Mr. Welch arguing the Arab view and Mr. Abrams articulating the Israeli stance.
But there is no reason to suppose that Condi herself is neutral between these two points of view. As the secretary of state, she clearly must bring Welch along; he is State's number two guy on Middle East issues. Not to bring him would be an absolute scandal, and he would likely resign -- igniting a pointless and damaging war between the secretary and the department.
But since even the Times agrees that Rice's own policy directives far more favor the position of Elliot Abrams -- whom she personally talked into returning to government service on the National Security Council when Condi was the National Security Advisor -- isn't the simplest explanation that she brought Welch by tradition, but she brought Abrams by choice?
As fighting was breaking out last month between Hezbollah and Israel, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice worked through the night at her guest quarters on Russia’s Baltic coast to draft America’s response to the unfolding crisis.
The strategy she outlined that night, the eve of the Group of 8 meeting, dispensed with traditional diplomatic flourishes. It included no call for an immediate cease-fire and expressly stated that Israel had a right to defend itself.
And if so, then it's not unreasonable to infer that Condoleezza Rice is, in fact, in the Abrams camp: that she is not simply being pushed towards Israel by the winds emanating from the White House (or the Naval Observatory), like a kite in a storm -- but that she, herself, favors letting Israel beat down Hezbollah.
I'm not generally one to see "sexism" or "racism" around every bed; but in this case, I cannot help but wonder whether the New York Times would be so quick to assume the secretary of state has no will of her own were she not a beautiful, attractive black woman -- who happens to be a conservative.
If "Madam Madeleine" were issuing the same policies in response to the same crisis, am I alone in thinking that the Times would instead be praising her strength, independence, and control of foreign policy?
August 9, 2006
The Simple Art of Propaganda
Sometimes we get so caught up in the minutiae of this or that battle, engagement, or encounter, that we forget to step back and take in the entire vista. I don't mean the view of the Israeli-Hezbollah war itself, though obviously that's important; in this case, the whole gestalt I want to focus on is the techniques by which the American elite news media has turned news reporting into propaganda.
Worse, not pro-Israeli or pro-Western secular democracy propaganda; that I would understand. But rather, into propaganda for the worst enemies of Western civilization... in fact, the bitterest enemies of the very "free press" that is cravenly crafting the agit-prop.
Here is the required reading for this class: Cabinet OKs Expanding Israeli Offensive, distributed by the Associated Press today, August 9th, 2006. The supposed thrust of the story is that the Israelis have finally decided to dramatically expand their offensive (as Big Lizards knew they eventually would have to do), seizing control of all Lebanese territory up to the Litani River.
But the real point is to subtly (and at times blatantly and overtly) portray the offensive as a failure and quagmire, and to enlist the aid of world opinion and the weariness and wariness of the Israeli public to force Israel to pull out immediately. (Why the antique media would want to do this is irrelevant to this discussion; this is about the actual mechanics.)
Subtext, or Reading Behind the Lines
Let's start right away with the opening pair of grafs:
Israel's Security Cabinet overwhelmingly decided Wednesday to send troops deeper into Lebanon in a major expansion of the ground war - an attempt to further damage Hezbollah before a cease-fire is imposed.
The decision could pressure the United Nations to work faster on a cease-fire deal to try to stop the offensive.
What is AP trying to do in this lead in?
- On the most obvious level, they are trying to taint the reader against 'unfair Israel,' 'Israel the cheater,' from the very start.
Americans and Westerners believe in fair play and following the rules. Thus, from the very first sentence, AP portrays Israel's expansion as an underhanded trick designed to take unfair advantage before the whistle is blown. Rather than give them the benefit of the doubt -- perhaps they're expanding the offensive to try to stop the missile attacks on Israeli cities? -- AP's Karin Laub delves deep into the psychological motivation of the Israelis: the offensive is just "an attempt to further damage Hezbollah before a cease-fire is imposed."
The bounders! She thus covertly compares them to a boxer who gets his opponent into a clinch... then before the ref can part them, he gets in a few low blows.
- But at a more subtle level, see how the macrocosmic themes are woven into the microcosm of a single sentence.
Note the phraseology. We all know that a ceasefire is something that two or more combatants agree to, temporarily suspending hostilities while they negotiate a settlement. The phrasing is that "A and B agreed to a ceasefire."
But that's not what Ms. Laub writes; rather, Israel is trying to get in a few more low blows "before a cease-fire is imposed." Imposed by whom? How can a ceasefire be imposed by anybody, apart from the combatants themselves?
This very subtle choice of passive voice in the midst of a pair of paragraphs that are otherwise in active voice is designed to arrest the reader's attention without him even realizing why: the cabinet decided; the cabinet will send troops; they are attempting to damage Hezbollah; the decision will pressure the UN (not "the UN will be pressured"), which may work faster and try to stop the offensive.
But the cease-fire will be imposed.
The shift in voice would be unnoticed on a conscious level by nearly all readers... but it has a subtle effect, putting the Israelis in the position of truculent schoolchildren pitching a tantrum, which will eventually draw the attention of the adults, who will come along and set things aright: if you Israelis can't make peace, then peace will be imposed.
Passive voice allows Ms. Laub to skip entirely over the question of who will do the imposing: there is no "actor" in that clause; the subject is an action (cease-fire), and the verb (imposed) is passive voice. The reader is left vaguely uneasy, wondering who he should envision disposing of the fighting: the United States? the Arab League? the U.N.? God? Graf one yields nothing but a question mark.
- The question mark of the first graf is answered with a resounding thunderclap of an exclamation mark in the second.
Who will impose the cease-fire? Who must we look to for an end to this terrible conflict? Why, the United Nations, of course!
The decision could pressure the United Nations to work faster on a cease-fire deal to try to stop the offensive.
So in a scant two paragraphs, we already have the image of Israel as a naughty child taking unfair advantage, which will surely provoke the magisterial power of the UN to lay down the law from Mount Sinai. Whew, that's quite an amazing load of subtext to rest on the thin foundation of two simple paragraphs!
So let's move on... and don't worry, we're not going paragraph by paragraph through the entire piece.
Now we have the obligatory nod in Israel's direction... followed immediately by what radio talk-show host Larry Elderberry calls "the Big But":
"Israel is still working for a diplomatic solution, preferably in the Security Council," Cabinet Minister Isaac Herzog said, adding that the new offensive would run parallel to the negotiations. "We cannot wait forever. We have a million civilians living in bomb shelters, and we have to protect them."
The decision came as fierce fighting was reported overnight with Hezbollah militants, and Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera reported 11 Israeli soldiers had been killed in what would be the deadliest day for Israeli troops in Lebanon in four weeks of fighting.
I changed the font sizes above to indicate the propagandistic effect of "call and response." This occurs (in both print and broadcast media) when Party A makes a point, and the writer (or host) then allows Party B to have the resounding response. In this case, Israel says 'hey, we have to protect our citizens,' and al-Jazeera swiftly responds 'but you're not, are you? You're getting cut to pieces!'
The net effect here is one of utter futility. Of course, al-Jazeera is not exactly known as a creditable news source (especially since the actual source for their claim is either the compromised Lebanese government or else Hezbollah itself); but that point is buried by the call and response technique, which backloads a heavy significance upon the final comment.
You may recognize this technique from 60 Minutes, which uses it incessantly -- and clumsily -- when their whistleblower is always allowed the final response to the feeble defense offered by the target:
The corporate spokesman, Daniel Squirmer, says that Engulf&Devour has made some effort to respond to these catastrophes: "We care about the environment; Engulf&Devour spends millions cleaning emissions from our factories."
But Dr. Blabber says the efforts have had little effect: "If they're really spending so much, where is it all going? To date, not a single site we identified has been certified clean and safe... not one!"
The technique sets up an artificial closure: the target -- Israel -- is never allowed to have the last word; they're like Hamilton Burger on the old Perry Mason show: whenever Ham Burger objects to one of Perry's unorthodox courtroom antics, the judge's response is invariably a resounding "overruled!"
It'll All End In Tears
- The Futility Fantasy: AP neglects even to mention any bright side to Israel's expansion, implying there isn't one. We can also call this the Argument from Murphy: anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
When you wanted that BB-gun for Christmas, your mother never suggested you might develop good eye-hand coordination, concentration, the ability to aim patiently, an activity to keep you outside the house but also off the streets, or that you might be prompted to form a club and meet a lot of like-minded people, did she?
I suspect she suggested that you would end up shooting some helpless bird, breaking the neighbor's window -- and of course, that you'd shoot your eye out.
Well, listen to "Mother" Laub:
The Israeli Cabinet decision was risky. Israel could set itself up for new criticism that it is sabotaging diplomatic efforts, particularly after Lebanon offered to deploy its own troops in the border area.
A wider ground offensive also might sharply increase the already-high number of casualties among Israeli troops.
Since the fighting began, at least 700 people have died on the Lebanese side. The Israeli toll stood at 103 killed - including 36 civilians.
In the six-hour meeting, Cabinet officials were told a new offensive could mean 100 to 200 more military deaths, a participant said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters. At least 67 Israeli soldiers have been confirmed killed.
Nice. Of course, it could also:
- Drive Hezbollah back so far that they cannot shoot missiles at Israeli cities;
- Clear the area so that the Lebanese Army could actually take control of their own southern territory;
- Give Syria and especially Iran a bloody nose;
- Cripple Iran's ability to threaten instant retaliation -- via Hezbollah, their forward-deployed SpecOps branch -- against the United States, were we to make a serious push against Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Iraq, such as Muqtada Sadr's al-Mahdi Militia or the Badr Brigades;
- And even bring some peace to the region, by finally persuading the Arabs (and Iran) that the Ehud Barak era of weakness is finally and decisively at an end.
But Ms. Laub doesn't wish to confuse matters by bringing up all these irrelevancies. Suffice to say that it's just as effective to bias reader response by omission as it is by commission.
- A drawerful of left-handed gloves; well, everything's gone wrong so far, hasn't it?
This method, which I call the "blind in one eye" technique, is actually part of the Argument from Murphy. To reinforce the case that "it'll all end in tears if you don't follow our party," the great geniuses of propaganda would always publish a falsified history that simply leaves out anything that contradicts the party line. (Paul Josef Goebbels is credited with the "big lie" technique: he realized that the more outrageous the lie, the harder it was to refute it.)
If the false, one-sided history is presented authoritatively enough and in the absence of a competing history, even people who don't trust you will still internalize the history you recount, to a greater or lesser degree.
A recent very good example of this was the way the mainstream media was able to take the Bush Administration's response to Hurricane Katrina -- which response was actually significantly faster, more proactive, and more effective at saving lives than any previous response to a natural disaster in my memory -- and turn it into a worse disaster than Katrina itself. And they were so effective at this that not only does the American public now falsely imagine that Katrina was a low point for President Bush (in fact, it was one of his greatest achievements)... even most Republicans have been brainwashed to agree!
It was the elite media's crowning achievement of anti-Bush propaganda, and they are still giddy with glee.
The Democrats and their media succeeded in turning a magnificent success into a dismal failure simply by willfully failing to mention the hundreds of rescues and recovery programs that succeeded, recounting only the small number of things that went wrong -- but recycling them endlessly, to make it appear as if Michael Brown and George W. Bush offered only failure and death. (See 13 Ghosts for the true story of Bush and "Brownie" in their response to Hurricane Katrina.)
The news media use the same technique incessantly:
- In Iraq, where all we ever hear about is the number of American and Iraqi dead;
- In the economy, where job creation is reported as a negative, since it didn't live up to some expert's unrealistic expectation;
- In gun control, where it's front-page news every time a man accidentally shoots his own son sneaking home late after a date... but when a single mom shoots a rapist in her own home, it's reported on page B-24, if at all.
In each case, by telling only one side of the history, the media subtlely imply that there is no other side, that there never has been a benefit. They must be subtle, because the blatant statement would be unsustainable and instantly challenged.
Viz., to the instant; here is Ms. Laub on the People's History of the Israeli-Hezbollah war:
The decision came as fierce fighting was reported overnight with Hezbollah militants, and Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera reported 11 Israeli soldiers had been killed in what would be the deadliest day for Israeli troops in Lebanon in four weeks of fighting....
Since the fighting began, at least 700 people have died on the Lebanese side. The Israeli toll stood at 103 killed - including 36 civilians....
The decision on the wider offensive came a day after the commander of Israeli forces in Lebanon was sidelined in an unusual midwar shake-up - another sign of the growing dissatisfaction with the military, which has been unable to stop Hezbollah's rocket barrages....
About a mile away, some 400 people marched in a funeral for 30 of the 41 killed in an Israeli airstrike earlier this week. They carried the bodies draped in Lebanon's green, red and white flag and chanted, "Death to America! Death to Israel!"....
Al-Jazeera said 11 Israeli soldiers were killed in heavy fighting with Hezbollah guerrillas near the border. The Israeli army declined to comment on the report but had said earlier that 15 soldiers were wounded in overnight clashes.
A Hezbollah statement said it killed or wounded 10 Israeli soldiers and destroyed a tank as it advanced toward the village of Qantara, north of the border....
Israel also struck Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp, killing two people and wounding five....
Airstrikes also leveled a building in the Bekaa Valley town of Mashghara, trapping seven family members in the rubble. Five bodies were pulled out and the remaining two relatives were feared dead, officials said....
At least 19 Lebanese civilians were killed by airstrikes Tuesday. Rescuers also pulled 28 more bodies from the wreckage, raising the death toll to 77 Lebanese killed Monday, the highest since the war began.
Hezbollah fired more than 160 rockets at Israel on Wednesday. Since the fighting began July 12, a total of 3,333 have been fired, officials said.
In Laub's entire piece, there is not one single positive effect mentioned -- not one! It's as if the Israeli offensive has caused nothing but misery and heartbreak, death and destruction, even for Israel itself. According to the People's History, it has been an act of resounding senselessness that solved nothing and only made a bad situation worse.
Yet by not presenting that assessment openly, merely implying it by ignoring anything good (lying by omission), Karin Laub avoids the necessity of defending her thesis; if asked, she can simply look innocent and say, "but I never wrote that it was a complete fiasco; whatever do you mean?"
Drilling Down: Those Poor Dead "Civilians"
But of course, she does this deliberately. For one example, what is Laub's source for saying the 19 Lebanese killed were all "civilians?" How does she know? Who told her that? Technically, she is likely correct: the dead are all "civilians" in the sense that they were not members of the Lebanese Army. But she has completely left out the number who were members of -- or cheerleaders for -- Hezbollah.
That's a significant point, right? If 14 of the 19 were Hezbollah members, then that is very different than if all 19 were Druze Christians who have fought against Hezbollah and were thus on Israel's side in this war. But Laub simply omits any reference to Hezbollah fighters or supporters being killed and tells us that Israel's airstrikes have only killed good guys... without her actually coming out and saying so directly.
Because of course saying it overtly would be nitwittery: obviously some of the Lebanese killed were actually members of Hezbollah, since Israel is primarily attacking Hezbollah strongholds in southern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, and parts of Beirut. And an additional percentage of those killed, probably larger than the fighters themselves, were not actually members of Hezbollah but were part of the "Hezbollah tribe": they support the terrorist organization, which they see as the generous relatives who give them welfare, since the government of Lebanon cannot.
But what is the breakdown? We don't know, because the elite media never really tries to find out. If pressed, they simply take the word of Lebanese government officials... or of Hezbollah.
Israeli estimates of the number of Hezbollah killed are routinely labeled "inflated" by lefties in political debate. These leftists invariably get their "real number" by simply reading news stories and adding up the numbers of Hezbollah dead that the elite media claim.
But this quoted number in the media comes either from Hezbollah itself (which has an obvious interest in undercounting its own dead)... or from the Lebanese government, which is currently in bed with Hezbollah -- and which desperately struggles to persuade Israel to withdraw immediately and the rest of the world to lean on Israel to do so. Again, it's in the interests of Lebanon to portray the Israeli offensive as doing nothing but slaughtering civilians.
And since many reporters and editors in the MSM are people of the Left, they follow the party line, completing the vicious circle: virtually no members of Hezbollah have been killed in this war; the dead are all "civilians," and all the news is bad news.
Multiply by each component of the "bad-news brigade" cited above, and you have the anatomy of a false history.
The Grand View
The essence of propaganda is never to make a logical argument. Arguments can be refuted; evidence can be countered with better evidence.
What distinguishes propaganda from debate is that you never allow "the opposition to confuse matters by participating in the discussion." As I have said many times, it's easy to win a debate if you get to script both sides.
Propaganda succeeds by subtext, subtlety, and subterfuge:
- Approach your subject obliquely;
- Never state openly what you can imply subtly (leaving no opening for rebuttal);
- Allow the opposition to speak, but only when your side gets the final say and controls the terms of debate (this gives the illusion of fairness without actually allowing full participation by your enemies);
- Omit inconvenient facts to seize control of the narrative;
- Predict dire consequences if the opposition is heeded; when calamities fail to materialize, simply act as if they actually did, referring to the (nonexistent) catastrophe as if everyone knows it so well, there is no reason to state it overtly;
- Never, ever, ever, under any circumstances, admit that you have a "side;" you are the impartial observer... whose observations always seem to go one direction. Is it your fault that the entire universe is against the opposition?
If reporters like AP's Karin Laub (or the Washington Post's Tom Ricks, who went out of his skull and gave the Left's talking points in plain speech -- rather than as propaganda in the pages of the Post) were simply making these odd mistakes randomly, just by accident, then we would expect half of them to favor the Israelis, and only half to favor Hezbollah.
But in fact, each and every error, misstatement, omission, or subtextual implication supports the same position: that Israel should immediately withdraw (surrender), handing an unearned victory to Hezbollah and inflicting terrible damage on her own credibility on the world stage, signalling weakness... and rendering her ripe for the plucking by the vultures that surround her.
Never attribute to stupidity what can adequately be explained by malice; or in this case, what can only be explained by malice. Make no mistake. Know thine enemy as thou knowest thyself.
August 8, 2006
Newsflash: Israel Commits Near War Crime, Almost, Except They Didn't. Quite.
This is a staggering charge that should, if there is a God, swiftly turn American public opinion against the Israelis, who have shown themselves to be such oppressors and aggressors against peaceful Hezbollah supporters in Lebanon. The headline from AP says it all:
Israeli Strike Kills 13 Near Mourners
by Ahmed Mantash [evidently his usual parther in fair and balanced reporting, Moshe Pippik, was unavailable for this effort]
Mourners in a funeral procession for Israeli airstrike victims scattered in panic Tuesday as warplanes again unleashed missiles that hit buildings and killed 13 people, witnesses and officials said.
The first missile struck a building about five minutes after the march by about 1,500 people had passed by, killing one person and wounding five.
In this almost war crime, which would have been an atrocity if the Israelis had actually struck the funeral procession, and was averted only by their underhanded trick of not actually striking the funeral procession, the Israelis had the temerity to strike a building some time after a funeral procession had passed by, frightening the mourners -- who imagined that they must have been the targets, and the Israelis were simply too dilatory and missed them.
To see how terrified these near-martyrs were, who almost suffered what would have been a crime against humanity (if the Israelis had actually done it, that is), just read their terror-stricken response:
The blast was close enough to send mourners screaming, "Allahu akbar!" or "God is great!" Some broke away from the procession, while others continued on.
I hope we all see how evil and horrific those Israelis are: if they had actually committed the despicable act that they didn't commit, targeting innocent mourners in a funeral procession (whose first reaction to being frightened is to scream "Allahu akbar!"), then they would have been obviously evil and horrific; are we going to let them slide from this just charge, merely on the flimsy excuse that they did not, in fact, do it?
I think not. Let heads roll! Let revulsion sweep the world! The Associated Press is absolutely correct to highlight would could have been a ghastly and brutal attack on unarmed mourners, except that they didn't quite attack them. Their obviously concocted claim should not save them from the world's ignominy and opprobrium:
Witnesses said one of the destroyed houses belonged to Sheik Mustafa Khalifeh, a cleric linked to Hezbollah, but it was unclear if he was among the casualties. Most Hezbollah officials have left their homes and offices since the offensive began nearly a month ago.
Ghaziyeh has been targeted several times, but the attacks Monday and Tuesday were the heaviest. The town was overflowing with displaced people, who have swelled its population to 23,000.
After all, besides having the gall to attack a city that contained some displaced people, Israel is holding up the peace process by not agreeing to withdraw completely and trust the word of the hitherto thoroughly compromised Lebanese government that they will, in fact, take up the slack and prevent Hezbollah from returning. In fact, even Hezbollah itself has embraced this plan... which must prove they want only peace:
Lebanon put its offers on the table: pledging up to 15,000 troops to a possible peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon and saying Hezbollah's days of running a state within a state would end. The military plan had added significance since it was backed by the two Hezbollah members on Lebanon's Cabinet - apparently showing a willingness for a lasting pact by the Islamic militants and their main sponsors, Iran and Syria.
Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora on Tuesday praised Hezbollah's resistance, but said it was time for Lebanon to "impose its full control, authority and presence" over the war-weary country.
"There will be no authority, no one in command, no weapons other than those of the Lebanese state," he said on Al-Arabiya television.
Since it is clear to all with eyes to see that the Lebanese government is not in any way beholden to or even connected with Hezbollah, whose representatives sit not only in parliament but in the cabinet itself, surely such oral assurances should satisfy Israel. What more could they demand?
After all, the world knows that Israel has already been crushed in this war they started; AP has announced ever since Israel rolled into Lebanon that the war was a quagmire and could never be won by the oppressors. I mean, the Israelis. After all, how long can they go on accepting such losses as this?
Some of the fiercest skirmishes broke out around the village of Bint Jbail, a Hezbollah stronghold that Israeli has tried to capture for weeks. An Israeli solider and 25 Hezbollah guerrillas were killed, the Israeli military said.
Hezbollah TV also reported pre-dawn attacks on Israeli forces near the Mediterranean town of Naqoura, about 2 1/2 miles north of the border. The Israeli military said two reserve soldiers were killed in the area.
The latest casualties brought the number of people killed in Lebanon to at least 684, while the Israeli death toll was 100.
And after all, what have the Israelis to fear from this wonderful peace peace proposal, supported unanimously by the foreign ministers of the member states of the Arab League -- a group that is well known to harbor only friendly feelings towards Israel? Lebanon has pledged to ensure their coalition partner Hezbollah has no control over southern Lebanon, which currently dominates the Lebanese Army by superior force of arms, supplied by their patron Iran transshipped through their other patron, Syria (which controlled Lebanon absolutely for 29 years):
Saniora's government voted unanimously to send 15,000 troops to stand between Israel and Hezbollah should a cease-fire take hold and Israeli forces withdraw.
The move was an attempt to show that Lebanon has the will and ability to assert control over its south, where Hezbollah rules with near autonomy bolstered by channels of aid and weapons from Iran and Syria. Lebanon has avoided any attempt to implement a two-year-old U.N. resolution calling for the disarmament of Hezbollah, fearing it could touch off civil unrest....
Qatar Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassem Al Thani warned of "a civil war in Lebanon" between Hezbollah and government forces if the Security Council does not make changes to the U.S.-French draft resolution [that is, if Hezbollah does not get its way]. "Lebanon won't bear it," he told Al-Jazeera.
With such ironclad assurances, surely even Israel must give way at last to world public opinion! After all, the full weight of international condemnation is about to fall across the Israelis' necks, and it must surely destroy them, the way they nearly tried to almost destroy those innocent pallbearers and mourners in what might have been a crime against humanity, if only Israel had actually done it. For lo! see how the quagmire thickens:
In Geneva, the U.N. Human Rights Council said it plans to convene a special session this week to consider taking action against Israel for its Lebanon offensive.
Against such force and power arrayed, what aggressor dare stand against?
August 6, 2006
Yet Another "18½ Minute Gap"
Way Back on May 30th, 2005, I posted on Patterico's Pontifications an article titled The 18½ Minute Gap, which I subsequently reposted here on Big Lizards a year later as a "Scaley Classic."
This was the central conceit of that post:
It does little good to point out what nobody now denies: that Hussein had many ongoing programs to develop such chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons; they just weren't as advanced as we were afraid they were. Given how little intelligence we had about that secretive country, the choice was to trust in Saddam Hussein's restraint and good judgment, or trust in the United States military. "You should have just waited a few more months," the lib invariably intones; "maybe a year. Then we would have known for sure."
In other words, they wanted us to wait until two minutes to midnight. Then we could have moved... unless it turned out our watch was slow.... [Emphasis added, as the BL style has changed in the last year and a quarter.]
Had we waited just a few more months -- waited until two minutes before midnight -- even more high officials in Security-Council governments would have been corrupted; it's entirely possible that, in the end, even Britain would have bowed to international pressure and pulled out of the Operation Iraqi Freedom. Would we still have gone to war, then? I don't think anyone can really say for sure.
So the Left is actually right, for a change: we miserably failed to wait until two minutes to midnight to strike against the tyrant. We struck at twenty till, instead. Maybe even twenty and a half minutes before the witching hour.
Which would make it the second time in history that an 18½ minute gap saved the presidency... and this time, possibly the entire Global War on Terrorism as well.
The surreal argument advanced by Democrats -- now including nearly all of them, other than the soon to be unemployed Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT, 80%) -- is that we should have waited until the last, possible moment before the invasion window closed, just on the off chance that it was all a terrible mistake: that there were no WMD programs, that Saddam Hussein was really a nice guy, and all things black and ugly we thought we knew about him were just lies, spread by his competitors.
And indeed, the Left seized upon as vindication the supposed "failure" to find WMD, which was actually a deliberate decision by the CIA -- which had always opposed the invasion -- to refuse to label as "WMD" any program, device, chemical, or biological sample that had any conceivable non-war purpose, no matter how implausible or even ludicrous.
Thus, 55-gallon drums of Cyclosarin sitting in camouflaged bunkers near empty chemical rocket shells were not chemical-warfare tools; perhaps the Iraqis were simply obsessed with having aphid-free ammo dumps.
And those mobile labs that were described so accurately by Iraqi defectors who had worked on them, and who also described their use in developing chemical and biological munitions, were dismissed by the CIA as "mobile hydrogen-production factilities"... despite the fact that Iraq, being an oil-drililng and refining country, would routinely make tens of thousands of liters of hydrogen commercially and store it in tanks that were a fraction of the weight of those labs -- and of course were already ready for use.
Perhaps, on the very eve of the Coalition invasion, Saddam Hussein was simply focused like a laser beam on protecting Iraq's critical supply of weather balloons.
Rather than acting with alacrity in invading that country when we were pretty sure -- as we are now, especially with the wealth of new finds of the progress of creating WMD and the possible stockpiles moved to Syria -- the Left wanted us to wait until we could prove that Hussein was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. (In fact, it was more like what Patterico wants the standard to be in death-penalty cases: "guilty beyond all possible doubt.")
As this standard would have put the possibility of military action forever out of range under any circumstances, since intelligence gathering is never as certain as all that, accepting it amounts to saying that no matter how serious the threat to the United States, we can never go to war -- even if the bad guys attack us first -- so long as they refuse to admit it was they.
I called that the 18½ Minute Gap; and now we have another example: the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in pursuit of Hezbollah.
As it turns out, Israel (along with most of the rest of us, certainly including myself) thought they dominated that terrorist group so completely that the war would be quick and decisive. And perhaps it would have been, had Israel attacked with the seriousness of purpose of 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, and 1982 (their last invasion of Lebanon, against Yassir Arafat's PLO, in which Manachem Begin used nine divisions and 800 tanks)... rather than the limp-wristed response of Ehud Barak in 2000: Barak jerked the troops out of Lebanon in such a panicky way that he simulated a rout following a military defeat, which had never actually happened.
For whatever reason, Israel has now discovered that Hezbollah is far stronger than anyone imagined; and the victories Israel has achieved -- and there are several important ones -- are neither decisive nor persuasive. Contrariwise, Israel is in the process of inadvertently convincing the Arab that Israel is a paper camel who can be defeated.
Democrats are triumphant: the hated Zionist entity is being battered, giving leftists the enormous satisfaction of a great, big, fat, wet I told you so! The Left wags its finger in Israel's face, like Mom after you almost shoot your eye out with that BB-gun you finally got, and says, in essence, see? look at all the trouble you bought for yourself by refusing to listen to us... you should have left well enough alone.
But this argument boils down to the question of what is "well enough." Had Israel simply done nothing -- or worked through the "international diplomatic community," which amounts to the same thing -- would they really have been better off than they are right at this very moment?
I say no, they would have been far worse off... even if they end up losing this war. To imagine they'd have been better off, a Democrat must think that this war was avoidable, that it need never have happened. That if Israel hadn't attacked Hezbollah and just suffered the missiles and kidnappings in stoic silence, they would have so impressed the terrorists with their sang froid that the latter would have written a letter like the one Sean Connery (Mulay Achmed Mohammed el-Raisuli the Magnificent, Lord of the Riff, Sultan to the Berbers, Last of the Barbary Pirates) wrote to Brian Keith (Teddy Roosevelt), telling TR that he was the wind to the Raisuli's lion), then bow out of any future conflict with Israel.
But that is errant nonsense. Hezbollah, the "Party of God," believes it has a holy mission to annihilate the Jews. Hezbollah is not a stand-alone terrorist group; in reality, it is nothing less than the third branch of Iran's armed forces -- their forward-deployed special-operations unit. Both Hezbollah and Iran are singing from the same hymnal (er... perhaps I could have chosen a better expression) anent the obliteration of Israel and driving the Jews into the Mediterranean.
Nor are they slackers or fulyaks about it: Iran's frantic effort to develop nuclear warheads for their intermediate-range ballistic missiles raises at least the strong possibility that the purpose of their soon-to-be nukes is not simply to "extort" the rest of the world, but also to set in motion the holocaust that will bring the advent of the "Twelfth imam," Muhammad al-Mahdi, whom Shi'a believe has been hidden from the world by God and will reappear at the end of the reign of the tyrants (non-Moslems), forcing (Shiite) Islam upon the entire world as the global religion.
And Hezbollah's pace of attack on Israel has grown steadily year after year since the 2000 pullout from Lebanon; there is no reason to believe they would abruptly stop or even level off.
The greatest probability is that this war was actually inevitable, not "evitable;" and that if the Israelis hadn't forced it now, the other side would have forced it later... at a time and place and in a manner of their own choosing, when they were even stronger, relative to Israel, than they are today.
Thank God the Israelis responded to Hezbollah's provocation by launching even the limited war that they did at 20 minutes to midnight; because if they had waited until two minutes to midnight, as the Left demanded they should have -- or even two minutes after midnight, as the Left actually believes -- then as bad as it is right now, it would have been a hundred times worse.
In their hearts, I believe most Democrats, liberals, and lefties know this; which means it's not an argument about the means, when and how Israel should have struck, but rather about the end itself: who wins? The Left collectively wants the jihadist savages to win and hated Western civilization to lose.
As to why they want that... well, that's a psychodrama for another day.
August 2, 2006
Airport Blogging: At Last!
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...
July 28, 2006
Putting On My "Robert Novak" Hat
We've never seen Big Lizards as a primary news source, or a newspaper, or anything of that ilk. We're not journalists, and we don't engage in reporting. Rather, we like to analyze news and current events, trends and motives, often days after the fact. (Our egocentric motto: "Never first, always final!")
But occasionally I like to put two and two together in a sort of predictive way. Mind, this is all wild speculation, and a substantial part of it comes from a somewhat untrustworthy source, NewsMax.com.
First, we have this:
Hizbullah steps up attacks: Hizbullah steps up attacks: For the first time since the fighting in the north began 17 days ago, Hizbullah launched five Fajr-5 missiles at Israel Friday afternoon. Police officials said that long-range missiles of this type can carry a larger amount of explosives than the rockets that had been fired at Israel so far. A short while later, the IDF reported it had destroyed the rocket launcher used for firing the missiles.
The missiles landed in open areas between Afula and the Beit Shean Valley, causing no injuries.
Wikipedia says that the Fajr-5 missile has a range "75 kilometers, or 50 miles," but this is probably an overestimate (especially as 75 km is actually 46.6 miles, not 50). GlobalSecurity.org gives it a range of only 45 miles (72 km). Still, this is a substantial jump over the 10,000 Soviet/Iranian Katyusha rockets (13 mile range) and the handful of Fajr-3s (25 miles) that Hezbollah has been using; they nearly double their range with the Fajr-5s.
(Additionally, Breitbart reports that Hezbollah has fired a rocket they call a Khaibar-1 -- a made-up name taken from a famous battle at an oasis where Mohammed attacked a settlement of Jews and enslaved them. I can't find out anything about the "Khaibar-1," but it may just be Hezbollah's name for the Fajr-5; the range seems to match up, more or less.)
The point is that Hezbollah is increasing the range and payload of their rockets and missiles. Clearly, their aim is to bring all of Israel into missile range -- especially Tel Aviv, the second largest city in Israel, with a population of 380,000 (Jerusalem's population is 725,000; Haifa has only 278,000).
I'm not sure what range Hezbollah would need to target Tel Aviv, because it depends where they're firing from. According to this distance-calculating website, the distance from Beirut to Tel Aviv is 134 miles (215 km)... so they still need a substantial increase in range, between two and three times what they have now, in order to seriously threaten that city.
But clearly, the Iranians are upping Hezbollah's arsenal; and Iran has many missiles that have a longer range than 150 miles: the oldest Shahab-3, for example, has a range that exceeds 1,300 km (808 miles), and that dates back to 2003; newer models have much longer ranges. It also packs a warhead that masses over 1,000 kg. (The Shahab-3 is derived from the North Korean NoDong-1.)
I suspect it's not a question of "if" but "when" will Hezbollah be able to directly attack Tel Aviv... and it's hard to imagine them having that capability and deciding not to use it. Which brings up the third point. From NewsMax.com (which I again caution is not exactly reliable; but I do believe this piece):
Additionally, Israeli sources say a line in the sand has been drawn: If Hezbollah is "stupid" enough to attack Tel Aviv or its suburbs, "then all bets are off."
While refusing to provide more details, the Israeli warned that if Hezbollah attacked Tel Aviv then the IDF will no longer have any restraints on prospective responses.
While recent Hezbollah attacks have rocketed cities south of the port of Haifa, all have fallen far short of Tel Aviv and its environs ... for now.
U.S. diplomats had no comment.
I do not have a window into the minds of the members of Israel's security cabinet, of course; but I suspect that "all bets are off" and no "restraint on prospective responses" means that if Tel Aviv is struck, the Israeli security cabinet would vote to extend the war directly to Syria, which they just refused to do yesterday. They would also likely vote to authorize close-air support, which they've been reluctant to do due to the probability of large numbers of "civilian" casualties and the PR-hit Israel would take.
This is pure speculation on my part; but I strongly believe that if Hezbollah missiles or rockets struck Tel Aviv, the Israeli people would absolutely demand a direct attack on Syria, which is allowing such trans-shipments from Iran to Hezbollah. If the Olmert government refused, the Olmert government would likely be history, and new snap-elections would put a Likud-centered coalition back in power.
Rather than risk that, I suspect Olmert -- a former Likudnik before helping Ariel Sharon to form Kadima -- would push such an expansion through the security cabinet.
So, to recap (oops, I sound just like a Glenn Greenwald sock puppet!):
- Hezbollah is improving its arsenal, nearly doubling the range of its missiles within the last two weeks;
- The new missiles come from Iran, most likely trans-shipped through Syria;
- They may soon get missiles from their patron, Iran, that have sufficient range to strike Tel Aviv;
- If they get such missiles, Tel Aviv's safety will rely only upon the forbearance and restraint of Sheikh Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah (thought to be currently hiding in the Iranian embassy in Damascus, according to the Jerusalem Post). If such forbearance and restraint is as noticibly lacking as it has been since 1992, Tel Aviv will be struck;
- If Tel Aviv is struck, the security cabinet is likely to vote to expand the war directly to Syria (the sourcing for this is iffy, but it's certainly not an extraordinary claim).
Thus, I would expect the expansion of the war to include Syria will occur if and only if Syria (or anyone else) allows Hezbollah to receive missiles with ranges sufficient to attack Tel Aviv. This could, of course, occur at any time, since Iran does indeed have such missiles and has shown no reluctance in the past to supply Hezbollah with weaponry to attack Israel -- a country that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmaninejad has said must be "wiped off the map," which is also a long-term policy of the ruling mullahs.
As I said, I think the expansion is a question of when, not if. The only worry is that Israel may come to its senses too late, for Syria is already preparing itself for a likely war.
July 27, 2006
Der Spiegel Und der Baradei
RealClearPolitics pointed to an interview in the German magazine Der Spiegel of Mohammed ElBaradei, head of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Tom Bevan at RCP Blog noted rather cryptically that it was "a rather frightening interview."
Reading the interview itself removed all mystery. Here are some of the lowlights:
SPIEGEL: Are you in favor of an immediate deployment of United Nations peacekeeping troops with a "robust" mandate in southern Lebanon?
ElBaradei: That is the only solution. The bloodbath must be stopped quickly and a cease-fire must be brought about without delay. But what's even more important is a comprehensive solution to the underlying problem. The Palestinian question is the elephant in the room. One cannot constantly treat only the symptoms. The Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank have been living under an occupying regime for 39 years now. We should not be satisfied with drafting one road map after the next and merely looking on as they fail.
[You would think that even as insular an organization as the UN would have heard something about the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza!]~
SPIEGEL: A stabilization force would have to create a buffer zone, which would mean disarming Hezbollah. Is the UN capable of doing this?
ElBaradei: Lebanon will inevitably descend into civil war as long there is no cease-fire. That's why the most important thing is for open combat to stop. And then the force would need a robust mandate. The UN can disarm militias and reduce tensions. The long-term solution, however, is political and not military.
[If the UN can "disarm militias," why haven't they? What are they waiting for?]~
SPIEGEL: The Israelis have a legitimate need for security. They see their massive attacks as a way to destroy Hezbollah once and for all.
ElBaradei: The more violence they commit, the more they radicalize their enemies..
[Note that he never answers the question. Or even responds to the cockamamie idea that "Israel has a legitimate need for security."]~
SPIEGEL: But it was the Iranian regime that clearly lied and deceived the West in recent years when it came to its nuclear program. Doesn't Tehran have to accept the offer without conditions and stop its uranium enrichment activities?
ElBaradei: There is no other choice. To our knowledge, however, the Iranians have not accelerated their nuclear research program, which would be a sign of their developing a nuclear program for military use. There are apparently competing political directions in Tehran. And there are many shades of gray....
[About Iran, yes; about Israel, El Baradei doesn't appear to see greyscale.]
There was, however, one highlight at the end of the tunnel. I did like this exchange, right at the end:
SPIEGEL: You have just come from the G-8 summit, where, in addition to the Middle East, energy issues were the main topic of discussion. With the exception of Germany, everyone seems to be betting on new nuclear power plants. Is this the right approach?
ElBaradei: Every state has the right to choose its own approach, just as Germany is doing. In your country, a few nuclear power plants will be in operation for another 20 years, at least according to current plans. Perhaps the Germans will change their views within this period of time, and perhaps they'll decide to extend it. Nuclear energy is undoubtedly experiencing a renaissance. Environmentally friendly nuclear power will play a role in energy policy worldwide. 1.6 billion people, or a quarter of the world's population, have no access to electricity. They'll have no future without affordable energy.
That statement, at least, cannot be logically disputed. Perhaps Mohammed ElBaradei should ceasing heading up the IAEA and instead be offered a new position as United Nations Secretary of Energy.
More Proportionalities Than You Can Shake a Snake At
The Democrats' argument that Israel's response is "disproportionate" can mean one of only two things:
- That it's disproportionate to the attack;
- Or that it's disproportionate to the attacker.
The first possibility is easily rebutted: Israel has been attacked by Hezbollah for years and years and years, losing hundreds of citizens to an insane terrorist campaign, Hezbollah's holy pledge to "drive the Jews into the sea."
Arguably, since it was Hezbollah who pioneered (in the Middle East) the tactic of suicide bombings, a tactic later aped by Palestinian groups, the thousands of deaths of innocent Israelis by Hamas, et al, can also be laid to Hezbollah's doorstop.
So the only real chance for the Democrats to make stick a "disproportionality" argument against Israel's assault is to complain that it's just not fair for that big bully to beat up on that little bully. Is that a valid complaint, that Israel's assault is like a trained heavyweight boxer beating up a schoolgirl? If so, that would certainly be a gross disproportionality.
To the extent that liberals make this argument, in their relentless quest to find moral equivalence between Israeli Jews and Hezbollah terrorists (or even to assign the bulk of the guilt to the former), they either foolishly or mendaciously ignore a glaring point: Hezbollah does not act alone or on its own volition.
The organization was created in 1982, by and large by Iran, and they have been a creature of that theocracy ever since. Iran finances and controls Hezbollah in Lebanon through Iran's cat's-paw, Syria -- which comprises an Alawite-Shiite elite class, the Baath Party, ruling over an oppressed Sunni majority.
Thus, in comparing the relative sizes of the dogs in the fight, the real comparison is not Israel to Hezbollah... it's Israel vs. Iran and Syria in a proxy war that happens to be taking place in Lebanon. It's not just that Hezbollah receives its weapons from Iran; Iran also finances it, trains it, directs it, and indeed, Iranian Revolutionary Guards have been found throughout Hezbollah forces, firing missiles and directing the action.
Hezbollah is not Israel's real enemy: it's nothing more than the Iranian and Syrian "Foreign Legion."
So let's take a look at Iran and Syria compared to Israel; I rely upon the CIA World Factbook for these simple statistics:
|Economy (billions purchasing power)||562||72||155|
|Economy (official exchange rate)||181||26||114|
|Available military manpower (millions)||15.7||3.5||1.3|
As clearly seen, Israel certainly does not overmatch her two real opponents in this war; in fact, it's the other way around: even just Iran alone is larger, richer, and has a much greater available manpower. While Israel has nuclear weapons that still elude Iran (we hope!), Iran boasts a much more robust military than any country or combination of countries Israel has ever faced before.
Hezbollah is just the tip of the oilberg... make no mistake, Israel faces her deadliest test ever. And if there is any "disproportionality," it's much more accurate to say Israeli forces are disproportionately small compared to the enemies they face.
Israel is the "David" facing the "Goliath" of the Ayatollahs, and no amount of Democratic rewrite can obscure that fact.
July 25, 2006
The "Proportionality" Fallacy
I've been pondering and mulling for many days now the charge, absurd on its face, that Israel's response to the attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah is "disproportionate." What has puzzled me all this time is where the silly meme of "proportionality" came from in the first place.
I understand proportionality in, say, criminal sentencing: if a person stole some cash from the church poorbox, it's grossly disproportionate to punish him by cutting off his hand; the severity of the punishment vastly exceeds the mendacity of the crime.
And I understand proportionality in civil lawsuits: if a company produced a dangerously defective product, then tried to cover it up, and if a victim of that product is injured thereby... then it makes perfect sense for that victim not only to receive compensatory damages in the lawsuit (damages to make him whole again, or as much so as possible), but also punitive damages.
Even so, if the company has an annual income of $10 million, it's grossly disproportionate for a jury to award the victim $60 billion in punitive damages.
But how does any of this relate to warfare? The question has baffled me for a long time now, from even before the present ruckus in Lebanon and Gaza. How did a theory of criminal punishment get tacked onto the "law of war?"
And just now, the answer I'd been seeking struck me like a load of hay: those critics squealing about Israel's "disproportionate" response think war is how Israel "punishes" the Arabs.
All of a sudden, other paralogical incongruities fell into place: the Left believes war is not waged in order to gain national-security advantages for one's country; they see it entirely as an extension of the criminal justice system... a tit-for-tat revenge taken against countries that have criminally assaulted one's own. Thus, the Left cannot even understand the conservative argument that terrorism "cannot be defeated by a criminal-justice response but must be treated as an act of war."
To them, all war is a criminal-justice program. Why should the war on jihadi terrorism be any different?
And because they think war in general is a punitive action designed to punish transgressors, they also believe:
- It's wrong to punish countries disproportionately to their "crimes," such as killing more of their soldiers than they killed of yours... it's too much "tat" in the tit-for-tat equation;
- It's wrong to "collectively punish" the people living in the enemy nation by, e.g., dropping bombs;
- In fact, killing enemy combatants is wrong in general, because we're against capital punishment;
- It's wrong to "punish" a country for the actions of a terrorist group within that country;
- It's horrifically wrong to "punish" a country before it has actually committed the crime or even taken steps to commit the crime (pre-emption); that would be the same as putting someone in prison because you thought he might commit a crime in the future;
- It's wrong to go to war without first holding a criminal investigation and finding the enemy country guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the transgression;
- Captured unlawful enemy combatants must be tried in civilian courts (presumably for "conspiracy") with all the protections afforded ordinary criminal defendants;
- Captured unlawful enemy combatants may not be interrogated unless they have a lawyer present, and they cannot be interrogated at all if they "take the Fifth;"
- Once combatants have "served their sentences," which must be "proportionate to the crime they committed," they must be released, even if there is a chance they will return to the front lines and "commit more crimes;" after all, they've paid their debt to society.
As suspicious as I am of any general "Theory of Everything," this revelation (well, to me, anyway) does seem to explain an awful lot about liberal squeamishness anent the Israeli war on Hezbollah, the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and other attempts by the civilized world to defend itself against the forces of Islamist barbarity.
(It doesn't explain why liberals supported the carpet bombing of Serbs in Kosovo; but then, they also gave Bill Clinton a pass on a lot of other actual criminal behavior, too. To explain this, we must invoke a different thesis: the Theory of the Charmed Charmer, the lovable rogue who can do no wrong.)
It also explains why the American Left is increasingly bitter and hateful towards Israel: they look at Israel and they see a country that persistently violates the "liberal law of war" by treating warfare as if it were some means of defending the country from attack, instead of a police action.
Thus, to the liberal mind, Israel is like a "rogue cop" who commits serial acts of "police brutality." The Left's reflexive hatred of "the pigs" or "the Man" kicks in, and Ehud Olmert morphs into Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, with Lebanon as the new Democratic National Convention of 1968. "Israel is not there to cause disorder... Israel is there to preserve disorder!"
Arabs (and Persians, to the extent that liberals even know there is a difference) are the long-suffering poor who are always getting shafted by the Man; we need a healthy dose of "social justice," man, to redress the historical imbalances. Power to the people, man! Off the pigs! Free Mumia!
(In fact, wouldn't Arab suicide bombers be seen as heroic followers of Mumia Abu Jamal, giving their lives -- well, the real Mumia hasn't given it yet, alas -- to fight the inherent injustice of the Israeli neocon lobby establishment? Right on, man!)
I believe every Democratic candidate in 2006 and 2008 should be given a hot seat (I don't mean Old Sparky) and asked this question: if terrorists kill 3,000 Americans, how many terrorists will you allow us to kill before you decide our response is "disproportionate?"
Watch 'em squirm.
July 24, 2006
Resupply Is a Two-Way Street
It's been plastered all over the news recently that Israel has caught Syria resupplying Hezbollah missiles (or trying to, at any rate); see the previous post for our reaction to that news on the Syrian front. But as Gary Larson used to say in the Far Side, "two can play at that game, Hoskins!"
Word has now been leaked (by anonymous "American officials") that we've sent an emergency shipment of precision-guided bombs to Israel in order to allow them to continue the campaign:
The munitions that the United States is sending to Israel are part of a multimillion-dollar arms sale package approved last year that Israel is able to draw on as needed, the officials said. But Israel’s request for expedited delivery of the satellite and laser-guided bombs was described as unusual by some military officers, and as an indication that Israel still had a long list of targets in Lebanon to strike.
(A Reader's Digest condensed version of the Times article can be found on Reuters, just in case the Times link stops working.)
This is for those readers here who have been led to believe (by the antique media) that Bush isn't doing anything to help Israel other than chatting them up. We're doing the best things of all: leaning heavily on Syria -- and making sure that Israel has all the precision munitions they need to really grind Hezbollah's face into the offal.
So keep it up, Israel; with the weapons we're supplying you, taking out the entire top Hezbollah leadership should be as easy as shooting drunks in a barrel.
July 22, 2006
Everyone Must Read This Story
Hugh Hewitt read this post by David Bogner on the air Thursday, and I thought it was one of the best parables I've heard in years. I urgently urge y'all to read the whole thing; it's not that long, but it will stay with you for the rest of your life.
It's from a blog called Treppenwitz, which I think I should start reading regularly now. Here's the opening:
When I was in the Navy, I once witnessed a bar fight in downtown Olongapo (Philippines) that still haunts my dreams. The fight was between a big oafish Marine and a rather soft-spoken, medium sized Latino sailor from my ship.
All evening the Marine had been trying to pick a fight with one of us and had finally set his sights on this diminutive shipmate of mine... figuring him for a safe target. When my friend refused to be goaded into a fight the Marine sucker punched him from behind on the side of the head so hard that blood instantly started to pour from this poor man's mutilated ear.
Everyone present was horrified and was prepared to absolutely murder this Marine, but my shipmate quickly turned on him and began to single-handedly back him towards a corner with a series of stinging jabs and upper cuts that gave more than a hint to a youth spent boxing in a small gym in the Bronx.
Each punch opened a cut on the Marine's startled face and by the time he had been backed completely into the corner he was blubbering for someone to stop the fight. He invoked his split lips and chipped teeth as reasons to stop the fight. He begged us to stop the fight because he could barely see through the river of blood that was pouring out of his split and swollen brows.
Nobody moved. Not one person....
...But you'll have to click the link and read the original to find out what happened, what was really going on, and how it relates to the Global War on Jihadism.
July 21, 2006
A Tale of Two Madams and One Mister
No, not that kind of madam! I mean a pair of "Madam Secretaries of State," Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice.
The first Madam Secretary, appointed by Bill Clinton for no reason other than to be the first president to appoint a woman as secretary of state, was an unmitigated disaster. Albright embraced Yassir Arafat, was bamboozled by Kim Jong-Il, tricked by Iran, cozened by Saddam, and turned a blind eye to Osama bin Laden while he and al-Qaeda prepared the most massive terrorist attack ever to occur on American soil. A magnificent and enviable record of failure and disachievement!
But let's contrast "Madam," as she insisted upon being called, with the other Madam Secretary, Condoleezza Rice. Here is Secretary Rice today, discussing her upcoming trip to the Middle East:
In her briefing for reporters on her trip, Rice said the United States was committed to ending the bloodshed, but didn't want to do it before certain conditions were met.
The United States has said all along that Hezbollah must first turn over the two Israeli soldiers and stop firing missiles into Israel.
"We do seek an end to the current violence, we seek it urgently. We also seek to address the root causes of that violence," she said. "A cease-fire would be a false promise if it simply returns us to the status quo."
Rice said that it was important to deal with the "root cause" of the violence, echoing what has been the U.S. position since last week.
And what is that "root cause?" Everybody uses the phrase, but each means a different thing. Most people in Europe and most Democrats in D.C., when they say "root cause of Mid-East violence," mean the presence of Jews in the ummah... which could easily be corrected.
If Israel would just do the manly thing and commit national suicide, then the world would think well of the Jews... briefly. But what does Condi mean by "root cause?"
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ruled out a quick "false promise" cease-fire in the Middle East Friday and defended her decision not to meet with either Syrian or Hezbollah leaders in her upcoming visit to the region.
"Syria knows what it needs to do and Hezbollah is the source of the problem," Rice said at the State Department as she previewed her trip, which begins on Sunday with a first stop in Israel.
What a rare moment of truth and candor from the Department of State! Of course, with John Bolton at the U.N., such moments are starting to come as thick and as fast as oysters. How I'm going to miss this president when his term expires.
(Oh, and notice where her Mid-East trip begins: Israel. In the previous administration, it would have begun with a quick obeisance in Ramallah, some backhanding in Damascus, and an apology-trip to Sabra and Shatila, where Madam would have laid a wreath and danced a foxtrot with Sheikh Nasrallah.)
But here is my favorite statement, and why I still hope that someday, Dr. Condoleezza Rice changes her mind and decides to run for public office:
Resisting calls from the United Nations, Europe and the Arab world, she said an immediate ceasefire would produce a "false promise" that would allow Hizbollah to re-emerge in the future to attack Israel, the top U.S. ally in the region.
"An immediate ceasefire without political conditions does not make sense," she said.
"If you simply look for a ceasefire... we will be back here in six months again," she added. "What I won't do is go to some place and try to get a ceasefire that I know isn't going to last."
I've been scratching my brains for days now, wondering exactly what a "ceasefire" means when one party is a terrorist group. And for more clarity on that point, listen to Ambassador Bolton (it's from an press conference outside the UN Security Council in Foggy Bottom, New York City; I have paragraphed it, so I can refer to Bolton's specific points; via Power Line):
Well look, I think we could have a cessation of hostilities immediately if Hezbollah would stop terrorizing innocent civilians and give up the kidnapped Israeli soldiers. So that to the extent this crisis continues, the cause is Hezbollah.
How you get a ceasefire between one entity, which is a government of a democratically elected state on the one hand, and another entity on the other which is a terrorist gang, no one has yet explained.
The government of Israel, everybody says, has the right to exercise the right of self-defense, which even if there are criticisms of Israeli actions by some, they recognize the fundamental right to self-defense. That’s a legitimate right.
Are there any activities that Hezbollah engages in, militarily that are legitimate? I don’t think so. All of its activities are terrorist and all of them are illegitimate, so I don’t see the balance or the parallelism between the two sides and therefore I think it’s a very fundamental question: how a terrorist group agrees to a ceasefire.
This is like demanding a "ceasefire" between the United States government on the one hand -- and the Salvadoran drug gang Mara Salvatrucha. What the heck is that supposed to mean? Do they negotiate exactly how many kilos of cocaine MS-13 is allowed to smuggle into the country?
You know in a democratically elected government, the theory is that the people ultimately can hold the government accountable when it [agrees to] something and doesn’t live up to it.
How do you hold a terrorist group accountable? Who runs the terrorist group? Who makes the commitment that a terrorist group will abide by a ceasefire?
Say, that is a good question, isn't it? So how come nobody else seems to be asking it besides John and Condi? And here's another good question:
What does a terrorist group think a "ceasefire" is?
Does it really understand a ceasefire as a cessation of hostilities, to be followed by honest negotiation to settle the differences that led to the war in the first place? I think it more likely Hezbollah's understanding of ceasefire is "a pause to reload;" and the ceasefire will last as long as it takes for them to obtain replacements from Iran, through Syria, for all the missiles that Israel destroyed... maybe "six months," as Secretary Rice suggested.
Finally, Bolton finishes his answer with a nice summation of the main point:
These are - you can use the words “cessation of hostilities” or “truce” or "ceasefire.” Nobody has yet explained how a terrorist group and a democratic state come to a mutual ceasefire.
Those are all good questions, and here's another: if Israel were to ink such a ceasefire with Hezbollah... wouldn't that elevate the terrorist group to the level of a sovereign nation? What would be the next demand -- that Israel negotiate a trade agreement with Hezbollah? Perhaps an agreed-upon procedure for releasing Hezbollah killers promptly upon the kidnapping of future IDF soldiers, to avoid all the brouhaha in the future?
Or would Hezbollah be admitted to the United Nations (and probably invited to join the new UN Human Rights Council)?
Israelis should get on their knees and thank the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that at this critical turning point in their existence, their greatest ally has such clear-sighted and morally decent appointees running the United States Department of State. And Americans should thank whatever God we hold dear that we have an Israel that is finally willing to stand up to Hezbollah and Hamas: maybe President Bush can start listening to Israel, Condi, and John; then he himself can begin treating those Iranian-controlled terrorists the way he treats terrorists in al-Qaeda.
July 20, 2006
Who Pays For That Ticket to Ride Out of Lebanon?
After twenty-two years absence, the U.S. Marines have landed in Beirut to help evacuate American citizens who are stuck in the war zone. Not surprisingly, many evacuees are tired, shaken and angry... but rather than being angry at Hezbollah for starting a war of aggression along a peaceful border, many Americans in Lebanon seem angry at the United States for not dropping everything to mount a massive mission to rescue them.
I sympathize with all the innocent people being hurt or threatened in Lebanon; that's why we say "war is hell." But if foreigners decide to live or visit an unstable country like Lebanon -- especially south Lebanon, which has been under total Hezbollah control since the year 2000 -- and despite their own country’s warnings, then those people must bear primary responsibilities for their own lives.
But that's not how a bunch of very demanding Americans and other foreign civilians see it:
Shebbo, now in Cyprus, said she and her husband had struggled to get information from the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, and had found out about the boat from people in the United States. For four days, they inhaled the fumes from a bombed power plant two miles from where they had been staying.
Others echoed her complaints about the embassy.
"The guard was so rude and said there was no evacuation plan," said Michael Russo, 23, of Tucson, Ariz., of his visit to the embassy. "On Wednesday and Thursday, I asked them if there was a plan, and they looked at me like I was crazy."
They were probably wondering why on earth somebody would travel to southern Lebanon without having his own escape plan.
For many decades, Americans have been taught by the elite media that the federal government is responsible for everything that happens in America. Remember Hurricane Katrina and all the people that blamed President Bush and former FEMA Director Michael Brown -- but who gave a complete pass to Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray "the Grand Nagus" Nagin?
Responsibility is always pushed upwards: it's not the state's job, call the feds; it's not the city's job, call the governor; don't protect yourself... call the city police to come protect you! But the farther removed "help" is from that individual in that place at that moment, the less helpful it will be. Reagan always got a big laugh out of his line, "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you."
Having dealt with the American Embassy in Japan and the Japanese Consulate in the U.S., none of this surprises me. This is a screaming, hair-on-fire emergency... which means the embassy is even more overwhelmed than the Americans demanding evacuation. If embassy personnel act worse than usual, that may be unacceptable -- but it's comletely understandable. And it's not just our embassy:
Many Canadians in Larnaca and Beirut also expressed anger at their government's evacuation effort, either because of the long wait at the port or the lack of planning. About 1,600 were waiting in the hot sun at the Beirut port.
This has all happened before. Twenty years ago, around the time 241 U.S. Marines and 58 French paratroopers were killed by Hezbollah terrorists, the U.S. Government strongly urged all non-essential U.S. Citizens to get out of Lebanon and to call off any planned visit.
A number of westerners had already been kidnapped there; but despite all the dire warnings, a bunch more Americans (mostly journalists) rushed to Lebanon and immediately commenced being kidnapped themselves. Naturally, each and every one of them insisted that we lay aside all the more urgent business we had and send the entire Sixth Fleet to pluck away some guy from CBS... so he could wander straight back into Beirut again (it's Freedom of the Press!)
Obviously, if it's possible and not too damaging to our national goals, there is nothing wrong with the government helping Americans who find themselves in need of evacuation. But strangers in a strange land have no right to demand that this will always happen: when you travel to foreign countries, you assume the risk that something might happen to you.
You're not in the United States; you're in a separate sovereign nation. It's just like going to Singapore, committing a crime under Singaporese law -- and then demanding they not prosecute you because whatever you did isn't against the law in America (or maybe it is, but you don't get "caned" for it here).
Any traveler, regardless of where he is going, must have an emergency Get the Heck Out plan. The government is not always there to help, just like the cops can't always be there the moment you need them. Each individual must be resourceful, because he may be thrust upon his own resources.
A few years ago, I watched a documentary on TV about people who refused to be victims: they successfully escaped from dangerous situations, such as natural disasters and military coups in foreign countries. These people were mostly volunteer workers for non-governmental organizations -- the Peace Corps, religous missionary groups, Doctors Without Borders, and so forth.
They all came hoping for the best but prepared for the worst. None of them waited for somebody else to risk his own life to run help them, nor did they sit around in the dark, waiting for instructions. They individually found a way out for themselves and their companions.
What they had in common was that each had an escape plan going in. They had thought about the dangers and planned for them; when the worst happened, they followed their plans as best they could -- and they made it out alive when others dithered, waited for rescue -- and died.
So always bear it in mind: if you are unfortunate enough to get stuck, then unless the government sent you there in the first place, don't demand that somebody else save your bacon: you and only you are the one who assumed that risk... so pay for your own ticket, please.
July 19, 2006
One Out of One Newspaper Agrees - With Big Lizards!
It's nice to see the antique media finally catching up to the dextrosphere:
Israel is in the best position militarily in its history to mount air strikes against Iran, after a decade of buying U.S.-produced long-range aircraft, penetrating bombs and aerial refueling tankers.
We're a bit late to the table on this one, which should hardly be a surprise. (Our new motto, as soon as I get industrious enough to add it to the logo -- probably later rather than sooner -- is "Never first, always final!") Power Line has already mentioned it briefly, though for some odd reason, they missed the most critically important point: that the Washington Times agrees with Big Lizards.
So let's delve a bit deeper. Here is what Israel has recently purchased:
25 F-15I (the I stands for Israel) "Ra'am" attack jets, the Israeli version of the American long-range attack jet, the F-15E "Strike Eagle":
The F-15E Strike Eagle is a modern United States all-weather strike fighter, designed for long-range interdiction of enemy ground targets deep behind enemy lines....
The only significant difference remaining between the F-15I and the F-15E is that the F-15Is were delivered without Radar Warning Receivers. Israel installed its own electronic warfare equipment in its F-15s. The F-15Is' missing electronics have been replaced by the Israeli Elisra SPS-2110 Integrated Electronic Warfare System. A central computer and embedded GPS/INS system have also been fitted. All of the aircraft's sensors can be slaved to a helmet-mounted sight, giving both crew members an efficient targeting mechanism that the F-15E does not possess.
The Ra'am's advanced systems include an APG-70 radar with terrain mapping capability. The sharp picture that the APG-70 provides, regardless of weather conditions and light, makes it possible to locate targets that are otherwise very hard to find - i.e. missile batteries, tanks and structures - even under such adverse conditions as complete fog cover, heavy rain or moonless nights.
102 F-16I "Sufa" fighter/attack jets (60 in hand), a modified F-16 "Fighting Falcon", a.k.a. Viper:
The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a modern multi-role jet fighter aircraft designed in the United States. Designed as a lightweight fighter, it evolved into a successful multi-role aircraft....
Block 50/52 Plus for Israeli Defense Force - Air Force, with significant Israeli avionics replacing that of American firms (Such as Israeli Aerial Towed Decoy replacing the ALE-50). The addition of Israeli built autonomous aerial combat maneuvering instrumentation systems enables the training exercises to be conducted without the dependence on the ground instrumentation systems, and the helmet mounted sight is also a standard equipment. The F-16I also has the Israeli built removable conformal fuel tanks added.
500 U.S. BLU-109 "bunker buster" bombs:The BLU-109/B is a hardened penetration bomb used by United States military aircraft. (BLU is an acronym for Bomb Live Unit.) It is intended to smash through concrete shelters and other hardened structures before exploding.
The Washington Times notes that a BLU-109 "could penetrate the concrete protection around some of Iran's underground facilities, such as the uranium enrichment site at Natanz."
- A fleet of Boeing 707 in-flight "boom and receptacle" refuelers.
The Washington Times interviews Air Force Lt.Gen. Thomas McInerney, who is also a frequent Fox News Channel military analyst (it's fair to call Gen. McInerney "conservative leaning"):
"They have the capability to strike Iran," said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas G. McInerney, a former fighter pilot who has trained with Israelis. "It would be limited, though. They could do 30 to 40 'aim points' in the array. I'm not worried about them hitting the targets. They will suffer losses, but they are capable of doing it."
He said Israeli fighter pilots are "the best in the world. I've flown against them. They train better. They get more flying time."
(That last comment got a testy reply from Power Line reader Tom "Duke" Beattie, a light colonel in the US Air Force; he complained that American pilots were actually better than Israelis. And I was totally on board -- until I came to this last line of his: "In today's world rankings, I'd probably rate the IAF # 3, right behind the USAF, # 1 and the US Navy/Marines, # 2."
I think it's all that skiing they do in Aspen in between classes at the Academy; it goes to their heads.
(When the Air Force starts landing on a 320-foot runway surrounded by seawater as it pitches and rolls in the waves, catching a trap and jerking to a halt in just 1.5 seconds... then maybe they'll be entitled to claim to be at least equal in skill to our Navy and Marine pilots. Feh.)
But here is where the Washington Times falls short of the imagination mark. They (and Gen. McInerney) all assume the planes must launch from Israel, then return there when they finish their bombing runs. This misses the possibility of TDYing the Israeli jets to Iraq for long enough to really do a good job -- possibly fighting alongside American jets, but perhaps doing it entirely on their own as well (though I don't know what would be the advantage to the United States of being passive here; our enemies won't be fooled and our friends will be disappointed).
It would be very tricky diplomatically -- assuming Iran had not done something in the meanwhile to make itself even more a pariah than it is now. But I think it very likely they will: they seem quite determined to escalate all the conflicts they've started recently into apocalyptic, existential confrontations. As I said before, they will surely attack Iraq directly before they'll attack Israel directly.
By that point, depending what Iran has done, the Iraqis may be overjoyed to let Israelis use their land to crush the mullahs.
The "peace process" has had plenty of innings, and it hasn't gotten a single run on the board. All I am saying is give war a chance.
July 18, 2006
Arabs Abandoning "Party of God"
In any discussion about Moslem terrorists, many people -- both defenders of Islam and also those urging military response against the terrorists -- often object to extremists like Tom "Bomb Mecca" Tancredo by saying, "not all Moselems are like that, those are just extremists." But then the question becomes, where are these "non-extremist," moderate moslems? Or as Dafydd put it, where are all the Moslem Methodists?
Rarely have I seen such an uprising, indeed an intifada, against those little turbaned, bearded men across the Muslim landscape as the one that took place last week. The leader of Hezbollah, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, received a resounding "no" to pulling 350 million Arabs into a war with Israel on his clerical coattails.
The collective "nyet" was spoken by presidents, emirs, and kings at the highest level of government in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, Morocco, and at the Arab League's meeting of 22 foreign ministers in Cairo on Saturday. But it was even louder from pundits and ordinary people.
Perhaps the most remarkable and unexpected reaction came from Saudi Arabia, whose foreign minister, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, said bluntly and publicly that Hezbollah's decision to cross the Lebanese border, attack Israel, and kidnap its soldiers has left the Shiite group on its own to face Israel. The unspoken message here was, "We hope they blow you away."
The Arab League put it succinctly in its final communique in Cairo, declaring that "behavior undertaken by some groups [read: Hezbollah and Hamas] in apparent safeguarding of Arab interests does in fact harm those interests, allowing Israel and other parties from outside the Arab world [read: Iran] to wreck havoc with the security and safety of all Arab countries."
There are more remarkable statements from Abdul Rahman al-Rashed, the general manager of Al-Arabiya --
"We have lost most of our causes and the largest portions of our lands following fiery speeches and empty promises of struggle coupled with hallucinating, drug-induced political fantasies."
-- and from Tariq Alhomayed:
Tariq Alhomayed, editor in chief of the Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, stuck the dagger in deeper: "Mr. Nasrallah bombastically announced he consulted no one when he decided to attack Israel, nor did he measure Lebanon's need for security, prosperity, and the safety of its people. He said he needs no one's help but God's to fight the fight." Mr. Alhomayed's punch line was, in so many words: Go with God, Sheik Nasrallah, but count the rest of us out.
Ibrahim does acknowledge that much of the refusal to take the part of Hezbollah (despite it being the "Party of God") is Sunni fear of "an ascendant Shiite 'arc of menace' rising out of Iran and peddled in the Sunni world by Syria." But no Moslem nation is jumping to defend Sunni Hamas in the Gaza strip, either.
I don't believe there has been any sea-change in Moslem attitudes towards Jews. This is just belated recognition that the Arab nations (even with Iran added) cannot defeat Israel or even prevent it from scoring military victory wherever it wants in the Middle East.
I guess there's a limit to how many times Arabs must get slashed by the claws of the lion before they finally decide to stop poking it with a stick.
July 17, 2006
The Word On the "Street"
From Dafydd: N.Z. Bear, he of the Truth-Laid Bear fame, has a marvelous aggregator page of bloggers from all across the Middle East, plus some important and powerful bloggers right here in the United States -- movers and shakers, opinion-mongers, and "pundants" (such as Big Lizards): Crisis In the Middle East. This page is a must-view.
For many years now, Moslem dictators have used the same old trick: whenever their domestic policies hit a wall, they turn around and point a finger at the nearest Jew.
"It is not the time to squabble amongst Moslems. We need to unite against the Israeli aggression. We need to mobilize for freedom. We need to focus on defense." Never mind the economy is in a shambles due to the corruption, incompetence, and stupid policies of the Arab leadership. A quarter of their citizens unemployed and starving, bandits and police working hand in hand intimidating citizens to extort money and favors. That's not the issue; that’s not important. The urgent task is to defeat the Zionist Jews.
The tactic has worked for decades; it still does, to a certain degree. But, more and more Moslems across the world are getting weary of this same old excuse.
They hardly ever see any Jews; how could the Jews be responsible for their misery? They don’t even know what Israelis do, except fight against Palestinians, which concerns nobody. Nobody likes, respects, or cares about the Palestinians as anything other than a political stick to bash the "Zionist entity."
But even the Moslems who are critical of the Israeli “occupation” have strong words for the Palestinians. After all, Israel had, until quite recently, already left Gaza. The most obvious and immediate effect of the twin attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah was to bring the Jews back!
Saudi columnist Yusuf Nasir Al-Suweidan made a prediction on June 25, 2006. At that time, Israelis had not yet invaded Gaza; but he correctly prophecied that Hamas' attack on Israeli would bring about a far worse situation for Palestinians than the status quo... because, he said, this time Israel would not “react like 'harmless lambs.'”
[T]his time, a new reality will be created in the Gaza Strip in which all talk about 'back to square one' will be nothing but wild optimism -- since the [situation] will regress [far beyond that], to a level where it is possible to talk of a plan of deportation [of Palestinians] and demographic change in Gaza, and this [plan] might even be implemented soon. This will turn the Palestinian dream of an independent state into a thing of the past....
The main mistake lies in the fact that the Palestinian organizations did not respond correctly to the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza... and its consequences. Instead of beating their swords into plowshares, pens, and other things that are needed for the development of Palestinian society -- in terms of the economy, society, culture, and so on -- most of them read the developments incorrectly and immaturely. This was exploited by the terrorist networks, that are funded and run by the regimes of the ayatollahs in Tehran and the Ba'th [party] in Syria, and [people] have been taken in by delusions and empty slogans like 'liberation from the river to the sea' [that are heard] among the poor, hungry, and desperate Palestinian masses. At present, what [these masses] need most is food, medicines, clothing, and other essentials _ not explosive belts, car bombs, and the slogan, "Congratulations, oh Martyr, the black-eyed virgin awaits you."
Attacks from Hamas against Israel are nothing new. However illogical, we cannot expect too much from Hamas. But what about the attack from Hezbollah? Israel left Lebanon in the year 2000. Since then, all has been quiet on the northern front. Why should Hezbollah arouse Israel now?
In Lebanon, after Syrian forces left, the power of Hezbollah began to weaken. The pressure to disarm the Hezbollah military wing gets stronger every day. Hezbollah was desperate to do something; they needed to divert the Lebanese citizens attention to somewhere else. But where? Why, the Jews, of course. They had to show the Lebanese that they still "needed" Syrian troops to protect from "Israeli aggression."
But, for some odd reason, this time, the Lebanese are not buying it. As their houses are being bombed, they are not necessarily blaming Israel; as Dafydd said, the public opinion of the Arab and Persian Moslems is up for grabs.
A Lebanese blogger, Fouad, has this to say.
We are ALL guilty. ALL OF US. Emergency hiwar watani session??? I am not sure if I should laugh or puke my guts out on the table. Let it be known to all. We are scared, our lives are on the line, our country is history, but it's all our fault. Each and every one of us. These are the people we elected, these are the people we let freely thrive in their little haven of hatred and murderous ideals, and this is us, scared and incapacitated, failing but to point fingers and complain. Well let me tell you this folks, we pulled our pants down and stuck our naked asses out, and now that we're ******, we really don't have jack **** to complain about.
Now, don’t get me wrong; as Fouad says, "there is no love lost between the lebanese people and the israeli leadership." Fouad and others have plenty to say about Israel’s aggression.
Under the circumstance, I cannot blame them. However, a blogger like Fouad correctly realizes it's Hezbollah who brought this to Lebanon. Israel is simply reacting to terrorist incursion.
Another Lebanese blogger Bob says:
And tomorrow when I will see the destroyed bridge linking my home town of Saida to Beirut, I will only say from the bottom of my heart: Enough! Enough wars, death and destruction! Curse you Hezbollah to hell and back! For all this destruction, for all this death! No it is not Israel fault; it is your own. Curse you!
Even though Hezbollah is hiding among the Lebanese, it is Iran -- and it's client state Syria -- which is behind the attacks. I wish Israel could bypass Lebanon and attack Syria directly. What do Syrian bloggers think of this?
Ammar Abdulhamid, who is Syrian but now lives in Maryland with his wife, has this to say:
[T]he national discourse and the constant calls for mobilization against a declared enemy were at best a diversionary measure meant to postpone any serious consideration of our developmental problems and our ruling regimes’ corruption and inherent authoritarian predilections.
For this reason, I never really believed in the conflict against Israel….
[T]he issue ahead of us if that of Hezbollah and Hamas being wielded as instruments of provocation by Syria and Iran to stir up another national liberation conflict and mobilize us all for the march to hell, with many of us applauding all the way.
All wishful thinking aside, I just don’t think that Israel is going to lose this round, and I think that the going-ons in Lebanon are only a prelude for the eventual and now inevitable confrontation with Syria, with all sorts of disastrous implications and consequences for our people.
I don't think Hamas or Hezbollah -- let alone Syria and Iran -- ever considered the "disastrous implications and consequences" of their acts of war against Israel. They only wanted to remind people of the Jewish threat and convince them they still needed the terrorist armies to protect them from Israel.
Instead, they brought the fury of Israel down upon them like fiery manna from Sheol. This was not in their plan; in fact, they are stunned by Israeli's reaction:
Hezbollah was surprised by Israel's response.
When they dreamed up this plan in January, they thought the Israelis would respond as usual: bomb a few Hezbollah positions on the border, and perhaps attack Palestinian militant camps. They were not expecting the attack to occur at this fragile time with the Palestinians.
Instead, the Israelis massively destroyed Lebanese infrastructure. Bridges throughout South Lebanon have been destroyed. Almost the entire South is without power.
If Hezbollah looked at reality instead of believing their own propaganda, they could have guessed this was going to happen... especialy after they saw what was already going on in Gaza at the precise moment they attacked Israel and kidnapped two soldiers.
True story: when Dafydd and I hiked in Yosemite, we were told not to cook near the camp ground. The smell, the rangers said, will attract bears. Despite all the warnings, some retardo decided to cook a whole mess of sausages on a grill he set up -- right next to his tent, right near our own tent (in Camp Curry).
That night, two black bears came roaring down to the camp ground and scared the heck out of the campers (we were already leaving that night for the Wawona Lodge). Fortunately no human was hurt; but one bear had to be shot by the "danger rangers."
Sure, the bears were the critters directly threatening our lives. But ultimately, the guy who cooked food and drew them down from the mountains should be held more responsible than the bears. The bears were just being bears; this dull-witted chef was being a dangerous fool.
Will the people in the Middle East ever hold their leadership responsible? Will they ever understand who lured the bears into camp? The jury is still out. But at least this time, the opinion of the infamous "Arab street" is up for grabs.
July 16, 2006
Can Israel Strike Iran? Answer: Yup.
Over on Power Line, my favorite blog, Steven den Beste holds forth on the logistical and military nightmare of Israel trying to launch a direct attack on Iran. While den Beste is certainly accurate as far as he goes, his analysis is limited by the fact that he didn't "think outside the box."
...Which happens to be a Big Lizards specialty: so here is how Israel can, indeed, bomb the bejesus out of Iran.
First, we have to set the stage. Israel isn't going to directly strike Iran just for the heck of it; they would only be driven to that extreme by a massive attack by Iran against Israel. We don't mean just a little plinking with Katyushas or even those C-802 cruise missiles; not just a few casualties in Haifa or even a good hit on an Israeli naval vessel in the Med, even with video footage of Iranian Revolutionary Guards firing the missile.
The only thing that would provoke Israel into making a direct attack on Iran is a massive "Oh My God" strike by Iran directly on Israel -- let's say a missile fired from offshore or the West Bank into Tel Aviv that somehow manages to collapse an office building and kill 10,000 Israelis... something on that order.
Now, such a massive attack would mean all the normal "rules and limits" are off, and the U.S. is willing to help Israel out as much as necessary. Up to but not including (we assume for this exercise) making the attack ourselves. But we'll do anything short of that.
Why would Iran launch such a terrible attack on Israel? Let's take them at their word: Israel is still likely to attack Syria, as that is the nearest nexus from which Hezbollah and Hamas are controlled; and Iranian President Ahmadinejad has threatened that if Israel attacks Syria, Iran will attack Israel. Thus, we take as our working assumption that Iran is retaliating for a major Israeli attack on Syria.
Get Outside the Box
Steven den Beste is utterly correct that Israel isn't likely to order attack jets to take off from Tel Nof, fly to Iran, drop their payloads, fly back, and taxi to the line. They must start from somewhere much closer.
Looking at a map, we notice two countries that directly abut Iran that stand out for some reason: Iraq and Afghanistan. It would actually be much easier to bomb Iran starting from either of these two venues than from Israel.
Most of the WMD research sites in Iran, at least those we know of, are in the west; that is fortunate, because to get to Afghanistan, Israel would have to fly over Iran itself -- which is suboptimal. Thus, we have our first two steps:
- Get a large number of Israeli attack jets to Baghdad.
- Disperse them north and south, to Mosul and to Basra.
This does require overflying Syria; but recall that Israel will have already attacked Syria. As part of that attack, the very first thing any respectable air force would do is take out the air defenses. This means that by the time Israel is gearing up to attack Iran, Syria will be blind and deaf as far as tracking aircraft overflying its airspace.
(If they're not already, the Israel should attack them just for that purpose.)
Staying entirely over Syria and then Iraq, the flight distance from the Israeli north to Baghdad appears to be somewhere around 750 miles or less... well within the single-tank range of an F-16I Sufa, the backbone of the Israeli Air Force. Thus, it is possible for Israel to transfer a large number of F-16s to Baghdad -- thence to Mosul and Basra -- without being particularly noticible and without having to use in-flight refueling.
- Disguise the Israeli planes to look like American planes, just to confuse any watchers.
I suggest they would temporarily paint American markings over the Israeli ones; and once approaching Iraq, the Israeli planes would squawk American IFF frequencies.
A Hop, Skip, and a Jump
Now that the main problem is solved, there are a myriad of excellent targets within range of Israeli F-16s flying out of Mosul in the north, Baghdad in the center, and Basra down south. In-flight refuel would not be necessary, as planes would return to Iraq after each sortie.
The Israelis would remove the temporary US marking from their planes and make no bones about where they're from.
- Bomb the targets in Iran; the Israelis can take as long as they wish... no hurry to return to Israel.
- Use targeting downlinks from American AWACs and American and Israeli intelligence on WMD sites in Iran: take those puppies out.
The only serious problem is political: certainly, Iraq is going to be very, very unhappy about Israeli warplanes flying out of Iraq to attack Iran. But again, we're assuming a hugely aggressive Iran that is actually willing to openly attack Israel... which means they're almost certainly launching huge terrorist and military assaults on Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces in Iraq, as well.
Iraq may already by this time have declared war on Iran. But even if they haven't, they will be a lot less squeamish about Israeli jets attacking Iran than they would be, say, today or yesterday -- when there is no overwhelming reason to do so. Finally, if they get totally recalcitrant, what the heck are they going to do about it? It's not like they have their own air force that could stand up to the Israelis or Americans.
Would They? Could They?
Remember, our baseline assumption is an Israel more grim and determined on vengeance than we were in October 2001. When people are that embittered, they're willing to slog through any number of hells to deal death and destruction to the dastards who did the dirt. That in mind, a ferrying trip from Israel to Baghdad, spreading out within Iraq, and then attacking western Iranian targets doesn't seem that implausible to me.
All we needed to show was that it was practical -- not that it was going to happen next Thursday after lunch. And I believe we have demonstrated quod erat demonstrandum.
(It would still make more sense for the United States to carry out the strike ourselves, since we're already there on both sides, as well as along the Persian Gulf in Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE. And Iran has given us ample casus belli by attacking our troops in Iraq. But that's outside the specific challenge we address here.)
July 15, 2006
Israeli Warship Hit By Chinese/Iranian Cruise Missile
This is exactly the danger the United States has been warning about ever since 9/11: that rogue states like Iran may begin transferring modern military weaponry to terrorist groups:
In another development, an Israeli military official claimed that Iranian Revolutionary Guards were involved on some level in a missile strike that badly damaged an Israeli naval boat off Lebanon’s capital Beirut on Friday, killing one Israeli sailor and leaving three missing.
The official said the exact role of the Revolutionary Guards was not clear, but the Iranian forces were working closely with Hezbollah in Lebanon, as they have for more than two decades.
Israel’s military initially said that the ship was hit by an unmanned drone aircraft packed with explosives. But the military revised its assessment on Saturday, saying the ship was hit by a radar-guided, C802 missile fired from the Lebanese shore. The missile came from Iran, the military said.
The C-802 -- a.k.a. Ying-Ji-802 or YJ-2, a.k.a. the SACCADE -- is a cruise missile developed by China from the earlier YJ-1 model; the YJ-2 has a turbojet rather than the rocket engine burning solid fuel, as used by the YJ-1.
The weight of the subsonic (0.9 Mach) Yingji-802 is reduced from 815 kilograms to 715 kilograms, but its range is increased from 42 kilometers to 120 kilometers. The 165 kg. (363 lb.) warhead is just as powerful as the earlier version. Since the missile has a small radar reflectivity and is only about five to seven meters above the sea surface when it attacks the target, and since its guidance equipment has strong anti-jamming capability, target ships have a very low success rate in intercepting the missile. The hit probability of the Yingji-802 is estimated to be as high as 98 percent. The Yingji-802 can be launched from airplanes, ships, submarines and land-based vehicles, and is considered along with the US "Harpoon" as among the best anti-ship missiles of the present-day world.
China was to have sold about 150 YJ-2s to Iran following the Gulf War; but when President Bill Clinton's chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. John Shalikashivili, complained to the People's Liberation Army of China (a major Clinton campaign donor) that this was destabilizing, the PLA agreed to stop the sales after shipping only 75 of the missiles.
However, Chinese client state North Korea seems to have taken up the slack with Iran -- yet another Clintonian diplomatic success story:
In early 2000 it was reported that North Korea and Iran were jointly developing an advanced version of the C-802 cruise missile. These missiles initially acquired by Iran were not equipped with advanced systems, and the missiles acquired by Iran were rather outdated. Iran turned to North Korea for missile system technology, and the two countries are jointly developing an upgraded version with improved accuracy. ["N. Korea, Iran Jointly Develop Missile: Report" Korea Times February 17, 2000]
Yet another example of President George W. Bush's prescience in noting an "axis of evil" that included not only Iraq and Iran but also the Democratic People's Republic of Korea... a claim widely ridiculed by Democrats (and even some Republicans of the Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft "realist" school of thought) shortly after Bush's 2002 State of the Union Address.
The reported missile-technology cooperation between North Korea and Iran occurred before 9/11... in fact, before George W. Bush was even elected. The "Axis of Evil" exists and predates Bush; he was simply the first to recognize it.
If Israel is indeed correct that their ship was struck by an Iranian C-802, and there is no reason to doubt either their accuracy or their veracity, then that raises a profound question, none of whose answers bode well: who fired the missile?
There are only two possibilities:
Hezbollah fired the missile, which means that Iran has transferred some of its precious ASCMs (anti-ship cruise missiles) to their pet terrorist group.
I find it unlikely in the extreme that Iran would do that if they only have 75 -- 15 of which are attached to patrol boats; if this is the case, then that lends some credence to the story that China actually sold far more YJ-2s to Iran than it ever admitted, or they've manufactured many more themselves;
- Iran itself fired the missile, either from a Revolutionary Guard missile battery in Lebanon, equipped with Chinese-supplied YJ-2s, or perhaps from indigenous Iranian YJ-2 knock-offs which North Korea helped them develop. In this case, Iran has openly entered into war with Israel, and Israel must respond in kind.
The latter instance puts us on the horns of a pickle: if Israel retaliates against Iran, the mullahcracy will still blame us, since they believe Israel is our sock puppet which would not act without orders from America. This is preposterous; Israel has many times done things we wish they wouldn't (not that an attack on Iran would necessarily fall into that category); but that is what Iran believes, so they will hold the United States responsible and attempt to retaliate against us the only way they can: by a massive terrorist attack.
If in fact Israel declares war on Iran and attacks them, I think it's best for us to grab the bull by the tail and look the facts in the face: if Iran will counterattack against us anyway, we may as well join with the Israelis and make a good job of the attack.
If we hurt Iran badly enough, they may be reluctant or even unable to transfer the large amounts of money, weaponry, and logistics necessary for Hezbollah to be able to pull off an effective terrorist attack. Cripple Iran's ability to use Hezbollah (or Hamas) as a proxy, and you cripple Iran's retaliatory capability... because they certainly will not initiate a missile exchange with a country that has thousands more missiles than they -- and a working ballistic missile defense to boot.
In an upcoming post, Sachi will discuss the amazing Arab reaction to the Israeli-Lebanon-Hezbollah-Hamas war; suffice to say Arab public opinion is up for grabs, unlike in times past, where the mere hint of involvement of Israel would send every Arab Moslem in the world into a frothing frenzy of Jew hatred. Perhaps the trick doesn't work anymore.
Given that new reality, now may be the time to resolve our Iranian problems... at least for a number of years, until they can reconstitute their WMD programs -- if a future president lets them.
July 13, 2006
Here's a How-De-Do
Some Israelis now believe that the rocket attack on Haifa today was not carried out by Hezbollah; they think it might actually have been Iranian Revolutionary Guards themselves manning Katyusha rocket batteries in Lebanon.
I don't know if this will prove to be true; but let's assume it for sake of argument. In that case, Israel would have been directly attacked by Iran... not just via a proxy or cut-out. They would probably decide they had to retaliate: Israel certainly cannot sit still and let Iran attack them with impunity, heh?
Alternatively, suppose Israel decides (as they might well soon decide) to take the fight directly to Damascus; and suppose Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad makes good his threat today to attack Israel if Israel attacked Syria:
Israeli analysts warned that Syria, which supports Hezbollah and plays host to Hamas' political leader Khaled Mashaal, could be Israel's next target.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said any Israeli attack against Syria would be an aggression on the whole Islamic world and warned of a harsh reaction, the official Iranian news agency reported Friday.
Again, Israel might end up at war with Iran.
But the United States has a mutual-defense alliance with Israel. And regardless of the legalisms of when we are and are not obliged to ride to their defense, American presidents have for decades assured Israel (and Americans) that we would defend that country, were it directly attacked by another country.
So the question is, if Israel declared war on Iran and moved against them -- would we sit and twiddle our toes? Or would we live up to our moral and legal obligations, as we would if, say, Taiwan or South Korea were attacked?
Consider: Iraq, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan -- all countries where we have good military relationships and a huge bunch of soldiers. We surround southern Iran in a "crescent of embrace." We could very well end up in a shootin' war with the mad mullahs... in a matter of days, not months.
So... should we? Would we? Or will we just hum loudly and eat our green eggs and ham?
I hope the Bush administration and Congress have been thinking about this; I'd sure rather we have a plan, rather than having to scramble after being blindsided.
This Is a Test: For the Next Sixty Seconds...
Nobody seems to discuss this much as a motivation for Hamas and Hezbollah (both puppets of Iran) to attack Israel, but I'm sure it was in part because of Ariel Sharon's presumed brain death.
Ehud Olmert, while formerly a member of Likud (before Sharon formed Kadima), has never been considered a forceful or military leader, unlike Gen. Sharon. Olmert was in the IDF, of course, since it's required of everyone; but reading between the lines, I don't believe he ever served in combat. For most of his hitch, he was a military journalist -- say, just like Al Gore!
At the same time, the new defense minister is Amir Peretz, the head of the Labor Party. He is the former head of a trade union (Histadrut) and was known for hurling strikers into the streets to paralyze Israel... sort of an Israeli edition of Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Although he has a more "real" military background than Olmert -- he was wounded in the Yom Kippur War of 1973 -- he did not show much interest in what was good for Israel (instead of what was good for Histadrut) until very recently.
One of the motivations for the terrorist groups to attack now is surely that the prime minister and the defense minister are both untried and untested.
There was reason for the Palestinians to think that each might be "soft": Olmert acted soft, in a way that Sharon never did (even when pushing disengagement); and Peretz is a left-leaning socialist who saw disengagement as a way to free up lots of money -- to spend on more welfare.
Iran is testing the new leadership... at the expense of the Palestinians of Hamas and Hezbollah. The Iranians (and their Syrian lapdogs) would not have ordered these raids if Sharon were still hale and whole and firmly in charge.
I wonder how long it will take for the Palestinians in Gaza and in Lebanon to figure this out?
Words of Wall
This is a Scaley Classic from the most ancient of Lizardly days, back when I was blogging on Patterico's Pontifications, my first actual guest-blogging post; it dates from more than a year ago... but it has suddenly become highly relevant today. (You can read it in its pristine originality at Words of Wall.)
This is the post where I first laid out the Lizard Doctrine: Israel should withdraw from Gaza and the West Bank, not because it will pacify the Palestinians (which I correctly predicted it would not), but because it would allow Israel at last to "give war a chance."
One link (to Haaretz) is no longer active, so I have replaced it with a cached version at the Jewish Agency for Israel's website; and I cleaned up a few infelicities here and there. Explanatory comments in brackets and italics are written today, not in the original; and I've added by usual boldface emphasis to create "inline headers," as I am wont to do.
Without any more alarums and excursions, we go...
Over on Power Line, another of my favorite blogs, Scott, who used to be Big Trunk, posted a lengthy segment from a Ha'aretz interview with Moshe Ya'alon, outgoing chief of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Scott clearly worries that the unilateral pull-out of Israel from Gaza and the West Bank will be disasterous for that country.
Scott's argument is serious and deserves response. Since nobody else seems to be willing to look at the other side of it from a pro-Israel perspective, I'll expend whatever "political capital" my recent election as junior sub-altern of the Politically Non-Euclidean Guild affords me.
The essence of the argument is, as always with Scott, quite intellectually sound, as far as it goes:
The coming Israeli pullout from Gaza seems destined to relegate the area to Hamas. Despite the resurrection of the "road map" to the creation of a Palestinian state, neither the Bush administration nor the Israeli government seems to have a road map to the cessation of the Palestinian war on Israel or the removal of the terror gangs from Palestinian territory.
Scott goes on to quote Ya'alon:
In the interview, Ya'alon said that recent statements by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas show that Abbas "has not given up the right of return. And this is not a symbolic right of return, but the right of return as a claim to be realized. To return to the houses, to return to the villages. The implication of this is that there will not be a Jewish state here."
Therefore, he said, the establishment of a Palestinian state will lead to war "at some stage," and such a war could be dangerous for Israel. The idea that a Palestinian state can be established by 2008, and will then produce stability, is "divorced from reality" and "dangerous," as any such state "will be a state that will try to undermine Israel."
There is no blinking this, of course. War will probably result; it has several times in Israel's existence, starting in 1948, hours after the British lowered their flag and even before the Israelis raised theirs. [Prediction 100% correct -- the Mgt.]
Théoden: But I would not bring further death to my people. I will not risk open war.
Aragorn: Open war is upon you, whether would risk it or not.
I feel like Aragorn, trying to convince Théoden King [in the Lord of the Rings trilogy -- the Mgt.]. The hidden assumption here is that such open warfare would be worse for Israel than the covert terrorist war they're already fighting now... and thereby hangs the flaw with this entire line of reasoning.
As far as open war, there is no nation adjacent to Israel that would join today in such a jihad by the Palestinian Authority (if controlled by Hamas), and the war would be an unmitigated disaster for the Palestinians. [Prediction still open -- the Mgt.]
The only nearby country that might even consider it would be Iran under the Mad Mullahs; but if they did, the Israeli (and American) response would (a) take care of our fears about an Iranian nuclear program, and (b) almost certainly spark a revolution within Iran itself by the people, who despise the Mullahs. Iran could only attack using missiles, since they obviously could not march through or fly across Iraq, Syria, and Jordan to get to Israel; and missiles can be shot down -- by us and by the Israelis, that is; not by Iran when the retaliatory strike is launched.
(There is the possibility that Iran would be able to launch a nuclear attack on Israel; we cannot rule this out. But if the ayatollahs are mad enough to do this in response to a Palestinian war, they would be equally willing to do it following any other provocation... suicide-bombing on a national scale. They do not need Hamas to lead them into such "martyrdom," if that is what they have decided.)
I've argued [in e-mail and comments] in support of the pull-out of Israel from Gaza and the West Bank (of the Jordan River) for some time; but my reasoning seems to be lost in the excitement of proving the above (fairly obvious) point over on Power Line, Captain's Quarters, BeldarBlog, and other sites where I've tried to have this discussion. A great deal of energy was expended trying to convince me of one of my own starting positions, that the Palestinian people hate the Jews and have never given up their intention of driving them into the sea, the reconquista of what they see as Greater Palestine. I think the gents at Power Line are still convinced that I dispute this point; in fact, it is exactly why I support the pull-out... that, coupled with two facts on the ground.
Here are my starting premises. Everyone making an argument should always start thus:
- Israel absolutely has the right to exist as a Jewish state, right where it is now... including in the West Bank and Gaza. They were attacked; they won those territories fair and square; they have the right to keep them and even settle them. It's just not good policy for Israel to do so.
- Nearly all Palestinians in the PA hate Jews with a passion nearly unequaled on the planet. They will probably never like the Jews; the best Israel can get is for them to forget that the Jews exist.
- When Israel pulls out of Gaza, the region will be taken over by Hamas. This is probably also true about the West Bank, although Hamas is not as overwhelmingly strong there. But if Hamas doesn't take over in the West Bank, then some other terrorist gang will do so, or there will be civil war (say -- perhaps they'll kill each other off!)
- Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Al Aqsa, Fatah, Hezbollah, and all other terrorist groups in the West Bank and Gaza have every intention of destroying Israel, and they will never give up that dream. They will never be honest brokers of peace.
I don't think Scott and I disagree on any of these points. This should clear up some of the confusion about my position: I do not believe that land is illegally occupied, nor do I support Bush's ridiculous "road map to peace," nor do I imagine that any deal with the Palestinians would be kept, except in one circumstance: if the Palestinians have no choice but to keep it or be annihilated. And thereby hangs my point.
There are three urgent responses to Palestinian intransigence that Israel must undertake; thankfully, they are doing exactly these. First, they must complete work on the wall, or "security fence," separating them from the Palestinians; second, they must maintain the power of the IDF and Mossad and the willingness to go after the leaders of the various Palestinian terrorist groups directly by assassination; finally, they must remove the settlers from the occupied territories.
I will assume the first two receive widespread agreement here; let's talk about the third.
Hate is a curious emotion. Although one of the prime movers of Mankind throughout history, it is actually very enervating. Governments have throughout history used hate to channel the energy of people who would otherwise oppose the rule of the regime, a fact recognized by George Orwell, among others: see the chapter "Goldstein Two-Minutes Hate" from Nineteen Eighty-Four.
But because it is so draining, it requires a constant irritant to maintain it, a constant, in-your-face reminder of the object of hatred. Without such irritant, the hate will still exist, but only in theory; it will have none of the energy needed to obsess the mind and be used to distract the hater from all else. Thus, Indonesian Islamists certainly hate the Jews, but only in the abstract; they do not expend a lot of time or effort trying to find a Jew so they can attack him. This is because the Jewish population of Indonesia is considerably less than 1%... most Indonesians do not know any Jews and may never even have met one in their entire lives. Constant propinquity is necessary for active, action-driving hatred -- which is why Big Brother staged those Two-Minutes Hate videos: he knew that without them, without constantly "knocking elbows," so to speak, with the supposed enemy, the people would soon forget Goldstein even existed. [Yes, of course I know; I'm talking about the "reality" of Winston Smith. -- the Mgt.]
The Jewish settlers in Gaza and the West Bank have become exactly such irritants, alas. They may have some cosmic "right" to be there; but the reality is that those territories are overwhelmingly populated by Arab Moslems. The tiny number of settlers, in their armed and economically successful compounds -- little Israeli gardens in the vast sea of sand that is the erstwhile British Mandatory Palestine -- are constant reminders not only that Jews exist but that they're far more powerful than the Moslems... and also better capitalists, in despite of Israel's socialist beginnings. Because the settlers need constant protection from the IDF, that means that everywhere Palestinians go, they have to pass through checkpoints in the land that, rightly or wrongly, they consider their homeland. They are made to feel weak and powerless; their destiny is beyond their control.
This gives every Palestinian in the West Bank and Gaza his own, personal Two-Minutes Hate, often multiple times per day. And it is exactly that hate that Hamas, et al, feed upon and use to whip the people into a froth of rage and fury such that they will send their own sons and daughters to death, just in order to take some Jews with them.
Remove the settlers, hence the Israeli troops required to defend them, and the only irritant left will be the wall itself. Most Palestinians will not have to suffer the evidently unbearable daily fate of having actually to see a Jew, giving them the vapors. As absurd as this may seem to us, who live in a pluralistic society where "the Faithful" seem, by and large, to get along fairly well surrounded by "Zionists and Crusaders," it is a very real agony to the Moslems living in the PA. Remove the irritant, remove the agony, and you remove, not the abstract hatred, but its projection into the day-to-day world of those Palestinians.
It is that projection that gives the hate its power. Remove it, and you begin to starve Hamas and their murderous brethren. "Oh, yes, of course I hate the Zionist entity," Achmed will say; "but do you not see? They are gone! I can travel from Jenin to Hebron and see not a single Jew!"
Of course, if Achmed wanted to go from Ramallah to Gaza International Airport, he would have to travel through Israel; it's not a perfect disengagement; still, it reduces the contact to a tiny fraction of what it is today. With that relief, I believe it will be virtually impossible to persuade Achmed to give up his sons just to go off and kill Israelis he cannot even see, over on the other side of the wall. [Prediction accurate so far: these attacks were not suicide bombings but rather military assaults. -- the Mgt.]
All of the terror gangs will be crippled; Lebanese Hezbollah will still get support from Syria and Iran, but they're about to start having problems of their own. Terrorist groups will begin to be resented, even hated themselves, for their vicious bullying of the Palestinian people and their utter incompetence at running a country... revolutionary emotions that are at the very core of the incitement to hatred and violence by Hamas and the PA: they need scapegoats to distract their own people from the natural desire to fight back against such tyranny. Plus, without the ready-made targets in the settlements, to be perfectly blunt about it, all of Gaza and the West Bank will become targets for IDF response to the inevitable terrorist attacks. When such retaliatory strikes come, the Palestinian people -- who are not being constantly irritated by the presence of non-Moslems in their neighborhoods -- will blame the terrorists for "bringing trouble." [Hasn't happened yet, but I was talking about the long haul: the Palestinian people have not yet really been hurt. Give it some time. -- the Mgt.]
There is another advantage to the pull-out. Right now, there are still many Israeli Jews harboring the secret belief that they can cut some sort of deal with the Palestinian Authority; "road-map-ism," I'll call it. It's not as bad as in 1999, when Ehud Barak was elected; but it's still strong. The doves do not understand that the moment the Palestinians get Gaza and the West Bank, they will demand Israel itself... Palestinian maps of the region often do not even include Israel as a separate nation.
Israel gets nothing out of the settlements except illusion: they promote the illusion that the only reason the Palestinians make war on Israel is because Israel "occupies" those territories. Remove the settlements, and when the Palestinians shift seamlessly from demanding Ramallah and Bethlehem to demanding Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv, all illusions will be shattered. Even the doves will be forced to accept reality. "Open war is upon you, whether would risk it or not."
I absolutely believe that even Avram Mitzna would fight to save Israel proper, and Ehud Barak spent his entire military career doing so. Not only will Hamas, PIJ, and Al Aqsa be terribly weakened by an Israeli pull-out from the territories, so too will be the Israeli Left. The Israeli Labor Party will be politically devastated when Ariel Sharon actually implements what they have only agitated for but never achieved. [Prediction 100% accurate: both Labor and Likud are relegated to "also rans" behind Kadima. -- the Mgt.] All of this will make Israel safer, not more perilous.
Summing up, the Sharon plan of removing the settlers (disengagement) while maintaining the strength and resolve of the IDF and Mossad and finishing the security fence will achieve three goals, each of which adds to Israel's security:
- Weakening the Palestinian terrorists by removing the Two-Minutes Hate that allows them to recruit so-called "martyrs" to kill Jews;
- Increasing the freedom of action of the IDF by removing unhelpful and difficult-to-defend Israeli targets from the enemy's territory;
- Forcing the Israeli Left to face reality and recognize that the two states will always be enemies, living at best in an uneasy calm, shattering the dangerous illusion that the lack of "open war" means they are at peace.
Israel must guard the borders, be vigilant against attack and ruthless in response, and at all times recognize the "facts on the ground;" only then will she be truly safe.
July 12, 2006
Israel vs. America In Blame War - Updated
UPDATE: See below for a response to Yoni Tidi on Hugh Hewitt today.
Anent the deadly kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah in Israel's north, the United States properly blames Hezbollah's masters: Syria and especially Iran:
The White House condemned the Hizbollah attack and blamed Syria and Iran, which both back the Lebanese Shi'ite group.
But strangely, Israel itself (or at least one top general) seems to point a finger at Lebanon, of all places... the country that just successfully expelled Syrian troops and has worked the hardest to expel Hezbollah and the Syrian intelligence services:
GOC Northern Command [Aluf] Udi Adam told reporters that Israel plans to "push back" Hezbollah guerrillas controlling southern Lebanon, adding that the IDF has "no intention at the moment of involving Syria," which has great influence over Hezbollah.
"We think at the moment the debate is beween us and the government of Lebanon," he said.
With all due respect, I think Gen. Adam is nutty. (Assuming the quotation is not simply taken out of context by Haaretz.) We've already discussed Syria's connection with Hezbollah; this is certainly true, though the ultimate puppeteers are in Teheran, not Damascus. (And not just of Hezbollah but of Hamas as well, despite the latter being more or less Sunni.)
UPDATE: Yoni Tidi -- who blogs and phones in to Hugh Hewitt from Seattle, I believe, but who is a veteran of the IDF in the last Lebanese War -- suggests that it's reasonable to blame Lebanon because "Hezbollah sits in their parliament." This is true, Mr. Tidi... but is that by choice of the rest of Lebanon, which has done everything it could to drive Hezbollah out?
It is far better to work with the Christians and anti-Hezbollah Moslems in Lebanon to destroy that terrorist organization in the South, in the Bekaa, and wherever else it lurks in Lebanon, thus allowing real Lebanese also to boot out the Syrian Intelligence agents -- whose presence is only possible because of the protection they get from Hezbollah. Instead of lumping patriotic Lebanese in with their Hezbollah occupiers, it's time for Israel to discriminate between them; just as we have achieved great results in Iraq by discriminating and driving a wedge between the foreign terrorists and the native-Iraqi "insurgents." The latter can be co-opted; the former must be destroyed to the last person.
Hugh Hewitt suggests Israel launch a bombing mission on Syria, and I would certainly applaud such a move: if you cannot immediately kill the wolf, at least take down the pup. But at some point, Israel, the United States, and the rest of the West -- yes, even including Europe -- will have to come up with an actual solution to Iranian madness and bloodthirst.
It certainly need not be any "final solution," not only because democracies simply do not do such ghastly things but also because there is no reason to make war upon ordinary Iranians: the vast majority of them are not cheerleaders for the Mullahs and would shed scarcely a tear if Khamenei, Ahmadinejad, and the whole collection of Eaters of the Dead were to be sent on to final judgment.
But it's tricky to thread the Scylla of Iranian hatred of their hellish slavemasters and the Charybdis of Persian pride and patriotism. Somehow, we must get the population of Iran itself to rebel against their leaders, and then we can help them without being too obvious about it. Destroying Hezbollah, especially outside Iran, would be a tremendous leap in the right direction: none of the covert democrats in Iran have any love for Hezbollah, the "Party of God," who roam the streets of Iran attacking some men and especially women, betimes with acid in the face, for violating any one of the thousand and one intrictate, byzantine rules of the ayatollahs' version of Shiism.
But Big Lizards certainly agrees with Hugh that the first step is to crush the Syrian military, which will bring about the collapse of the Baathist Bashar Assad regime in Syria... thus not only helping out Israel but also relieving much of the pressure on Iraq, as Syria is the source of much of the support for Iraqi terrorists -- bombs, money, and especially ambulatory explosives (Syria is one of the primary conduits for suicide bombers into Iraq, though mostly from countries other than Syria).
Even if the collapse of the Baathists eventually brings more Syrian Islamists to power, it will take them some time to consolidate their power, and they likely will never wield as much power as Hafez al-Assad did or even as much as his "cockeyed ophthalmologist" younger son does today.
And during that period of consolidation, we can cripple Syria's ability to engineer death and destruction in either Iraq or Lebanon. And without Syrian governmental support, Hezbollah will be much more easily trapped between a Devil and a hard place of its own: the Israelis to their south and the Lebanese themselves to their north.
The Madness Accelerates
By "madness," I do not mean the wholly justified Israeli invasion of Gaza -- but rather the mindlessly defiant Palestinian response, where they appear to be ready to immolate their entire world, just to avoid giving up one hostage Jew.
Now, a new group has run pell-mell into the buzzsaw screaming "Allahu akbar": Hezbollah, feeling neglected (and tired of living in this vale of tears), just streamed across the Israeli-Lebanese border and, it appears, abducted two Israeli soldiers. Evidently, they looked upon Gaza and saw that it was good, and said, "Geez, I sure wish I had me one o' them Israeli Defense Force invasions!"
Hizbollah guerrillas said they had captured two Israeli soldiers in cross-border attacks from Lebanon on Wednesday in which three Israelis were also reported killed, sharply raising Middle East tensions.
Israeli ground forces crossed into Lebanon to search for the captured soldiers, Israeli Army Radio said. It said many troops and aircraft were taking part in searches across the border.
I can see Hezbollah's reasoning: kidnapping IDF soldiers has worked out so well for Hamas in the Gaza Strip; how could Hezbollah resist joining the fun? Of course, the most likely result will be a massive Israeli armor attack that annihilates Hezbollah strongholds from Beirut to the Bekaa Valley and from Tyre to the shores of Tripoli, crippling Iran (which owns Hezbollah) in the bargain and probably dragging Bashar Assad into the mess; but heck, you can't make an omlet, you know, without stepping on a few eggshells.
All right. Bring it on. We may see several terrorist groups try to gang-bang the Israelis: Palestinian Islamic Jihad is bound to feel abandoned; and al-Qaeda has been desperate to get a toe-hold in the Palestinian territories (perhaps curious to see the only people in the world more loathsome and degraded than they).
But one thing you will not see is a line of Arab nations rushing to support the terrorst sacrificial lambs. Don't look for Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, or Jordan to join the fray. You see, being actual, real countries, these entities have entirely too much to lose to poke the tiger with a stick. In fact, while Lebanon may well lodge a "protest" at the U.N., in secret they will be cheering the Israelis on.
Happily for the civilized, and alas for American and European antisemites who are becoming thicker than the flies on Zarqawi's eyes, Israel has more than enough firepower to fight both Hamas and Hezbollah at the same time. Israel will win, one way or another; but there is a heck of a stretch between the two ways:
- The terrorists can release IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit and stop shooting rockets at Jews. Then the Palestinians can start trying to put the rubble of what used to be their society back together again;
- Or they can continue to make brainless, senseless, useless attacks cross-border... and watch everything they pretend to have fought for all these years be torn asunder and trampled underfoot by Israelis. In this response, Israel received such provocation from the Moslem terrorists that even the Europeans cannot help but tolerate, if not bless.
But which hand will the Palestinians seize, the right or the left? Remember, it was precisely for this group of people that some wag invented the aphorism that "the Palestinians have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity."
July 5, 2006
Here It Comes...
It appears that Hamas is so trapped in the quagmire of their own delusions of grandeur and persecution that they literally cannot even wake up to save their own lives: they fired another Kassam rocket -- Hamas claimed it was "upgraded" -- this time, as they had promised, at an Israeli school full of children.
"Tonight a grave escalation took place when a Kassam landed in a school in our southern town. This is a peerless and grave escalation in the terrorist war for which Hamas, which is in control of the Palestinian government, is responsible," Olmert said.
He said there will be significant ramifications for this "criminal attempt" to strike at Israeli citizens. He said Hamas would be the first to be hit.
I have long believed that jihadis actually worship an ancient death god who demands human sacrifices; "blood and souls for Moloch," perhaps. Now I think it may even be worse. Is it possible for an entire culture to be suicidal, to long for death in the hope that with enough letting of lives, the Great Old Ones will return to Earth and reclaim what was theirs? Do the Palestinians worship some sick version of H.P. Lovecraft's pantheon, some eldrich, imaginary being like Azathoth, the blind idiot god, or Yog-Sothoth, the lurker at the threshold?
It's difficult to come up with any rational explanation for their compulsion to launch feeble, impotent attacks on Israel, as if trying their damnedest to enrage the Israelis -- without actually impairing their ability to strike back at the Palestinian Authority. Hamas is like a berserker who rushes a man with a pike; he impales the berserker... who proceeds to pull the pike deeper and deeper into the wound, through and through, clawing at the pikesman with blood-soaked, detumescent fingers in a futile gesture of childish defiance.
Sorry. Carried away. But I still think it's a close analogy.
The reaction to the attack on Israeli schoolchildren is predictable, despite the fact that by sheer, benevolent luck, the rocket that hit the school missed all the children playing just outside:
In response to the attack, Defense Minister Amir Peretz ordered the IDF to step up the speed and intensity of Operation Summer Rains in the Gaza Strip, launched last Wednesday in an effort to retrieve Cpl. Gilad Shalit. "We intend to achieve the goals of our operations in Gaza," Peretz said, referring to stopping the Kassam rocket fire as well as retrieving the kidnapped IDF soldier....
Meanwhile Tuesday, the IDF stepped up its offensive on the Gaza Strip despite the expiration of an ultimatum issued by the kidnappers of Shalit, abducted from his military outpost outside southern Gaza last Sunday. On Monday, several tank squads, bulldozers and infantry companies took up positions in northern Gaza opposite Beit Hanoun. On Tuesday, additional forces were sent into Gaza establishing a battalion-level presence in northern Gaza.
This can only end one way: eventually, the war will stop, because there will be nothing left in Gaza to defend but rubble and more rubble, with starving, stunned Moslems wandering the shattered landscape, wondering what sin they committed that their god should so fail them.
But then, it will be too late. The Palestinians could flee to the West Bank, but Hamas will probably use that as a launching pad for more useless attacks against Israel.
Nobody in the Middle East will lift a finger to save the Palestinians, because all of their neighbors hate and despise them. The UN will fuliiminate and demand, as Golda Meir famously suggested, that Israel should commit suicide so that the world will think well of the Jews. The United States will shrug and perhaps offer some half-hearted admonition; but the reality is that nobody in the administration really cares if Hamas decides to go out in a blaze of ersatz glory, and nobody in Congress is fool enough to stand with the terrorists.
So at some point, either Hamas can stop itself, or the Palestinian people can stop them... or else the problem will be resolved the hard way. It's a remarkable spectacle; I've learned things I never knew about the grip that ego-boosting fantasy can have on a whole people.
July 1, 2006
The "Hundredth Israeli" Effect
Is there a floor to stupidity? Or is it just turtles, turtles, turtles all the way down?
Take a look; let's see if we can't figure out a solution to this looming "humanitarian crisis" in the Palestinian Authority:
Israel last night threatened to assassinate Palestinian Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh if Hamas militants did not release a captured Israeli soldier unharmed.
The unprecedented warning was delivered to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a letter as Israel debated a deal offered by Hamas to free Corporal Gilad Shalit.
It came as Israeli military officials readied a second invasion force for a huge offensive into Gaza.
All right, quiz question number 1: What is the proper response from Hamas?
- Appeal to Kofi Annan for a UN relief force to drive the Jews into the sea;
- Threaten to kill Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert twice;
- Release the hostage.
At any point, no matter how bad it has gotten, the Palestinians can make the beating stop: all they need do is release the hostage and stop shootin' Jews.
Nobody is going to help them. No one will come to their rescue. Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan -- they're all going to sit quietly and hope the Israelis don't notice them; or maybe they'll sprinkle some borrowed luster-dust on their heads by shuttling back and forth in bootless "diplomacy." (What's to debate? The Palestinians know the one and only thing that will end this seige and save the shattered remains of the PA.)
Thousands of Hamas supporters protested in Gaza City late on Thursday over the arrest by Israeli forces of up to 32 Hamas MPs on the West Bank that day.
A Hamas spokesman said the group would never recognise Israel, in spite of a deal its leaders signed this week offering implicit recognition of the Jewish state in return for easing an economic blockade.
Quiz question number 2: When Israel sweeps into the PA like a hot bayonet through hummus, arresting a very significant portion of members of the Palestinian parliament, while Palestinian security forces utterly helpless and humiliated, the correct course of action from the Hamas leadership is:
- Scream like a girl and play "speed bump" in front of an Israeli tank;
- Sue Israel for damages in le Cour Internationale de Justice at the Hague;
- Release the hostage.
For decades now, Palestinian Arabs have been posturing as a force to be reckoned with. While Yassir Arafat was alive, he was courted by kings and couriers, parliaments and presidents, as if he were the blasted Pope -- instead of a cowardly, sexually perverted, miniscule troll of a terrorist thug.
For several years now, Israel has persisted in a lotus-dream of September 10th... a few suicide bombers here, a few Kassam rockets there, and what's a murder of a settler or twenty among friends? They accepted the absurd demonic pact that the Palestinians had moral authority to butcher and rape because everyone picked on them; and the Jews' lot in life was to suffer and cringe.
The Israelis forgot the most important two-word lesson of the Holocaust -- despite intoning it endlessly like a magical mantra (the words were there, but they never quite got the tune).
But now, for some reason, the sleeper awoke and tore a couple of pages off the calendar: at long last, September 12th has dawned in the Jewish state, and they realize that they must have zero tolerance for the murderous Palestinian shenanigans that they've tolerated and enabled for so long.
I don't know why IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit broke the camel's back; maybe it's the "hundredth monkey" effect -- which may well work for us humans, even though it turns out not to be true for macaques:
The "Hundredth Monkey Effect" is the name for a supposed phenomenon in which a particular learned behaviour spread instantaneously from one group of animals, once a critical number was reached, to all related animals in the region or perhaps throughout the world. Largely due to popularisation of this story, the "Hundredth Monkey Effect" phenomenon is now thought by some to occur in human populations with respect to ideas and beliefs in general even though the original story has been discredited (Myers 1985).
In any event, the abduction of Shalit has set in motion the most forceful reaction to Palestinian criminality since the invasion of Lebanon twenty-four years ago... and it may surpass that level, if Hamas cannot shake itself awake from its febrile delerium.
By the time they stop floccillating and take a look out the window, there may be nothing left to save.
Israeli fighter jets bombed 20 targets in Gaza, including the Interior Ministry, which it said had been used by militants to stage meetings, while artillery hit the northern strip with 500 shells in the 24 hours until yesterday morning....
Much of Gaza, including two main hospitals, was without power and running water as a UN aid chief warned that the 1.4 million residents of the strip were three days away from a humanitarian crisis.
"They are heading for the abyss unless they get electricity and fuel restored," said emergency relief co-ordinator Jan Egeland, who urged militants to free Corporal Shalit and stop firing rockets into Israel.
There are two ways this ends: either Hamas relents -- or Israel simply runs out of targets. If Palestinians think it can't get any worse, they have only to wait a few more days; when you stare into the abyss, it stares back.
But they can end their tour of Hell anytime they want. They know what to do.
Quiz question 3: When the Damned dangle by their fingernails over the Abyss, they should --
- Shake a fist at the nearest Jew;
- Throw a rock;
- Release the stupid hostage already.
Must Israel obliterate them utterly? They will if that's the only solution. Or will the mad manage to find a way to connect with reality just long enough to save their worthless pile of dirt? Their fate is in their own hands; not many men can say that with such assurance.
June 28, 2006
With Six You Get Hummus
Two can play at this game.
The Israelis have started taking new hostages to trade for the soldier, rather than forking over pre-existing prisoners:
Israeli forces arrested the Palestinian deputy prime minister and dozens of other Hamas officials early Thursday and pressed their incursion into Gaza, responding to the abduction of one of its soldiers....
Army Radio said the arrested Hamas leaders might be used to trade for the captured soldier. Israel had refused earlier to trade prisoners for the soldier's release.
More than 30 lawmakers were detained, according to Palestinian security officials. Among them were Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Nasser Shaer, Labor Minister Mohammed Barghouti and two other ministers in the West Bank.
So how long before Hamas surrenders? Or perhaps -- how long until Hamas is obliterated? Either endgame will be fine with Israel.
So far, Hamas -- now the official government of the Palestinian Authority -- refuses to recognize that Israel exists. It's going to become powerful hard to deny the existence of a country that's kicking their butts. Will they claim they're actually being attacked by Galactus or the Mole Men?
Palestinian plans for high-rise apartments, sports complexes and industrial parks in lands evacuated by Israel have given way to despair, with rising poverty, increasingly violent relations with Israel and a looming threat of civil war.
I can think of an easy solution:
- Recognize Israel;
- Accept the legitimacy and legality of previous agreements;
- Stop shootin' at Jews!
There, that didn't hurt much, did it?
Yesterday, Israel roared into Gaza in a lightning war (yeah, yeah, I know), ostensibly to find and rescue kidnapped IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit... but actually to break the back of Hamas, al-Aqsa, and other terrorist groups operating in the Gaza Strip.
This post is not a strategic analysis or tactical account of the Gaza invasion; others with far better credentials than I are covering that very thoroughly, including CounterTerrorism Blog (the new home of former Fourth Rail blogger Bill Roggio) and the Belmont Club; as well as far more prolific and patient bloggers than I, including my old CO, Captain Ed -- all of whom, plus many others, can be accessed via the blogroll to your right.
Rather, I just want to pluck out a few illuminating scenes among the Palestinians, responses to this existential crisis that are so very sad and pathetic that they're actually funny, in a morbid, black-humor way.
First, a general look at the lack of military preparedness for a "nation" that has been launching attacks daily deadly against the Middle East's premier indigenous military power, Israel:
Israeli tanks and troops entered southern Gaza and planes attacked three bridges and knocked out electricity to the coastal strip early Wednesday, stepping up the pressure on Palestinian militants holding captive a 19-year-old Israeli soldier.
The soldiers and tanks began taking up positions in two locations about a mile east of the Gaza town of Rafah under the cover of tank shells, according to witnesses and Palestinian security officials. Palestinians dug in behind walls and sand embankments, bracing for a major Israeli offensive.
"Walls and sand embankments?" Are they barking mad? How long do they thing those defenses will stop one of these, the Israeli Merkava main battle tank?
Israeli Merkava Main Battle Tank
Trying to defuse building tensions, negotiators from the ruling Hamas movement said Tuesday they had accepted a document implicitly recognizing Israel. But two Syrian-based Hamas leaders denied a final deal had been reached.
Israel said only freedom for the captive soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, could defuse the crisis, not a political agreement.
The wolf is not at the door, you morons; he is in the living room headed towards the bedroom. And you still can't get it through your thick skulls that it's time to crawl on your hands and knees and beg for mercy! How braindead are these Hamas "leaders?" Are the Palestinians down with this defiance in the face of certain annihilation?
Overnight, Israeli planes fired at least nine missiles at Gaza's only power station, cutting electricity to much of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian security officials said. The station's three functioning turbines and a gasoline reservoir were engulfed in enormous flames that firefighters were unable to control.
The attack raised the specter of a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, as water pumps in the strip are powered by electricity. Some power in Gaza City was restored by tapping into electricity supplied by Israel in northern Gaza.
Gee, how long does Hamas suppose that source will last? Speaking of northern Gaza, Captain Ed links to the Jerusalem Post, which reports that Stage 2 of the Gaza invasion has begun: Israel is now moving into -- see if you can guess -- northern Gaza in a "pincer" move.
Shocked? You may not be, but evidently that possibility never occurred to the military geniuses in Hamas.
Back to the Associated Press. This sentence literally made me laugh out loud:
Masked militants from various armed factions took up defensive positions around Gaza City, instructing drivers to turn their headlights off.
Yeah... if you turn off your headlights and close those blackout curtains, then the Israelis can't see you!
What year do the Palestinians think this is -- 1942? (If so, that would represent a temporal quantum leap from their leaders, who think it's still the 7th century, and Mohammed still walks the earth, leading his armies against the infidel.)
Haven't they ever seen pictures on al-Jazeera or CNN or other terrorist-supporting television networks of American soldiers in battle wearing weird machines in front of their eyes? What do the Palestinians think those are for -- do they imagine that in the middle of combat, the Americans are getting eye exams? (Quick, call the Syrian Oculist!)
Maybe they haven't made the leap that if Americans have "starlight scopes," the Israelis probably do as well. And infrared imaging. And GPS and satellite mapping. And lots of other ways to operate... even when it's dark outside.
Invading the stronghold of the big, bad terrorist caliphs seems awfully similar to invading Mozambique or Bangladesh. Maybe if Palestinians spent a little less time pining for the olden times, when Islam could actually boot Frankish knights out of the Holy Land -- and less time plinking at Israel with Kassam rockets -- they might be able to devote the attention and industry necessary to build a real country, with a real economy that wouldn't be crippled by the loss of welfare payments from other countries. You think?
The militants told residents to leave the area. They piled gasoline-soaked tires in the streets. Earlier, bulldozers blocked some of the main roads with piles of sand and dirt to try to slow down Israeli tanks.
Yeah. Here's what happens when a Merkava hits one of those "piles of sand and dirt" at high speed:
Armored Division X-Games
You can't see it in that picture, but before landing, the Israeli tank commander did a "Superman" and a fakey-grab.
Here is the problem on a nutshell. From Deutsche Presse-Agentur via Monsters & Critics News:
For the first time since the soldier's abduction early Sunday, the Hamas-led Palestinian government backed the demands of the kidnappers and called for a prisoners' swap with Israel.
After a brief emergency cabinet meeting in Ramallah of only its West Bank members, Finance Minister Omar Abdul Razek called the kidnappers' demand that Israel free jailed militants 'logical.'
Sadly, it is logical: for years -- decades -- Palestinian terrorists from the PLO of yesteryear to Hamas, al-Aqsa, and Hezbollah of today have found that the quickest and surest way to get their own fighters released from Israeli custody was to kidnap some Israelis and demand a prisoner swap. It was not uncommon for the Israelis to let go 300 to 400 POWs in exchange for a single Israeli soldier... or sometimes even for his corpse.
It's not unreasonable that Hamas would think those were the rules of the game and try it again. Where they drift off the sanity-rails into the Land of Make-Believe is when the Israelis balked, threatened a huge invasion, and massed troops and armor on the border -- and Hamas still could not shake itself awake enough to hear the chilling wolf-howl just outside. Like old, deaf dogs, they lay fat and happy before the fire and didn't hear a thing.
I cannot continue. The brain reels. Even though I predicted exactly this, it's still hard to fathom how stupid are the terrorists of Hamas and Fatah, and the nutty Palestinian voters who substituted the former for the latter when Fatah proved too accomodationist to the "Zionist entity." (I've discovered the real difference between Fatah and Hamas: both want to drive the Jews into the sea, but Fatah would give them life preservers.)
At least, thank goodness, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades has not been able to scrounge up those "20 different types of biological and chemical weapons" they threatened to use against the Israelis if they invaded. Keep all digits crossed.
And all this flows from the refusal of Hamas simply to recognize the existence of Israel and previous agreements with them, as nearly every nation on the planet had urged them to do -- including many Arab Moslem regimes. "And all for the want of a tenpenny nail."
Oh well. To quote Larry Niven again, "not responsible for advice not taken."
June 13, 2006
Gaza Beach Bingo: the Rest of the Story
In our post Provenance, we noted that there was a great deal of question whether the civilians killed on the Gaza beach were hit with an Israeli artillery shell, as the Palestinians and the world elite media all declared. Rather, we suggested, it's entirely possible the real culprit was an errant Qassam rocket -- fired by Hamas terrorists at Israel.
Well, Israel has completed enough of its investigation to have preliminary results... and sad to say, it appears Big Lizards was wrong. It turned out not to be a Qassam rocket after all.
Those civilians were slain by a Palestinian mine.
Yesterday, Israel already knew enough to state with some certainty that the family was not killed by an Israeli artillery shell (a tip of the hat to Right Wing News -- who must have linked us, because we're getting a lot of referrals, and our traffic is sky high!) According to the Jerusalem Post:
[Defense Minister] Amir Peretz said the panel's preliminary findings showed that the Ghalia family was not killed by a shell fired by the IDF ground forces or the IAF. Peretz said that one of six artillery shells fired by the IDF was unaccounted for, but that there was a gap between when the shells were fired and the time the Palestinians said the shells landed.
AP reports that the time gap was at least ten minutes; so unless Israel has a field piece that can fire shells up around the altitude of the Shuttle's orbit, that missing shell didn't come down and blow up the beach.
Associated Press falls all over itself to throw a bone to the Palestinians... but Mark Lavie, who wrote the piece, fails to note that he must contradict himself to do so:
It was not clear how the explosive got there, or whether it might have been an unexploded Israeli shell from an earlier military barrage. Peretz did not address that issue in his remarks. Israel has been claiming that Hamas militants planted a device to set off against Israeli commandos....
According to Israeli findings, shrapnel taken from two wounded Palestinians who were evacuated to Israeli hospitals showed that the fragments were not from the 155-millimeter shells used by Israeli artillery.
Thank heavens for those many layers of editorial cross-checking.
Back to the Jerusalem Post:
Olmert opened the cabinet meeting by expressing Israel's "deep regret" over the incident, and saying that Peretz had set up an investigation....
Olmert, who stressed that he was not apologizing because the facts were not yet clear, said past experience had shown that myths could be created that were divorced from the facts.
He was referring to Muhammad al-Dura, the 12-year-old boy killed [sic; we do not even know that much] during an exchange of fire between the IDF and Palestinians on September 30, 2000. Images of Dura hiding behind his father and then being shot and killed were beamed across the world, with Israel widely blamed for his death until researchers three years later brought ballistic evidence showing that the shots could not have been fired by IDF soldiers.
AP -- as well as Reuters -- also makes tedious reference to the alleged 16-month "truce" that Hamas had declared... until those wicked Jews violated it. Again, we wonder whether the news editors actually read the stories they're supposed to be editing:
The seaside carnage contributed to a sudden spike in Israeli-Palestinian violence. After the beach blast - and Israeli forces' killing of a top Gaza militant - Hamas called off a 16-month cease-fire that had significantly reduced casualties on both sides.
The antique media here uses a special definition of truce (or "cease-fire"), one not found in the commonly accepted dictionaries. As we noted in Provenance, and as the Jerusalem Post noted yesterday,
Regarding Friday's incident, Olmert said it must be made clear that Kassam rockets - designed to maim and kill Israelis - have been fired from the Gaza Strip continuously over the last few weeks.
"This firing is very serious," he said. "It strikes at the fabric of life in communities in southern Israel and threatens peoples' lives... This is an unending series of terrorist attacks designed to strike at civilians."
Needless to say, Hamas has rejected Israel's findings. They express stupifaction that anyone could imagine that an organization born out of suicide bombings of women, children, teenagers, the aged, and innocent civilians of all sorts -- including Moslems -- would ever plant mines to deter "Israeli commandos" in an area used by Palestinian civilians:
"This is a false allegation, and the Israeli occupation state is trying to escape from shouldering its responsibility by accusing Palestinians without evidence or any proof," said Ghazi Hamad, a spokesman for the Hamas-led Palestinian government.
"The eyewitnesses and the evidence that we have confirm that the massacre is the result of Israeli shelling, and the allegation about land mines planted by Palestinians is baseless," he said.
Those "eyewitnesses" have extraordinary vision indeed to be able not only to see a shell coming in, but also to know who fired it. Hamas does, after all, have artillery pieces too. Hamas is joined in blaming Israel, regardless of the evidence, by the George-Soros-funded and virulently antisemitic Human Rights Watch. AP quotes a "military expert" who speaks for the organization:
Human Rights Watch military expert Marc Garlask, the first independent analyst to inspect the scene, said he examined the shrapnel on the beach, saw the civilians' injuries and concluded the blast was caused by an Israeli shell. He held open the slim possibility that it was planted there by Palestinian militants, although fragment patterns did not back that.
"Our information certainly supports, I believe, an Israeli shell did come in," he said, ruling out a land mine.
No word on whether he wrote his report on the plane flight to Yasser Arafat International Airport. But it's largely irrelevant; unless Israel arranged for their artillery shells to be manufactured from the shrapnal of Palestinian mines, I think the evidence is in. Since I choose to believe Israeli investigators over a "military expert" from Human Rights Watch -- I admit my bias -- I have to say "case closed."
However, frustrated at the failure of the Israelis to live down to their MSM caricature (and perhaps by the sputtering failure of Fitzmas to come), the elite media has turned with a vengeance on the brutal, callous, and utterly senseless killing by Israel of even more innocent women and children:
An Israeli missile strike on a van in Gaza carrying militants and rockets killed 11 Palestinians, nine of them civilians, on Tuesday in the deadliest such attack in nearly four years.
The air strike signaled that Israel would not flinch from targeting rocket squads in densely populated areas in spite of an outcry over the deaths of seven Palestinians on a Gaza beach on Friday in a blast militants blamed on Israeli shellfire.
"We have been showing restraint due to the international storm caused by the incident on the Gaza beach, but no longer," Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz was quoted by the YNet news Web site as telling reporters in northern Israel....
"The car that we hit was loaded with Katyusha rockets and launchers and they were on their way to launch those Katyusha rockets at Israel," an army spokeswoman said after the attack in the eastern outskirts of Gaza City.
But of course, the important point is that the nine civilian deaths -- evidently, they ran out of their houses to go look at the van, into which the perfidious Zionists were pumping missiles -- included "two children and two medics."
Make of it what you will, but it's clear that when Israel removed the Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip, it was not an act of surrender or even appeasement. With the area depopulated of everyone but the enemy, Israel can now treat these attacks from Hamas as what they are: acts of war conducted by a foreign power against the nation of Israel.
June 12, 2006
[Dafydd also contributed extensively to this article.]
We often describe a situation where different parties are saying completely different things, and there is no way to tell which is right, as a case of "he said, she said."
But to the antique media, when the "he" in this equation is a Moslem jihadi, then "he said, she said" usually turns into "he said, and that's good enough for us!"
Take the recent attack at the beach in Gaza, where seven (or eight) Palestinian civilians, including children, were killed by... by what? Palestinian spokesmen who were not present at the time insisted it was by an Israeli shell... and that's good enough for the UK Times online:
Israeli artillery fire killed a Palestinian family who were picnicking on the beach in Gaza yesterday, as the shoreline was packed with people on a Muslim holiday.
Body parts, bloodstained baby carriages and shredded holiday tents were left strewn on the sand near Beit Lahiya, in northern Gaza, after the late- afternoon strike that killed at least seven people, thought to include the parents and children of one family.
They seem awfully certain it was Israeli artillery fire, and not an errant Qassam rocket, that killed the civilians; but why? What is their source for saying so? They never say; in the entire article, not once does the UK Times online tell us how they know it was the Israelis and not Hamas that fired the deadly weapons.
The New York Times weighs in on the same story -- and takes the same line. After all, just because Hamas is a terrorist organization that specializes in killing innocent men, women, and children, wants to see Israelis all driven into the sea, believes Jews are responsible for all the ills afflicting the Palestinian and Arab peoples, and which has lied many times in the past, doesn't mean we can't take their word when they say that they know for certain that the family was killed by Israeli shelling (that's what the Ouija Board said):
Hamas fired at least 15 Qassam rockets from Gaza into Israel on Saturday, ending a tattered 16-month truce with Israel, a day after eight Palestinians were killed on a Gaza beach, apparently by an errant Israeli shell.
"Apparently?" What does that mean? Apparent to whom?
Israeli officials said they regretted any casualties among the innocent as Israel tried to stop the firing of Qassam rockets into Israel by shelling the areas from which they were launched. Defense Minister Amir Peretz sent a message expressing regret to Mr. Abbas, who called the incident "a bloody massacre" and declared three days of mourning.
On Friday, the Israeli Army was shelling a target area popular with rocket launchers 400 yards from the beach. The army believes that a shell fell short or that a dud, previously fired, exploded.
The "army" believes? I guess they mean the Israeli Defense Force... but who exactly within the IDF told them that? Where did they get such information? The New York Times is no more willing to reveal a source for unraveling this mystery than their namesake in London was.
Here is a very interesting pair of sentences from the NYT story. Maybe somebody can figure out "what is wrong with this picture":
Hamas fired at least 15 Qassam rockets from Gaza into Israel on Saturday, ending a tattered 16-month truce with Israel....
Since the beginning of the year, Palestinians have fired hundreds of largely inaccurate missiles toward Israel, while Israel has fired more than 5,000 shells into Gaza.
That's a very interesting "truce" Hamas has been observing! What did they do, promise to limit the number of missiles fired at Israel to only "dozens of the inaccurate but potentially deadly Qassam rockets each month," as the UK Times put it?
And if the Qassam is so "inaccurate but potentially deadly" -- it has no guidance system at all -- then isn't it at least equally likely that the explosive thing that killed those eight (or seven) Palestinians on the beach was a Qassam, not an Israeli artilly shell gone awry? How do the two Timeses know to such certainty that the family were accidentally killed by Israelis (a "war crime"), rather than accidentally killed by Hamas militants (a tragic error?)
Pounding on the sand, Houda Ghalia shrieked for her father after he was killed with five of her siblings at a seaside picnic by what Palestinians said was an Israeli shell.
Footage of the 10-year-old screaming "Father! Father!" has played over and over again on television, driving home the devastating impact of what Palestinian leaders are calling "genocidal" and "a war crime...."
Israel expressed regret Saturday for the killing of eight civilians, but stopped short of taking responsibility, saying an investigation was under way.
Israel's military chief said the killings may have resulted from a misfired Palestinian rocket. Palestinians insisted they were caused by an Israeli artillery shell.
So maybe the IDF doesn't think that "a shell fell short or that a dud, previously fired, exploded." At least, the part of the IDF that spoke to AP doesn't agree with the part (if any) that spoke to the New York Times. Never let your AP hand know what your Times hand is doing.
And everybody ignores the undisputed fact that previously, someone from Gaza was shooting Qassam rockets into Israel, despite a supposed "cease fire." Isn't that significant in deciding whether something was a "war crime," let alone "genocide?" (Do Palestinians even know what the word "genocide" means? Palestinians, other Arabs, and most Israelis are actually the same "race": Semites.)
As in Rashomon, we can never know for sure whose errant whatever actually fell on the beach and killed those seven or eight civilians. Even if the Israeli investigation shows that whatever fell left Qassam pieces, not artillery pieces, behind, who will believe them? The world would rather believe Hamas terrorists than Jews.
The same thing can be said about the Haditha "massacre." All we have are the words of anti-American "civilians" who may be in cahoots with the terrorists themselves... and a questionable videotape that only proves that somebody died violently somewhere in Iraq more or less around the time of the claimed "massacre." We don't even know whether those bodies in the video go with that incident or some other incident days earlier or later.
The MSM ignores the not so hidden agenda of the "witnesses" and "reporters;" after all, why bother investigating when you have handy Marines to blame?
This battle is being waged with very sophisticated propaganda tools: on Special Report with Brit Hume Friday night, during the "Grapevine" segment, Jim Angle showed a photograph that was run by the London Times, and later picked up by the Chicago Sun-Times. It showed a number of dead Iraqis stacked up against a wall; the victims' hands were all bound behind their backs, and the wall was riddled with machine-gun bullet holes.
The London Times claimed that the photo showed Iraqis murdered by the US Marines in Haditha. Days later (maybe weeks), it was evidently pointed out to them that the photo did not match any of the witness statements about what supposedly had happened -- even from the Iraqis' point of view. The magazine investigated and discovered that the picture they'd run was actually of a group of Shia who were murdered by Sunni terrorists; it had nothing to do with Haditha or with the Marines.
The London Times (and the Chicago Sun-Times) eventually ran a correction and apologized. But that begs the question: how could a supposedly respectable newspaper editor and publisher look at such a photograph and say, "oh yes, that jolly well looks like just the thing the American Marines would do." What would make them think such a thing?
They might say "where there's smoke, there must be fire." But they, themselves are the ones who put all the "smoke" there in the first place. The only reason people keep thinking that US forces engage in massacres is that the elite media keeps saying so; they say so because it's so obvious to them, everyone knows it; and it's so obvious because, after all, look at all those other unsubstantiated stories of massacres in other newspapers.
It's the most circular of all circular arguments.
But finally, our side is speaking up.
A sergeant who led a squad of U.S. Marines accused of killing 24 Iraqi civilians at Haditha told his lawyer the unit did not intentionally target civilians, followed rules of engagement and did not try to cover up the incident, The Washington Post reported on Sunday.
The newspaper said Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, 26, told his lawyer several civilians were killed in November when the squad went after insurgents firing on them from a house. But Wuterich said there was no vengeful massacre and described a house-to-house hunt that went awry in a chaotic battlefield, his lawyer said.
"It will forever be his position that everything they did that day was following their rules of engagement and to protect the lives of Marines," said Neal Puckett, who represents Wuterich in the investigations of the deaths.
"He's really upset that people believe that he and his Marines are even capable of intentionally killing innocent civilians," he said.
I am not saying we should blindly believe what SSGT Frank Wuterich says. But we should understand it is still "he said, he said" -- not "he said, and that's good enough for the Times."
I will refrain from expressing my own opinion as to whom I would believe. We should wait for the investigation to be completed... in both incidents.
May 4, 2006
Power Line highlights a paper by Caroline Glick of the Center for Security Policy that purports to demonstrate -- weakly and not very convincingly, I believe -- that Israel's pull out from Gaza and especially its pending pullout from the West Bank damage both Israeli and world security, vis-a-vis the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). (Hat tip to Scott at Power Line, who buys Glick's argument hook and crook.)
Her paper relies in large part upon a fundamental fallacy: Glick believes that, were it not for the pullout from Gaza and the proposed pullout from the West Bank, Hamas would never have won election in the Palestinian Authority.
Glick draws extensively from a paper by LG Moshe Yaalon, former Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Force; but Yaalon's paper is entirely about the dangers posed by Hamas's victory. Since Glick points to those various problems to denounce the pullout, she can only be assuming that absent the pullout, Fatah would still control the PA.
But that assumption is not only highly speculative, it actually flies in the face of the electoral and polling history prior to Sharon's pullout: Hamas had already won a number of by-elections, beating Fatah; and poll after poll showed that the Palestinians saw Fatah post-Arafat as a spent force, unable to expel the Jews, unable to stand up to Israel or the Great Satan, unable to govern.
Glick (and Yaalon) are absolutely correct that the Palestinians voted for Hamas in large part because they like terrorism, they think terrorism helps their cause, and Hamas promised to stick it to the Jews good and hard. But they thought that before the Israeli pullout just as strongly as they thought it afterwards; it wasn't Sharon's policy of disengagement that caused the Palestinians to hate Jews more than they love their own children.
The election result was a foregone conclusion, unless Fatah successfully rigged the vote. In which case, Hamas would have come to power in a coup d'etat, instead of by overwhelming vote.
When one knocks that plank out of Glick's platform, the entire edifice begins to crumble... because so much of her dire description of disaster flows from Hamas's victory, not directly from the pullout itself. For example, Yaalon says (and Glick writes) that the election elated Iran, encouraged terrorist movements worldwide, and set up a political situation that elevated a terrorist group to the status of "government" -- though of course, Iran already did that back in 1979, when the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini drove out the Shah and installed himself as Supreme Leader.
All true: but all this would have happened after a Hamas electoral victory even absent the Israeli pullout. It was the election, not the pullout, and the evidence indicates Hamas was destined to win no matter what.
Some claims of hers survive the loss of that indirect connection, of course; but they, too, are awfully "iffy." For example, she relies upon another paper by Yaalon -- which, alas, is entirely in Hebrew with no English translation and appears to be on a blog or some other online source (complete with comments) -- to argue that the Gaza pullout did not in any way reduce the engagement between Israel and the PA:
Israel is constrained in its military operations against terrorist forces due to international pressure for it to protect the lives of Gazans, just as was the case when Israel retained its military control over Gaza. Because Israel remains the party that the Palestinian Authority and the U.S.-led international community views as responsible for the welfare of Gaza’s population, it has failed to disengage.
Thus, she argues, the "disengagement" from Gaza bought Israel nothing.
But even if this is true, it's a paralogical argument. If one says one is going to disengage but then does not really do so, it's absurd to argue that therefore, disengagement doesn't work. The proper solution in this case is not to consign disengagement to the dustbin of history, but rather to actually do what you said you were going to do!
- Cut off the Israeli tax revenues that historically were sent to the Palestinians; Israel sent the money because they were ruling over the Palestinians. Now that they're not, there is no reason to continue, is there?
- Stop all trade between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. This may be rough on some Israelis, but it will be a lot harder on Gazans.
- Prevent all civilian border crossings except for medical emergencies or some forms of humanitarian relief, if the Palestinians actually begin starving to death.
Once Israel has done that, it can decide whether real disengagement works. Until then, we really don't know, do we?
One whole branch of Glick's argument is that, with Hamas in control of that territory, al-Qaeda has moved in; and even long-standing terrorist groups in the area (Hezbollah, al-Aqsa, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and of course Hamas itself) are pumping heavy weapons and more jihadis into Gaza. She reports that they flow across the Egyptian border -- I have no reason to doubt her -- and that the Egyptians do nothing to stop them:
Israeli withdrawals also adversely impact the stability of its peace treaty with Egypt. Egyptian security forces in the Sinai refuse to control their border area with Israel.17 Israeli military commanders and defense officials believe that Egypt hopes to use the instability of the Sinai and the Sinai-Gaza border to induce Israel to abrogate the demilitarization clauses of the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty. This would allow the Egyptian military unlimited deployment rights in the Sinai. Such remilitarization of the Sinai will cause an immediate destabilization of the region by making the specter of regional war with Israel all the more tangible.
The only footnote to back up this claim is to two of her own articles in the Jerusalem Post, “Arik and the tooth fairy” and “Irrelevant visions,” which (one presumes) make this same argument; since both have faulty URLs, it's impossible to say for sure. But let's take it as read: lots of weapons being imported into Gaza.
This is Glick's strongest argument, that the actual physical presence of Israeli troops in Gaza prevented heavy weapons (Kassam rockets, artillery, and suchlike) from being brought into the region; when Israel withdrew, terrorist groups began to militarize Gaza. Thus, she argues, the same thing will happen in the West Bank if Israel leaves:
Before the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the three Israeli communities in northern Gaza provided a buffer zone that protected the adjacent Israeli city of Ashkelon from Palestinian rocket attack by keeping the city out of range of these munitions. Additionally, IDF forces operating in Gaza used their bases adjacent to these communities to launch operations in Palestinian populated areas next to them like Beit Hanoun, to prevent the terror forces from amassing significant arsenals of such weapons systems and from extending their range. Similarly, IDF forces operated within Gaza to limit terror forces’ ability to freely attack other Israeli communities that border Gaza.
Today, IDF forces are deployed inside of Israeli communities in the Western Negev adjacent to Gaza where they work to protect these communities from the constant barrage of rockets and mortar shells that terrorists lob at them from Gaza every day. The terror forces – both Palestinian and foreign – have exploited the absence of Israeli ground forces in Gaza to amass arsenals whose sophistication and size present would have been unimaginable before Israel’s withdrawal from the area. They have also succeeded in extending the range of their rockets.
The IDF’s post-withdrawal attempts to prevent these attacks through artillery fire, and aerial attacks has met with failure. Tthe IDF’s attempt to mitigate the damage caused by these rocket and mortar attacks by installing early-warning systems in the communities and towns bordering Gaza has also been ineffective. The IDF currently has no means of neutralizing the projectile threat to southern Israel aside from a land invasion of Gaza.
There is probably some truth in this -- though once again, Glick relies upon very tendentious sources: Moshe Arens, for example, Benjamin Netanyahu's mentor and the ideological purist of Likud... and a bitter antagonist of the pullout from the very beginning. Arens may well be right, but he is certainly not unbiased.
But let's assume the claim is true. What is the obvious conclusion? That Israel, despite saying it is disengaging from the PA and treating it as a separate country, is really not yet doing so. If Jordan, Egypt, or Syria were to begin doing what Gaza is doing -- firing rockets, mortars, and artillery into Israel -- then Israel would respond by striking at military, political, economic, and infrastructure targets anywhere within the aggressor country.
They would not confine themselves just to striking back at the rocketeers themselves; they would hit targets of opportunity wherever they could. Why isn't the IDF doing this now in Gaza? Without such attacks, there is no incentive for the Palestinians to cease their attacks on Israel. Like, duh.
All right, we know what Glick is arguing against -- the Gaza and West Bank pullouts; but what, then, is she arguing for?
Bluntly put, there are only three possibilities for Israel anent the occupied territories:
- Disengagement -- pulling out completely, letting the Palestinians take over their own areas (Israel has never formally laid claim to either Gaza or the West Bank as part of Israel), and dealing with the inevitable terrorist attacks on a nation-against-nation basis (war) rather than as a nation against a population that it, itself controls;
- Status quo -- letting everything continue more or less the way it had since the 1967 war;
- Annexation -- formally seizing both territories and declaring them part of "Greater Israel."
Number 2 is really just annexation-lite: it constitutes de-facto annexation but without the formal declaration. So let's just lump 2 and 3 together.
If Israel were to annex the West Bank and Gaza, again, there are only a couple of choices: to attempt to permanently control a captive and increasingly hostile population; or to engage in a massive campaign of "ethnic cleansing," deporting all of the Palestinians out of the territories (to where?).
There is not now, nor has there ever been any political will within Israel to carry out either of these programs. Nobody in Israel wants to see the IDF impose increasingly draconian restrictions on the Palestinians (which would inevitably lead to a mass revolt and the spectacle of Israeli soldiers having to gun down civilians by the thousands)... but the idea of mass expulsions smacks so strongly of an earlier experience of the Jews in Europe that Israelis would never stand for that, either.
That means that there is, in a very real sense, no alternative to Sharon's policy of disengagement. There is no other realistic option.
Some of Glick's sources (including Arens) openly call for the "recapture" of Gaza, so Israel could go back to ruling over it as colonial governor. But the pullout happened in the first place (and was and is very popular within Israel) precisely because of the terrible problems that such occupation generated -- for all thirty-nine years since Israel imposed it.
Israel won the 1967 war, where numerous Arab states attacked Israel (some staging from those very territories), and Israel clearly had the moral right to occupy that land. But as a practical matter, such occupation was never expected to be permanent... and indeed, it could not be. It was always meant to be a staging ground towards either disengagement or annexation.
Conveniently, Glick does not tell us what she is for, what remedy she envisions for the gross error she perceives:
In light of all this, the Bush Administration and the congressional leadership would be well-advised to refuse Olmert’s requests for U.S. support for his convergence plan while backing alternative policy options that will serve to strengthen U.S. allies in the Global War on Terror, while weakening those opposed to U.S. efforts. Such alternative policies will be the subject of an additional Center for Security Policy report that will be released in the near future.
Thanks very large, Ms. Glick. But judging from her sources, I assume she, like Moshe Arens, wants the West-Bank pullout cancelled and Gaza re-occupied. She has not suggested why this would succeed any better than last time; so presumably, she just thinks the situation status-quo ante was better than now, and she wants to go back to it.
But that doesn't solve the problems. What are her solutions? Aside from the wall, which everyone supports (everyone except the terrorists and their supporters throughout Gaza and the West Bank), does she even see any problems with permanent occupation? Or is she content to see Israel recapitulate the British Empire in India and Hong Kong?
I have a final point: in addition to the other problems here (she loves straw men, but that's a subject for an additional Big Lizards post that will be released in the near future), it's also a bit thick to expect dramatic changes in the sociology and politics of Gaza just a few months after the Israeli pullout.
It's just like the Democrats in Fall of 2003, railing that Bush's entire "democratization" scheme was an obvious failure because Iraq was still in turmoil and there were still terrorist attacks: three years after the war, and there is still turmoil and terrorism in Iraq... but clearly there is also progress.
Instead of flying off in a panic and sending the IDF racing back into Gaza to reconquer the joint (in a bloody battle that would result in thousands of dead), let's give disengagement some time to work; and let's push hard on the government of Ehud Olmert to actually carry through with real disengagement: no money from Israel, no trade with Israel, no contact with Israel (or any other Western, democratic nation), no border crossings -- until Hamas begins acting like a government, not a terrorist gang... or until the Palestinians kick them out and elect someone else who will.
Let the stew in their own juices for a while. A long while. Enforce a boycott by other nations, by force if necessary; and let's see if real disengagement actually works better than the catastrophe of permanent occupation.
April 11, 2006
Everytime I hear Fred and Mort, or Michael Medved, or any of (it seems) an endless parade of "pundents" opine that we don't need to go after Iran ourselves, because we can just leave it to Israel to take out those pesky nukes... all right, I cringe. I admit it.
This is what I call the Magical Israel Syndrome: the quasi-spiritualist belief in the godlike, supernatural power of the tiny nation of Israel. All they need do is wave a magic yarmulke or toot a mystical shofar, and send the Persian walls a-tumblin' down!
The reality is that the United States is probably the only country in the world that has a chance of hitting nearly all Iran's nuclear research and development sites -- admittedly with intelligence help from the Jewish state. Only we can damage them enough to set them back a few years.
Such a strike requires a coordinated air attack of hundreds of planes and missiles over several days: some to knock out the air defenses, some to jam enemy communications, others to look down upon the battlefield and coordinate the attacks, to engage and destroy enemy fighters, to assess damage after it's over... wait, I'm forgetting something; oh yes -- and actual bombers to drop bombs, since no way would a missile barrage be sufficient. (Necessary but not sufficient.)
It would be much larger than Clinton's 1998 bombing of Iraq (Operation Desert Fox), which used Navy and Marine Corps planes flying off the USS Enterprise, Air Force fighters and B-52 heavy bombers, and a British contingent. The Iran strike will probably be similar in size to the air attacks that preceded the Gulf War or Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Israel has absolutely no experience doing any of this. When was the last time they were at war with a nation that had relatively sophisticated air defenses -- the Yom Kippur War of 1973? They certainly don't have to think about any such coordinated attacks when they shoot a Hellfire missile at the operational leader du jour of Hamas or PIJ. Nor did they use any significant air power when they swept through the West Bank a few years ago, or when they move into Gaza these days.
Israel's 1981 bombing of Saddam Hussein's Osirak nuclear reactor consisted of eight F-16 Fighting Falcons (a total of sixteen one-tonne bombs) and six F-15 Strike Eagles; it just wasn't in the same universe as what we're talking about against Iran, where there are a score of sites that have publicly been revealed -- plus (I've heard) potentially hundreds of other facilities that should be hit at the same time, else they would simply move the nuclear development to one of them.
We are the only country on the planet with recent experience in such massive attacks; I don't think Great Britain's experience in Dresden (or the Falklands) would be much help.
Israel got its "magical" reputation because of the War of Independence, the Six Day War, and the Yom Kippur War; but the most recent of those was 33 years ago. Besides, those were primarily ground-force battles with troops and tanks. The Israeli Air Force did destroy the Egyptian airfields at the start of the Six Day War, to prevent the handful of Egyptian [Soviet] Badgers from obliterating entire Israeli tank divisions with their huge 20,000-pounders; but Egypt had few sophisticated air defenses... and I believe what they had, they had turned off for some reason.
Folks, Israel is not some gigantic war machine that can just grind through Iranian air defenses and do our dirty work for us. Israel will be invaluable in such an assult; their large number of human spies on the ground in Iran can give us targeting information that we couldn't get any other way, along with alerting us to facilities we might never have known existed. But we will have to do all the heavy lifting ourselves.
Forget Magical Israel Syndrome. If anyone is to attack the Iranian nuclear sites -- it will have to be the United States of America, possibly with British backup, fighter escort, and other ancillary aid. We cannot shuffle our battles off onto the Israelis.
It's like in To Kill a Mockingbird: when the time comes, Atticus Finch has to shoot down the mad dog himself. He can't call the cops or ask Scout to do it for him.
March 30, 2006
Two Walls That Pass In the Night
"Atrocious Analogies" is the new topic of the day, mostly sparked by Captain Ed's otherwise excellent post George Will: Ich Bin Ein Ost-Berliner? -- both the atrocious analogy he accuses George Will of making, and the atrocious analogy that Ed himself makes!
Cap'n's "analogy" has been raised by a number of people opposed to the Senate J-Com's immigration plan and supportive of a "wall" (or fence) along the American southern border to keep out illegals, and that makes it worth discussing.
Ed's post is actually good; I especially like this point, noting the need for much stronger border control:
No illegal will enter a program that costs him significant fines and back taxes when all he has to do is stay quiet and keep crossing the border in both directions as he sees fit. As for learning English, that would certainly be a novel approach; we don't even make our legal immigrants do that any more, as evidenced by ballots in a plethora of languages and government-sponsored translators at all level of public services. [Emphasis added]
As you know -- or should, if you've been reading -- I too support such a wall, and for the same reasons Ed does (and George Will does, too); so my objection to Captain Ed's analogy is not ideological. It's literary: I think the Captain Ed analogy squashes conversation nearly as badly as does Will's, and both should be tossed in the dustbin of rhetorical history.
All right, all right, I'll tell you what they are. You demanding readers take all the mystery out of blogposts!
George Will makes his conservative case for the moderate approach to immigration reform, giving enough room for hard-line enforcement while arguing for eventual absorption of the illegals already inside the US. However, he starts out with an almost unforgivable analogy that will have border-enforcement readers seeing red before they ever get to the rest of his arguments:
America, the only developed nation that shares a long -- 2,000-mile -- border with a Third World nation, could seal that border. East Germany showed how: walls, barbed wire, machine gun-toting border guards in towers, mine fields, large, irritable dogs. And we have modern technologies that East Germany never had: sophisticated sensors, unmanned surveillance drones, etc.
That is, of course, the allegedly atrocious analogy that George Will made. Actually, it's not really atrocious: it is merely unfortunate. It wrongly invokes the image of a prison-country like the Soviet Union (and its satellite, East Germany), which repugnant image blinds otherwise rational folks like Captain Ed to the point Will is really trying to make... which is simply that such brutal force is what you need to prevent a large number of people from passing a wall -- it makes no difference which direction.
I'm no great admirer of Will; I think he's the most overrated supposed "thinker" of the supposed "conservative" persuasion. And this is one reason why: he is so enamored of the sound of his own typing that he really doesn't spend much time thinking at all.
My own dam analogy is much better: building a wall to stop immigration without also building a gate through the wall for the decent, law-abiding, and hard-working is like building a dam across a river -- without building a spillway for the water.
The lake you create will rise and rise, until eventually it will overtop the dam (a word I just learned recently in the brouhaha about the New Orleans levees), causing a horrific cascade over the top that will likely cause a catastrophic breach (a word I already knew). The water must go somewhere; it won't flow back upriver.
In reality, we really are talking about what George Will suggested: machine guns, minefields, razor-wire, helicopters, a huge military force diverted to the border (the Border Patrol cannot handle it, even at ten times its present size)... and a huge number of dead children, women, and men whose only crime was -- they wanted to live in "freedom." And it won't work anyway: there is no wall so strong that a million people pushing won't knock it down.
But wait, ab Hugh (I hear you ask), you said you support the wall. What gives?
I support a wall -- but only as part of a comprehensive solution that also includes three things:
- A guest-worker program to temporarily admit those who just want to work here then migrate back across the border again;
- A clearly defined path to citizenship -- neither arbitrary, nor racially or nationality based -- for those decent, honest, hard-working immigrants who want to live the American ideal;
- Some mechanism to regularize those immigrants among the 12 million illegals who actually want to become citizens and at least register and regulate the rest, who only want to be guest workers.
(Note that I am now clearly separating 1 from 2.)
Once we have a door that the deserving can open, I have no objection to using Blackhawks and Predators on the felons still climbing through the windows.
I have an analogy for you, I hear you suggest: how about the walls separating Gaza and he West Bank from Israel? Aren't you in favor of those, too? Isn't that the real analogy?
Funny you should mention that. Here is what Captain Ed wrote:
Israel's border with the West Bank and Gaza provide a much clearer analogy. First and foremost, it's built to keep people out, not create a nation of prisoners. It also provides deterrence from illegal crossings, forcing Palestinians towards well-manned checkpoints where security reaches maximum efficiency. The idea is not to kill Palestinian crossers, but to keep them from trying to enter Israel illegally at all. And, by the way, it works; it has been the single most important tool the Israelis had in ending the intifadas. (And by the way, it's hard to argue that Israel isn't a developed nation, that the Palestinian territories aren't a Third World area, or that their border is less significant to Israel's national defense than our southern border.)
But it's easy to argue the one terrible flaw that spoils everything about this analogy: there are no hordes of decent, law-abiding, and hard-working Palestinians desperate to emmigrate to Israel. There is only one group of people trying to breach that wall: terrorists who want to butcher Jews by the thousands, if they only could, and drive them into the sea.
They let through a small number of day-workers, who must leave again at night. And that's pretty much it.
Israel protects its wall with soldiers, machine guns, and minefields... and it's perfectly proper to do so, since the only people likely to get killed are illegal combatants, terrorists, and mass murderers. There is no million people trying to knock down the Israeli "security fence;" there is a small group of a few hundred, and they're all people who deserve to die. (Yes, every human life has value; but sometimes, that "value" is a negative number.)
And that makes all the difference. A wall across our southern border may well work; I'm in favor of trying. But only under the circumstances I mentioned above. And in any event, there is no valid analogy at all with the wall that Israel built (is building), because they need only keep out bad guys -- while we need not only to do that but also to channel the hundreds of thousands of good guys. We need a dam with a spillway; Israel only needs a seawall.
There is one more atrocious analogy that I must highlight; again, it comes from Captain Ed's post -- and I really do like the post, if only the Captain (and George Will) would take better thought on their analogizing:
The rest of Will's column fares better, although I disagree with his emphasis on what will be an amnesty program in practice, if not in name.
A while back (I mean about twenty-five years ago) I read an article about "swinger" parties, which I must confess I know about only at second-hand, alas. Those are gatherings where a number of adults come to, well, copulate with each other in various permutations. The only money collected is whatever is necessary to buy the chips and soda (or whatever they drink at such places); the participants at the one in question were all middle-aged, middle-income folks who just liked sex a lot.
A politician was demanding that the city of Los Angeles ban such parties (in the city that contains Hollywood? fat chance!) And in the course of his argument to the LA City Council, he found occasion to declare that --
It's exactly like prostitution, except no money changes hands!
(I don't have the clipping in front of me, but the words are seared, seared in my brain. Along with another one that I'll reveal at the end.)
Captain, Captain... "amnesty" means a general pardon; and a "pardon" means to exempt from penalty, to let an offense pass without punishment.
It is impossible by definition for a program that fines lawbreakers to be an "amnesty" -- neither in name nor practice.
Folks can argue that the fines aren't stiff enough, or maybe that there should be prison time in some cases; but if punishment is meted out at all -- and a $2,000 fine is pretty stiff for such poor people -- then it ain't amnesty! (Even if the business pays it, then the business is being fined for the crime of hiring illegals.)
So let's either stuff the analogies back in the sack, or at least spend some time to come up with new ones that better fit the circumstances. These hoary, old cliches are bursting at the seams. Let's take the high road and win one for the Gipper, give it the old college try and put our thinking caps on. All's well that ends well!
(Oh, I almost forgot: back in 1984, I was at a conference on George Orwell at the Los Angeles World Science Fiction Convention. During the discussion of Orwell's chastisement of various leftist pamphleteers for their inelegant use of language, one anguished audience member leapt up and declared, "they're literally raping the language! They're literally raping the language!" Then he sat down again. Friend Lee and I were the only two spectators to burst out laughing.)
March 29, 2006
Iraeli Election Dissection
With the deflation of Kadima just before the election, leaving them with barely two-thirds of the seats they expected to win, the game of Musical Parties begins in earnest... it's time to change partners!
Ehud Olmert, Kadima's chairman, gets first crack at forming a coalition; but he cannot do so entirely with leftist partners. He's going to have to team up either with right-wingers or with a politics-neutral party like the Pensioners party or one of the ultra-orthodox parties... the ones so religious that all you have to do is offer to shut down all the Tel Aviv theaters on Friday nights and they'll vote with you.
Here is the likely breakdown, according to Associated Press. There are 120 seats in the Israeli Knesset:
|Kadima (center)||29 - 32|
|Labor (center-left)||20 - 22|
|Israeli Beitenu (right)||12 - 14|
|Likud (right)||11 - 12|
|Shas (ultra-orthodox)||10 - 12|
|National Union NRP (right)||8 - 9|
|Pensioners (neutral)||6 - 8|
|Arab parties (left)||6 - 7|
|Torah Judaism (ultra-orthodox)||5 - 6|
As you see, Kadima plus Labor -- the two largest parties -- only gets the coalition to a maximum of 54 seats, possibly as few as 49, but likely around 51 - 52. Since a minimum of 61 is needed for a majority in the Knesset, this pairing would have to pick up an additional 10 seats or so... which is not easy, considering how many of the parties lean right.
In fact, if you add up all the right-wing and ultra-orthodox parties, they control between 46 and 53 seats (the ultra-orthodox typically prefer lining up with Likud, although they'll go with Labor if that's the only path to power). Contrariwise, if you add up all the leftist parties, you only get between 31 and 34 seats. Either could rule alongside the big center party, Kadima -- which was (briefly) Ariel Sharon's party until his stroke; but neither coalition could rule without Kadima.
(There is the mathematical possibility, if Olmert is unable to form a coalition, that the leftist and rightist parties could ally, leaving Kadima out in the cold. There is also the possibility that I am Marie of Romania.)
But a coalition of Kadima, Likud, and Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu (literally "Israel, our home") would yield up between 52 and 58 seats, meaning they could rule if they could bring in any one of the right-wing or ultra-orthodox parties, or the Pensioners party. They have more options than trying to put together a center-left coaltion with Kadima, Labor, and Meretz (only 57 seats under the maximum projection), plus an ultra-orthodox party or the Pensioners, who just want big retirement pensions, so either side could lure them easy.
Alas, there is a lot of bad blood between Likud and Kadima: when Sharon left the Likud to form Kadima, he took about two-thirds of Likud's membership. And there is also the problem of the pullout from Gaza and the West Bank... Gaza is a done deal, and not even Likud would advocate going back in; but Likud is much more adamant against giving up "Judea and Samaria" (the West Bank) than they were about the Gaza Strip, which is more Egyptian than Israeli.
In reality, Likud is very likely to collapse entirely, ceasing to exist as a political party. Right now, they have 38 seats; to drop to 12 is devastating, and many conservative Israelis don't believe the party will survive. And while I would never say never -- it's Israel, after all -- I would have to predict that Benjamin Netanyahu's career is probably kaput.
So if Likud collapses, the members are going to have to go somewhere; they don't just disappear. They may join up with the biggest right-wing party, Israel Beitenu. I don't know if there is any bad blood between them. IB is a pretty young party; maybe it hasn't been around long enough to make enemies. But it's also almost exclusively a Russian-immigrant party; they would have to change pretty drastically to accept a whole passel of Likudniks.
But if they did merge, that would give the combined party 23 to 26 seats, easily making them the opposition party.
This is going to be very interesting. I believe I heard on the Michael Medved show that it's likely that Kadima will be the weakest plurality party in Israeli history, with only 31 seats or so. (No Israeli political party has ever had an actual majority in the Knesset all by itself, as for example Labour does in the UK parliament.) I will watch the attempt to form a government with great interest.
Remember, the more parties you need to make a ruling coalition, the more likely that one or more will bolt, causing the government to collapse. Don't be surprised if there's another election in just a few months -- another chance for the center-right and right-wing parties to get their act together, accept the pullout, and do much better.
Or alternatively, if I'm totally wrong, and the pullout proves to be a disaster -- well, then it's another chance for the center-right and right-wing parties to say "I told you so" and get everyone to vote for their anti-pullout platform.
Either way, they can hardly fail to improve over this showing!
March 7, 2006
Hamas Makes Abbas Dance Naked On the Sand
In the long-running battle between the terrorist group Hamas, which calls for Israel's destruction, and the terrorist group Fatah, which only calls for Israel's destruction in Arabic, we all know that Hamas just gained some "hand" by winning an absolute majority in the Palestinian parliamentary elections. However, Fatah left a legacy in the form of a supercharged President Mahmoud Abbas.
Now, Hamas has just voted to strip Abbas of his new authority to nullify laws passed by parliament, which the outgoing party bestowed just before they outwent. This in a world where such vulnerability swiftly leads to death -- metaphorically, in most cases; literally in some.
Abbas's term of office does not expire until January, 2009 (or until he does); with the new authority, Fatah hoped to restrain Hamas and somehow claw their way back into control by, one imagines, thwarting every Hamas initiative that might succeed where Fatah failed. Thus, Fatah could prevent invidious comparisions of their own ineptitude at governing the Palestinians with Hamas's efficiency in getting Israel to wipe them all out.
But of course, Abbas's best new toy is the power to nullify any parliamentary law... including the very law that would strip him of that power!
Hamas easily passed legislation to rescind Abbas' new powers, but some experts said Abbas has the authority to cancel Monday's resolution, perpetuating the standoff.
In a statement, Fatah complained the Hamas action "undermines the basis of dialogue and partnership in any institution with Hamas." A Fatah legislator said Monday's decisions would be appealed to the Palestinian Supreme Court.
Someone should alert the Hague, Belgium, and Jimmy Carter, while the Palestinian Supreme Court still has a chance to accept amicus curiae briefs. Already, this whole kafuffle has produced the best witticism uttered by any terrorist in the past thirty-five years:
Hamas lawmaker Mushir Masri ridiculed the Fatah reaction. "It is obvious that some people until now have not understood the rules of the democratic game," he said.
Meanwhile, back at the kibbutz, Israeli security officers are developing a plan to completely cut off the Palestinian Authority from all the enabling charity supplied by Israel -- not just tax money that "belongs" to the PA (according to accords that the PA has never obeyed) but also infrastructure that is simply missing from terrorist-controlled territory:
The "unilateral action" reference came as Israeli security officials outlined plans for Israel to cut itself off further from the Gaza Strip, after the summer withdrawal of soldiers and settlers.
The officials said Israel should gradually reduce and then ban Palestinian workers from Gaza entering Israel, cut off power, fuel and water supplies and allow the Palestinians to open a seaport and airport, eliminating Gaza imports and exports through Israel.
What will Hamas control then? Some empty streets, some empty buildings, and a lot of poor, wretched, starving people cursing the Jews for not supplying them with the necessities of life -- so they can rise up and drive the hand that feeds them into the sea (apologies for any mixed metaphors).
We shall watch Hamas's future career with great interest. In the meantime, at least the Associated Press knows what the real story here is, and the top of the article gets right to the bottom of it:
Hamas headed into a full-blown confrontation with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday, voting to strip him of powers he was hastily awarded by his Fatah Party in the last session of the outgoing parliament.
In Gaza City, an Israeli missile strike killed two Islamic Jihad militants and three bystanders, including two young boys.
That's all right; we'll always have Paris.
February 19, 2006
In Search of a New Antisemitism
Bernard Lewis, Arabist extraordinaire and author of What Went Wrong? : The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East, has authored a new article about something else that has gone wrong: the New Antisemitism [HT to SJ from PL].
William F. Buckley famously went looking for antisemitism (my preferred spelling, explanations anon) in the halls of journalism and found it. Bernard Lewis is interested in its development in the Middle East. But he isn't concerned with just garden-variety dislike of Jews; he is after bigger game, the deep "cosmic hatred" of Jews... imputing to them Satanic evil that, in the mind of the antisemite, makes every Jew a walking crime against humanity.
Interestingly, and unexpectedly (based upon modern Arab societies), this sort of cosmic antisemitism did not exist among Arabs, argues Lewis, until the late nineteenth, early twentieth century -- and even then, they got it from the West:
Prejudices existed in the Islamic world, as did occasional hostility, but not what could be called anti-Semitism, for there was no attribution of cosmic evil. And on the whole, Jews fared better under Muslim rule than Christians did. This is the reverse of what one might expect. In the canonical history, in the Qur’an and the biography of the Prophet, Jews come out badly. The Prophet had more encounters with Jews than with Christians, so we find more negative statements about Jews than about Christians. The biography of the Prophet records armed clashes with Jews, and in those encounters it was the Jews who were killed. Muslims could therefore afford a more relaxed attitude toward Jews in the ensuing generations.
This is an interesting point, and I've been thinking about it since long before reading this piece by Lewis. Throughout most of the history of Islam, Jews were more or less comic relief, like the cowboy hero's lovable but foolish and cowardly sidekick in early Western serials. In the Koran, they rejected Mohammed -- who promptly gave them what for, crushing them for their impudence.
Thus, Moslems in general and Arab Moslems in particular could feel somewhat benevolent towards the Jews: the Jews had suffered for their rejectionism and they accepted their inferior status (not as slaves or really even dhimmi but as favored non-Moslems), so the Moslems of earlier centuries could feel complacent about them. Also, they posed no threat: there was no 17th, 18th, or 19th century Jewish superpower like the Christian superpowers, threatening the Islamic world. Thus Jews were tolerated; not equal, but tolerated.
But starting in the latter half of the nineteenth century, European antisemitism shifted from the religious prejudices of previous centuries to a "scientific" Jew-hatred that was race-based. Consciously antisemitic philosophers arose, primarily in Germany but elsewhere in Europe as well; and they began to associate Jews with a vicious and "cosmic" evil that was "in the blood," and could not be eradicated by mere conversion to Christianity.
The word "anti-Semitism" was first used in 19th century Germany. Despite its scientific-sounding reference to "Semitism," a linguistic term, rather than the religious term "Jews," the word always exclusively referred to Jew hatred; it was never used to mean hatred of Arabs. In fact, the Nazis personally reassured Rashid Ali al-Gailani, the Nazi-installed leader of Iraq until 1941, that German "anti-Semitism" was directed only at Jews, not Arabs, despite the fact that they too spoke a Semitic language. This is why I spell it "antisemitism," to make clear that disassociation.
The Nazis and other European Jew haters gave the Arabs the language of cosmic antisemitism; but the events of 1948 gave them a reason to resort to it. Despite European-style antisemitic writings and speeches, throughout the early 20th century, Arabs still thought of Jews as cowards and clowns, people to mock, not destroy. But when Israel raised her flag after the British lowered theirs in 1948, and five Arab armies swept confidently in to dispose of the insolent and impudent Jewish state -- the Arabs were crushed.
This had a bitter and lasting impact on their psyche:
It was then an appalling shock when five Arab armies were defeated by half a million Jews with very limited weaponry. It remains shameful, humiliating. This was mentioned at the time and has been ever since. One writer said: “It was bad enough to be conquered and occupied by the mighty empires of the West, the British Empire, the French Empire, but to suffer this fate at the hands of a few hundred thousand Jews was intolerable.”
How could "the Catastrophe" have happened? Was not Allah on the side of the Moslems? The only explanation available was that black magic must have been behind it... and somehow, the Arabs had to find the key to turning that magic back on the infidels who had bearded them in what they saw as their own land.
In my opinion, this humiliation (followed by three others in a quarter century) completed emasculated the Arabs. Their world turned upside down. Within a single lifetime, they went from masters of their domain to vassals of the great powers of Europe to being slapped around by the nascent Jewish state. This to the Arabs was like John Wayne being whupped by Gabby Hayes... and they can never live it down.
But since they can't do anything about it -- Israel is even stronger now, relative to the Arabs, than they were in 1967 -- they can do nothing but rant and rage. The "cosmic evil" they impute to the Jews now included Satanic powers to sap mighty warriors of their strength... and they desperately needed to find that magical Djinn lamp.
I personally believe that the nuclear weapon has taken on an almost totemic status among Arabs (and Iran): they see it as the Djinn who will finally grant them their deepest wish, avenging themselves upon the Jews for the humiliations of 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, and 1982. Thus the obsession of so many Arab states with developing, buying, or stealing nuclear weaponry. I don't think they imagine they can dictate terms to the United States with just a few measly nukes. But they may well believe Aladdin's bombs will once and for all eradicate the constant reminder of Arab failure and helplessness: Israel.
The Arabs likely also believe that if they destroyed Israel with nuclear weapons, the West may snort and bellow, but in the end, they will do nothing. Arabs have a great deal of history backing this up; as Lewis notes, Europe, the United Nations, and even the United States have stood by and done little or nothing about the blatant and explicit antisemitic ravings of Moslems from Gamal Nassir to Hamas to Mahmoud Ahmedinejad of Iran, who (in fine "cosmic evil" tradition) rejects the reality of the Holocaust and confidently promises to "wipe Israel off the map."
At the same time, the U.N. has done this literally: Kofi Annan spoke at an "International Day of Solidarity With the Palestinian People" last November -- standing in front of a map of the region from which Israel had simply been erased.
I do not believe the West would stand by and do nothing while the modern world was pulled down on top of its head. I know that is Mark Steyn's defining thesis, that the West will accept death or even slavery rather than stir a finger to defend itself. But Steyn has always been a raging pessimist at heart, and I suspect this thought comes not from the cortex but from the reptillian brainstem.
Today, John Hinderaker at Power Line posted this photograph of a protest in Pakistan by Moslems, presumably against the cosmically evil cartoons:
John asks, perhaps not rhetorically,
I wonder, though, why the sign is in English. We're apparently supposed to see and understand it, but how exactly could that help the Islamists' cause?
The answer is that its purpose is not to "help the Islamists' cause," but rather to serve as a triumphal ululation on posterboard. Moslems see themselves as rising; they see this as their time come round at last. They envision nuclear and CBW-armed Moslem nations regaining the upper hand over both the dangerous "crusaders" and the despicable Jews who humiliated Islam in 1948 by stubbornly refusing to fling themselves into the sea.
Arab and Persian Moslems see themselves standing on the verge of a "cosmic" victory over the West, when in fact they dance on the precipice of the most catastrophic defeat in human history, if they really push it as far as they seem to want. I think that's why it's been so hard to peel off moderate Moslems: they have, alas, begun to see themselves as invincible, unstoppable... so why would anyone want to desert the winning side?
Godwin or no Godwin, I must say that Moslem jihadis have become like Adolf Hitler: they imagine Destiny is on their side, and they are defiant and arrogant in victory. They believe their own propaganda... and that disease nearly always predicts cultural suicide.
January 26, 2006
On Those Dadburned Elections In Arafatistan
As long-term Lizardites know, although I'm a big fan of Netanyahu, I completely support the Sharon plan of disengagement from the Palestinians by withdrawing settlements from Gaza and the West Bank.
The typical argument people make supporting the position of the incapacitated Ariel Sharon and his uncertain party Kadima is that by withdrawing from the occupied territories, the Palestinians will be mollified by the gesture and will reciprocate with peace and love and brotherhood. In fact, I utterly reject this argument -- I support the policy for other reasons discussed below -- and I have dismissed this wishful thinking ever since I first discussed the situation in Crystal Gaza on Captain's Quarters, back in August, 2005.
With Hamas's landslide victory yesterday in the Palestinian elections, my prediction -- that following withdrawal, Israel will have a freer hand for military response -- may finally be tested. In fact, the victory of Hamas is more complete than the victory of Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party Canada... Hamas won an absolute majority in the Palestinian parliament and will completely control the Palestinan Authority. As they insist they will maintain the party plank to destroy Israel, and they will not disband the military wing of Hamas, they have one of two choices:
- They can be hypocrites, calling for Israel's destruction but steadfastly refusing to do anything that Israel could take as casus belli; or,
- They can be honest, launch an attack on Israel, and be utterly crushed in the ensuing debacle.
Note that Mahmoud Abbas remains the elected president of the PA, having been separately elected last January, and will presumably remain so until the expiration of his term, whenever that is. (History is encouraging for Abbas, as the previous president's term in office appeared to be eternal... at least he himself met his own expiry date.) Abbas does become largely powerless and irrelevant with this election, and he might resign. Who knows?
I'm not surprised by this result; I was actually quite startled yesterday, when all the newsies were claiming that Fatah had won a narrow victory over Hamas, as that seemed highly unlikely. Today's clarification makes far more sense than yesterday's equivocation. In fact, my theory of the Middle East is better served by a Hamas victory in this election than the continued charade of the "peace process."
The existence of an alleged "road map to peace" (President Bush's biggest foreign-policy blind spot) drove the Israelis into continued negotiation and interaction with the Palestinian Arabs (nearly all Moslem). Because the Palestinians have the equivalent of a psychic allergy to Jews, blaming them for everything that has gone wrong in their lives and history, the continued forced intimacy of negotiations, checkpoints, patrols, and settlers kept the Palestinians in a state of continual hysteria and incipient panic. Imagine if Republicans exuded a pheromone that automatically tripled the level of adrenaline in nearly every Democrat they met, causing a perpetual anxiety attack. (Oh, wait -- we don't need to imagine that.)
In such a case, the only possible solution is complete and total disengagement: the Israeli settlers should remove themselves from the occupied territories -- and the Democrats should remove themselves from the United States (I would suggest Madagascar, but it may sound a bit too much like "NASCAR" for their comfort.) So disengagement in the Middle East serves a double purpose: it removes the Jews from the sight of panicked, irrational Arab Moslems, and it also clears the decks for a massive Israeli response in the event of an attack... which is actually very likely now.
I don't know Dennis Prager's reaction to this vote, but I would suspect he at least appreciates the "clarity" (his favorite word), and that is my position, too. Fatah was every bit as terrorist as Hamas in its means and every bit as genocidal in its goals; it simply wore a mask of humanity, pretending to support freedom, liberty, and tolerance. Hamas is more open but otherwise indistinguishable from Fatah.
...Except in one other particular: because of their openness, Hamas may well be driven by the excess of its own rhetoric to formally declare war on Israel, or else to launch a naked attack across the border -- not simply sponsoring suicidal murderers in Netanya or Tel Aviv, but actual masses of Hamas militants charging into Israel, à la 1948, 1967, and 1973. At which point, the legitimate purpose behind disengagement will be manifest: without thousands of hostages behind enemy lines, Israel will be able to respond as any sovereign nation would to invasion from another, without let or hinderance.
If Hamas has a sudden "road to Damascus" conversion and decides it loves life more than it hates the Jews, wonderful. But if they follow true to form, follow the will of the Palestinian people -- a "will" they have put there themselves through relentless propaganda -- and believe their own PR about Allah drawing his sword and fighting alongside the Hamas warriors to exterminate the Jews (in revenge for the Jews being the first to reject Mohammed as the final prophet), they will actually launch a war... and Israel will swiftly and convincingly pound them into little bits.
If the mullahs of Teheran are mad enough to join with them, they too will be defeated... and this would also give unassailable cover for Israel and the United States jointly to strike at Iran's nuclear power facilities and at the mullahs themselves.
Then -- and possibly only then, alas -- will real peace become possible... at least for ten or twelve years. Until the madness once again strikes the Palestinians, and we must go through the whole belly-dance of a "peace process," followed by a war process, followed by another temporary peace.
Wilhelm Reich famously dissected the Mass Psychology of Fascism; I wonder if he ever considered the Mass Bipolar Disorder of the Moslems?
Regardless, as Sachi often says, the absence of open war is not the same as peace. And sometimes, you just have to roll the dice.
January 5, 2006
Although I hope Ariel Sharon recovers fully, I highly doubt that will eventuate. Unless a literal miracle occurs, Ariel Sharon is gone from Israeli politics, even if he eventually makes a full medical recovery: it's unlikely that he would be able to tolerate the enormous stress of being the prime minister of Israel, especially at such a time.
So the world must face the question of what comes after Arik. As I see it, there are only three plausible choices:
- The party that Sharon founded, Kadima, wins the election anyway, and Sharon's deputy PM (and former mayor of Jerusalem), Ehud Olmert, who followed Sharon into Kadima, becomes the new prime minister. This is possible, and a "snap poll" indicated that at this point, that is a very strong possibility:
(If Shimon Peres seizes the leadership of Kadima, most predict that will simply kill the party. Despite the sympathy vote mentioned below, nobody really wants Peres back as prime minister, not Likud, not Labor, and not the Israeli people.)
A snap poll Thursday showed an Olmert-led Kadima would still win 40 of 120 seats, similar to the results under Sharon. Under former Prime Minister Shimon Peres [who quit the Labor Party to join Kadima], the party would get 42 seats, according to the Channel 10-Haaretz poll. The number of people polled and the margin of error were not given.
Actually, we now have half this missing information; according to Haaretz, for whom the poll was conducted:
The survey covered 650 people representing the general public, and was conducted less than one day after Sharon suffered a severe stroke.
But Israelis are still in shock, and such polls at this time are completely meaningless. As even Haaretz acknowledged,
The impact of the survey is limited, as it was conducted in the eye of the storm, at the height of uncertainty, polling a public awash in sympathy for Sharon, who is fighting for his life. Anyone who said Thursday they would vote for Kadima was still saying they would vote for Sharon, even though it is clear he will no longer head the party he founded just weeks ago.
The prevailing assumption among Kadima members is that their party will lose altitude in the polls over the coming weeks and the only question that remains is: Where will it stabilize? A senior Kadima official said Thursday that the victory line for the party was 30-32 seats. According to him, if Kadima gets 32 seats on March 28, it will form the next coalition and the party's leader will be prime minister.
As the election won't be held for almost another three months, the electorate will have plenty of time to grow disenchanted with a Kadima that isn't led by Sharon -- especially one experiencing a leadership fight between Olmert, Peres, and perhaps others in the brand-new party. To the voters, as I understand it, Kadima was Sharon, and Sharon was Kadima; separate them, and the party does not necessarily inherit the mantle of destiny. I suspect that 32 seats is wishful thinking, and seats that would have gone to Kadima under Sharon but don't will mostly go to Likud.
Even if Kadima does poll enough to form the next government, it would be well advised to ally with Likud, not Labor... and not with the tiny religious and other parties that make strange demands out of proportion to their size, once they realize how vital their presence in the coalition is (and who often get in a snit and pull out without warning, collapsing the government).
- Kadima could collapse, with all the top officials returning to the parties whence they came, and either Likud or Labor winning the election.
This is already being pushed by Likud and Labor, who are trying to woo back their lost lambs. But it's unlikely that Kadima will recieve no support, and it will likely still be a player that cannot be dismissed (except in a "grand coalition" of Likud and Labor... which would be hard to pull off right now, considering how far apart they are on the central, even existantial issues of the day.
- One of the other "players" in Israeli politics -- likely Benjamin Netanyahu -- might offer to join Likud to Kadima and run on a joint ticket, in exchange for keeping the major Kadima players in the cabinet and sticking to at least the core of Sharon's agenda: accepting fait accompli of the pull-out from Gaza and even engaging in a partial pull-out from the West Bank.
There are sound strategic reasons for removing Israeli settlers and the troops that guard them from hard-to-defend locations where they are surrounded by literally millions of hostile Palestinians, who focus their perpetual rage upon the local Israelis. I have articulated these before: notably, scarce resources are not eaten up defending the settlers; and with the thousands of ready-made hostages gone, the entire region becomes a potential target, allowing a much more aggressive and vigorous response to terrorism than would be practical if Israel were still in occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
The advantage of this approach is that it would result in the greatest continuity at a time of the greatest danger to Israel: the imminent development of nuclear-tipped missiles by Israel's worst enemy, Iran, at a time when Iran is ruled by a Supreme Leader who allows a Holocaust-denying maniac like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to literally threaten to "wipe Israel off the map." The advantage to the members of Kadima and Likud is that it allows them to remain in control: Sharon may have left Likud, but he certainly did not join Labor... the aged Shimon Peres, the highest-ranking Laborite in Kadima, was already halfway out the door when Sharon rescued him.
Labor outpolled Likud in that "snap poll," but that is because Kadima sucked up all the oxygen in the room; what that vote really shows is the weakness of Labor. The Baptist Press has a more complete accounting:
According to a poll released Jan. 4, Kadima would win 40 of the 120 seats in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, while Labor would win 19 seats in the balloting and Likud 14, with the remainder split among other smaller parties that might have provided Sharon enough support to form a government without needing Labor or Likud on board.
The poll shows that if, as expected, most members of Kadima would vote Likud (Sharon's former party) if Kadima were not available (they're Arik Sharon fans), that means Labor is close to the weakest it has ever been; Sharon left Likud because of looming leadership fights between him and Netanyahu, not because Sharon was shifting to the left.
I don't know if Likud and Kadima can smooth out their differences, but I believe they should try: it's the most likely route to stability and strong action against Iran, if necessary... while any alliance with Labor invites the sort of disaster exemplified by Ehud Barak's offer to give the Palestinians nearly everything they wanted in negotiation in exchange for empty promises. This was a negotiating posture that so smacked of weakness that the greedy Palestinians rejected it and commenced the Second Intifada instead, thinking they could just bully Barak into giving them the rest -- probably including (at least in Yassir Arafat's mind) all the Jews voluntarily marching into the sea to drown.
If Kadima is Sharon, and Sharon is out of the picture, then Kadima's only viable long-term survival option is to ally with one of the more established parties; and of the two, only Likud can actually attract most of those who defected to Kadima. And even then, only if Likud is willing to embrace at least some of Sharonism, instead of fighting viciously against it, as they have done for years now.
Sharon's plan seems to have worked, at least in the short run, which is more than any of the Likudnik hardliners expected of it. I think it worth pursuing; after all, Likud's intransigence has only a marginally better track record than Labor's appeasement.
December 17, 2005
They May, But Can They?
Yesterday, Paul over at Power Line (the only Linotype I've actually met in person) wrote the following -- anent a Charles "the Sauerkraut" Krauthammer column on the looming crisis of Iran:
In my view, Krauthammer is wrong only in contending that "no one will do anything about it." It's hard for me to believe that the Israelis will stand by as Iran develops the capacity to incinerate its people. To be sure, the Israelis are loath to launch a unilateral preemptive strike against Iran. They would much prefer that sanctions be applied in an effort to coerce Iran into changing its behavior, and I believe they will afford the U.S. and the Europeans every reasonable opportunity to make this happen. But, as Krauthammer suggests, this track is unlikely to succeed. At bottom, the Europeans do not perceive Iran as a threat to them, and don't much care that they are a threat to Israel and to U.S. interests in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq. Accordingly, Israel has refused to rule out a preemptive attack against Iran and, in my view, is prepared to launch one if it runs out of other viable options.
I applaud Paul for his perspicacity in recognizing that something must be done about Iran... the problem is that Israel does not have the capability to "launch a unilateral preemptive strike" that would actually take out Iran's nuclear facilities. In fact, I'm not even sure that we have, short of completely annihilating every military and scientific site we even suspect exists with an apocalyptic rain of nuclear hellfire -- which is politically impossible, unless Iran launches at us first. (I don't even think the American people would accept us doing that if the Iranians launch only at Israel.)
I discussed this before in the Guillotine Gambit (and I discussed President Ahmedinejad's stability -- or lack thereof -- most recently in I Can Hear the Cuckoo Singing In the Cuckooberry Tree). The short version is that the Iranians learned well from the Iraqi disaster at Osirak, when the Israelis bombed and destroyed the nuclear breeder reactor that the French (gotta love 'em!) were building for Saddam to create nuclear weapons.
The Iranians have not concentrated all their baklava in a single Persian slipper; they have split the work up among a large number of facilities (we know of nine, but there are others), each of which is deep underground and hardened against even a nuclear attack. It would take a combination of nuclear bunker-busters (probably more than one per site) followed almost instantaeously by some massively heavy explosives, which could probably be conventional. I'm pretty sure the Israelis don't include bunker-busters among their "Temple Weapons," and in any event, they haven't done enough testing of precisely coordinated multi-weapon attacks on hardened sites... and for that matter, neither have we; we've been focusing our missile tests on ballistic-missile defense (BMD), for obvous reasons.
So it's a good thought, but I think the Israeli Defense Force, magnificent as it is, would be helpless in this particular situation.
The best military tactic is to do -- just what we're doing: work with the Israelis to continue development and deployment of the joint U.S.-Israeli Arrow BMD system, and work up plans for decapitating the mad dog that is Iran by surgical strikes, not on the hardened nuclear arsenal itself, but against the brains who would wield it.
Mullahcraticus delenda est!
(Perhaps some kind soul can correct my Latin, of which I have forgotten more than I ever learned.)
December 2, 2005
It's said that the oldest chess pieces ever found were pulled out of an excavation in Persia. So perhaps Iran will understand the most recent move of their sworn deadly enemy, Israel.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel carried out a successful test of its missile-interceptor system on Friday when an Arrow II missile downed an incoming rocket designed to simulate an Iranian Shahab-3, the defense ministry said.
The test, the latest in a series, came a day after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Israel could not accept the emergence of a nuclear-armed Iran, though he steered clear of threatening military action against the Islamic Republic.
But wait, we're getting ahead of ourselves. What does it mean, saying that Iran's "sworn, deadly enemy" is Israel? Let's jump in the Way-Back machine all the way back to a couple of weeks ago. Arnold Beichman wrote this commentary for the Washington Times:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, elected last August, described openly the other day why Iran needed a nuclear weapon in announcing "Israel must be wiped off the map." Mr. Ahmadinejad spoke for the Iranian government when he called for Israel's destruction. In fact, Iranian Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki told the state-run television "the comments expressed by the president are the declared and specific policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran."
Not even in the worst days of the Cold War did anybody propose the United States or the Soviet Union be "wiped off the map." Mr. Ahmadinejad's genocidal sloganeering has been condemned by the U.N. Security Council, the State Department, both houses of Congress, French President Jacques Chirac, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the European Union, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Australia, Russia and others.
Iran has made such hysterical and chilling threats before. In 2001, the "moderate" former president of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, when he was chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council (and possibly second in power after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamanei), said something similar:
If one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists' strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything [in Israel] while it will merely harm the Islamic world.
So it's actually quite reasonable for Israel to assume they're Target Number One in Iran's book of nations to wipe off the map when they get nuclear weapons.
But having nukes is not the same as being able to use them; and in fact the latter is not as easy as one would think. There are only a few ways to get a warhead into an enemy country:
- You can drive or carry it in overland; this typically requires a coterminous border. Iran-on-the-Persian-Gulf, however, is on the other side of the Middle East from Israel-on-the-Mediterranean. They are separated by about 1,000 miles as the missile flies, but more like 2,000-3,000 miles across the winding, tortuous roadways of that region of the world. Iran would either have to push north through Turkey, then down through Syria; or through a little piece of Iraq down into Kuwait, then into Saudi Arabia for a couple thousand miles to Jordan, then across Jordan into Israel; or else right through the heart of Iraq and the 150,000 Coalition troops, to Jordan, to Israel. None of these is a happy prospect.
- You can put it on a boat and float it to your target. In this case, however, that would entail a journey of many thousands of miles all the way around the Arabian Peninsula, through the Suez Canal, and then to an Israeli port -- which is probably very heavily guarded.
- You can fly it on a plane. I suspect, however, that Mosad would already know it was coming and would have cancelled all air travel that originated in Iran -- or wherever they transported the warhead to; Israel is very thorough when their existence is at stake.
- But the easiest of all is to put the warhead on a missile and fire it at your enemy.
From the Reuters piece linked above:
The Shahab-3, which Iran says has a range of 2,000 km (1,250 miles), is seen by Israel as the main weapon which would be used to target its territory.
Clearly, Iran has been planning on the last: the mere fact that they have been developing the Shahab 3 (and negotiating with North Korea for the advanced technology of the Taep’o-dong 2) tells us that would be preferred delivery route. But in that case, the joint US-Israeli development of the Arrow ("Khetz" in Israel) is a decisive countermove to Iran's entire nuclear program: it does to Iran what the Strategic Defense Initiative did to the Soviet Union.
The Iranian nuclear threat is dissapating even as Iran rushes to complete a nuke or two; what is the point for Iran, stuck off in a corner of the world, to develop a warhead that it cannot deliver?
In other words, checkmate, "the king is no more" -- which, as it happens, is the title of this post... in Persian.
November 21, 2005
I don't know what to make of this; this is really breaking news. And it's a "crisis" in the proper sense of the word: a crossroads where we cannot see very far down any of the possible paths.
Ariel Sharon is leaving the Likud Party of Israel and forming a new party.
Ariel Sharon Leaving His Likud Party
by Mark Lavie
Nov 21, 2005
JERUSALEM (AP) - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has decided to leave the political party he established three decades ago and form a new movement, one of his top advisers said Monday.
Asked if Sharon had decided to leave the Likud, top adviser Asaf Shariv said: "Yes. He will announce it sometime today."
Yesterday, the dovish Labor Party, now headed by leftist union agitator Amir Peretz, voted to pull out of the grand coalition with Likud, pretty much precipitating the collapse of the government. All of the Labor members of Sharon's government resigned, as well. Sharon has called upon Israel's president, Moshe Katsav, to dissolve the Knesset, which would bring about early elections; Katsav says he is "considering" doing so, but it's hard to see what other options he might have. If (when) he does, the elections will likely occur in March of 2006, which will annoy the heck out of Likud and some of the smaller parties, which are not prepared for elections that soon: they are currently scheduled for November 2006.
Presumably, Benjamin Netanyahu and other hardliners will remain in Likud, splitting the anti-Labor vote between two different parties. But some members of Labor, led by former leader and prime minister Shimon Peres, appear poised to bolt from Labor to follow Sharon into a new party.
The most likely outcome will be that there will be a large centrist party run by Ariel Sharon, a moderate-sized Labor Party, and Likud, likely the smallest of these three; this would put Sharon's new party in the catbird's seat, able to ally either with Likud against Labor or with Labor against Likud, as the whim strikes them; either alliance would likely yield a governing majority in the Knesset. From the New York Times:
Early polls show that a new party led by Mr. Sharon would be the largest in the Parliament, with about 28 seats of 120, but he would need other parties to form a coalition. Likud has 40 seats, but Mr. Sharon faces severe dissent within the party and its central committee, which regards him as having betrayed the principles of Likud by his willingness to hand territory considered part of the biblical land of Israel over to the Palestinians without negotiations.
But it's theoretically possible that if Labor and Likud allied against the new party, and perhaps sucked in some of the single-issue parties, they could put together a slim majority; everything depends upon the exact numbers in each. All in all, I'm quite unhappy about this. Volatility is exactly the opposite of what Israel needs now, what with the Palestinian Authority likely to come under the sway of Hamas after the January elections, with Iran itching to start firing nuclear missiles at Israel the moment they have some that work, and Syria about to explode.
I can only hope that sanity will prevail, and the Sharon party will ally with Likud on terms more favorable to each than the grand coalition of Likud and Labor that existed for the last few years until yesterday. Then cabinet seats can quickly be filled; Sharon and Netanyahu -- or Netanyahu's successor, if Bibi loses control of the hardline faction of Likud -- will no longer be rivals within the same party; and perhaps they can have a more meaningful relationship (yeesh, I sound like Dr. Ruth).
But it's just one more big, fat known unknown in the MIddle East morass.
October 10, 2005
Al-Qaeda In Exile
John on Power Line (one of my three favorite blogs!) has a thoughtful and thought-provoking post up about the first stirrings of al-Qaeda in Gaza. He links a Jerusalem Post article that discusses some leaflets recently found in Gaza that are being distributed by a group called "al-Qaida of Jihad in Palestine." As per usual with AQ, the litany of complaint begins rather far back:
"The Muslim nation has been subjected, through various periods, to conspiracies by the infidels," the leaflet said. "[The infidels] have brought down the Islamic Caliphate, dividing the nation into small and weak states. They also managed to dilute the Islamic and character [sic] of the nation."
Since the last time there was an Islamic caliphate that included Gaza was the Ottoman Empire, which collapsed in 1922, I should think both we and even Israel would be off the hook. But you never know.
From 1517 onwards, the Ottoman Sultan was also the Caliph of Islam, and the Ottoman Empire was from 1517 until 1922 (or 1924) synonymous with the Caliphate, the Islamic State.
I wonder if this edition of al-Qaeda is still holding a grudge from the crusades?
John more or less agrees that the nascent al-Qaeda in Gaza may actually be a good thing, finally persuading President Bush that there's no future in the policy of treating the Palestinians and the Israelis in a "more or less even-handed" manner. My own view, expressed oft before -- e.g., Dafydd: Crystal Gaza -- is that the real advantage Israel gained by disengaging from Gaza and to a lesser extent the West Bank was a clearer military order of battle that allows them to respond more freely than if they had thousands of potential hostages they had to protect with tens of thousands of soldiers... soldiers who could be better deployed actually fighting strategic battles.
But I think John's point has equal validity and is just as important. And in any event, John's posts are always worth reading for their own sake, whether one agrees with them or not!
The only odd omission from "Al Qaeda Moving Into Gaza" is that, while discussing how this might force the United States to finally begin treating jihadist terrorism against Israel as we treat jihadist terrorism everywhere else, and how we might have to move into the region in some force, John inexplicably fails to ask how Israel itself will respond: since they're right next door and have shown no particularly reluctance to defend themselves, one might expect they will react even before we do -- and perhaps their response will be so effective that we won't have to send any of our own troops... except perhaps veterans of Iraqi reconstruction projects!
September 26, 2005
Democrazy -- Israeli Style!
This is too delicious to allow to pass unblogged:
Sharon Walks Out of Stormy Likud Meeting
Sep 25th, 2005
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon walked out of a stormy meeting of his Likud party Sunday after what appeared to be intentional electricity cuts repeatedly prevented him from delivering his prepared speech....
Sharon, the final speaker of the night, walked to the podium to make his argument and found the microphone did not work. He sat down for several minutes and then walked back to the podium. He spoke a few words and then the microphone disconnected again. After waiting for several minutes, Sharon walked out of the hall.
I have a dream -- a dream of the Taiwanese parliament getting into a row and a ruction, with members leaping over decks and hurling chairs back and forth at each other (gives new meaning to the title "chairman"). I have a dream of the Japanese Diet with members pulling hair and scratching the faces of opposing members. Oh, wait... those aren't dreams, they're memories of what I saw on World's Wildest Parliamentary Videos.
Gee, don't you wish the United States had a parliamentary system, instead of our stodgy, old Congress? Think of the ratings that C-SPAN would garner if they could show entertainment like this every night, instead of Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Margaritaville) burping and bloviating from a sheaf of prepared notes without even lifting his head to look at the witness. Or the camera. Heck, we haven't even had a duel among congresscritters in, like, more than a hundred years.
The convention came ahead of a Likud vote Monday on whether to move up the party primaries. Netanyahu wants them in November and Sharon in April. Sharon has hinted he might quit the party if defeated in Monday's vote.
I don't think Israel needs a new prime minister; I think the Knesset just needs a good electrician!
September 25, 2005
Israel Drops the Other Shoe
Earlier today (from Saturday to Sunday Israeli time), Israel launched a large series of air raids against Hamas and several other terrorist organizations, including the Popular Front For the Liberation of Palestine and the Popular Resistance Committees; the PFLP is connected to Syria (and Russia and China) and has its headquarters in Damascus. I don't know whether the AP story means the PFLP or the PFLP-General Command; they split in 1968.
The Popular Resistance Committees is a very new terrorist group (born in 2000), full of "young Turks" (sorry, I couldn't resist!) trying to muscle their way up the brutality ladder.
From the Associated Press story by Ibrahim Barzak:
Israel launched a "crushing" retaliation Saturday against Hamas in Gaza with deadly airstrikes, troops massed at the border and a planned ground incursion after militants fired 35 rockets at Israeli towns - their first major attack since the Gaza pullout.
Israeli aircraft pounded suspected weapons facilities and other militant targets throughout the Gaza Strip late Saturday and early Sunday, wounding at least 19 people, Palestinian officials said. Earlier, Israeli aircraft fired missiles at cars carrying militants in Gaza City, killing two Hamas militants.
In the West Bank, the military arrested 207 wanted Palestinian men overnight, most of them members of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements.
More is coming: Israel plans a ground invasion of Gaza soon -- in other words, reacting just as they would if Egypt or Syria or Jordan were to attack: with a full-blown military response:
Security officials said that "Operation First Rain" would include artillery fire, air strikes and other targeted attacks. The operation will grow in intensity, leading up to a ground operation in several days unless the Palestinian security takes action to halt the rocket attacks or Hamas ends the attacks itself.
This is precisely the sort of action I anticipated and that justifies Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's policy of unilateral withdawl. The Palestinians demanded to be treated as any other nation. Well, there is an old expression: be careful what you wish for... you may get it.
This will be fascinating to watch as it evolves; how far along the road to folly and self-destruction will Hamas and other militant groups journey before the Palestinian people decide they've had enough of fighting Israel -- and losing?
September 24, 2005
Israel Raises the Pot In Gaza
According to the Associated Press, Israel has responded to Hamas's rocket attack from northern Gaza by calling up thousands of troops, deploying them to the border, launching air strikes on Hamas bomb-making factories, and vowing a "crushing" response still forthcoming.
"We have to make it clear to the Palestinians that Israel will not let the recent events pass without a response," Mofaz said in a statement, referring to the Hamas rocket fire. "The response needs to be crushing."
The overnight rocket barrage by Hamas was the first since Israel pulled out of Gaza nearly two weeks ago. Israel has said it will show "zero tolerance" for attacks after the withdrawal.
Mofaz decided to deploy troops on Israel's border with Gaza after meeting his security chiefs, an official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the meeting. Thousands of soldiers received call-up notices, and their leaves were canceled.
This is precisely the response that would have been impossible prior to the pullout: it was politically repugnant, even within Israel, to launch air strikes on a territory that Israel occupied. But now that they have withdrawn, and the Palestinian Authority is officially alien territory -- and now that there are no Jewish settlers in Gaza to serve as potential hostages -- Israel has begun to respond to the attacks they way they would to any other "nation" attacking them. The gloves are off.
Israel has, of course, used attacks from the air before:
Mofaz also said Israel might resume targeted killings of Palestinian militants. During more than four years of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, scores of militants were killed in targeted attacks, most by missiles fired from Israeli aircraft.
But they have generally shied away from actual aerial bombing of territories they were currently occupying: for example, in the wildly exaggerated "massacre" in Jenin, the Israelis deliberately eschewed aerial bombing in favor of more dangerous house-to-house searches, precisely in order to avoid the moral and political opprobrium that would come from bombing territory they were occupying and killing civilians legally under their protection.
We'll see over the next few weeks whether Israel has truly turned a corner in their response to Palestinian terrorism, or whether Ariel Sharon is all yarmulke and no goats.
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